Editor's note: Stories on each of the five Republican candidates for the U.S. House are continuing today.
HELENA — State Sen. Matt Rosendale of Glendive said he has demonstrated that he is the most effective state legislator among the five Republicans running for the U.S. House.
Four of the five Republican candidates — all but Drew Turiano of Helena — are current or former legislators. Rosendale and Elsie Arntzen of Billings serve in the Senate, while Corey Stapleton and Ryan Zinke previously served there.
“You can check the records and see how we performed,” Rosendale said. “When folks do that, they’ll see that clearly I stand out as the most consistent advocate for gun rights, property rights, the sanctity of life and resource development.”
Rosendale, 53, is a rancher and real estate developer.
“I demonstrated through my work that I can rally other people to support legislation and get it passed,” he said. “The things that we’re looking at are the deficit, the (federal) overregulation and the invasion of our privacy. It all boils down to an expansion of the federal government into the state. I’ve shown I have the ability to reduce spending, I’ve shown I have the ability to reduce onerous regulations and I’ve shown that I have the ability to fight for and restore our privacy and our personal freedoms.”
A top priority is to transfer U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands to the state. Rosendale called that a critical step that would encourage more logging in the northwestern and southwestern parts of Montana.
Second, Rosendale favors limiting the amount of time elected officials can remain in office and said he would serve no more than six years in the House if elected.
“I believe that if we reduce the pension and we reduce the compensation, that we remove the incentive for elected officials to stay in Washington so long.”
Another top priority, he said, is to cut the ability of departments and agencies to impose rules and regulations without congressional oversight.
As for the Affordable Care Act, Rosendale said, “I’m afraid to say I think it’s going to collapse in front of us. My biggest concern is the amount of people that are going to suffer because of it that previously had good coverage.”
Congress must start putting the components in place that conservatives had talked about doing prior to the law’s passage, he said. Health insurance companies should have more freedom to sell insurance across state lines, without mandates. Rosendale called it critical that Congress enact tort reform to limit liability in lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.
Rosendale proposed simplifying the federal tax code. With its exemptions, credits and deductions, the tax code “just opens the door up for every special interest group around the nation to stand in line to try and carve out a safe place,” he said.
He said he doesn’t support the U.S. House Republican budget written by Budget Chairman Paul Ryan because it would take 10 years to balance the federal budget. Rosendale called that unacceptable and said it should be done in no more than five years.
To balance the budget and reduce the budget deficit, he called for allowing business to expand if Congress reduces the burden of federal regulations.
“When I was 20 years old, if you had a $100 bill and a good idea and a strong work ethic, you could start a company,” Rosendale said. “And now, that same $100 bill wouldn’t pay your license fees. I personally don’t think that society is better for it.”
Next, he said, Congress needs to scrutinize and start cutting budgets of agencies.
As for Social Security, the fact is that people are living longer, he said. Rosendale called for telling people in their mid-40s they can’t start drawing benefits until they are 64 or 65 and those in their early 40s that they can’t start to draw benefits until they are 66, and so forth, to give them time to react.
Younger Americans should have the option of investing some of their funds privately instead of sending it to Social Security, he said.
Here’s where Rosendale stands on some other issues:
— Keystone XL Pipeline. Rosendale has long supported the pipeline as a safe way to transport oil, to help United States take another step toward energy independence, to provide jobs, to boost the tax bases of counties through which it runs and to transport some Mon-Dak oil.
— Campaign finance changes. He opposes Congress proposing a constitutional amendment to limit corporate and union political spending after U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
“I think that freedom of speech is just that and groups have the right to support or oppose issues that are going to affect them as well as individuals do,” he said.
— Minimum wage. Rosendale opposes President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.25 rate, calling it “ridiculous.” The minimum wage in eastern Montana is at least $15 an hour, with more jobs than people, he said.
— Immigration. First, Rosendale called for securing U.S. borders so the federal government learns how big the issue is. The United States has 48 different kinds of visas, so there are plenty of ways for people to enter this country legally, he said, calling for tracking to find out where these people are, how long they will be here and when they they are supposed to leave.
Coming Thursday: A look at Corey Stapleton, another Republican running for the U.S. House.