Voter's guide: U.S. House
We asked both candidates the same questions
The questions are:
1. Americans are expressing their growing concern about the economy, whether it is higher gas (both heating and vehicle) and grocery prices; increased medical costs, etc., or concern about their financial investments/retirement accounts. What do you believe should be done about the situation and what should be the response of Congress?2. How can Dakota County continue to ensure it is a "premier place in which to live," while still adhering to its low tax rate?
2. The United States has now been at war with Iraq for more than five years, with differing opinions of how successful it has been. Where should we go from here?
3. What makes you the best candidate for this position? Why should people in this district vote for you?
Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.
How does Congress address the economy?
In these challenging economic times, it is more clear than ever that the American people need an environment that is conducive to economic growth and stability. Individuals, not the federal government, should be able to determine how to spend their hard-earned money. One of my primary motivations in running for Congress was to push for comprehensive reform of our tax system that would put more money back into the pockets of taxpayers. Keeping taxes low allows families to build a better life for themselves and their children, enables businesses - large and small - to create jobs and compete in the global marketplace, and provides an opportunity for innovation to flourish.
But no amount of tax reform will solve our economy's ills unless we address out-of-control government spending. Over the years, the congressional earmarking process has evolved into a corrupt and broken system with no regard for merit. I have taken a strong stand against earmarks and will continue to refrain from making requests until the integrity of the system is restored - while pushing for legislation that brings about much-needed reform.
Also critical to our economic stability is a diversified, "all of the above" energy policy, such as the American Energy Act. This bill - of which I am a proud cosponsor - would help lower the price at the pump and in our homes by increasing the supply of American-made energy, improving conservation and efficiency, and promoting new and expanding energy technologies.
What next in Iraq?
I am proud of the men and women of our armed services and their progress in reducing violence and stabilizing the ground situation in Iraq. I am particularly pleased the U. S. has been able to reduce troop strength and anticipates continued reductions. As we move forward, we must carefully weigh the strategies put forth by the commanders who lead our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen. Decisions about troop strengths must be based on conditions in Iraq, which are much improved in 2008.
The U.S. government is charged with protecting its citizens and their homeland. Critical to this goal is providing our men and women in uniform with the resources necessary to accomplish their missions at home and abroad and providing the benefits they deserve for their service - such as the GI bill recently signed into law, which I was proud to cosponsor - that provides historic education benefits for our veterans of today and tomorrow.
Why should people support you?
I am seeking a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives because I believe I have demonstrated the steady leadership Minnesota's 2nd district needs during challenging times. Throughout my three terms in Congress, I have established myself as a leading voice on defense and veterans issues; a stalwart supporter of policies that advance job creation and economic growth; and an advocate for education. Washington is "stuck," and I believe it will take someone with a record of representing the views and values of Minnesotans while challenging Washington to bring about the real change we need.
How does Congress address the economy?
People across the country are suffering the consequences of the failed economic policies of the last eight years. Unrestrained spending on Iraq is one source of economic pain; the $40 billion we've spent there has strained us and could have done a lot to address the issues our own nation faces. But obviously, in the past few weeks we've become well acquainted with the problems our own financial industry is in. Those problems are already affecting or going to affect all of us, including many people who were counting on investments to help them get through their retirement years. My opponent has taken $783,000 from financial interests for his campaigns - and he's worked to grant their wishes since he was elected to Congress. It's time to hold him and other members of Congress like him accountable.
Making America's economy work for the middle class again means making smart decisions for our benefit and that of our children and grandchildren. One-time economic stimulus checks are obviously not the answer; we need long-term vision for economically sensible tax policies, changes to our health care system that alleviate the excessive burden on families and businesses, and investment in infrastructure, education and alternative energy that will help us create jobs. Finally, we need to reinstitute appropriate oversight and regulation of the financial industry to ensure the money and investments we have are secure.
Some specific, practical measures I support are:
Beginning the process of leaving Iraq;
Lowering health care costs and increasing quality by pooling more people together, cutting administrative costs and focusing on preventative care;
Making sure our energy grid can keep up with demand;
Lowering energy prices and creating hundreds of thousands of "green" jobs by providing incentives for clean, renewable energy;
Helping Americans navigate the credit crisis by giving lenders incentives to work with owners facing foreclosure to keep as many people in their homes and making mortgage payments as possible;
Instituting and enforcing appropriate but not reactionary regulations to prevent future irresponsible lending and borrowing;
Making college more affordable and K-12 classrooms more successful;
Rebuilding and modernizing our nation's roads and bridges;
Instituting tax policies that make economic sense, including the Fair Share Act of 2008, which will end the practice of U.S. government contractors setting up sham companies in foreign jurisdictions to avoid taxes;
Reducing the deficit and restoring fiscal responsibility to ensure we're prepared for future challenges;
Moving toward more balanced trade relations, particularly with countries that own large shares of our debt and from which large numbers of illegal immigrants come; and
Investing in our Internet "superhighway" so we keep up with the bandwidth currently available in other countries.
What next in Iraq?
Iraq presents a legitimate opportunity for greater stability in the Middle East. The troop surge, which I was part of, was successful in that it increased security. However, the other goal by which we were supposed to be able to measure the surge's success was political reconciliation - and the Iraqi government still has not led its people to overcome ethnic and religious differences, recognize their common interests and to stand up together for their own freedom.
Part of the reason, as many Iraqis indicated to me while I was there, is that we're in their way. Beginning troop withdrawals is a necessary step to showing the Iraqi people we're not interested in occupying their country. We should begin withdrawing now, but we must plan and act carefully. We owe Iraqi families, who have suffered much, an orderly withdrawal, not more chaos. Ultimately, if the Iraqi government would like us to maintain a small force of advisors in the country to train Iraqi forces, we should be open to that.
Unfortunately, our work in Iraq - absolutely unrelated to the Sept. 11 attacks - has distracted us from our real mission: capturing Osama bin Laden and dismantling Al Qaeda. We must refocus on that in Afghanistan.
Why should people support you?
I'm running for Congress because our nation needs to change course. For too long, we've been represented by someone who serves the president, his party, and big corporate interests instead of the people. Minnesotans deserve a representative who will work for them.
As a 20-year veteran of the U.S. military, I've worked to rebuild countries torn apart by war. As a three-term mayor and city administrator, I've brought people together to get things done without partisan bickering. We need to get our economy back on track, get out of Iraq responsibly, make sure we have safe roads and bridges and work for quality education and health care for all.
My opponent, John Kline, has supported George W. Bush 92 percent, has voted with his party 97 percent of the time and has been a reliable vote for the big corporations that have funded his campaigns. Big corporations have enough friends in Washington; it's time the people have one.
On Nov. 4, voters have a clear choice: change or more of the same. Kline, who spent four years in the majority in Congress with every opportunity in the world to address the issues we face, has had his chance, and has not succeeded for us. Join me in changing course: Vote Steve Sarvi for Congress Nov. 4.