Rep. Rick Nolan And Stewart Mills Debate On KSTP-TV – Full Transcript And Video Of Debate

Rep. Rick Nolan (D) and his Republican opponent Stewart Mills debated for the second and likely final time before this year’s election.

Full transcript and video of the debate
Transcript by Susan Maricle

LEAH McLEAN: Good evening everyone, and thank you for joining us. For this Five Eyewitness News Vote 2016 special. I’m Leah McLean. Later in this program, we’re gonna take an in-depth work at Minnesota’s legislative races. We’ll discuss what’s at stake for the candidates who are running for state house and senate seats, and issues that are really at the heart of many of these races.

First, tonight, though, the candidates running for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth District will take part in a live discussion of the issues. You’ll hear from Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills. Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District covers the northeastern part of the state. And includes Duluth, Brainerd, Bemidji, and the Iron Range. Mining is one of the region’s most prominent industries. Along with agriculture, tourism and shipping. Democrat Rick Nolan first won the Eighth District seat in 2012. This year’s race is a rematch of 2014, when Nolan beat Republican Stewart Mills by less than 3800 votes. It was also one of the most expensive congressional races in the country two years ago, with outside groups spending nearly 13 million dollars on the candidates. This race is on track to match, even beat, that total this year.

And now, joining us tonight we have Eighth Congressional District candidates Rick Nolan and Stewart Mills. We’d like to start by giving you the opportunity to make an opening statement, and Representative, you won the coin toss.

RICK NOLAN: Well thank you Leah, ah thank you KSTP, thank you Mr. Mills for being here. When I first went into public life, my my father said, “Son, if you just do a few things, I’ll always be proud of ya.” He said “Number one, be honest.” He said “Number two,” he said, “work for the common good. The men and women, the working men and women in this country.” And then he said, “Y’know, nothing against the the rich and the powerful, but don’t worry too much about ‘em, they have a pretty good way of taking care of themselves.”

I try to honor my father’s my father’s words, and I get up every morning, saying “What can my staff and I do ah to create more jobs with living wages and benefits for the working men and women in this country? To protect Social Security? Medicare? Stop these bad trade deals? Ah to provide better benefits for our veterans and protect the American public?

So ah I’m glad to say that the universities have studied and have found me to be among the most effective members of the Congress. And others have found me to be among the most respected for integrity. So I’m proud of that record and I want to continue to serve to protect and work for the things that are important to the people of Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District and the rest of our nation.

McLEAN: Mr. Nolan, thank you. Mr. Mills.

STEWART MILLS: Yes. Ah elections are about values and priorities. And specifically, who is the best fit to represent those values and priorities in Washington D.C. And Congressman Nolan, while he’s a very nice guy, has represented the values and priorities of the Washington D.C. elite, specifically Hillary Clinton. And proof of that is that both Congressman Nolan and Hillary Clinton are “F” rated by the National Rifle Association. Both Hillary Clinton and Rick Nolan both think Obamacare is a great first step to government run single-payer healthcare. Both Hillary Clinton and Congressman Nolan ah have engaged in a war on coal. Congressman Nolan has voted for a carbon tax, Hillary Clinton says she wants to put a whole lot of coal miners out of business. They both think the Iranian nuclear deal is a victory for diplomacy. It is undoubtedly a defeat for America. And, Hillary Clinton wants to bring in 65,000 Syrian refugees. Congressman Nolan wants to bring in 100,000 Syrian refugees before the end of this year.

So, we have to take a look at whose values systems match up with our part of Minnesota. Congressman Nolan’s value systems match up perfectly with Hillary Clinton’s and the Washington D.C. elite.

McLEAN: Thank you both for your opening statements. You brought up some good topics. And we’re going to dig into a lot of these now. I think want to start with the economy. We did a KSTP Survey USA poll, we found a lot of Minnesotans are very concerned about the economy, when they were asked about what their top issues are.

Y’know Minnesota as a whole is one of the top states when it comes to having low unemployment. But of course not all industries, specifically in the Eighth District, are created equal. So what needs to be done to make sure the Eighth is economically viable when it comes to creating and sustaining jobs and job growth? Ah Mr. Mills?

MILLS: The Eighth Congressional District is extremely energy reliant. Whether it’s the paper industry or whether it’s the taconite industry. The number one cost of doing business is power, is energy. And when you have the Obama administration that has engaged in a war on coal that has made it more expensive for us to be competitive, and Congressman Nolan voted against the Energy Consumers Relief Act, which would have reined in the EPA, and the Obama administration’s war on coal, ah we have seen that how our energy policies have put us at a competitive disadvantage, rather than going and perfecting clean coal technologies, which we have — ah we have took taken away a viter vital power ah power source that would have allowed us to be much more competitive on the world stage.

Certainly, we need tax and regulatory reform. Congressman Nolan voted for one of the biggest, or in favor of one of the biggest regulatory ah ah ah regimes foisted upon the American people: The Waters of the U.S. Rule. So we’ve seen time and time again how Washington D.C. has gotten the tax and regulatory policy wrong, but also the energy policy. And what we need to do is to make sure that in a Main Street–oriented economy, and in an economy that is so energy dependent, that we get the priorities of greater Minnesota straight.

McLEAN: And ah Representative Nolan.

NOLAN: Ah (clears throat) when it comes to Minnesota’s Iron Range, ah mining is what we’re all about. Everybody in my neighborhood worked in the mines. I’ve tried to remind people that mining is not just important for Minnesota’s Iron Range, it’s important for our whole national economy, and our whole national security, it’s vital to this nation’s success.

I’m proud to say that a result of the work that I have done, in expediting ah commerce claims against illegal steel dumping, ah getting more personnel in Customs to catch the cheaters, and more importantly, getting tariffs as high as 500% on cold rolled and hot rolled and corrosive-resistant steel, we have seen a decline in illegal steel dumping into this country, which is good for our national economy. Ah and also good for the Iron Range. And we’ve seen a thousand miners go back to work up on the Iron Range, at Forbes, at Eveleth, at Silver Bay, at Babbitt. Ah Cliffs Natural Resources says that ah no one has done more, and in fact it was the work that I have done, on this that inspired them to put a thousand workers back to work, inspired them to invest 65 million dollars more, in ah in new technologies for taconite development, and I’m proud to say that I enjoy the support of mining executives, steelworkers, ah the support industries, and have been named by the Iron and Steel Institute as the National Steel Champion of the Year.

Mining is who we are and what we do, in addition to that, of course, paper and forestry, and tourism are vital parts of our economy in the in the north country.

McLEAN: Let’s talk about some of the trade deals that have certainly been discussed lately: ah the TPP, NAFTA, those have certainly been discussed a lot, especially in this political season. Um I wanna ask, what’s your stance on these trade deals, and if elected, would you try to keep them the same, would you make any changes? Ah Representative Nolan, to you first.

NOLAN: Well (clears throat), it started with NAFTA, which was a terrible trade deal. We saw tens of thousands of American manufacturing operations move overseas. Along with millions and millions of good American jobs. I built my own export trading company, so I’ve seen how the the rest of the world ah works. And know a little bit about these trade issues.

I’m opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. And I think all of these deals that we did in the past have to be renegotiated. Why? Well, ah we built the strongest middle economy, middle class economy, anywhere in the world, in in the last century. Ah which, included, you know, Social Security, and Medicare, and rules to protect our air and our water and our environment – and then to come along, we’ve been a model for the world. And we gave us air we can breathe and water we can drink. And then to come along and say, “Now we want you to compete with people who don’t have to do any of that.” Ah y’know, places like Vietnam, they’re payin 65 cents an hour. We can’t begin to compete with that, nor should we be expected to compete with that. We have to have trade deals that require them to rise to our levels of affluence and prosperity, not drag us down to their level of poverty and deprivation.

McLEAN: And Mr. Mills, do you?

MILLS: Well, first of all, I agree: Ah NAFTA was something that should have had a sunset, or a review period – certainly it has not worked out for our country. Ah if Bill Clinton signed that into law, ah it should never have become law. I am opposed to Trans Pacific Partnership. But we cannot hermetically seal our economy inside our borders. Ninety-five percent of all of our potential customers are outside the United States. What we need to do is get very aggressive and negotiate some really tough trade deals to make sure that our trading partners can’t cheat. They can’t dump products onto our market and they can’t manipulate their currency. They have to ah respect our intellectual property. Ah they can’t subsidize their workforce or their industries.

And furthermore, we have to stop farming our national sovereignty out to the World Trade Organization or to an appendage of the UN. We need a U.S.-based trade remedy authority that is staffed by United States citizens to make sure that if there is cheating or dumping, that we’re able to snap countervailing ah tariffs in place almost immediately. We don’t have to go hat in hand and have an endless series of hearings. We need to take control of our national sovereignty but negotiate extremely tough trade deals.

McLEAN: Um, which takes us to taxes. Let’s talk about the topic of taxes now. What do you believe is the best tax policy to help the local economy and help people in your district succeed? And Mr. Mills, to you first.

MILLS: Well certainly we need a flatter, fairer tax code. Ah we’ve seen something that is way too complicated; we need to make sure that ah folks that are below the poverty rate are not paying any income tax whatsoever. Then on top of that, we need to have a limited number of deductions ah and it doesn’t have to be a ah just one or two or three or four, but it’s gotta be small enough where we can fill it out on the back of a postcard and send it in. Because the entire, or I should say the Internal Revenue Service has gotten too big. It’s gotten too wieldy (sic). I mean they’re administrating parts of our healthcare, we have the likes of Lois Lerner that are making some horrible decisions that have been punitive against ah pro-American groups; time and time again, ah we’ve seen what our tax policy has done to our economy. One percent economic growth is not a good result. We need tax and regulatory reform. And we have to get back to our last best place of success, when we had Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, two great bipartisans work together for true bipartisan tax reform that ushered in the largest and the longest economic ah boom in U.S. history.

McLEAN: Representative Nolan.

NOLAN: Well, ah this is probably one of the issues where we couldn’t disagree ah more strongly. Ah my opponent favors more tax breaks for the super-rich and Wall Street billionaires. I oppose them, as a matter of fact I think their taxes should be increased. They’ve obviously benefited enormously from the greatness of our nation, and they should be willing to step up and pay their fair share, which many of us would argue they are not. In Minnesota, we’ve found, for example, people making 20 to 50 thousand dollars a year, are paying up to 33% on average, in a combination of real estate, sales, income and other taxes; where someone making a million dollars or more is only paying 13%. So if you made 30, you only got 20 to live on, but if you made a million you’ve still got 870,000 to live on. Who’s benefiting the most.

So ah my theory of economics is ah the percolate up theory. The build from the middle out, not the ah trickle down theory, ah which has proved to be so disastrous – in fact, the imbalance between the rich and the poor right now in this country is perilously close to exactly what it was before the Great Depression that occurred in this country some time ago. So ah we’ve got to support a minimum wage, which, a federal minimum wage, which I believe you oppose; if someone goes to work every day, they’re entitled to an income from that! To allow them to live with some modest degree of comfort. Ah what this country does not need is more tax breaks for the rich; what we need is more income for the working men and women in this country.

MILLS: Leah, if I may have a quick rebuttal: That — Congressman, with all due due respect, that is a mischaracterization. Ah I’m not going to Congress to serve Wall Street. I’m not for making sure that Wall Street is more successful or richer.

NOLAN: No, I didn’t say that. I said you want tax breaks for Wall Street.

MILLS: No, I most certainly do not.

NOLAN: Well, your record is pretty clear on that.

MILLS: I am I am focused on the individuals, I am focused on subchapter S, LLC,

NOLAN: (unclear)

MILLS: sole proprietorship and partnership. Those businesses that are (unclear) and pass-throughs.

NOLAN: Yeah, are you saying that you have not advocated tax breaks for corporations and millionaires and billionaires?

MILLS: No I haven’t. And just being against the Cash for Clunkers program or against the TARP program or government bailouts does not mean that I am for those programs. What that

NOLAN: Oh. Which means you benefited from them!

MILLS: Oh I most certainly have not.

NOLAN: Cash for Clunkers: don’t you sell a lot of cars?

MILLS: That was that was – first of all, yes, that’s another member of my family. I’m not involved in that business. And, but I had a front-row seat to that, that was an absolute boondoggle.

NOLAN: (unclear).

MILLS: The federal government screwed it up and it was not a net benefit to the automotive industry. Certainly not to the automotive retailers.

McLEAN: And gentlemen,

MILLS: So that is untrue. And the other thing. Just one other thing too. Is that you know what? As far as the minimum wage is concerned, yes, you’re right. I’m against the federal minimum wage.

NOLAN: I know that.

MILLS: It should be you, it should be the states that are deciding what the correct minimum wage is for their state. We should not have Washington D.C. bureaucrats decide for all 50 states what should go on inside their borders.

NOLAN: Well,

MILLS: when it comes to minimum wage.

NOLAN: Well, we are one nation. And ah I think everybody in this country who’s willing to go to work and put in eight hours, 40 hours a week, they’re entitled to an income that will allow them to live with some modest degree of of comfort.

Ah but furthermore, now now now you’re telling us you don’t support tax breaks when the record is very clear that you do. And I’m also quite frankly a little confused on what your position is on trade

McLEAN: Well, gentlemen, I

NOLAN: I see it — no, no, I see a I see an ad running on television by some group, it sure sounds like you, saying you support free trade. And you support these trade agreements. And you support this Asian Pacific Alliance. So which is it?

MILLS: Congressman, that is a lie. That is a lie, and let me correct it right now.

NOLAN: No no no no! I just saw the ad! A few minutes ago. It sounded like your voice. Was it not you?

MILLS: Yeah, it was me.

NOLAN: Oh.

MILLS: Saying we need to get out there and negotiate much tougher trade deals, and we need to be partners

NOLAN: Well I didn’t hear that part. I just heard you say you support free trade.

MILLS: You know why? Because you have not released the entire audio recording.

NOLAN: I — Mr. Mills, Mr. Mills…

MILLS: You know what? Then do me a favor.

NOLAN: Yeah.

MILLS: Then you call on whatever committee put that out that is supporting you, and have them release the entire audio recording. Have them release the entire audio recording

NOLAN: Mr. Mills, 

MILLS: because it says I do not

NOLAN: Yeah. Yeah.

MILLS: support TPP.

McLEAN: Well gentlemen, we’ve got

NOLAN: Just real quickly, what you’re suggesting is illegal. We cannot

MILLS: You can make the call right now.

NOLAN: No. No no.

MILLS: You can turn and face the camera and ask them to release the entire audio recording right now.

NOLAN: I would be more than happy to have them release that.

MILLS: Please do. Say that.

NOLAN: I’m talking to you here, it’s all on camera.

MILLS: Well

McLEAN: All right

MILLS: Talk to

NOLAN: But you know for a fact that we cannot coordinate and collaborate with these independent agencies. The only

MILLS: But you can turn to, you can turn to the camera and demand that right now, as a U.S. congressman.

NOLAN: I, I heard you say you supported free trade.

McLEAN: So we have been seeing these ads

MILLS: And

NOLAN: Was that your voice?

MILLS: It, but it was also going out and negotiating – it was also going out and negotiating

NOLAN: I don’t know what you said, Mr. Mills,

MILLS: much tougher trade deals,

NOLAN: Mr. Mills,

MILLS: and making sure we take control

NOLAN: Yeah.

MILLS: of our national sovereignty,

NOLAN: Mr, Mr. Mills

MILLS: We can’t

NOLAN: Yeah.

MILLS: seal ourselves off

NOLAN: Mr. Mills

MILLS: from the rest of economy. You know what? Ninety-five percent of all of our customers are outside our borders. We yes, we need much tougher trade deals.

NOLAN: It sounds like you’re supporting free – but here’s the point, here’s the point.

MILLS: Negotiating tougher trade deals

NOLAN: Mr. Mills, please, let me talk.

MILLS: is supporting free trade.

McLEAN: All right.

NOLAN: I don’t know what you said before, or after. All I saw was a TV ad, saying you support free trade. And these trade agreements.

MILLS: Well,

McLEAN: So okay. Why don’t we (unclear) these ads, guys.

MILLS: if you don’t know what I said before or after, is that a fair ad?

McLEAN: Let’s talk about more of these issues though. I think our viewers have seen a lot of these ads going on, of course, and I think they want to hear about these big other topics that we have. Ah national security and terrorism. That’s certainly an important topic for a lot of Minnesotans. Let’s move onto this. Um, we have seen ISIS-inspired attacks happening in the U.S., ah attack at the St. Cloud mall, 10 people were hurt, Minnesotans who have been trying to join ISIS – even leaving Minnesota, going to Syria. So, my question, ah and Representative Nolan, let’s start with you, what needs to be done on the federal level to try and stop attacks and efforts that are happening here at home and things that are happening abroad? But what efforts need to happen on the federal level? To stop terrorism?

NOLAN: Sure. Well, for one thing, we have to defeat ISIS, and that involves taking away their territory, taking away their money, ah interrupting their whole social media and propaganda programs, making sure that any of them attempting to come into the United States of America are carefully vetted and do not get into this country, under any conditions and circumstances.

And then at home, of course, we have the home-bred ah ah terrorists. We have to strengthen the resources that our police and peace officers are able to utilize in stopping these kinds of attacks. I’m proud to say the Police and Peace Officers Association, the largest one in Minnesota, has endorsed my campaign. And we just have to do a better job of interrupting all of their propaganda. And their access to guns and weapons. Which is another issue between the two of us here. Ah why on earth you would want to be able to sell guns to someone who has pledged allegiance to killing us and are not even allowed to get on airplanes, why you would allow them to walk into your store or anybody else’s store and buy guns, is beyond me. But perhaps you can explain that.

But these are some of the things that we need to do to fight terrorism here and abroad.

MILLS: Well,

McLEAN: Let Mr. Mills respond.

MILLS: Well, and I am endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. Ah he’s talking about endorsements. But y’know, Congressman Nolan has a record on this subject. Barack Obama drew a red line in Syria, and we didn’t follow up on that red line. A matter of fact, I believe that Congressman Nolan even got into a shouting match on a phone call with Secretary Kerry over enforcing that red line in Syria. We didn’t, and into it created a vacuum. And the Russians are now ah leading in Syria, unfortunately, they’re leading (laughs) in favor of the Assad regime.

Ah but Congressman Nolan, part of Congressman Nolan’s record is that ah he wrote a letter on September eleventh, 2015, to the Obama administration, demanding that we bring in 200,000 refugees, a hundred thousand of them from Syria. On the eighteenth, of November of that same year, the Homeland Security committee concluded that we can’t bring in the refugees, 100,000 Syrian refugees that Congressman Nolan wanted to bring in, safely, into this country. Ah Director Comey, please hear me out, Director Comey said, “There’s no way we can vet these people, we don’t know who they are.” On the nineteenth, he politically conveniently voted for the SAFE Act. But then, on the twenty-fourth, Congressman Nolan told the Brainerd Daily Dispatch that even though he voted in favor of the SAFE Act, it does not change his original position of wanting to bring in 100,000 Syrian refugees before the end of this year, and there’s no way to vet them.

McLEAN: Well, let’s talk about the issue of Syrian refugees here. Ah Congressman Nolan, you have said you want to bring in 100,000 refugees. From Syria. Ah is, is that the right course of action? To take in this situation with what’s going on?

NOLAN: Well, that’s a fair question, although the ads that you produced, by the way, and said “This is Stewart Mills,” were found to be false and misleading by important fact checkers. Throughout throughout the nation.

MILLS: But you want to bring in a hundred thousand Syrian refugees.

NOLAN: Ah carefully vetted, which is why

MILLS: But there’s no way to vet them.

NOLAN: Ah (laughs) really, huh. How do you — it takes 2-1/2 years to go through that process, which is why I voted for the SAFE Act, it requires the Defense Department, the CIA, the FBI, Immigration Natural – Natural — National – (laughs) Resource

MILLS: But in your letter to the Obama administration, you only gave him 18 months. not 2-1/2 years.

NOLAN: No no. Carefully

MILLS: Do the math.

NOLAN: Mr. Mills, I don’t want to let anybody into this country unless they’re carefully vetted. That’s the key word, carefully vetted, and I believe under the vetting process that we have in place now, we have let 24 Syrians into Minnesota, ah about 20, 18, 20 of them are women, and children, and a couple of them are men. But it’s important to know, Mr. Mills, that

MILLS: So you’re saying it’s impossible to bring in a hundred thousand before the end of this year, based on the vetting process that’s in place.

NOLAN: I’m I’m I’m not going to rely on any specific number, quite frankly, until they’re properly and thoroughly vetted

MILLS: But you demanded the specific number.

NOLAN: No no.

MILLS: Yes you did!

NOLAN: Here’s the carefully vetted. Carefully vetted.

McLEAN: Mr.

NOLAN: You’re missing the key word,

MILLS: That was not in your letter.

NOLAN: which is why fact checkers

MILLS: I read the letter.

NOLAN: No no. Well, you better go read it again.

MILLS: All right.

McLEAN: Mr. Mills,

MILLS: Yes.

McLEAN: my question to you is, then, on the topic of Syrian refugees. And there’s obviously a crisis in Syria.

MILLS: Yes.

McLEAN: What is the solution, then, with the humanitarian crisis?

MILLS: Helping them there. Ah we need to get a corridor out of Aleppo, we need to get them into a safe area, we can’t control what Russia and the Assad regime is doing, we don’t need open warfare. In the Middle East. We should be targeting ISIS. But we do have a humanitarian crisis, we need to get that corridor there, we need to get them to safe areas, and we need ah Arab partners to help fund and participate, and staff those safe areas.

But, helping them there is the right answer for them, it’s the right answer for us. Bringing in 10,000, 65,000, a hundred thousand Syrian refugees in this country, doesn’t make any sense. We have to put America and Americans first.

NOLAN: We’re, we’re talking about women and children. Y’know, some 10 million of them. That country is a living hell. And ah I know from my experience in the Middle East, a good measure of them are good strong supporters of the United States of America. They stood by us, they translated for us, they fought alongside of us. They supported us in every which way imaginable. And ah to say y’know we’re not gonna under any conditions or any circumstances ah let you into our country after they’ve been thoroughly and carefully vetted, and send them home, where they’re gonna lose their heads? It just seems so unhumanitarian and so ah unappreciative of the men and women in Syria who have stood by us and supported us.

There has to be a way for us to take our fair share of these some 10 million refugees, provided that they’re carefully and thoroughly vetted.

McLEAN: Well, let’s move on to the topic of healthcare. I’m sure this is another one, we have a lot of opinions on this one. Affordability has really become a big issue with healthcare. In fact we’ve heard here in Minnesota, rates going up 60, 67% for some people in the individual market. So Mr. Mills, I think this first question is for you. What is your opinion of how the ACA is working as it stands now – would you would you leave it, would you repeal it altogether, what’s your plan?

MILLS: Well, ah first of all, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I agree with Bill Clinton: it’s the craziest thing in the world. And I also agree with Mark Dayton, the Unaffordable Care Act has become unaffordable. Ah it’s not a matter of repealing it, it’s collapsing underneath its own weight. The crown jewel of the Affordable Care Act was their co-ops. Started with 23, going into next year, we’ll probably have six or seven, by the end of 2017, there won’t be anything left.

Ah we know what’s happened in the state exchanges, we know what’s happened in the federal exchanges. Congressman Nolan’s solution to the problem is Medicare for everyone. Single payer. If we start putting people into Medicare, start putting everybody into Medicare, we turn it into a high-risk pool. And we wind up collapsing that system, the same way that Obamacare is collapsing. Again, that system is set up for the benefit of our seniors. So now, not only are we taking 716 billion dollars out of Medicare, to pay for the boondoggle that’s Obamacare, Congressman Nolan’s solution is to put everybody into Medicare and collapse that system.

McLEAN: And, why don’t you give us your opinion.

NOLAN: Real real quick like. The current system that’s run by the insurance companies is spending, on average, about 30% of all of our healthcare dollars on administrative costs and insurance company profits and executive profits. And that’s why we converted, for seniors in this country, into Medicare, which is a single-payer system. It operates for two or three percent, it covers everybody, everybody pays into it, it’s a wonderfully good program to emulate.

Most of the countries in the world have single payer universal healthcare plans, where everybody pays, everybody’s got the basic fundamental care, and ah and everybody has a good policy. And guess what? They they provide healthcare to their citizens for less money, and they get better results. So yeah, we do need to go to a single-payer system.

Having said, with regard to the Affordable Care Act, it does a lot of good things! Ah it it kept people with pre-existing conditions for, to, enabled them to get insurance, it provided insurance for 18 million people, so they didn’t have to experience ah ah bankruptcy as a result of a serious accident or illness in their family. It allowed parents to keep their children on their pol – those are all all good things! We can – required that women pay the same rate for policies as men, not not a higher rate.

So, I don’t want to eliminate any of that. But we’ve gotta take it to the next step. I mean, Governor Dayton and ah President Clinton are right! Ah we got a problem. But the answer is not just turn it all over to this free market insurance company that is so costly administratively. And so many of our healthcare dollars get wasted by going into ridiculous administrative procedures, and insurance company and executive profits.

MILLS: If I may have just a quick rebuttal.

McLEAN: Go ahead.

MILLS: A few different things in that. First of all, just because you have insurance, doesn’t mean you have access to care. The cost of insurance have gone up, co-pays and deductibles have gone up to the point where working families can no longer afford to bring their kids to the doctor when they get sick. So, because it is so expensive, you can’t afford to use it even if you’ve got a piece of plastic that says you have insurance.

Ah the other thing too, is ah we have a system ah, Obamacare, that is inherently broken. But we had systems that worked before. Ah one of the things as far far as pre-existing conditions are concerned, for the last 20 years we’ve had something called HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. If you had a pre-existing condition, you could go from one policy to another without worrying about it. The Democrats want to ignore that that law even exists. Existed. But thanks to Obamacare, ah the state of Minnesota had a high-risk pool called MCHA. Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association. It’s out of business now, due to Obamacare, but if you hit a lifetime max, or you truly had a pre-existing condition that couldn’t get covered, we had a social safety net to cover those people. And that’s what we should be working on, is good solid social safety nets, not huge government takeovers.

NOLAN: Well, you’re talking about people who already had insurance. There there are millions of people with pre-existing conditions that could not get get insurance. And and that that is the fact. So – and there are other things we could do – y’know Medicare negotiates for pharmaceutical prices, the VA negotiates for pharmaceutical prices; I think the federal government should have the authority to negotiate – most of the rest of the world does it. So we don’t get these $600 EpiPens that cost three or four dollars so we don’t have thousand percent increases. There’s a lot we can do. But you should know, and every time the Republicans have brought up the Affordable Care Act, never once have they brought it up under an open rule where any of us could offer ideas and suggestions for improvements and have the argument and vote on it.

McLEAN: And gentlemen, we are about to wrap up here in about one minute. So quickly, I want to ask each of you: To give me your response on this. If you’re elected, what will you do when you go to Washington D.C., or re-elected, to work on bipartisanship and to get things done? Representative Nolan, you first please.

NOLAN: Well first of all, the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt did a study. And they just too amendments that’ve been introduced, bills that’ve been introduced, and became law of the land, and they found that my work was the most effective in the Minnesota congressional delegation, second most effective in all 188 Democrats in Congress, and one of the 10 most respected In the Congress.

So, I’m a minority. I had to have Republican partners. I did that with good, strong, commonsense solutions with common problems that we all face, with good Republican bipartisan support. I am as good or better than just about anyone in the country at pullin together bipartisan support for good commonsense legislation.

McLEAN: And Mr. Mills, how would you work toward bipartisanship?

MILLS: I was just in Grand Rapids yesterday, meeting with union members. Union members whose jobs ah depend on livelihoods that are on the Iron Range. And, they’re upset with Congressman Nolan. He talks about his effectiveness; they were telling me how ineffective he was, where when he was first elected, he went in front of the TV cameras and called for bans on semiautomatic rifles and having the government tell us how many bullets we could have in our guns. Rather than fixing a broken trade system. It was only after these people had lost their jobs, their livelihoods, did Congressman Nolan step up in an election year stunt to bring in Denis McDonough, a dog and pony show, which was too little too late.

People are frustrated all over our part of Minnesota.

NOLAN: Mr. Mills.

MILLS: But what I would do in Washington D.C.

NOLAN: Yeah.

MILLS: is find people that are willing to participate in small groups that are gonna generate ideas, and have those ideas form larger groups and get legislation done. Nobody gets anything done on their own. Certainly not in Congress. What we need to do is have small groups come together, start fixing these problems, and have these ideas snowball.

NOLAN: Mr. Mills, the CEO of the largest mining company on the Iron Range, who’s a good supporter of mine, by the ways, said that the day that Denis McDonough came to the Range, changed everything. You may call it a dog and pony show, to the thousand miners that went back to work, and their families, it was no dog and pony show.

MILLS: But what about the thousand more that have been laid off since?

NOLAN: Ah – listen

MILLS: Whether it’s a dog and pony show?

NOLAN: No no, they have not been laid off since. They’ve

MILLS: They’ve already received their word notice on this

NOLAN: No no. They were laid off before and we are making progress,

MILLS: How how

NOLAN: and we are gonna have them all back to work before we get done.

MILLS: It was too little, too late.

NOLAN: You know, as soon as the crises emerge, I went to work on it. I testified before the International Trade Commission, the International Trade Commission, 10 people came and testified before Denis McDonough. And they were all business leaders, community leaders, and I didn’t see you there at any of them. So, I’ve been there, I’ve gotten the job done, I’ve gotten the tariffs, I got a thousand people back to work,

MILLS: I was just meeting with them yesterday. They were telling me

NOLAN: Yeah.

MILLS: you haven’t gotten the job done, the work isn’t there.

McLEAN: Gentlemen, we’re gonna have to leave it there. We are out of time, I thank you both for your time, for coming in this evening.

Thank you to AFSCME Council 5 for sponsoring our debate coverage

Thank you to AFSCME Council 5 for sponsoring our debate coverage

Susan Maricle

Susan has volunteered for The UpTake since our early beginnings. If you've read a debate transcript here, it's likely her fleet and nimble fingers transcribed it.

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