At the Creamery with Michael Pipe
Michael Pipe, 24, a Penn State alum and fan of “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen, recently announced that he’ll be running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District on the Democratic ticket. Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Pipe at the Berkey Creamery to discuss his political ambitions and the direction in which he hopes to steer his campaign.
A few years ago, when Pipe wasn’t watching his favorite television shows The Sopranos and Seinfeld, he was watching the news with his grandfather and the two would often engage in debate. He would typically argue against his grandfather, who was a staunch supporter of Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican at the time.
In the 2008 presidential elections, Michael Pipe got a position as an intern on the Obama campaign. Pipe traversed the country and took part in Obama’s aggressive, new social media movement, conducted interviews, and compiled and analyzed research data and polls. Soon thereafter, he was promoted and given the responsibility of overseeing the other volunteers of the campaign. Here’s what he said of his experience while working with President Obama:
Traveling around the country really gave me a better sense of the Americans that are still struggling in this country, and they wanted change.
And change is exactly what he helped bring when, in 2008, Barack Obama was elected president. Today, however, Pipe is confident that he has a firm grasp on what the constituents in his district need, how to get them what they want, and is certain that he can give his opponent, U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, a run for his money in the 2010 legislative elections.
Pipe says he will be focusing on “not what Thompson’s doing wrong, but what [he] can do right.”
While Thompson voted against the recent health care bill, Pipe said that he fully supports it. He believes that it can be incredibly beneficial for th constituents in the 5th district. Not only will it provide tax credits to small businesses with employee cap problems, but the bill will also provide 393,000 people in his district with safer, more affordable healthcare. It will also close the feared “doughnut hole” for the 23,000 Medicaid patients in the district, many of whom suffer from high prescription prices and healthcare costs. Pipe even went so far as to say that if elected, he would opt against taking congressional health benefits.
Pipe also spoke of the student loan bill that recently passed and said that he will continue to fight for the young people of America who desire higher education. He would like to see even more funding for Pell Grants and making higher education more affordable and accessible for those who seek to acquire it. For graduating students in debt, there are provisions in the bill that offer loan forgiveness, including for those who seek to work in public or community service.
Despite his Democratic alignment, Pipe is not completely left-wing. He has a firm stance on gun ownership that stems back from days with his high school buddies, many of whom owned guns. Pipe says he is very enthusiastic when it comes to hunting and has a great passion for nature and feels that he understands this very well about the majority of his constituents.
A recent Penn State grad with a degree in Political Science, Pipe says that his fondest memory of his time at PSU was his work at South Redifer, where he made friends that he speaks to to this day. He and his fiancée Ashely have not yet set a date for the wedding due to the obvious complications that come with running for Congress.
Pipe had some final advice for students at Penn State, including getting involved with as many extracurricular activities as possible, finding one’s niche and passion as early as possible, and attending professors’ office hours.
And for seniors, Pipe said, “hunker down, get it done, and finish strong.”
[Photo Credit: Tom Kent]