Cheney addresses business issues in Lake Elmo, Minn.

Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned in Minnesota on Wednesday, where he addressed an array of topics.

by Jared Roddy

Vice President Dick Cheney stopped Wednesday morning in Lake Elmo, Minn., for coffee and an hour-long conversation with local small-business owners.

The event was held at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Lake Elmo. Though he addressed an array of topics – from the war on terror to health care – the discussion was geared toward problems small businesses face.

While sitting together at the round table, business owners asked the vice president questions about issues that affect their businesses.

The rising cost of health care was a common concern among the group.

“We’re looking for things we can do to help owners pay benefits,” Cheney said. “Association health plans, where several small businesses pool resources to get corporation-style benefits, is something we’re looking at.”

Cheney also spoke about putting a cap on monetary awards from malpractice suits and streamlining the records-keeping process.

Mike Mulrooney, owner of the Blarney Irish Pub in Dinkytown, said he was 100 percent behind the health-care proposal. He also said he agreed with the way the Bush administration has dealt with the economy.

“I think the tax cuts were the proper way of going about spurring the economy,” Mulrooney said. “I think the economy will continue to grow if we keep them in place.”

Sam Wild, owner of Mangia Restaurant and the Manhattan Loft, disagreed. If given the opportunity, he said, he would ask the vice president when the economy was going to turn around.

However, Wild said he was in favor of Cheney’s suggestions for lowering health-care costs.

“If it’s really going to benefit the public, let’s do it,” he said. Wild had other things to say about the Bush administration.

War in Iraq

Wild, who is an Egyptian citizen, also said the administration should have handled the situation in Iraq more collectively with the United Nations.

“I think after the war in Iraq, we’re going to get more terrorists,” Wild said. “More people are going to hate us more.”

Cheney began and ended with war-related topics.

Since invading Iraq and Afghanistan, great advancements toward democracy have been made, he said, and staying the course is important.

“We mustn’t fall into the trap of being out of Iraq by a certain date,” Cheney said. “(The terrorists) will just wait us out.”

As a final question, Lt. Col. Joe Repya, vice chairman of Veterans for Bush, asked for confirmation on whether a military draft could resurface in the future.

Cheney said rumors of a draft were “hogwash.”