Jason Lewis Corrected Multiple Times By Moderator In Debate With Angie Craig – Video And Full Debate Transcript

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Jason Lewis And Angie Craig Debate At MPR

Jason Lewis And Angie Craig Debate At MPR

The Republican candidate for Minnesota’s only open congressional seat had to defend his facts as well as his intention to vote for Donald Trump in his first one-on-one debate with his Democratic opponent. After being pressed several times for an answer, Jason Lewis said he would vote for Trump. “I’m just embarrassed for you, Jason,” said his Democratic opponent Angie Craig, making reference to the recordings that showed the Republican presidential nominee making sexually degrading comments about women and his more recent comments that he wouldn’t agree with the election results unless he won.

That was one of many intense exchanges between the candidates in their first one-on-one debate, which was held at Minnesota Public Radio on Thursday. They agreed on little and talked over each other several times, much like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have done during their debates.

Also like those presidential debates, the moderator was quick to correct or fact-check statements — all of them from Lewis. Lewis tried to compare Trump’s statements about possibly not honoring the election results with Al Gore waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on possibly recounting the close 2000 presidential race in Florida. “He didn’t concede. He didn’t concede,” said Lewis. MPR’s Tom Weber quickly stepped in to point out that Gore did concede the race after the Supreme Court ruled.

Lewis said he would “of course” honor the results in his election. “That’s not to say there isn’t voter fraud,” said Lewis, echoing another Trump line. Both Republican and Democratic leaders have said the widespread voter fraud Trump insists is happening is a myth and actual voter fraud is nearly nonexistent.

Moderator multiple fact-checks on Lewis and The UpTake’s video of debate

Video above: Jason Lewis is asked if he will still vote for Donald Trump.
Video below: The policy discussion part of the debate between Angie Craig and Jason Lewis.

Click here for shareable version of this video

When Lewis claimed that federal gas taxes were being “diverted” to pay for light rail projects, Weber again had to step in and clarify that was “an allowable step because it is paying for transit.” Weber also had to correct Lewis when he said adding an extra lane of highway was more efficient than building light rail. “The experts will say, by the way, that if you add a lane of traffic to the highway it does not solve congestion,” said Weber. Lewis said that was a quote from contractors interested in building light rail. “The fact is you can’t under-build your way out of congestion either.”

Lewis’ Selective Use Of Climate Change Quotes And Data

The same happened when Lewis started quoting Warren Buffett to support his argument that you can’t be sure that climate change is man-made. Lewis said Buffett, “who happens to know a little bit about insurance,” had said, “If you’re worried about climate change as an insurance problem you don’t need to worry. I haven’t seen excess claims or any other related.” Weber then read back the rest of Buffett’s quote, “He also said in that statement ‘it would be foolish for me or anyone to demand 100% proof of the huge forthcoming damage to the world. If that outcome seemed at all possible and if prompt action had even a small chance of thwarting the danger,’ that was the same statement in which he talked about the insurance claims.”

Lewis then questioned why Buffett hasn’t “priced the risk” of climate change into his rates, surmising that Buffett “was not counting on a calamity.”

Weber again read the rest of Buffett’s quote. “That’s an anti-climate change statement?”
“Then why isn’t he raising his insurance rates?” replied Lewis.

The answer to Lewis’ question was in the rest of Buffett’s letter to stockholders. Buffett said insurers will be able to react quickly to any hike in the cost of doing business because each auto or home policy typically lasts for one year, not 10 or 20 years at fixed prices, so the premiums could climb along with the cost.

Lewis repeated a debunked claim he had made in previous debates that climate change had hit a “pause” and scientists couldn’t explain it. More than a year ago NOAA scientists re-examined the same data and determined climate change has continued and temperatures now are the hottest they’ve been since recordkeeping began in the 1880s.

Questions in the debate also covered Social Security, Medicare, a flat tax, reducing partisan gridlock and the Syrian refugee crisis. However, the freewheeling conversation also drifted off to many other topics. The transcript of the debate is below.

By Susan Maricle

Click on link to go to section
Opening Statements | Affordable Care Act/Obamacare |Social Security & Medicare | Flat Tax & Transportation | Donald Trump | Lewis’ Comments On Women & Slavery | Reducing Partisan Gridlock | Climate Change |Energy Policy|Refugees & Immigration|

TOM WEBER: Hello, I’m Tom Weber, thanks for listening to MPR News. Here on the radio or online or on our podcast. We have invited each major party candidate in this year’s congressional races to participate in live debates here on MPR News. And today, we’re looking at the Second Congressional District. This is a district that includes the south metro of the Twin Cities, and then a few more counties in southeastern Minnesota; it goes down past Red Wing. This is the only congressional seat in the state that is open this year. Longtime Congressman John Kline is retiring.

So, I am now joined by the Republican and DFL nominees to replace John Kline. In order of how they appear on the ballot, Jason Lewis is the Republican candidate. He’s a former talk radio talk show host. Jason, welcome.

JASON LEWIS: Hi Tom, good to see you again.

WEBER: Thanks for being here. Angie Craig is the DFL nominee; a former medical device company executive at St. Jude Medical. Thank you for being here.

ANGIE CRAIG: Hey Tom, great to be here.

WEBER: Ah neither of you has held elected office, which is actually just like John Kline, when he first ran. Which is an interesting tidbit there. So whoever wins will be a freshman without elected office experience, which means low on the seniority list. So what is it about you that makes you better qualified to be a member of Congress? And I’ll start with you, Jason.

Opening Statements
LEWIS: Oh, well thanks Tom, great to be here, great to be back at MPR and back in front of a microphone, as they say. (WEBER laughs) Um, look, I think the breadth of your experience – I grew up and was raised in a small business family, so we understood that when I was growing up, the pressures of payroll, where your next customer might come from or where might not come from, balancing a budget – and then I understood the power of government, when they took our building for an eminent domain project, and I had to find a second career, and that was fortunate enough in broadcasting, and worked out quite well. I’ve got a masters degree in political science – so if you if you blend the academic, the business experience ah the media and political experience, I think that gives me a good sense of where the citizens are in the Second District. Remember, we’re talking about representing farmers. And ranchers. And teachers. And laborers. And welders. And electricians. We’re not talking about just representing people at the top. I mean, we’ve got this sort of concern about the politically connected insiders, and people with, in this economy, have done very well while we’re only growing at 1%. So I want to represent those people and I’ve got that same experience.

WEBER: Angie Craig?

CRAIG: Thanks so much Tom. So ah I grew up in a trailer park, Tom. I had a single mom who had three kids, and my life experience was really watching her work to find her way through school, over about 10 years, and become a teacher. It was amazing, because she had three kids, all three of us got our college degree, but it wasn’t easy. I had to work two jobs, I had to take out some student loans, that was back when, obviously, access to affordable college was actually available to us.

Ah I have spent the last 22 years in the business community, 10 years on the leadership team at a local company, St. Jude Medical. And I believe that we need to give everybody in this country a fair shot. And so, working on behalf of the middle class, working to accelerate jobs growth, economic growth, ah focus on high-quality public education and affordable college, making sure that we protect our seniors, Social Security and Medicare, and keeping our nation safe, are very very important priorities to me. And I believe that working in business and working with others has given me a perspective that we’ve gotta find common ground again in this country. And so I’m gonna be a member of Congress who’s looking to go to Washington to find that common ground.

Affordable Care Act/Obamacare
WEBER: I appreciate that introduction to let us get to know you a little better. I’m gonna start with health insurance costs as a topic here. Costs are increasing and set to increase with open enrollment coming up here by double digit percentages next year, in most if not all of the states. We’re talking about the individual market specifically, in asking questions from our listeners. Sherry wrote us to tell us that one of her daughters has a $7,000 deductible. In Minnesota, the individual market is 5% of all insurance purchasers, which includes a few hundred thousand Minnesotans who are farmers, small business employees and owners, and those who are self employed and others. What federal proposals do you support to address these rising health insurance costs – specifically on the individual market? Angie Craig.

CRAIG: Yeah, well I I’ve said from the start, that the Affordable Care Act has not done enough quite yet to control the cost of healthcare. For the individual marketplace in Minnesota, there are a number of different things that the state can decide they wanna do, like a reinsurance market, combining the group in the individual marketplace, but you’re absolutely right, Tom. And your listener is, that the idea that healthcare costs in the individual marketplace, despite the fact that we now have an uninsured rate in Minnesota of about 4.3%, is absolutely unacceptable.

So at the federal level, I really think that we’ve gotta dig in and start figuring out we control the costs of healthcare. The first thing I would do, with Medicaid, with the VA, the government negotiates. With Medicare, it’s a 300 billion dollar cost to this country, and they are expressly prohibited from negotiating for Medicare Part D prescription drugs. I think that we’ve got to also move toward high-value care in this country. Mayo is such a perfect example of this. It’s estimated that if this nation could even remotely move toward the efficiency levels and high value healthcare that we see in quality healthcare that we see in Minnesota at Mayo, that we could save 50 billion dollars in this country over five years.

And y’know, the problem is, yeah, we have a healthcare cost problem. Jason wants – his only solution, really, is to create an access problem by repealing the Affordable Care Act and leaving 20 million people ah off of coverage, and he’s got absolutely no plan to replace it.

WEBER: Let me ah take that to you there, Jason. That is the one of the big questions here,

LEWIS: Sure.

WEBER: with Obamacare, is repeal it or fix it. Are you in favor of repealing it?

LEWIS: Well, I’ve — repealing it and replacing it. Reforming it. I mean y’know the only people left supporting Obamacare now are Nancy Pelosi, who’s been raising money for Angie, and Angie Craig, who said that it didn’t go far enough, she wants to expand the Affordable Care Act. This is an unmitigated disaster. Don’t ask me; just ask Bill Clinton or Mark Dayton. You’ve got a hundred thousand people in outstate Minnesota that are gonna be shoved into a plan that they didn’t choose. Very high deductibles, very high co-pays, very strict drug formularies, and very high premiums. Some of us predicted this! Ah five, six, seven years ago! When this thing went in. When you mandate the highest cost insurance, which the Obamacare mandates did, and you mandate a community rating system, you price young people out of the market.

We’ve got to remove those onerous mandates, we’ve got to reinstall high risk pools – there were 35 high-risk pools in the country before the Affordable Care Act. They were wiped out by the ACA and Obamacare. Those were working, especially MCHA in Minnesota, just fine. You have a guaranteed renewable law in Minnesota that if you buy insurance and you pay your premiums, they cannot drop you. I’m in total favor of that at the federal level, and I would reform the tax code.

One of the things that’s really hitting people hard, and I know from personal experience, because I’ve been on the individual policy now for five years. And my premiums have tripled, I’ve gone through three insurers. So it’s hit the Lewis family — my wife and two daughters — pretty hard. So one of the two things you can do is go back to that that deductibility for out-of-pocket payments. The Affordable Care Act, what Angie supports and wants to expand, took away the ability to deduct your out-of-pocket payments. It used to be 7-1/2% of income, now it’s 10% of income. So if you’re a a couple of teachers making $40,000 a year, you’re making $80,000 in joint income, you’d have to have out-of-pocket costs of $8,000 before you can deduct them! I would change the tax code so you can deduct all of your out-of-pocket payments.

WEBER: You mentioned high-risk pools; Minnesota had one, they are not allowed under the Affordable Care Act, so the policy, what, is to just reallow them?

LEWIS: Yeah, you would you would do that for a safety net. Ah for people that literally can’t get coverage. But if you reform the code so that you have affordability and portability, so people can actually get the kind of coverage they want and take it from job to job, instead of relying on employer-based coverage all the time. Understand: y’know this is not just an issue for the individual market. You’ve got healthcare premiums going way up for small business and employers, and they are cutting back on benefits and dropping people, too. So I would argue that it’s a problem for the employer-based insured, too.

WEBER: Angie Craig as you’ve seen, there are some ads out there that have a quote in there about expanding the Affordable Care Act. You’ve said that’s out of context. In what way?

CRAIG: Well, removing the mandates, as Jason suggested in changing the tax code, is just sort of conservative talk radio’s way of saying, get rid of the quality controls and eliminate oversight in an industry that already charges Americans too much. So, for me, this is really about expanding – when you talk about expanding access, what you are saying is we already have 4.3% uninsured in this state. If we can make it more affordable, if we can actually drive the cost of healthcare down – I don’t want to go back to a time when women paid more than men. When pre-existing condition conditions prohibited someone from having health insurance, when we couldn’t keep our children on our plans until age 26.

And so, y’know, the portability argument that Jason makes, I know previously he’s talked about y’know “Let’s let just competition take care of this. Let’s sell healthcare across state lines.” Well, y’know you buy a plan in Alabama, it’s an absolute race to the bottom, and if you want an in-network physician, you’ve gotta drive to Alabama. This is exactly what’s wrong with this country and our politics. Is we wanna throw the whole thing out and start over, when we have absolutely no plan to replace it, instead of digging in and saying, “Jason, let’s sit down and let’s try to work together and figure out what’s working in the Affordable Care Act, where we need to improve.” That’s all I’m suggesting.

WEBER: What is working in the Affordable Care Act, Jason?

LEWIS: Well, look, not much of anything! And that’s where Angie is – it’s it’s kind of surprising, she’s doubling down on her support for the Affordable Care Act. Now I understand, Obamacare’s been good to you; Angie lobbied to get it past when she was at her previous job, and then she lobbied to get her industry exempt from the Obamacare taxes; that’s how the politically connected work in this era. But the, the bottom line is everybody knows this isn’t working. You’ve got premiums going up 54% last year, 67% this year. Angie talks about everybody being insured. Yeah, everybody’s insured and nobody has good healthcare. That’s the result of the Affordable Care Act. We need real reform, and it’s not just a matter of tinkering around the edges. It’s a matter of replacing this with more care that’s affordable so that young people can choose the kind of plan they want, not the kind of plan that Angie thinks they ought to have.

WEBER: Is it real

LEWIS: That’s how a nationwide market works.

WEBER: Is it realistic to think that such a reform can happen and you can keep, or I don’t, do you support keeping things like the pre-existing condition mandate? And the and the between a a man and a woman? Right, that you have to charge – you can’t charge disp disparate rates.

LEWIS: The big problem with pre-existing conditions is most people get their health insurance at work. So you’re a, you’re a woman, you’re working for 30 years, and all of a sudden you come down with diabetes. Then, tragically, you get laid off. Now you’re going into the individual market for the first time with a pre-existing condition. And that’s where that crisis began, and that’s why I think we oughta have tax reform, so we can have true portability, so that people can buy their health insurance.

WEBER: But should

LEWIS: and keep it. And Minnesota already has a guaranteed renewable law, which I support, and I would support at the federal level to make certain that the insurance companies can’t drop them.

But let me, Angie wants to talk about about compromise and this and that. Y’know what? If if you really want to keep the premium subsidy exchanges for people where the cost is too great, that’s fine with me. I think if we had a more of a market-based healthcare plan, fewer people would need that. Now, everybody needs ‘em because the prices are skyrocketing. And the, the cost of the Affordable Care Act, by the way, is not gonna be a trillion. It’s not gonna be two trillion. The administration doesn’t even know where it’s going; it could be north of three trillion dollars. Because businesses are laying people off, they don’t want to work more than 30 hours, because then they have to buy this Cadillac plan, so people are being thrown into the exchanges, the subsidies costs are going way up, it has been a disaster by everybody’s account except Nancy Pelosi and Angie Craig.

CRAIG: Well, I think it’s the most ironic thing that’s happened so far in this race, that Republicans are attacking a Democrat for being opposed to a business tax. Think about that for a second. 241 Republicans voted ah to suspend the medical device tax. I absolutely

WEBER: Which Erik Paulsen worked on, also.

CRAIG: which Erik Paulsen worked on, which Congressman Kline voted to suspend, which Congressman Emmer voted to suspend. 241 Republicans! I’m saying I would have voted with them. Why? Because I saw firsthand in Minnesota that it cost Minnesota jobs. That the Minnesota economy is reliant on 100,000 members of the medical technology community. So, I’m not gonna apologize for a minute for fighting against something that I thought was gonna harm Minnesota’s economy..

LEWIS: So you were against it after you were for it.

CRAIG: We fought the

LEWIS: you were, because we wouldn’t have had the medical device tax, Angie, if we hadn’t had Obamacare in the first place, which I opposed, which means I opposed the medical device tax initially. You lobbied for Obamacare, which gave us the medical device tax, then you lobbied to exempt your industry from that tax. That’s exactly what’s got people frustrated. This con- , this politically connected insider group.

CRAIG: So, I I was exactly where Senator Amy Klobuchar is. She was working on behalf of the people of Minnesota to access to healthcare. And at the same time, we didn’t think that an excise tax on revenue – keep in mind, an excise tax on revenue hits small businesses. So a small business tax, when you want people reinvesting, in R&D to grow their business, you don’t want an excise tax on revenue. It was a bad tax, it hurt the Minnesota economy, and yes, Jason, that’s the problem with conservative talk radio! (LEWIS laughs) It’s either-or. It’s not either-or. Real life is not either-or. It’s

LEWIS: No, real life

CRAIG: Let’s do it all.

WEBER: Where is

LEWIS: is opposing the Obamacare act to begin with, which would’ve stopped the medical device tax. That’s where I was.

WEBER: If you’d opposed, if you’d been in Congress and opposed Obamacare and it hadn’t happened, though, ah children wouldn’t be on their parents’ plan until age 26, you wouldn’t have – you would have the pre-existing condition problem that you had before.

LEWIS: That’s right, and and that’s why, as I said a moment ago, we’ve gotta have a wider reform with a pre-existing condition problem; I do think you can solve most of it with guaranteed renewable policies, and more affordable policies that can be carried from job to job, so that people don’t lose coverage, and then have to go out with a pre-existing condition and get it. And I’ve been talking about that for 10 years. Ah more than that, actually. That’s the real kind of reform I’d work for in Congress.

WEBER: (unclear)

LEWIS: Not not to extend and y’know say Obamacare didn’t go far enough, as Angie Craig said.

CRAIG: Well Tom, just one point.

WEBER: Yeah.

CRAIG: I think mentioned now three times that I’m a political outsider. I know you mentioned, I’ve never run for public office in my life before, and I’m not the one of us who ran for Congress in Colorado. Previously.

WEBER: You, well, the and the criticism I’m hearing from political ads, and take that for whatever it’s worth, is that one of the jobs you had is that you controlled your company’s PAC, the political action committee, which meant you did decide which political donations to make, et cetera. So you were in the political realm there. Does that make you an insider?

CRAIG: Well, I was on the PAC board, I was the PAC chair along with six other individuals and quite frankly, I was the only Democrat on that board, and the PAC gave mostly to Republicans. So if you go dig into that PAC, Republicans now are complaining that they got most of the PAC money from St. Jude Medical. And now twisting this to be that I’m an insider.

LEWIS: Well actually, you’ve got more money from your industry than any candidate for Congress, for the Senate, even for the presidency right now.

CRAIG: Absolutely,

LEWIS: And and

CRAIG: these are my colleagues, I’ve worked with them for 10 years, Jason! Of course I did!

LEWIS: and well, so,

CRAIG: These are my Republican friends,

LEWIS: you have been on the inside, then.

CRAIG: by the way, who’re supporting me.

Social Security & Medicare
WEBER: We are having a conversation, a debate here with the Republican and DFL candidates for the Second Congressional District. This is an important race in Minnesota here, it’s the south metro and goes down into southeast Minnesota. And it’s the only seat in Congress in Minnesota, of our delegation, that’s open this year. John Kline is retiring, so Jason Lewis, the Republican nominee, and Angie Craig, the DFL nominee, are with me in the studio here for this hour.

I do want to talk about some other topics, although I totally understand why health insurance – we could go the whole hour with, it’s a very important topic. I’m gonna (laughs) steal from last night’s debate, actually, one of the questions, because entitlements is a big issue. What changes would you support to both Social Security and Medicare? Jason, I’ll start with you.

LEWIS: Well, look. The single best thing we could do for the trust fund, Social Security trust fund, it’s about 200 billion down, 2034, ah the trust fund is gone, in which case benefits will be cut 20 to 21%. Ah Medicare gets general revenues, right now to sustain itself. The single best thing you could do is get the economy cooking again. Because right now payroll tax revenue into FICA, is is slower than it ought to be, because we’re only growing at 1% growth, that’s the slowest growth in the post–World War II era, and during the Reagan recovery, we were growing at 5, 6% growth, in fact we had five straight quarters during the Reagan recovery of over 7% growth. We haven’t even seen 3% under the policies that Angie supports here in the Obama administration.

So I would focus on getting the economy going again so we could preserve these vital programs. Ah we have a y’know promise made, is a promise kept, and we’re gonna keep ‘em. But if you don’t get the economy moving again, you’re actually going to alter the trust fund imbalances, and expedite them sooner. So economic growth is is issue number one in this regard.

WEBER: And there was negative economic growth the day President Obama took office.

LEWIS: Look; trust me. People listening to the Jason Lewis show for years and years know that I was very critical of the Bush administration’s spending policies.

WEBER: Right.

LEWIS: And that’s – by the way, Tom, that is the thing here. When you’re looking at who to support for Congress, you have to look at both scenarios, no matter who’s elected president. Who do you want? Do you want someone that has been principled and put principle above party over the years? And I’ve had as many Republicans ah mad at me on my radio show as Democrats? Or do you want somebody who’s gonna be a rubber stamp for Hillary Clinton? There is literally nothing that Hillary says that Angie Craig doesn’t support.

WEBER: (unclear)

LEWIS: And that that is a serious consideration when you need a check in the legislative branch on the executive in this era of the imperial presidency.

WEBER: Right now the cap on Social Security taxes, you are taxed into the Social Security fund for your first $118,000


WEBER: of income, do you support lifting that to a higher income level?

LEWIS: The problem with that is, if you double that, double the amount of revenue or earned earnings,

WEBER: So go up to,

LEWIS: the payroll tax,

WEBER: so go up to

LEWIS: you only solve 30% of the deficit. It’s not gonna get you there. You can’t go there that way. Plus, you’re gonna have a horrible disincentive to hire people and to go to work. I mean when you tax employment? Payroll tax? That does not good things for the eoncomy.

WEBER: Angie Craig, the question about Social Security and Medicare.

CRAIG: Yeah, so ah the flat tax that Jason seems to be in love with, actually, is going to make us have to slash benefits for Social Security and raise the retirement age. I mean, you can call it looking for a solution, but if we implemented the flat tax, that you talk lovingly about, it’s gonna add about 3.6 trillion to our federal deficit, and we’re going to have to make significant cuts.

Look. I believe our promise to our seniors in this nation ah is a sacred promise. And so I would never ah move the retirement age. I would look to raise the cap, I would wanna be very careful about – I would consider raising the cap. I think what we need to take from this is, in 1983, ah when President Reagan was in office, we had a Congress that actually worked with him. And so they came back with some proposals related to the extension of some of these benefits. And y’know, I am very very conscious of making sure we don’t raise taxes on the middle class. And so I would not want to bring the limit above ah 118, up immediately, I would say, look. Keep it at 118, but when you hit 250, if you make more than 250, it picks back up. I just wouldn’t want families in that gap to get caught. Ah within.

WEBER: What about cutting benefits.

LEWIS: So that would be a payroll tax hike you’re in favor of.

WEBER: An exten—

CRAIG: Well, for people who make a quarter million dollars a year.

LEWIS: Where where

WEBER: What about cutting benefits. Ah I mean that is considered a possibility, the precarious state Social Security could be in. Do either of you support cutting benefits? Now, with congressional action, instead of waiting for the trust fund to be dried up?

LEWIS: You can’t go into a scenario where you’ve made a promise to people, they’ve worked all of their lives, and then they get there, and you have the rug pulled out from under ‘em. I’m not in favor of that.

CRAIG: I’m gonna work with whoever’s there in Congress, Republican or Democrat, to figure out a way to sustain Social Security and Medicare. Work very hard to do that.

WEBER: Ah couple other comments here. Ah

Flat tax/Transportation
LEWIS: Let me just respond on the flat tax issue. Because I think

WEBER: Do you support the flat tax?

LEWIS: Yes I do. And I think it’s very important that you get a revenue-neutral flat tax. Right now we have a scenario where we have very high tax rates for small pass-through businesses in the Second District. In fact, the federal rate for a non–C corp, subchapter S, LLC, which I was, basically, ah is 39.6%. You throw in Mark Dayton’s take and it’s another 10%. You’re looking at 50%. You throw in payroll taxes, self-employment taxes, and you’re actually approaching 60% on the next marginal income tax rate. The next marginal dollar earned. That is a huge disincentive to work. It is ridiculously high rate.

Now, if you’re General Electric? Or if you’re a hedge fund manager? Or if you can lobby to get your industry out from under Obamacare taxes, why this high tax rate – not a problem, you can get exempt from it. But if you’re the average person in the Second District, you can’t. I, instead of high taxes, where just some people pay them, I would prefer a lower flat-rate tax that everybody pays. That is the epitome of fairness, and I don’t know why anyone would oppose that.

WEBER: Would that be what’s called revenue revenue neutral, to have a flat tax? Or is the goal also to bring in less revenue for the for the federal government?

LEWIS: No, you can make it revenue neutral. Art Laffer and a number of other people have come up with revenue-neutral procedures. But, I do believe we oughta take a look at the way we, the GAO and others, account, especially the CBO, actually, account for ah these revenue projections. They do static analysis, which means economic growth is not included in the revenue projections. I happen to believe that’s been proven wrong time and time again. You can get dynamic growth, and you can get greater growth at lower rates, which by the way, Patrick Kennedy, when he voted first for the luxury tax back in the nineties, then realized it was killing the yacht industry and the boat industry in Rhode Island, voted to repeal it. Said, “Well, when you have high tax rates, it discourages growth, and you get less revenue.” Something John F. Kennedy, his uncle, said, in 1962 in his speech at the Democratic or Economic Club of New York, when he said it’s a paradoxical truth that high rates bring in less revenue. Boy, those Democrats are long gone, I’m afraid.

CRAIG: Well Tom, the the point is, though, that economists and everyone knows a flat tax is not a reasonable proposal. It’s never gonna pass in this country, and why? Because it is an absolute windfall for the wealthy. Because along with a flat tax, and a lower tax rate, you would lose all of your deductions. Your mortgage interest deduction, your ability to deduct for your charitable contributions, and so the only segment that ah it’s gonna help is the absolute wealthy. Jason tends to value the wealthy more than others. (LEWIS laughs) He said that out loud before.

But turning to one thing, I actually agree with Jason on one big thing. And that is, we have got to accelerate growth in this economy. And and listen, listen well, because this is not, y’know, you’re throwing me under the bus in terms of ah ideas. I think we have got to reform corporate taxes in this country! I absolutely believe that the third highest corporate tax rate in the world is unsustainable from a competitive economic perspective. I also think that we need to allow companies to repatriate their foreign income back to the United States. And I would like to use this as an investment program for the U.S. Infrastructure investment. Surface highway investment. I don’t wanna raise the gas taxes, as you imply to the Republican, Red Wing Republican Eagle the other day. What I wanna do, after you signed the Norquist pledge, by the way, ah what I wanna do is bring back those repatriated taxes, and I want to make companies, if they’re willing to bring it back, invest in R&D, invest in infrastructure, and I wanna use the dollars we create that we’re never getting back because it’s being invested overseas. To allow the U.S. to invest in highways. Bridges. Roads. Dams. Ah rural broadband. These sorts of things. So I do agree that we’ve got to accelerate the growth in this country. The other side of that

LEWIS: Well, no one knows more about deductions and loopholes than you,

CRAIG: We’ve got

LEWIS: Angie, you’ve been doing those for a number of years, and you’re the richest person in this room! So if you wanna talk about the wealthy, we can talk about that all day long. All I’m saying is, a flat tax, if it’s good enough for corporations, it oughta be good enough for small pass-through businesses and individuals. And with regard to infrastructure, that’s an interesting point. Angie talks about building roads and bridges – and then she supports diverting money, six billion dollars last year in the Highway Trust Fund, to these boondoggles like the Southwest Light Rail. Like Zip Rail

CRAIG: What are you talking about? I don’t support any of that.

LEWIS: You don’t

CRAIG: I don’t support Zip Rail.

LEWIS: You don’t support Southwest Light Rail?

CRAIG: I support infrastructure investment and we’re gonna lose that federal money if we don’t take it.

LEWIS: Let me just be clear about this. Right now we’re taking federal gas taxes, and we’re diverting that money toward a 1.9 billion dollar boondoggle known as Southwest Light Rail.


WEBER: Which is, by the way, just to clarify, an allowable step,

CRAIG: Right.

WEBER: because it’s paying for transit.

LEWIS: It’s part of the

WEBER: I mean that’s what we’re talking about.

LEWIS: mass transit account. That’s right. I’m not saying it’s illegal. I’m saying there’s a mass transit account in the Highway Trust Fund that’s diverting 17% of our gas tax dollars to those things. And I’m telling you flat out, right here, I oppose that. I will not support that in Congress. Angie will.

WEBER: So what’s

CRAIG: And and that’s right. You’re going to say no to economic development in Minnesota based on ideological principle. Okay. John Kline did the same thing when he said, “Nope, won’t take earmarks.” You know where those, the dollars, the federal dollars, that should’ve been invested in the Second all those years went? Some other state.

LEWIS: So it’s not really road and bridges then, really.

WEBER: But then it’s

LEWIS: It’s light rail projects.

WEBER: But I wanna – but do you have any support for federal funding? For public transit?

LEWIS: Of course I do! The Orange Line in our district is fine. Bus rapid transit is great. But a 1.9 billion dollar rail scheme that would not be possible without that federal diversion, that costs over a hundred million dollars per mile? When we could add a lane to our 73-mile beltway for 11 million dollars roughly, per mile? That’s total waste. That’s total inefficiency. And that’s why I’m telling you today, I oppose Southwest Light Rail and those type programs. And there’s another difference between Angie Craig and Jason Lewis. She supports those. I don’t.



WEBER: experts, by the way, will say that if you add a lane of traffic to the highway, it does not solve congestion.

LEWIS: Well, I hear that a lot from usually from contractors and the lobbyists who are interested in building light rail projects. But the fact is, “you can’t build your way out of congestion” is the line. The fact is, you can’t underbuild your way out of congestion, either.

CRAIG: Tom, I was about to say, just a minute ago, ah that I have spent 22 years in the private sector, creating jobs, growing businesses. That’s absolutely true, Jason, a Fortune 500 company, that was founded right here in the Twin Cities, one of the jewels, St. Jude Medical; but you’ve spent 25 years on the radio, conservative talk radio, promoting partisan politics. In fact, you helped lead to the rise, the dialogue that you led, helped lead to the rise to the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, the extreme group of lawmakers that you said so many times you want to join, and either you were lying then or you’re lying now that you’re not joining them. Ah and you helped create Donald Trump! (LEWIS laughs) So I, y’know, you call me –

LEWIS: I know you want to tie everybody to Donald Trump. I get that

CRAIG: — to call me a political insider. Ah

LEWIS: Angie, I wasn’t


LEWIS: I wasn’t

CRAIG: 25 years on the radio doing this —

LEWIS: First of all, Angie,

CRAIG: is ridiculous.

LEWIS: it’s very demeaning and condescending to tell the listeners out there that unless you’re in a corporate boardroom, or a vice president, at a company, you shouldn’t be running for political office, or your vote doesn’t count. I happen to think that a lot of people out there, welders and electricians and teachers and and people that drive buses – you know what, they’re just as, they have just as much right to run for political office as you do. Just because you’re (unclear)

CRAIG: Can you tell me when I said that, though?

LEWIS: You implied that numerous times.


LEWIS: Last week, and right now.


LEWIS: You were just doing an everyday job, and I was in the boardroom.

CRAIG: No, no, no, no no! You were creating the division we’re seeing today.

LEWIS: What you were doing in the boardroom was very interesting,

WEBER: Do you

LEWIS: because you were putting profits ahead of patients.

WEBER: Okay.

LEWIS: And multiple lawsuits against your company while you were leading form the boardroom

CRAIG: I – was – the – head – of – HR – and – global – communications

LEWIS: and you were charged,

WEBER: Hold on, hold on,

LEWIS: were overcharging veterans,

WEBER: Okay,

LEWIS: four million dollars, you need to answer for that.

Donald Trump

WEBER: What he’s referring to – first of all, though, do you still support Donald Trump? A lot of Republicans in the last week have withdrawn their support here in Minnesota. Do you still support him?

LEWIS: There, Tom, you know, there is a problem with a presidential candidate who calls Catholics backward and ignorant. Presidential candidate who trades diplomacy for cash. Presidential candidate that calls half the voters “deplorables.” Presidential candidate who’s, who’s, who’s, y’know admits ISIS is funding Saudi Arabia, but then takes money – I get that. Oh, that’s Hillary Clinton. I’m sorry.

WEBER: What about, what about candidates who call Mexicans –

LEWIS: I am, I’m not willing to turn the country back to the Clintons.

WEBER: So you still support Donald Trump.

LEWIS: I will vote for him.

WEBER: Even though, with all of the – sexual assault tape with the on the Access Hollywood, Bush —

LEWIS: I’ve got two daughters. That offends me as much as it offends anybody. Trust me. But for heaven’s sakes, you’ve got the Clinton machine throwing stones in a glass house?


LEWIS: I mean, why are we even talking about this?

CRAIG: I’m, I’m I’m just embarrassed for you, Jason.

LEWIS: Oh, thank you. Thank you, I appreciate that.

CRAIG: I’m embarrassed for you. Because nine allegations, more than nine allegations of sexual assault,

LEWIS: Mm-hmm,

CRAIG: and now last night, saying specifically that he would not honor the will of the people in this election, that he would trade our democracy against the will of the people. I’m embarrassed for you.

LEWIS: Exactly what Al Gore did in 2000, and what he was advised to do by the Democratic machine, including the Clintons. Not concede the election in 2000. Were you embarrassed for those folks then?

WEBER: That was on election night, Jason.

CRAIG: Right. That was after the election.

WEBER: when it was still close, he did concede the race.

CRAIG: Yeah.

LEWIS: Right! Well, no, he didn’t concede. ‘Cause (unclear) he didn’t concede it.

CRAIG: (exasperated sigh)

WEBER: Well but he did after the recount. And after the Supreme Court. The question is, will you –

LEWIS: Of course.

WEBER: Because you will honor the results of the election?

LEWIS: Of course I will. Of course I will.

CRAIG: Absolutely.

LEWIS: That’s not to say there’s not voter fraud, however.

WEBER: Had to get that out there. The the the the comments I’m asking you about –

LEWIS: But –

WEBER: the reason we’re talking about this, Jason, is because at the top of the ticket, it has created consternation

LEWIS: Sure.

WEBER: for the Republican party, and you’re the Republican nominee. There are ads that you say take audio from your radio show out of context.

LEWIS: Let me just, hold on about the Trump thing. Because it’s very crucial. I mean, for instance, on eminent domain, I disagree with Donald Trump vehemently. I, my family went through that. So, just because someone’s on the same party doesn’t mean you walk in lockstep with them! I’m gonna fight Republicans and Democrats, whoever the president might be, if I am in Congress. This is the problem with Angie. She ah disagrees with nothing of what Hillary Clinton says, or what Nancy Pelosi says, has been raising money for her. So that’s the rubber stamp you want, go right ahead. But there’s only been one case in sexual harassment amongst recent politicians that’s actually been settled. That’s actually been settled. And that was William Jefferson Clinton.

WEBER: You have said

LEWIS: So again, throwing stones in a glass house does, is not going to work.

Lewis’ Comments On Women & Slavery
WEBER: You have also said the ads that take the audio from your radio show, comments about women and comments about slavery, you have said those were taken out of context. Here’s some time – how were they out of context?

LEWIS: Well, and not I just said it – two television stations who reviewed the ads said they were taken out of context and they were deliberately misleading! Now you’ve got a D-triple-C ad that pretends to pawn pawn off a normal voter, turns out to be a lobbyist in St. Paul – this is the most misleading and duplicitous campaign in recent Minnesota history! Now I know Angie hasn’t been here in Minnesota that long, but that’s not the way we do politics here. And the ads aren’t moving the needle. So, if you’re talking about, you know, whether we ought to have religious freedom, which is one of those monologues, and I believe that we ought to have religious freedom, I don’t think government should dictate the moral conscience to Hobby Lobby, or Little Sisters of the Poor, or anyone – I believe in the First Amendment. Angie doesn’t.

WEBER: But when you say

LEWIS: She thinks


LEWIS: Now let me finish the point. She she thinks that, in fact, the government ought to dictate the religious beliefs of companies, and by the way, and of churches. She wrote long ago that she was very very upset and was opposed to churches not getting their blessings based on their religious beliefs. That’s a First Amendment issue! I can’t believe she she believes that, but apparently she does.

WEBER: So let me just

CRAIG: Well I have no idea of what Jason is talking about, so we’ll start there. But I I’d like to comment that

LEWIS: Well we can, we can let everybody know about that.

CRAIG: because I do think that we need to have a conversation about the context of the ads. You keep whining about not a lot of context. You said a lot of words, that’s great. (LEWIS laughs) But in the first ad, you called women ignorant. We put your words up on TV. They’re your words. You said, “Ignorant in the most generic way. I don’t mean this to be a pejorative.” Well, I mean, that is a pejorative, but okay. In the United States, this isn’t about anything other than a woman’s right to healthcare in the United States, 98% of women have used contraception as part of both family planning and for other reasons. So the idea that a company or a religious institution can block access to healthcare for a woman, that’s the policy of a

LEWIS: Including abortion?

CRAIG: You’re talking about

LEWIS: A religious institution should have to fund abortion, then. Partial birth abortion. Because you see that as a right.

CRAIG: We weren’t talking about that. We were talking about

LEWIS: You just said that!

CRAIG: contraception!

WEBER: I mean what about

LEWIS: You just said

CRAIG: Contraception?

WEBER: Okay.

CRAIG: Ninety-eight percent

LEWIS: I’m in favor of contraception!

CRAIG: Okay.

LEWIS: I’m in favor of it.

CRAIG: Good!

LEWIS: I think it oughta be over the counter!

CRAIG: But do you

LEWIS: But I’m not

CRAIG: do you have to call women ignorant,


CRAIG: as you’re talking about it? To me it’s just offensive! And it’s not a leader!

LEWIS: It’s it’s not, Angie, there’s a reason

CRAIG: A leader!

LEWIS: There’s a reason the independent observers are saying your ads are misleading.

CRAIG: Well –

LEWIS: There’s a reason that D triple C was misleading. And there’s a reason you were on the wrong side of the Hobby Lobby decision, where the Supreme Court agreed with Jason Lewis, not Angie Craig.

WEBER: Well let me ask you this – let me

CRAIG: Well, I only have 30 seconds – so if you want us to put everything you say up – I wish you’d take the ad out.

LEWIS: Well, you’ve just about done that.

WEBER: Let me get back to the, to the root question there, Jason. Because the question and you have said it is taken out of context. When there is a comment and a quote from your radio show that says, “Women are nonthinking. You have a vast maJority of young single women who couldn’t explain to you what GDP means, you know what they care about, they care about abortion, they care about abortion and gay marriage, they care about The View. They are non-thinking.”

What was in your heart when you said that? What did you mean by that?

LEWIS: I said the same thing if you played, y’know Angie just said a moment ago, and this is a hoot: “Well, my words on Obamacare were taken out of context.” And then she says, “Well Jason, your words weren’t taken out of context.” If you listen to the whole monologue – all right? (CRAIG laughs) Over my career, and certainly in that debate about Hobby Lobby, I said the same thing about liberal men: supporting what I thought was unconstitutional. I don’t think they’ve thought things through, if you’re mandating to churches that they’ve got to fund partial birth abortion, for crying out loud. That is a cornerstone of our First Amendment. Religious liberty. I don’t know how anyone could argue otherwise.

Reducing Partisan Gridlock
WEBER: We’re talking this hour with the two candidates, the Republican and DFL nominees for Second Congressional District. Jason Lewis, who you just heard, is the Republican nominee. Angie Craig is the DFL nominee. And we are talking this hour about all of, all the topics. All the things.

Ah I have a question, we did invite some questions from people in our Public Insight Network. From listeners. And Brian in Northfield, Northfield is in the Second Congressional District, asks this: maybe to take it down a notch here: “What steps would you take on your first, in your first month of office? To reach out to members of Congress of political parties to help reduce gridlock?” Angie, I think you’re, it’s your turn to go first.

CRAIG: Well look, I’ve said there are a number of common ground issues that I’ve identified throughout the course of this campaign. Ah the first is the college debt crisis we’re facing today. College affordability is a big issue. I I know I would not be sitting here today, running for Congress, if I had not had access to affordable college. Because when you grow up in a trailer park, it is not automatic that you’re gonna get there. And my view is that we have created a situation in this country where too many kids and too many families aren’t getting a fair shot anymore.

WEBER: So, so let me

CRAIG: College debt


CRAIG: is one big one.

WEBER: And what is it, how, what is it you do in the first month? Al Franken has the hotdish contest. So you can’t have that.

CRAIG: Sure. Yeah.

WEBER: But what is it that you do – you’re going to take college debt, for example – what do you do to reach out so that you’ve reduced that gridlock?

CRAIG: Well, you talk to people! Ah you talk to people and you figure out where can we find common ground on reducing the enormous cost of college debt to students? That’s costing our economy. These kids aren’t buying houses. They’re not ah they’re not having children, I’ve met so many young people who really really are struggling. And so I’d work with Republicans to figure out y’know can we work together? To reduce the interest rate, the In The Red Act that ah ah Duckworth has sponsored in the House. I would work with him to say. “Can we work together on this opioid crisis?” Y’know, I know this is an issue that Erik Paulsen’s worked on, I would love to be the Democratic counterpoint to ah Congressman Emmer on the topic of trade with Cuba. So, I would talk to them, get to know them, work with them, and frankly figure out how we get things done together.

The problem with Jason (LEWIS laughs) is that he says “no” to everything. He just says “no.” If it contains any ideological issue with sort of his frame of reference, he just says “no.” He actually said no, he would not have supported ah the budget last year because it was a compromise budget. He says out loud, “I don’t, It makes me nervous when politicians start to compromise. I kind of like gridlock.” These are quotes from Jason over the years. So he says he wants to put his words in action.


CRAIG: I don’t think we need more of that. in Washington

LEWIS: It’s astounding

WEBER: But in the spirit of

LEWIS: Well, it’s astounding to hear someone who got the endorsement from the Progressive Caucus, a band of the most radical 70 members of Congress, led by a socialist, Bernie Sanders, along with Keith Ellison, who have no plans to compromise on anything. They’re calling for a 6.6 trillion dollar tax hike over the next 10 years, they’re in favor of the Clean Power plan, a $500 billion dollar cap and tax, ah they’re in favor of a carbon tax, she got their endorsement and she said she was “humbled and gratified”. That doesn’t sound like someone who’s gonna reach across the aisle.

But if you want someplace where I’ll reach across the aisle, I’ll give it to you right now. Carried interest for hedge fund managers. And my apologies to Mitt Romney. But the idea that carried interest is ord – is capital gains is silly. It’s ordinary income, and that’s part of reforming the tax code, so that those people would have to pay ordinary income tax rates, so everybody everybody else could pay a little less. That’s how you reach across, and I would push hard for the normal appropriations process. So that people have to work together, and there aren’t these never-ending continuing resolutions and omnibus bills.

WEBER: (unclear)

CRAIG: Tom, can I just say that I’m reaching across the aisle because I’d work to eliminate carried interest for hedge fund managers too, Jason.

WEBER: Let me, let me – big picture, though. I think the spirit of that question, and I’m asking both of you this and I’ll start with you this time, Jason, the spirit of that question comes from what I sense is a frustration with drawing any lines in the sand. To say that I won’t compromise on this, that and the other thing. Is part of the frustration of Washington D.C. And and so, is it right to say that there are,

LEWIS: Let me challenge you,

WEBER: that’s a nonstarter, you know

LEWIS: let me challenge you there a little bit. There is a frustration of gridlock. And not getting anything done. And and things just staying the same. But there’s also a frustration on going along to get along. And that’s why we have a 20 trillion, 19-1/2 trillion dollar debt. Which by the way, isn’t even mentioned on Angie’s Web site. We, we’re sitting here with 500 billion dollars a year in net interest payments. We have a 10-year Treasury rate that’s below 2%, when the average post–World War II 10-year Treasury was at 5.7%. If those interest rates ever spike back to something close to their normal range, we will have interest on the debt over a trillion dollars, and we will have a run on the dollar. This is an existential crisis for the health of the economy. Admiral Mullen said the single biggest national security threat is our debt. She doesn’t even put it on her Web site. The reason I was opposed to undoing the budget caps of 2011 is, we were finally having across-the-board spending cuts to address this. We undid them, what’s happened the last year, our deficits shot up to 600 billion dollars this year. So y’know what? I am gonna work for budget caps. I believe the debt’s serious. I believe it’s going to give our children tax rates of 75%. You’re darn right I’m not in favor of that.

WEBER: Do you

LEWIS: And that’s what I’ll fight for.

WEBER: When you support budget cuts, is across the board the way to go? Or do you support specific, maybe eliminating departments? We’ve talked about that. Do you support, whatever, where do you cut funding


WEBER: and spending in the budget?

LEWIS: I think you do have to take a look at things across the board, because you know and I know, and everybody knows, that what happens is, Democrats go to Washington, and they propose budget cuts to Republican programs. Republicans go to Washington and they propose cuts to Democrat programs. When they both realize they don’t like that, they get together, behind closed doors, and they say “I’ll tell ya what. I’ll fund yours if you fund mine.” And that’s why we’ve got a 19-1/2 trillion dollar debt.


CRAIG: I I think that’s a lazy person’s way of running the government. If you can’t prioritize your investments and work with people, I think that’s pretty lazy. So what I would say is, a lot of people agree. That the sequester cuts ah particularly the Department of Defense, ah Homeland Security, have said out loud, that the sequester cuts leave the world a less safe place. And so I would not support sequester budget cuts. I think that if we send the right people to Washington, we can actually figure out how do we prioritize things? And Jason,

LEWIS: Angie, we’ve been hearing that for 13 years!

CRAIG: we threw in just a second,

LEWIS: And we’ve got a debt that’s just out of control!

CRAIG: just a minute ago, Jason talked about ah the Progressive Caucus. So I just wanted to address that. I’ve also been endorsed by about 150 other organizations, ah including the New Democratic Coalition. Ah which is a group of ah pro-growth and strong national security Democrats. So what I would say is, I appreciate the Progressive Caucus’s socially progressive agenda, but the 6.6 trillion dollar budget that Jason keeps talking about, I don’t support. I’ve never supported. We can’t afford it.

And finally, because you wanted to see it on my Web site, I’m happy to share it with you today, ah look – I think there are about six or seven things that we can cut really, almost a trillion dollars! And when you think about there are the carried interest loophole, that’s one thing, you mentioned it; oil subsidies

LEWIS: Well that’s not a budget cut, Angie.

CRAIG: I’m talking about the deficit. Oil subsidies, we’re talking about executive pay loopholes, stock option loopholes, immigration reform, which also would grow GDP, and so all of these things and, and your point is well taken, Jason, on, there are over 200 programs that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that we can run much more efficiently. I’ve actually done that. Jason, you keep saying we need someone in Congress who’s actually run a business. I’ve done that. You ran a virtual social media (LEWIS laughs) company that has

LEWIS: There

CRAIG: you know, instead of bitcoins

LEWIS: And there is a reason

CRAIG: we’ve got Galt coins

LEWIS: And there is a reason

CRAIG: And you didn’t even do that well.

LEWIS: And (laughs) there’s a reason you weren’t endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business, and I was. Because your tax and spending plans are going to sentence our kids to a lifetime of debt. You’re not willing to take the tough choices on budget sequestration, which by the way, was 2-1/2% of the total federal budget. 2-1/2, a hundred billion dollars out of 4.1 trillion. Now, I don’t know. Call me skeptical. But I think most federal agencies could save 2-1/2%.

CRAIG: And experts said it would hurt national defense and Homeland Security.

WEBER: Another

LEWIS: And the experts gave us a trillion dollar debt.

Climate Change

WEBER: Another topic here, as we are in our last minutes here with this conversation with Jason Lewis and Angie Craig, the Republican and DFL nominee ah nominees for the Second Congressional District, which is the south metro into southeastern Minnesota, the only open seat in Congress for the Minnesota delegation this year; John Kline is retiring. Is climate change real and how do you address it? Angie Craig.

CRAIG: Well – I’m happy to let Jason talk first, so he can explain to you why he doesn’t believe the 97% of climate scientists who say it’s real. Absolutely, it’s real. Farmers know it’s real; Jason’s not so sure. That it’s real. We have to ah address it as part of the Paris Climate Agreement; part of that is the Clean Power Plan, which I am concerned about, the interim targets for, and whether some of our ah facilities can meet those interim targets, so – look, I worked under, in a business that was under federal regulation, the Food and Drug Administration for 22 years. So I understand that when you have a big federal regulation, that you need to make sure you give business the time it needs to comply with it.

But y’know the question is, ah, do we want to address it? And – you gotta actually admit it exists, Jason, before ah you even think about addressing it.

LEWIS: Well first you said I didn’t think it existed, then you said I wasn’t certain.

CRAIG: Well, you said

LEWIS: So what is it?

CRAIG: You said that on Friday. It’s not manmade.

WEBER: So clarify, Jason.

LEWIS: Look. I I will, I will be glad to clarify.

WEBER: Yeah.

LEWIS: I don’t know. Do I think the planet is warm since post–World War II, and greenhouse gases have gone up? Sure it has. But we’ve had a pause for the last 15 years, and the climate models can’t explain that. But I would quote none other than every Democrat’s favorite businessman, Warren Buffett. Who happens to know a little bit about insurance. And insures ah P/I all over the country. And he said, not recently, in fact a number of times, said “I’m sorry. Ah if you’re worried about climate change, as an insurance problem, you don’t need to worry. I haven’t seen excess claims, or any of it related.” He actually got criticized by the Democrats for basically saying he didn’t think it was a serious problem.

WEBER: Well but, he also said in that statement, “it would be foolish for me or anyone to demand 100% proof of a huge forthcoming damage to the world, if that outcome seemed at all possible, at all possible, and if prompt action had even a small chance of thwarting the danger.” That was the same statement. In which he talked about the insurance claims.

LEWIS: Exactly. And that’s the insurance industry. And pooling risk and pricing risk. And so far, he hasn’t priced the risk. And so if you’re not pricing the risk, you’re not counting on a calamity. And that was the point of his entire ah ah speech there, and that’s why the Democrats were coming down on him so hard. He says he has not seen increased claims due to climate! Period.

WEBER: “If there’s only 1% chance the planet is heading toward a truly major disaster, and delay means passing a point of no return, inaction now is foolhardy.” That’s an, that’s an anticlimate change statement? That was in the same statement.

LEWIS: Then why isn’t he raising his insurance rates?

CRAIG: I don’t

LEWIS: I’m sorry, let me finish. The whole point here on the Clean Power Plan is, it was a) rejected by the Supreme Court, for being yet another ah imperial president overreaching by the executive branch

CRAIG: I think it’s currently in litigation, but okay.

LEWIS: Y’know, it was put on hold, by the Supeme Court.

CRAIG: Correct.

LEWIS: And indeed, because the president overreached and the lower court said, it was a cap and tax, it had to originate from the Congress. And in fact, in fact, it would be a cap and tax of about 500 billion dollars. Now the question in this cost-benefit analysis, which we have to look at in all ah environmental ah regulations, is, is it worth it? Is it worth lowering Celsius half a degree over the next hundred years, half a degree temperature, all for 500 billion dollars? That is something I would certainly be glad to to look at, but I would – I would refer everybody to read Steven Breyer’s book before he was elevated to the Supreme Court. On breaking the vicious cycle. He he wrote basically a cost-benefit tradeoff; pretty darn good book.

Energy Policy

WEBER: We only have a few minutes left, so I have to get in my Ken Bone question that’s related to this. (LEWIS laughs) What energy policy, what energy policy change do you support at the federal level? Jason, I’ll let you go first.

LEWIS: Well look, I do think the federal government should not be in the business of pushing T. Boone Pickens and big corporate wind farms on the citizens of Goodhue and Wabasha county. The state of Minnesota, along with the big interests, were trying to push that, and thanks to a few brave citizens in Goodhue and Wabasha, they stood up to that and said “no”. Even though you’re gonna get subsidized, even though you’re gonna take thousands of acres of agricultural land out of production in Goodhue and Wabasha, the citizens said no. So that is one area of energy policy I would not be pushing.

WEBER: So you don’t support wind energy?

LEWIS: I don’t support it in Goodhue County, when it’s forced on people who don’t want it. Absolutely not.

WEBER: Angie.

CRAIG: So I believe that we need an all of the above energy strategy. Ah but that ah we need to move ourselves to more renewable energy. Ah I think that ah what’s happening to our climate is real, ah I believe the 97% of scientists who tell me that – Jason says “I don’t know” – well, if you’re not gonna listen to other people when they talk about funding defense, funding Homeland Security, what’s happening to our climate

LEWIS: And the national debt?

CRAIG: I – and the national debt, which is

LEWIS: Well, you’re not listening to anybody on that.

CRAIG: I gave you six examples, and corporate tax reform (LEWIS laughs) and repatriation of income, so you can go ahead and try to connect me to whoever you want to connect me to, but at the end of the day, I’m gonna do what I believe is right for Minnesota families. And I believe that keeping our children’s air and water safe is very important to Minnesota families.

LEWIS: Well I certainly believe in clean air and clean water, I also believe in keeping Minnesotans safe. Which is why I don’t support letting in another 110,000 refugees, many of whom, Syrian refugees, that this administration has said are infused with ISIS. Angie said she wanted to run so she could fully fund the president’s amnesty order, that was one of the reasons she gave, why she wanted to run in the Second District. So she believes in that unconstitutional order too, and open borders, as does of course Hillary Clinton. So yeah, I I wanna keep Minnesota safe, too.

Refugees And Immigration
WEBER: The refugee process is so long. And arduous.

LEWIS: Really? I’m glad you brought that up.

WEBER: We only have a minute, Jason.

LEWIS: Well, I’m glad you brought that up.

CRAIG: Oh, I get to respond. He gets 30 seconds.

LEWIS: With the Wikileaks emails, we now know that none other than the secretary of state said, “I admit, that many of these refugees are unvettable.” That was in the email.

CRAIG: There’s no such thing as an unvettable

LEWIS: Well, then

CRAIG: refugee

LEWIS: talk to Hillary.

CRAIG: because two-year process ah we either vet them and make sure that they are going to do no harm to us, or we don’t let them in. It’s it’s just that simple. And, by the way, 25 Syrian refugees have been processed into Minnesota. This year. And, as a nation, we’ve gotta keep our citizens sta safe and we’ve gotta stay true to our values.

WEBER: We have to leave it there, unfortunately. We’re at the end of the hour. But certainly, everyone listening, November eighth is the election. You can vote now in Minnesota, early voting is open, go to mnvotes.org for information on that. Or, show up on Election Day. You can register day of as well, there’s instructions on how to do that. At mnvotes.org.

Angie Craig, the DFL nominee in the Second Congressional District, thank you so much for being here.

CRAIG: Thank you.

WEBER: And Jason Lewis, the Republican nominee, I appreciate it.

LEWIS: Tom, good to see you.

WEBER: This is MPR News.

Thank you to AFSCME Council 5 for sponsoring our debate coverage

Thank you to AFSCME Council 5 for sponsoring our debate coverage

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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