- Transcript (RTF)
Tonight's program is the second in our six-part series spotlighting the general election of 2010 and the candidates who will appear on the November 2 ballot. Last evening we began our series discussing the current campaign with four candidates seeking federal office, and we do so again tonight.
Yeager: Let’s meet the candidates. Jon Tack of Hiawatha is a member of constitution party, and he seeks to go to Washington, D.C., representing southeastern Iowa’s second congressional district. Gary Sicard of Robins is a libertarian, and he too seeks office in Iowa’s second congressional district. Martin James Monroe is a Sioux City independent, and he seeks office in western Iowa’s fifth congressional district. Welcome to each of you to this program and this forum here on Iowa public television. First we want to get to know a little about each one of you. So, Mr. Tack, we'll start with you. Why should people vote for you?
Tack: Well, I’m stepping up into the Iowa second U.S. congressional district race because we have an establishment party race going on. The incumbent and the challenger from the parties are same as they were in 2008. Unfortunately, both parties are not providing any new solutions to solve our debt problems, our economic problems. They’re basically going to continue with the status quo as to the way we've been going. I believe as a citizen, it is our responsibility to stand up when there's a need that needs to be met and to give the citizens of southeast Iowa and the second district a chance to have a choice rather than just going between choice "a" or choice "b," of which we have had for decades. And I really -- I would like to be a representative of these people to get into congress and to restore our individual liberties and restore the constitution to its form in protecting these liberties to every citizen.
Yeager: All right. Mr. Sicard, same question. Why should people vote for you?
Sicard: Well, essentially what we've got is two major parties that are one wing -- or two wings of the same major party. They both believe in big government. So, you know, libertarians, our job is to restore that individual liberty and a small government party because there just isn't one right now. Both parties have let us down. We see this definition of insanity all the time. We vote one out and vote the next one in because we get upset. Then we vote that one out and vote the next one back in, and we keep doing the same thing over and over. So I decided to run as a libertarian candidate because we didn't really have a good libertarian on the ballot in the last few elections, and people don't have that choice, then, of a small-party government on the ballot. So my purpose and my goal is to simply allow for a choice that was small government. you know, get out of this whole he said, she said, if you will, back and forth between the two major parties. So going as far as why to elect me, that kind of goes back to the issue of let's look at where we're at historically. For years we had individual liberty. We had the ability to do anything and everything under the sun as long as it didn't infringe on someone else's liberty or harm someone else. Today if we think about it, there's almost no aspect of our lives that's not controlled in some way, shape, or form by government. That’s just not what we were founded on. We have this concept of equal opportunity, and what we keep getting right now is people trying to give equal results. And every time that happens, we end up in a lot of trouble. So I’m just here to say, hey, I want to sanity back. I want to restore that equal opportunity to everyone and not to punish you for being successful.
Yeager: All right. Mr. Monroe? Talk to the fifth district. Why should they vote you?
Monroe: I’m running as an independent and I agree with these two gentlemen. Our two big parties have let us down, sold us out to the capitalists. All they can do is fight and argue like the Hatfields and McCoys. They aren't able to legitimately go to the floor and debate issues. We have the four major issues in this country are abortion, gay marriage, gun rights, and the economy. But these things don't come to the floor for debate. They’ve used these for hot button issues for the last thirty years, since I graduated from high school in 1977. This country has practically been in a recession the whole time. Government can't work together anymore. When I grew up in the '60s and the '70s, congressmen could fight and argue on the floor and go out and have martinis and shoot some golf afterwards, come back in the next morning and go back and fight on the floor again. We don't seem to make it to the floor anymore, and that's where the most important issues of this country need to be debated.
Yeager: You say we've been in a recession since you graduated.
Monroe: Practically. I would say since Ronald Reagan introduced the trickle down theory.
Yeager: We didn't have good times in the '90s that weren't --
Monroe: We had some encouragement when Clinton got in there. He started building things back again. Of but, you know, it's hard to know with these numbers; they say we're in recession, we're not in recession. It’s hard to know this because they can play around with the numbers so much with statistics. It’s hard to tell but, I mean, we're definitely in a world of crap right now.
Yeager: So how as an independent -- how would you define -- how does being an independent define your candidacy?
Monroe: Well, you know, when I went in to file my nomination papers, I was going to put independent on the ballot. They said, no, you're not allowed to do that because you're not an established party. I go, you realize that if you talk to an independent -- and I’ve been out knocking on doors for ten years, and I think I pretty much know what the voters have on their minds. Independent means we don't represent any party. We don't want to be part of a party. We don't want a platform. We’re independent of the political parties. We’re not saying we're a political party. There’s more independent people registered to vote in our western Iowa district right now than there are either democrats or republicans.
Yeager: All right. Mr. Sicard, tell me what a libertarian is and what your party stands for.
Sicard: Sure. A libertarian comes about from, if you will, the Jeffersonian form of government, meaning that government that's most effective governs least. So as the top of the government, for example, the federal level, as you go down, there's more authority towards the lower forms of government where the people are at. As you get up, there is less ability for government to get involved because of the fact that that's the least effective form of government. So really the libertarians' concept of good government is that the folks in your own town, for example, your city, should have more ability to do different things than the folks in Washington do. And the libertarian philosophy, if you will, this laissez-faire capitalism, was also introduced in the declaration of independence and the constitution. That’s the whole concept of the enumeration of powers on the federal level versus the nonenumeration of powers on the lower levels. So really what we want to go back to is this form of government that was, you know, most derived by the people, closest to the people. And the folks that are farther out, let's say either Washington or even the state level, have lots less power and lots less ability to regulate and to influence your life.
Yeager: So that does sound similar, though, to some of the arguments that I hear from the tea party. So are you more of a tea party libertarian, or is the tea party taking some of those ideas from the libertarians to run?
Sicard: I think, you know, again, this is not a new concept. This has been around since before Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. So I think the tea party and the libertarian party come from the same philosophy, if you will, of where government should be. Government’s job is to protect our rights, not to give us health care or to make sure that we have certain needs met. Their goal -- government's goal should be to protect our natural rights. Government doesn't create them. Government doesn't have anything to do with them other than to make sure that my neighbors here can't influence my life other than if I’m doing something wrong or something of that nature.
Yeager: All right, Mr. Tack, tell me what the constitution party is about.
Tack: The constitution party is about getting back to the principles of the constitution, in which it is essentially a contract between the states and does provide individual guarantees of rights for the people. The power of the United States rests with the people. From there it goes up into the states to have more authority over those individuals. and then finally you have the federal government, like I said, is a contract between the states to deal with those issues that would affect two or more states at one time, such as border security, such as treaties, international trade, and that sort of thing. But we've gotten so far away from that to where the federal government has come in and said, okay, we're now here to dictate and direct to you how you're going to live your individual life and to take away a lot of our individual securities and freedoms.
Yeager: That sounds a lot like what Mr. Sicard was saying, so how are the two parties different?
Tack: The difference between the two parties really boils down to that, with libertarians, it's more of a philosophy that they believe that our rights come from man; whereas, with the constitution party, that our rights -- our unalienable rights come from god.
Yeager: All right. So using that in your platform, how would you have handled the economic crisis that we're in now if you were in congress? If you had been in congress during the recession, how would you have handled it?
Tack: For the government to step in really isn't a solution because usually when they do step in, things get messed up. From a personal experience, I was recalled to active duty in 2005. And being over in the Middle East, I was in a tax-free zone, and the difference in pay between my civilian pay and my military pair was $11. by not having to pay all those extra taxes, my wife and I were very easily able to take care of a lot of our bills, start building up a savings, and we were very comfortable in being able to get the things that we needed and even a few things that we wanted. And I know if it worked for me, just an average citizen, then I know it will work for every other citizen. So we've got to get away from this taking money away from people and companies and then giving it back to them less -- giving them back less under the pretense of taking care of them.
Yeager: So government services that are provided for by tax dollars or paid for by tax dollars, what ones go away so we don't have to take as many taxes?
Tack: Well, a lot of the ones you'd be looking at would be the entitlement programs. Unfortunately that's where a lot of the biggest costs are occurring right now -- in social security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare as well. These are not in the constitution. It was never designed to be specific about how one should live their lives.
Yeager: All right. Mr. Sicard, tell me about if you were in congress during this last two or four years, how would you have handled the economic situation.
Sicard: Well, the premise of the question implies that congress has the ability to actually effect changes. if you actually go by the interpretation or the reading of the constitution as it is, the only ability that congress has is the ability to regulate it between the states, not to arbitrarily say we're going to do x, y, or z, such as the stimulus. The stimulus is a bad idea for a number of reasons. But it's just one of those things, again, it's not really constitutional and it doesn't really help businesses by spending a bunch of money we don't have that give us construction projects. Now, construction projects may be needed; don't get me wrong. But it's really not the purview of the federal government to try to affect the economy in a direct way, i.e., tarp. So one of the things that I would have liked to have see seen done, for example, is let's say, for example, health care. Health care takes a good and makes it a federal item now. That doesn't really -- it's not the purview of the federal government, and it doesn't really help local businesses create jobs. In fact, it does the opposite by raising premiums, defining benefits they must cover, and so on and so forth. so if they were really concerned about the economy, for example, health care is one of those things that could have been done by congress's enumerated powers of saying let's make this regulatory between all the states so the each state had the same entry for all of the insurance companies. That would have driven the prices down and helped employers instead of what we ended up with.
Yeager: So that sounds more free market.
Yeager: But did I hear you say health care was good before? Did I follow -- you said the health care system was good before; is that what you said at the beginning?
Sicard: I’m not sure if I -- did I say it was good?
Yeager: I just wanted to make sure. We needed overhaul in health care?
Sicard: I do believe that there are reforms needed in health care, yes.
Yeager: Were there things in that bill, though, that were favorable to you? Maybe I’ll ask it that way.
Sicard: I certainly see that there are things that are helpful to people. For example, you and I went to college together and, you know, we weren't covered by insurance, for example. We had to cover our own medical bills. Most of the time, obviously, we didn't have problems with that. But the insurance passage obviously allowed for students to remain on their parents' insurance while they're at college. I think that's a very good idea. But that could again have been handled by the interstate commerce portion of the constitutional authority that congress has instead of a blanket of 2,400 pages of regulation.
Yeager: Something to read, light reading.
Yeager: All right. Thank you, Mr. Sicard. Mr. Monroe, you're in the situation in Washington D.C. if you were in congress, what would you have done to help the economy?
Monroe: First of all, we need to get people back to work, and I’m a little in disbelief that the senate is not moving to get a job bill going. To me that seems to be the most important thing. We shouldn't have had to bail the banks out. They should have never been allowed to grow so large that they can't fail. Supreme courts over the last hundred years have ruled that we have the right to protect ourselves from monopolistic powers in this country. We had regulatory protections but, unfortunately, those regulatory protections should be in the constitution, so it takes a full act of congress to tamper with them. Otherwise we're just going to repeat the same situation again. It’s white collar crime. These people never are held to account. I still don't know how much money we've given Halliburton over in Iraq. We have no account of how much money we paid Halliburton. I’d like to know if Halliburton is paying their full tax on all those profits they're making from our taxpayers.
Yeager: So where's the oversight? Where does the oversight need to come to find out how much money we've been given?
Monroe: Congress. Congress has the -- congress has a job to provide oversight, and they don't do it.
Yeager: So they should be going more oversight instead of spending bills or insurance or tarp?
Monroe: They introduce a policy and then they just move on and leave it behind, and nobody ever goes back to see if it's working well and make sure the money is being spent appropriately, that's not being scammed away by, you know, thieves, literally.
Yeager: Would you have voted for the stimulus bill?
Monroe: I don't think we had a choice because our regulators failed us by allowing the banks to grow and I still don't see them reducing the banks and that has to happen. We can't have corporations so large and powerful that our government can't compete with them. They can tie us up in the courts, and we don't have the money to spend like the corporations do corporate lawyers to tie things up in courts. So the government is kind of in a bad situation, especially if they're already hurting for money.
Yeager: You mentioned too big to fail. Would you have allowed some of the banks to fail that were --
Monroe: Well, you know, that's what capitalism is. If a business is failing, you should let it fail under capitalism in hopes that another entrepreneur is going to come in and run that business successfully and make it. It’s survival of the fittest and the banks are always the ones to go "go capitalism." But, boy, when they get in trouble, they were the first ones to start whining for a bailout, weren't they.
Yeager: All right. I want to talk about the second district, one of the issues that's always been and will always be in the second district, and that's flooding in Cedar Rapids. Where should the government's role be in providing rebuilding efforts for specifically Cedar Rapids, Iowa
City, and in those areas?
Tack: Well, with the government -- on that, they should look at it. They should get some studies done and determine -- especially after 2008, we have a whole lot more data on what could happen if it does again, on what did happen. we also -- with Iowa City, they did -- after the '93 floods, they came in and said, okay, we need to spend all this money on flooding prevention, and they did all that. They said with absolute certainty there won't be any problems here. Then the floods of 2008 came and, of course, those efforts were rendered useless. I think we can do -- have certain measures to prevent or at least reduce the amount of destruction that's going to happen. To say that we can outthwart Mother Nature is a big jump. We’re not going to be able to do that.
Yeager: Where's the personal responsibility on a homeowner or a landowner to prevent flooding?
Tack: It would be up to the buyer of the property to know that they are in a flood zone and that it's very possible. Anybody that lives near a river knows that it's possible, the rivers could come up, and that's their individual responsibility.
Yeager: But if I’m 6, 10, 12 miles from a river, I still contribute on my runoff to that river. So should I have some skin in this and do something, to use their slogan, retain the rain on my property?
Tack: Could you elaborate?
Yeager: Well, there's studies from environmentalists and groups who are looking at the floods who say more could be done on a landowner or homeowner property if I’m not next to the river but to keep water on my property from flowing down to a creek which ends up in a stream, which ends up in the river. Could more be done on an individual's basis to help prevent flooding?
Tack: Possibly. I think you could use some of those studies and pass out that information. But, again, as a constitutionalist, it would be up to the individual to decide if they wanted to do that. But living here in America, we're very reasonable people and we understand these things, that we do have an impact not only on the environment but on our neighbors. We’re not looking to pick a fight with anybody, but it truly is left up to the individual to decide.
Yeager: Gary, you've seen the government involved heavily in Cedar Rapids. What role should they have in the rebuilding of Oxford and Olin and Cedar Rapids and -- pick a town.
Sicard: You know, I kind of reject the notion the federal government has much beyond the initial, for example, let's get people out, let's make sure that people are safe. Beyond that, you start talking about interfering with property rights, and property rights are really the key to this. As Mr. Tack alluded to, we have individual responsibility, and you talked about that as well some. But how does that individual responsibility work? Well, a lot of times what happens is our property rights are what allows us to do something or not do something. Insurance, for example, is one of those things that's a great mandator without the government having to do the mandate. If the insurance tells you you need flood protection and you need to do x, y, and z because otherwise we're not going to insure you, property owners are either not going to live there or they're going to actually make those improvements. Where does the government have to come in other than to say these are certain things that are level across the playing field? Beyond that, I don't think that the federal government really does have a role. Secondly, I kind of reject the concept again of rebuilding efforts. For example, let's take Cedar Rapids. Someone told me from the gazette, I believe, there are 22 buildings that are unused downtown in Cedar Rapids due to flooding. Those 22 buildings are government owned. Well, why does the government have to go back into those buildings? They’re talking about all the tax revenue that's been lost from property owners that have lost their housing. Again, why does the government need to stay in those buildings? If they turned those over to commercial entities, they'd get tax dollars and those buildings would be retrofit for what those folks need and the government can have their offices somewhere else. I don't see a need to have to rebuild those for government only uses. Another thing that I kind of disagree with is the concept of taxpayers from outside of Cedar Rapids having to pay for our buildings to be rebuilt. How is that fair? How is that equal protection under the law? How is that taxation with representation? It’s not. If I’m taking money from the folks in California to give it to Iowa, how is that right? So again, the federal government doesn't really have much of a role other than that initial emergency response. Beyond that it needs to step out of the way and let individual property rights handle how things need to be done in the future.
Yeager: All right. Mr. Monroe, I want to ask you about an issue that's very big in the fifth district, and that's immigration. That’s something you have a very large policy on -- stand on. Where do you see immigration legislation? If you were elected, where should it go in this country?
Monroe: Well, I believe the only way we're going to tackle immigration is to have a comprehensive immigration policy. And I think immigration suffers from the same thing a lot of our industries and other issues in this country. This country needs to modernize. I remember when I was getting ready to get out of high school, they were talking about the year 2000 we were going to have all these things and everything was going to be modernized and light rail cross the country and internet everywhere. Well, what happened to that? It seems like the '80s came and the oil companies came in and everything became petroleum issues. So we need a whole new immigration policy that's comprehensive, and I think the best thing we could do is build all new centers on the border and have it be a complete center kind of like Ellis Island was, where people are virtually checked for everything. Their backgrounds are checked. They could be issued ids. We have new smart card technology that we're not using. And these centers would also provide jobs for people in the border areas. Somebody who is there in this country illegally should have to go out of the country. They could pay maybe a $2,000 fine for being in the country illegally, pay another fine of, say, $500 to reenter so they could go back to the job they already have. And I think that's the only way we're going to do comprehensive -- and we have this issue with children that are born here. We can't just throw them into a country they're totally unfamiliar with. The parents us one issue; they actually came here illegally. But what are you going to do with all these kids? That’s a whole other issue. I think we have to comprehensively look at all the factors involved, otherwise we're going to be going back to this time and time again, trying to do piecemeal fixes. To me that's just not acceptable.
Yeager: Up or down, would you be for amnesty?
Monroe: No, I don't -- I don't -- I don't think we should have amnesty. Like I said, they should -- they should have to pay a fine. If we went over to their country -- if we went over to Mexico, they would throw us in jail in a heartbeat, and we'd have a heck of a time getting legal representation to get out.
Yeager: All right. You all have about a minute to answer this one. What’s the first bill that congressman tack would push forward in congress?
Tack: It would be to defund and repeal the health care bill. We’d also be looking at, after the November 2 elections, with the incumbents going back into session, we'll have to clean up the mess that they're going to leave us from there. We’ve seen what they've done over the last two years, so we know they're going to try to push some stuff through. In the middle of the night, the health care bill that people didn't want, the majority of Americans didn't want, they passed it through. But we would start with the health care bill, get that defunded, get it repealed, and then start looking at all those other wasteful programs and get rid of them.
Yeager: So there was no positives in that health care bill that you saw?
Tack: Not that I saw. When you've got the speaker of the house saying, you know, we need to pass this bill so we know what's in it, there's problems.
Yeager: What would Congressman Sicard do? What would be the first bill that has your name?
Sicard: You know, that's an interesting question because the premise behind that is that legislatures -- legislators go to Washington, for example, to get their name on a bill or to do something. I kind of reject the thought that congress needs to do a lot in the first place. I think congress's job really is to not do so much and to slow down a little bit and to be a little more even keel than just massively passing a lot of bills. But to actually answer your question, you know, there's a couple of things I would really like to see happen, and who knows if they'll be soon or not. first of all, I disagree with the fact that parents can send their kids to public schools the public schools can dictate what they will or won't do, regardless of whether or not the parents like it or not. I think that needs to go away. I think we need some sort of an amendment to protect of the parents' right for their children when they send them to public schools or anywhere else, for that matter, that their rights don't end at the door. Secondly I think, you know, one of the issues we have with congressmen and senators is that they spend more time outside of their districts than they spend in the district. Right now rules of congress allow for congress to meet pretty much anyplace they'd like to do so. So we're in, what, the 21st century already, and we're still physically meeting in a building to do our voting. Why is that necessary? The government has the infrastructure needed to already do this electronically.
Yeager: I need to give Mr. Monroe a minute. What would be the bill that would have your name, Congressman?
Monroe: I’ve been going door to door for the last ten years and talking to people at their doors. I feel that's the best way to gauge what the people want, and I’m supposed to be an extension of them and I should be doing their job when I’m in congress. I shouldn't be worrying about what my party wants or whether I’m going to get reelected. the resounding cries that I hear from people at the door is they're darn tired of a united states congress that doesn't have term limits, they're tired of lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and they're tired of congress getting automatic pay raises, especially when we're in economic times like we are. So it would probably be term limits would be my first piece of legislation. I know that won't go over well with the boys in congress, but I think that's what the people want.
Yeager: So how many terms would you say for congressmen? Two? Four?
Monroe: Eight years for congress and three terms, for eighteen, for the senate.
Yeager: Eight terms for congress in the house -- I’m sorry -- or eight years?
Monroe: Eight years, four terms.
Yeager: So four terms. All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Very good discussion. We are out of time. Very good to hear what you have to say. Our candidate series does continue tomorrow evening at the same time, Wednesday at 6:30. We’ll move on to the federal ballot from the state ballot, and we'll be having candidates from different areas who will appear on the ballot for governor of Iowa -- Eric Cooper, Jonathan Narcisse, Gregory James Hughes, and David Rosenfeld will exchange their ideas and proposals. That’s 6:30 tomorrow evening. We hope that you can join us for some of that energetic political dialogue. Until then, I’m Paul Yeager. Thank you so very much for joining us here on statewide Iowa Public Television.