Republican candidate Peter Yu talks student debt, climate change

Samantha Ye

Peter Yu, a 46-year-old Republican, is running for the Congressional District 2 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives this midterms election. His opponents are Democrat Joe Neguse, Libertarian Roger Barris, and Independent Nick Thomas. (Photo courtesy of Peter Yu)

Editor’s Note: We have added a clarifying change to Yu’s comments about the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the divide in the country.

Whether on climate change or retirement, Peter Yu believes in the power of personal responsibility and limited government.

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The lifelong-Republican is running to be representative of Congressional District 2, which includes Larimer County.

Having grown up in Loveland, Yu considers himself lucky to have lived the life he has. His parents immigrated to the United States two years before he was born. They came with no money, no English skills and his childhood was spent in poverty, Yu said.

“The best thing about this country is that if you’re willing to really work hard for something, you can achieve a lot more,” Yu said.

Out of the seven kids in his family, five were able to obtain college degrees, including Yu who started out playing football at Colorado State University before transferring to Fort Lewis College. He then went into various careers involving marketing and business.

Yu said he now has a moral obligation to ensure the following generations have the same opportunities as he did. To Yu, that means limiting the reach of government programs, regulations, taxes and spending, and that is what this race is about to him.

“The only thing that bailed (my family) out of (poverty) was having a government that’s limited, so we were allowed to basically pursue what wanted to do…and we were basically able to work our way to a new level and be able to make a stand on our own two feet,” Yu said.

Yu said he sees the chances of future generations’ ability to rise in society threatened and is concerned with the federal debt, currently over $21 trillion according to the U.S. Debt Clock.

Federal debt will increase substantially in the next few decades, driven largely by increases in Social Security as baby-boomer generation retires, increasing rising healthcare costs for Medicare and Medicaid and relatively flat tax revenues, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Yu called such government programs unsustainable, and he opposes a government-run health care plan for concern of the additional costs.

“We have to understand facts,” Yu said. “And that’s what I ask about college students, the younger generation, because guess what? You guys have the biggest burden of any generation in history.”

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To solve these problems, Yu emphasized his goals to reach across aisles and “move the needle.” This means making small bipartisan steps, rather than uncompromising larger reform, toward issues like lowering insurance premiums or electricity bills.

He said his professional background in business and a personal background of many rough times gives him a solid history of finding workable solutions as well as knowing their importance.

“We need to take care of the average person, because guess who gets affected when nothing gets done?” Yu said. “The average person.” 

Yu has never worked as a government employee, and he said he is not running to be one now; his only concern is being a representative for all people. He said he asks everyone to look at the facts instead of emotions, even those who disagree with him.

The big divide in this country, particularly the uprising  “racial hatred,” is a major concern for Yu. He pointed out that the Black Lives Matter organization, for example, is a response to the growing racial divisions within the country.

As an Asian-American, he said “name-calling” people racists or xenophobes does nothing but spread hatred and anger, and talk of racial inequality only pushes the ideas that minorities like him are two-steps behind in opportunity, when he certainly does not feel that way.

“If we’re ever going to move forward as a country, we do have to come together,” Yu said.

On the Issues

On student debt, Yu said it is the fault of the federal government, in this case for handing out student loans “like candy,” thus artificially inflating the demand for and subsequently the cost of college.

“Colleges know they’ve got the supply and the demand’s definitely there because, guess what, kids can get as much money as they need,” Yu said.

Yu proposes capping the amount of federal student loans given out, as well as making sure kids get help weighing the costs and benefits of college, providing more vocational options and restructuring college curriculum so students only take the classes they need for their major. 

As far as addressing both climate change and energy independence, Yu said he would focus on bolstering all of the nation’s energy sources, but especially natural gas.

In 2017, natural gas-fueled 29 percent of U.S. energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Yu wants to push that to number to 70 or 100 percent.

Natural gas is a relatively clean burning fossil fuel compared to petroleum or coal, according to the EIA. Increased fracking and the energy sector’s shift to more natural gas likely offset potential pollution from increased production, according to the Scientific American

Having worked in the solar industry himself, Yu said that technology-wise, the renewable energy industry is “just not there yet.” All renewables combined served 11 percent of U.S. energy in 2017, according to the EIA.  

Yu supports non-government research into cheaper and more reliable renewable technology while developing natural gas.

Though Colorado has legalized cannabis, Yu would leave it up other individual states to decide if they want to legalize. However, it is the responsibility of Congress to declassify cannabis from a Schedule I drug, Yu said.

On immigration, Yu said it should be done the right way and “people who are here legally” should provide a service to the country. 

“We all have to follow the rules,” Yu said. “I want…to help everyone as well, but just make sure (to immigrate) the legal way and it will actually allow us to be a more productive society where we can actually take care of everybody.”

According to the Reporter Herald, Yu would focus more on border security and outreach to countries where many migrants and asylum seekers originate.

When it comes to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients, Yu would support a non-amnesty path to citizenship as long as they are not criminals and contribute to society.

“By all means, I am all for them staying,” Yu said. “This is their country; this is all they know.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.