On the Issues
As a candidate for Congress, it is my responsibility to the district to outline key positions on issues facing our country. I will be sharing issue briefs in the weeks ahead to provide a better understanding of how I would represent you.
Issue Brief #1 – Balanced Budget Amendment
During my conversations with delegates and alternates, I’ve heard from many of you regarding your concerns about the size and growth of government, as well as its impact on annual budget deficits, the national debt, interest payments on that debt and the resulting impact on our future generations.
As a fiscally conservative candidate for Congress, I have these concerns as well, which have been informed over almost 30 years of exposure to federal government budget cycles. And one look at the numbers explains why this needs to be addressed.
For just the year 2020, the Congressional Budget Office is estimating a budget deficit of $1 trillion. In other words, we’re spending $1 trillion more than we’re bringing in!
Our national debt now exceeds $23 trillion, and continues to grow. That’s over $70,000 for every person in America!
And annual interest payments alone on this debt total $479 billion, which is over 10 percent of the entire federal budget for 2020.
Let’s be honest. Regardless of election results or who controls congress, deficit spending is out of control. Prior attempts at controlling the deficit, such as the bipartisan Gramm Rudman Hollings Act of 1985, were abandoned when it became too difficult to cut spending.
It’s well past time for a Balanced Budget Amendment. If elected to congress, I’ll introduce legislation to submit such an amendment to the states for ratification. This legislation can take many forms, but the most basic form would add a budget rule to our constitution that would require federal spending to not exceed federal receipts. We do it in our homes, and our government should be expected to uphold the same standard.
An amendment wouldn’t be needed if Congress were to simply prioritize spending and make the tough calls on what to keep or cut in the federal budget. Most agree it shouldn’t take an amendment to the constitution to get our elected officials to do what they are paid to do.
I agree as well!
However, that’s not the reality. Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) deals extensively with Congress’ power to impose and collect taxes, pay debts, provide for the common defense, coin and borrow money and regulate commerce. Requiring Congress to align expenditures with revenues by way of a balanced budget amendment is certainly germane to the powers already granted in our Constitution.
As your next member of Congress, I’m ready to lead the charge to help pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. Let’s become the party of fiscal responsibility once again.
Issue Brief #2 – One Myth of the Green New Deal
In Issue Brief #1, I discussed my support of a Balanced Budget Amendment. Beyond rampant and out-of-control spending, a primary factor contributing to budget deficits and the need for a Balanced Budget Amendment is the huge amount of wasteful spending in the federal budget.
Unfortunately, some of that waste is taking place right here in the Second District of Minnesota, via subsidies to industrial wind developments. A robust economy requires an electrical supply that is reliable and affordable, but wind energy doesn’t pass the test.
Originally enacted in 1992 and extended 11 times since, the federal “Production Tax Credit” for wind energy provides a per kilowatt hour subsidy. Every time the pork is about to run out, the lobbyists work their magic in Washington, and the subsidy is extended.
Between 2018 and 2022, under current law, the total cost to taxpayers for federal wind subsidies is expected to be nearly $26 billion. The capital expenditure for wind in Minnesota? As much as $15 billion and counting.
The wind energy lobby is owned by Wall Street, large utilities and foreign developers, and exerts tremendous lobbying pressure on politicians in Minnesota and Washington, D.C. As an example, the state of Minnesota largely exempts wind energy from regulation and most other Minnesota laws. Federal regulations favor unreliable wind energy while penalizing reliable traditional sources.
Contrary to what proponents of the Green New Deal advise, wind creates a very small amount of electricity at a huge cost. Turbines can never stand-alone – they need reliable sources of baseload electricity to provide power whenever the wind fails. In Minnesota turbines have to be heated in winter, so they actually drain electricity, even when not working.
Remember last winter’s “polar vortex?” During that extended cold snap, wind turbines shut down when the temperature hit -20 degrees and one utility’s wind farms went from a power producer to a 2-megawatt load on the energy system because they required heat to avoid being damaged.
The impact of industrial wind development on the people in our community is significant. Wind turbines create low frequency noise which causes sleep deprivation, vertigo, tinnitus, and migraine headaches and forces people from their homes. However, the value of their home is significantly reduced due to proximity to wind farms. As a result, residents can’t stay in their homes, and they are unable to sell, or must sell at a loss.
Other dangers include fire and “component liberation” in which wind turbines and blades simply give way, collapse or are sent flying through the air. And with a height of as much as 600 feet, this is a severe danger to nearby homes, farms, roadways and communities.
Additionally, many of the rare earth minerals needed to build wind turbines are imported from China, where they are mined in a way that does extreme damage to the environment.
An added concern is the cost of decommissioning and disposing of wind turbines after their life ends. According to Xcel Energy, it could cost as much as $532,000 per turbine to decommission a single wind turbine at the utility’s Nobles Wind Facility in southwest Minnesota. Multiply that by the site’s 134 turbines and the total cost comes in at over $71 million, costs that will assuredly be passed on to consumers.
As the next member of Congress from the Second District, I’m ready to work for a reliable and affordable electrical policy that doesn’t impact the health of our people, and includes natural gas, coal, nuclear, biomass, hydropower, wind and solar without expensive subsidies, or regulatory favoritism.
Issue Brief #3 – How About a Secretary of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Reduction?
Our federal government is loaded with employees in dozens of departments ranging from Defense to Commerce to Education to Agriculture, Energy, Homeland Security and many more.
According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), there will be an estimated 2.2 million Federal employees for the year 2020.
Within each of these departments, we’ve got secretaries, undersecretaries, deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, deputy undersecretaries, directors, deputy directors, assistant directors; and the list goes on and on.
Their mission is to oversee the function and the employees that spend taxpayer dollars on federal government programs mandated by Congress.
And spend they do. They spend so well that our 2020 budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion, a major reason I support a Balanced Budget Amendment.
In the meantime, I propose we eliminate one or more of our undersecretaries or deputy directors, and create a FWA (Fraud, Waste, and Abuse) Secretary responsible for each department, structured as follows:
- The FWA Secretary team would be housed in the Executive Office of the President (EOP)
- The FWA Secretary position would NOT reside in the department they will oversee, to ensure no empathy would be developed for the department
- Funding for the position would be provided only as long as the FWA Secretaries provide a positive return on investment
- To ensure an outsider’s perspective, FWA Secretaries must not have worked for any level of government prior to being hired
- FWA Secretaries must have shown measurable achievement in budget-cutting prior to being hired
- FWA Secretary compensation would be nominal, but would include an incentive bonus of one percent of annual fraud, waste, and abuse eliminated. For example, if a FWA Secretary eliminated $1 million, they would receive an incentive bonus of $10,000.
This may not be a perfect solution, and it won’t eliminate all the fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal government. But until we shift our mindset and reward reducing spending, we will continue to pile up huge budget deficits.