U.S. Representative, District 6

Bryce Haugen

.John Binkowski, Independence

What is your policy on immigration?

One of my opponents tends to demonize immigrants as disease-ridden and crime-prone, and I just don’t think that’s the case. I think what’s important is to enforce the laws we have on the books with regards to those who employ illegal immigrants. I don’t think that should be something that’s taken lightly and when an employer does employ illegals, they should be punished severely.

What I take issue with in the immigration debate is that we don’t talk about what’s actually driving people to come to the U.S. from Mexico. In particular, things like the Mexican government encouraging its citizens to come and to work in the U.S. and expatriate the money back to Mexico. The way that trade agreements such as NAFTA have allowed American agro-business to sell crops at artificially cheap prices on the Mexican market and put Mexican farmers out of business.

If we’re not going to talk about what’s driving immigration, then we’ve really failed, because we haven’t addressed the problem at its root. Once people are at the border, we’re just trying to put a Band-Aid on a bullet hole.

In light of Iran and North Korea, how should the United States address foreign policy?

I think that we have to use the U.N. and the problem is that with a president who has berated that organization since he took office, it has lost its credibility Ö We need to have an American president before that body that desperately needs legitimacy and helps to re-legitimize the body by his presence there and his respect of it. We live in an age of big global conflicts and there must be a big global organization that can deal with those conflicts. It is the U.N., and it needs to be re-legitimized by the U.S.

How would you address the situation in Iraq?

In my race, I’m the only one who has any plan, I’ll tell you that. And my plan is: number one, the president needs to make the world and, most importantly, the people in Iraq aware that our occupation in Iraq is not permanent, that we are not there to be occupiers for the foreseeable future, that we have the intention of getting out; and two, that we don’t plan on securing America’s energy future with Iraqi oil.

The second step to this is that Congress stands up and claims – reclaims – its status as a co-equal branch of government and tells the president, ‘Look, you will not get any more emergency appropriations for this war until you go before the United Nations and make the case for creating a real coalition to secure Iraq.’ We did a bad job of that when we first went in and it needs to happen.

Should higher education be more affordable? And, if so, how?

The money’s there, it’s where we’re spending it that is an issue for me. And to have billions and billions and billions of dollars going into no-bid and/or overcharged, mismanaged bungled contracts in the departments of Defense and Homeland Security is a big issue for me and that’s where I would find more money for higher education.

To me, those taxpayer dollars that are going to the politically connected through those contracts deserve better stewardship. And, in my opinion, better stewardship is helping the next generation of Americans educate themselves so they can compete in this global economy.

What is your stance on abortion?

I’ll support a ban on abortion after the first trimester if it comes with the caveat that this subject is no longer on the table for discussion at the federal level.

Honestly, I believe if we don’t come up with something that is a compromise that both sides can live with, this is going to be an issue that sticks with us from now until kingdom come and something that gets in the way of what the business of the federal government should be.

Personally, I’m for the right to choose. That’s my personal stance. As a congressperson, I would be willing to make a compromise so that we can move on.

What is your stance on gay marriage?

The U.S. Constitution exists as a document in which we enumerate rights of citizens, not take rights from them.

The argument in favor of banning gay marriage is that people should have the right to decide whether or not this happens in our country. I think that’s completely off-target because something our country was set up to do was protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. That should not be forgotten.

Would you change the federal tax policy and how?

I’m advocating an absolute revamping of our tax code or elimination of it, to be honest.

I’ve been campaigning for a nationwide sales tax to replace our current system of income and payroll taxes Ö It would help businesses create jobs, it would help individuals become savers again. I think when you factor in that American individuals and businesses spend about $150 billion a year just to comply with our tax code Ö it’s a big inefficiency that needs to be removed.

How, specifically, would you change health care, if at all?

I want to be very pragmatic about it because I don’t see how, at this point, the government can afford to pay for single-payer universal health care. There’s just not the money there right now and that’s the fact of the matter.

So the first thing Congress can do is to pave the way for association health plans, something where individuals or small businesses could all pool together to increase their purchasing power. Like Wal-Mart buying in huge bulk, it’s the same idea with health-care Ö premiums are lower and risk is spread over a larger pool.

Patty Wetterling, Democrat

What is your policy on immigration?

We need to secure the borders; that’s the first step. We also need to go after employers who are bringing people up here illegally – that’s the second piece that needs to happen simultaneously.

In light of Iran and North Korea, how should the United States address foreign policy?

Our policy towards North Korea has been a schizophrenic mix of telling them what they can and can’t do and ignoring what they were going after. I’d like to see North Korea back at the table.

How would you address the situation in Iraq?

A year ago, I asked this administration to create a plan to bring our troops safely home. We could have had them home by November ’06, but we have not yet begun. I’m not satisfied with the direction (of the war) and I think we need a plan to bring our troops safely home.

The second piece of that is to take care of them once they return Ö I think we really need to look at the totality of it. We’re sending our loved ones into the middle of a civil war without the proper equipment and we’re bringing them home and not taking care of them here, either.

Should higher education be more affordable? And, if so, how?

Education is the future of this nation. If we don’t educate our youth to compete on the global level, we don’t have a future.

My background is education; I taught secondary math. I’m a big supporter of public education. We’ve got to make it possible for families to send their kids beyond high school. And we’ve got some challenges with all of this.

What is your stance on abortion?

I am pro-choice. I think we need to reduce the numbers of abortions, but I am pro-choice.

What is your stance on gay marriage?

This was my opponent’s primary issue. For six years, (Bachmann) fought for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. What she didn’t do is support education or health care or public transportation. I don’t think we need a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Marriage in Minnesota is defined as between a man and a woman, and that’s what it is on a federal level. You’re not going to send me to Washington to pass laws that already exist.

Would you change the federal tax policy and how?

The middle class need tax breaks. There are parts of the Bush plan that I support – the middle class family tax credit.

I proposed a plan that eliminates 200 pages of the tax code. I also was trying to create a universal home mortgage – not just for those who itemize, but everybody.

A lot of my tax plan is consolidating a lot of what’s out there to make it fair. I do not support making the Bush tax cuts permanent because the top one percent is not paying their fair share.

How, specifically, would you change health care, if at all?

Heath care is something that is number one on a lot of Americans’ minds. I believe that health care should be a basic American right.

We’ve got to make sure that all of our seniors are covered, we can negotiate better prices for prescription drugs and I think that with that savings, we could fix that doughnut hole. Ö

We’ve got to make sure that children are covered. They’re the healthiest group and the cheapest to insure; that would be something that needs to be started right away. We’ve got to find an American model where we can provide affordable health care for all families.

Michele bachmann, republican

Bachmann declined to be interviewed.