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Candidate positions for Minnesota - U.S. Senate (2012)

Read the full responses from candidates below. “Answer option” is the choice given in the quiz, and “Candidate’s position” shows the candidate’s response to MPR News.

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Issue Question Position
Jobs and economy What should the federal government do to stimulate job creation and economic development? ANSWER OPTION
We should reduce federal spending, reduce the debt, and reduce and streamline regulations, eliminate Obamacare, pass a real budget, and pass comprehensive tax reform.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"Government is much better at inhibiting job creation and economic development than stimulating it. After trillions of dollars of deficit spending, the economy is stagnant," Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry. (More Info)
Federal deficit Where are three specific areas where federal spending should be cut? Are there any specific areas where federal spending should be increased? ANSWER OPTION
A good first step would be eliminating the wasteful duplication of government programs, many of which don't work. There are 209 programs to improve science and math performance of students, 47 job-training programs run by 9 agencies, and 20 agencies running 56 financial literacy programs.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"How can a government that can't pass a budget in 3 years and runs trillion-dollar deficits teach anybody about financial literacy?" Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry. (More Info)
Bush-era tax cuts Do you support extending the Bush-era tax cuts? If so, all of them? ANSWER OPTION
The Bush tax cuts were terrible policy. Temporary tax cuts do little for economic growth, and have stimulated more political fights in Washington than economic growth. I believe we need permanent tax reform with simple, low rates that don't pick winners and losers in the economy.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry. (More Info)
Issue Question Position
Farm Bill Did you support the farm bill passed by the Senate and awaiting action in the House? If so, why? ANSWER OPTION
No. The Senate bill is too expensive. I think it is wrong to provide subsidies to millionaires and multi-billion dollar companies. I support modest crop insurance and loan support programs for small and medium-sized farmers.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"The 2008 farm bill cost $284 billion. The current Senate bill would cost $500 billion. Almost doubling. Every dollar dollar is borrowed," Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Social Security What should be done with the Social Security program? ANSWER OPTION
We need to gradually increase the retirement age and means test Social Security to ensure long-term solvency.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"Anybody who has been in the Senate for 6 years and not offered a plan to save Social Security should be fired. When the program was started the retirement age was 65 and the average lifespan was 61. Today life expectancy is 78. There are fewer workers today supporting more retirees," Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Medicare What changes, if any, would you support in Medicare? ANSWER OPTION
First, repeal the president's health care reform law and restore the $716 billion stolen from Medicare to fund it. Then we need to reform the system to ensure seniors are afforded a system like the one enjoyed by members of Congress.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Issue Question Position
Health Care What types of changes should be made in the health care system? ANSWER OPTION
First, we need to repeal the president's health care reform law. Then we need to introduce much more competition into the health care system, while reducing the administrative burden imposed by ineffective regulation. We can reduce costs through malpractice reform, and states should follow Minnesota's lead and institute high-risk pools for people who can't get insurance. We should allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Education What changes would you make to federal education policy? ANSWER OPTION
Unfunded federal mandates are interfering with parents and teachers making the best decisions for our students. I think we need to institute priority-based budgeting at the federal level and eliminate No Child Left Behind.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"As a high school teacher for 18 years I have seen how federal programs have harmed our students and schools," Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Energy policy What changes would you make to federal energy policy? ANSWER OPTION
We need to take energy leadership away from the perennially troubled Middle East. Canada, Mexico, and the United States can provide all the energy we need if we choose to exploit it, and we should. We need to approve the Key Stone Excel pipeline, approve more drilling, and exploit our vast natural gas resources.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"North America is the most energy-rich continent in the world," Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Issue Question Position
Environment Should the federal government's environmental protection efforts be changed? If so, how? ANSWER OPTION
I support a one project/one review process for economic development. Canada has just made this policy change, and it has vastly improved their permitting process for economic development. Our current policies mire projects in endless permitting delays which harm job creation. Protecting our environment should not mean sacrificing middle-class jobs.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Abortion Where do you stand on legalized abortion? ANSWER OPTION
I am pro-life and will work to end taxpayer funding for abortion.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Marriage Should same-sex marriage be legal? ANSWER OPTION
No.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"I voted to put the Marriage Amendment on the ballot. I believe that the citizens should have the right to have their voice heard on this issue instead of having the issue decided by activist judges," Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Issue Question Position
Immigration What are your views concerning immigration? ANSWER OPTION
I support legal immigration. Illegal immigration should not be tolerated. We need to uphold the sanctity of the law.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
"Immigrants built this country, are the most entrepreneurial population demographic, and have been a vital source of new ideas and economic growth," Bills said in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Silica sand mining Do you support silica sand mining? ANSWER OPTION
Yes.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Copper-nickel mining Do you support copper-nickel mining? ANSWER OPTION
Yes. Thousands of jobs are at stake.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Issue Question Position
Acheivement gap What would you do to address the income, education and employment gaps for minorities in Minnesota? ANSWER OPTION
The largest single impediment is the achievement gap. The best way to address that problem is through increased competition and choice in education. I also believe that our current policies are creating inflation that will harm the purchasing power of lower-income workers.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
American Crystal lockout What would you do to end the contract stalemate at American Crystal Sugar? ANSWER OPTION
It is not the role of government to settle labor disputes between private companies and labor unions.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Bills said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Issue Question Position
Jobs and economy What should the federal government do to stimulate job creation and economic development? ANSWER OPTION
I support promoting long-term economic growth and private sector jobs, including revitalizing America's innovative edge, educating the next generation of American innovators, opening up new markets abroad for U.S. producers, cutting through regulatory red tape, developing homegrown energy, and reducing our nation's debt in a balanced way. I will work with Minnesota businesses, workers, and farmers to ensure they have the support they need to succeed.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "We need an economy that is built to last and one that creates economic opportunity for all Americans. I have been working to advance a competitive agenda for America that promotes long-term economic growth and private sector jobs, including revitalizing America's innovative edge, educating the next generation of American innovators, opening up new markets abroad for U.S. producers, cutting through regulatory red tape, developing homegrown energy, and reducing our nation's debt in a balanced way. I will continue to work with Minnesota businesses, workers, and farmers to ensure they have the support they need to succeed."
Federal deficit Where are three specific areas where federal spending should be cut? Are there any specific areas where federal spending should be increased? ANSWER OPTION
I support allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs to save more than $240 billion, eliminating subsidies and closing loopholes (like the subsidies for oil companies) and reducing government waste through smart reforms like eliminating bonuses for poor-performing government contractors. After a debt-reduction plan is in place, I would focus on value-added additional spending on infrastructure, energy, education, and export assistance for small businesses.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "We need to reduce our debt in a balanced way, and that must include spending cuts. Examples of smart spending cuts include: 1) Allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs to save our taxpayers over $240 billion and benefit our seniors. 2) Eliminating subsidies and closing loopholes, like the subsidies for oil companies. 3) Reducing government waste through smart reforms like eliminating bonuses for poor-performing government contractors. As we work on a long-term plan to reduce our debt, we also need to look returning to the Clinton tax levels for those making over $250,000. After we have a balanced debt-reduction plan in place, I would focus on value-added additional spending on infrastructure, energy, education, and export assistance for small businesses."
Bush-era tax cuts Do you support extending the Bush-era tax cuts? If so, all of them? ANSWER OPTION
Yes. I support extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. But in order to reduce our debt, I believe we should return to the Clinton tax levels for those making more than $250,000, which would save about $700 billion over 10 years.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Issue Question Position
Farm Bill Did you support the farm bill passed by the Senate and awaiting action in the House? If so, why? ANSWER OPTION
Yes. The bill strengthens the safety net for our farmers, and makes $23 billion in cuts over the last farm bill. It includes things like the school-lunch program as well as important conservation programs.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I supported the farm bill and was a leader in getting the bipartisan, five-year bill through the Senate. Minnesota is fifth in the country for agriculture, and the farm bill is incredibly important to our state's economy. The 2012 farm bill strengthens the safety net for our farmers, and makes $23 billion in cuts over the last farm bill. But the bill is not just about farms; it includes things like the school-lunch program as well as important conservation programs supported by 630 conservation groups nationwide."
Social Security What should be done with the Social Security program? ANSWER OPTION
I oppose the privatization of Social Security. I believe we must ensure this program remains solvent for generations to come by considering reasonable steps, such as raising the cap on taxable income.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "Social Security is our nation's most successful domestic program, providing an essential safety net for our seniors and ensuring a decent retirement for Americans who have worked hard their entire lives. I have consistently fought against risky schemes to privatize Social Security. I believe we must ensure this program remains solvent for generations to come by considering reasonable steps, such as raising the cap on taxable income. Currently, all income above $106,800 is exempt from the Social Security Payroll tax and gradually raising this threshold, and other reasonable reforms could help ensure the solvency of Social Security, but not impact current beneficiaries."
Medicare What changes, if any, would you support in Medicare? ANSWER OPTION
To rein in costs and strengthen Medicare, we need to have Medicare rewarding high-quality, cost-effective results like those we have achieved in Minnesota. We are getting a start with that with the Affordable Care Act, but we need to do more. We also need to allow Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices on behalf of seniors -- that would save $240 billion over the next 10 years.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "Despite periodic efforts at reform, Medicare has not rewarded the type of high-quality health care delivery systems like we have in Minnesota that provide Medicare beneficiaries with better value. States that have historically delivered low-quality, inefficient care are paid for their wasteful practices, while efficient states such as Minnesota are punished. To rein in costs and strengthen Medicare, we need to have Medicare rewarding high-quality, cost-effective results like those we have achieved in Minnesota. We are getting a start with that with the Affordable Care Act, but we need to do more. We also need to allow Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices on behalf of seniors. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, as the Veterans Administration does, would save $240 billion over the next 10 years and help lower the cost of drugs for our nation's seniors."
Issue Question Position
Health Care What types of changes should be made in the health care system? ANSWER OPTION
I support the president's health care reform law, but believe more improvements must be made. Moving forward, we can continue to work on eliminating waste and fraud, as well as focus on more reforms to our health care delivery system so that we are rewarding high-quality, efficient care. We also need to repeal the burdensome medical device tax.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "I supported the Affordable Care Act that includes important reforms to our health care system, such as closing the "donut hole" for seniors' prescription drugs, allowing young people to remain on their parents' plans until age 26, and ensuring that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to health insurance. But I have always said that this law is a beginning, not an end, and I believe that improvements still need to be made. Moving forward, we can continue to work on eliminating waste and fraud, as well as focus on more reforms to our health care delivery system so that we are rewarding high-quality, efficient care. We also need to repeal the burdensome medical device tax.I opposed this tax from the beginning and during the health reform debate fought to reduce the original proposed tax by half. I understand the impact this new tax would have on small and large medical device companies in Minnesota and that's why I'm working to repeal it."
Education What changes would you make to federal education policy? ANSWER OPTION
We must prepare students for the jobs that will be available to them. To address this, we need to first strengthen our commitment to two-year community and technical colleges and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs to ensure that our students have the education and skills they need. Second, I will work to ensure education remains affordable for all students and families. Third, we need reform No Child Left Behind, including putting in place better accountability systems, more flexibility and targeted efforts to close the achievement gaps.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "By 2018, 70 percent of all jobs in Minnesota will require at least some post-secondary education and we must do a better job of preparing students for the jobs that will be available to them when they graduate--positions that may not require a Ph.D. or even a four-year degree, but demand specialized training and experience. To address this, we need to first strengthen our commitment to two-year community and technical colleges and STEM programs to ensure that our students have the education and skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century workforce. Second, I will continue to work to ensure education remains affordable for all students and families in Minnesota and across the country. America's future economic prosperity depends on it. Third, we need to keep working to make significant changes to No Child Left Behind, including putting in place better accountability systems, more flexibility and targeted efforts to close the achievement gaps."
Energy policy What changes would you make to federal energy policy? ANSWER OPTION
I support an "all of the above" energy strategy that creates jobs, increases domestic energy production, decreases our dependence on foreign oil, and makes energy costs more affordable for middle-class families. My focus has been on developing homegrown energy, sources and new energy technologies, including advanced biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, and safe domestic oil and natural gas drilling. We also need strong national energy efficiency targets to make sure our energy policies encourage energy efficiency in every part of the country.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "I believe we need to put America in control of our energy future through an "all of the above" energy strategy that creates jobs, increases domestic energy production, decreases our dependence on foreign oil, and makes energy costs more affordable for middle-class families. My focus has been on developing homegrown energy, sources and new energy technologies, including advanced biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, and safe domestic oil and natural gas drilling in places like North Dakota. We also need strong national energy efficiency targets to make sure our energy policies encourage energy efficiency in every part of the country. Promoting energy efficiency is good for businesses, good for consumers and good for our economy. I believe that through an "all of the above" strategy we have the opportunity to meet our nation's energy demands and promote economic development in Minnesota and across America."
Issue Question Position
Environment Should the federal government's environmental protection efforts be changed? If so, how? ANSWER OPTION
First, we need to make sure our environmental policies effectively protect our natural resources against invasive threats like Asian carp. Second, we need to keep our conservation programs strong. Third, we need a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy policy that will be good for the economy and good for the environment. Finally, we need to make sure that the Environmental Protection Agency considers the real-world repercussions of certain policies, like regulating milk as an oil spill, before (and not after) moving forward with rules.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "First, we need to continue to make sure our environmental policies effectively protect our natural resources. I have always supported the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, but we must be ready for new challenges. For example, the spread of Asian carp in our state's rivers would have a negative ecological impact and harm Minnesota's recreation and fishing industries that are so important to our state's economy. That's why I'm working on responsible policies that keep our waters clean and clear of invasive species like Asian carp. Second, we need to keep our conservation programs strong. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I worked to ensure the 2012 Farm Bill preserved the important conservation programs that help Minnesota farmers while still protecting our state's important natural resources. Third, we need a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy policy that will be good for the economy and good for the environment. Finally, we need to make sure that the Environmental Protection Agency considers the real-world repercussions of certain policies, like regulating milk as an oil spill, before (and not after) moving forward with rules."
Abortion Where do you stand on legalized abortion? ANSWER OPTION
I support a woman's right to choose and I believe that important and private medical decisions---including reproductive health decisions---should be made by a woman and her doctor.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Marriage Should same-sex marriage be legal? ANSWER OPTION
We are a country that was founded on the equality of rights and I believe in marriage equality.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Issue Question Position
Immigration What are your views concerning immigration? ANSWER OPTION
I support comprehensive immigration reform that includes: order at the border, workplace enforcement of existing laws, and a pathway to citizenship for those who obey our laws and are willing to learn English, pay their taxes, and pay a substantial fine. I also support efforts to increase border security and enforcement of existing laws. I believe we need to pass the DREAM Act to provide a pathway to citizenship for young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents through no fault of their own.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "I supported the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reforms in 2007. I will continue to support comprehensive immigration reform that includes: order at the border, workplace enforcement of existing laws, and a pathway to citizenship for those who obey our laws and are willing to learn English, pay their taxes, and pay a substantial fine. I have also supported efforts to increase border security and enforcement of existing laws because I believe the American people need to have faith that our system works and that people won't be rewarded for breaking the law. I believe we need to pass the DREAM Act to provide a pathway to citizenship for young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents through no fault of their own. We need to give these young people the opportunity to give back to their country, receive an education, and become model members of our society."
Silica sand mining Do you support silica sand mining? ANSWER OPTION
Silica sand mining is an important part of developing new domestic energy resources like natural gas. We must also make sure that there are commonsense safety and environmental protections in place as this new development continues.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
Copper-nickel mining Do you support copper-nickel mining? ANSWER OPTION
Yes. It holds great economic potential for the region and our entire state. I will work with local communities to move forward, while making sure environmental and safety standards are met.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "The discovery of large deposits of copper, nickel, and other precious metals on the Iron Range holds great economic potential for the region and our entire state. We also know that we must be careful that the work to extract these minerals doesn't harm the lakes, rivers, and other natural resources that are an essential part of life in Northern Minnesota. I will continue to work with local communities to move forward, while making sure environmental and safety standards are met."
Issue Question Position
Acheivement gap What would you do to address the income, education and employment gaps for minorities in Minnesota? ANSWER OPTION
We need to increase focus on education, specifically on science, technology, engineering and math--the critical courses that are essential to jobs in today's economy--to help close the gaps and ensure everyone has the education and skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century workforce. We also need to make college more affordable so that every kid who wants to go to college can afford it, regardless of their background or how much money their parents make. We also need to focus on increasing private sector jobs as discussed in question one.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar said this in response to an MPR News inquiry.
American Crystal lockout What would you do to end the contract stalemate at American Crystal Sugar? ANSWER OPTION
I will urge both American Crystal Sugar management and workers to come together to the negotiating table to work out an agreement that allows workers to return to their jobs as soon as possible.

CANDIDATE'S POSITION
Klobuchar provided the following statement to MPR News: "I have worked with my colleagues in both Minnesota and North Dakota to urge American Crystal Sugar management and workers to continue to work toward an agreement. Families and communities across the Red River Valley have felt the impact of this lockout. I have talked directly with workers who have shared the hardships they and their families continue to face. I have also met with management. I continue to urge both American Crystal Sugar management and workers to come together to the negotiating table to work out an agreement that allows workers to return to their jobs as soon as possible."
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