Erik Paulsen, Republican candidate for U.S. Representative, District 3

In light of the current economic crisis, what needs to happen to ensure American economic stability in the future? Congress needs to get our economy back on track, and that means a combination of things. One, I think it means making sure we have economic growth and weâÄôre able to increase and grow jobs here in the state, and that means making sure we donâÄôt impose any tax increases. Secondly, I think itâÄôs important for Congress to balance its federal budget, learn to live within its means, tighten its belt. Can the United States 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? It is critical to have a comprehensive and balanced approach to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, and that includes domestic sourcing of American energy for American jobs, but also looking to the innovations of the future in wind and solar and geothermal and nuclear energy to make sure that we are increasing our supply, because the demand is not going to go away. ItâÄôs something that âĦ Congress should embark on immediately to jumpstart this. With tuition costs rising, what, if anything, would you do to make college more affordable? One thing that I support is full tax deductibility of loans that students have to take. ItâÄôs critical that the state increase support for Pell Grants, provide financial aid for students on the tuition side. I donâÄôt think the federal government should be mandating tuition levels for the University of Minnesota, because that could have negative consequences for institutions like the University of Minnesota. What is your stance on gay marriage? In 1997, I voted with the Democrat majority in the House and the Senate to make sure that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that was a bipartisan vote and passed bipartisan. What is your stance on abortion? Pro-life. What, if anything, would you change about the health care system? IâÄôd change a lot of things. I think we need to increase opportunities for small businesses to pool together to offer health insurance to their employees. I think we need to have more competition in the market so people can buy health insurance across state lines like you buy your auto insurance. I think we need to reimburse providers and physicians and others based on outcomes and quality instead of on the number of procedures that they provide. I also think we have to employ health information technology so that weâÄôre using e-prescribing and electronic medical records to save costs. How should the United States address the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I think the whole venture in Iraq has been badly mishandled. As practical security conditions continue to allow the phase down, I think the Iraqi government themselves has put a time period on when theyâÄôd like the United States to be out. I think as long as we continue to listen to the experts on the ground that know what the right decisions are, we should continue the phase down of the troops and be out. What is the most important issue our country must deal with today, and how do you plan to address it? The most important issue is the lack of forward-thinking leadership in Congress on addressing critical issues facing the nation. First and foremost is jumpstarting this economy âĦ That means not increasing taxes, making sure weâÄôre providing jobs âĦ In combination with that, of course, is making sure weâÄôre balancing our federal budget.