This was the first debate between Rep. Tim Walz (DFL) and Jim Hagedorn (R). Both are running for congress in Minnesota’s First Congressional District. The debate was sponsored by KAAL, League of Women Voters, Rochester Post Bulletin, Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and the Rochester Public Library. It took place October 7, 2014 at Rochester’s Century High School
Questions/issues brought up in the debate:
(Click here to watch on YouTube and the times become links that take you to that moment in the debate)
0:19 – Walz opening statement
2:08 – Hagedorn opening statement
4:15 – How much do party positions influence your opinion on issues?
4:22 – Hagedorn response
5:17 – Walz response
6:50 – Hagedorn rebuttal
8:07 – Is the constitution a flexible or inflexible document?
8:30 – Walz response
10:00 – Hagedorn response
11:29 – Walz rebuttal
11:53 – What measures are needed to protect social security for today’s seniors while still strengthening it for future generations?
12:02 – Hagedorn response
13:28 – Walz response
15:07 – Hagedorn rebuttal
15:46 – Does the federal government need to play a prominent financial role in expanding transportation infrastructure in the United States?
15:56 – Walz response
17:21 – Hagedorn response
18:43 – Walz rebuttal
19:30 – What is the role of the federal government in increasing the number of private sector jobs and what can be done about the stagnation of the middle class’ income over the past generation?
19:44 – Hagedorn response
21:26 – Walz response
23:00 – Hagedorn rebuttal
23:49 – What are your priorities when it comes to tax reform?
23:58 – Walz response
25:33 – Hagedorn response
27:03 – What can be to prevent problems like those at the Veterans Administration?
27:09 – Hagedorn response
28:31 – Walz response
30:06 – Hagedorn rebuttal
30:40 – Walz rebuttal
31:22 – Would you work to get rid of the “common core” when it comes to education?
31:27 – Walz response
33:00 – Hagedorn response
33:58 – Walz rebuttal
34:10 – Would you vote to increase the federal minimum wage? Why or why not?
34:15 – Hagedorn response
35:24 – Walz response (one word – yes)
35:39 – Would you support legislation to ban discrimination against gays in the workforce? Why or why not?
35:45 – Walz response
36:12 – Hagedorn response (opposed – states should decide those matters)
36:22 – What needs to be done to have the parties work together to solve the nation’s problems? What tools for collaboration do you possess?
36:32 – Hagedorn response
37:51 – Walz response
39:27 – Hagedorn rebuttal
39:58 – How do you plan to keep only legal immigrants coming into the U.S.? And should we have quotas again?
40:05 – Walz response
41:39 – Hagedorn response
43:00 – Minnesota’s largest high school dropped out of the national school lunch program this year. The one size fits all program didn’t fit and didn’t jive with the diverse student body. The current law expires next year. Will you vote to continue this law or make changes?
43:23 – Hagedorn response
44:37 – Walz response
46:14 – Hagedorn rebuttal
46:40 – Should the federal government play a role in dealing with climate change and if so what would that role be?
46:47 – Walz response
48:15 – Hagedorn response
49:27 – Walz rebuttal
50:04 – Hagedorn rebuttal
50:41 – Where do you stand on voter ID?
50:45 – Hagedorn response (he supports it)
50:58 – Walz response (doesn’t support barriers to voting)
52:32 – Hagedorn rebuttal
52:43 – Walz rebuttal
52:48 – All through the 90s we had heard of military bases being closed one after another. We were cutting back on our nation’s defense spending. Right now is that something that we continue to do or where do you stand when it comes to military spending and our nation’s defense?
53:08 – Walz response
54:42 – Hagedorn response
56:21 – Walz closing statement
58:26 – Hagedorn closing statement
Transcript by Susan Maricle
ANNCR: Announcer in studio audience
TW = Tim Walz, incumbent Representative, Democrat
JH = Jim Hagedorn, candidate, Republican
MOD: The candidates have drawn numbers to determine the order in which they will speak. And Mr. Walz will begin with his opening statement.
TW: Well thank you, ah thank you to our our hosts and to the League of Women Voters for putting on this. Thank you to Century High School for hosting us. Thank you to Mr. Hagedorn for willing to stand up and express ideas in this democracy. And most importantly, thank you to each of you. Ah there’s certainly a lot of places you could be. You could have chosen to gone elsewhere but you came here, and you came here for one very simple and eloquent reason: you love this country. And you understand that with all the rights and privileges and freedom, come immense responsibility. And chief among those is participating in this democracy. This grand experiment that that was started, the idea that that common men and women could govern themselves, that could step forward and could form this more towards a more perfect union. Ah it was simply something that was so unheard of and challenged the thoughts of so many. And as Winston Churchill pointed out, he said this about democracy, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for every other one.” He understood that it took work.
He understood that it took that compromise, compromise, compromise. When Madison left the first Constitutional Convention, that’s what he said.
People here in Minnesota know that. They know this is about having the grand vision. They know 150 years ago when the Mayo Brothers showed up on the prairie, that there could be something better, something different, something more hopeful. And we’ve continued to do that, and we’ve continued to do it with our neighbors. We’ve not always agreed on every issue. But we’ve certainly moved this country forward. And in southern Minnesota, that’s about finding solutions. It’s not good enough to point out the problems. What you need is a solution. What did we do with our transportation, how do we build coalitions to make sure that goods and services and people move as efficiently as possible? How do we get a Farm Bill that makes sure that this part of the world, that not only feeds us, and feeds America, it feeds the world. And so when President Kennedy was asked, about going to the moon, he said, “We don’t go to the moon because it’s easy, we go because it’s hard.” America has challenges, but in those challenges lie opportunities. So I want to thank each of you for being here, and I want to earn the opportunity to give that voice to that hope and dreams. Thank you.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Hagedorn?
JH: Well thank you, it’s a pleasure to be here. Congressman Walz, thank you for your service. Not only in the U.S. House of Representatives but also in the United States National Guard. My friends, I appreciate this opportunity. Just a couple of brief moments about myself, my background. I’m a product of southern Minnesota. Born in the city of Blue Earth, Minnesota. Where I reside today. I was raised on a grain and livestock farm, just outside the town of Truman. My father, Tom Hagedorn, grandfather and great-grandfather, all Minnesota farmers. And it’s that perspective that I would take to the Congress, to sustain family farming and our rural way of life.
I also have experience that will help me make an immediate impact in the House of Representatives. Having worked for United States Congressman Arlen Stangeland and also been a congressional relations officer for two treasury bureaus, during which I moved bills through the Congress. I have a little bit of an understanding about how that place functions and dysfunctions, and I can do a good job on your behalf.
Now the reason I’m running for Congress is because I believe that our country is in trouble. These are critical times. And I believe our own government is causing the problems. The big government problems of Washington D.C. Just the other day, President Obama said that his policies are on the ballot this November. I agree with him. The man standing to my right, voted for every last one of those big government policies. Including Obamacare, cap and trade, trillions in deficit spending, the border chaos.
I’m runnin for a different reason. I that the liberal politics out there in Washington is getting us in trouble, and what we have to do is go out there and attack that place. Attack it this way. Take the power from Washington and bring it back to the states and the people. Solutions that I subscribe to: repeal and replace Obamacare. Any energy independence based upon drilling for fossil fuels. Securing our borders. If we take the power from Washington, you will be in power.
MOD: We will now begin with questions. The first question will come from the League of Women Voters. And Mr. Hagedorn will answer the question first. How much do party positions influence your opinion on issues?
JH: Well I have a track record in my day of always standing up to to my party, even even when even when I thought y’know it probably wasn’t going to do me much good. And recently, I ran in a primary and some people were upset with me, but I thought it was the right thing to do. But ah y’know some of the problems that we have in this country today, for instance Obamacare. That bill is hurting southern Minnesotans. It’s hurting our country. It’s hurting our economy. And I don’t just blame the Democrats. I don’t just blame Congressman Walz for having voted for that bill. Republicans held the House, the Senate and the White House in the early part of this century. We didn’t make the types of reforms that were needed. What happened then was that we had a big vacuum on that issue. And the Democrats filled it with a bill that I think is misguided. We need to do better, and I would stand up to my party in power when they’re wrong.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Walz.
TW: Could I ask you to repeat the question?
MOD: Yes. How much do party positions influence your opinion on an issue?
TW: I think all of us, as we move through life and we work in either work situations or family situations, my my wife Gwen is here tonight and I think of how often you’re setting next to loved ones here tonight, how often do you agree 100% with the person next to you? What you do is find compromise for common goals, to try and carve out a better life or a better home for your family. Ah the same thing is true of this country. You certainly have issues where you have commonalities with others and then there’s other issues where you disagree. I think what most of you are feeling, and the frustration and angst you feel, is is that the blind adherence to rigid party politics, it’s that type of thinking that shut down the government. Because if I can’t have my way, I’ll have nothing. It stalled the Farm Bill for 18 months when we know that that’s a good piece of legislation, and it involves compromise and willing to do it. And I think that for me, ah what predicates it first and foremost, is what’s right for the constituency. And what’s right for the conscience of the constituency and myself, but in the House of Representatives, you are not ah you are not the chief executive. You are part of an elected body that you need to get 217 of your colleagues to join with you just to move a piece of legislation.
So I think I’ve proven that, and I think endorsements that span from farm bureau to nature conservancy to the firefighters to teachers to others, shows that I can build a coalition, I can hold a coalition together to make sure Highway 14 gets done, make sure we bring a veteran’s cemetery to Preston, and do it in a matter that’s respectful to my colleagues. When I disagree with them, I don’t disagree because they’re Republican or Democrat. I disagree when I think they are wrong. And it’s my responsibility to articulate that vision, and I think I have done that in a manner that has been a positive reflection upon you and this district.
MOD: Thank you. Do you have a resp –
JH: Well, I think –
JH: — when you look at what’s going on in Washington, we’ve got a lot of problems in this country. And they’re not always because we have too much partisanship. Well, we did have some partisanship four years ago, and they voted for Obamacare and cap and trade energy and things like that, all the spending. That was on the Democrat side. Now but I think there’s another issue in Washington, and that is people in Washington going along and getting along just to make Washington work. What’s happening, we get these big government things on both sides. We have veterans issues that the Republicans are are are complicit in. And so I think we need to take a look and send people to Washington that are gonna go there and fight both teams when they’re wrong.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz?
TW: I come down on the side of ah Madison and Jefferson. Compromise, compromise, compromise for a better future and a better vision for all of us, and that’s the nature. You see it, you know what the dysfunction is, and you’ll hear more of it: the blaming, I’m not interested in the blaming, I’m interested in helping take responsibility to move things forward. And I have proven that when it comes time to put conference committees together, ah Republicans and Democrats ask that we be on there. And I think that gives you a strong voice, and you saw those reflections both in the Farm Bill, in some ethics reform in the STOCK Act, and then moving forward to to fix for our veterans what needs to be done.
MOD: Thank you. Our next question comes from ABC News.
Q: Well there are a lot of critical issues facing our country right now. There’s some of the folks who I talk to in researching both of you. And the thing that came ah into perspective for me was when we get right down to the fundamentals, and that is, is the Constitution what you believe? Is it a flexible or inflexible document?
TW: Well first of all, and I think what many of us hear, it’s the place that you carry with you often and and it’s a document that was crafted at a time that when you think about coming out of the Enlightenment and think about the totalitarian regimes of Europe. Ah the spirit of man, the idea of what individual freedoms would be, and it was written as a protection. It’s certainly a document that was, in its genius, crafted in a manner that would anticipate and let us move forward on things like ah ah personal ah personal freedoms from encroachment, and looking at now what happens when you have people who can listen in on your cell phones and do things like that.
And the Constitution over the ages has changed. It’s been amended. It was amended almost immediately after it was first crafted. So it’s a document that’s a reflection of our values. It’s a protection of our personal freedoms. But its genius was that it could adapt to modern age, it could adapt to technology, it could adapt to things, but it always kept our core principles at heart. It always kept those fundamental things there. And I think that requires us, as I said, you came here tonight because you understand we have a responsibility. You can’t just fall back on and say it. They were very clear. “Towards a more perfect union.” And we will not rest until we continue to move towards that more perfect union. So as the document was crafted in the first place, it excluded large numbers of Americans. It excluded minorities. It excluded women. We fixed that and moved forward. Always keeping at heart basic personal freedoms and the idea that a just and governed society is the one that will move the human spirit forward. Thank you.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Hagedorn.
JH: Well, I’ve been running for office just about a year out here, meetin the folks, and when I tell em about my solutions to the problems that we have in Washington D.C., is that we need to get back to the things that work: limited government, free enterprise, and the rule of law.
When you ask about the Constitution, and you have to look at, are we following the rule of law in this country? We have a president who has been very lawless in the way he has executed his duties. I’d say he has been extra-constitutional in many areas. When a president just decides by executive fiat that we’re no longer gonna deport people in this country because he doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do, and the Congress just wouldn’t go along with him, that’s lawlessness. That’s not following the Constitution of the United States. And it needs to stop, and you need someone in Washington that will fight him on that every step of the way. The Congressman’s a go-along/get-along guy with him on that. Not me.
When it comes to the other things, like excessive regulation, the president and his EPA and other agencies going out of their way to reinterpret statutes that the Congress passed sometimes twenty thirty years ago. To decide for instance that now “well, the EPA should have the right to regulate waters of the United States, so every farmer in this district would have to worry, when’s the EPA gonna show up and shut me down or harass me or fine me?
Those are the types of things, going outside the Constitution, trying to use his powers that I think are wrong, and we need a Congressperson that’s gonna step up there and fight for ya.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Walz, do you have a response?
TW: I’ve taken two oaths to the Constitution in my life. When I did when I signed up for the United States military and one when I stood up to be the representative of this First District. I’ll continue to do to do that because it’s very clear that we the people, and and with that I ah I yield back my time.
MOD: Mr. Hagedorn, further response?
JH: No thank you.
MOD: Our next question is gonna come from the Post Bulletin, and it will go first to Mr. Hagedorn.
Q: What measures are needed to protect Social Security for today’s seniors while also strengthening it for future generations?
JH: Well Social Security’s on unfortunately a trajectory to bankruptcy. And this country is goin right along with it. The biggest problem that we have in the country is that we have no economic growth. We have an economy that’s very stagnant, and we have pockets that are doing okay, but if we don’t have revenues created in order to sustain thee programs, we’re we’re – just gonna run out of cash at some point.
Now I think we have to have some outside-the-box thinking on Social Security and some of the other programs like Medicaid and Medicare. But, the first thing that has to happen is the scare tactics need to stop. Every time you bring something out and you have an idea about how to fix the programs, what happens? Well, one team or the other starts carting out advertisements saying that you’re you’re gonna bankrupt Granny or whatever.
So ah as far as Social Security is concerned, the trajectory is wrong, but the economy needs to grow. Now in order to make the economy grow to have more revenue, we have to get back to what works folks. Givin businesses and farmers and others the opportunity to go out and do their things with some certainty. And we’ll talk about that a little bit later but right now, the tax policy makes things uncertain. The economy in general makes things uncertain. You have regulatory policies being inflicted on farmers and and small business and others that make it uncertain. And then you go down the line ah with the other policies like Obamacare that are driving up costs, people don’t know what their bottom line’s gonna be on energy. So these are the kind of things that need to be done in order to firm up our social programs.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz?
TW: Well Social Security is the single greatest anti-poverty program probably any country has devised. It has kept literally millions of seniors out of poverty, it has raised the quality of life to allow people to retire with dignity. Ah it’s a program that was devised in again at a time of great uncertainty, during the time of the Great Depression, and we’ve just seen what happens as we came out of bad policies that put us down a road and put the financial and fiscal health of this country and families at risk, by risky practices that that said ah the folks on Wall Street, they know best. They’ll make the decisions.
The markets will work. But markets are are are amoral. They don’t care if someone goes hungry, they will operate as they operate. One of the things with Social Security they did was we gave it a guarantee so that wouldn’t happen. And Social Security ah is not driving the deficit. Social Security is not bankrupt. Social Security, some of the fixes are fairly easy to do on this. One of the things is is I’ve never understood this, I don’t understand why the withholding doesn’t go up to what members of Congress make and set it at that. If you took the withholding to go up to what the salary of a member of Congress is, Social Security is solvent for over 70 years.
So the fix is there. We can we can handle it. But the thing is, is that you’re not going to get to that if the partisan bickering stops us. If if it stops us from setting down and reaching some of these compromises. ‘Cause it makes good sense, it helps the economy, seniors spend that money back into the economy. The real issue is is addressing and strengthening Medicare and those issues that we’ve started moving in the right direction, stressing the Medicare Trust Fund and the longevity of that. Those are the things we’ll have to do, but they’re going to have to be done, if you think you’re going to do it, by blowing up the place and using this position as a a talk radio show, it won’t work. I mean Social Security is fixable. And we’ll do it.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Hagedorn, do you have a response?
JH: Well, y’know, the thing is, put Social Security at risk more than anything is that the Congress has been spending the Social Security Trust Fund monies for decades. And now they’ve been running up a tab of over 17-1/2 trillion dollars in debt. And folks, when that unravels, unfortunately, when we get to a point where the interest rates go up and we can’t afford it, what’s gonna happen is that the people on fixed incomes are gonna be the ones hurt the most. The folks on Social Security, the disabled and others, and that’s what I’m I’m concerned about. We need strong fiscal policies to get back to what works in this country.
MOD: Mr. Walz?
TW: I yield back.
MOD: Okay. Thank you. Our next question comes from the Chamber of Commerce.
Q: Does the federal government need to play a prominent financial role in maintaining expanding transportation infrastructure in United States? We’ll begin with Mr. Walz.
TW: Yes, and ah transportation again, it’s in the Constitution, it’s in the first paragraphs, maintaining of the post roads and and infrastructure, ah is certainly in Article I, Congressional responsibility. And, the United States, when we expanded, in one of the most again looking back to it, the genius of it, and if you go back and look at the naysayers, when President Eisenhower understood how critical it was, both for national security and for economic growth, to expand the interstate highway system, what he understood is that investment would come back tenfold over. We’ve neglected that. Our roads and bridges it’s a challenge, and I’m glad today and I congratulate I see I saw Tina Liebling here today, that the state of Minnesota has done the Corridors of Commerce to up the infrastructure on Highway 14. It’s building those things, these are investments, if you have someone who says “We should go and cut all spending,” if you cut every penny for transportation in this country, and you didn’t spend any this year, you would add 107 billion dollars to the taxpayers that they would cost in idling and UPS fees that in shipping fees. When I was with UPS the other day, these are companies that understand, investments in infrastructure, both federal, state and local, are the growth engines that allow this economy to be able to prosper, it allows for safety, and it allows for our communities to continue to grow in a smart fashion. And so, there is a role in this. Ah we’ve always been there, when we’ve done it right, and when we’ve been partners with ah with the states and with the local entities, we’ve created an infrastructure that is, and can once again be, the envy of the world. So yes, there is certainly a role.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Hagedorn.
JH: Well of course there’s a role, and it’s very important. I think every farmer, when they take their crops to market, and every business, when they’re trying to send out products and so forth, realize this, just how important it is. I I say that y’know I’ve traveled quite a bit, campaigning between New Ulm and Mankato. Highway 14 is very dangerous. Highway 14 should be, there should be more traffic on that road, but frankly, a lot of businesses comin out of New Ulm avoid it – because it’s a problem. I’d say that after eight years in office, the Congressman should be a little bit ashamed that that project hasn’t been completed yet.
If we’re gonna send people to Washington, folks, we need to get those things done. In a grander scale, though, I believe this: I think that the monies in Washington D.C., for transportation, should be sent back to the states, in order to have the governors and the legislatures decide how those monies are spent best. Whether you want rail projects or road projects or bridge projects or whatever, rather than have presidents of the United States flyin to St. Paul and tell ya how they’re gonna hand out cookies and these things, and have politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. decide who gets to spend the money and how it works, I mean you see that – in in states like West Virginia, where you had very powerful chairmen, or Pennsylvania, their roads and bridges are wonderful. The rest of the states are hurtin.
So I’d rather have the money sent back to the state of Minnesota, and let our elected officials decide here.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz, do you have a response?
TW: I’d just like to make sure I point out and thank that the coalition building on Highway 14, with the mayors, with the city councils, the county commissioners, the state and federal ah folks. I’m proud of that work we’ve done together, I I for one am grateful – for that and we’ve certainly moved that project forward, and I think ah that’s what people expect, it’s been done in a bipartisan manner, and it’s been done in a fiscally responsible manner. And I said “I think that’s what you’re askin for,” and commerce is showing, there’s a reason that Forbes magazine highlighted southern Minnesota and the cities of Mankato and Rochester as being some of the highest-growth areas in the country. That’s because of smart decisions that was made by those mayors, so thank you.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Hagedorn, a response?
JH: No. (audience murmurs)
MOD: We’ll begin with questions with the audience. Now, the first question is regarding ah jobs. What is the role of the, and this will go first ah to Mr. Hagedorn, what is the role of the federal government in increasing the number of private sector jobs, and what can be done about the stagnation of the middle class incomes over the past generation?
JH: Well the responsibility of the federal government in this area is to foster an environment that’s conducive to economic growth and opportunity. And what’s been goin on in Washington D.C., particularly these six years under President Obama, and Congressman Walz, just the opposite. They’re loading up the private sector with all sorts of responsibilities and new fees and new bills and regulations that are bogging them down and making it impossible for a lot of businesses to get capital and get started and expand.
I spoke with a a young lady in Albert Lea, campaigning on Main Street. And she gave an example of just what’s goin on in this area. She said her name was Dawn and she worked as a shopkeeper there, and she said that because of Obamacare, she lost her primary job, went from fulltime to part-time. And then she had to pick up another part-time job. In order to make up the money. But that didn’t work. Now she’s workin more hours for less money. And then her health insurance rates went up on top of that. And so she said, “Here I am, working more hours for less money, and it’s all because of a bill that the that the Congressmen voted for, and President Obama had to have, that said if you had more than 50 employees, well then you’re gonna be covered under Obamacare. And yet business after business lopping people off, and sending them into part-time work because of that.
Our economy is in trouble. It’s we have record welfare. I mean, it’s just a mess. And so ah we need new policies that are going to turn this around in Washington D.C.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz?
TW: Can I ask you to repeat the question, please?
MOD: Yes. What is the role of the federal government in increasing the number of private-sector jobs and what could be done about the stagnation of middle-class incomes over the past generation?
TW: Yeah, I think like the markets are wonderful things. And they they do incredible things. They spur on competition, they spur on innovation. One of the things is is that we’ve seen is is that markets can be distorted. They can be distorted again by by excessive ah interventions when those happen. Ah and it shouldn’t happen. And I think also can be ah distorted by monopolies. Where there’s not a fair and ah and an arbitrator a referee on the fields. So markets can only be free markets if they’re fair, and the role of federal government is to make sure, unlike what we did prior to 2008, where the sector on Wall Street took and risked this nation’s future, making hedgy bets to and loans which they should’ve never done, as it undermined the system, it undermined the wealth of the middle class. And so you’re right, as the recovery comes back, and we see here in Rochester, at 3.9% unemployment, job growth coming back in some of those, I I too feel this and I see it amongst folks, that there is a frustration amongst the middle class because what they’ve seen is is wages in, American workers are the most productive in the world. Hour by hour, minute by minute, American workers out produce anybody else in the world. But what we’ve seen over the last 30 years an erosion in the value of that work, we’ve seen CEO pay go from 40 times what an average worker makes to 600 times what an average worker makes. So the wealth is there, it simply has moved in a direction that doesn’t value the the working person. So what I think is, is let’s just have the conversation about where and who is creating the jobs, who is getting things done and I think that what most of us understand is, the economy comes back best and a true job creator is a middle-class person with disposable income in their pocket, and that’s something that I think here in southern Minnesota we’re starting to find is is going in the right direction.
MOD: Thank you Mr. Hagedorn,
JH: That all sounds
MOD: do you have a response.
JH: good Congressman, but every one of your policies in Washington D.C. is exactly backwards from that. You pass these big bills like Obamacare, you increase energy costs on people, ya pass Dodd-Frank that restricts the capital, you put these ridiculous regulations on people from the federal government, and then you have a tax policy that’s so complicated nobody can figure out and you have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in this country just to comply. Those are the types of things that need to be changed in Washington in order to help small business and others be in a position to create jobs, be innovative, and to expand our economy.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz, response? TW: And I made it rain yesterday. I yield back. (audience laughs)
MOD: Okay. Our next question from the audience, ah we will begin with Mr. Walz.
Q: From jobs and making money to the taxes we all pay, with recent attention to tax inversions, what are your priorities when it comes to tax reform?
TW: Ah, we need it. And this is one where it’s gonna take the courage to stand up there, it’s absolutely it’s it’s it’s it’s not an epiphany to say that the tax code is complex. I’m sure there are tax preparers in here would certainly tell you that. Every year I try and introduce a bill and I get no support for it, that all members of Congress should do their own taxes, because it’s a good way to find out that if it’s too complex for you to do it, one of the issues here is is that we have people in the tax code has continued to get more and more complex, we need to get away from this issue. And again, I don’t when I mentioned this thing about the CEOs or whatever, I think a company should have a right to pay their CEO what they want. If if if they choose and they think they’re worth 60 million dollars, pay ‘em. But pay ‘em on Friday with a paycheck and withhold withholding exactly like we do. Don’t use the tax system to figure out deferred compensation where you pay less than the person who’s actually doing the work.
So when it comes to these types of things, I’d be the first to tell you this I think the way you get rid of the tax inversion is you have massive and full comprehensive tax reform –get rid of the corporate tax. It doesn’t raise that much money, and I think it’s certainly a disincentive to that. But if you do that, keep in mind that you’re going to have to understand to make the tax system fairer for those workers who are, who are earning and are making those companies go in the direction they’ve gone.
So, I think that’s not that difficult of a fix. I think most Americans and most people in southern Minnesota, they’re willing to pay their taxes as long as they’re fair and other people are paying theirs, and that it goes to something that they see a value in, whether it’s investing in infrastructure, education, research for NIH and those types of things.
So I’m I’m for it and again, if you think you’re going to get tax reform by blaming the other side on everything, it’s not gonna happen. We need it, we need to come together and I’m gonna say it again – I know Madison is happy with me – compromise, compromise, compromise.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Hagedorn.
JH: I’m not gonna blame just the other side on the tax, complicated tax system. I mean look at, since President Bush on up, actually since President Reagan reformed it back in the the eighties, with the Democrat Congress it’s just gotten muddled up, muddled up, gotten worse and worse. It’s both presidents, it’s both parties, doesn’t seem to matter who’s out there, I’m just sayin we have to come to grips and and and fight for these things. And so it can be both parties.
Now. Ah – what’s my plan? I want a y’know a flat tax with very few deductions or consumption tax or something that’s going to attack the IRS, make them less powerful in your life, and put you in a position to hold, save, invest your money the way you want, not the way the Washington politicians and the Washington bureaucrats tell you to. Because the tax code is used every day by the lobbyists and others who go up to the members of Congress and they want their special deal. And I understand that, it’s a complicated process. But what – why don’t we ever change it? Well, because some of the people who are in those positions of responsibility on the Ways and Means Committee and others, both parties, they like the attention. They like the PAC money. They like the power. And I’m, I’m one of those people that wants to go to Washington and stop all that. Fight Washington D.C. and both parties. And that’s what I stand for.
MOD: Thank you, do you have a response, Mr. Walz?
TW: Ah no. I yield back.
MOD: And you’re finished, Mr. Hagedorn, right?
JH: Yes ma’am.
MOD: Our next question from the audience.
Q: What can be done to prevent issues like the problems at the VA?
MOD: Mr. Hagedorn?
JH: Well again, I think the VA’s another situation where we have – it’s it’s it’s very unfortunate, what’s been goin on. And I think both parties again, Washington D.C. has let us down. This hasn’t, this has been going on for quite some time. We need some outside-the-box thinking as it applies to veterans and their care.
Now, here’s the situation. My opponent, Mr. Walz, Congressman Walz, been on the committee for eight years. He’s been working hand in hand with President Obama on these issues. What’s the record? Six years into the Obama administration? Veterans are dying at the hands of our government. Veterans are routinely denied quality, timely medical care. Veterans are waiting a year or more for their benefits. And that’s unacceptable. Now the Congress, both parties, passed a bill and they said “Here’s the fix.” Well, if you’re a veteran and you live 40 miles from a VA clinic, and you have an appointment 30 days out or more, well then you can go to your own doctor and be reimbursed. That’s ridiculous! That’s unacceptable! I have to say folks, that if the Congressman or anyone on that committee were sick, they’d go to the doctor the very next day, or as soon as possible, every veteran in this country deserves the same quality timely access to medical care as the United States Congress and Congressman Walz, and that’s what I stand for.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz?
TW: Well, there’s no more sacred trust in this nation than the defense of it, and ah the care of those warriors. We we all know and we’ve heard it since the beginning of this nation when – when President Lincoln made his second inaugural address and understood, when he said “the care of he who bore the battle and his widow and orphan, is our utmost responsibility.”
Ah the work that Republican Chairman Jeff Miller has done on the committee has been exemplary. And there are many in this room that have gone to the VA and received quality care. Ah one veteran not receiving care is a failure. Just like leaving one of our fellow soldiers on the battlefield, it’s not going to happen. And so the way you fix this is you come together and you put in the reforms that are necessary, you make the accountability, you hold people accountable for this. And you engage the American public to make this a priority, not just now and always.
But – I I have to say I will not allow this to become a partisan issue. And and – a close friend of mine lost limbs in Vietnam to a – to a grenade – only to be denigrated by Mr. Hagedorn and and this this issue amongst all issues, cannot go down the road of partisanship. It cannot go down the road of trying to divide us. There are solutions that are out there. We brought in – ah Secretary McDonald, who brings in vast knowledge from Procter & Gamble, he’s putting a team together and we’re working hand in hand, and and I for one ah – have wore – have wore that uniform for 24 years and I stood next to those veterans and to imply in any way – that I don’t care – or or that they would not get care – ah especially after the comments that were made ah – I simply reject that. So thank you.
MOD: Mr. Hagedorn, do you have a response?
JH: I I didn’t say that you didn’t care, I said that the record after eight years in office and six years of President Obama is unacceptable. And we have to have outside-the-box thinking. We need to make sure that the veterans in this in this country are allowed to go to the see the doctors of their choice, to get care when they need it. We need to provide them with vouchers and private insurance. I would swap the insurance that Congressman Walz gets with his subsidy from the U.S. government, and give that to every veteran, and let the Congresspeople go to the Veterans Institution. Give the veterans a choice.
MOD: Mr. Walz, further response?
TW: (pause) My pledge to you, as it’s always been, is to stand for the people that are here and the Legion and the VFW and the folks who we’ve worked together to do this together know, but ah — but there there, there needs to be an accountability for wounded warriors and ah there needs to be an accountability on someone who would so denigrate one of ours, but what you can know is is that I will continue to be there. We’ll continue to fight for them, we’ll continue to make it right, and and veterans know, those of you in the room, you know. I yield back.
MOD: Thank you. Our next question from the audience will go first to Mr. Walz.
Q: Would you work to get rid of the Common Core when it comes to education?
TW: (sighs) Well I think like so many things in education, I’m a teacher, I spent my lifetime in this, I see coming back in this school, I look out there, I’ve coached on that football field and down the hall and and we’re here with speech teams, with my wife at different times. Ah I think looking for educational ah solutions, looking for ah new and innovative ways, we had a discussion today about what Finland is doing, and what some other countries are doing. Common Core and some of the things that are in there, I’m the only member of Congress that ever taught under No Child Left Behind. I simply did not think it was the right way to go, I thought that there were certainly things that should have been changed and needed to be changed, Common Core falls into that same thing.
But from what I understand is, is that Common Core, like certain things, become catchwords for people who who haven’t taught, who haven’t been in the classroom, and they hear things that might not be the case. There certainly are faults, there certainly are things that I think could be done differently, it’s certainly ah ah the the rhetoric that goes into it, asking our students to meet a common goal, and asking our students to participate at the highest level, to make sure that our nation is the most educated and has the best (unclear) workforce available. It’s certainly a noble goal, but these are things that we can continue to move forward. We can continue to change, we can continue to pull back. I have not taught under the Common Core ah, but I’ve talked to teachers who have and and while there’s value in many of them, there’s things that aren’t working. So I I think that once again, nothing’s carved in stone. Everything moves forward. Progress is progress for a reason. And we can continue to reform and go. The one thing I know is, the way you get achievements is, keep and retain the best quality teachers in the world. That’s the key. It’s not the curriculum. It’s the teacher.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Hagedorn.
JH: I’ve been very consistent on this, and I’m not a real big fan of Common Core. I think it’s wrong. And federal policy ah in Washington D.C. has been wrong for awhile. I didn’t think that President Bush was right with No Child Left Behind. So I tell my conservative friends, if you’re opposed to Common Core, you should’ve been opposed to No Child Left Behind as well.
But I think what what works best again – block grant those monies back to the states. Get rid of this federal education program altogether. Let the states decide how the kids are educated. And if the states – some states like Louisiana, with Governor Jindal and others, want to take those monies or and have school choice programs, so parents can then decide where to send their kids, that’s the best way. The money should follow the children, not the children following the money. And if we did these types of things, there would be an explosion of opportunity in education. And again, parents would be in a very good position to determine whether or not their children were receiving proper education.
MOD: Thank you, do you have a response Mr. Walz? TW: Just that I’ll take Minnesota over Louisiana. (audience laughs) I yield back.
MOD: And Mr. Hagedorn?
MOD: No? Our next question from the audience? We will begin with Mr. Hagedorn.
Q: Would you vote to increase the federal minimum wage? Why or why not?
JH: Well I think when you look at the fed – I’m I’m opposed to the federal minimum wage increase. And I think what’s been goin on in Washington again is you have the politicians driving up the basic costs of people, limiting our economy, and then turning around and go “Well let’s raise the minimum wage cause no one has any money.” Course they don’t have any money. People are havin to pay more for their healthcare, people are payin more for their energy, look at what’s goin on with these energy policies in Washington, where you have these cap and trade style energy policies, and before you know it, the price of everything goes up! Because folks, the price of everything in our society, every product and service, tied to energy.
Y’know regulations are costing people money. And it’s hidden. And so after awhile, everyone’s “Boy, there’s no money in my back pocket. I don’t have any disposable income.” And then unfortunately, you have people pushed into two part-time jobs, which is happening way too much, and people don’t have enough money. So. But I think in the end, what happens with the minimum wage is it’s counterproductive. If you raise it, people at the lower end that are getting started in work and things of that nature, those jobs disappear, we go to more mechanization because it’s cheaper for businesses to do that, I think in the end it’s counterproductive.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz? TW: Yes.
MOD: (pause) Any response, Mr. Hagedorn?
TW: No, it’s a sense of fairness. And people people understand that, and I value hard work. I yield back.
MOD: All right. Our next question from the audience:
Q: Ah would you support legislation to ban discrimination of gays in the workforce? Why or why not? We begin with Mr. Walz.
TW: Yes I have, because the Constitution is very clear in those, our fellow citizens who wear this uniform to defending our freedoms have every right to be protected in the workplace as anyone else does. It’s that step toward a more perfect union and more making progress in that regards and I I certainly support that, and I certainly think most Americans understand that, that the basic equality and the basic sense of ah respect and dignity for every American is something that we value.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Hagedorn?
JH: I’m opposed to the legislation, I believe the states should decide those matters.
MOD: Mr. Walz, any response?
TW: No. I yield back.
MOD: Thank you, our next question.
Q: What needs to be done to have the parties work together to solve the nation’s problems? What tools for collaboration do you possess?
MOD: Mr. Hagedorn.
JH: Well, when I was, when I worked at the Treasury Department I’m one of the few people who ever went out to Washington D.C. and downsized his own agency, and I saw that we were ah we were doing some things inefficiently, and I pushed a bill that forced the federal government to pay people electronically, to send direct deposit. I went up to the Congress and I worked with both sides. And sometimes, when you have a decent idea, reform idea or whatever, and you can work with both sides, it works.
But other times, folks, we’re in we’re in a situation in this country where we have two different paths that we’re going to take. We’re either going to take a path that we’ve been going on, big government with President Obama, his policies that are stifling the economy and driving up cost, and getting the government in control of your lives and control of your businesses, or we’re gonna go another direction, and that is to take the power from Washington. And so, in the House of Representatives, which is a body that’s controlled by one vote more than half, when you’re in the majority, you set the agenda. You pass the bills, you send ‘em to the Senate. There’s something like 200 bills that have been sent to the Senate by the House of Representatives. That have been stymied.
So. I kinda halfways reject this idea that we’re in we’re in a predicament because we’re not getting along. I think we’re in a predicament because when one side had power, they passed a lot of bad bills. And now we’re in a position of trying to undo that.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz?
TW: I think you do it by demonstrating it. You demonstrated it in your life, demonstrated it as I worked well through the military, and ah and also as a teacher, as a coach. Ah you know me, I know your kids, and we work for common goals.
And then I think in this job, ah the way you conduct yourself, and the things you say and the relationships that you build and a sense of trust. Because that’s all that you have is your reputation. And I think ah building coalitions, whether it’s Highway 14, bringing my friend Congressman Runyon, a Republican from New Jersey out here to get us the veterans cemetery in Preston, for all the hard work that the veterans had done for all of those years. It’s about getting results by showing that you’re in this together – there’s there’s never just two black and white paths. There’s there’s certainly different ideas, and they come from both sides. They’re ah you take the best and you melt it together, and you understand that you’re going to have to compromise to get it done. But I think that what I would tell you is this is: is talk radio slogans and things like that don’t match up to getting it done, and when it came the issue and asked, when they asked the Republican chairman who has been in charge, and the Republicans have been in charge of the House of Representatives for four years, when they asked Republican Jeff Miller who he goes to to get advice from to try and move things forward on veterans, he said me. And they trust me, and I trust him. And I have many colleagues that way. I don’t agree with them, but I don’t disagree with them because they’re Republicans. I disagree with them when I think that they’re wrong. And that’s a difference of opinion, and I’ve built those coalitions, we built things done, and in the minority, I’ve been able to move more legislation whether it was STOCK Act, government reform, ethics legislation, Farm Bill implement – things in the Farm Bill, than any other member in the minority. That comes from building trust and respect.
MOD: Thank you, do you have a response, Mr. Hagedorn?
JH: Well, the big question again, I I don’t I don’t get into all this partisanship and all of that stuff. I’ll just tell ya, we have we have a choice to make. Which direction do you want this country to go? More government or less government? You want the federal government to have more control over your life or less? And if you want somebody who wants less government, then I’m gonna go out there and fight for ya. And whether that’s having to take on the Republicans and Democrats or just the Democrats or whoever, I’m ready to go fight for ya.
MOD: Thank you.
TW: I yield back.
MOD: Thank you. Our next question from the audience will begin with Mr. Walz.
Q: How do you plan to keep only legal immigrants coming into the U.S.? And should we have quotas again?
TW: Well, we do now. One of the issues that I think, and and I and this issue again, the divisions as they divide us, this nation, be very clear, every sovereign nation has the right to control its borders and must control its borders. We must know who’s here and every nation that follows the rule of law must know that.
The interesting thing about this country is, we’ve been able to do that at the same time we ah we ah understand our heritage, as a nation of setting here of immigrants, a nation of immigrants setting in this room. Of trying to build that. And so what I would say that we need to do is that the policies that encourage immigration, the situation coming out of especially out of Central America recently is, there needs to be an accountability from the governments there. There needs to be “Yes, we’ll partner with you, but there needs to be an accountability to make sure that those, that you’re not incentivizing people to come. And then when we control our border, we need to do so in a humane manner. We need to make sure that our resources are being focused on keeping drugs, keeping ah people who wish to harm this nation, but understanding when we ask people to go get in a line, there is no line. That’s why comprehensive immigration reform got 68 votes in the United States Senate, but wouldn’t be heard in the House of Representatives. We had Republican Senators and Democratic Senators compromise to make our borders secure, to make sure we adhered to our history of of of immigrants, making sure people had a line to get into, and making sure that we understood and listened to our employers, who in the first District are playing by the rules, trying to do everything right, but we need to have the honest discussion of what we need in the workforce. And that can be done. We’ve done it through our history. But it’s not going to be done by demagoguery, and it’s not gonna be done by trying to separate us. It’s gonna be done by smart policies, working together to solve it.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Hagedorn?
JH: Here’s the difference between the two of us. If you’re worried about border security and the chaos down there, then I’m your candidate. If you if you want immigration amnesty and continued policies that President Obama is pushing, that’s your candidate.
What’s going on in this country is a disgrace. We haven’t secured our border, we haven’t fixed the passport and immigration system, we don’t know who’s in this country and now we’re not even deporting the people that we apprehend. It doesn’t take too much imagination to realize what will happen if just a few people, Islamic terrorists or others that want to do us harm, how much damage they can inflict to our country. Well, we don’t have to use much imagination ‘cause we just think back to 9-11, when 19 of ‘em did it.
Folks, they’ve left our country unprotected. We’re we’re allowing people to come into this country right now from Ebola nations that that could cause a calamity in this country. The President of the United States hasn’t stepped up and defended us. And neither has Congressman Walz on this particular issue. We need to fix the passport and visa systems of the United States. We need a work program that makes sense for labor and agriculture and where there’s a real need in those jobs. But we have to get back to the rule of law and say to people “If you want to come to the United States, go through the process like everyone else. Let’s have a sovereign country again.”
MOD: Thank you, do you have a response Mr. Walz?
TW: No, I yield back.
MOD: All right.
ANNCR: Our next question from the audience: Minnesota’s largest high school, Wayzata, dropped out of the national school lunch program this year. The one-size-fits-all program didn’t fit and didn’t jibe with the diverse student body. The current law expires next year. Will you vote to continue this law or make changes?
MOD: We will begin with Mr. Hagedorn.
JH: Is is this relating to the — Mrs. Obama’s lunch program? Is that the question? I’m sorry, can you repeat the question?
ANNCR: Yes. Minnesota’s largest high school, Wayzata, dropped out of the national school lunch program
ANNCR: this year. The current law expires next year. Will you vote to continue this law or make changes?
JH: Well, let me answer that question in just a second. But what I would say is this gets – there’s a little bit what’s going on here folks, where the government is is controlling our lives, controlling what the kids eat in school, they don’t like it anymore, people want to drop out of the program, and and on and on it goes. The government is way too involved in our business, and it comes through these regulations coming from USDA in this case, and other agencies. And what we need is, we need regulatory reform.
First we need a president that’s not going to do these things to us. But second of all we need regulatory reform. The Congress should have a way to block these types of regulations coming out that they don’t like. The Congress should have a veto authority for instance over regulations of over a hundred million dollars. And we should sunset statutes and regulations so every five to ten years the Congress would have to come back and reauthorize the bills, so we would know that people would want to do it. In this case, if this has to do with the school lunch program for Mrs. Obama and so forth, I would vote I would vote against that.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Walz?
TW: Well, this is an area, having supervised the high school lunchroom for 20 years, I have some experience in. Ah – one of the things that I think we all understand this, that the role of the federal government and again, this is a nation that that – being hungry is not a sin, and no child should go hungry, and we figured out ways, especially in school districts are not equal in terms of the assistance they get in free and reduced lunch, and different schools need to make decisions, and they have that right to, and Wayzata had the right to do so.
But the issue here is is making sure that we we keep our children safe. We want to make sure they’re safe on their school buses, we want to make sure they’re safe crossing the streets, we want to make sure they’re safe from predators, we want to make sure that as the science and the research comes, that we want to make sure our children aren’t obese. We want to make sure we’re giving them good choices, we’re making sure that those things are made available, so that they can live and and again, from a healthcare cost perspective, it makes good sense.
And so what some of the things is and the things that come forward on this is is that we’re asking folks when they go forward that they would provide locally grown vegetables that are here. Be very clear that some of the fight that came on this came from the large processed food companies. They want to sell the pizzas that you put in the microwave. And certainly, I’ve got a seven-year-old. Given the choice between eating a healthy meal or eating sugar and a pizza, you know what they will choose. We’re adults. There’s a difference on this. And again, this – this is us. It is – if you have two people standing up here, this is – there’s not some ah some faceless cabal or something, it’s your neighbors and folks who are working together, and what we want to do is give your children healthy choices, make sure that no child goes hungry, and again – you can always modify these things. You can make changes and in the case of Wayzata, they made the choice based on the economics that they could go it and and that’s fine, and they should have that right.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Hagedorn, do you have a response?
JH: Give the federal government power, they will use it. Give the federal government power, they will meddle. This is – it’s kind of ridiculous when you listen to that last answer, how involved the federal government is in these things. Send the money back to the states, let the states decide these things, Get the federal government out of their business.
MOD: Mr. Walz?
TW: I yield back.
ANNCR: Next question from the audience.
Q: Should the federal government play a role in dealing with climate change, and if so, what would that role be?
MOD: We’ll begin with Mr. Walz.
TW: Ah, yes they should play a role. As I said, as issues and as the science starts to ah identify itself and certainly, on on those of you who and this is Mayo Clinic, we’re in Rochester, ah science is ah nothing is without absolute certainty. The issue is, is that the folks who frame it in a a false choice of either/or, what we should do is, is we should be addressing it, but we can address it in a manner that will not only reduce carbon emissions and strengthen the longevity of ah of the planet and the sustainability, but it also gives us opportunities to move in directions where we can create new economies, where we can be a leader, and we’ve seen it here in southern Minnesota, the jobs that are being created in renewable energies. The jobs that are being created in the market now, getting on an even field.
Now I’m very clear about this. I think we should use our existing fossil fuels that are here and we should use them as a bridge. We should use this opportunity now. You don’t fix the roof when it’s raining. You fix it when it’s not raining. So we should move forward on that. And we should lay everything on the table for our energy needs. Cause the country that controls its energy needs will control the future. It makes no sense to me by not addressing this and not coming up with energy efficiencies and homegrown energy. We send a billion dollars a day to countries specifically in the Middle East who hate us. They’ll hate us for free. Let’s get the jobs here. Let’s create the incentives here, let’s move in the right direction. And at the same time, it doesn’t have to be, it’s not a purity test. If the science is starting to move in that direction, move in a direction that makes us sustainable, that gives us options, that moves us forward. We owe that to future generations and we can do it. The science and the technology is there.
MOD: Mr. Hagedorn?
JH: The United States was became a great militant –
JH: military, excuse me. The United States became a great economic power. Because of abundant, reliable low-cost energy in many respects. On this issue, we have a complete divide between the two of us. He’s a cap and trade extremist. He believes in restricting fossil fuels on public lands. He’s voted to bankrupt the coal companies through these EPA regulations., He’s on he’s on that side. Here’s where I come down. I think we need to have energy independence in this country, first and foremost by drilling on public lands in Alaska and other places where there’s abundant energy. We need to sustain coal We need nuclear. We need renewables. And conservation.
And folks, we also need the infrastructure to use the resources that God gave us. In order that it can be efficient we can drive down costs. We need things like the Keystone Pipeline that Congressman Walz voted against. We need new refineries and distribution points that are being blocked by Obama’s EPA. These are the types of things that we can do in order to not just drive down costs, but bring back manufacturing and grow our economy.
MOD: Thank you, do you have a response Mr. Walz?
TW: Well oftentimes just because something’s said, that doesn’t make it true. I often remember my my seven-year-old calls himself an astronaut, he’s not one. So. Keep that in mind.
The issue here is that there’s there’s opportunities to grow, we’re doing things right, Minnesota has led on this, our rural electric cooperatives and our electric companies in Minnesota have risen to the challenge, and doing better than anyone else in the country, and there’s a reason that those people support me. Because they understand the policies I’ve advocated for, are growing that opportunity and allowing them to do that and move us forward.
And that’s again about talk versus results. And I’m proud of the work we’re doing.
MOD: Thank you Mr. Hagedorn, do you have a further response?
JH: Everything I said was true. You voted to block drilling on federal lands. You voted against the Keystone Pipeline. You voted for the EPA regulations that are gonna bankrupt the coal-fired power plants in that in that industry. Driving up people’s electricity rates.
Folks, when the government does this to you, drives up energy costs, it takes money out of your back pocket. Money that you could be using for lots of other services and sources. And ah, it’s the type of thing, there’s just a huge difference between the big government policies on that side and the free market policies on this side.
MOD: Thank you. Our next question will go to Mr. Hagedorn first.
Q: Where do you stand on Voter I.D.?
JH: I support it. It it just makes perfect sense that when people go into the voting booth, and cast what is a very important thing for our country, that they have to prove that that they are the voter.
TW: I don’t support any barriers to voting. I think it’s making sure that someone is is verified and is registered, one of the rarest crimes in America is in-person voter fraud.
One of our issues in this country is not enough people do vote, and we need to do what we can do to encourage them, I think we need to make sure that they once again come back to to seeing the ah the value of what they do. We’ve seen this in our nation, the different things are always thrown up as barriers. We saw it in the South, making it more difficult, we started out with poll taxes and things. I think anything that’s a common-sense piece of this but don’t, don’t be flippin’ about how difficult it is for some people and how many people don’t have that, and then to deny them the most basic of rights in this nation – ah it’s a pretty slippery slope on this, that the one thing that should have the ability is is that an American citizen to be able to go and cast a vote.
And once again, you see this often, we simply don’t and should not, and voter fraud is punishable, ah it’s a crime, it’s a felony, and and it should be punished at it sees fit. But to make it more difficult or impossible for so many people to exercise the fundamental right to cast a vote because of that, it simply doesn’t make sense. Enforce the existing laws, making sure that that doesn’t happen, and making sure that we encourage people to vote. I think we should be having a conversation about expanding, should be vote on Saturdays. Should we make it so that we have it there, that people can’t leave. Why would you want to limit it, why would the greatest nation on earth have one of the lowest voter turnout records? It’s because it’s the difficulty in this. You’ve got busy people working, and you got long lines. And so anything we do to make people participate in the democracy to be part of this experiment, that’s good.
MOD: Thank you, do you have a response, Mr. Hagedorn?
JH: No, just that it is a state issue, and I but I do believe that people should should have to prove that they’re the, their identification when they vote.
MOD: Thank you, and Mr. Walz?
TW: Does the I.D. have to come from the state you’re voting in? I yield back.
ANNCR: All through the nineties we had heard of military bases being closed, one after another. We were cutting back on our nation’s defense spending. Right now is that something we continue to do, or where do you stand when it comes to military spending and our nation’s defense?
MOD: Mr. Walz.
TW: This one’s for me? Well I’m obviously, and the people in here know, I’m a strong advocate of it. I simply think that the sequestration that took an axe across the the budget certainly (unclear) and I voted for over a trillion dollars in cuts, but I should that’s our responsibility, it should be done through regular order, which we don’t do anymore, bring them to the floor debate them, instead of cutting it across.
And one of the issues on this is, is defense. And ah I have spoken with ah everyone from General Dempsey and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to others that the readiness starts to be impacted by this. I think this nation has many ways to influence things. Military power is one, economic power, our moral rights, all of the things that we do to be able to exercise that, but I simply and I know from 24 years of experience, I know from watching this and seeing the budgets, I know from traveling and being into the war zones and listening to them, ah that we have to make sure that ah that we are funding accordingly.
Here’s where the catch is: and it’s a bill that I’ve moved forward and I cannot get my Republican colleagues to get it authorized. They’re out some of them, I’ll keep working them, we need to audit the Pentagon to make sure we’re aware of where our money’s going. Because it’s one thing to spend on defense, it’s another to make sure that it’s going to the right place. The Pentagon will not allow that to happen. And we haven’t done so at this point, and I think and I would make the argument that I don’t think we’re putting it into the right places, I think that we’re spending it in the wrong places, but I think if we do that, and we have a reassessment of that, ah we’re going to find out that because, and once again, ah there are folks out there, there are dangerous people, there are extremists that want to harm this nation, we need to be smart about all of our resources and how we deploy them, and I do think and I am concerned on this issue.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Hagedorn.
JH: Well, I’m concerned with the way that this administration’s cutting back the military. And and and but I I have to say this, that overall, we could reform the Defense Department and probably save 5 – 10% of the money and still have money for weapon system and the pay and benefits to the troops. But we don’t have people out there that are really puttin their mind to those types of things.
What we need to get back to in this country is peace through strength. That was a Reagan doctrine that worked for many years. And what’s going on in Washington right now, with the Obama administration, just the opposite. We’re showing weakness, we’re leading from behind, and it’s telling. Look what’s been going on in the Middle East. The president inherited a Middle East that was relatively stable, had a lot of pro-American or pro-West countries, or neutral countries. Then we undermine countries like Egypt, we undermined Yemen, we undermined Libya, and we’ve ended up with the place being upside down and completely destabilized, where we have no more ah influence in that area, the terrorists are rising up, the Islamic radicals rising up, slaughtering the Christians, and this is all under this Obama policy that Congressman Walz has supported wholeheartedly.
We we do need to project out strength. We need to support our allies. but most importantly folks, we need to get people around this world to fight for their own freedom, rather than get in and try to fight every war.
MOD: Mr. Walz, do you have a response?
TW: I yield back.
MOD: Mr. Hagedorn, do you have anything more?
JH: No thank you.
MOD: We’ve come to the time for our closing statements. Ah we will hear from Mr. Walz first, each candidate will have two minutes with no rebuttals to make a closing statement.
TW: Well once again, thanks to Mr. Hagedorn, thanks to our moderators, and to Century High School, and again thanks to each of you. Ah my bride Gwen is here, we ah we bought our first house together, and we’re still in that house, ah our children were born here. Ah I taught your kids in school. I coached ‘em. Sometimes right out here. Lost some hard ones, won some state championships. Ah when the tornadoes came, I helped you pick up after that, we did it together. We sandbagged together in floods, I put on the uniform of the Minnesota National Guard. And, I joined service organizations in our community.
Ah I believe there’ s no place on earth that provides the opportunity, the security and the optimism that southern Minnesota does. I am so incredibly proud when I watch what Mayo Clinic and our great institutions of of medicine are doing, of moving things forward. When the story of cancer being cured, it’ll go through Hormel and the Mayo Clinic. Ah we’re feeding the world with the most productive farmers in the world, and we have a 25-year high in manufacturing coming back, many of it’s here.
We have some of the best schools in the nation, and we have some of the lowest crime rates. And that’s done because of communities coming together. Understanding that you can have and value personal freedoms and achievement, but you can also be in the public sector. And the things we do together that are called — helping your neighbor is not socialism, it’s neighborliness. And we can do things smartly and do that, and I’ve worked for you on that. We’ve worked together on coalitions to pass Farm Bills, we’ve worked together to bring improvements to Highway 14 in our infrastructure, we got a bridge down in Winona that we did working with the Chamber of Commerce and community and bipartisan manner, and we have a resting place where many of us in this room will will spend eternity down in Preston in the most beautiful veterans cemetery in Minnesota. That was done by working with my colleagues, working in a manner that is respectful to you, doing it by not throwing firebombs, but respecting the process in this democracy and trying to move towards that more perfect union. If you give me the opportunity I will do it again for the next two years. I thank you for that.
MOD: Thank you, Mr. Hagedorn? (audience applauds)
MOD: Hold it please. Please.
JH: Well thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate you being here Congressman Walz, thank you for tonight. I started the discussion out tonight talking about how we have two paths that we can go on. One of larger federal government intrusion in your life, and another, where we actually go to Washington and try to take the power from them and send it back to you, the American people.
I have to say that we’re in Rochester, Minnesota tonight, one of America’s greatest cities. With the finest institution of medicine in all the world. And yet we didn’t have one question asked about Obamacare. And what we wanted to do about that. I have to say, one of the reasons I want to go to Washington is to repeal and replace Obamacare. Because I believe Obamacare stands as a direct threat to all the good things that are happening in Rochester and southern Minnesota. With Mayo and all the fine institutions of medicine in this country. That bill is a monstrosity that is hurting the people of southern Minnesota and driving up our costs, limiting our freedom, and hurting us when it comes to ah the economy and our jobs.
We don’t need a top-down approach to medicine. We don’t need Washington D.C.–based control of our lives. We need private-sector reforms that allow us to hold and keep our own money, shop for care, competition across state lines, we can do this without the federal government. And if you give me the chance to go to Washington, first and foremost I will fight to repeal and replace Obamacare. But I will also continue that job and take us on that other path to less government. I ask you for your vote. Thank you very much.
(audience begins to applaud)
MOD: I know you’re just itching to applaud, give me just 15 seconds here and I’ll let you let loose. I’d like to thank each of our candidates tonight for participating in our forum, thank you for your service to the community. And for your willingness to participate in the democratic process by running for office.
I’d like to remind you all that the views expressed in the forum tonight are those of the candidates, not those of the League of Women Voters, Rochester, or any partner or sponsor of this debate. Thanks to our partners, ABC News, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, the Rochester Post-Bulletin and the Rochester Public Library. Don’t forget to vote; Election Day is Tuesday, November fourth. If you have a question about your polling place, you can go to the Secretary of State Web site, at sos.state.mn.us.
To view this event again, you can see it on channel 6 on Sunday evening, October eleventh. And ah or you can check out a DVD from the Rochester Public Library or probably see it on YouTube.
Good night everybody. You can go now.