What do you believe is the number one issue facing Hoosiers today, and how will you work to address that in Washington?
We must find a way to get our national economy moving again so that businesses can start putting Hoosiers back to work. In order to do so, we can trust the American people and the private sector to lead the way, or we can rely on the federal government to attempt to create jobs.
Our economy is stalling because of uncertainty around future spending, future debt levels, future interest rates, future tax rates, and so on. Trusting government to spend our way out of recession only compounds those problems. Instead, we must identify barriers to private sector growth—barriers like inefficient regulations, the highest corporate tax rate in the world, lack of access to capital—and minimize those obstacles. By creating those conditions, and not trying to spend our way to prosperity, we give the private sector the tools they need to grow new jobs.
After the 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?
There are some serious problems that need to be addressed with our current health care system, namely rapidly increasing costs and lack of access to care. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ,which most Hoosiers know as Obamacare, has failed--and will continue to fail--to lower costs. That's why I support repealing the law. But we must do more than just repeal; we must also work to replace it with real solutions to those problems.
In crafting the law, Washington completely ignored the two most important considerations of health care reform: Protecting the doctor-patient relationship and our free market economy. Both of those considerations come down to the idea of choice. By giving consumers more options, we can provide more and better service at a lower cost. That's why I support allowing health insurance to be purchased across state lines, reforms to Medicare that give seniors more coverage options by moving away from a fee-for-service model, an expansion of health savings accounts, and medical liability reform that ends the practice of so-called "defensive medicine".
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?
Immigration is attractive to foreign nationals because America is a wonderful place to live. Immigration should be attractive to Americans so long as immigrants come to our country to contribute to our economy and society. I strongly support legal immigration. With respect to illegal immigration, we must continue to invest in securing our borders -- but not lose sight of the fact that the biggest problem we face is caused by those who openly enter our country for a limited period of time -- with the express permission of our government -- and then refuse to leave when their entry visa has expired. I would consider proposals which require those who have entered the US illegally to apply for their visas from their home countries and not from within the US; meanwhile, I will work to track legal visa holders more closely during their time in the US. Moreover, Congress should work to find a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation. Finally, Congress should deliberate very carefully before implementing a guest worker program, which should be as flexible and market-based as possible. Sustainable funding for the foregoing efforts, like other essential functions of government, require reform of tax and regulatory policies to increase economic growth, and bold fiscal reforms like those proposed in the 2013 House-passed Budget.
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?
Policymakers should return the focus of the Higher Education Act to its first priority by concentrating taxpayer subsidies and grants on those who cannot afford higher education. Meanwhile, we should reduce subsidies to upper-income families by allowing the IRS and Department of Education to share information and combat aid fraud, which drives up the cost of tuition and deprives the Pell grant program of funds. Finally, we should expand allowable contributions to Education Savings Accounts.
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?
I support public investment in basic science research which can help advance our nation's energy future. I also support allowing private investors, innovators, and entrepreneurs to invest in diverse energy technologies, and believe government should remove obstacles to such private investment. Our nation will continue to significantly rely on carbon-based energy sources for decades to come, and international diversification of sources of supply and investment will allow for a reduction of economic costs of finding and extracting oil. Policymakers should also support environmentally responsible development of domestic oil and gas resources, both on land and off our shores. Meanwhile, the best foreign policy strategy for energy security is to rely on a combination of the flexibility of markets and over-the-horizon military forces, which should be used only under certain, very narrowly specified conditions.
What should the priorities be in U.S. foreign policy?
As one who has served in the United States Navy, graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served as an intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps, I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about issues of national security. I believe we must keep our military strong, agile and capable of responding to a wide variety of threats to national security.
But first, we must recognize that all of the federal government's responsibilities, including defending our freedom, will face an uncertain future absent a return to fiscal responsibility. In short, if America ceases to be the wealthiest country in the world, we will also cease to be the strongest country in the world.
Beyond our economic situation, we must make the necessary investments in our military to keep it strong. We cannot cut corners in protecting our citizens from nations or people who would do Americans harm. We must dedicate whatever resources it takes to keep our people safe and to protect our way of life.
As a final point of emphasis, we should remember that our military is ill-suited to address many of our international challenges. Thus, Congress must make it a priority to transform all of the instruments of national power to better address our 21st century challenges.
Do you think we should invest more or less money on our national defense? What should the priorities be?
Before we can say how much is appropriate to spend on national defense, I think we must first more clearly define threats and military strategy. Those are the factors that should drive budgeting decisions, not some arbitrary dollar figure. There are savings to be found at the Pentagon, to be sure, and I hope we can run our military more efficiently. But we cannot keep asking our men and women in uniform to do more and more while giving them less and less. Defining exactly what they need to be doing, what training they need to carry out those missions, what systems and equipments necessary, and so on, should be our top priority in this area.
How would you work to reach bipartisan accord on taxes? What kind of tax incentives would most benefit individuals and businesses?
Regardless of one's political affiliation, most Americans can agree that tax certainty and simplicity are important. Rather than larding up our tax code with additional provisions which benefit only narrow interests, we should focus on simplifying the code and eliminating tax preferences so that everyone -- not just those with clever accountants and tax attorneys -- gets a fair shake. I am consulting with Hoosier businesses and individuals to determine what they believe are the most important provisions to retain in our tax code as I work with my colleagues to broaden the tax base and lower tax rates--an idea that has basis in bipartisan proposals from President Obama to House Republicans to Senate Democrats.
How do you think our nation should tackle its national debt problem while continuing to provide essential services?
Our ultimate goal should be to run the federal government like every Hoosier family runs their household budget: Spend less than you take in. But we didn't get into our current fiscal mess overnight, and we don't have to get out of it overnight. Our creditors and the bond markets aren't looking for us to be in complete balance tomorrow, but they do need to see a responsible and credible plan that puts us on a path to balance. The sooner we act, the easier this will be. That's exactly what we've done in the two budgets I've helped craft as a member of the House Budget Committee.
It's also important to note that so-called mandatory spending—this is, programs we don't vote on every year like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on our debt—make up nearly 65-70% of our federal spending annually. Within 10 years, that will be at 75-80% or greater. That leaves an ever-shrinking piece of the pie for things like roads, infrastructure, public safety, and so on—programs that we think of most as being governmental responsibilities. If we don't act soon, the growth of those programs will put us in the same situation we see in Europe today.
Social Security and Medicare
What is your policy on Social Security and Medicare?
Social Security and Medicare are important programs that help many seniors in retirement, and we should work to preserve them for future generations. Unfortunately, the people in charge of running these programs tell us that both are unsustainable paths and headed towards insolvency.
In order to protect these programs and ensure they will be around, some changes will likely need to be made. But we should also protect those currently enrolled, or near retirement age, so that they don't have to dramatically alter their retirement plans. That's why I have only supported plans that exempt those aged 55 and older from any changes. For those under the age of 55, modest changes—such as those that would allow seniors more choice in health care coverage—can help ensure these programs are around for years to come.
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?
The two concerns I hear most often from businesses in southern Indiana are regulations and taxes. The federal register and federal tax code are both mind-numbingly complex, and require countless hours and dollars to be invested in compliance efforts. In addition, our corporate tax rate is now the highest in the world. Reform that would remove narrowly-tailored deductions and credits would allow us to lower the corporate rate to be more globally competitive. This is an idea that President Obama has suggested in past addresses to Congress, and one that I agree with.
As far as promoting Indiana, we have some strong selling points in two industries in particular: biosciences, and defense. As a member of the Medical Device Caucus, I've helped organize hearings that highlight our world-renowned companies like the Cook Group in Bloomington that help our state lead the way in this field. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I've tried to highlight the work being done at places like Crane and Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center and Indiana University to make the argument that the nation's defense work can be done more cheaply and efficiently right here. Indiana has a real value proposition to make to the nation when it comes to defense jobs, and I hope to continue working with state leaders to define exactly what that is.
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?
We need to ensure that our federal regulations which are designed to ensure clean air and water, and to protect our people from toxins and pollutants, are intelligently crafted and do not unduly inhibit economic growth. Until policymakers have confidence that the benefit of each federal regulation outweighs the costs in terms of job creation and other considerations, then they will question the reasonableness of the regulation and be less inclined to support smart and necessary regulations which help maintain a healthy environment. This is why I support the REINS Act, which would require regulations with a significant impact on the economy to come to Congress for an up or down vote. Such a mechanism simultaneously make Congress accountable for the regulations that provide us with clean air and water, and would ensure that executive agencies are not going beyond legislative intent when crafting rules and regulations.