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U.S. House | District 17

This race pits retired airline pilot William Bronson against current Rep. Tom Rooney. As a Republican-turned-Democrat, Bronson has run for Congress before but never held the position. Rooney has represented a similar district in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past four years. Shelley Rossetter, Times staff writer

William Bronson, 73


Thomas J. Rooney, 41

U.S. representative, District 16

A retired Delta Airlines pilot, Bronson began his flying career in the Navy as a naval aviator from 1961 to 1966. He now lives in Lehigh Acres with his wife and has spent the last several years writing, speaking and studying topics related to his doctor of ministry degree. He also considers himself a part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.Experience Rooney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008. He is chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry and serves on several others. Prior to his election, Rooney spent more than four years in the Army JAG Corps, taught at West Point and worked as a private attorney.
Bachelor's degree in economics from Whitworth College, master's degree in education from Suffolk University, master's degree in theological studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, doctor of ministry degree from Episcopal Divinity School.EducationBachelor's degree in English from Washington & Jefferson College, master's degree in political science from the University of Florida, law degree from the University of Miami.
"I would get the economy growing again. I think it's important to realize that the gross national product of the United States is approximately $15 trillion and it is almost equal to our national debt. The United States being at about 100 percent is not good but it's not a disaster. But the bigger problem is personal debt and the fact that the middle class has had to live on credit for the past 20 years. We need to rebuild the middle class and to do that we would have to rely on public works projects and rebuilding our infrastructure."How would you reduce the federal deficit?"Trillion-dollar deficits are the symptoms; overspending and a weak economy are the problems. We need to fix Washington's spending problem by cutting spending significantly and passing meaningful reforms to government programs. We must also enact pro-growth, pro-jobs policies – like fixing the tax code, getting rid of unnecessary regulations, and producing American energy – to get our economy moving."
Bronson supports the Dream Act. He thinks the United States needs to overhaul its immigration laws to make it easier for people to come to America and become productive citizens.Do you support the Dream Act? What should Congress do about immigration? Not as it was written in the last Congress. Rooney is interested in U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's version of the act in regard to not providing amnesty to illegal immigrants but allowing for an extended special visa for those in school or in the military.
"Keep Paul Ryan's hands off it and re-elect the president. I would push for Medicare for all. Medicare has 3 percent overhead and private insurance companies are complaining that as a result of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) they can only keep 20 percent of premiums. Businesses would get a huge boost by not having to cover their employees. Social Security is actually in quite good shape and it will continue to be for the indefinite future unless the Republicans find a way to undermine it in the same way they are trying to undermine the post office."What should be done to ensure the future of Social Security and Medicare? "If Congress does not act, Medicare and Social Security simply will not be there for the next generation. Obamacare makes the problem worse by taking more than $700 billion from Medicare to fund a new entitlement. I believe any Medicare savings should be used to ensure the future of Medicare. I supported the Path to Prosperity budget resolution, which gave seniors an option – they could remain in the traditional Medicare plan, or they could pick the free market plan that best suits their needs – just like members of Congress do. I support reforms to save Social Security for current retirees and strengthen it for future generations by building on ideas like those put forward by the Simpson-Bowles commission, including means testing."
Bronson would not support repealing the health care legislation. He says he thinks that the legislation is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough.If a congressional vote is held, would you support repealing the health care legislation that was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court?"Yes. Obamacare took a problem – high health care costs – and made it worse. The president's plan will significantly increase health care costs, driving up premiums for families in Florida and making it more difficult to find affordable coverage. In place of the president's law, Congress should enact new, market-based reforms specifically designed to bring down costs and expand access by making health care more affordable. We can reduce runaway health care costs by passing medical liability reform, allowing American families and small businesses to purchase less expensive plans across state lines, and letting small businesses pool their members across the country in order to negotiate better coverage at lower prices."
LandAssetsHomes, savings account, vehicles
Mortgages, credit card debtLiabilitiesMortgage, student loan
Social Security, partial pension benefits, rental homesIncomeU.S. House of Representatives salary
Married; five children, two stepchildrenPersonalMarried; three children

About the job: District 17 covers a 10-county region that includes Riverview, Wimauma and southeast Hillsborough. Representatives serve two-year terms and are paid $174,000 a year.

Florida's U.S. House District 17: William Bronson (D), Tom Rooney (R)

This race pits retired airline pilot William Bronson against current Rep. Tom Rooney. As a Republican-turned-Democrat, Bronson has run for Congress before but never held the position. Rooney has represented a similar district in the U.S. House of Representatives for the past four years.

Florida's U.S. House District 17: William Bronson (D), Tom Rooney (R) 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:28pm]
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