There is concern that ours has become a government of political parties - and not a government of, by and for the people. One viewer writes, I'd like to know what each candidate is going to do to help reduce partisanship and work with the opposite party to get things done in our country.
Q: Do you believe it's possible for Democrats and Republicans to work together efficiently and effectively? And if yes, how would you work to make that happen?
A: Despite legitimate disagreements on a host of issues, there are several areas where Democrats and Republicans are working together. House Republicans and the White House worked together to pass trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, and continue to work to reduce barriers to trade with the common goal of promoting American goods and products abroad. I also have worked with Democrats as a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Rural Caucus, the Modern Agriculture Caucus, and the Congressional Rural Veterans Caucus. Representatives of both parties have found common ground in addressing issues faced by rural Americans, and I look forward to continuing these efforts.
Many Nebraskans tell us the Economy is their #1 concern. They are worried about staying employed or finding work, keeping up with the cost of living, and supporting their families. One viewer simply stated. "If we don't fix the economy, it really doesn't matter what your opinions are on anything else."
Q: How do you propose to improve the U.S. economy and increase the number of jobs for Nebraskans?
A: The economy is the number one concern for Americans because the policies of massive spending and debt combined with increased government intervention in the private sector have failed to create adequate growth and job creation. The best way to create economic growth is to get government out of the way of the private sector. We need to cut government spending to give the private sector confidence, and to enact comprehensive tax and regulatory reform and remove barriers to international trade to make America more competitive in a global market.
Agriculture is Nebraska's #1 industry. With the current proposed Farm Bill in limbo, there is much uncertainty about how it will affect the future of our farmers and ranchers.
Q: What do you believe is holding up a decision on the new Farm Bill and what do you think it will take to get it passed? What is the one thing you would definitely like to see included in or eliminated from the Farm Bill?
A: The Farm Bill is held up because of debate over funding for nutrition programs (food stamps), which has more than doubled over the last four years to $80 billion, and accounts for more than 80 percent of the cost of the bill. To get the bill through Congress, meaningful reforms are needed to bring down the cost of the nutrition title. I believe we are close to having the votes for a bill in the House which can get us to a Conference Committee where compromise appropriately takes place.
Any workable five-year Farm Bill must build on the success of the crop insurance and livestock assistance programs to provide our farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to maintain our food supply and grow our agriculture economy.
Social Security and Medicare
There has been a lot of talk about a funding crisis for Social Security and Medicare. Several of our viewers/users/followers are concerned about what it will mean for their futures. One woman asked if she could just withdraw what she has put in and take her chances in 25 years.
Q: Is maintaining these programs realistic? If yes, how? If not, what other options would you offer?
A: Maintaining Social Security and Medicare is possible, but only with reforms. Doing nothing only endorses the demise of these programs. However, it is still possible to save and strengthen these programs for future generations without affecting benefits for current retirees.
Solving this problem requires discussion and leadership from both parties, rather than continuing to ignore this predictable crisis and punting the difficult decisions. I support the House-passed budget which would give seniors a choice between traditional Medicare and private options.
Federal Healthcare Mandate
It's been called many things: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama's Healthcare Plan, and even "ObamaCare". Most agree it has been both controversial and confusing. Even the Supreme Court struggled with the plan's constitutionality.
Q: What is your solution for making certain Nebraskans have quality, affordable healthcare for themselves and their families?
A: The rising cost of health care is a major problem affecting millions of Americans. Unfortunately, the Democrats’ health care law is only making it worse. The Affordable Care Act should be repealed in full, and we should start over and pass patient-centered reforms to reduce health care costs and expand access to care through market-based policies, not government mandates.
Civil Rights/Social Issues
Equal Rights, Same Sex Marriage, and the Separation of Church and State are all civil rights issues that tend to inspire strong feelings from those on all sides of the issues.
Q: Do you believe equal rights should be equal for everyone regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation? What is your stance on legalized abortion? How important do you think social issues will be in this election?
A: I believe the Constitution applies to all Americans, and as citizens of this great nation we enjoy the right to worship freely and express our opinion without the fear or oppression of government intervention.
I am 100 percent pro-life.
Social issues are very important to many voters, and define who we are as a nation. Economic and fiscal issues also will play a very important role in this election.
One of the most divisive issues in Nebraska is immigration. There are many strong opinions varying from immediate deportation for those here illegally to amnesty for all.
Q: Where do you stand on current immigration policies? Do you favor providing healthcare and other benefits to families who are here illegally?
A: There is no doubt our immigration system is broken. Over the years the federal government has fallen short of its responsibility to secure our borders and enforce our nation's immigration laws. As a member of the Immigration Reform Caucus, I am working diligently to craft and pass legislation which ensures the safety of our homeland, restores common sense to our immigration system, and acknowledges and values the contributions of those who came to our nation legally, as my great grandparents did.
Providing benefits to illegal immigrants would encourage others to violate our immigration laws by ignoring our own rules. This practice is not only unfair to taxpayers and documented immigrants, but also undermines the rule of law.
More than 300,000 of Nebraska's residents are school-age children. They account for about 16% of the state's total population.
Q: What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing Nebraska's Education System, and how would you work to meet those challenges?
A: Children are served best when education policy is decided at the local level. Federal mandates and one-size-fits-all approaches have hamstrung our teachers, and damaged the quality of education across the country. To protect Nebraska’s schools and provide the best education possible to our children, states and local school districts need more flexibility and to retain more of their tax dollars to make the best decisions for their unique circumstances.
The controversy over where, or even if, to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is primarily centered here in Nebraska. Many believe it's the solution to ending dependence on foreign oil, while others say it's not worth the cost to the environment or their property.
Q: Do you think the pipeline should be built? Why or why not?
A: The pipeline should be built with care to protect our natural resources, land and safety. The benefits of the pipeline are numerous. In Nebraska, building the pipeline means short-term construction jobs and long-term tax receipts. The pipeline could help reduce the cost of fuel, which would encourage national economic growth and job creation while reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
Special Interest Groups
Many residents have a negative perception about the political influence of Special Interest groups and "big money". They worry many of our elected officials are out of touch with the average citizen. According to the latest census, the median household income in Nebraska is about $49,000 per year, which is lower than the national average.
Q: How would you assure Nebraska's low and middle income families that you have their best interests at heart?
A: We are at a pivotal moment in our history and we need strong conservative leadership to represent Nebraskans in Washington and to make the difficult decisions necessary to get America back on track. I support policies to help all Americans and Nebraskans. I have worked hard to be accessible, responsive, and transparent. I am grateful for the trust the voters of the Third District have placed in me, and I hope to continue to serve and represent you in Congress.