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U.S. Senate candidate says 'Our system is broken'

April 13, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

Josh Rales, a Potomac, Md., real estate investor, said he is frustrated about the state of the United States' domestic and foreign policy.

"I think our system is broken," he said. "Just look at what's happening."

Rales, a Democrat, filed Oct. 3 for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

He has visited Western Maryland several times since his announcement, and was in Hagerstown on Tuesday discussing his plan to help the American people with issues like health care and education.

Rales said he plans to balance the federal budget, reduce dependence on foreign oil and construct an exit strategy for Iraq.

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"We have budget deficit as far as the eye can see," he said. "We are passing trillions of dollars in debt onto our children and grandchildren."

Rales and his wife, Debra, have two children, Aaron and Jaclyn.

Rales said his plan calls for the budget to be balanced within five years by cutting unnecessary spending and standing up against pork barrel spending.

"We need more people from the outside, who are not going to accept politics as usual," said Rales, who has never held public office.

He said he is dedicated to making health care affordable and accessible for all Americans. Rales believes it is unacceptable that a large portion of Americans are uninsured, he said.

"I would sponsor legislation that would require businesses to offer a minimal level of health care to employees," he said.

In his plan, small businesses would receive a tax credit for offering health care to their employees.

Rales said he is also dedicated to improving education for all children and eliminating achievement gaps.

"The most disadvantaged students are not being paired with the best teachers and principals," he said. "We need to change that."

Rales and his wife created an organization, the Ruth Rales-Comcast Kids Reading Network, that has helped 700 Montgomery County, Md., second-graders with reading.

The Rales are involved in other philanthropy projects, including RFI Foundation - a private foundation they started in 2002 that gives back to the community in areas like education, health care and social services.

Rales said he has a plan to reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil by increasing conservation efforts and investment in alternative and renewable energy sources.

Rales said he believes the United States is mired in war with Iraq, in part, because of its dependence on foreign sources of oil.

He has a goal of bringing home all combat troops from Iraq by March 2007.

"I think four years is enough time to help Iraq chart its own future," Rales said. "The time has come to pass the baton."

He said the focus should shift from Iraq to fighting the war on terror and defending the United States.

Rales founded his own investment company in 1984, and has a law degree. He has never practiced law in Maryland. Instead, he has spent more than 20 years building his own business.

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