The Minnesota Newspaper Association distributes a survey every two years, asking for feedback from candidates for congressional and judicial offices. This year, U.S. Senate incumbent Democrat Amy Klobuchar is being challenged by Republican Kurt Bills and Independence Party candidate Stephen Williams.
The candidates were asked the following questions:
1. Background: Briefly summarize your personal background and qualifications.
2. Top priority: What is your top priority for 2013 and why are you running?
3. Foreign affairs: Do you support the current schedule for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan? Should Congress and the president pursue additional trade pacts? If so, with whom?
4. Health care: Should the federal health care reform law stand in its current form, or should it be changed?
5. Education: What role should the federal government play in ensuring that U.S. graduates can compete in the global economy?
6. Energy: Do you agree with the science of global warming? Should the United States be more or less aggressive in its pursuit of renewable energy sources?
7. Social Security/Medicare: Should Social Security/Medicare be left status quo, or should be they scrutinized for budget cuts?
8. Economy: What steps do you support to stimulate the growth of jobs?
9. Agriculture: Should changes be made to current agriculture subsidies? Be specific.
10. Immigration: What should be the tenets of any immigration reform legislation?
U.S. Senate candidate, Republican Kurt Bills
Background: Date of Birth: Jan. 8, 1970. Residence: Rosemount, Minn. Children: Kyla, Cassandra, Hayden and Olivia. Church: Christ Church in Apple Valley. Education: Winona State University, B.S. in secondary social studies education, B.A. in U.S. history and M.A. in education. Career: Since 1996, Bills has worked as a secondary social studies teacher at Rosemount High School, teaching courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics and American government and politics. Accomplishments: Elected to the Rosemount City Council in 2008; elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2010; won the GOP U.S. Senate endorsement in 2012.
Top priority: Pass a balanced budget. The US government hasn’t passed a budget at all since April 29, 2009. I am a high school economics teacher. For the past decade and a half I have been teaching economics to my students at Rosemount High School. A few years ago, I started noticing how anxious they were as they watched our national debt climb and the American economy stall. One day, a student asked me “what can we do about this?”
That is the day I decided I had to run for office. I got elected to the Rosemount City Council, then the Minnesota House of Representatives. And today I am running for US Senate because I believe that Washington DC is crushing the middle class.
Foreign affairs: Do you support the current schedule for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan? Should Congress and the president pursue additional trade pacts? If so, with whom?
The wars have gone on too long and cost us too much in lives and treasure. We need to focus on problems here at home, not spending trillions of dollars on endless wars overseas. We need to get our economy moving and create jobs, and one of the best ways to do that is to expand trade with the rest of the world. Minnesota is one of the great exporters to the world, and we need to double and triple those exports. Instead of exporting jobs to low wage countries like China, we need to negotiate free trade agreements so we can export our products overseas.
Health care: The Supreme Court said Obamacare was legal, not that it was a good idea. I support a full repeal of the law and replacing it with measure that actually increase competition, lowers costs (not increase them as Obamacare has done), and expand coverage to people who can’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Obamacare was exactly the wrong approach, and I will fight to repeal it. Health care is too important an issue to leave it to bureaucrats.
Education: I have been a high school economics teacher for 18 years and still teach my first hour economics class every morning. In my classroom I have seen the cost of federal mandates, but not the supposed benefits the politicians keep claiming. I walk into my classroom every morning and I see a room filled with 38 kids. The politicians can brag all they want about the “programs” they voted to improve student achievement, but the rubber meets the road in the classroom and I can tell you those programs don’t work. The recipe for educational success is a good teacher, involved parents, and a serious curriculum set at the local school board level.
Energy: Washington, D.C. has gone to war on domestic energy production, and the results are clear. Gas prices have doubled since Amy Klobuchar was elected, and her response is to set the EPA and federal regulators to shut down energy production and raise gas prices. It’s a failed policy; it’s destroying the middle class; and it’s killing jobs.
I will not subsidize economically unviable businesses like Solyndra, Ener1, or A123, no matter how “green” they claim to be. Obama’s “green jobs” initiative is an even bigger boondoggle than Jimmy Carter’s in the 1970s. Government shouldn’t pick winners and losers. It winds up just picking losers.
Social Security/Medicare: Wrong question. The status quo will lead to the programs going belly up because they are going insolvent. But looking to Social Security and Medicare for budget cuts is the wrong approach. Real reform requires reforming the program for younger workers to ensure that Social Security and Medicare will be there for them when they need them. Under the current policies they won’t be because they will be long bankrupt.
Anybody who hasn’t offered real solutions to this pressing problem over the past 6 years should be fired.
Economy: If the last few years have taught us anything at all, it is that government “stimulus” doesn’t make an economy grow. Washington policies have been crushing job growth and the middle class. As spending has gone up, our incomes have gone down by more than $4000 a year. Everybody is poorer, has more debt to pay, lower net worth and a house under water. That is what the policies of “stimulus” have done to us.
We need to get the economy moving again, and here is how to do that: get government spending under control by balancing the budget (passing a budget would be a good start!), repeal Obamacare which is causing small businesses to quit hiring, lower energy prices by permitting domestic energy production as they do in North Dakota (unemployment 3%), and reducing regulations which strangle small businesses.
Klobuchar’s answer is more government and raising taxes on small business. That won’t work.
Agriculture: Changes are already being made, if they would only pass a farm bill. The government is moving from a subsidy model to an insurance model, and I think that will be better for agriculture in the long run.
I also believe we need to quit helping large corporations and focus our efforts on helping small farmers. We waste billions of dollars subsidizing big business, and that has to stop.
Immigration: Legal immigration has been the backbone of America’s prosperity. Nearly every person reading this is descended from an immigrant to the United States. Immigrants come here because they want to build a better life for their families, and in doing so help make our economy stronger. We need to encourage legal immigration and make it easier for everybody to start a business and succeed.
Illegal immigration, though, is illegal. It needs to be stopped. No immigration reform law can be effective until we actually secure our borders. Washington politicians say that all the time, but what have they done about it?
Other issues: The big issue of this campaign is getting our economy moving again, and the biggest obstacle to doing that is an out of control federal government. For decades Washington has spent more than it has taken in, and now we have trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. When you spend more than you have, you eventually go bankrupt. Government finances look more like Tom Petters’ ponzi scheme than responsible budgeting. To get the economy moving again, we need to fix Washington.