BERLIN — While the attention has all been focused on the Democratic candidates for president, Matt Matern reminds us there is a contest on the Republican side as well.
There are 16 candidates on the Republican ballot for president in New Hampshire beside President Donald Trump, and Matern, a lawyer and philanthropist from Los Angles, is one of them.
Stopping in The Berlin Sun office on Tuesday afternoon, Matern said he has been actively campaigning in New Hampshire since Nov. 12 and is on the ballot in 10 other states so far.
As the first-in-the-nation primary, he said New Hampshire Republicans have an opportunity to send a message that the incumbent is taking the country in the wrong direction.
A lifelong Republican, he said he was impressed by Ronald Reagan’s stand against totalitarianism as well as the former president’s “big tent” vision for the party. He said he decided to run because he disagrees with the Trump “cozying up to Putin” while abandoning the United States’ allies.
Matern said he doesn’t like Trump’s divisive rhetoric and is outraged that few Republican leaders are willing to stand up to him. As he travels the state meeting voters, Matern said he believes a silent majority of Republicans agree with him.
He complained that Trump has doubled the deficit in his three years in office at a time when, with the economy booming, he should be cutting it. He said New Hampshire’s share of that new debt on a per capita basis comes to $15 billion.
Matern also disagrees with Trump’s actions to weaken environmental protection and ease clean air and water standards. He said Republicans have a long and proud history of environmental protection, noting the Environmental Protection Agency was formed during Nixon’s administration.
One of Matern’s signature proposals is eliminating the federal income tax for individuals up to $50,000 and households making up to $100,000 annually. When the income tax was enacted in 1913, he said it was never supposed to hit middle-class people. To make up for the reduced income tax revenue, Matern proposes to close the loopholes for people making over $1 million a year.
He would offer a public option for health insurance for those under 65 and suggests there should be incentives for people to make good health choices as a way to reduce health-care costs. Matern said drug companies are entitled to make a profit but he would stop the price gouging.
He believes in providing a pathway for low-income students to go to college and said community colleges are a great bargain. But he said does not support making college free.
Matern has never held public office before but pointed out that 26 out of 44 U.S. presidents have been lawyers. He is the founding attorney of Matern Law Group, which specializes in employment law. He said his years working in the field have given him a good sense of what workers are up against today. He also started the non-profit organization, The Satyagraha Alliance, focused on feeding the poor and homeless in California.