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Kind calls for end to one-sided government

Democratic Congressman Ron Kind was in River Falls Aug. 15 to launch his reelection campaign and unveil "A New Direction for America" agenda.

His plan focuses on the war in Iraq, the economy, access to higher education, energy independence, health care and pension reform.

"Elections are always about tomorrow -- where we're going in the future," Kind said. "And I sense that we're heading in the wrong direction."

He called this election year "a crucial year of transition," when responsibility could be turned over from one-party control in Washington to a more divided governmental body.

"I, for one, believe divided government is a good thing for democracy," Kind said, adding that when one party is in control, "the tough questions aren't being asked of the administration."

Some of those big questions relate to foreign policy, and why the current administration has refused to adopt the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

"The battle against international terrorism is too great for us alone," he said, calling President Bush's actions "a long-term plan for failure."

Kind also spoke about the need for affordable college education in the United States.

He said the average undergraduate student in Wisconsin graduates with nearly $20,000 of debt, and he wants to make college tuition permanently deductible from taxes, cut interest rates on student loans and expand Pell grants.

When it came to health care, Kind said, "Nothing is more fundamental than addressing the health care costs in this country," and there is no ability in the long run to pay off Bush's current trillion dollar plan, making it "a recipe for disaster."

Kind said he will work for the basic right of affordable health care for all individuals, as well as "give people the opportunity to age gracefully and with dignity" with pension reform plans.

"There has been an accumulation of national debt in this country that we've never seen before," he said. "And we no longer owe this debt to ourselves."

He suggested reinstituting pay-as-you-go rules, which created four years of budget surplus when in place in the 1990s.

He also mentioned that one of the first tasks of Congress should be to pass an increased minimum wage standard for the entire country. That would immediately affect 15 million Americans, he said, weakening the blow of rising gas prices.

Energy independence as a whole was stressed by Kind, who said Wisconsin should be particularly invested in the cause.

"Wisconsin can lead the world when it comes to bio-fuels production," he said. "I'd much rather see the money go here in the Midwest than to the Middle East."

Though various forms of energy are available now, Kind said it is necessary to come up with the right type of plan so utilities companies will buy into it as well.

"If there's any good thing about paying $3 at the pump, it's that it gets people thinking about energy," he said. "So much of it is consumer-driven."

For voting Wisconsinites, Kind said new ideas are needed, and the voters always have a choice.

"Decisions aren't made when bills come up," he said. "I believe these decisions are made on election day."