U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman told the Mercury on Thursday he’s trying to move beyond the labels of a two-party system to fix what’s ailing Congress.
Orman, who lives in Olathe, is running as an Independent for the U.S. Senate seat held by Pat Roberts, a Republican of Dodge City.
Orman co-founded Denali Partners, a company that provides capital and management services to help small businesses.
Orman said his job is to describe himself to voters without a Republican or Democratic label.
“While it’s a challenge, it’s also the right way to move our country forward,” he said.
Orman said he tried out the Democratic and Republican parties but has been unaffiliated for the majority of his life.
“It became clear to me if we’re going to make the changes we need as a country, we need to stop supporting the two-party system and start challenging it,” he said.
Orman said the two-party system sends “the worst of both parties” to Washington, D.C.
“They’re bitter partisans who seem more interested in pleasing the extremists in their own party than they are in moving our country forward,” he said.
Orman said an example of this dynamic is the use of health care as an election issue rather than an opportunity to solve a problem.
He said the country still has health care affordability problems even after the Affordable Care Act’s passage into law.
“Yet over the last five years, we haven’t seen Congress get anything done except position for partisan advantage,” Orman said.
Orman said fixing health care incentives is a starting point because the system pays providers for quantity of care rather than quality.
“The truth is the highest quality care is often the least expensive care because we don’t have to deal with re-admissions, complications and the additional cost of treating conditions if we treat them right the first time,” he said.
Orman used the Mayo Clinic as an example of cost-effective treatment. He said the clinic does foot exams because the feet show early warning signs of diabetes.
Orman said the way health care providers are reimbursed needs to change.
“We’re going to give you a certain number of dollars every year, and you’re responsible for the health of your patients,” he said. “That means if they have a readmission, that’s on your neck, not ours.”
Orman said he also would like to address the “70,000-page monstrosity” that is the tax code.
“The average American now has to hire a third party to prepare their taxes, and still live in fear they got something wrong and they have to pay penalties,” he said.
Orman said the amount of money spent through giveaways in the tax code hides a lot of spending and hinders transparency.
“I don’t mind someone making an argument we need to invest dollars in alternate energy and affordable housing,” he said. “I just think we have to do it in the light of the budgeting process instead of the darkness of the tax code.”
Orman said he spends a lot of time campaigning talking about the “new American paradox.”
“It’s harder than ever for the average American to get ahead, and yet paradoxically easier to do nothing with your life,” he said.
Orman said he wants to divert money spent on able-bodied adults to go toward programs for at-risk children “so that we can break the cycle of poverty and break the cycle of dependency we have in this country,” he said.
As an Independent candidate, Orman has to provide 5,000 signatures from registered voters to the Kansas Secretary of State’s office to get on the November ballot.
He said he has exceeded that total and hopes to complete the necessary paperwork next week.