Incumbent, Rob Bishop (R) and Donna McAleer (D)
1. Please describe your background and what has prepared you to serve in the elected office you seek.
BISHOP: Before coming to Congress, I was a public school teacher for almost 30 years and I served 16 years in the Legislature, including a term as Speaker. I'm a father of five, a husband, and life-long resident of the First District. I was born and raised in Davis County, graduated from the University of Utah, served a church mission in Germany, and live with my family in Brigham City.
In Congress, I have a spot on the Armed Services Committee where I'm proud to defend our troops and secure funding for our military installations, like Hill Air Force Base, not just because of the jobs, but because they are so critical to our national defense.
I'm also the Chairman of the Public Lands subcommittee where I fight for good management of our lands. Finally, I'm the head of the 10th Amendment Taskforce. I've said since the first time I was running that Washington needs to lose power, and re-establishing the balance of powers between the federal government and the states will help protect individual liberties and make government more effective, accountable and responsive.
Experience and the right principles do make a difference, and that is why I'm running for re-election.
MCALEER: When I was 17, I made the decision to serve our country. I graduated from West Point and was commissioned an officer in the US Army. For me it was a simple decision, I believe in our country, the freedoms we hold and the opportunities afforded to us all. When I left the military, I carried with me the ideals of integrity, service, and commitment to a mission. The oath I took does not expire.
Congress has lost focus on its mission. Recent polls show Congress' approval rating is at 10%. Voters are tired of legislation in Congress being held hostage by partisan rhetoric.
In business leading a division of a global technology firm, I created jobs across the supply chain and managed a multi million-dollar budget. As a former non-profit director of the People's Health Clinic I learned first hand the critical need for access to affordable health and medical care. And as a mom with a 3rd grade daughter, I understand that education is our most important investment. The issues facing our state and our Nation are complex and require legislators with diverse education, relevant experience, and mission focus.
2. The landmark health care law signed by President Obama, known as the Affordable Care Act, survived a court challenge with its core intact. Please identify, if any, one section of the act you support and one you oppose. Do you want the law retained or repealed?
BISHOP: I voted against the government takeover of health care for many reasons. We cannot reform health care by consolidating power in Washington, particularly through a costly individual mandate like this. At the time, Congressmen Shadegg and Boehner both had superior bills which I co-sponsored and which should have been considered but were not. I have voted to repeal President Obama's health care plan entirely and replace it with elements that would lower costs, including among other things expanded Health Savings Accounts and the ability to purchase coverage across state lines. I support efforts that won't put the government between the doctor and the patient but that will foster competition, quality and choice. In health care, we should be turning more to the states for solutions and allow them to take the lead in reform, much like Utah has been trying to do, to meet the needs of their unique demographics.
MCALEER: The ACA is a move in the right direction. There are two distinct issues with health reform: access to care (which for the most part ACA has done well) and paying for care (still a flawed system under ACA). As with any major piece of legislation, it will require review, evaluation and measurement to understand effectiveness.
Several provisions of the act are vital to the health of our local and state economy. These include: young adults staying on their parent's healthcare plan until age 26, no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, and closing the donut hole that left our seniors in dire circumstances.
The plan lacks any accountability of insurance companies as to what they charge. If you have an illness or preexisting condition, companies are able to significantly raise your premiums. They just have to insure you. I support improvements and adjustments to ACA, not starting anew.
3. The unemployment rate in Summit County, though below the national figure, remains elevated as the impacts of the recession linger. What would you tell an unemployed person in Summit County if they asked you what measures Congress could take to increase the rate of job creation in the private sector? Please outline the top priority of your jobs platform.
BISHOP: We can help spur economic growth and job creation by reducing government spending, eliminating burdensome and unnecessary regulations and letting working Americans keep more of their hard-earned money. The House has passed over 30 jobs-related bills during this Congress but the Senate refuses to act. One of the most urgent things that must be done to help the economy is to make the existing tax cuts permanent. If we don't, we'll see a huge tax increase for American families and businesses at the start of next year. Now is not the time to raise taxes and I'm proud of my votes to cut taxes and to try to pass the leanest budgets. We also need regulatory certainty. This Administration seems intent on punishing job-creators and constantly changing the rules of the game, and that needs to stop.
MCALEER: The 83,000 small businesses within the state are the lifeblood of Utah's economy. About 90% of Utah businesses employ 56% of Utah workers. A recent survey of Utah Technology Council's 5000 companies indicated there are more than 2000 jobs currently unfilled.
There are several federal programs aimed at small business and administered by the state. US Congress must work with Summit County economic development to: understand programs objectives, assist local citizens in accessing resources, and monitor the effectiveness and utilization of these programs.
1. Small Business Development Center program assists entrepreneurs in the creation of small businesses and the access of SBA loans.
2. Manufacturing Extension Program assists companies improve their manufacturing operations to create jobs
3. State Small Business Credit Initiative is providing $13.1 Million to Utah to accelerate lending.
Small Business Innovative Research assists technology-based start-up entrepreneurs to access between $100K and $700K to commercialize new technologies.
4. Comprehensive immigration reform remains elusive and mired in partisanship. Please outline an immigration-reform package that you would support, including whether you endorse the clause outlined in the DREAM Act allowing some people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country.
BISHOP: When the DREAM Act came up for consideration in the House, all three of Utah's House members, including Jim Matheson, opposed it. I voted against it for a couple of reasons. First, Speaker Pelosi rammed this bill through the House in a lame-duck session using procedural rules to prevent debate or improvements. There was a better way. Second, I've long believed that we've got to do first things first or we'll never get to legitimate second things, and this is particularly true with immigration reform. To deal with our current problems, help the country be more secure and lower the heated rhetoric on this issue, we must first secure our border. My bill, H.R. 1505, would go a long way in this regard in ensuring border patrol has the access it needs to secure our border on public lands. Once this is accomplished, we can move on to secondary things.
MCALEER: The immigration system is broken and needs comprehensive reform. Reform must be grounded in securing our borders in the interest of national security while simultaneously defining a path to citizenship for individuals and families who are part of our economy.
One aspect of our dysfunctional immigration system that is rarely mentioned is the historical immigration quotas. Current policy seeks to control the number of people entering the US, defines where they should come from, how they must be related to current US residents, and stipulates the kinds of jobs they are eligible to work. Quotas and preferences have been part of this policy for more than a century. It is time to rethink this and relate it to real supply and demand issues of the market.
I support the DREAM Act to allow children of immigrant families to earn a path to citizenship through military service or higher education.
5. Please discuss the successes and failures of U.S. policy in Afghanistan in the decade-plus since the fall of the Taliban shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. What role do you envision the U.S. having in Afghanistan in the future and what is your preferred target for a troop drawdown?
BISHOP: The war on terror, where enemies and borders are sometimes hard to define, is unlike previous conflicts. That means successes and timelines are hard to define as well. We all are saddened at the loss of so many brave American soldiers and we should be grateful for their efforts to make the world a safer place. There is obviously a long way to go, but I'm hopeful that democratic principles are taking hold in these areas. I have consistently said that in terms of strategy, we should give deference to the military leaders on the ground, and not have so-called solutions decided solely out of Washington. I also don't think it's wise to publicly announce to the enemy when we are withdrawing. Finally I believe that once we commit troops, we must provide them with the adequate support and funding for them to do the job asked of them.
MCALEER: As a veteran, I am grateful for the steadfast commitment of our servicemembers and their families. Less than 1% of our population has served or is serving in the military and yet 1% are prosecuting 100% of this 12-year war.
Troop withdrawal was based on several factors including local realities, growing US debt and wide spread public skepticism about US strategy. I support a balanced drawdown that facilitates the Afghan Army in protecting its citizens. We are in Afghanistan due, in part, to the complex political currents in Pakistan. In Pakistan, a weak civilian government is struggling to cope with a myriad of economic and environmental challenges exacerbated by a growing population with low literacy rate. The military continues to lose thousands of men to on-going battles with insurgents. There seems to be increasing tolerance of and support for extremist groups that target American interests in Afghanistan and globally.
6. The fate of SkiLink, a proposed gondola connecting Canyons Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort, hinges on the sale of federal land to a firm under the Talisker Corporation umbrella. Please outline your support or opposition to the SkiLink legislation that is before Congress. What arguments in the SkiLink debate have been the most persuasive?
BISHOP: The Wasatch Range Recreation Access Enhancement Act was introduced in the Senate by Senator Hatch and Senator Lee and in the House by me and Congressman Chaffetz. The current version simply directs the Secretary of Agriculture to convey, by sale, a parcel of federal land for the construction of a public-access transportation link between ski resorts. An appraisal must take place and fair market value would need to be paid. Even more significantly, the bill requires that in making the transfer, the government still abides by all the applicable provisions of the National Environmental Policy (NEPA) Act and the Endangered Species Act. I think there are tremendous benefits that could come from this sort of transportation link. I appreciate the discussions and public input from all sides and recognize that this is a work in progress.
MCALEER: I am focused on building upon the economic contribution from tourism, outdoor recreation, and ski and snowboard industries. I am opposed to SkiLink due to the precedent it would set of the sale of federal road less land to a foreign corporation without public input.
While several arguments have been made in support of SkiLink, they are specious:
1. Traffic mitigation in Big Cottonwood Canyon and through Parley's Summit. How much traffic can a ski gondola mitigate during 4 months of the year?
2. The purchased land would go through the Salt Lake watershed. With the population of Salt Lake County expected to double in 25 years, this watershed affects the safety and well being of hundreds of thousands of people.
3. This is an invasion into the backcountry where people earn their turns and have for fifty years. It is an untouched sanctuary for wildlife and the natural environment.
7. The nation's energy portfolio is increasingly diverse, but it continues to heavily rely on fossil fuels and imported oil. Please describe your ideal energy portfolio and what measures you would support in reaching that goal. In your answer, please address what impact your ideal portfolio would have on gas prices.
BISHOP: One of the best things we could do for our country and economy is adopt a real, comprehensive energy policy. I'm proud to be a leader in the fight for an all-of-the-above energy approach, and have sponsored multiple pieces of legislation to do just that. I support an energy portfolio that is a mix of traditional and renewable sources. I encourage folks to review the provisions in two of my previous bills: The American Energy Innovation Act and the No Cost Stimulus Bill. Both represent a balanced approach of development that would go a long way towards energy independence. Energy development is one of the main vehicles that fuels our economy, powers our factories, enables our manufacturing, and provides the resources and raw materials that are the backbone of our economy. Energy is a main way jobs can be created and it's a key to long term growth.
MCALEER: Utah has an abundance of conventional, unconventional and renewable resources. Federal, state and local officials must work together to find the right balance between energy research and development, public land stewardship, and sustainable environmental management.
This effort includes developing fossil fuels and increasing the use of renewable and alternative sources from solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels. We cannot continue to maintain dependency for oil on hostile states that do not share our values.
Utah industry needs to drive renewable energy portfolio standards. Utah needs to become smarter about developing its conventional and unconventional energy resources on state-owned land to drive tax revenue for educational funding.
Gas prices are a critical issue that puts a squeeze on working families every day. As demand from developing nations continues to increase, oil prices are likely to continue to rise. This makes it more imperative that we move toward a 21st century energy portfolio.
8. Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.
BISHOP: I always try to run positive campaigns based on who I am, my philosophy, what I've done, and what I hope to still accomplish – so I'll pass on speaking about any of my opponents. This election is not really about me or my opponents anyway. It's about the people of the First District. It's about their future and their right to vote for someone who has the experience and principles to best represent them in Washington. I'm a lifelong resident of Utah. I spent 28 years as a teacher and 16 years representing my community in the Legislature. That experience does make a difference. I also think that on the issues I represent the mainstream of northern Utah. I've tried to be right on the issues and in the right positions to get things done. I try to work hard and not take myself too seriously or worry about credit or attention. I'm proud of my consistent votes to cut taxes and eliminate wasteful Washington spending. I'm a passionate defender of our state and a tireless advocate for federalism – turning more power back to the states and the people where it belongs – and look forward to continuing that fight.
MCALEER: The challenges facing Utah and our country are significant and complex. I care deeply about getting our economy back on track, practicing fiscal responsibility and balanced budgetary discipline, strengthening our struggling education system, stewarding our public lands and iconic wilderness, developing energy resources responsibly, ensuring access to affordable healthcare and honoring the commitment to our veterans. However, I believe the biggest difference between us is in the approach.
Nothing is going to get done on any of these critical issues until more elected officials are sent to Washington who are committed to progress. We need representatives who will put duty, patriotism and people above self, partisanship and politics. The inaction of the 112th Congress has yielded economic uncertainty, farmers without drought relief, and a Department of Defense facing unprecedented cuts that threaten our national security. Unfortunately my opponent has shown a clear commitment to obstructionism and partisanship that has contributed to this inaction.
I learned from my time in the Army that the military is about the mission, and Congress has lost focus on its mission. My campaign slogan of "Not Left. Not Right. Forward." is a commitment to you that I am focused on delivering results.