Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts didn’t spend his 20s figuring out what to do with his life. After graduating from Harvard in 2001, he joined the Marines as an officer, eventually spending four combat tours in Iraq, fighting a war he disagreed with, politically.
After leaving the Marines in 2008, Moulton earned two graduate degrees from Harvard, worked for a company in Texas, then co-founded a health care startup back in Massachusetts. He decided to run for Congress in 2014 and beat an 18-year incumbent in the primaries. He won the general election at the age of 36.
As a combat vet, Moulton is running for president to counter Donald Trump’s isolationist, topsy-turvy foreign policy. “He’s been cozying up to our greatest enemies, people like Vladimir Putin, people like Kim Jong-un,” Moulton tells Yahoo Finance. “I don’t think we’re talking enough about what a precarious position he has put us in internationally and how that fundamentally affects our security at home.”
On economic issues such as health care, taxes, trade and climate policy, Moulton steers toward the center. “My economic plan will make everything a little bit more fair for everybody,” he says. “Not wreck the economy, not go toward socialism.” Moulton generally disavows Bernie Sanders’ big-government solutions, while saying Elizabeth Warren’s plans to break up big tech companies and impose a new wealth tax “go too far.”
Oh health care, Moulton wants a new public option to compete with private plans and push prices down. “That’s just market competition,” he says. “We should have it in health care, like we do in business.” He opposes Medicare for all, which would force people with employer-provided plans to give up their coverage and join a government plan. “I don’t think people should be forced off of their private health care plan into a government plan designed in 1963,” he says.
Moulton calls climate change an “existential issue,” but says the Green New Deal—the Democratic plan to spend trillions of federal dollars to force the U.S. economy off carbon—is too heavy-handed. “It’s extremely expensive, many economists think it would be harmful to the economy, and that shouldn’t be the approach,” he says. Instead, Moulton would establish a “green jobs corps” to build new energy infrastructure, get workers trained on new technology and promote national service. He also favors a carbon tax that would let industry figure out the most efficient ways to curb emissions.
Moulton’s private-sector experience was brief. He left the startup he co-founded to run for Congress, and it went out of business a couple years later. Leaving the company was the right thing to do, he says, because he felt the need to put his Iraq experience to work in public service. “I did feel a sense of regret at leaving the company,” he says. “I learned from the experience … having to meet a payroll, hiring people, understanding how to put together a business.”
Like many Democrats, Moulton would rescind part of the Trump tax cuts, raising the corporate rate from the new low of 21% to 25%. That money could be used for health care, his green job corps or reducing annual deficits that are approaching $1 trillion.
He’s not ready to impeach President Trump—but might be in the future. “The principled thing to do right now is have this debate in Congress,” Moulton says. “I don’t think we should be having a vote on impeachment yet. We don’t even have all the facts yet.”
Rick Newman is the author of four books, including “Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success.” Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman