Rep. Betty McCollum

by Brian Arola

As tuition costs rise, what, if anything, would you do to make college more affordable?  

 A post-secondary education is essential for young adults to be economically competitive in this global economy.  At the same time, the burden of student loan debt is crippling for too many recent graduates. We need a national commitment to post-secondary education.  Federal and state governments need to strengthen their financial contributions to keep college affordable, rather than cut taxes for the rich along with aid to higher education.

Institutions of higher education need to keep focused on spending on education, rather than multimillion dollar sports programs and facilities. They also need to make the cost of college transparent so a student — customer — knows what they are going to be paying for. Finally, students also have a major role in shopping around for college opportunities based on cost and career opportunities as a result of the investment.

 

What is your stance on “Obamacare”?

It is my belief that access to quality health care in America should be a right. I voted for the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — and I strongly support its full implementation because this is a law that gets us closer to that goal.

Unfortunately, Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and its patient protections for people with pre-existing conditions, kick young adults off their parents’ insurance and put the insurance companies back in charge of health care. That is the wrong direction.

 

What direction should America go regarding Afghanistan?

It is time to end the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. I support President Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops by 2014, but I would not be opposed to a more rapid timeline.

 

What role do you think the U.S. should play in foreign affairs, particularly Iran and Israel?

The U.S. has a vital role to play in world affairs as a force for peace, security and stability —both political and economic. Nowhere is U.S. leadership more important than working with our allies in Europe and Israel to deter Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. 

Tough economic sanctions against Iran are working and I strongly favor a multi-lateral diplomatic approach to pressuring the Iranian regime to meet its international treaty obligations.  But I strongly oppose any pre-emptive military attack against Iran by either Israel or the U.S.   

Israel is a strong U.S. ally and the beneficiary of over $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer support.  I strongly support Israel’s right to peace and security which can best be achieved through an agreement with the Palestinians to establish an independent Palestinian state. 

The U.S. stands with the people of Israel and Palestine in the hopes that a two-state solution can be achieved that will lead to a lasting and just peace for both peoples.

 

In November, Minnesotans will vote whether to constitutionally define marriage as solely between one man and one woman. What is your stance on gay marriage?

Marriage should be legal for any loving, committed couple — straight or gay. I am strongly opposed to the marriage amendment on the ballot in Minnesota this November and urge Minnesotans to reject this attempt to write hate into our state constitution.

 

Students have cited the economy as one of their main concerns. What would you do to ensure a stable American economy as they search for jobs after school?

We need to create an economic environment in which the government is willing to invest in the American people and get this economy moving.

For example, Congress should pass President Obama’s jobs proposal — the American Jobs Act — which economists say will put 1.9 million Americans back to work without increasing the deficit.  The Republican House majority has refused to vote on this jobs package for the past year. 

I support investing in rebuilding America’s infrastructure, school building modernization and extending temporary aid to states to keep hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers, fire fighters and social workers out of the unemployment line and working in our communities.

 

Can the U.S. achieve energy independence? If so, what steps do we need to take for that to happen and how long do you think it will take?

If energy independence means zero imports of energy from outside our borders, then the answer is no.  I don’t believe it is economically or strategically in our interests to completely cede Middle Eastern oil to China or other global powers.

But clearly the U.S. must reduce its dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels in general by greater domestic production of energy that is clean and abundant — wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric power and bio-fuels.

 

What is the most important issue our country must deal with today and how do you plan to address it?

Restoring economic strength is the most important issue, but Washington will only succeed if Congress can find the courage to act on reducing its own deficit spending and long-term debt problem.  The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy need to expire at the end of the year. Special interest tax breaks need to be ended. Pentagon spending needs to be pared back. Social Security and Medicare need to be protected and strengthened.  Everything needs to be on the table so a balanced approach to deficit reduction can be achieved.