This past Tuesday, the Benton County Advocates hosted a debate in Vinton, Iowa, with three of the seven candidates running for the GOP nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. The chosen three were selected based on the amount of money raised from individuals during the first quarter of their campaigns. Since I have largely self-funded my campaign to date (a decision that has allowed me to focus more heavily on issues instead of donor relations), I was not allowed to participate as my funding did not come from other individuals.
After reading yesterday’s article from the online news cooperative, Vinton Today (www.vintoniowa.org), it is obvious that my participation would have added significantly to the breadth and depth of the debate. One key line from this article, “The three candidates largely agreed on most of the questions asked during the event,” makes it disappointingly clear that there wasn’t much of a debate at all.
While it’s not uncommon for candidates of the same party to agree on a variety of issues, I’m surprised that my opponents didn’t capitalize on this opportunity to present voters with more well-defined positions and achievable solutions. My campaign has been aggressively reaching out with just this type of voter communication. To this end, I wanted to offer my responses to the questions asked at Tuesday’s debate:
Why isn’t Congress listening to us?
The answer to this is simple. The citizen-legislator envisioned by the Founding Fathers has been almost entirely replaced by the career politician. Government is big business, and not just for consultants and PACs and lobbyists, but for members of Congress as well. The environment in Washington, D.C. is a 24/7/365 campaign. This produces bad public policy; the sole purpose of which is to appease niche groups and special interests rather than serve the long-term interests of our Nation. I believe term limits can help fix the disconnect between Congress and taxpayers. Of this group, I am the only candidate who has endorsed term limits and pledged to serve not more than eight years in the U.S. House if elected.
What is your opinion on Cap & Trade?
I support achievable, cost-effective, global efforts to limit carbon emissions and reasonable time frames to implement measures that will allow all of us to accomplish these goals. I do not support any programs that allow pollution credits to be traded or purchased by entities other than governments. To create a mechanism to allow businesses to knowingly reject compliance and consciously violate pollution standards because it is cheaper to buy credits than it is to improve the efficiency of their processes, all at an additional expense to consumers, is legislative insanity.
What is your opinion on current energy policy? Please describe your views on long-term policies to ensure adequate future supply.
Our current energy policy is disjointed and at the mercy of foreign interests that supply too much of our energy needs. We must aggressively move to reduce our disproportionate dependence on foreign oil and outdated fossil fuel technologies. I support sustainable efforts to expand off-shore drilling and rescind in-active production rights. If elected, I would propose we expedite regulatory reviews, approvals, and fast-track construction of regional nuclear energy plants as well as expand alternative energy sources through clearly structured, well defined investment tax credit programs. While doing this, we must rigorously enforce existing environmental regulations and place severe penalties on companies found to be in violation of these standards.
What is your opinion on the current state of the national budget & debt levels?
The CBO estimates put our national debt at 90% of GDP by the end of THIS decade. In just five years that figure is expected to rise to well over 100% of our GDP. To burden multiple, future generations with such an incomprehensible and shameful national debt is taxation without representation in its most egregious form. I have proposed a two-prong approach that would employ a balanced budget amendment and implementation of a mandatory debt reduction plan. Mandatory debt reduction would require annual budget expenditures to not exceed 90% of projected revenues with all revenues beyond that applied toward national debt reduction.
What is your perspective on our overall national defense strategy?
We must keep our commitment to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to free them from tyranny. Our troops deserve to have the tools and support necessary for them to complete their mission. I believe we have made significant progress, and we owe it to ourselves to see it through. While doing so, we must be persistent, but not stubborn, and remember to listen to the Iraqi and Afghan people. In addition, we must use any and all efforts to prevent Iran, North Korea, and any other rogue nations from acquiring nuclear weapons. If all diplomatic efforts and bi-lateral sanctions were to prove unsuccessful, I would support the use of non-occupational, non-nuclear, military strikes to prevent their acquisition and/or development.
It is my firm belief that, however favorable the environment is for Republicans this election cycle, we will not find success if we merely point fingers at problems and fail to offer common-sense alternatives to those policies with which we disagree. Again, my campaign has gone to great lengths to provide voters with such alternatives in my literature, speeches, and on my website at www.MarkReesforCongress.com/issues.
I am confident that my unique, yet common sense positions on these, and other, issues can bring together Republicans, Independents, and even moderate Democrats from across the spectrum and build the coalition of voters that will be needed to ‘repeal and replace’ the seven term incumbent, Leonard Boswell.
Mark R. Rees (R-IA)
Iowa 3rd District Congressional Candidate
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