The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 21, 2012

Sunday Forum: U.S. Senate hopefuls asked to pen own endorsements

— The Joplin Globe asked Sarah Steelman, Todd Akin and John Brunner, all Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, and the Democratic incumbent, Claire McCaskill, to tell our readers why they should be elected. They were asked specifically to address jobs, health care and concerns of the middle class. Here are their letters:

Missouri needs citizen senator to get America working

I am running for the U.S. Senate because Washington is broken and career politicians are part of the problem. As our government continues to spend money it doesn’t have, add regulations that only burden job creators, and stall on passing pro-growth reforms, we all can agree it’s time for a change in leadership.

I’m not a politician. While my opponents have spent their careers in politics, manufacturing debt and nearly running our country off the fiscal cliff, I’ve spent my career as a Marine and a manufacturer — creating jobs and leading our family-owned, Missouri-based manufacturing company to record success.

At a time of soaring debt, bloated government, budget-busting laws and burdensome regulations that only strangle job creation, Missourians are craving a leader with the job-creating background and experience needed to ignite America’s economic might. As a manufacturer, I’ve made the tough decisions of balancing budgets, building a business and hiring employees, and I’m prepared to apply that same mindset to Washington.

After building a successful American business, I look around and all I see are leaders who refuse to make necessary but difficult spending cuts, shrink the size of government and enact pro-growth policies to revitalize private-sector growth. As Missouri’s next citizen senator, I will use my private-sector experience to support pro-growth policies that create jobs and restore America’s prosperity.

I know the devastating effects massive federal regulations, burdensome taxes, soaring energy costs and frivolous lawsuits have on private-sector growth and job creation. By repealing burdensome regulations, reinvesting in American energy, reforming the corporate and individual tax code, and implementing comprehensive tort reform, we can reignite our economy and bring about a return to American prosperity.

But the biggest and most immediate threat to family farmers, small business owners and American manufacturers is Obamacare. This horrible legislation is riddled with onerous federal mandates that will put American entrepreneurs out of business and will end up being the largest tax on the middle class in American history. In addition to implementing my four-point plan, it’s crucial that we fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with sensible, common-sense solutions to health care reform that empower consumers, not government bureaucrats. I will fight to make health care more accessible and affordable by enacting comprehensive medical malpractice tort reform, making insurance purchasable across state lines, broadening the availability of health savings accounts, and allowing individuals to control their own insurance policies by making them portable, thereby alleviating pre-existing condition considerations when someone changes jobs.

Instituting my four-point plan, coupled with repealing Obamacare and replacing it with free-market solutions, will create jobs, ignite our economy and strengthen America’s middle class. I volunteered for the Marines because I was ready to serve my country. With Washington spending money it doesn’t have and passing regulations that destroy job growth, I’m ready to serve my country again and get America working again as Missouri’s next citizen senator.

John Brunner is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. He is a retired businessman and lives in Frontenac, Mo.

Will fight to adopt zero-based budgeting

Anyone who observes government spending and regulation these days realizes there are plenty of things that need to be changed.

The most important thing Washington needs to learn is how to live within its means. As a member of the Missouri Senate, I operated under a constitutional requirement that all budgets be balanced. This is an idea we should apply to Washington. When I served as Missouri’s state treasurer, I kept our bond rating AAA, something Washington has forgotten how to do.

As the debt ceiling debate demonstrated, few in Washington seem serious about actually tackling runaway spending. Instead, when Washington maxes out its credit cards, it just votes itself a higher credit limit. As a result, our national credit rating has been downgraded, and our fiscal irresponsibility has risen to the level of a national security risk. America can no longer exert power internationally or support the troops as it once did, because in effect our economic supply lines are hampered.

An amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring that the United States balance its budget every year is necessary to bring fiscal prudence to Washington — but that alone is not sufficient.

I will lead the fight for Washington to adopt zero-based budgeting. Currently, every federal agency and department submits a budget to the Congress that starts with an existing budget and requests a percentage increase. If that increase isn’t honored, these same agencies complain about cuts. As a result, federal government spending is growing faster than the national economy. Instead, every federally funded organization should have to start each year assuming a budget of zero, and then justify every dollar it wants to spend.

When considering budget requests, I will determine if the proposed program is constitutional and, if it is, whether it can be better done by a state or local government. The principle of federalism requires that Washington’s power balance with state and local power. Furthermore, I believe that programs receiving federal spending should demonstrate they have been effective in the past, and programs that have not had positive results should not receive more funding simply because they were funded in the past.

I would also like to see most discretionary federal spending levels frozen at where they were in 2008. This freeze would go a long way to balancing the budget in a few short years. The problem with Washington is not that Americans pay too little in taxes; the problem is that government spends too much. Often, the good programs that many support must compete with those that failed to generate desired results or duplicate other programs in government and private industry.

None of these ideas is revolutionary in Missouri, yet they seem radical to Washington. It is time voters in the Show-Me State take what we know about budgeting state spending and show them a thing or two in Washington.

Sarah Steelman, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has served Missouri as a state senator and as treasurer. She lives in Rolla.

Clear vision for the road ahead

Most of us have seen a plethora of campaign ads bombarding us with issues: jobs, the economy, health care, religious liberty — and we hear that this year’s election is critical to these issues. Through all this information, we see that something is wrong in America, and we want a leader who can cut through these issues, solve our problems and provide a clear vision for the road ahead.  

While I am a congressman, my background in engineering makes me think a bit differently than many of my colleagues, and it helps me to solve problems. I believe that before we create a solution, we need to identify what is wrong. Most of us know that if we solve the wrong problem, we may actually make the situation worse. Our country faces a big problem and we all see the symptoms: high unemployment, families struggling with income, and a government spending future generations into debt. I believe that these symptoms point to a core cause: We are losing our freedoms to a government that has overstepped its constitutional boundaries.

Our road ahead should include cutting back the role of government and restoring personal liberty and responsibility. We all learned in school how our founders created our limited form of government, and it’s undeniable that this system resulted in unmatched freedom and prosperity. What we might not know is that the size and role of government has rapidly expanded over the years. This may shock some, but the government is not very efficient. We are worse off for the government doing more. We are each made by our creator with a desire to work hard and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and we do a pretty good job at it. Thus, I believe the road ahead should include scaling back government and letting our businesses and citizens get to work.

People across Missouri — in fact 71 percent of them — realized that the government had overstepped its role with Obamacare. We should reject Obamacare and instead address four items in our current health care system: tort reform, competition for health insurance, transparency in costs and portability of coverage. We need tort reform to reduce health care costs and to protect doctors and hospitals from frivolous lawsuits. When we go to the hospital we should be paying doctors, not lawyers. We must foster competition for health insurance by allowing companies to compete across state lines. Our health care system should also include portability — allowing people to keep their health insurance policy if they move from job to job. This portability would also resolve many of our problems with pre-existing conditions. Finally, we need laws that mandate transparency of health care costs. Right now, it is impossible to get a straightforward price for a medical procedure before it is provided. This doesn’t allow people to determine if the procedure is worth the cost and is contrary to common-sense, market-based practices. Unlike Obamacare, these four items build a better health care system.

I believe the road ahead for America should include reducing the federal government’s role and allowing us to live our lives under the law as we see fit. I have consistently fought for this vision, and as a result am rated the most conservative congressman in Missouri. I have stood my ground against an encroaching big-brother government and will continue do so if elected to the U.S. Senate.

Todd Akin currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives and lives in Town and Country, Mo.

‘On our side’ means fighting for middle class

Missourians know a thing or two about fairness. We teach our kids that hard work pays off, education opens doors and caring for our neighbor is the right thing to do.

These common-sense values are part of our backbone as a country, and when I’m in the Senate, I work every day to make sure I’m on the side of Missouri’s families, fighting for fairness. That means tackling tough issues with independence and getting things done at the table of compromise in order to ensure economic opportunity for our families and businesses.

A strong middle class is the engine of our economy, and I’m committed to supporting policies that allow Missouri’s families and small businesses to do more than just get by, but actually get ahead. Over the past five years, I’ve worked on bipartisan, compromise legislation that included tax relief for struggling families and businesses, as well as spending caps for the federal government to get our deficit and debt under control. I’ll keep pushing for job-creating investments in our roads and bridges while cutting regulations and red tape to make it easier for Missouri’s private sector to grow and add well-paying jobs.

Joplin is the perfect example of what we can achieve when the federal government works together with private entities and communities to rebuild after a natural disaster or economic crisis. The government can provide a critical safety net for those who need it most — that’s why we have federal disaster programs and it’s why we have Medicare and Social Security.

Social Security and Medicare have been a critical safety net for 1 million Missouri seniors, like my mom. We’re still recovering from the devastation caused by Wall Street’s recklessness, and my opponents, in their rush to the far right, would privatize both Social Security and Medicare, putting seniors’ security at the mercy of Wall Street and big insurance companies.

That’s why it’s important to keep improving the Affordable Care Act, which finally gives families and small businesses meaningful leverage over out-of-control insurance industry abuses, rather than giving insurance company bureaucrats full control over rising costs and the health of the American people.

In this election, the issue that’s perhaps most fundamental to our future is one where my opponents and I couldn’t disagree more strongly. All three of my opponents want to eliminate federally backed student loans, which means that kids from middle class families, who don’t have lots of money, will never qualify for affordable loan rates. I refuse to accept that for-profit banks should be the chief decider in who goes to college in America. Federal loans and Pell Grants have expanded college access for millions across this country, including me. Missourians want to keep these programs, and I will fight to protect them with every breath I have.

I’m convinced that we can come together and solve our nation’s biggest challenges together. If Missourians give me another term in the Senate, I’ll continue fighting as a senator on your side.

Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate. She is a former Missouri state auditor and lives in St. Louis.