CD1 Libertarian candidate Chris Manning discusses his ideas on reforming New Mexico’s healthcare and education systems and how he would tackle immigration issues in the United States.
Early voting for New Mexico's first congressional district is underway and election day is June 1st.
KSFR: My first question for you is around the COVID-19 pandemic that has shown that health care is one of the most crucial aspects of life for Americans, as you probably know. With health insurance usually being intertwined with employment, how do we reform our health care system to make sure New Mexicans have access to affordable health care if they lose their job?
Chris Manning: I think the obvious solution is the one I've talked about back in 2018, when I ran previously, is we need an individual market. If you look at the Affordable Care Act, the Affordable Care Act was actually based on the Swiss healthcare system. And they have a fully individual health care system. So, your insurance isn't tied to your employer. I think this pandemic and especially with some of the business loss is in the forced government closure showed that having your health insurance tied to your employment isn't a great way to do a system. So, I came up with, over the last couple of years, I've been putting the final touches on it. I think I probably got, a system that can really replace what we have now and not only reduces costs, it improves our healthcare substantially in this country.
KSFR: New Mexico is close to dead last when it comes to education performance and inequities in schooling around the state was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. What's your approach to this issue if elected?
Chris Manning: Well, I think one of the biggest things I could do at the federal level is help push for vouchers, or savings accounts for parents, I'm a very big proponent of school choice, I have my degree in secondary education. This is something I'm very passionate about. I also have done a lot of research on how to improve education. One of the things that really isn't talked about that is shown pretty strongly in the evidence to improve school performance, is simply the deconsolidation of large school districts. So, there's been plenty of studies to show small classrooms sizes help improve performance. But when you take that out, small schools, same thing, and even when you take that out the next step to small school districts. If you were to take APS, which is one of the largest failure factories in the nation, when it comes to graduation rates, it's broken up into like 10 school districts, you automatically create competition within the public education system. You save money. Indiana did a study back in 2007 2008, when they're talking about consolidation of school districts, as happens every time there's an economic collapse. They actually found that if they were to deconsolidate their school districts, they would save more money than if they were to consolidate the small school districts. So that's a piece of facts about education that never gets talked about.
KSFR: Going off of that, New Mexico does have a lot of rural areas, including some Native American reservations. How do we improve the education for folks that can't necessarily have access to the same amenities like you and I do such as broadband or a tutor?
Chris Manning: Correct. And up on the reservation, they were absolutely struggling to get served. Central Consolidate School District, which is one of the largest school districts in the nation and in the state, and is almost exclusively on the reservation. A lot of these students, they don't have electricity in the house, they don't have running water. Then we told them: "Hey, you can't come to the school, you've got to go online." Well, how? They don't have cell phone service in these places. They actually went out and park the buses to try and provide them some Wi-Fi. Which is crazy, you know. I think this idea that we could have just shut down schools, I think it harm those who are at the lowest socio-economic status. There's a lot of evidence that shows we just lost students, no, I suppose over 10s of 1000s of students went over the last year. And that's not good. We're already struggling with education. And this is vital. Just put us back in further.
KSFR: Let's move away from education for a bit and talk about your past as a U.S. veteran. It's obvious that you've expressed heavy interest in ending foreign wars. Can you explain your experience overseas? And how that may have shaped this idea?
Chris Manning: I was in Afghanistan in 07' and 08'. So, there was still some justification for the Afghan war because Osama bin Laden was still out there. For me, any justification after 2012 when he was killed, I really don't see it anymore. I was part of what's called a provincial reconstruction team. I provided security to engineers and civil affairs officials as they went all over the province building these minor infrastructure projects like schools and roads and minor small electric generation stations. It's nation building. That's not what the U.S. military does. That's for the State Department. That's for the NGOs that have years and decades of experience there. Those in the military were designed to break things, right? That's what we do. We... We break things. We are not there to advance democracy, even though that's what politicians like to think that we are. I'm already disheartened by the fact that the Biden administration push back the troop withdraw. Trump had signed the peace treaty with the Taliban. In essence, that we were going to leave in May and [Biden] already pushed that back to September 11th. And he pushed back for completely symbolic measures. You know, we want to leave on September 11th. Why? That's politicians thinking. That's not taking national security or military. That is pure propaganda. That's all it is.
KSFR: And how would you take the first steps in stopping this, if elected?
Chris Manning: Well, Congress has to reassert it's power over war. Now, the US Constitution gives that power to Congress, and there's no declared war. We have the ability to stop funding these overseas adventures. You could cut $50-60 billion dollars out of military budget by ending all of our foreign wars easily. Then you also have the US military has been asking for years to do another Base Realignment and Closure. They actually say, the military told Congress: "Hey, we have excess capacity. We need to close down 20% of our bases, because it's just completely inefficient for us to have this." Congress says: "No, no, no, no. Not only are we're not going to do a BRAC, we are going to put it into law that says the military can even study a BRAC of Base Realignment and Closure."
KSFR: It's clear that elected politicians have not prioritized immigration reform for a very long time. What are your stances on immigration to the U.S.? And how would you change the current system?
Chris Manning: The biggest thing I want to do is reform our asylum process to allow people to apply for asylum within their own country. Right now, current law requires people to be at the border, at a port of entry in order to apply for asylum. This obviously advantages Central Americans because of simple geographic proximity over people from Africa and Asia, who may actually have a better claim for asylum, in many instances. Two, I want to increase US citizenship crap. You know, every year, we grant about a million US citizens, I see that we should keep that number by about 3-500,000 people a year, because I think people who come to this country willingly who go through the process and become you know, intentional Americans, in essence are some of the staunchest patriots who have. Especially there's their second generation, who typically do better as far as entrepreneurship and education than some native-born Americans. I think it's a plus to the United States to increase our immigration. We're a very wealthy country. We have the ability. We're very large nation, and we have the room, you know. This idea that many people push that we don't have room for them, or the economy can't support them. It's completely unfounded. A declining population is actually a very bad thing for your economy. Same thing that China and Japan are struggling with right now.
KSFR: Chris Manning is the Libertarian candidate for the open CD1 seat in New Mexico. Thanks for chatting with me.
Chris Manning: Thanks Bryce. I appreciate it.
Independent candidate Aubrey Dunn Jr did not respond to KSFR's requests for an interview + Republican candidate Mark Moores declined to be interviewed.