Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidates respond to questionsDemocratic incumbent Russ Feingold is being challenged by Republican businessman Ron Johnson as one of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seats is up for election this fall.
Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold is being challenged by Republican businessman Ron Johnson as one of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seats is up for election this fall.
In preparation for the election, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund surveyed the candidates. Printed below are five of the questions posed and the candidates’ responses as they wrote them.
Scientists are telling us that the observed impacts of climate change are unfolding much more quickly than climate models predicted. What specific reforms should the federal government enact to control global climate change?
Feingold: I support achieving the scientifically determined reductions necessary to avoid the major effects of global warming. I was a cosponsor of legislation in the 110th Congress to achieve these reductions.
Johnson: I do not believe the science of global warming is settled and it surely does not warrant the imposition of an economy-crushing national energy tax. Of course, I do support reducing air and water pollution. For example, the expanded use of nuclear power would greatly reduce emissions while helping our economy move forward.
How will you ensure that Midwest manufacturing remains competitive in a clean energy economy?
Feingold: Before our country’s economic collapse in 2008, I had already introduced my E4 Initiative to address Wisconsin’s economy, employment, energy and education needs. I have succeeded in acting some E4 provisions, including a measure in the Recovery Act that will allow Wisconsin to use $58 million in tax credits to help deploy more energy efficiency technologies in homes and businesses. The Recovery Act also included $2.3 billion in 48C tax credits for advanced energy manufacturing projects -- which I support extending to further strengthen clean energy manufacturing in Wisconsin; and more than $800 million for a high-speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison that will create more than 13,000 jobs.
Johnson: Thirty-one years ago, I founded a plastics manufacturing business in Oshkosh with my brother-in-law. Our business is focused on producing high quality products that are competitive in a world economy. Washington needs citizen legislators that understand how jobs are created and businesses compete. We need an economic growth agenda that produces jobs by reducing unnecessary and counter-productive regulation and lowering taxes.
In this time of high unemployment, what are the most important things that should be done to improve our nation’s economy?
Feingold: I supported the Recovery Act, which the non-partisan CBO estimates has increased the number of people employed by between 1.2 million and 2.8 million. I helped pass the HIRE Act, which included a payroll tax break to help small businesses create jobs and am working to pass a tax credit for companies to hire new employees, increase wages and provide part-time workers with full-time jobs.
I have also supported legislation that extends unemployment benefits for thousands of Wisconsinites who are currently out of work and struggling to find a job. I have opposed unfair trade agreements that have shipped our jobs overseas and support efforts to fix these agreements and improve future trade agreements so we keep jobs in the U.S.
Johnson: We need to reduce the deficit spending by the federal government that creates uncertainty in our markets and is responsible for a bloated government bureaucracy that stifles productivity. We also need to help job creators control costs by reducing the tax burden and enacting market-based health care reform that targets runaway prices. In short, we need a smaller, fiscally responsible government that allows the free market to thrive.
Should Congress create a path to citizenship for the large number of unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States? Should this legislation be coupled with policies and regulations intended to limit the number of unauthorized immigrants in the future?
Feingold: Yes. I was proud to work with members of both parties and President Bush to push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 and 2007. I will continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that protects our borders, cracks down on employer abusers and provides a pathway to earned citizenship provided that certain conditions are met.
Johnson: I oppose blanket amnesty for illegal aliens. The federal government has failed to secure our borders and that should be our top priority. I support enforcement on businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens and prohibiting taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal aliens.
Please describe your priorities for your term in office and your specific qualifications to effectively address those issues.
Feingold: Our top priorities must be creating jobs and cutting wasteful Washington spending. I have authored the Control Spending Now Act, a collection of 41 specific proposals that will reduce the federal deficit by around one-half trillion dollars over 10 years. I am working to extend and expand the current payroll tax break so it will help companies to hire new employees and increase wages or provide part-time employees with full-time work.
My jobs tax break is also fully offset, like all the legislation I introduce, so as not to increase the deficit. And I will continue working to protect the rights and freedoms of all Americans while protecting the air we breathe and the water we need to live.
Johnson: Career politicians like Russ Feingold have failed to address our broken budgets and lack an understanding about how to create sustainable jobs. I am running for the U.S. Senate to bring a new perspective to Washington.
As a business owner, I know how jobs are created. As an accountant, I know how to balance a budget. Creating jobs and tackling runaway deficit spending will be my top priorities as your senator.