Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi were not in the room, but they were certainly talked about a lot in the first debate in what promises to be a hard fought campaign in Minnesota’s third congressional district.
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) is facing probably his toughest challenge yet in State Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL). On August 17, the two told a chamber of commerce audience that they agree on several business issues, but there were also wide differences. Paulsen invoked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s name several times when talking about Bonoff claiming she was Pelosi’s handpicked candidate, something Bonoff denied.
Bonoff said Trump’s shadow is hanging over Paulsen because he would probably vote for Trump but won’t publicly admit it. Paulsen was asked several times over the course of the debate about Trump, but gave no definitive statement about supporting him saying only Trump hadn’t earned his vote yet.
Transcript and captioned video of the debate
Brad Meier: I’m Brad Meier, president of the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce. And on behalf of my colleague Pat MulQueeny with the Eden Prairie Chamber, Pat, where are you, over here, and Maureen Scallen Failor with the Bloomington Chamber, we want to welcome you to today’s Congressional debate. Welcome and thank you for being here.
The Chambers, obviously we all pride ourselves on the ability to bring together business with the public sector and have great dialogues about issues in our communities, both locally, state and federally. And obviously today we’re excited to talk about federal issues.
Ah at this time too, just as a reminder, out of respect for our participants today, if you want to silence your phones? You don’t have to turn ‘em off, but just silence ‘em. Ah we encourage any kind of social media activity on the event today, and we’re using hashtag #CD3, CD, the number three, Debate. CD3Debate.
Before we begin I want to just take a moment to thank our sponsors today, their support of this debate is obviously critical. Ah to making this all happen. And if you could, from your table, just maybe wave, or we’ll just have you wave, we won’t make you stand. But our Gold sponsor today is Medica, right up front. Medica, thank you. (applause). Our Silver sponsors are Gislason & Hunter, MedExpress Urgent Care (applause) yes, all right, let’s give them a hand, wonderful (laughs), we’re also gonna recognize our media sponsor today, Capitol Report, our photography sponsor, Randy Hoepner Graphic Design and Photography, and our Bronze sponsors are Goff Public, Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Hinckley, and Weber Johnson Public Affairs. If all of those sponsors could please –thank you, thank you (applause)
Again, we appreciate your support. So with that, we’re gonna get things going here. And it’s my pleasure to introduce our moderator of today’s Congressional debate, ah Mr. Tom Hauser. Tom is the chief political reporter and host of the At Issue public affairs program for 5 Eyewitness News. I’m sure you’ve seen him and know him. Tom began covering Minnesota politics in 1997, and has won numerous awards for his work. Tom was born in Minneapolis, grew up in Edina, and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. Please join me in a warm welcome for today’s moderator, Tom Hauser. Tom. (audience applauds)
Tom Hauser: Thank you very much Brad, for that introduction. Ah it’s it’s fun to be back in this room, I was here for my, a lot of you will find this hard to believe, that this occasion has already come and gone, but my twentieth high school reunion was here. And there was actually a reunion here, and then one right next door, and I came in here, and I was here for about 15 minutes, and thinking that I had either I had really aged or everybody in my class had really aged, because I didn’t really recognize anybody. And so, it took about 15 minutes to realize I was at the Wayzata class of 79 reunion. (laughter) So eventually I made it next door. And made a lot of new friends that night, though. So. (laughter)
Anyway, this should be a good event. We’re gonna be respectful of your time. This will be a one-hour debate, we hope to get you out of here as close to one o’clock as we possibly can. And of course, please continue to enjoy your meal ah during the debate. .
Ah today’s debate will offer all of us the opportunity to hear from Congressional candidates in this very important race for the Third Congressional District here in Minnesota. As you know, many national pundits have put this on their watch list as one of the potentially most closely contested, possibly most expensive, and again closely watched in the country.
Now at this time I would like to invite the candidates to the stage as I introduce them, we begin with Erik Paulsen. Congressman Erik Paulsen is serving his fourth term representing Minnesota’s Third Congressional District. Paulsen is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over healthcare, economic and trade policy, and is the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives.
Congressman Paulsen is also a member of the Joint Economic Committee, serves as co-chair of the House Medical Technology Caucus, and is a leader in advocating for the medical technology industry. He is chair of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Caucus to promote trade with Europe, and a leading advocate for combating sex trafficking. Prior to his time in public office, Erik worked as a business analyst at Target Corporation before being elected to Congress in 2008, Paulsen represented Minnesotans for 14 years in the state Legislature, where he served as House Majority Leader from 2003 to 2007. He received his B.A. in mathematics from St. Olaf College and resides in Eden Prairie with his wife and their four daughters, please welcome Congressman Erik Paulsen. (applause)
Hauser: It is purely coincidence he is to my right. (audience laughs)
Hauser: Up next, Terri Bonoff made her first run for political office in 2005, and was elected to the Minnesota Senate. She was reelected in ’06, 2010, and 2012. As chair of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, Senator Bonoff has made education a major focus of her work in the Senate, with particular emphasis on early childhood and higher education, Bonoff served on several other committees relating to education and workforce development during her time in the Senate. Prior to her time with the Minnesota Senate, Terri Bonoff had a successful 20-year career in the private sector. She has a B.A. from Clark University and lives in Minnetonka with her husband Matthew. They also have four grown children. Please welcome Senator Terri Bonoff. (applause)
Terri Bonoff: Thank you. Thank you.
Hauser: Again, just coincidence that she is to my left. (Bonoff laughs) And it’s also just a coincidence that all three of us have four children. Apparently that was a prerequisite to be up here today.
Now one other quick introduction today, TwinWest staff member Ali Schadow will be our official timekeeper for this event. Candidates will be notified, she’s right down here in front, when they have one minute remaining then given a thirty-second notice, and then a polite “stop” sign when time is up. After thirty seconds, all bets are off in terms of how polite it will be.
Now as audience members, please be respectful of the time we have allotted for this debate today, and allow them to debate. We hope there will not be any spontaneous outbursts until the end of the debate. Now both candidates will have three minutes to provide an opening statement, and we will start today with the incumbent in this race, Congressman Erik Paulsen.
Erik Paulsen: Thank you Tom. And thanks everyone for being here. I wanna thank the TwinWest Chamber and all the local Chambers ah number one, for being the voice of small business, and for organizing our debate today. Look, when I first went to Washington, I knew it would be extremely dysfunctional. And I’ve been able to transcend the partisan divide and work across the aisle to get things done for both the people of Minnesota and for our district. I’ve remained solution oriented, I’ve worked across the aisle on very important issues like suspending the Medical Device Tax, a punitive tax that harmed innovation. That put away a lot of high-paying jobs here in the state of Minnesota. And it took five years, but I remained very persistent year after year, making it a priority and getting it across the finish line with strong bipartisan support after building up that vote.
I also helped pass new bipartisan anti–human trafficking legislation, working with Senator Klobuchar, helping young 12, 13, 14-year-old girls, ah and making sure they are treated as victims. Not as criminals. And get the services that they need and that they deserve. And it’s actually been one of the most gratifying opportunities I’ve had to make a difference knowing it’s literally going to be saving lives as they come out of the shadows. And just last month, legislation I authored to help re-unite families of missing children passed the House with huge bipartisan support, was signed by the president into law, and it’s hard to believe but 200,000 children go missing every year because they are abducted by a relative or a family member. And what we found was in up to 46% of the cases, that relative or family member was filing a tax return with a Social Security number to get a child tax credit or their own tax return, and so we passed a law that allows them to communicate with the IRS and law enforcement to share those tools in making sure we can help re-unite families. Supported by the National Committee of Missing and Exploited Children, Patty Wetterling, who we all know of course, is on that board, as well as law enforcement.
And finally, helping veterans. I was able to pass a Military Service Dog bill to make sure that military service dogs, when they retire, in in Afghanistan or Iraq, they’re able to be retired in the United States. And be here, at home, and help our veterans. Ah and I think Terri and I both want to move our state forward and move our country forward. But we do hold very different views and very different ideas about how to accomplish that. Ah Terri has consistently voted for big tax increases and for more spending. She’s voted for a billion-dollar tax increase, including a new fourth tier on our individual income tax rate right in Minnesota. And I think today it’s more important than ever that we have elected leaders in Congress who can work across the aisle, who can get things done. And that’s my record as one of only 34 members in either party this year that has actually been able get a law passed and signed by the president. I’m ranked second out of the entire 435 members in the House for actually getting members to sign on my bills, fifth in the entire House for writing bipartisan bills, and number one in the Minnesota delegation in both of those categories. Proud to be endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well. In helping small businesses in our Chamber community. Thank you very much.
Hauser: All right. Congressman Paulsen, thank you for that. (applause) And now, State Senator Terri Bonoff.
Bonoff: Thank you very much. And thank you all for being here, and thank you very much to the Chambers for putting on this very important event. And it is very important because we have a critical election before us. I believe, now more than ever, we must elect courageous leaders. I’m a third-generation Third District resident, and a third-generation businesswoman. My grandfather started Jackson Graves, a chain of women’s clothing stores, in 1946. My dad, after he served in the Army, joined the family business and opened the Southdale store. And then I, after completing college, followed in his footsteps and joined the family business.
I then went to Tonka Toys, where I did their promotions, public relations, and marketing communications. And ended a 20-year business career as the first woman vice president general manager at Navarre Corporation, leading their largest division, the computer products division. When I went to Navarre, that division was 25 million in sales. And when I left, it was 200 million in sales.
I stepped back from the business world to be home with four teenagers. Yes, four teenagers – and then ah went on to the Minnesota Senate. But I will tell you, those lessons I learned in business have stayed with me today and I know they’ll stay with me into the future. The importance of having a sound strategy. The importance of using creativity and innovation. To meet that challenges that we face. And perhaps most importantly, bringing discipline to everything that we do. And as I prepared for today, I was reminded of just how closely we work together. How your priorities have actually been my priorities. And I have been so grateful that the Minnesota Chamber, the TwinWest Chamber, and the NFIB, have endorsed my candidacy three different times in my elections.
And that is because we have agreed on tax policies. So, just a little correction, Representative Paulsen, I didn’t vote for that tax increase. I actually voted against that tax increase. But we’ll have plenty of time to talk about that. Ah however we worked on tax policy and education. As I became chair of higher ed, I listened to students, I went all over the state and heard about their despair regarding their crushing debt, and I listened to businesses say they couldn’t fill the jobs. And so I reached out to the Minnesota Chamber, together we created the Pipeline Project, a program that has been recognized nationally, and has been written about twice in Forbes magazine. I will bring that kind of creative approach to problem solving with me to Congress.
This Congress, as Representative Paulsen has said, has been remarkably ineffective. So I would say to you, if your business isn’t effective, and you know would you say “I wanna keep the leaders in place because they’re nice guys”? Or would you say “No, it’s time for a change, and bring leaders there who have a track record of turning things around.”So thank you very much. (applause)
Hauser: All right, thank you very much. Senator Bonoff and Representative Paulsen, and now on to our debate questions. Candidates will have two minutes to answer each question. If necessary, a candidate may ask me for a one-minute followup in the very unlikely event they feel their opponent has misstated their position, (laughter) on any issue, I think that’s very unlikely to happen, but they will have that opportunity. I will also take a little leeway if I feel a question has not been answered adequately for those of you in the audience. I may ask a followup as well, at which case they would have one minute for that as well.
So we will ask the questions in rotating order again these questions prepared by the three Chambers of Commerce that are sponsoring this event, and we are going to begin with Senator Bonoff. We’re gonna start with a question about transportation infrastructure. What role does the federal government need to play in maintaining and expanding transportation infrastructure in the United States, and how should they provide funding assistance to states and local entities for roads, bridges and public transportation? And please address specific funding proposals you might have for this. Senator.
Bonoff: Well thank you very much for that question and I know transportation has been one of the most important priorities of the Chamber. I am reminded of the 35W bridge collapse. I bet everyone in this room remembers where you were on that day. That bridge collapse became a symbol of everything that’s wrong with our transportation system. And yet following that, we came together and we put together comprehensive transportation bill for the first time in 10 years. I have repeatedly been willing to vote for unpopular taxes. This is the one area where I vote for tax increases and that is taxes that fund our infrastructure and our transportation system. So I think we have to have a comprehensive approach to funding. The gas tax is not gonna work long term, because our vehicles are less efficient. We need to be innovative and creative. They talk about a miles traveled approach, and right now I think we would all say, “We’re not ready yet, because do we want a little computer following everywhere we go?” There has to be a conversation, though, about what we’ve got isn’t working. In addition, we’ve said that local jurisdictions have to fund transit operations until we have a patchwork of solutions, and we have an uneven comprehensive transit system all over our country.
We have to as leaders be willing to prioritize transportation, the ability to move goods and services as well as having a national approach to a multimodal transportation system. We have not been able to do the the job of funding the Southwest Light Rail, which has been a top priority of this Chamber, because people have been unwilling to take those tough votes. So I am somebody who would say “Y’know, it costs something, and you have to pay for it,” and I promise you, I will bring your commitment to transportation with me as I go to Congress.
Hauser: All right, thank you very much. Congressman Paulsen, Senator Bonoff says she might be open to a gas tax increase that has not been raised at the federal level I believe since 1993. Is that something you would consider, or do you have other ideas for providing infrastructure funding?
Paulsen: I actually do have other ideas in providing infrastructure funding. Transportation is a critical function of government, especially long-term funding, and actually the good news is just at the end of last year, for the first time in a decade, we passed a bipartisan, five-year reauthorization, where we gave a lot of money back to the states, they have to match that money obviously, I know the state Legislature has still been squabbling, has not been able to come up with a plan on their transportation needs, but at the federal level, we have a five-year authorization, It gives certainty, it gives predictability, it’s planning. I am more in favor of not supporting a gas tax because I don’t think that is a viable option for the long term, just given high-mileage vehicles, less people traveling, et cetera, but we should be looking at using energy royalties and expansion of that. I’ve done proposals with Congressman Tim Walz, bipartisanly, to say we should put all of that money into infrastructure, into new projects in transportation. In fact, it was scored to be the highest investment in infrastructure ever in the history of country. Ah but it takes time, it takes planning. And we have an administration right now that quite honestly has not been interested in expanding those energy royalties in that direction.
And I do want to make one correction too, because ah Terri had mentioned that she has not, she has supported the gas tax but not other taxes. But she did vote for, in 2009, for a fourth tier on the income tax. For a billion-dollar tax increase as well as other sales tax increases and as well as the gas tax. So I just do believe that we have opportunities to fund transportation in other unique methods that are more long-term oriented, that can fund other infrastructure projects including locks and dams, across the board.
Hauser: As a followup, you’ve got 30 seconds on your time so I’ll ask you this. Ah you talk about these royalties and unique ways of funding it. Is that enough for the massive transportation needs that we have in this nation?
Paulsen: It actually is, but the trick is to get ahead of it now and plan ahead of time, because once the five-year reauthorization ends, you can’t just snap it and turn it back on. It’s why Congressman Walz and I, and Congressman Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania, have been pushing this idea internally, and leadership has not embraced it quite honestly, but again it was scored to be the largest investment in infrastructure in the history of the country. So there is adequate money, and given our energy capabilities now, and more domestic production, we should be channeling these resources into transportation infrastructure.
Hauser: She gets one minute for clarification.
Bonoff: Thank you very much.
Hauser: This is one of those unlikely events! (Bonoff, audience laugh)
Bonoff: So as I understand it actually, that there was a transportation bill passed, but the funds were only appropriated for one year. And the transportation bill that was passed was really just to cover the inflationary increases and did nothing to modernize our transportation system. So while one can be pleased that something did get passed, and I don’t blame you, I wish I was standing here today, saying that our special session had already happened, I don’t blame you for saying that was good, but I wouldn’t want anyone in this room to be left with the impression that we’ve handled our transportation problems because we have not. Thank you.
Hauser: All right. Thank you Senator Bonoff. Let’s move on now to healthcare and health insurance. And Congressman Paulsen, we’ll begin with you on this question. When the Affordable Care Act legislation was passed, we were told that insurance costs would go down and people could keep their plans. The reality is, costs have gone up, dramatically in some cases, and major insurance companies are leaving exchanges, including here in Minnesota in the case of MNsure. At a recent Eden Prairie Chamber event, one member commented his insurance premiums for his family would be $26,000, and he could not afford it and was going to pay the penalty instead. Our question to you is, what changes would you propose to help lower costs for health insurance and provide greater numbers of insurance plans that would provide quality care and Congressman, knowing that you have voted to essentially abolish the Affordable Care Act, is that something you would still favor, or do you think it just needs to be reformed?
Paulsen: Ah well first of all, there’s no there’s no ah there’s there’s no – it’s absolutely certain that Obamacare has been a disaster. Ah people are paying more for their premiums. People have had fewer choices for their doctor or for their health plan. Despite being promised that premiums being lowered by twenty-five hundred dollars. And so, I know Terri helped vote to bring Obamacare here to Minnesota with MnSure. Ah that has also been a disaster. Premiums have gone up double digits. We’ve now seen our major, one of our major insurance providers exiting the market with 100,000 more individuals now being without health insurance options. And so I don’t think we need more mandates from Washington with the one-size-fits-all approach. But I do think this comes back to the opportunity of injecting more competition and we do have an alternative plan that is a better way forward. Competition with being able to buy and sell insurance across state lines. Preventative medicine and wellness models that should be incorporated into care. Paying for value over volume and quality over quantity. And not just rewarding the number of procedures that are done, and activity, but actually rewarding results. I’m actually sponsoring legislation for chronic care management, a bipartisan bill with Senator Ron Wyden, who is the ranking member of the Finance Committee in the Senate, he’s a pretty liberal senator from Oregon, ah but we agree that chronic care management and Medicare is an opportunity to make a difference and save money on healthcare costs, by rewarding taking care of the patient so it’s literally well care and not sick care. Because today, Medicare companies, 68% of the people under Medicare today, have two or more chronic conditions, consuming 93% of all Medicare costs. And so if we actually care for the patient, we have a chance to reform that.
Also, healthcare savings accounts. Is another opportunity. I know a lot of you in this room have healthcare savings accounts, because 800,000 people in Minnesota use those high-deductible plans. But we need to make them more flexible and allow more people like military veterans and our seniors to gain access to those options as well.
Hauser: Just in 10 seconds, would you vote again to scrap the Affordable Care Act and all aspects of it and start over?
Paulsen: Ah the only provisions that come to mind that I like about the Affordable Care Act would be keep your young parents – ah children on your parents’ policy, through age 26. We already had that in the state of Minnesota, right? Cover from pre-existing conditions. There are better ways to do that, and the state of Minnesota was getting it right until that one-size-fits-all came down from Washington.
Hauser: Senator Bonoff, your view of what should be done with the Affordable Care Act.
Bonoff: Yeah, thank you. We cannot go backwards to the days where pre-existing conditions were not covered, and our young people were not able to be on our their parents’ policies, and where we actually had caps on benefits. This is very personal to me. I have a son with a very serious chronic health disease. And were it not for the Affordable Care Act, he would not have access to extremely expensive drugs, and excellent and outstanding healthcare.
Now having said that, when the Affordable Care Act was introduced, I wrote a letter to the entire Congressional delegation, sent one to each of them, saying “You should apply essentially for a waiver, because Minnesota had gone so much farther than any other state. We had the least uninsured and the lowest cost. We didn’t get that. So then, MNsure was proposed. And I listened to Jay McLaren from Medica, who was in my office saying “Hey! They want to tell us which products can be on the exchange, and who could be on the exchange.” And so I voted “no” the first time that proposal happened. And then I used that “no” vote to influence the conference committee process, and that piece came out of the legislation.
What I would do specifically, today, is I would number one allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices, I don’t know why that’s not happened, and number two, with regard to these exchanges, which are very problematic because they’re filled with too many sick people, high-risk people, and they’re people ah without incomes. And so what I would do is say “Small business, you can have pre-tax dollars to fund your employees to go to the the private market. By doing that you send healthy people to the private market and actually we would have a chance of saving these exchanges, which really are in trouble.
With regard to Congressman’s votes, he has voted over 50 times to repeal. I think that rigidity of Congress to, instead of rolling up their hands and solving these problems – the health insurance companies aren’t asking for repeal! The hospitals aren’t asking for repeal! The public’s not saying repeal! They’re saying, “Help us. The burdens are tremendous. Please help us. Don’t repeal. Repeal. Thank you.
Hauser: Thank you. Senator, your time is up.
Paulsen: I’d like to just respond.
Hauser: I thought you might. (audience laughs)
Paulsen: Ah first of all, nobody wants to go backwards, but we have gone backwards here in the state of Minnesota. Because we were doing everything right, we were the second most I think uninsured state in the country, ah premiums were at a reasonable level, but right after the law went into effect, they were going up double digits, that continues to happen. And ah y’know one of the first and most important votes that a member of Congress will cast when they get elected is who the speaker’s gonna be. And I’m gonna vote for Paul Ryan. Terri’s gonna vote for Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is how we got the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. And again, you have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. I think that’s the wrong approach, and the one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington is not the direction to go.
Hauser: All right.
Hauser: You can have 30 seconds.
Hauser: Only 30 seconds.
Bonoff: I don’t think I don’t think Erik oughta say who I’m voting for for leader. So. I would I would just suggest that he, that he not say. Believe me, it wouldn’t be Paul Ryan! (laughter)
Hauser: I thought we were gonna make major news here! (laughter)
Paulsen: Can I ask a question? I mean —
Hauser: Well, yes — this is a bit unorthodox, but go ahead.
Paulsen: Well, I’m just a little surprised, because Terri you’ve been bragging that Nancy Pelosi recruited you to run for the race and essentially you’re her hand-picked candidate. And she has literally almost three million dollars on television from her superPAC stored up and ready to use on your behalf.
Hauser: Now you can
Bonoff: Now, now I get a minute! I’m sorry!
Hauser: All right, now you get one minute!
Bonoff: A minute! So actually Erik Paulsen has sent out a letter for fundraising, saying I was Nancy Pelosi’s hand-picked candidate. I’ve NEVER said that, I did not talk to Nancy Pelosi, during that time period when I was considering running. I did get a call from somebody some other people who encouraged me to run, and you know what got me to run? It wasn’t a call. It was Donald Trump got me to run. I’m running because Donald Trump is in this race. (applause) That’s why I’m running.
Hauser: I thought his name might come up! (audience laughs) At some point. We’ll get back to Donald Trump here in a few moments. And by the way, Nancy Pelosi did not hand-pick me to be here. today (audience, Bonoff laugh) Just to make sure everybody’s clear about who Nancy Pelosi’s pickin’ and not pickin’ here. (Bonoff laughs)
Let’s move on to trade policy. And we will get back to Donald Trump I promise. Ah and Senator Bonoff, I’ll start with you on this next question about trade. Considering that 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, do you support a robust free trade agenda that expands opportunities in new global markets. Please explain your position.
Bonoff: Yes I do. I’m a strong believer in the importance of free trade, and we are so fortunate in our community, in the Third Congressional District and in our state, to have so many Fortune 500 companies, to have these multinational companies leading the world in the global marketplace. We owe our businesses the ability to have an environment that is protects their interests, that levels the playing field, and so I support TPP. Frankly, I don’t understand how then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could negotiate the TPP and then now as candidate, not support it. I do support it. And that’s another difference. Where I actually have a track record of standing up to my party when I disagree. And so, you can count on that and I know that’s actually why you’ve endorsed me those last three times, is because I do have that track record, and I will continue doing that. I also think if we weren’t to enact the TPP, we actually open the door for China to have an outsized role in that region, and that is not in the best interest of our country.
Hauser: All right, Congressman Paulsen, where do you stand on the Transpacific Partnership and other issues related to free trade?
Paulsen: Well on trade it is absolutely essential that the United States engage and have a robust trade agenda. And I have been an active and stalwart supporter of having that agenda. With 95% of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, 80% of the world’s purchasing power being outside the United States, it only makes sense we want to sell American services and American goods, and export at every opportunity that we have. I co-chaired the Ttip Caucus, as you mentioned, which is an opportunity to have a new agreement with our European allies. So it’s not just the Transpacific Partnership where we have a new opportunity to engage with 12 countries involved there, and make sure that the United States is gonna be a counterweight to China, that we are gonna be part of the global equation where we’re gonna see growing influence and the center of economic gravity for new competition coming from Asia, but also from countries in continents like Europe where we have our best friends and allies, but also have an opportunity to streamline regulations. Testing certification. Procedures. The facilitation and movement of goods and services more effectively and more efficiently. And I’m a member of the trade subcommittee. It is a huge opportunity to be a voice for Minnesota exporters. And the exciting thing is that almost 800,000 jobs in Minnesota rely on trade. Actually, these jobs also pay about 18% higher wages. And so we should be promoting this at every opportunity we get. I know the Transpacific Partnership may be caught up in a lame duck lame duck situation. I’m disappointed that both presidential candidates quite honestly aren’t talking about the value of trade, ah but in that vacuum I’m gonna continue to step out and lead on trade.
And I just wanna mention too because you mentioned that Donald Trump being the reason you’re running for for Congress, I’ll just say that that’s not the right reason to run for Congress. Ah I’m running for Congress to get things done. We have two historically very unpopular candidates. Ah I have endorsed neither, unlike Terri, who has endorsed one. And I am gonna move forward just to keep working across the aisle. And if you’re only running for Congress because the political environment, is better because of Donald Trump running, that’s the wrong reason to run and it’s a cynical reason.
Bonoff: (begins to speak)
Hauser: I anticipated your rebuttal request, so go ahead. (audience laughs)
Bonoff: Thank you. So ah. So actually, let me tell you why Donald Trump has me in this race. Not because of the political winds, quite the opposite. I’m really concerned that a candidate such as Donald Trump had the potential to be president. And so I wanted to be talking to you, the public, and let you know how very dangerous this is. And I wanted you to know that as a courageous leader, I will do everything I can to speak truth about that. So as he’s insulted women and called them fat pigs and made fun of people with disabilities and and smeared Gold Star families – and, now, talking about the spread of nuclear weapons, and walking away from NATO – that is not somebody fit to be Commander in Chief. And that Congressman Paulsen has not from day one, denounced that man as a leader is not political courage. And so I believe it’s our job to shape the political winds, not to stand back and understand how they’re going. And then act in response.
Hauser: And your time is up, and let’s stay with this topic. Why (to Paulsen) you’re gonna get two minutes here. Just a second. Let’s quit circling around it. Do you or do you not support Donald Trump for president today?
Paulsen: Donald Trump has not earned my vote. The candidate I endorsed is not on the ballot this fall. And that’s disappointing. The only candidate who has endorsed anyone, either presidential candidate, is Terri. I have endorsed neither.
And again, if you’re running because Donald Trump is on the ballot, that’s a pretty cynical reason to run. That’s not the right reason to run. And I don’t hear you denouncing Hillary Clinton when she says things about raising taxes 1.3 trillion dollars, or raising spending another 2.3 trillion dollars or adding to our national debt. And I don’t think any candidate necessarily has to be in the position of denouncing anyone running for president, but I did step out as early as last summer criticizing Donald Trump when he was saying inappropriate things about women, saying it was not a good messenger for our party, long before Terri ever got into the race. Again, the bottom line I think is the most important vote we cast. It’s not gonna be for president. It’s gonna be for who the speaker is. Whether it’s Nancy Pelosi, who now Terri apparently says she’s not gonna necessarily vote for, which again I’m very surprised, and I would just hope that we, she and I, can both focus on our positive ideas, and in that vein I would like to ask that both of us reject any spending brought on by outside groups.
And Terri, I’ve heard you say you’re an independent voice, I’ve heard you say you decry outside money that’s spent on campaigns. And for that reason, I hope that you and I can agree to sign the People’s Pledge. And in races across the country, in the last few years, candidates have joined together to call off all outside money being spent on as a part of the People’s Pledge. And Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown did it in Massachusetts. It actually works. And the pledge requires both candidates to sign a document calling off all outside independent expenditures, where a lot of negative ads come from, and this is under the control of each candidate because in order to keep candidates honest, if someone comes in and runs an ad on behalf of that candidate, that candidate would have to donate half of that ad buy to charity. So it literally works. And the people in this district deserve a race that is gonna be about issues and about our records. And by agreeing to this, ah we can be accountable to the race that we run. And I’ve signed the pledge, I brought it with me today, and I hope that you will join me in signing it.
Hauser: All right, we’ll have a ceremony here in a minute to see if anyone wants to do that. (TB, audience laugh) But as a quick 30-second followup, you say Donald Trump has not earned your support yet. Is it possible he could earn your support and what would that take? Thirty seconds.
Paulsen: Well, it remains to be seen what’s gonna happen with either one of these candidates. Because I expect like many of you in this room, you’re not happy with either candidate. We have two candidates running that have higher unfavorables than favorables. And as someone who’s raising four daughters, who wants to convince people what you’re running for and being solution oriented, it’s pretty discouraging and it’s not very ah enlightening or aspirational.
Hauser: Is there anything specific he could do to earn your support?
Paulsen: There’s nothing specific right now.
Hauser: So, but you haven’t ruled it out.
Paulsen: Nothing specific right now.
Hauser: All right. Senator Bonoff, when you look across the stage, do you actually see Donald Trump standing here? (audience laughs)
Bonoff: I don’t think that Erik’s personality is anything like Donald Trump. I think Donald Trump’s shadow is hanging over Erik Paulsen because he has not been forthright with you. He is going to vote for someone in that ballot box. I don’t know who it is! But don’t you deserve to know who your elected leader is going to vote for for the President of the United States?
I don’t think this is a contest. Y’know I did say, I’m gonna vote for her. I think he’s dangerous. I think the things that he says are irrational reckless, insulting, and the thought of him as our Commander in Chief frightens me. And I don’t understand why that’s a cynical reason to get in the race. I don’t have a cynical bone in my body. People can say I’m direct, they can say I might be y’know this or that, that my husband, who’s over there, but not cynical. I’m not cynical. This isn’t opportunistic. This is truly a citizen of this country concerned for our safety.
With regard to that pledge, let’s be reminded that when Congressman Paulsen raised over a million dollars last quarter, over 500,000 of it was from special interest. The Koch brothers, Exxon Mobil, every corporate PAC that you could imagine. So you might say “Well, that’s direct money, because I get to control how it’s spent.” But it’s special interest money. And so that’s another reason why I am running. There’s a group called End Citizens United who believes we must get rid of that special interest money. Whether it comes right directly into your coffers or whether it comes from an independent expenditure, it is not a level playing field. For a challenger, I promise you, it’s not a level playing field. I’m not complaining, I’m giving it everything I’ve got. Because this is important, and you deserve a leader with the courage to express a vision, to tell you the truth about where she stands, and to put America first and that’s who I am and that’s who I’ll be for you. Thank you.
Hauser: All right Senator Bonoff, thank you very much. To stay along this same theme, ah Congressman Paulsen, can you give me three, you’ve given a couple of instances, but if you could repeat some of those, or give others, give me three examples of where you would be willing to differ from your political party or party leadership on key issues.
Paulsen: So a couple of things real quick. And I have voted several times against energy exploration in Anwar. I think that protecting some of our pristine wildernesses areas is and should be priority ah for our country. And to the point where I’ve even voted against bills, I’ve voted against them in committee, and so I stand on that principle. I voted to protect the Antiquities Act, which is the opportunity for the president, no matter who that president is, started back way back in the days of Teddy Roosevelt. To make sure they have the ability to have new national monuments. New national parks. Ah I constantly get awards from the National Parks Conservation ah ah boards, recognizing my support of national parks. So those are some of the issues that come to mind immediately.
And I’ll just say, Terri, the most important vote that we can be honest with you and deliberative about and tell you where we are is that vote for speaker. It’s not who we’re voting for president, it’s who we’re gonna vote for for speaker of the House, because that’s the person who sets the agenda. That’s the person who lays out the groundwork for where we’re going as a country in all of these policies, whether it’s fixing Obamacare, tax reform or trade policy.
Hauser: All right, Senator Bonoff, give us three examples or more if you like (TB laughs) where you would differ from your party or party leadership.
Bonoff: Yeah, Well, I’m actually reminded, sitting here with all of you, when Governor Dayton was first elected, and he proposed his quote tax on the rich. And we had this TwinWest legislative breakfast, and along with that he proposed a business-to-business sales tax. And so we were asked with the legislative question of the day, “What do you think of that?” And one by one, the legislators, we took the microphone and just railed on the business to business tax. I mean, every one of us. We did not know Governor Dayton was standing in the doorway, listening to each one of us. And so he comes just stomping into the room, and he grabs the microphone, and he says “FINE! The B to B tax is DONE! Off the table!” And so that was the power of listening – legislators, the public, and then speaking out against one’s party, and actually being effective in getting rid of something.
But that wasn’t enough for me because I was still very very troubled by the fourth tier that did get enacted, so ah Republican representative Sarah Anderson and I actually carried a bill to exempt small businesses, S-corps, and LLCs from that ah very really unfair tax.
Education reform, I continually speak out. Many of you remember our fight to get alternative licensure so that Teach for America could be a tool to address the pressing achievement gap in our state. I carried that bill, I fought for it; Education Minnesota spent 2 million dollars on TV trying to defeat that bill, and me, and I’ve not been endorsed from them ever since that. As you can imagine. But we were successful and with your help, we passed it.
And with regard to the ah the places you differed from your party, Congressman Paulsen, I’m ah curious why the League of Conservation Voters endorsed my candidacy, and has your environmental record at a 16%. Which I’m not saying is right or wrong, I’m just curious about that. (audience murmurs)
Hauser: Are you curious enough to answer it? (audience, TB laugh)
Paulsen: Maybe I’ll answer it this way, because Terri’s campaign takes money from special interests as well. And she has taken other PAC money, and she uses that money, so the pledge is not about fundraising, the pledge is not about money that is raised by our individual candidacies, it is about protecting and preserving and having accountability to the people we represent from outside organizations. Be it the Koch brothers, be it the League of Conservation Voters, be it anyone who would spend money on our behalf and run lots of negative ads, which we all get tired of, which we don’t like, but we can control our destiny, and it’s worked in other districts, it’s worked in other states, and that’s what we should be signing and we should be agreeing to.
Hauser: All right, ah –
Bonoff: I’d love to answer it.
Hauser: I’ll give you 30 seconds.
Bonoff: Okay. I’ll do that if we both return our PAC money. All PAC money, we just say, “This is gonna be a race based on individual donors,” and then, let’s go for it. (applause)
Hauser: Any anybody want to give back their PAC money? Let’s just get that off the table right now. Anybody gonna give back their PAC money?
Bonoff: I – I would! Are you ready?
Paulsen: I’m waiting to see if you’re gonna sign the pledge.
Bonoff: Yeah, only under those conditions! Y’know this has to be a level playing field.
Hauser: We don’t have that ceremony in ink just yet.
Bonoff: Yeah. Yeah.
Hauser: But we’re working on it.
Hauser: Let’s move on to another topic. Regulatory environment. There’s been a lot of talk. For a number of years. Both in the state of Minnesota and federally about ah burdensome regulations on business. Senator Bonoff, do you support pro-growth capital formation policies, as well as legislation to update our financial regulatory system? Such as the FCC Regulatory Accountability Act, and for those of you not familiar with what that is, it is essentially requires the FCC to about every five years review ah regulations, how expensive are they, how burdensome are they, in order to kind of unshackle business. Your thoughts on that.
Bonoff: Yes. We have to do all we can to remove barriers to economic growth, whether it’s the small business barriers, the big ah corporate ah challenges that our our companies face here, and I have worked hard on that in the Minnesota Senate. And I would continue to do that in Congress. This last session there was an initiative going through that would have placed kind of a one-size-fits-all paid family leave, sick, paid sick time. And as a value statement of course, we all want employees and all people to be able to take care of their families – whether it’s their little ones or their aging parents. But this particular proposal, that was actually moving through with great steam, ah put an unfair burden on all companies. If you were 50 or more, you had to offer a certain number of paid sick time, paid family leave and really, and you had to report on ah ah many occasions, and it created a whole new bureaucratic structure of government. And so in each committee, I could’ve just voted “no.” Just quietly voted “no.” But I didn’t. I actually kinda carried the water for the Chambers, who were always in my office talking to me about it, and I went through that bill line by line and shared with my colleagues why it wasn’t yet ready. How they hadn’t gotten the business community at the table. How, y’know when I was in business, when I was at Tonka Toys, the best benefit plan was the cafeteria plan, where I could pick and choose. And how at Navarre Corporation, I got to negotiate to be home after school, during a time period where my kids needed me, and not lose my job. So you all need flexibility, you need to be able to do your business without government overreach and interference, and that’s how I view things because I’ve had that 20-year career in business, and I would continue looking at policy from that perspective.
Hauser: And Congressman, your view of the regulatory environment.
Paulsen: Well, my view is this: is that we don’t need more mandates coming from Washington that hurt and crush small businesses. Espeically capital formation as you mentioned. Sure. Regulations are important. But they also have to be balanced. And Terri voted to bring Obamacare here to Minnesota. We’ve had huge compliance costs as a part of that. I met with my community bankers. They raised the issue of the call report, that they have to do on a quarterly basis. Adding up to 4 or 5 days for someone with an advanced degree of a CPA, an MBA, having to dedicate their time and attention rather than the time and attention that should be enhancing their loan portfolio for capital formation. One other bank said they had to hire someone on the outside, at the cost of $25,000, just to complete the regulations.
The fact is, we’re in the worst economic recovery ever in the history of the country. More people are working part-time that want to work fulltime. We’ve had businesses more businesses fail or been bought out in the last six years than have started. That’s not what America is, we need to move forward on tax reform, regulatory reform, ah and have a cost-benefit analysis that is also assigned as a part of any time these regulations come forward. I’m an advocate for having Congress having to sign off on regulations of significant or major economic impact. And you can assign a dollar value to that. But we should be like a Board of Directors. No different than some of the companies that are represented here, where we sign off on these regulations. The agencies are gonna be less likely to propose harmful regulations, there’s a better check and balance. But right now you’ve got an administration that’s essentially through executive order doing things on the regulatory front that they can’t do legislatively. And that’s what’s really been hurting our economy.
Hauser: All right, thank you Congressman. Ah let’s move on to the continual issue of ah the national debt, and the growing deficit. There is public debate, Senator, about how best to address that, as I said it’s a continual debate, it’s been going on I think since I was born, (audience laughs). If you are elected to Congress, which solutions would you offer to address these issues, and where do you stand on the issue of income tax increases, or any increases at all, at the federal level, to address that?
Bonoff: Yes. So I am not for increasing our income taxes. I think that ah we need to do all we can in this fragile economic recovery to take the tax burden off businesses and off individuals. There is common sense things, (laughs) there are common sense things, that we can do. So one example is y’know because of my career in business, when I got to the Legislature, I was looking at the amount of waste and inefficiency. I saw that at each state agency, they had an IT entire department that negotiated contracts, that had their payroll, in fact in every agency they had many duplicative departments. But in particular, IT was so costly. And so I worked with then Republican Keith Downey, who’s now the chair of the party, and with Keith and Phyllis Kahn, we authored the IT Consolidation Act. And what that did was it said there had to be one CIO, and you could have the business units be served by that CIO, but one organization negotiated the contracts, made sure we were deploying our resources properly, I have now learned that we have saved 45 million dollars, of state dollars. There is example after example where I’m positive in our federal ah government, in the way they’re organized, there’s a tremendous amount of waste. Just like in the state, we do we do not do zero-based budgeting. Everything we do, things get piled on top of it and on top of it. It’s like that in Congress too. We need to be able to use a performance-based budgeting approach, I actually authored that bill with Keith Downey as well, ah you know there isn’t an appetite oftentimes in government for using these business solutions to lower costs. We can’t afford to have the deficit, we can’t afford to to give the next generation the kind of debt we have, and again that’s why you’ve endorsed me, because I’m nontraditional, I bring those business-oriented solutions to the table.
Hauser: And your time is up, but you do however get extra credit for working Keith Downey and Phyllis Kahn into the same sentence. (audience, TB laugh) That does not –
Bonoff: Thank you!
Hauser: If I were in school, I would be giving you extra credit.
Bonoff: Oh, thank you, thank you.
Hauser: Congressman, your view of the national debt, I know it’s something you’ve dealt with ever since you’ve been in Congress. What, what solutions would you propose, if elected to another term?
Paulsen: Well, my view of the national debt is it is crushing future opportunity for our children and for our grandchildren. Going from 8 trillion dollars with President Obama to now almost 20 trillion dollars. I mean, that is a huge amount of money, and unless action is taken, we will be in a situation where like Greece or other countries, they have to implement austerity measures, or raise taxes, which further kills economic growth. And I don’t think that is the right direction to go. I have always supported balanced budgets, budgets that actually balance, budgets that actually pay down the national debt. Now Speaker Pelosi, when she was speaker, she doesn’t believe in balanced budgets. In fact, the president has never ever submitted a balanced budget, a budget that balances. Ever. It never balances. He doesn’t believe it’s a priority. He does not believe that deficits are a priority.
But we will go back from 500 trillion – 500 billion dollar deficits to a little over a trillion dollars in just a few years. That’s projected right now. by the Congressional Budget Office because our economic growth is so poor, and we are doing so bad.
And ah I want to make sure that my daughters do have those same opportunities and choices that many of you have had. In terms of starting your small company or growing your business or employing other people. I know that chronic care management is an opportunity I mentioned earlier within Medicare, to literally be able to save dollars. While we’ve lowered discretionary spending at the federal level for four years in a row – that’s never happened since the Korean War – that’s that’s primarily because House Republicans have been focusing and prioritizing on spending, there’s an opportunity to deal with Medicare with chronic care management, so that specialists are communicating with primary physicians, so that there’s a risk reward system where you care for the patient – again, 68% of everyone having of Medicare beneficiaries having a chronic condition – consuming 93% of the cost – if you have better coordinated care, you’ve got an opportunity to actually address the real cost drivers of our national debt. And that would be a top priority, and will continue to be a top priority for me in Congress.
And making sure by the way, my Republican colleagues, are also accountable, because we got into this mess because both Republicans and Democrats spent more money than we had. And you know, it’s put our country in a fiscal mess. And when interest rates go back up, it’s gonna squeeze out al the other priorities we should be focusing on as a country.
Hauser: Couple of quick other issues I want to get to before closing. ah arguments. About the issues that impact the business community specifically. Let’s talk about the minimum wage. And Congressman Paulsen, I’ll start with you. Ah a lot of talk, especially in the Democratic primaries between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, about what level should it be. Eleven dollars, fifteen dollars. Your view of the minimum wage, and as it pertains to business.
Paulsen: My view is that the minimum wage, as it’s been set by the states, should be state policy. And there is a score that was done by the Congressional Budget Office not long ago, when the president was advocating for increasing the minimum wage, is that it would actually cost 500,000 jobs. And that’s because a lot of small businesses, some of you in this room, employ people at minimum wage as a training wage, a startup. And if you price these people out of the market for labor costs, guess what? You’re gonna get more automation, you’re gonna make it further difficult for other people to be employed, to be trained, to be able to take other jobs, and it’s the wrong direction, it’s the wrong priority. The real priority should be tax reform, more trade policy, increasing economic growth, getting our country’s fiscal house in order would actually help. Lift everyone’s wages up.
Hauser: And Senator Bonoff, I know you’ve taken on this controversial issue in the Legislature, your thoughts on the minimum wage.
Bonoff: Yeah, so it was very controversial when we took it on in the State Legislature, and again as a value statement I would say that, anybody who’s working full time shouldn’t live in poverty. And yet the idea of having this y’know one wage for our entire country doesn’t even make sense if you look at the cost of doing business in New York City versus Seattle versus the Twin Cities versus Des Moines. I mean, how could you possibly think that the federal government should be able to say this is one wage?
And I know ah when we passed ah minimum wage, our minimum wage here in Minnesota, was actually below the federal minimum wage, so we did increase that, but we’ve never been able to pass a tiered wage for waiters and waitresses. And that was one of the key priorities of the small business community, obviously those in the restaurant industry. And so I actually had the votes in the Senate to get that done. And I wrote a letter that was published in the Star Tribune about how important it was, and then on the final day of doing it, people kinda got ah cold feet and so the Republicans in the Senate wouldn’t go forward with it. But ah that’s the kind of approach I would bring. It would be starting with a value statement, but then really understanding the nuances of things, things are never just black and white. You have to understand the industry, who’s in your community, and how you can use policy to actually support them rather than ah to put barriers in place.
And I just have to say one more thing about ah the comment about Congress should be more like a governing board. If you’re a governing board, would you as a board vote against your CEO’s policy “no” 50 times, or would you say “as a board, let me offer you some direction, CEO, so that you can fix the problems that we see?” Because I think that it’s a copout to just say that ah the administration has done this or that, if you want to operate like you really are leaders, and you really do hold the power to change the direction of our country?
Hauser: Ah, real quick followup, so do you somewhat agree with him that minimum wage should be state policy?
Hauser: As opposed to one size fits all?
Bonoff: Totally. I’m against that. Yes.
Hauser: Okay. Just want to make sure.
Bonoff: Thank you. Very clear.
Bonoff: We agree. We’re in agreement on that.
Hauser: Before we get to closing arguments, let me, Senator, start with you. There’s been a lot of talk at the federal level and state level about mandatory family and medical leave. Where do you stand on that issue, and you have one minute.
Bonoff: Yeah, so I told you that big story, I opposed it here, and I oppose it for a reason. Because every business is different, every situation is different for an employee, there was some talk about you had to have predictive scheduling and y’know I grew up in this family-owned business, Jackson Graves, where it was a retail operation, and during Thanksgiving, ah y’know you’d have less people shopping, during the Christmas season you needed them to, you have to be able to respond and react to what’s happening in the marketplace. There’s no possible way that many of these customer-oriented businesses could use a quote predictive scheduling model. So I’m just not for any of those mandates. I think that government should be a regulatory body to ah protect us against a Flint Michigan and bad water, and to go after bad actors who aren’t treating people well, but come from a basis of trust. Trust that businesses are filled with people, people in this room who do the right thing.
Hauser: Congressman, one minute on this issue.
Paulsen: Ah ah also as I mentioned earlier, I don’t think more mandates from Washington is the direction to go. You can apply that to education, you can apply it to healthcare, ah which Terri supported bringing Obamacare to Minnesota, a lot of new mandates that have forced people with fewer choices for their doctor. They can’t have the healthcare plan that they relied on.
And, I guess regarding trust, it’s a matter of making sure you’re able to trust your own CEO of your legislative body. It’s not the president. It’s actually the speaker of the House. Remember, we get Nancy Pelosi, who said you have to pass the healthcare law to find out what was in it. That’s why we’re living under this mess today, that’s the wrong way to pass laws, that’s the wrong way to move legislation forward.
Hauser: All right, thank you Congressman. We have now come to our closing statements, each candidate will have three minutes for their closing remarks. We started earlier with Congressman Paulsen, so we will begin closing remarks with Senator Bonoff.
Bonoff: Thank you Tom for moderating today, and again thank you all for being here, thank you Chambers for hosting this very important debate. And we are at a critical time. We do find ourselves in an unfortunate situation where we do have this cloud of a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, that really does pose a great risk. And it’s interesting here, we’re supposed to be talking about jobs and the economy, and and ah Donald Trump, his economic policies have been reviewed by ah McCain’s former chief economic advisor as costing 3.5 million jobs. They say he would drive us into a recession. Again, I think that’s the least of his problems, as I’ve made very clear.
Ah, so so we need to have leaders who can stand firmly for a vision that is reflective of the people in our state and in our nation. So just a minute about the people of the Third District. I was never more proud when the people of this district defeated the ban on gay marriage. Okay? And I followed that by authoring the Freedom to Marry Bill. Because that’s what the people here believe. That it’s not government’s job to tell us how to live our private lives. In contrast, my opponent actually got an award for authoring the ban on gay marriage. And putting that into the state’s Constitution. Why is that relevant today? Because that very thing is happening in other states. In North Carolina, in Indiana, those legislatures have continued to put anti-discriminatory policies into law, and then, in North Carolina and Indiana, that’s had a very chilling effect: businesses have left. Yet in Georgia, where they tried to do the same thing, that governor, Republican governor, had the courage to veto that and listen to Coca-Cola, CNN, Delta, and understood what a chilling effect that would be.
And so we can’t have it both ways. We can’t say “The government shouldn’t overreach with regard to the business community,” but then, influence people’s private lives. Because I don’t think that’s okay either. And not reflective of the America that I see.
So I’m running to be a voice of a true independent spirit. To say that ah we need to do all that we can to educate our youngest learners through our post-secondary students, give them every advantage, ah so that they can live to the promise of their potential, take the obstacles away that our businesses find themselves in from being able to be all that they could be, and stand for the beauty of our country and who each one of us can bring to bear. So I will be that courageous leader, I will tell you that Donald Trump is not fit to be a president, I will tell you that I am gonna vote for Hillary Clinton, and that you can trust me to stand up to her and my party when it’s not in our best interest. Because I’ll always put your interest first, and have you in my heart. Thank you.
Hauser: All right, Terri Bonoff, thank you very much. (applause, cheers) And now, Congressman Paulsen, you have three minutes. (applause)
Paulsen: Ah thanks Tom also, and also thanks to the Chambers for hosting us today. Ah as I mentioned earlier, when I was first elected to Congress, I said Washington was broken. And I would help fix it. And I’ve been able to work across the aisle to get some pretty important things done. Sometimes they’re big things and sometimes they’re little things. But I have been able to get a lot of bills signed into law by a Democrat president. And that’s important, because focusing on issues that are key to our Minnesota economy: medical device tax, ah talking about suspending that again was a five-year persistent effort. Teaming up with Senator Klobuchar in the Senate; if one House passes a bill, it’s not guaranteed to become law. You’ve gotta work with all sides on a bicameral basis. Very important. And it’s protected Minnesota innovation, it’s protected Minnesota jobs. Other important issues like passing these anti- human trafficking legislation, now signed into law also by the president, literally saving the lives of 12, 13, and 14-year-old girls.
And then guaranteeing again that military dogs can be retired here at home, rather than being trapped in Afghanistan or Iraq, so they can go with their handler, they can go with the veteran, they can help solve PTSD problems. And an opportunity to save and work for our veterans.
And then most recently, I’m one of only 34 members again, this year, either party, that has had a bill signed into law by the president with my Missing Children Bill. It was signed into law last month, it will now help guarantee that law enforcement has the appropriate tools to help reunite families.
Ah and again, like Terri Bonoff, I absolutely want to move our country forward. I want to move our state forward. We share that vision. But we have very different views and very different ideas about how to do that. Because she does claim to be a very business-friendly Democrat. But her record is starkly different. She did vote for the fourth income tax bracket. in 2009, a billion-dollar tax increase. She supports Obamacare, and bringing it here to Minnesota. And sending a letter to Congressional members of the delegation is very different from actually voting to put it into place.
So no matter who is president, whether it’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, I’m gonna continue to be a constructive voice, I’m gonna continue to be a serious leader, I’m gonna continue to be a reform-minded, results-oriented, and solution-oriented person working across the aisle to actually get things done. And a big part of that is being a voice for small business, being a voice for those of you that create jobs and create a healthier economy, whether it’s pushing tax reform, trade policy, or the right types of healthcare reforms, because the Republicans did have a better alternative on healthcare, it was the only proposal scored to actually lower healthcare premiums, but that got pushed aside.
And so again, I am ranked second in the entire House, I’m ranked fifth in the entire House for bipartisan bills, and the top 15% for actually passing bills out of committee, and actually number one in the Minnesota delegation. And I’m proud to be endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, our police locally here in the Minneapolis Federation of Police, as well as the Minnesota Peace and Police Officers Association. And the Fraternal Order of Police. And I thank you for your support.
Hauser: All right, let’s have a round of applause for both of our candidates (applause). And let’s have a special round of applause for Ali Schadow who had to put up with the spon spontaneity of this debate. She did a great job (applause) keeping the candidates on time.
Now if you would like more information about either candidate, they have campaign tables and staff members available to assist you outside the door. Ah before you leave, I would like to also once again thank the sponsors of this event, Medica was the Gold sponsor, Medica give yourselves a round of applause (applause), Gislason & Hunter LLP and MedExpress Urgent Care were Silver sponsors, our media sponsor, Capital Report, and our photographer, Randy Hoepner of Randy Hoepner Graphic Design and Photography. And Bronze sponsors, Goff Public, Grand Casino and Weber Johnson Public Affairs.
That concludes our program. Thanks again to our candidates, this is the first kind of the kickoff to debate season here in Minnesota, so we hope it’s been informative, and on behalf of all three of the Chambers of Commerce, thank you for being here and have a great rest of your day. (applause)