By Jonathan Brunt
1. Why do you feel you are the best candidate?
My background and values are very representative of Eastern Washington -- growing up on a small farm, the first in my family to graduate from college, helping run the family business. It is an honor to represent you in Congress.
Today, our country is borrowing over a trillion dollars a year. Our future economic strength and national security depend on putting our fiscal house in order. I've balanced budgets at my kitchen table, in small business and in state government; I have the proven skills required to rein in spending by setting priorities so we can live within our means.
2. What legislation is your top priority for 2013?
We need to simplify the tax code, stop burdensome government regulation, reduce government spending and balance the budget. That will give families, small business owners and farmers the confidence they need to invest, innovate, and expand.
I support policies that empower the private sector -- especially small businesses -- to create jobs and spur economic growth. Small businesses are responsible for 70 percent of America's jobs, and when government grows -- as it has under President Obama- it crowds out growth in the private sector.
3. Do you support President Barack Obama's plan to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014? Would you support an American military intervention to help quell potential human rights abuses in Syria? What standards would you use when deciding if you would support American military intervention?
I support bringing our troops home as soon as possible dependent upon assessments from our military leaders as to Afghanistan's stability and ultimately its future security threat to America.
At this time in regards to Syria, I would be hesitant to put further demands on our extended military resources. We must always be cautious before we send our greatest treasure -- our youth - into harms way. In any military intervention, the top consideration must be to the potential threats to our national security.
4. Should income tax reductions originally signed into law by President George W. Bush expire as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2014 for everyone, just people who have an income over a certain amount or for no one?
The current tax rates should be maintained until Congress enacts comprehensive tax reform that simplifies the tax code, closes loopholes, and makes America more competitive.
5. Do you support the Affordable Care Act, the health care legislation that was signed by President Barack Obama in 2010?
Sadly, the Affordable Care Act is a big government takeover of one of the most personal aspects of our lives. It takes decision making out of the hands of individual families and does nothing to rein in skyrocketing costs.
Health care decisions belong in the hands of individuals, families, and their doctors. I am committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a patient-centered system with common sense step-by-step reforms. America needs health care reform that addresses skyrocketing costs, improves access, and promotes innovation, cutting edge technologies, and high quality of care.
6. In retrospect, was the federal government correct to bail out the auto industry and financial institutions, including some local banks in Spokane?
I voted against the TARP bailout because I do not believe in the notion that banks are "too big to fail." Sadly, many of the large Wall Street financial institutions that took unwise risks have still not been held accountable.
Similarly, I am not convinced the bailout of auto companies was the only option. The General Motors bailout currently stands at a $35 billion loss for taxpayers.
I particularly oppose efforts by the federal government to act as a venture capital firm, trying to choose winners and losers with taxpayers' money, as it did with Solyndra.
7. Do you support the completion of the North Spokane freeway? If so, how much of the remaining project should be paid for with federal money?
The completion of the North Spokane freeway is a top priority. I support completion of this important regional infrastructure project that will spur economic activity through the improved movement of people and goods. I am working successfully with community and state leaders to position this project for future funding both at the state and federal level. Recently, it became the first project in the country to receive a second TIGER grant.
8. Do you support same sex marriage? Do you support the decision to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military?
I believe marriage is a sacred institution and should be defined as between one man and one woman. I believe our military's primary goal is national defense not to be a springboard to advance a social agenda.
9. Do you believe abortion should be legal under all circumstances in which it is currently legal, limited to certain circumstances, or illegal? Should the federal government require insurance companies to cover abortion if they cover maternity care? Should there be greater exceptions for religious groups or employers who have religious objections to abortion?
I am pro-life. I am opposed to abortion in all instances, except when the life of the mother is at stake. I believe life begins at conception and the most vulnerable of our society should be protected. I do not believe the federal government should fund or require insurance companies to fund abortions. Neither should religious groups or individuals be required to violate their fundamental beliefs.
10. Do our support reforms to Social Security that include diverting payroll taxes to individual retirement accounts? Do you support increasing the retirement age for eligibility for Social Security?
We must keep our promise to seniors in regards to Social Security, that they will receive all the benefits they are entitled to as part of the program. That's why I've opposed cuts to Social Security for those who are currently on the program as well as those who are close to receiving benefits.
I support giving individuals in their 20s and 30s the voluntary option of investing part of their savings. I've supported gradually increasing the retirement age for younger Americans. To be clear I don't support any changes to Social Security for anyone age 55 years or older.
11. Would you support legislation, such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, which would allow immigrants who arrived to the United States illegally as minors to become eligible for legal residency if they have lived in the country for a certain period and served in the military or attended college?
America has always been the land opportunity and people continue to come here from around the world to seek a better life. We need to fix our broken immigration system. A better approach is to first secure our borders, establish a practical guest worker program, and increase the ability for people to migrate legally into our country. Once we've put in place these necessary security measures, we can address those who have been brought here illegally as young children.
12. Do you believe the human activity is significant factor that causes global warming? Should the federal government regulate carbon emissions to slow or reduce the impact of global warming?
Scientific reports are inconclusive at best on human culpability for global warming. Regardless of which theory proves correct, the goal is the same -- to reduce carbon emissions, we need innovation in the private sector; not excessive government regulation to stifle some industries while rewarding others. I oppose "cap and trade" and other Big Government schemes because they will destroy jobs while likely having minimal impact on the climate. Further we have little influence over excessive and unregulated emissions from foreign countries like China that opens one coal fired electric plant every week.
13. Do you support the legalization of marijuana for adults, including for recreational purposes? If not, do you support the legalization of marijuana for medical use? How would you address the conflict that currently exists between state law allowing marijuana for medical use and federal banning it?
I do not support the legalization of marijuana. While I recognize that some individuals assert potential medical benefits from using marijuana, overwhelmingly studies show that marijuana possesses harmful addictive chemical properties that have had devastating effects on users. In fact, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 374,000 people annually enter an emergency room with a primary marijuana problem. Thus, legalizing or relaxing criminal penalties for marijuana will only undermine the drug enforcement community's efforts and further open the doors for additional illegal activities.
14. Do you support proposals to end direct payments to farmer? What level of federal subsidies should farmers receive to insure their crops against weather, disease and low prices?
I support policies that will keep agriculture in Eastern Washington the number one industry and our farmers productive and competitive. In the 2012 Farm Bill, it is important to maintain a safety net for our farmers in cases of artificially low prices and disasters. Instead of annual direct payments this can be accomplished through crop insurance which will provide multi-year low price protection and avoid distorting planting decisions.
15. Do you support the elimination of any of the following federal departments: Department of Education, Department of Energy or Department of Commerce?
The federal government has grown too large. We must review the role of the federal government and whenever possible keep services and decision making at the local level. The priority for the federal government is national security. We should consolidate agencies and streamline processes to cut costs and improve results looking for wasteful spending and duplicative programs. Each of these departments should be reviewed with this perspective in mind.