The Gazette asked: To reduce the national debt over the long term, should Congress reduce spending, increase tax revenues or both?
Montana’s U.S. House Candidates answered.
Elsie Arntzen: Republican
Our nation’s federal debt is over $17 trillion and only going higher. Montana families and our state legislature all know how to balance a budget, but Washington doesn’t seem to understand that fairly simple concept. As a third generation Montanan who was born and raised right here in Billings, I understand the importance of bringing Montana-made, conservative values to D.C. Stopping our federal government’s out of control spending is one of the most important tasks for our next U.S. representative and it is a major reason why I am running for Congress. My fourth grandchild, Piper, was born this January. When she came into this world, she inherited a $54,000 bill as part of our nation’s $17 trillion debt. That’s simply unacceptable. Montanans can count on me to fight against tax increases, while advocating for reduced government spending to protect current and future generations.
Elsie Arntzen of Billings is a state senator who previously served in the state House. She is on leave from a job teaching elementary school.
John Driscoll: Democrat
Congress will have to do both (reduce spending and increase revenues).
John Driscoll of Helena served in the U.S. Army, retired from the Montana National Guard as a colonel and is now learning to write non-fiction. His most recent elected public office was Montana Public Service Commissioner, where he served from 1981 to 1993.
Mike Fellows: Libertarian
We can reduce the debt by reducing spending and getting rid of non-essential government programs. This year the House passed the Ryan budget that actually increases spending by a annual average of 3.5 percent and in 2024 the budget still spends 1.5 trillion more dollars then today in 2014. So much for a balanced budget in 2024.We need to balance the budget now. Congress will not make the hard choices to reduce spending because of re-election campaigns. Remember spending begins in the U.S. House and the House this year is only working for 116 days. Under George Bush and the Republicans we saw the national debt nearly double. With a current debt of over 16 trillion dollars, neither party wants to control spending. It's time for a change.
Mike Fellows of Missoula is Montana Libertarian Party chairman and a University of Montana graduate.
John Lewis: Democrat
When a broken Congress kicks the can down the road on the national debt, too often it is our children, our parents and rural America left holding the bag. We have a responsibility to reduce the national debt now so that we’re not saddling future generations with the burden. Before tax increases are even considered, we need to eliminate wasteful spending and duplication. Montana’s working families and seniors on fixed incomes must make tough choices about their budgets, and how to get the most out of a dollar, every day. Government must do the same and set some sensible priorities. Reducing redundancy in the bureaucracy, selling unused government buildings, even reducing the number of cars in the government fleet, will result in billions of dollars in savings. If elected, I will introduce legislation denying Congress a pay raise until it passes a balanced budget.
John Lewis of Helena is a married father of two young children.
Matt Rosendale: Republican
I believe in order reduce the national debt, Congress should reduce spending and lessen the burden of regulations that has been placed upon our businesses and families. Most everyone recognizes that the government spends far too much of our money—however, few have actually done anything to curtail that spending. I demonstrated in the state Legislature that I not only have the willingness, but also the ability to identify areas where reductions in spending can be made. More importantly, I gained the support of others to implement those reductions in spending.
Additionally, in a similar manner, I have passed legislation which repealed onerous regulations to promote property rights and a stronger business climate, which ultimately helps us reduce the debt by growing the economy.
Matt Rosendale of Glendive is serving his first state Senate term after a term in the state House. He is a real estate developer.
Corey Stapleton: Republican
Our $17 trillion of debt is the problem, and we didn't get there because our taxes were too low. We got there because our spending is out of control.
The national debt has nearly doubled under President Obama. America is spending money that we don't have by 'charging' it to our children and grandchildren. We need to reduce spending, grow the economy and let American innovation and hard work lead our way back to prosperity.
Corey Stapleton of Billings is a former state Senate minority leader. A former U.S. Navy officer, he works as a financial adviser.
Drew Turiano: Republican
I believe Congress should reduce spending and cut taxes to reduce the debt over the long term. There are a lot of departments of government we can cut. They range from the department of commerce, energy, HUD etc. This will allow us to save billions per year. Also, we should raise tariffs on imports to America. The revenue that we generate from tariffs can be used to pay off the debt. America used to run the government on only revenue from the foreign exchange that was generated from tariffs. That was before the era of so-called "free trade." America should go back to generating revenue through the imposition of tariffs for goods entering our country. Raising tariffs will also force home many American corporations who have shut down American factories across America in order to give those good paying American factory jobs to foreigners in places like China and Indonesia.
Drew Turiano of Helena is a real estate investor.
Ryan Zinke: Republican
Americans are already overtaxed and cutting the budget alone will not return our nation to prosperity. The most effective method of reducing our debt is to grow the American economy by removing excessive government barriers to business and restoring basic free market principles. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers but instead promote opportunity for innovation and success. When hard working families have the opportunity for good paying jobs, America prospers.
Ryan Zinke of Whitefish is a former state senator and former U.S. Navy SEAL. He heads a consulting firm.