Decision 2012 questionnaire: Richard Mourdock
WTHR.com asked the candidates for U.S. Senate to answer the following questions. Republican Richard Mourdock answers are as follows:
What do you believe is the number one issue facing Hoosiers today, and how will you work to address that in Washington?
The $16 trillion federal debt, which has grown dramatically in recent years, threatens not only our economy, but the future of our country and our way of life. For many decades, during periods when both Republicans and Democrats controlled Washington, our federal government has overspent, overtaxed and made financial commitments to current and future generations of Americans in the form of entitlements that it cannot honor. This legacy of bloated, intrusive government is already hurting our economy, which means it is hurting Hoosiers and Americans in the form of lost jobs, higher prices, lost access to capital for small businesses and a weakened US dollar.
A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, a moratorium on new borrowing, tax simplification, less regulation and strong growth policies, coupled with entitlement reform, are all critical now if we are to address this crisis. And, to make sure Congress has the courage to address these difficult challenges, we need term limits and budget process reforms that will make it easier to say "no" to the big spenders and "yes" to fiscal restraint.
After last week's Supreme Court decision to uphold much of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, would you work to support or repeal the act, and why? What policies would you work towards to ensure that all Hoosiers have access to affordable care?
I strongly oppose the President's health care program and would vote to repeal it and replace it with market-based reforms that make all health care expenses tax deductible, allow insurance companies to compete across state lines, reduce the cost and risk of excessive malpractice law suits and stimulate small group pools and association health care plans. And, as we drive toward new, better health care reforms, we must make certain that doctors and patients make health care decisions, not the federal government. Health care reform—and more specifically, the need to reduce the cost of health care – is also a fundamental step toward making Medicare and Medicaid more affordable and sustainable, a solution which is critical to our overall fiscal solvency.
Border control and immigration
How do you believe the U.S. should secure its borders? Should undocumented workers be allowed a "path to citizenship?" Do you agree with President Obama's decision to defer deporting children who are undocumented? In light of the Supreme Court striking down parts of Arizona's law, what policies would you pursue, if any, to combat illegal immigration, and how would you fund those efforts?
My approach to immigration policy is based on the simple principle that we should control our borders. Consistent with that fundamental goal, we should not reward past, illegal immigration with citizenship and we should have a sound, workable and practical immigration system that will give legal, legitimate immigrants a timely and reasonable way to visit the United States or pursue legal citizenship.
Education and skills
What are your plans to help students cover the cost of higher education? How will you promote other options to students and families such as technical and vocational programs? What about unemployed workers who lack the necessary skills to find jobs?
As Indiana's State Treasurer, I helped reform and improve our 529 college savings plan, which resulted in a tremendous period of growth and more Hoosiers saving for college. From 2006 to 2012, we increased the number of 529 accounts in Indiana from just over 62,000 to over 209,000, and the assets in savings account from about $500 million to well over $1.8 billion!
As a United States Senator, I will advocate similar policies that encourage savings and help families access higher education. In addition, I will support efforts to encourage lifelong learning and adult programs that give everyone an opportunity to improve their way of life through education and training. A strong community college system, student loan programs and incentives for employers to offer training and continuing education are all necessary components to a comprehensive plan.
As a nation, we are still falling short of our potential to compete in a global economy and to fully empower our citizens to enjoy a better standard of living. And, while a longer term solution starts with pre-school and K-12 education reforms, it also requires that we continue to make higher education more affordable and more accessible.
What types of energy do you think our nation should invest in for the future, and how could we use this as an opportunity for job creation?
As a geologist and someone who spent 30 years in the Hoosier energy industry, I'm very familiar with this topic and anxious to be an advocate. New technology has given our nation a tremendous, untapped opportunity to strengthen our economy, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is truly regrettable that our nation's elected leaders have failed to grasp this historic opportunity and fully capture the many benefits that will result from a more aggressive domestic energy policy. For example, I strongly support the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, additional exploration at home for oil, gas and incentives to stimulate new technologies that will unlock tomorrow's energy supply. The cost of our energy is a fundamental building block of our economy and reflected in the cost of every product we buy, every home or business we heat, every product we manufacture and in every vehicle we drive. Every aspect of our lives, from the balance in our check books to our national security is affected by our energy policies.
What should the priorities be in U.S. foreign policy?
Brief surveys don't lend themselves well to the complexities of discussing foreign policy. However, my approach will be guided by the need to protect our economic and national security interests at home and abroad, to strengthen our ties and cooperation with key allies like Israel, to continue an aggressive war on terror and to open markets for U.S. exports and trade. We must project a strong, firm presence on behalf of our values and interests abroad while resisting the temptation to manage the affairs of other nations. I am very concerned about the President's seeming willingness to apologize for America's role in the world and believe our nation can be proud of the role it has played in protecting itself and helping defend democracy around the globe.
Do you think we should invest more or less money on our national defense? What should the priorities be?
While we must always maintain a strong, modern defense posture which allows us to protect our interests at home and abroad, I believe it is time to scrutinize our defense budget and find ways to streamline and economize. The post 9-11 build up and military action in two theaters, along with an intense global war against terrorism has strained our budget. We must attempt now to reflect on lessons learned and take advantage of reduced demands in Iraq and Afghanistan and find ways to return to a more sustainable defense commitment. This requires a lean, efficient and effective structure reflective of today's technology and our elite forces. The United States maintains a singular role in the world as a defender of freedom and critical ally to NATO and other allies, and we can never allow our capability to lag behind that obligation and role.
How would you work to reach bipartisan accord on taxes? What kind of tax incentives would most benefit individuals and businesses?
Our Byzantine federal tax code is a disgrace and a terrible drag on our economy. It requires billions of dollars every year in compliance costs and invites fraud and abuse. It is the product of thousands of special interest breaks and a patchwork quilt of inconsistent policy. I strongly support efforts to flatten and simplify our tax code, and would work with leaders across the partisan and ideological aisle to forge a solution that would make the code simpler, fairer and generate economic growth and job creation. In addition, we need to explore ways to shift some burden to consumption taxes and away from income and estate taxes. Finally, I will support a full repeal of the estate tax and support the current or lower taxes on capital gains and a reduction in the corporate income tax, which is one of the highest in the world and pushes jobs overseas.
How do you think our nation should tackle its national debt problem while continuing to provide essential services?
As I said in my response to the very first question above, this threat trumps all other issues. We must act immediately to enact a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, enact budget process reforms and place a moratorium on new debt and begin work on entitlement reform. In addition, we must generate economic growth, which will take pressure off the debt and fiscal situation. This will require tax simplification, the elimination of overzealous regulation, legal reform and incentives to reward savings and investment.
Social Security and Medicare
What is your policy on Social Security and Medicare?
First, my goal is to save both programs from insolvency by supporting long term reform efforts to protect current benefits for people 55 years and older, and then find savings and innovations necessary to make these programs available for future generations. To backstop these reforms, we must ignite economic growth and increase our national savings rate, replace the Obama health care debacle with more effective market-oriented policies that actually reduce the cost of health care and health insurance, and simplify our tax code—all of which will strengthen the financial condition of our citizens as they enter retirement age.
How should Congress work to provide incentives to keep American jobs from going overseas? In what ways would you promote and advertise what Indiana has to offer to leaders of other states.
Stagnant economic growth is the crux of not only our jobs deficit, but our federal budget deficit as well. We simply have to find a way to get our economy growing again. To do so, I will fight for efforts to simplify our federal tax code, incentive savings and investment, fight efforts to raise taxes and reduce burdensome and overzealous regulations that kill jobs. In addition, I'll vote to repeal and replace the Obama health care legislation and replace it with job-friendly, market-oriented reform. I'll back legal and medical malpractice liability reform, look at ways to revisit the role of the Federal Reserve and advocate new ways to increase exports. Finally, fiscal policies set the tone for our economy, and so I'll fight for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the constitution and strongly oppose further borrowing by the federal government.
What is the biggest environmental problem facing the world today, and how would you work to protect the country's economy from the impact of environmental crises? What policies would you pursue in order to safeguard Indiana's air, water and land?
As a geologist, I'm very comfortable dealing with environmental issues, and I will always support safeguards based on sound science designed to protect our people and our natural resources.
The greatest environmental issue facing the peoples of the world remains the contamination of water supplies. This is not a problem that can be solved on a global basis, but rather by doing more locally to provide safe drinking water through well protection, infrastructure development and waste water treatment. Through my local church, I've personally been involved through a ministry "Aqua Para Todos" or "water for all," which has been instrumental in developing "low tech" water well drilling methods in countries Bolivia, Ethiopia and Uganda.