Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.
I work as hard for Utah today as I did on Day One, and I have a proven track record of getting things done. The stakes are high for Utah right now, and I have the vision, drive, and capacity to make a difference for our state. Over the years, I ve earned the respect of my colleagues, and I have the experience to get things past all legislative hurdles. In fact, I was recently ranked sixth for getting bills through the Senate last year. Everything I do benefits Utah. I believe I represent the values and views of most Utahns. We believe in lower taxes, less government, fewer regulations, less centralized power and a wiser use of the power that must be exercised on behalf of the people. We believe in providing true compassion to those struggling in America, not through government handouts, but through creating an environment that enables people to improve their condition.
This is what Utahns want from the federal government, and they can count on me to deliver. I believe in the promise of this great state. I pledge to work with courage and conviction to ensure that our communities needs are met in Congress.
1. Some want to do away with the federal estate tax, oftentimes dubbed the death tax, which the opponents say is unfair. Please discuss your view of the tax. Should it be repealed? If so, how should the federal government make up for the lost tax dollars?
The death tax should be repealed because it dampens savings and economic growth and needlessly complicates estate planning for millions of Americans. A sensible tax system should tax income just once and at a low rate — the inheritance tax does neither. Because of the punitive estate tax, people save less, and businesses have less capital available to expand and create jobs.
The U.S. has the third-highest estate-tax rate among the 50 largest economies in the world (46 percent). I favor an increase in the level of income that s exempt from the estate tax as well as a lower tax rate on the portion of the estate that is taxed.
Repealing the estate tax would increase economic productivity, which has proven to raise overall tax revenues despite previous tax cuts.
The federal government collected $500 billion more this year than in 2004 thanks to the robust economic growth of late.
2. Please describe your opinion of the effectiveness of federal immigration rules, with particular emphasis on those governing the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Please describe one immigration reform you would support.
The flood of illegal immigrants demonstrates the ineffectiveness of our immigration system. We need reform, and it must start at the border. I helped pass laws to hire 5,100 more border agents, build 700 miles of strategic fencing along the border, and create a virtual fence using the latest technology. I ve also increased enforcement in Utah, bringing an immigration court to the state and securing an immigration field office in Salt Lake City that reports directly to Washington.
While we re a nation of immigrants, we should not ignore the rule of law, so I oppose blanket amnesty. I would prefer that those here illegally return to their home country before seeking citizenship. We must give individuals who enter this country legally biometric identification, provide employers with a reliable citizenship-verification system, and establish a guest-worker program that would require workers to return to their home country when their job is complete.
3. Please discuss the circumstances under which you would support sending American troops into battle. What factors will be of most concern to you? Are there any places where American troops are needed but are not deployed or where they should not be stationed but are?
It s never easy sending our brave sons and daughters into harm s way, but sometimes we are called to sacrifice for the greater good of our nation.
Every historical circumstance is different, but all decisions to send American troops into battle are based on the national interest. In the past, we have defined these interests largely by territory — the defense of the homeland, our allies, and regions contiguous. We still prioritize in these matters between vital, critical and peripheral national interests.
The current global War on Terror involves sub-state actors operating globally to plot terror in our homeland. We must be flexible in deploying troops, always seeking to coordinate our best diplomatic, economic and intelligence assets before we commit forces.
4. The national economy has rebounded since the period after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but people have mixed optimism about the economy. Please discuss one method the federal government can boost the economy. In your answer, please address whether tax policies need to be changed in an effort to support the economy.
I support cutting taxes — people know better than government how to spend their money. As our economy continues to grow and people become more prosperous, tax revenue increases. Thanks in part to the tax cuts, the budget deficit for 2006 was only $248 billion. That number is still too high, but it s about 40 percent lower than 2005 s deficit. That s a huge accomplishment. This year s deficit is less than two percent of Gross Domestic Product — a lower rate than deficits from 1980 to 1995.
Some have criticized Congress for lowering taxes while our nation pays for emergencies like two wars and hurricane recovery. But these critics miss the fact that the tax cuts have boosted productivity, which ultimately increases household income as well as the amount of money flowing into the government s coffers. These numbers show that our pro-growth policies have kept the economy on the right track.
5.Americans have suffered through high gasoline prices and proposed solutions vary, from exploring for oil in America s natural treasures to promoting alternative fuels. Please describe a platform for addressing the energy situation, including the alternative fuel you expect will be the most successful and how the federal government can assist in that success.
High gas prices stress the budgets of all Utah families. I authored several provisions in the 2005 energy law to tackle the weakest links in our nation s energy system — lack of refining capacity, dependence on foreign oil, and the need for more alternative sources of energy. These provisions have spurred development of the nation s estimated one trillion barrels of untapped oil reserve in oil shale and tar sands. Refineries are now upgrading their capacity. My CLEAR Act gives tax incentives to those buying alternative-fuel and hybrid-electric vehicles and buying or installing alternative fuel. We re also tapping into geothermal energy, which could provide energy to more than 22 million homes.
A national energy strategy should also include accessing domestic oil reserves in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico and increased support for wind, solar and other renewable energies.
6.The Israeli-Palestinian dispute in 2006 suffered one of its worst flare-ups in years, as Israel waged a campaign against what it described as militants based in Lebanon. Which side is responsible for the hostilities this year and why? Please describe a plan that could result in long-term peace in the Holy Land.
This particular conflict was initiated by an illegal armed terrorist group — Hezbollah — crossing an international border and capturing Israeli Defense Force soldiers, which was clearly an act of war under international law. Israel was justified in its response. Every nation has the right to self-defense, including the right of retaliation to disrupt and degrade terror threats to it.
Long-term peace will be possible when the Palestinian people elect a government that accepts Israel s right to exist, that forswears the use of terror, and that engages in negotiations toward a just territorial settlement. Israel, the U.S., and the international community have long promoted a land for peace approach. Israel has given land, and the Palestinian entity has prevented peace by promoting terrorism. These are big goals that will take time. But the immediate goal is to take out the terror elements.
7.The No Child Left Behind Act is meant to ensure that students achieve their best but critics worry about how much it costs and whether it standardizes education too uniformly. Please discuss the successes and failures of the act. Should changes be made or are you pleased with its effects?
Under NCLB s own standards, the law has had mixed results. The percentage of fourth graders scoring at proficient level on national reading and math tests has risen. But eighth graders have only improved in math, not reading.
I supported NCLB because I knew that states had the option to not participate. But if they did, they would receive substantial additional funding for education. If the law is reauthorized, it needs to be changed or modified to allow more flexibility. Every child deserves a high-quality education, and educators need to be held accountable for providing the highest quality of education. I am a strong advocate for local control of education and want to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility for states within whatever the Federal framework.
8.America continues to occupy Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein and post-Iraqi elections. Please describe what you see as the troops’ mission now, particularly in the context of the potential of worsening sectarian violence. Under what condition should American troops leave Iraq and when do you expect that to happen?
I want to get our brave sons and daughters out of Iraq as quickly as possible.
I support the president s efforts to complete our mission, which is to ensure that the Iraqi people have developed a secure constitutional government. If our nation sets an artificial deadline for the removal of our forces, as some have suggested, all our adversaries need to do is husband their resources until that date and then emerge, possibly destroying all of the accomplishments to date.
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The missing man, Kyle S. Wimpenny, of Boise, Idaho, left for a backpacking trip Sunday, Sept. 13 and was supposed to return home Wednesday, Sept. 16.