Congressional Debate: candidates tackle the issues - Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Congressional Debate: candidates tackle the issues

Congressman Adrian Smith and Colonel Tom Brewer are squaring off in the only scheduled debate to represent the Republican party for Nebraska's 3rd Congressional District.

Media panelists Jerry Dishong, Steve Frederick and Kevin Moody asked the following questions to the candidates:

Question 1:
"Congress has been deadlocked for the past few years. What can you do as an individual to break the log jam on Capital Hill?
Smith -Certainly there is deadlock, and too much bickering. So much of the process has been disregarded over the past many years. We need to have the debates that we need to have.
Brewer- We have 2 parties that are dynamically opposed. Some of that, it is difficult to ask elected officials to move in a direction. We need leadership willing to negotiate to resolve an issue instead of staying in deadlock.

Question 2
The approval process for the Keystone pipeline has put Nebraska in the spotlight. What should be done for the future of this pipeline?
Smith- Clearly it's taken too long. There's been a lot of studying that has taken place. I think we're at the occasion where it should be approved.
The technology is pretty amazing. I think this pipeline would be good, but we need good pipeline policy.
Brewer- I would put the emphasis on the reason we need the pipeline. With the events in the Middle East, combined with the events in the Ukraine, the demand for oil could skyrocket over night. I support the pipeline

Question 3
If you were in a position to write immigration policy what would it look like?
Brewer- the immigration policy should be similar to what we have, but need to figure out a way to streamline the process. That should not be a process that takes 6 or 7 years. Made process so difficult, we have a pool of people that are in limbo. Rewrite it- don't change the fact that we are a nation of laws- we need to have a path that is reasonable timeline.
Smith- Immigration is very serious. This is an issue that we need to deal with because of so many people trying to come to our country. I've long said that a law abiding individual that wants to live in the country should. But I cannot support amnesty. Yet we have a system that encourages illegal immigration.

Question 4
What are thought on National Spending towards National Defense
Smith- I think we have a lot to be proud of with our military. Now is not the time to slash the Department of Defense. Lets talk to the men and women in uniform for solutions on efficiencies. When you consider what is at stake, we need to make sure our readiness is intact.
Brewer- My view of the D.O.D. is different- there are room for cuts. I would start with the Pentagon, I would fire half the generals. The privates in the field would never notice. I'd follow with that with the options being used. Our navy not using bio fuels on their ship. But we are going to lose our efforts around the world if we show weakness as an opportunity.

Question 5
U.S. role in conflicts around the world as a super power
Brewer- The events are happening as we speak. The issue is the Ukraine, Belarus, and Mongolia. The challenge is we are not going to do anything unless we are to commit resources to them. It's no different in the Ukraine, we should have people on the ground teaching them to use those weapons.
Smith- We need to afford opportunities to keep everything on the table. We dont want to tell our enemies what our plans are. I think long before we send in troops, we should have a president up there to tell the world what America is about. This is not the time for an apology tour. I think what Obama has done has diminished our respect. President Reagan didn't utilize our military that much, but told the world what America is about
Keep all of our options on the table

Question 6
What is your position on the future of the Hot Springs VA Clinic... should it stay open?

Smith- I believe it should stay open in Hot Springs. If the facility closes, veterans in Western Nebraska would have to travel further. They have quality care- lets honor our vets and keep it open
Brewer- It is a beautiful facility. The people who use it like it, the thought of closing it is a shock and we have to think of a way to stop that. The people of Wyoming and South Dakota should be concerned as well

Question 7
What changes would you make to future farm policy

Brewer- Huge portion being dictated by the FARM bill and its 80% food stamps. Saying you have to include food stamps to get what you need included to get bill through not okay. Entire nation should be concerned about crop insurance. The food part of it should be a stand alone entity.
Smith- I voted to split out FARM bill and food stamps. We didn't have the votes to sustain that. I've spoken directly to producers. They say crop insurance is important- how does it stay available and viable. The beauty of crop insurance is it is a 2 way payment. We need farm policy, lets listen to producers themselves. We can save major dollars on cutting food stamps. Next time we need to be more aggressive.

Question 8
Obamacare- how can American health care be improved and preserve the features that Americans want to see in their health care.

Smith- Many parts of our H.C. system we can be proud of. But the day Obamacare passed was the darkest day of my political care. So here we are with the system. The government should not get between the patient and provider. Want to have market based system so government doesn't take away a plan that people were told they could keep.
Brewer- We spend $600 million on a website we cannot even log onto. Before, was the system that bad? There might have been a few people who before fell through the cracks, now we have millions. I believe in letting free enterprise work. 

Question 9
What is the federal governments role in future energy policy

Brewer- To date i think they're failing at their job. What were trying right now to shut down all the coal plants. Over this next year we're projected to close dozen of coal fired power plants. We're setting ourselves up to have Americans freeze to death. We want to do green energy, but that costs a lot of money and not a lot of results from green energy. We need to focus on what we have.
Smith- Our policy is being dictated by the E.P.A. I think that undermines our very civilization. The war that the EPA is waging is not with Congress. They are doing this on their own. This is not the first time Washington policies achieved the exact opposite that they wanted to.

Question 10
Where do issues such as minimum wage and income equality come to play
Smith- I believe in marketplace wages. My record reflects that. I think the market approach is best for wages. A wage in Nebraska is different than a wage in NYC
Brewer- I agree.

Question 11
Nebraskans generally support term limits. They often tend to vote for career politicians. Do you support term limits?
Brewer- I strongly support term limits. I think as a congressman you should not serve more than the president, and I will not commit more than 8 years. Once politicians get past that position, they make sure their war chests are full enough through working through lobbyists. Forces them to focus on people in their district.
Smith- I served under term limits in the legislature. I'm not trying to reverse that. I think relationship building is important. A House of 400+members, we need experience. That's how we can have a system that the power is left to the people

Question 13
The legislature U.S.grappled with tax reform here in Nebraska. Give us an idea on what tax reform you'd change to our tax code
Brewer- Our system is broken. I'm at the point now where I'd welcome any change to our tax system where it brings a normal position to tax people. People don't pay their fair sure. It's absolutely insane. It is those in Congress that continue to allow this to exist. We need to have a change, and the current leadership thinks what we have works.
Smith- The simpler the tax code, the better. Right now, we are costing our economy with a complex tax code. I've been engaging a lot in these meetings. We vet a tax code bill. It's a heavy lift. I have not heard anyone endorse the status quo on our current tax code. I'm concerned the overreach of the IRS. We should all be concerned that so much power is vested with the IRS.

Question 14
What is the value of the VA System in terms of cost in quality versus a traditional health care facility?
Smith- I support the VA System. There are issues in the VA. We've increased dollars to the VA, the more money we channel to that, the more complaints I hear from veterans. Flexibility is key to changes.
Brewer- I use the VA system. When you go in and you see the amount of time that veterans are required to wait to receive treatment, and then look at a normal health care environment- it is troubling in many ways. Shocking not more resources put to the VA. They have paid the price for this care.

Question 15
Education curriculum at local level being set by higher levels
Brewer- I support charter schools and church schools. That being said, i think the current mandated curriculum is wrong . Education should be at the local level. If I had my way, we'd do away with the Dept of Education.
Smith- See good teachers leaving because of federal mandates. Stifles innovation. Examples of charter school are very good. I was educated at public schools- and I'm very proud of that fact, let's not take it for granted.

Closing statements
Brewer- I find myself angry at our government for many reasons. My Navy SEAL friend died on roof of Benghazi. U.S. government left him on that roof to die. Chews you alive to let you know that your government would let you die. Our system is broke, we've lost sense of our reality. Its not just there. We've failed on budget, on our border, and we've failed to follow the Constitution. We have a ruling class in D.C. that gets elected every time. Not on my watch. You need leadership.
Smith- I met with H.S. students today . My number one job is to provide opportunity for any generation. I tell kids and senior citizens. This is about the future. When the government gets in the way- we have to change the beurocratic ways. To reduce regulations. I'm acting on listening to you. I'm the guy who will tell you what you need to hear. We need more politicians that speak directly using the facts- not happy talk- just the facts to build our future. We need to reflect what our founders had in mind. I will work hard for you, and with common sense.
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