In their only joint appearance this campaign, Minnesota Third District Congressional Representative Erik Paulsen (R) and his challenger Sharon Sund (DFL) differed greatly on several issues in an interview conducted by KSTP-TV’s Tom Hauser.
Sund went after Paulsen for criticizing the U.S. response to ebola, pointing out that the shutdown and sequester engineered by House Republicans cut funding to the Centers for Disease Control that is now tasked with controlling ebola in this country. She said “we need to be more forward thinking,” when it comes to budgetary issues.
Sund also went after Paulsen on the rising cost education to students, citing his votes for Representative Paul Ryan’s budget which cut education funding. Sund said the about two-thirds of higher education used to be subsidized. Government cuts have forced more of those costs on students which leaves them saddled with debt. Paulsen countered that universities are expecting students to get money from the government so they’re “building it into their tuition model” and that’s responsible for the increases.
The two also answered questions about the Affordable Care Act. Paulsen called it a “disaster” and agreed with Hauser that it is unpopular. Sund challenged the unpopularity assumption saying that components of the ACA such as not denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents coverage until they are 25 are very popular. She said the ACA as a whole does not poll well because it has become “politicized”.
The two differed on raising the federal minimum wage. Paulsen said it would lead to job loss. Sund said real wages for middle class workers are continuing to decline. Without raising wages there is not enough spending to create jobs.
On taxes both supported eliminating a tax on medical devices (Sund noted that her husband works at a medical device company) and both were for reforming the tax code but differed on how that should be done. Paulsen emphasized “simplifying” the tax code for businesses and individuals. Sund emphasized that it had to be done bi-partisanly.
Interview questions and answers
Below is a log of the 28 minute interview with times based on the video player. Since timer on player counts down, times are the remaining time in video
26:40 – Affordable Care Act, polls show many disapprove. What would you do with the ACA?
26:11 – Sund – disputes unpopularity. Says components are popular and it has been politicized. People like that children can stay on parents insurance until they’re 25 and pre-existing conditions are covered. People come up to me and say I wouldn’t be alive today without the ACA. Important that citizens have access to health care.
24:42 – Paulsen – rollout was a disaster and health care reform is still needed. Premiums are up. What ACA did can be done more strategically.
23:32 – How would you cover preexisting conditions without the ACA?
Paulsen- let people buy insurance across state lines
Sund – I’ve heard solutions mentioned, but not heard them presented in a way to get bipartisan support. Paulsen has had many opportunities to do that but he hasn’t. All sides need to work together. Saying we’re going to get rid of it and start all over doesn’t work.
21:53 – Where do you stand on getting rid of the medical device tax?
Sund – My husband works at a medical device company. We need Representative who will fight as hard for families as corporations. I would support revoking it.
20:29- How do you pay for ACA without that tax?
Paulsen – This is about keeping innovation alive in Minnesota.
19:45 – Tax reform – Do we need to eliminate loopholes that allow corporations to move and not pay taxes?
Paulsen – we need to simplify taxes and require businesses to pay less. Then they won’t move. Too complicated for individuals too.
18:17- Sund – tax code is not the only reason companies leave. Minnesota had highest tax on companies but we were a leader on innovation and growing jobs. It’s not just about cut cut cut, it’s about balance. We need a balanced approach to tax code. Companies and people are attracted to our state because of arts, infrastructure, schools. That takes taxes to support. Yes, bring the taxes down for corporations. Mr. Paulsen has voted for tax cuts that will hurt middle class and cause them to take more of the burden.
15:55 – Paulsen – I support simpler tax code for all. Needs to be done bi-partisanly.
15:17 Education costs going up faster than health care. What would would you do to control that to make it more affordable?
14:38 Sund – I wouldn’t do what Paulsen has done and cut education like the Ryan budget does. When we invest in ages 1-6, that gives us an eight time return on dollars. We need to allow students to renegotiate college loans. We used to have 2/3rds subsidies.
13:10 – Paulsen – It’s good that Congress removed setting the student loan rates and let them float with the market. We need to look at the cost that are driving the need for loans. Students and parents need financial literacy on these loans.
12:03- How to break the cycle of costs going up? Government loans driving cost up.
11:32- Sund – State provides less to higher education and so there’s pressure on federal government to provide more. Do we want an educated workforce? If so, we need to put money into the institutions so they’re not struggling.
10:30 – Paulsen – Colleges are counting on the students getting the money and are building that into their tuition models.
10:06 – What can congress do about “achievement gap in Minnesota?
9:48 – Paulsen – Zip code shouldn’t determine education. Need more charter schools. Need focus on science and tech and math.
9:08- Sund – Increasing the minimum wage would help. Family income has a huge impact on achievement gap. Stable housing and jobs make a big difference. Families need an adequate living wage.
8:05 What is the best way to create good paying jobs?
7:51- Paulsen – raising minimum wage will lead to job loss. Reduce regulations on employers.
7:08 – Sund – People’s wages are continue to decline. they’re losing spending power. Middle class spending is the engine of our society. If there’s no spending, jobs won’t grow. Get the loan burden off students and that will add money into our economy. Invest in renewable energy to create jobs.
5:13 – Social security – does it need to be addressed?
4:55 – Paulsen – Good for now, Congress shouldn’t wait for a crisis.
4:25- Sund – If we can get democrats and republicans to work together it would help. We need people who make $250,000 and more to continue to pay into the system.
Paulsen – I don’t support privatizing social security as my opponent claims I do.
3:09 – Has the US response to ebola been OK?
Paulsen – it’s exposed issues with the Centers for Disease Control. The government hasn’t done enough. Need travel ban from west African countries.
2:24- Sund – The President says that’s not going to help us. We need to be forward thinking and coming up with solutions before and not after the fact. Government shutdown and sequester cut funding to CDC. Now we’re doing catchup.
1:33 Are we doing enough to fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
Paulsen- Arming Syrian rebels – I’m not sure if we’re arming the right folks. Not a lot of good options. Need to keep everything on the table.
Sund: I support the President in what he’s doing. We need to engage our partners in the area more to fight their own wars.
The interview conducted on October 18 was not posted to KSTP-TV’s website until Oct 31 – less than a week before the election.