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?
Independence Party U.S. Senate candidate Stephen Williams.
Personal Background: (No response)
Top priority: In the past 6 years despite massive increases in deficit spending total employment has declined by more than 3.7 million jobs. Something is terribly wrong on Main Street America. To strengthen our economy we must create jobs by removing all of the costs we impose on the American worker. Therefore my top priority is to encourage jobs and to promote economic and social justice by eliminating payroll taxes and providing Medicare for all.
Foreign affairs: It is time to quit talking how and when to bring our troops home and just do it.
We can become more competitive and improve the balance of trade if we relieve the American worker of the costs of Medicare, Social Security, and health insurance
Health care: Although there are a few good elements in this massive piece of legislation it does not address the worst deficiencies of our healthcare system and instead it is a gigantic give away to the healthcare industry. If the government is going to provide healthcare for senior citizens justice demands that newborn citizens are just as deserving as is every citizen in between. We need to provide Medicare for all citizens and remove the burden of healthcare from the American worker by funding Medicare with a national sales tax. With a single payer system the purchasing power of the federal government can be used to bring the cost of healthcare services down.
Education: I believe a good education is priceless but that doesn’t mean we should bankrupt ourselves to obtain one. We have to keep in mind that education is big business and that like any other industry it can become very self-serving. There are educational institutions whose primary purpose is to rip off the student and the taxpayer by means of the student loan program. What to do? The student loan program needs to be reformed to eliminate the massive fraud that the program has created. Students need to critically evaluate what their expectations are for higher education before they mortgage their future with a student loan. We must use technology to bring the cost of education down. Many courses can be taught just as well online. I would like to establish a low cost high quality national online university for all of the courses that can be taught electronically. I will work to bring the cost of education down and to make higher education available to all who are willing to invest their time and effort to achieve their educational goals.
Energy: Human activity has been at war with the environment for centuries. We must work to restore our environmental resources, the air, the land and the water. If we fail to do so we will end up destroying ourselves. The stewardship of these resources must become a central part of our economy.
Since the first energy crisis in 1973, our nation has been bouncing from one energy crisis to the next, with each new energy crisis threatening to destroy our economy. With newly discovered energy resources coming online in North America there will be a great temptation to kick the can down the road one more time. This we must not do! Instead we must use this opportunity to increase our energy conservation efforts, and to promote research to discover energy supplies that are both economically viable and truly renewable.
Social Security/Medicare: The status quo is on a collision course with reality! To continue to fund an increasing number of beneficiaries with decreasing number of workers is not sustainable. We could solve this problem by funding both of these programs with a national sales tax instead of payroll taxes.
Economy: The best way to stimulate jobs is to remove all of the burdens that we place on American workers and their employers. To impose the cost of Medicare, Social Security, health insurance and unemployment insurance on American workers is economic insanity. An employer can avoid these very high costs by simply moving the jobs out of our country. Likewise, the American consumer can also avoid these costs by purchasing products made out of our country. Unfortunately for the American worker moving out of the country is not an option. Imposing these costs on the American worker is a great injustice that is destroying American jobs. We can correct this injustice and stimulate jobs by paying for these social costs with a sales tax instead.
Agriculture: The family farmer whose image is used to promote the agenda of the agri-industry has largely been replaced by the agri-businessman. What was a labor-intensive small business has become a capital intensive industry that has more in common with the financial industry than the family farmer of decades past. Just like the financial industry, the agri-industry seeks to privatize profits and socialize losses. I object to this in any industry. With record high prices for both farm land and farm commodities, there is more than enough money in the agri-industry itself to insure against losses experienced by any agri-businessman due to the current drought, without any contribution by the American taxpayer. We must end the practice of privatizing profits and socializing losses in the agri-industry and in all industries.
Immigration: We need to quit blaming undocumented workers for our failure to enforce laws regarding immigration. We should blame the businesses and industries that use immigrant labor to drive down labor costs below what is a just wage. By paying such low wages these businesses cause additional costs for state and local government. Mass deportation is not the answer. If we were to deport all these people today our economy would collapse tomorrow. The businesses and industries who benefit the most from this immigration should be the ones to be held accountable.
Other issues: We must eliminate the self serving influence of industries that corrupt our democracy. Last year alone the health care industry and the financial industry together spent $1,000,000,000.00 lobbying our politicians. It is time to outlaw this bribery. Elected officials should not be allowed to solicit or accept campaign contributions. Currently the Federal Elections Commission regulates this corruption. It is time to outlaw corruption not regulate it.