Editor's note: Stories on each of the five Republican candidates for the U.S. House will run starting today.
HELENA — State Sen. Elsie Arntzen says she would bring a fresh, different approach to the U.S. House.
The Billings Republican is the lone woman among the five Republicans, two Democrats and Libertarian seeking the open House seat of Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., who is running for the Senate this year.
"My life experiences as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a teacher for 21 years as well as a legislator for five sessions offers a unique perspective on how to govern," Arntzen said.
She said she didn't enter the race because she would be the only female in the race. Arntzen said she knows all the other Republicans in the primary.
"This is an opportunity for Montana because people want change," Arntzen said. "They want something different, while still holding to traditional values. That's what I offer, plus that experience in Helena."
She called herself "the optimist" in the race, someone who believes Montana's best years are ahead of it.
"I think through my educational background that I have the ability to listen to Montanans and to try to find out what the best solutions are," she said. "I am not that conventional congressional candidate that's going to promise everything, but (someone who) is going to use that Montana work ethic to the best of my ability."
Arntzen said a top priority in Congress would be to cut the federal debt, something she would do by reading every bill and weighing that future debt.
"I'm looking to make sure our future in Montana and my kids, my grandkids and Montana's kids and grandkids are going to have an opportunity and are not going to be saddled with the debt," she said. "In other words, we need to rein in government spending."
She said she wants to look to the future to make sure America stays strong and bring back traditional values that America has had as a world leader with energy independence, capital to grow jobs and innovation.
Arntzen called for repealing the Affordable Care Act, saying it can't be fixed.
"This has all been about insurance rather than making Montanans healthier," she said. "We need to make Montanans and Americans be in charge of their own health, and have them make the choice, rather than the government."
She supports health insurance being sold across state lines, encourages association health insurance plans and promotes health savings accounts for individuals.
Health care is one-sixth of the U.S. economy, she said, and Obamacare has 22 taxes that are burdening small businesses.
"Repealing Obamacare will unburden a huge part of our encompassing tax code that we have right now and will get the Internal Revenue System out of health care," Arntzen said.
In addition, Arntzen said she favors simplifying the federal tax code to make it more manageable and equitable.
As for the federal budget, Arntzen called U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's budget "courageous" and supports turning some entitlement programs such as Medicaid back to the states. She endorsed his idea of balancing the budget within 10 years.
She agrees with Ryan's budget plan to keep the promise to Americans with Social Security and to keep the U.S. military whole.
Repealing Obamacare would save $1.7 trillion on the first day, Arntzen said.
She endorsed Ryan's idea of offering younger Americans the choice of getting vouchers under Medicare.
Arntzen said she supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, saying it will boost energy independence.
"That 36-inch diameter pipeline, I look at it as not just growing jobs," she said. "It's a $5 billion project with about 7,000 construction jobs, as well as a multiplier effect (with other jobs)."
Shipping more oil by pipeline also would free up capacity for Montana farmers to transport more of their grain by rail, she said.
Here is where Arntzen stands on other issues:
— Campaign finance legislation. She said she is a firm believer in freedom of speech.
— Minimum wage increase. Arntzen said she opposes Obama's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.25 an hour rate.
The decision should be left up to the states, she said, and the federal government should stay out of "the employers' purview."
— Congressional reform. "Montana needs to send a trustworthy Montanan, someone who understands Montana's traditions, who understands the working of government, but also has a voice that mirrors Montana," she said.
— Immigration. Arntzen called for the United States to strengthen its borders.
Individuals who want to come to work in America need to have the ability to do so with earned citizenship, she said.