By Mike O'Rourke
Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., Thursday outlined differences with his Democratic opponent, Rick Nolan, at a campaign stop at the Goedker Realty office in Baxter.
The first-term congressman, who unseated 18-term Democratic incumbent Jim Oberstar two years ago, has been visiting small businesses on the tour.
He told the group assembled in outgoing Brainerd City Council member Kevin Goedker's office that seven out of 10 workers in the U.S. work for a small business, and he estimated the figure was closer to eight or nine workers in the 8th District. Taxing those who make more than $250,000 a year would hurt small business owners, Cravaack said.
"You're taxing your neighbors," the congressman said.
Small businesses, he said, were operating on a shoestring and they would be forced to pass the tax increases on to the consumer or lay off workers.
"In this economy we cannot tax the job creators," Cravaack said.
Instead Cravaack called for lowering taxes on small businesses. He said confidence in the economy is at an all-time low with 42 months of unemployment above 8 percent.
Contrasting his positions with those of Nolan, Cravaack said he believes in smaller government, lower taxes and fewer regulations while his opponent believes in more regulation and more debt.
"To him (Nolan) government is the solution," Cravaack said. "I consider government part of the problem."
Cravaack described himself as pro-life and a strong proponent of the Second Amendment who did not believe in banning assault weapons. Nolan called for the banning of assault weapons this month at a Brainerd debate with his Democratic opponents. Cravaack said Chicago has onerous gun control laws that are not effective. He said that when the good guys are carrying guns it makes the bad guys think twice.
Nolan, of rural Crosby, could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The Republican candidate said the amount of debt this generation is passing on to the next is criminal. Cravaack said 46 percent of U.S. debt is foreign-owned and 30 percent of that is owned by China.
"We need a whole different change in attitude," Cravaack said.
Asked if he saw the need for any cuts in the military, Cravaack said the government is cutting as much in that area as it can.
He said it was time for the military to leave Afghanistan and that it should be done without leaving a vacuum.
Addressing potential Medicare changes he said that people who are 55 or older will see no change but said something has to be done for those who are 54 and younger because Medicare will be bankrupt in 2024.
"This is the plan that will save Medicare," he said of Rep. Paul Ryan's budget.
Asked his reaction to Ryan's support of bailouts for the banking and auto industries, Cravaack said those votes came before he began serving in Congress and he wasn't going to second-guess the presumptive GOP vice presidential candidate.
Cravaack reminded those in attendance of his "Buy American" amendment to a bill that would require American steel in federal construction projects.
The stop at Goedker's real estate office was Cravaack's only stop in the Brainerd area. He said he was on his way to Little Falls and that his day began at a Virginia mine.