Columbia businesswoman Renee Hoagenson is running for Congress with a plan to improve health care and rid politics of big money donors.
Hoagenson, a Democrat who hopes to unseat four-term, 4th District Republican Vicky Hartzler, claims the incumbent votes against human beings. She says many of the Republican, conservative leaning people she speaks with are dissatisfied with the job Hartzler’s doing.
Hoagenson graduated from the University of Missouri. She’s a small business woman who created Columbia Marketplace Magazine in 2003, followed by Jefferson City Marketplace Magazine in 2004. She’s since sold both publications and has run the advertising focused Showcase Sedalia magazine she started it in 2011.
Winning next year’s November election would seem to be an uphill battle for any Democrat in Missouri’s 4th District, which stretches from the Kansas border below Kansas City through mid-Missouri’s Audrain County.
Since defeating incumbent Democrat Ike Skelton by a 50%-to-45% margin in 2010, Hartzler has won with at least 60% of the vote in the three subsequent races, and with roughly 68% in the last two contests. She even won Democratic leaning Boone County by 4 percentage points in 2016.
Hoagenson would certainly offer a sharp contrast to Hartzler if she were to secure the Democratic nomination.
Hartzler voted with a majority of Republicans, and with all five fellow Missouri GOP House members in favor of the health care bill that narrowly passed the chamber in May. Prior to the vote, Hartzler, who opposes the Affordable Care Act, said “Americans deserve real health care reform that prioritizes patients while also protecting individual freedoms”.
Coming from the other end of the spectrum, Hoagenson calls the Affordable Care Act a good start, and thinks fixes should be made to system’s troubled exchanges now. But she contends a move to a single-payer, or Medicare-for-all delivery structure would supply universal health care at a much lower cost for Americans.
Hoagenson says the bill passed by House Republicans would be harmful to the country, and the 4th District, because of loopholes allowing for discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. “40,000 people in this district would simply lose their health care because pre-existing conditions would make their premiums so high,” said Hoagenson.
She also says the cost of prescription drugs is inflated in the U.S. because of price-gouging enabled by Congress. “Our congressmen are complicit because of the pharmaceutical lobbyists. There’s quite a bit of money going towards congressmen from pharmaceutical lobbies, about $450,000 a year per congressman on average.”
The tax plan from President Trump and Republicans has been championed by Hartzler who has said “I hope we can quickly pass this legislation and get it on the President’s desk so that we can create more jobs, simplify the burdensome tax process, and put more money in the wallets of Americans.”
Hoagenson says tax reform is not part of her platform, but she has some issues with the plan put forth by Republicans, including the lowering of corporate taxes from 35%-to-25%, which she calls misleading.
“Even though we start off at 35%, half of the corporations in this country pay 0% tax once they get through all of their deductions. The other half of corporations pay roughly 15% once they get through all of their deductions.” Hoagenson says she wouldn’t change the tax structure for corporations, which of a centerpiece of President Trump’s plan.
One thing the single mother of three says she would fight to change is the abundance of money in the political system. She contends the votes of Congressmen are heavily swayed by donors.
“If a politician has taken a donation, and then has to vote the way that their donor wants them to vote, which is not necessarily the way that is best for their constituents, that is morally wrong. And that’s what we’re seeing happen.”
Hoagenson is harshly critical of Hartzler’s aggressive stance against transgender people in the military.
Hartzler commended President Trump for signing a memo to prohibit the military from enlisting transgender people, and from using funds to pay for gender transition-related surgery. She had previously offered her own amendment on the House floor to stop the military from paying for the surgeries, claiming the expense prevented soldiers from being deployed.
Citing a Rand Corporation study showing transgender presence having minimal impact on the military, Hoagenson accuses Hartzler of having bias issues.
“The Rand reports indicate there’s no problem with readiness or morale in any of the 18 countries that allow transgender military personnel. This is simply her own personal prejudice. Ans she has put forth discriminatory legislation repeatedly.”
Hoagenson also contends Hartzler places greater importance on her own ideology than on the needs of people. She noted that Hartzler voted against allocating money for Hurricane Harvey relief because the funding was attached to a debt ceiling extension the congresswoman opposed.
“She did the same thing in Sedalia in 2011 when we that tornado come through,” said Hoagenson. “She voted against relief for her own district.” The other five Missouri Republican House members voted with Hartzler on the hurricane relief/debt ceiling bill, while Missouri’s GOP Senator Roy Blunt voted in favor of the package.
So far, Hoagenson has one opponent in the Democratic primary for the 4th District. The Columbia Missourian reports Jenna Marie Bourgeois is focused on civil rights, poverty, health care and rural broadband.
Cole County and Jefferson City were part of the 4th District until being transferred to the 3rd District in 2011. Boone County, including the city of Columbia, became part of the 4th District at the same time.