Question 10: Bruce Olson from Edina says he intends to vote out all incumbents locally and nationally. “They just don't seem to play well with others.” If elected, a major challenge will involve overcoing gridlock in the U.S. Capitol. Please give an example of how you were able to advance an issue by working with your opponents.
Leadership is something that is sorely lacking in Washington, and our current representative. As an officer in the Navy Reserve, as a graduate of a federal service academy, as an Eagle Scout, and as a manager for a Fortune 200 company, I've learned to work effectively with people from all backgrounds and differing points of view to lead and to accomplish our common goals. As President Obama correctly pointed out in his last State of the Union address, congress needs to adopt the same attitude as Seal Team 6 had- we all have each others' backs and we need to accomplish the mission.
There is never 100% consensus on any political issue. I have worked with a variety of opinions to come to agreement on how to improve health care. I will bring my willingness to listen, and work with everyone to the US House as we solve the problems of our economy and society.
Question 11: Where does the federal government need to scale back and where does it need to spend more? What strategies do you support for tackling the nation's debt.
Solving the national debt is a two step process. Smart cuts need to be made, restoring military levels to pre-Iraq war levels will save 200 billion annually. Revenue also needs to be raised. Corporations and the top 1% need to pay their fair share. The United States needs to go back to a truly progressive tax structure where Warren Buffett pays a higher rate than his secretary. In order for a strong long term economy, investments need to be made now in infrastructure and education.
This a great question, and a very important issue. We need to scale back the military in smart ways. We are no longer protecting the world from Soviet Russia. We need to invest in higher education. We will tackle the nation's debt by rolling back the Bush era tax cuts on the top income earners and add two additional tax brackets above the current top bracket. 100% of that increased revenue should go to paying down the deficit, which is more than $700 billion over ten years. As examples, we need to simplify the tax code to eliminate loopholes, end subsidies to big oil and ethanol, and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
Question 12: Is there a role for congress to play in bringing down the costs of college education?
Yes, I do support increasing income taxes on those earning more than $1 million per year.
Absolutely. It is vitally important for Congress to support more affordable higher education. We came out with our policy in November to advocate for making post-secondary tuition tax deductible, capping student loan interest rates at 1.5%, and expanding Pell Grants.
Of course. The Federal Government needs to expand the Pell Grant Program to cover the costs comparable to the ones covered in the 1970's. We need to expand loan forgiveness programs in targeted areas like STEM education and poverty programs. I'd have the government consider eliminating unsubsidized loans so students are not accruing interest while in school.
Question 13: What can be done to improve our public K-12 schools?
One of our founding principles is that everyone deserves access to a good education. It has been the key to the social mobility that built our country. I will work in invest in K-12 education for our children, including investing in research to discover how to narrow the education gap within the country. Worldwide, out of 34 industrial countries, the US ranks 25th in math, and 17th in science and reading. This will not create the number of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, and trained workers needed to create the economy of the future. And we need to give teachers the tools, incentives, and pay that they deserve as the developers of our future.
My Mom is a public school teacher, and I have been a substitute teacher and athletic coach in the public schools, so this is an issue I care deeply about. Jennifer and I are having our first child in August, and we'll be sending him or her to our terrific public schools. Let's start with ending No Child Left Behind. The role of the federal government in K-12 education is limited. We should fully fund special education, something congress has never done. But K-12 education is best managed as close to home as possible, on a local level.
Question 14: Many businesses complain about the lack of skilled workers in Minnesota. What can be done to address this issue?
It begins with higher education. We should also expand public private partnerships between the universities, technical schools and the businesses who need these workers.
We need to revitalize the American tradition of technical education. This initiative will teach high school students how to take entry level manufacturing jobs. It will prepare college students for careers in information technology, date management, and engineering. The focus of all future technical education needs to green energy and environmentally friendly development.
These are great questions, and I really want to thank everyone, including Sharon, for participating in this forum.
Question 15: Betsey Porter from Bloomington asks “What is your position on the marriage amendment?” And more specifically to federal law, do you support the Defense of Marriage Act, the current federal law that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman?
I have publicly stated that I will co-sponsor the repeal of DOMA. We need full marriage equality within our tax codes especially.
I oppose the marriage amendment. I oppose DOMA. I support the elimination of Don't Ask Don't Tell. I support the right of everyone in this country to marry the person they love.
Now we want to let the candidates ask each other a couple of questions. What two questions do you have for your opponent?
Hi Sharon! Here's a question. Would you like to get together and have a public debate?
1. What motivated you to run for Congress in the Third District?
Second, Sharon, do you believe, as I do, that one of the most important things we can do to beat Erik Paulsen is to come together, as a party, and work cooperatively to deliver our job creation, real economic growth, and social justice.
To answer your first question, we'd love an opportunity to debate you in person. This has been a lot fun.
2. Because of your interest in ethics, what is your opinion of the role of PACs and special interest groups in campaigns?
I am running for Congress because I see a system that is broken, that lacks leadership and ethics. Coming from a family that's dedicated to service to our country, I simply couldn't stand by and watch our current representative playing politics with our nation's future.
Brian, yes we have to come together to beat Erik Paulsen. Without a doubt, I will continue my activism in the Third District to defeat the incumbent.
Corporations are not people. Citizens United should be overturned. We need more transparency. And as we both agree, we should be working to support publicly-financed campaigns.
That was great, guys, thanks. For the remaining time, we're going to turn back to user-generated questions. Here's one from Dusten Retcher in Eden Prairie who wants to know, “What are your stances on Veteran`s issues? Can you take care of our troops without adding to the federal debt?"
As a daughter of a 20 year military veteran who served two tours in Vietnam and is a sufferer of Agent Orange exposure. I know the importance of taking care of our veterans and our troops overseas, who make the ultimate sacrifice. In Congress, I will prioritize voting to support our veterans. We will always look for ways to pay for our veterans out of annual revenue because our heroes deserve no less.
Hi Dusten. Our veterans deserve the very best this country has to offer. Unemployment amongst veterans is far higher than the national average. Suicide rates among veterans is higher than any other group. These are just unacceptable. I support the President's plan to offer tax incentives to companies that employ veterans. I support the Helmets to Hardhats program with my brothers and sisters in organized labor. I support Rep. Walz efforts with the new GI bill, which will once again make higher education affordable for veterans. All of these are wise investments in our nation's future that will pay dividends for generations to come.
Hi Rosemary. Thanks for the question. A rising tide lifts all boats. The issues of job creation, higher education, healthcare and improving our economy are equally important to every voter in the district.
Hi Brian, what will it take for the tide to rise?
As someone who has lived in Bloomington in the south, Champin in the north, and now Plymouth, I know how the lives of families differ throughout the district. I am particularly concerned about the achievement gap in our schools among the various parts of the district. I have worked with volunteers from all over the district and know that I can represent the needs of all parts of the district in Congress.
Hi Michael. Parents in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center should be able to send their kids to the same colleges and universities as kids from Edina!
Vote against efforts to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act? Yes, I will. But I will support some efforts to improve it.
I will co-sponsor Rep Jared Polis' current bill to make bullying a federal issue. I will do anything requested by the families in the Anoka-Hennepin School district to help them and their children.
John, my niece committed suicide at age 16 because of this very type of bullying. If 9 children had died from cancer, the CDC would be all over this. This is an epidemic, and it needs to be treated like one.
John, I am so deeply sorry. There are no words to convey my sympathy.
Undecided from Edina wants to know, "How can you demonstrate that you are an independent thinker, and not a rubber stamp for your party?"
I'm sorry, Brian. I can not imagine the pain felt by all of the affected families and communities.
As a scientist, I understand the importance of clear criteria for decision-making. We need to let the data answer the effectiveness of all government programs. I will not ignore inefficiencies or ineffectiveness in programs personally important to me or to the Democratic Party.
Unlike Erik Paulsen, I am not a career politician. I am a business person, and I've served over a decade in the Navy Reserve and Merchant Marine. It is these experiences that will inform my decisions in Congress. Not Nancy Pelosi or anyone else. And by the way, I support term limits.
I want to thank everyone who has participated. I want to thank Rosemary Rocco for years of political activism, and Dusten Retcher and John Wexler for their service to our country. I also want to thank Sharon for her commitment to this district by running for elected office.
This is a swing district that leans democrat. Almost 55% of the district votes for at least 1 democrat. They voted for Amy Klobuchar, Barack Obama, Mark Ritchie and Lori Swanson, and most of them voted for their DFL State House and Senate candidates. This year we fight back and we fight together. This year we send President Obama and Governor Dayton the help they need. This year we defeat the amendment of hate. And this year we will beat Erik Paulsen. Come to precinct caucuses on Tuesday! And please visit my website at barnes.mn.
Thanks to Michael Olsen and Catherine Richert for moderating the forum. I want to thank Brian for his participation as well. It was wonderful to answer questions from so many people in the district. My experience as a scientist, mother, business owner, and community activist has prepared me to represent the real concerns of people in the 3rd district in the US House. My experiences working with Minnesota's Congressional Delegation on health care reform taught me much about how Congress and the process work. I will arrive in Congress ready to repeal DOMA, to support our bullied youth, and to put people back to work. Thanks again, everyone who participated.
Thanks again everyone. Also, I'm interested in your feedback on the forum. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org