Minnesota Republicans held the first extended debate between the five Republicans running to replace retiring Rep. John Kline. Debating on November 19 were former talk show host Jason Lewis, former state Senator John Howe, former state Representative Pam Myhra, David Gerson (who ran against Kline two years ago) and a newcomer to the race, David Benson-Staebler.
Candidates were asked about the federal role in K-12 education and energy, immigration, health care, social security, war, the federal deficit and taxes. Candidates were also asked how they would say “no” to solve budget problems.
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Opening Statements | Federal role in K-12 education |Federal role in energy | Immigrants | Health Care | Social Security | Funding wars in Middle East | Federal deficit | Tax System | Saying no to the Democrats | Closing Statements
MOD: Thank you all for coming, and I wanna just mention that I just turned off my cell phone. Just, just to mention that.
Thank you candidates for running. This is public service and you’ve stepped up to leadership. You all know what it means to serve. We are proud and thankful to have on our stage tonight the quality and diversity that we have here. Our goal here is to get to know you and explore your views on important issues, so we can choose well. Think about it. One of you will be our congressman from this district. Excuse me, congresswoman. My apologies.
MOD: Our representative from this district in 2017.
We’ve worked to make this process open, but I will do my best to control the clock and the microphones tonight. Time limits must be respected, much like the rule of law to keep the process fair. We ask our audience to limit their applause and excess enthusiasm. This is time taken from the candidates. Time is precious tonight, and we want to spend it listening to our candidates.
Politics is a thoughtful, civil discussion, not a sporting event. We take our process and our politics serious business because that’s what it is.
That said, humor is allowed within time limits.
Our rules tonight are simple. The order of the opening and closing statements have been chosen by lot a few moments ago, with those little wooden balls. Each candidate will have a three minute opening statement, and then we will proceed to questions. I’ll be drawing the markers to determine the order of of who will get the questions, and then the other candidates will get a chance, one minute, to respond. And the idea of drawing it continuously like that is to keep the order random. We hope to get through all 10 questions. It will be a tight fit. The candidate getting each question will get two minutes, and the other candidates one minute.
Closing statements will begin at about 8:20 to give us time to wrap up by 8:30. Enthusiastic and lengthy applause is encouraged after all the closing statements are complete. After the forum, candidates are encouraged to stay and schmooze with the voters. We hope that will make more activists out of you. And I hope that each and every one of these candidates leaves with more volunteers than they came here with.
So we will be starting. Our first opening statement from David Gerson.
MOD: Oh, oh, excuse me. One more thing. Our timekeeper is in the front here. She has a one-minute, a thirty-second, and a fifteen-second ah fifteen second marker, and then a stop. So. My apologies. Go ahead.
DG: Good evening, is this working? Here we go. Good evening. My name is David Gerson, and I live in South St. Paul. I am a Jewish conservative and I will be one of the most conservative Jews to ever serve in Congress. But that is not the interesting story here tonight. The real story is how a grassroots army, with merely a sling and five smooth stones, forced a seven-term incumbent who is not representing us, to retire. If we want to take this country back, we must acknowledge this. John Kline’s voting record was undefendable, and his enabling of John Boehner’s failed leadership unacceptable. In 2012 we put my name on the ballot to send a warning shot across the bow to Congressman Kline. Uphold your oath of office, defend the Constitution, represent our values. He didn’t get the message. In 2013 we launched a real campaign. And in the 2014 congressional district convention, John Kline received endorsement by less than 3%. I honored that endorsement, and our grassroots movement grew. Kline knew we would receive the endorsement in 2016 and he announced his retirement this fall.
The first endorsement that Ted Cruz received, when he made his U.S. Senate run, was that of the Madison Project. After forcing John Kline to retire, in September we became one of only nine candidates, including U.S. Senator Mike Lee, to receive the Madison Project endorsement.
I have put my engineering career on hold and invested my life savings because I believe in this cause. You don’t challenge a powerful incumbent like John Kline because you want to be a politician. This is a cause for me, not a job. This is not my campaign. This is our campaign. Quite frankly, we won’t trust another political insider to represent us. None of the other candidates on this stage would stand with us against Kline and against the Washington establishment. They wouldn’t even stand with us and recognize the importance and power of the grassroots.
If we have learned anything from Speaker Boehner’s resignation, it is that only outside pressure is gonna bring change to Washington, We are demonstrating what a group of organized, passionate activists can do. I am not a political entertainer. I am not a career politician. I am a proud grassroots activist who has been fighting in the trenches alongside our citizen leaders, like you. And while all may talk well, I was the only person in this race to stand with you in this dis – difficult fight against Washington insiders.
As Sam Adams famously said, It does not take a majority to prevail. Rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men. I am David Gerson, and I proudly stand with this generation’s irate, tireless minority. And I am going to Congress to fight against the liberal agenda that is destroying our country and restore the promise that is America.
MOD: Thank you.
MOD: Our second will be John Howe.
JH: Thank you. (inaudible) Are we on now? Hello? All right, fabulous. John Howe was born and raised in Minnesota, on a farm here in Minnesota. Ah, I grew up with pretty humble beginnings. Ah I’m the youngest of five, grew up on a farm without running water when my mom, was, I thank my mom a lot when dad put running water in the barn, she made him bring it into the house. So, it was really good.
I don’t know about where I grew up, but there was always y’know our farms were always set back aways. And I still remember when I was different from everybody else. Ah, I was about 13, and I the bus was waiting for me at the end of the driveway, and I ran down there to catch the bus, and one of the kids on the bus said, “What, John, took too long to shower?” And I said, “Shower? We don’t have a shower.” And they said, “Well how do you wash your hair then?” And I said, “Well, I sit in the tub and take a pitcher of water and pour it over my head.” And they all started laughing. ‘Cause y’know, they thought I made a funny or a joke. And that’s when I realized we were not on the same level as everybody else.
But I gotta tell ya, growin up on the farm, you know what a hard day’s work is. And we had a very loving family, ah my dad worked very hard, my mom worked very hard, and ah I was the first the first one in my family to be able to go to college. And I started working security and worked in the Department of Corrections, I met my wife in 1989, spent 25 years with Sears, 10 on the corporate side doing loss prevention, and then I spent the next 15 years owning and operating my own store. And when you work at a store, and you own your own business, you have to show up. Y’know, 90% of life is showing up. And I understand what the regulations that businesses put y’know that government put on different businesses. And things of that nature.
But we are very blessed, we work very hard, my wife worked very hard, we’ve got three great kids, one in college, one in middle school, one in high school. And we’re very concerned about the debt in our country. And my wife is right alongside me in supporting this venture. We know the issues that are at stake in our country are too great. The debt that we’re facing, right now we have 18 trillion dollars in debt. We have 120 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities. We are borrowing money right now at a million dollars a minute. Think about it. Just in the time that we’ve spoke here, how much more have we went in debt. We need to get it under control. And I want us to go to Washington DC to represent you. I would say, ah just don’t listen to what comes out of someone’s mouth. Look at how they live their lives personally. My wife and I, we live we live our lives very conservatively. I haven’t taken out a personal loan since 1996. And it’s not because, it’s not without a lot of hard work. I’ve put a personal commitment into this race and will work very hard to win this race. I’ve put a very big financial commitment into this race. We know what we’re facing on the Democratic side. One of the Democrats on the other side is put in over a million dollars of their money into this race. It’s gonna take money to win the race. I need your support. Not only as a delegate, I also need your financial support. I thank you very much for being here. It’s great to see all of you here. My name is John Howe, my web site is howeforcongress.com, thank you very much.
MOD: Next opening is David Benson-Staebler.
DBS: Hi. Hello (inaudible) So. My name is David Benson Staebler. (Inaudible) So. It’s not about a typical ideology. It’s about common sense policies that are going to grow America for great century to come. And that isn’t the option that every
I think you can hear me anyway.
DBS: This one works.
DBS: So. I don’t know how we’re going to do later, but I guess we’re figuring that out.
ANCR: Let’s reset his time.
DBS: (inaudible) Anyway. I decided to get into this race because I was upset about what was going on. As I think we all are, should be. Because the current administration has not chosen policies that really honor the people who have built this country. And all of us who want the greatest success we can have in the century to come. It’s about ideologies on the other side. I was in Italy when I read that Representative Kline was retiring. And I said, “Now is the time – I’m going to set aside business opportunities, setting up a business in Italy, in technology – I’m gonna go back to Minnesota, to the Second District that I love, that’s beautiful, the Twin Cities area, it’s y’know – maybe the best in Minnesota, but it’s difficult to y’know make the other districts feel bad.
It was a wonderful home for me in St. Olaf, where I was elected to the Honor Council. And, what’s going on in Italy? Okay, just to jump into that, because I felt like that that was an interesting fact. These people are showing up to Europe, and they’re saying – y’know, or they’re not or they’re just in the water, they’re getting pulled out of the water – and they get 50 euros a day plus housing plus medical benefits plus every other kind of European y’know Angela Merkel benefit you could imagine. All kinds of benefits for people wherever y’know wherever their homeland is. It’s an economic migration. They don’t tell you the right number that are coming in. They don’t tell you about these benefits – the spending money, but if you go there now, you’re going to see people with brand-new clothes, iPads, all this other stuff, just because they showed up out of the sea, and it’s some kind of policy to take immigrants. Because it fits the liberal ideology. Is it eugenic? Is it they want left voters? Is it that – there are lots of things going on. But it does not serve in a responsible way the electorate. And Hillary Clinton wants to make America more like these European policies. And the Democratic candidates y’know down the line. So even if voters in the Second District, say – “Well, I’ve always been a Democrat – and y’know I think I’m gonna stick with them,” we have to deliver that message. That these policies are entirely unacceptable, and as we’re gonna go through this debate, on every level, the Republican offering is better. And that’s what I’m going to prove for us and win for us. Thank you.
MOD: (inaudible) Lewis.
JL: Shall we wait til the mike works? (audience laughs)
JL: Hi everybody! My name’s Wayne Newton.
Ah, it’s great to be here, Don Leary, District 52, thanks so much for putting this on. There hasn’t been this much wisdom on one panel since Jefferson dined alone. Uh, I gotta say you all know my background. And I’m certain others will have comments on it. as the night proceeds. But it’s much more humbling than you might think. I was coming in here tonight and somebody grabbed me at the door and said, “I know you. I know who you are.” And I felt good. Good to be recognized. If you’re running for office, that’s helpful. “Didn’t you used to have a talk show?”
“Yeah, yeah, I had a talk show.”
“You wrote a book, too, about federalism, right?”
“I think you did a bunch of GOP fundraisers –“
“Yeah, I did all of that,” I think I’ve got this guy’s vote. Then this guy stops a second and he says, “Whatever happened to you, anyway?”
JL: So you’ve got your work cut out for you, no matter where you start in this race, or in any race. And that is as it should be. I really do believe that you and I have a rendezvous with destiny. The issues that keep you up at night – healthcare, spiraling healthcare premiums, the president told us they would go down by $2500, the Kaiser Family Foundation says they’re up by $4800, a regulatory and tax burden, unseen in modern history, a border that is for all practical means and purposes nonexistent, all of those things: college tuition, college tuition! Going up faster than even healthcare, obviously gasoline and groceries. Nobody talks about the price gouging going on in higher education. Look, this is gonna take bold leadership. And those same issues that keep you up at night are the very issues I got in the race to tackle.
Now, I pledge to you I’m not in this for my 15 minutes of fame. I’ve already had that. I’m not in it to have a microphone stuck in my face, I’m not in it for a job. I’m in it to actually change the country. Y’know, a lot of people up here tonight will tell you what it takes to get elected. What they need to tell you is what they are going to do after, after they get elected. Because that gets lost in these races. People do what they have to do to win the race, and then they go to Washington and the status quo takes over. That’s not gonna happen with me. We’re gonna reform the tax code. We’re gonna have a flatter, fairer tax by eliminating corporate subsidies, by making certain people aren’t cheating on the earned income tax credit, by eliminating the tax-exempt status for pro stadiums, by eliminating hedge fund carveouts. Renewable carveouts. The reason your tax rate is 39.6% of the top federal rate is because some people like General Electric aren’t paying any taxes at all. We’re going to make everybody have skin in the game, and then we’re gonna have a fairer, flatter tax code. And I think 15% is just about right.
We’re gonna make certain that young people can buy the kind of health insurance they need across state lines. Not the kind the president thinks they ought to have. We’re gonna have to have healthcare reform. And we’re going to control our borders. I promise you that. I cannot tell you how many GOP fundraisers I’ve done in the last few decades, trying to raise money for this party, I can’t tell you how many talk shows I’ve done over the last 20 years talking about public policy, but I can tell you this. Now I’m ready to make it. Thank you very much.
MOD: Thank you, and now it’s time for Pam Myhra.
PM: Good evening everyone. I want to thank so much Senate District 52. Is this on?
(inaudible off mike voice)
PM: Oh great. I want to thank Senate District 52 for putting on this event. And also Gateway Christian Church. I know it was a lot of effort to make this happen. I’d like to introduce my husband Chuck. He and I have been married for 34 years, and he is fully supportive of my candidacy and my public service.
Ladies and gentlemen, this election is about trust. Who you trust to represent you in Congress. Who you trust to support and defend the values, the principles, the policies you hold dear. I’d like to share a story with you. One day when my oldest daughter was a little girl, she had just learned to balance on her bicycle. She called to me with the most cheerful and happy voice: “Mommy, mommy, look! I can drive just like you.” I looked up from my gardening to see my little girl with only one finger on the bottom of her handlebars, waving to me as she flew by. And I said, “Honey, no! You gotta use two hands.”
The next day as I was driving down the road, I happened to glance at my lap. And I realized she was right: she could drive just like me. I only had one finger on the bottom of my steering wheel. I was steering the car with one finger. It was just one moment in time, but it was a powerful lesson: that I need to live what I say. To be principled and trusted.
I served two terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives, following the same principle of living what I say, by consistently by consistently voting for our conservative values. In Congress, I will do the same. I will be your Constitutional conservative, voting for our conservative values. I will be a person you can trust.
I am running because of the compelling need to have congressional members who are trusted, experienced, dedicated, and there to serve you. As a mother and as a certified public accountant, I am running because we need to gain control over out-of-control federal spending. We need to reduce the interference of government in our lives. We need to protect our national security. Rebuild the military. And return our country to a position of strength and leadership. Thank you so much.
MOD: Thank you. Is this a great stable of candidates or not?
MOD: I want to apologize. I have messed up the agenda. I blew off the invocation and the Pledge. And I also want you to know that there are bathrooms down the hall to the right, but please don’t go through these doors, go in through the back if you wanna sneak out and do that. So at this time I’d like to do the Pledge and the invocation if the pastor is still around.
All: I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Pastor: Let us pray. Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that we live in a country where we are free. We thank you that we live in a country that can allow us to gather like this and to debate and to agree or disagree. We thank you for giving us the privilege to live in such a great nation. I ask you God that you would be here tonight. I pray God that you would lead this debate. I ask you God that you would help the candidate that you have chosen stick out. Lord, we thank you for this time we could come together. And we truly do ask that you would bless our great country in Jesus’ name. Amen.
MOD: Thank you sir. Okay, at this point we’ll start off with the questions. I’ve been sitting here drawing drawing numbers to to get the order. Trying to keep them random. So for this question, first one, the person to get the question is David Benson-Staebler. And the question is, What is the proper role of the federal government in K-12 education? What is the best way to change its current role to the proper role?
DBS: Well that’s a beautiful question. And it’s an absolutely major opportunity for us to zero in on how we can ensure the best century to come. Minnesota in my opinion has the best schools in the country. Governor O’Malley said that Maryland was fantastic. Yeah, right. Massachusetts – okay, maybe. Y’know, it’s a competitor. But Minnesota really has it right. And we have y’know 50 laboratories of democracy. And I think states should explore y’know their own paths. I think that some states are going to choose to give credits to alternative education, whether it’s in the form of charter schools or other forms of school choice. And I think that that could be a fantastic thing. I think there also has to be the right kind of rules in education ah and I think figuring out the right balance in policy that y’know we can all imagine schools that would be unacceptable to be receiving public funds.
So y’know saying, breaking that barrier and saying that dollars could go to religious education schools, I think is a fantastic opening. And I have the courage to take that on. And at the same time, in a state like Minnesota, where the public education is number one. And the path for Minnesota can be determined in Minnesota. And maybe y’know there are maybe it’s gonna be y’know different states on the county level. Ah where a particular county says y’know “No, we’re we’re gonna vote to keep these schools just as they are.” But we need to give people the opportunity to let their children receive the best education that’s possible for the next century. Thank you.
MOD: Second up is David Gerson, for a response of one minute.
DG: The federal government has no business being involved in our children’s education. We must return control of our children’s education (applause) back to Minnesota’s parents and teachers. And what’s amazing is that this is becoming a nonpartisan issue. The Democrats are starting to understand when you expand the size and scope of the federal government, you end up with one-size-fits-none solutions, and unelected bureaucrats in D.C. that are uncontrollable and making the wrong decisions for our local communities. To be specific and answer the questions: we need to allow our states to opt out of No Child Left Behind and Common Core. We need to expand 529 accounts to K through 12 and we need to allow Title 1 portability.
MOD: Next up, Pam Myhra.
PM: I spent five of my first six years of life in Latin America. My first language was Spanish. I came to this country when I was six years old and really struggled in school. I didn’t learn to read until the fifth grade. Education is profoundly important to me. Profoundly important to me because it is the door of opportunity. But the federal government should not be involved. Education is best when it’s closest to home. I am strongly opposed to Common Core. And we should be – our our states make better decisions, our local government, better decisions. I would be in favor of reducing the scope and size of the Department of Education. Thank you.
MOD: And Jason Lewis.
JL: People have to understand the history here. When Jimmy Carter elevated the office of Education to a Cabinet-level department in his administration, it was a clear payback to whom? The National Education Association, the unions. A hundred billion dollars later, does anybody think they’ve done a good job, or education has improved? We’ve got this epic battle, when you’ve got federal education from multiculturism education to school-to-work and to No Child Left Behind, and now to Common Core. Title 1 funds: I mean you can talk about Title 1 portability, but that’s still money in education. So you’ve gotta be realistic here. And what you need to do is you go to Washington and say “Unless the Department of Education reforms with school choice, unless they reform seniority at local districts that take their money, unless they do the things that need to be done, especially with collective bargaining reform, so the teachers don’t have to join a union in order to teach, unless they do those things, we’re going to return you back to an office and not a Cabinet-level department. It’s very simple. And of course, what you get when you have this Washington behemoth, is you get things like Common Core, even though that was a state-invented program, the federal government now has incentive money to it. Obviously, most of us here are against Common Core. I notice my friend John Howe, however, supported Common Core on votesmart.org, and I’d be interested in his response on that.
MOD: And John Howe.
JH: Thank you Jason, I appreciate that. (Audience laughter). Ah, y’know that’s one of the, I’m all about reducing government’s footprint. And ah certainly, the Department of Education we can reduce. And if we can eliminate it, that would be great. I am a big believer in vouchers for parents. Parents know where their kids can be taught best. And if we had school vouchers, your public schools would face competition. And competition – I’m a free market guy. I grew up and I ran Sears stores. You – when you’re in retail, you need to be better than your competitors. And having school choice, having vouchers for parents, would allow charter schools, religious schools compete with the public schools. And it will not destroy our public schools. It will make them better. And that’s my viewpoint on it.
MOD: Thank you. I want to take a moment to remind our candidates to keep a sharp eye on Cathy Roberts here, the time. And when you hear that little ding ding, it’s time to stop. I don’t want to have to turn off microphones. Even the ones that don’t work. (audience laughter). So
Next question, number two, is very similar to the first. What is the proper role of the federal government in the area of energy? And what is the best way to change its current role to its proper role? And for that, we go first to Jason Lewis.
JL: Well, that’s another Jimmy Carter–era invention, the Department of Energy. What’s gonna make us energy independent. We know how that turned out. If it weren’t for the private sector, and fracking, as they like to call it, why we wouldn’t have gasoline prices where they are. It had nothing to do with government policy, A123 which went under, Solyndra, which went under, windmills in Goodhue County, which the public doesn’t want them there, but yet they were getting a wind production tax credit. Thirty percent investment credit for solar; let me tell you what the federal role ought to be. It ought to be hands off as much as possible, but to the degree they do regulate, they need to treat everybody fairly. So we can’t build a pipeline, which is much safer than Warren Buffett’s trains. Gee, I wonder why. Well, Warren Buffett happens to be a friend of the president. We’ve got 42,000 jobs with the Keystone Xcel pipeline on the hook, and they took it off. And by the way, that 42,000 number came from the State Department analysis of Keystone. They also said at the State Department that it wouldn’t have any effect on so-called global warming. And yet this president said, “We don’t need private sector investment like the Keystone Pipeline; we need public sector investment.” As though they would know better. This is the problem with energy. There’s been too much government and not enough free market capitalism.
MOD: Next up is David Gerson.
DG: This is really a simple answer. There’s nothing that can determine our energy policy better than the free markets. It’s simple. The federal government bureaucrats can’t do it. We understand that there’s gonna be regulations and tax incentives that are gonna be put in place for special interests and lobbyists. And there’s gonna be nothing better for the American people than to allow the free markets to determine the best way to supply our energy needs. We need to eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standards and every other subsidy and every other regulation that’s out there.
MOD: Next up, one minute for John Howe.
JH: Thank you Don. The Department of Energy, there’s another one we could work towards eliminating. Ah y’know we have Harry Reid and President Obama’s help has kept the Yucca Mountain from opening up, and we’ve got y’know two nuclear storage sites in Minnesota here, and we’ve got nuclear storage that’s gonna be stranded all across our nation, and the General Accounting Office is saying, “Now plan for onsite storage temporarily for the next three to five hundred years.” That doesn’t sound very temporary does it? Three to five hundred years? But that’s what they’re telling us. And so we don’t have a good energy policy and certainly we need to be energy independent. We have we should eliminate all the subsidies and let things stand on their own. I’m in favor of the Xcel pipeline. How many out there are? We need to get it done.
We’ve got a we’ve got a president that’s not allowing to get done, and that would certainly help us with our energy production. Certainly, Canada’s our friend and our neighbor. And we should allow the oil to flow back in it. And it also can help oil from the North Dakota Bakken too to flow. So there’s a lot of things we can do on energy.
MOD: Thank you.
MOD: And up fourth is Pam Myhra.
PM: There isn’t a proper role for federal government in energy. Federal government distorts markets, picks winners and losers. We should have a free market. We should not be having all the subsidies that we have. Thank you.
MOD: Thank you. Ah, she gives and she yields her time back to (audience laughs) Good practice. And last is David Benson-Staebler.
DBS: I I also think that the federal government should do less encumbering work in energy. I wouldn’t seek to take apart the Department of Energy. I think that there is some regulation to be done as far as Keystone goes. It could be – I I could support it, but I also would say, that it would be nice to have concern, the concern of the Ogallala Aquifer satisfactorily addressed. Because that’s a national issue, it’s a major aquifer and our aquifers are important. Beyond y’know the profits of one pipeline. And it’s important that we have a robust energy industry throughout the world. It’s a very very important part of our society. And we need to support that.
MOD: Thank you sir.
MOD: Our third question goes first to Pam Myhra. And that is, with over 11 million illegal immigrants here and many more coming, what legislation would you propose to address those immigrants here, and those that may come illegally in the future?
PM: Let’s talk about 11 million people. That’s a lot of families. That’s a lot of families. The immigration issue is a big concern because of national security. We need to know who’s coming into our country. I don’t know about you. Actually, I do, I think I do. I never go to bed at night leaving my front door open. I always lock the door; I always close the door. And our country should be no different. We need to secure our borders. We need to enforce our laws. As far as the 11 million people are here, we need to prioritize who is deported. We need to focus on those people who are violent and are breaking the law. Now, the individuals that are left, (sighs) should we allow amnesty? No. No. It’s been tried, in 1986, and all it did was encourage additional people to enter our country illegally. Should there be a way for them to have citizenship? Yes. But they need to go to the back of the line. It’s simply not fair for the other people who are following the law and trying to become citizens of our country.
There’s also the issue of anchor babies. We are only one of two developed countries in the world that allow a person, illegal parents, to give birth to a child and have them and have immediate citizenship. I understand Representative King has a bill, and I would look through that, and I’m thinking I would support it. That would put an end to illegal aliens being able to have their children become citizens automatically. Thank you.
MOD: Thank you. (Audience applauds) Next up is Jason Lewis.
JL: The fundamental problem is, is you can’t have open borders with a welfare state. You go back to the 1982 Plyler decision with the Supreme Court said that illegal immigrants are entitled to education at public expense. 1985, the Emergency Medical Act, allowed or mandated that non-profit hospitals treat illegal immigrants. Now we have the Citizenship Clause, which Pam refers to, which the Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to mean anybody who is illegal here but has a child under the jurisdiction or born under the jurisdiction thereof is now a citizenship. The problem is of course is illegal immigrants aren’t under anybody’s citizenship. Or anybody’s jurisdiction, I should say. Least of all the United States.
So there’s a great court fight going on with that. But we’re going to have to do something here. Europe is finding out what open borders do to a continent. And we’re finding out in a very ugly way. It costs us just on the fiscal side 113 billion dollars a year, most of that about 85 billion borne by the states, in education, in medical costs, in corrections. Now the question always comes up in these debates, is “Well, you can’t deport 11 million people.” No, but when you catch them, you can send them back. Nobody’s suggesting we have the resources to go around and catch 11 million people. But when we catch them by attrition, for anything, we can send them back because Pam, they came here illegally. It’s not that they came here and committed a crime. When they got here, they’d already committed a crime. And so I I my view on this is we absolutely have to control the borders. And if that means erecting some sort of wall, I’m all for it.
MOD: Thank you sir. Next up is David Gerson.
DG: When it comes to immigration policy, we have to benefit this country and our current citizens as a whole. I’m going to Congress, and I’m gonna look out for the best interests of the citizens of our District. We need to ensure that our immigration policy, fosters upward mobility and patriotic assimilation. Not Balkanization and welfare dependency. We need to remain as Reagan’s shining city on the hill and the beacon of liberty for the free world. That means no amnesty, no path to citizenship, securing our southern border, visa tracking is half of illegals are visa overstays, workplace enforcement, eliminating anchor babies, following the current laws, blocking transportation for funding of sanctuary cities, eliminating DACA, ending additional child tax credits, and deporting criminals. Over thirty percent of the population of the federal prisons are illegal immigrants.
MOD: Thank you sir. Next up is David Benson-Staebler.
DBS: Hi. Well as I mentioned the European problem is an example of the wrong direction to go. And that is the direction the Democrats want to go in. We do have to secure the border, I would support a Deportation Force, I think it’s a great idea. Because there is so much work to be done. I think that this country should grow. I think that we should grow by population. I think families should be supported. Mothers, motherhood should be supported. We’ve done a lot of work as a society in the past hundred years, making sure that women can be as great as they can be in professional accomplishments.
At the same time, we’re living longer and women can live another half of their life after raising a family at this point. So to say that we need to be encouraging women to focus immediately on their careers is something that in fact is part of this population conversation.
MOD: Thank you sir. And Mr. Howe.
JH: Well, I think you’ve heard it all already. First we need to secure our borders. Everybody talks about it but we actually have to do something about it. Y’know you hear what Donald Trump talks about. building the wall. We need to secure our borders. And it isn’t just talk, we have to do it. Then, y’know for the people that are here, they need to pay fines. And they need to begin the process of trying to get legally processed into becoming a legal citizen. But and you’ve heard it before, and I’ve talked about it before, we need to address sanctuary cities in our United States. If you’ve got cities and we have some right here in our state, that offer sanctuary cities, where if they get stopped in a criminal activity, the police can’t identify them, whether they’re a United States citizen or not. They shouldn’t get federal funding. You wanna have a sanctuary city? Go for it. But you’re not gonna get federal funding. Because you’re violating the law of the United States. And we need to address it and we can’t just give it lip service. Thank you.
Audience, candidates applaud.
MOD: Thank you all. I wanna change the protocol just a hair. I’m gonna tell you who’s gonna get the, and then who’s next, just to give you a few moments to prepare, at least mentally. And I also want to start interrupting just a little bit, if you’re if you’re going over. I’ll start by interrupting myself before I do this with the microphone. So we wanna keep on truckin’.
So first up with question four is John Howe, followed by David Benson-Staebler. And question four is, what do you think should be – I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Question three, no no, question four, question four. What do you think should be done with Obamacare and our healthcare system?
JH: Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, ah – how many people in here got to keep their health plan that they had, that the president said? I didn’t. One person, I see one person got to keep, oh, two. When the president said “Don’t worry, you get to keep your doctor and you get to keep your health plan,” he should be impeached for that. Ah, that it was just a lie. We didn’t get to keep our health plan. And one of the things you’ve heard me talk about, I’m a free market guy, we need competition. Competition. We don’t need a single payer system, we need we need more competition in the marketplace.
I live in Red Wing. I live in Goodhue County. Anybody else out here from Goodhue County? (points to person in audience) All right, how many choices we have in Goodhue County? One. One choice in Goodhue County. Go to Dakota County and you’ve got a lot more choices. In Goodhue County it’s very very expensive for health health insurance. My plan is a $4,000 deductible. And I think it’s $11,000 for our family. And we pay high premiums. So what we need to do is we need to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. We need to go back to having competition and being able to buy health insurance across state lines. And I ran into a problem with this with my Sears stores. I’ve had we just didn’t have competition in the marketplace, and that’s where we need to go back to. And I appreciate it. Thanks.
MOD: Next up is David Benson-Staebler. And then followed by Pam Myhra.
DBS: Hello. I think that the healthcare system absolutely needs to be, the health insurance system, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, needs to be repealed and replaced. And I’m still listening to y’know various proposals about what it should be replaced with. I think that way too much money is spent on healthcare. And I think that that’s sort of a concern. A point at which to approach this. And at the same time there’s a quality of care and there is y’know money that Americans are spending for new technologies and therapies to be developed that the world benefits from. That they may not be paying their fair share for. So we have to figure out a way to address the fact that we pay so much more than other countries for our healthcare. And maybe we y’know we can find a way for the industry to improve in the replacement.
MOD: Thank you. Ms. Myhra.
PM: Thank you. Obamacare should be repealed in its entirety. Completely. And it needs to be done right away. What should it be replaced with? It should be replaced with a patient-centered free market plan. We should be able to buy our healthcare just like we buy our car insurance. We should be able to pick what characteristics what qualities about it that we want. I have heard of so many men telling me they have OB/GYN coverage on their plans. Ridiculous. It should also include – the federal government should equalize the tax treatment between those who get their healthcare through their employer, and those who buy individually, our programs our health should be allowed to be portable, so we can take it from one job to the next, and we should be able to own it. Thank you.
MOD: Thank you. And now David Gerson, followed by Jason Lewis.
DG: First of all, it is absolutely shameful that Congress has voted themselves an exemption to Obamacare. (Audience applauds.) Our Founding Fathers never intended there to be career politicians. They expected people to go to Congress and serve and come back home and live under the laws that they created. It has been set up through the reconciliation process, which passed Obamacare to completely eliminate Obamacare. And HR3672, which partially defunds Obamacare, will not pass the Senate Parliamentarian. We need a one-sentence, full repeal of Obamacare through the reconciliation process.
MOD: points to JL
JL: You can talk about repealing Obamacare, but that gives us the status quo of what we had before when we got Obamacare. Now what liberals will tell you time and again is the market failed in healthcare. Folks, we haven’t had a free market in healthcare since World War II wage and price controls. When the government said, “Oh you can’t give your employee a raise,” so what do they do? They started giving people healthcare. Then we changed the tax code in the 1950s, where companies could deduct the healthcare premiums, but you couldn’t as an employee. Pretty soon if you didn’t have a job, you didn’t have healthcare. We need to buy health insurance what – the kind we want, this is enrollment period, the scariest time of the year, prices have gone up $4800 as I said earlier, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation since ’08, not down 2500, and the reason is, especially young people, cannot buy the plan they want. They’ve gotta buy wellness child visits. They’ve gotta have gambling addiction coverage for Mormons. They gotta have maternity stays for single guys. The essential health benefits have so jacked up the cost of health insurance that what the liberals have done is effectively made it out of our reach, but promises to subsidize us on the back end.
That is not healthcare freedom. We’re finding out indeed that healthcare, or free healthcare, is not very free at all. You’ve gotta redo the whole thing, going all the way back a few decades and return healthcare to the free market. Audience applauds.
MOD: Thank you all. For our next question, number five, we’ll start with David Gerson, followed by Pam Myhra. And the question is, it is said that Social Security trust fund will run out of money in a few years. What do you think should be done, if anything, with the Social Security program?
DG: We absolutely have to uphold our commitment to seniors and those who are close to retirement. But we have to understand that the unfunded liabilities of Social Security is not maintainable, and we have to start making some difficult choices. What we need to do is we need to start having some reasonable means testing and we need to slowly increase the retirement age for those that aren’t close to retirement so that they can properly plan for it. We owe this to the next generation. We owe it to ourselves. It is so important that we tackle this mandatory spending. Currently, sixty percent, sixty-six percent of today’s current budget is mandatory spending. In 11 years, all of our budget will be comprised of mandatory spending and interest on the debt. The longer we wait to tackle this problem, the more of a problem it’s gonna become, and the more painful of a solution for those that will be affected. We need courageous leaders that will go to Congress today and deal with this problem before it’s too late.
MOD: Thank you. Next up, Pam Myhra followed by John Howe.
PM: I’m a certified public accountant. And during the summertime I took three classes on Social Security. As continuing professional education. And I was stunned. I was stunned by what I heard. By national leaders. They said that there are solutions. And that Congress hasn’t acted on any of them. Congress hasn’t acted on any of them. We absolutely must work on these possible solutions. Our expenditures – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest – will overcome our revenues by 2030. We have to address these issues. We must. It’s not an issue of our children and grandchildren are gonna have to deal with this. Folks, we’re gonna have to deal with this. Thank you.
MOD: Mr. Howe. Followed by Jason Lewis.
JH: The Washington bureaucrats have looted the Social Security fund. They’ve taken the money and spent it somewhere else. And now, the people that have paid into the fund, they want to take it away from ‘em. The people that have paid into the Social Security fund, it’s their money. We owe it to them and we should pay it. But then we need to start changing. We need we start we need to develop a higher way a higher age for when you start receiving it, you need to start doing some means testing, and certainly I’m a big believer that we should let people have private investment accounts, so they can invest some of that money themselves. But we’re gonna have to completely revamp it. But talking right now about taking away the money that people have paid into it, that’s not right. That’s the money that people have paid in. And so we’re gonna have to find a way to make sure the money that’s paid in is paid out to the people who paid it in. But we’re gonna have to change it for the future. And it’s not gonna be an easy task.
JL: John and David, you could not be more wrong on means testing. This is exactly taking away the money that people have paid into it. If you means test, even FDR understood this when this was created, you turn Social Security into a welfare program. And if you want to undercut support for Social Security in the future, you turn it into a welfare program. You won’t have any support.
Now, the facts are these; trust fund runs out in 2034. The Democrats would say, “Well, let’s just lift the tax cap, so the wealthy can bail us out.” If you lifted the tax cap, the FICA tax and the first 118,000 you’ve earned, you’ve lifted that to no limit at all, you only bail out 45% of the problem. So you can’t just solve it by taxes. If you don’t do anything, then your benefits in 2034 will be 75% of what they are today. So something’s gotta be done. But means testing, or lifting the cap on taxes, is not the answer. The answer is, turning COLA benefits into a chained CPI and raising the retirement age for younger workers. It’s not a difficult problem if you do that. Nobody’s talking about people currently on the system, or people close to it. We’re talking about younger people working longer as they live longer, and we’re talking about a different CPI. You do those two things, you preserve the system without turning it into a welfare system.
MOD: Thank you sir. And Mr. Benson-Staebler.
DBS: This is an important topic. Especially when we get to the point where we’re reaching out to undecided voters and to bring over Democrats to our side, because they’re gonna be spreading lies that we’re gonna be taking away your Social Security money now. Or that people who are about to retire are gonna have to keep working longer. And nobody here, and I haven’t heard a single presidential candidate say that as well. So the truth is that yes, we do have to figure out y’know make some tough decisions about y’know raising the age and actually y’know eventually a generation or two down. And it’s maybe not unfair because people are living longer and they’re fully able to work longer. So it’s an important matter that we y’know don’t that we are serious and we don’t lose the ground here that what we want to do as a party is to be responsible about this necessary program.
MOD: Thank you all. Moving on to question six. Should the United States government continue to fund the Middle East wars? If not, why not? This question goes first to Pam Myhra, then to David Gerson, followed by John Howe.
PM: Let there be no mistake. We need a strong military. We need to protect our national security. We need to ah return our country to a position of strength and leadership. As far as funding in the Middle East, we need to look out for our country’s interests. I am opposed to putting boots on the ground in Syria. At this point, no. We need to be looking at our own country’s interests.
MOD: Mr. Gerson.
DG: First of all, let’s talk about our commander in chief. Obama is leading from behind and he’s leading leaving a void of leadership in this world that is extremely dangerous. He won’t even define who the enemy is. We have to face the fact that it is radical Islam. Before America engages in any conflict, it is owed to the American people that we define exactly how this is in our vital interest. We have a defined and achievable goal with a known exit strategy, and that there is no mission creep. And finally, Congress is the only body that can declare war. We have to stop abdicating responsibility to the Executive Branch.
MOD: Thank you sir. And now we have John Howe followed by David Benson-Staebler and Jason Lewis.
JH: Again, I think this comes back to our national debt that we’re carrying. Y’know part of the reason that we don’t have a fully funded military is because we can’t afford to. And we need to. Our Navy fleet is running about half as what it should be. Certainly the Middle East is a hotbed, and certainly we need to pay attention and we need to be involved and we need to ah take steps. We certainly don’t want to see what happened in recently in Paris, to happen here. And ah so we have to be involved. It’s unfortunate but ah we have state-sponsored terror from radical Islam, we have Iran. I certainly wouldn’t be doing a deal with Iran like the president’s doing. I mean you have Iran chantin “Death to America” and then we’re doin some kind of a deal with them on nuclear arms? Once they become a nuclear state, we’re really gonna be in trouble. So we have to pay attention to that.
DBS: Okay. Now. Some of the candidates here – Ms. Myhra, Mr. Gerson, Mr. Lewis – are a bit restrictive about what the U.S. engagement’s gonna be. I firmly believe, as Dick Cheney recently put it, that America is exceptional when it comes to global security. And we need to make sure that America’s not fronting a bill that we can’t afford and that the other world is not providing their necessary share towards. But at the same time, there can be no freedom on Earth for terrorists. We have that capability and we need to maintain that. This president has facilitated the Islamic state of terror. And the attacks on Friday are exactly what they started from day one to do. And the surge had secured the zone before the president allowed this to take place.
MOD: And Mr. Lewis.
JL: Let me give you an example of what’s wrong here. We’ve got tens of thousands, at one point it was up to 200,000, Syrian refugees that John Kerry and Barack Obama ah mandated were coming back to America. There was a report out today, said there were approximately 52% of those were male. Many of those were able-bodied adult males. Now think of the specter of this. We’re gonna take those refugees infused with ISIS, we’re gonna take them back here, and then we’re gonna send our young adult males to go fight their war. Something’s wrong with this picture, folks. If they’re fleeing their country, maybe the able-bodied young men ought to stay and fight. We can give them aid and support but it’s their country and it’s their fight. I am tired, sick and tired, of America fighting other wars that our allies should be contributing to. And I’m not gonna support that.
Now of course you support something when our national security stake is at risk. So you’ve gotta do three things in the current regime: real quickly. You’ve got to secure the borders as we’ve talked about, and that includes no unSyrian refugees. And three weeks ago, during the public television debate, I made that point about nothing, or no Syrian refugees before Paris. This isn’t rocket science, people. But you’ve got to focus on the real enemy and the real enemy right now, I hate to break it to you, is not Assad, it’s not even Putin, it’s ISIS. They’re fighting them, we shoudn’t be
MOD: Gotta, gotta move on.
JL: hindering their efforts.
MOD: Thank you. Next question, number seven, goes first to John Howe, followed by Pam Myhra and then David Gerson. And it is: As you know, the federal government is deeply in debt. And that debt continues to grow because we are unable to balance the federal budget. What is your plan to balance the budget and pay down the federal debt?
JH: Well certainly ah we all know where we’re sittin with our debt. That the experts say, once we get to about 23 billion – 23 trillion dollars in debt, we’re not gonna be able to service our interest on our debt. We we need to reduce our government spending. It isn’t a question of how much revenue we’re takin in, it’s a question of how much we’re spending. And certainly we’ve put some things in place. I’m for I’m for a balanced budget amendment. I think we should have that. And ah yknow we put places we’ve put measures in place for sequestering and what you’ve seen this last couple of weeks, what’d we do? We kicked the can down the road, we raised the debt ceiling, we gave Obama a blank check. I think in one sweeping move we added another almost 900 billion dollars to our debt. So it took us right up to 19 trillion dollars. I need to change what I’m talking about here. I always say 18 trillion. So now we’re almost 19 trillion dollars in debt.
We have to take measures. We have to have that sequestering in place. We need to start cutting things down. Ah y’know if we don’t do something about it, we’re gonna be facing austere measures just like Greece faced. And so we can’t just continue to borrow money. Ah it it’s going to take us completely underwater. You can see how it affects every relationship we have. It affects how we fund our national defense, it affects how we trade with our partners, we can’t be strong on China, on our trade deficit, because we require them, we need them to buy our debt. We owe them 1.7 trillion dollars right now. And so if I’m elected, I wanna go to Washington D.C. to work on the debt. I know finances, I live my life very conservatively, and I’ll make sure that we do the right thing in Washington.
MOD: Thank you sir. Mrs. Myhra.
Audience starts and stops applauding,
MOD: You can applaud.
Audience applause, cheers.
PM: Ladies and gentlemen, one of the things that governments do is on a state basis, on the federal, is they use baseline ah baseline budgeting. What that means is whatever they spend in in the year, they just tack on interest and ah factor for population growth. And there is always a push, right at the end of the fiscal year, to spend all the money that’s in the budget. So they get that plus plus. And it just keeps on growing and growing. One of the things that we can do is go to zero-based budgeting. What that allows er requires is that you justify why you have so much money. That is one of the things we can do. I also believe rather than just arbitrarily saying “We’re going to cut everything 20%,” what we do is go in there and look at those programs that are good and keep those, and the ones that are failing, literally failing. We need to cut them out.
MOD: Thank you maam. Then we have David Gerson. Followed by David Benson Staebler and then Jason Lewis.
DG: You know, our Founding Fathers were so wise. If you read The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers, they predicted almost everything that this country would experience as problems. And as wise as they were, they could never predict that Congress would willingly abdicate their responsibilities. Congress absolutely has the power of the purse. James Madison said there is no better means of regress, and we have given up that power to the Executive Branch. (Audience applauds) It doesn’t matter what plan you have. To save money and and hold us to a budget if you’re not going to send representatives that are willing to go to Congress and use their powers. We need to take back our powers from the Executive Branch. We need to not allow treaties to not to be considered Executive agreements, we need to be declaring war and most importantly, we need to be using the power of the purse.
DBS: I agree that ah we have to get the spending in line. It’s it’s a massive problem. And we do have ah y’know Puerto Rico within y’know the United States. With an incredible debt problem at present. And we do have a lot of cuts I think as a as a party in mind. Generally speaking. And a lot of ah plans to put control of funding and programming back on the state level. So by reducing the federal government as a whole, ah y’know we’re gonna dramatically change the situation. As far as the budget amend – balanced budget amendment goes – there is the issue of an exception for wartime because y’know we’re y’know basically quite frequently almost always at at war. So we’d have to work with the definition on on that issue if we’re gonna do that successfully.
JL: Believe it or not, we were cutting spending. Obama fell into it with a 2011 debt ceiling deal and budget sequestration. He promised a tax task force that would get things done. It didn’t, so he kicked in budget sequestration, 10% across the board in social welfare spending, including Pentagon bloat, and was actually eliminating a lot of the programs on the welfare side and on the Pentagon side. For instance, Abrams tanks that the Army says they don’t use anymore, they don’t need anymore, but the Congress still appropriates them.
Well, what happened? Well the budget sequester was working so well and cutting so much spending, that they undid it. A couple of weeks ago. And it was Republicans and Democrats that undid it. We can talk about a balanced budget amendment, we can talk about a federal spending limitation amendment, but what’s lacking in Washington on spending is courage. The courage to stand up and say “no” to constituents and special interests who want something for free. And maybe term limits is the only way we get there. So that I don’t have to depend on pleasing somebody with somebody else’s money all the time.
MOD: Thank you all. Question eight. We’re doing real well on time here, we’re not quite going to make ten, I don’t think, but we’re doing well. The U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates and relies on the personal income tax to finance most of the federal government. What initiatives and/or policies do you intend to support to improve our tax system? This goes first to David Benson-Staebler, then Jason Lewis, followed by David Gerson.
DBS: As I mentioned, ah, y’know when I first spoke, it’s vitally important that we have successful businesses. We want to ensure that we are a successful secure country. And we have to absolutely lower our corporate tax codes and income tax codes. There has to be incentive for work. Ah in too many situations we have people who are better off y’know on dependency type situations. And that’s that’s horrible. Ah y’know as as a society, to say that there are gonna be workers, and then this group of takers is absolutely a horrible problem. And by bringing the tax codes down, we are going to have more businesses do more of their business in America. It is a big situation that people can’t operate in the global sphere from another country or in the United States and when our tax code’s higher, it’s an obvious reason to y’know technically base operations somewhere else.
So as far as repatriating the money that’s abroad, and there’s a huge amount of money to bring back and invest in American businesses, ah I think y’know there could be some amount that that’s taxed. Ah I don’t think we should have a holiday because that’s that just plays into a permanent holiday. Unless we could find a way to ah and I think a certain amount of ah tax to bring that money back keeps businesses saying that America is their best choice to run a business of any size.
MOD: Thank you. Go ahead, Mr. Lewis.
JL: Ah look. We all know what the problem is with the tax code. It was 27 pages when it was implemented in 1913, today it’s 4 million words, including the corporate income tax. We’re seeing tax inversions like Medtronic and and others. I used to think the Double Irish was a drink. Actually, it’s now a tax inversion plan. And you’re not going to get the money coming back, the trillions of dollars overseas until you get a better return on capital. Money is gonna chase the highest return on capital, and right now 35% tax code, it’s one of the highest corporate income taxes in the world.
So we’ve gotta get that down. But you can’t get it down if you have carveouts to General Electric who got 839 million in credits and paid no income tax. If you’ve got renewable subsidies or renewable carveouts. Hedge fund managers paying their their commissions at capital gains instead of ordinary rates. And I’ll tell you something else I would do. I would eliminate tax-exempt bonds for professional sports stadiums that benefit private actors at the federal level.
JL: Because when they don’t pay that tax, those bondholders, you pay a higher rate. And so do corporations. So you’ve gotta get the loopholes out and get the flat rate down so that everybody’s got skin in the game.
MOD: Moving on. Thank you.
MOD: Mr. Gerson. Followed by John Howe, and then Ms. Myhra.
DG: The tax system is a perfect example of what’s wrong with Washington. The tax system works for the insiders and those who have the resources to lobby our politicians. It doesn’t work for the people. I am a supporter of Dan Mitchell’s flat tax. He’s from the Cato Institute. It eliminates all special interest carveouts. We need to eliminate these special interest deductions, we need to free up the entrepreneurs in America, the small businesses that are being overwhelmed by these tax codes and disincentives. And that’s what’s gonna bring back a vibrant economy.
MOD: Thank you sir.
JH: We have a very high corporate tax, and it chases a lot of corporations overseas, and it chases people to buy corporations in another country so they can lower their effective tax rate. We have a 73,000-page tax code, it needs to be much simpler. Ah we have it just about exactly backwards. We should encourage savings investings and earning savings and investing. And we should tax consumption. When I was a Minnesota Senator I proposed to eliminate the personal income tax in Minnesota and go to a straight consumption tax. Now Governor Dayton didn’t like it because it was revenue neutral. My plan was revenue neutral. It didn’t provide more revenue. So Governor Dayton didn’t like it. He wanted more revenue. The Republicans didn’t like it because it didn’t fit with their no new taxes pledge. But that’s what we should do. We should have a consumption tax, not an income tax.
Now, I don’t support using taxpayer funds for stadiums. I voted no on the stadium bill that went to the Governor’s desk. Because I didn’t care if it was user fees. But not taxpayer funds. And if anybody tells you what that stadium’s gonna cost you, it’s gonna be 1 billion dollars when you figure in the finance costs and the bonding costs. Y’know a lot of times you look at government projects and you don’t realize it, “Oh we’ve got the money to do this,” but what are the operating costs? What’s the long-term cost on it?
(To MOD) Are we done? All right.
(inaudible cross talk about time)
MOD: Go ahead. (to PM)
PM: I am opposed to any new sources of taxes. If we were to add a consumption tax, we should have an amendment to our Constitution. Because otherwise, what would happen is you’d have a consumption tax and then before you know it, you turn around and you’d have income tax as well. And we would be having taxes coming out of our ears. Ah I really believe that we have got to get our federal spending under control. It is so critical. And when as a family you’re having struggles paying the mortgage, or you’re going into bankruptcy, that’s probably not the best time to decide to make a change in your job. I don’t believe that when we are having such a difficult time in balancing the budget that we should be making huge changes in our tax code. But we should bring those rates down for everybody. But first we have got to address out-of-control federal spending.
MOD: Okay, thank you all. I wanna pause at this moment, we’re at 8:17, I had planned to wrap this up at 8:20. We have two more questions left. Ah it’s taking about 10 minutes per. So this’ll take us a few minutes over. Does the crowd and do our candidates want to run one more question, or do we want to wrap it up and get out of here?
(listening to audience) One more? One more. Let’s do one more. Question number nine. One great need in our politics is to counter the narrative of the left that condemns restraint, discipline, frugality, and anything that gets in the way of their progressive agenda. What will you do to lead the voters to understand and accept the need to say “no” much more often to solve our budget problems? And this goes first to Jason Lewis then to David Gerson and then David Benson Staebler.
JL: Well real quickly, first thing you do is start scrutinizing what’s going on in so-called higher education today. Ah we’ve got speech goats, we’ve got speech police in higher ed that are telling those conservatives saying “no, we can’t afford this or that” or “you ought to be responsible,” that that offends somebody, and therefore they risk losing their education. That is an outrage, given the fact that many of these are state schools getting state subsidies of three-quarters of their budget plus tuition subsidies with Pell grants.
We oughta haul these people – imagine, the prices of higher ed today as well. 25, 30, 40, 50 thousand dollars for a year? If this were Exxon Mobil, they’d be hauled in front of the Attorney General for price gouging. Nobody’s talking about that, I will when I get to Washington.
Now let’s have some fun and correct the record here a little bit. The problem with the consumption tax, especially for you seniors out there, is after a lifetime of paying income taxes, now you’re going to get hit with a 23 percent consumption tax at the federal level. How you likin’ that so far? It’ll turn businesses into tax collectors. That’s not the way to go, folks, in this election. And second of all I would say John, in your sales tax hike of 800 million that you were negotiating with Governor Dayton, the senate majority leader said there were no offsets in the bill, it was just a pure tax increase. So there was no move to abolish the income tax. And my old buddy John Howe was the swing vote in the Senate Taxes Committee to get the Vikings stadium on the floor. In fact, Chief Sponsor Julie Rosen said, “John Howe was the swing vote in the taxes committee that got the Vikings bill to the floor.” Now he then voted against it, so I guess he was for it before he was against it. But let’s just get the record straight here, gentlemen.
JH: I I don’t want to digress, but Don, y’know I didn’t think we were gonna have personal attacks here, but I’m gonna tell ya. Ah the only reason I voted for that was for user fees, and and I think that
MOD: I think we’re a little off script. You’ll get a minute to respond in a short while.
JH: Then we won’t get to answer the question.
MOD: Mr. Gerson.
DG: Well I think that the left is starting to see what happens with government overreach in education. And they’re starting to learn that local control is what we need if we’re gonna be a successful society, and they start to understand what government overreach really means in these one-size-fit-all solutions. And they can’t no go longer go down and talk to their school board. They can’t even go to St. Paul. How do you reach out to Washington D.C.? We’re seeing the same thing with transportation. Who can better determine your transportation needs than local and states? So I think they’re starting to recognize that this liberal big government isn’t working.
DBS: I appreciate the question, and I think we’ve missed the real sense of it to a certain extent, which is y’know how how does how would I as your representative make sure that y’know we we focus on a culture of work and productivity? And that we y’know stand up to abuse. And to a certain extent y’know the the question also looks at the left, and how the left y’know turns a blind eye, and is encouraging, basically that y’know people can have programs to their fill, so long as they vote left.
And we we do need to y’know one particular example is, that I think is is kinda wasteful and it’s not gonna help me with the prison industry, but I think it’s outrageous that we spend in some states a hundred thousand dollars per prisoner. We should be moving towards them contributing while they’re serving time.
MOD: Pam Myhra, and then John Howe.
MOD: My apologies.
PM: (Laughs) Caught me off guard. I think what we really need to do is, is really lay it out for the voters. Tell ‘em what’s at stake. Be honest. Y’know, in in 2010 I ran for the very first time. I hadn’t done that ever before. But I ah was so concerned about the political process and what was happening in my house district and in the state. So I ran for office. And I I went and door knocked 12,000 homes. And connected and communicated with the folks in my area. And a lot of Democrats voted for me. Because I was able to talk to them. And they knew that I was listening. And in 2012, the presidential year, I won again. And that’s because people could see from my record that I lived what I said. I voted as I said I would. And they trusted me. And in trusting, that is how you ah have other people support your candidacy.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Howe.
JH: Well, I’m certainly glad Jason sees Jason sees me as the candidate to beat here tonight. I like that. (Audience laughs) I would say I’m a personal accountability and personal responsibility guy. I know when to say no. You look at my life, call me, my phone number’s 651-278-4693. You gotta question with anything I did as a Senator, I’ll answer to it. When I served in the Senate, I never missed a Senate vote. I showed up. 90% of life is showing up and being accounted for. I never took a day off. When it came to the tax committee vote, I was fortunate enough to be on the tax committee. Like I said. I was voting for that stadium when it was user fees, user fees only.
Now Mr. Jason’s walked off his radio show and started this gold coin thing. I invested in it. I don’t know, I got I got like 20,000 coins or however many. I want to know what happened to that. That was more like a Ponzi scheme than anything else. (Audience laughs) I’ve never heard what’s going on with that. Y’know now he’s here looking for a job. And he’s beatin’ me up, right? Great! Let’s find out, guys. Thank you.
MOD: And thank you well – thank you all. I wish
JL: I think we hit a nerve!
MOD, audience laugh
JH: Thanks for the last question, Don.
MOD: I wish I wish I had the opportunity to express a few of my own, but I can’t do that as moderator and I’m not going to. (audience laughs) I do want to say at this point we’ve gone through nine of the questions, too bad we can’t get the tenth. But at this point we’re gonna pass the hat. If you like this event, if you want to support us, please donate. We’ll be passing some baskets around. If you’re writing checks make ‘em out to Senate District SD52. Senate District 52. Ah we thank you all for coming. This is an absolutely – I was hoping we would have a problem having more people than chairs. That’s what we’ve got. This is great. Thank you for coming.
Now we do (audience applause) the closing statements for all of the all the candidates. And we will start with two minutes each. Two minutes each. Starting with Jason Lewis, then David Gerson, then John Howe, then Pam Myhra, and then David Benson-Staebler. As they they picked their own lots there. So I had nothing to do with that.
JL: Well, thank you very much.
MOD: Thank you very much.
JL: You bet. Thank you. I didn’t realize you were going to have personal attacks in this debate. I’m shocked, I’m telling you. (audience laughs) Shocked. Shocked.
Actually, we should look into that senate taxes committee vote, John, because that did not have user fees, that was the final bill that went to the floor. So let’s just get a little research on that. But look, the bottom line is this. Ah we need somebody in Washington that is gonna be trustworthy, that you know where they stand, and you know won’t back down. Contrary to what John says, I really don’t need a job. I was very happy retired. And you know what? I decided to jump into this race because I didn’t see anybody else that was gonna take it to the opposition like I thought I could. And that’s what the framers want. They want a candidate whose views best represent the district, who’s electable, and who’s gonna take it to the opposition in our case. I intend to do that. And I intend to do it because I’m gonna serve the country first. I’m not gonna be a candidate that brings home the pork. I promise you that. I’m gonna be a candidate and a congressman that cuts the pork. You don’t serve the country first by bringing home pork to the district. You serve your district best by serving your country first, and I’ll do that. And we’re gonna do it in the Second District.
So that’s what this is about. Who’s the most electable conservative that’s going to eliminate government waste, that is going to balance the budget, that is going to cut taxes. That’s all this election is about.
Now, all these people are fine people. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just looking at the landscape here and saying, “We’ve got some pretty tough competition coming up in the fall, or next fall. Some well-funded Democrats. Somebody needs to take it to ‘em. I think I’m up to the task. I think I’m ready for it. But I need your help. I need your help along the way. And you know what? This is our rendezvous with destiny. The time is now for you and I to actually make a change. The same thing happened in the late seventies with Reagan. They said “No one’s gonna elect an actor.” Not gonna elect a guy on the radio. Reagan was on the radio. Isn’t gonna happen. He ushered in a Reagan revolution. That’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to usher in a revolution that’s not only going to change the country and Minnesota, but it’s going to change to GOP for the better as well. That’s on the agenda.
So join me, let’s change Congress, one district at a time, go to jasonlewis2016.com, And do your own research and get the facts on all the votes or all of my statements or anything else. And you know what? Let’s all do it and a first step would be abiding by the endorsement, which I am ready to do. Come next March. Thank you very much.
MOD: Thank you. Mr. Gerson.
DG: Thank you. If Mitch McConnell was a candidate on the stage, or if John Boehner or Lindsey Graham were here tonight as a candidate, they would all talk about how they support these conservative values. They would all say Obamacare has to go, that we need fiscal responsibility, and let’s shrink the size and scope of the federal government. They would all oppose No Child Left Behind and Common Core. They would say that it was time to defund Planned Parenthood and end executive overreach. But how have they actually voted? What have they actually done different on these issues than the Democrats? I am not here tonight to beat up on Republicans. Democrats are the real enemy, but we can never beat the Democrats if our own Republican representatives won’t stand up for our values.
Talk is cheap. So tonight I am asking you not to judge us on what we have said about the issues, rather judge us on what we have done to fight for real change. 96% of congressional incumbents win re-election. I was in this fight when the odds were nearly impossible. When it wasn’t an open seat. This has been a cause for me, not a political opportunity. Our grassroots community forced a seven-term incumbent to retire, and then kept the 800-pound gorillas out of the race. And when it was safe, when there was little risk, and when the fight was already over, it became an opportunity for my opponents to advance their political careers. Is that what you are looking for in a representative?
If you want a representative that will fight for your values, no matter the cost, then I am the only candidate that you can trust because I have been in the trenches with you. For three years. Few believe that we could hold our incumbent accountable. But together, we reminded politicians that the people are really in charge. And there is no way after this long battle that we’re gonna let this grassroots movement be extinguished by political ambition. I am David Gerson, and I am going to Congress to restore people’s faith in representative government. We the people no longer accept politics as usual. And we are going to take our country back.
Audience applause, cheers.
MOD: Thank you, thank you sir. Mr. Howe? You’re up next, followed by Ms. Myhra.
JH: Well, I wanna start off by thanking everybody that’s here tonight. It’s been a lively debate, great. I hope you vote for somebody who lives amongst you, and that wants to represent you. (Audience murmurs) Y’know, you all get that, right? ‘Cause Jason doesn’t live in the district. Y’know, it’s a typical top-down Washington thinkin’. I don’t live with you, but I want to represent you. All right? He’s got a great room presence, he can speak to any topic, right?
I y’know that hit on me as I lost my senate seat, right? Well, we lost a house and a senate that year. Both times. I know what defeat is like. What tells you who you are is when you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the horse again. I’m committed to winnin this race. I’ve put a big financial stake in my own money into it, our debt is uncontrollable, I guarantee you I’m gonna go and work on our debt, that’s my issue. I’m gonna try and take care of it.
Now, you can point and say “Hey, you lost the senate seat.” David’s lost a congressonal seat run. Jason, he ran for Congress out in Colorado, he lost that seat. Y’know, I’ve been around the country. What tells you who you are is if you lose a seat, you come back and win an election. I’m workin every day to win this election. I need your help to win this election. And we can do it. We know what we’re gonna face on the other side. You need somebody who’s conservative, you need somebody who can bring in the independents, we can bring in the conservative Democrats, this issue is too important. We cannot lose this seat. I’m gonna work every day to win it. You have any question, I have a record to run on. You call me. I’m not the guy that’s gonna tell you in the face, do one thing – say one thing and do another. If it comes out of my mouth, I own it. Because that’s the way I grew up. Thank you for being here tonight.
MOD: Thank you. Ms. Myhra.
PM: (inaudible) We are at a crossroads. Ladies and gentlemen, we are at a crossroads. Will we be honest with ourselves about the problems and challenges threatening the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? So many people believe that the American dream is slipping from their grasp. It doesn’t need to be that way. Effective, conservative leadership. Can return our country to the shining city on the hill and can restore the American dream for our children and our grandchildren. It’s not gonna be easy. It’ll be a lot of work. But I have the experience and the work ethic to fight that battle.
Ladies and gentlemen, we know experience matters. I am a deeply concerned, middle class mother of three. I’m a certified public accountant. I’m a former two-term state representative. I’m a resident of the district and have been for over 40 years. I’m not gonna sugarcoat this. It is absolutely imperative, as conservatives that we retain this seat. We can’t talk our way to victory. We can’t buy our way to victory. We must fight our way to victory. As your congresswoman, I will fight for individual liberty. I will protect our Second Amendment rights. I will protect vulnerable innocent human life. I will work to reduce the crushing burden of taxes and regulation. I will work to reduce our federal spending. And I will support and defend our U.S. Constitution.
This election is about trust, who you will trust. To represent you in Congress. I am that person. Thank you.
MOD: Thank you. And last word.
DBS: Thank you all very much. Ah for coming out tonight. And for your participation and support. We need to win this district. It’s absolutely essential. We need to take seats in the house, take seats in the senate if we can, and absolutely win the presidency.
I think that ah security is is really going to be the major issue for winning over people who wouldn’t now say that they know they’re gonna vote for us. And it is a drastic situation that we’re in today. There’s absolutely no reason that we would give powers of enrichment to Iran when they are absolutely one of our greatest enemies in the world. And there’s no other country besides the eight countries that have nuclear weapons today that has powers of enrichment. This president has just like that made terrible decisions throughout the world that destabilize the century to come. For us. And it’s not that I y’know we need to win with people who voted for this president. And they need to understand that they did not get what they paid for, what they bought, what they voted for. It’s been a fraud.
MOD: Thank you sir.
I want to encourage us to thank these folks up here right now. (audience applause) I think this is a great group of candidates. I wanna thank them all for being here tonight. I’m proud of the quality and variety of viewpoints and abilities we see here. This is gonna be a great election season. Remember, the only thing that’s more work than running for Congress is serving in Congress. Thank our candidates for being here tonight, for stepping up to leadership. Thank them again. (applause)
The original post for this debate also included a liveblog. You can find the original post and the liveblog here.