To help provide information to voters on Primary Election candidates, The Billings Gazette invited all Montana U.S. House and Senate candidates to answer a series of questions. Candidate answers to the fourth and final question are printed today. All answers may be viewed at billingsgazette.com at links with today’s opinions.
The Gazette asked: What is the most urgent, important issue affecting Montana that Congress must act on in 2015?
Montana’s U.S. Senate candidates answered:
Dirk Adams: Democrat
Climate change. It’s not a political issue. It’s a reality. The so-called “debate” is just show for the public. Behind closed doors, elected officials are already trying to figure out how to deal with its consequences, even while turning around, playing politics and saying something else to the public in the hope that pretending will protect their jobs. I won’t pretend.
Dirk Adams of Wilsall is an attorney and rancher.
John Bohlinger: Democrat
I believe the most pressing issues Congress must deal with that affects Montanans are these: First, restore the millions of middle-class jobs lost during the recession and prevent unnecessary outsourcing of American labor. Second, fix the Affordable Care Act. Montanans and the people of this country want and need affordable health care. Third, repair and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Our highways, bridges, water and sewer systems need much work. Fourth, continue to push for American energy sources without damaging our beautiful state. Fifth, take care of our returning veterans and emphasize that America is not the world’s police force.
John Bohlinger of Helena is a former Democratic lieutenant governor and a former state Republican lawmaker from Billings.
Steve Daines: Republican
Without a doubt: jobs. We need more jobs and better-paying jobs, so Montana students don’t need to leave our state to find work. We need solutions that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and make it easier to run a small business. I spent 28 years in business, and I know firsthand that Montanans don’t need more Washington-driven policies that create more red tape, hinder resource development, and force more costs on Montana small businesses to pay for Obamacare. In Montana, many of our rural communities and reservations are facing double-digit unemployment. These are the same areas where responsibly managing our forests and developing our natural resources could create hundreds of good-paying Montana jobs — yet senseless Washington regulations are holding these jobs back. That’s why I’m fighting for commonsense policies that grow our economy and create jobs — solutions like building the Keystone XL pipeline or increasing active management of our National Forests.
Steve Daines of Bozeman is serving his first term in the U.S. House.
Champ Edmunds: Republican
Government overreach and over-regulation is the biggest problem for both businesses and individuals. The authority of government agencies run by unelected bureaucrats must be reined in and our constitutional rights must be protected.
The NSA is spying on our private communications, EPA regulations are causing business closures and destroying private property rights, Common Core has overtaken the curriculum decision-making of our local schools and is gathering data on our children and families, the IRS has run amok, Obamacare has gone beyond all reasonable privacy and financial limits, and the list goes on.
The explosive pattern of growth, control and interference of the federal government is alarming and it must be stopped at the earliest opportunity. Constitutional governance must be restored.
Champ Edmunds of Missoula is a state representative.
Roger Roots: Libertarian
Both Democrats and Republicans have imposed such a level of over-regulation on health care policy that Americans are facing an immediate crisis. Medicare, Medicaid, the tax code employment incentive and Obamacare all increase demand without increasing supply, causing prices to rise. In the Senate, I will work to wipe the slate clean and unleash the power of capitalism on health care. This means abolishing each of these programs, eliminating medical licensing requirements, eliminating the FDA approval process, decriminalizing drugs and making all medications available over the counter. If we unleash the power of capitalism on health care, health and life expectancy will increase rapidly. Dreaded diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes will be quickly conquered by entrepreneurs and innovators. Prices will come down so that the poorest Americans will be able to afford care of the highest quality, just as prices have come down in the telecommunications industry.
Roger Roots of Livingston is an attorney and college instructor.
John Walsh: Democrat
Cutting spending and doing it responsibly — not by turning our backs on our most vulnerable citizens. I am also alarmed by Washington's efforts to undermine our constitutional and civil rights. Montana women make only 67 cents for every dollar earned by a man — but partisan politics blocked a vote to even consider the Paycheck Fairness Act. Montanans are proud to respect a woman’s right to make her own health decisions, but Congress has seen some of the most aggressive anti-choice legislation in years. One proposal would treat rape victims like criminals. Montanans cherish our public lands, but the House of Representatives voted to start selling them off.
Montana values are under attack in Washington. I was proud to defend our state in the National Guard and am eager to bring that same courage and commitment to doing what’s right to Washington on our behalf.
John Walsh of Helena retired from the National Guard, was elected lieutenant governor in 2012 and appointed to the U.S. Senate earlier this year.