1. Please describe your background and what has prepared you to serve in the elected office you seek.
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.
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 Do you want the law retained or repealed?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
8. Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.
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.