Steve Olsen |

Steve Olsen

Please differentiate yourself from your opponent.

Congressman Bishop is a good man, but he does not represent Utah, he represents the national Republican Party. His voting record conforms 97 percent of the time to orders from party leadership, as they have abandoned their own principles and sold Congress to powerful special interests.

He claims to be against excessive spending and talks a good talk, but while independent Western Democrats like Jim Matheson and principled Republicans like Jeff Flake have spoken eloquently against pork-laden budgets and voted against them, Congressman Bishop votes for them.

I will not be a rubber stamp in Congress. I will not vote for bills that violate our Utah values or interests just because I m ordered to by party leadership. And I will not complain of failure because the bills I worked on didn t pass because of Senate opposition to their narrow, partisan focus.

As an engineer, I know the best solutions come from getting all the ideas on the table and forming a broad consensus for solving America s problems.

The Constitution was created by such a process, and it produces the best legislation. I have the skills to take the diversity in Congress and turn it from partisan sniping to productive uses.

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 Should it be repealed?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?

Common sense adjustments to the estate tax, to protect small businesses and middle-class heirs are a good idea. But I am opposed to the irresponsible idea of stealing money from our grandchildren through deficit spending to allow Paris Hilton to live tax free.

If we expect low and middle-class wage earners to pay taxes, wealthy heirs should also have to pay their fair share – especially since it s multi-millionaires who have received the lion s share of the benefits the last few years from the nation s economic growth.

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.

As an engineer and problem solver, I m trained to look for the root cause of problems to find the best solutions.

Building a fence across one-third of the Mexican border will do nothing to solve the nation s immigration problem, because it does not address the root cause: Undocumented workers can easily find jobs here.

Our laws do not give honest employers the tools to determine if applicants are here legally, the Bush Administration has drastically cut workplace enforcement, and members of Congress regularly meddle in Homeland Security efforts to prosecute employers. Only a comprehensive plan will fix the problem. I favor the blueprint from the Western Governor s Association, authored by Governor Huntsman and Governor Napolitano of Arizona.

Border security is important for many reasons, but we need a comprehensive plan for protecting all of America s borders, especially her ports, rather than a grandstanding gesture that does not actually fix anything.

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?

The primary purpose of America s military is not to fight wars, but to keep the peace by preventing war through deterrence. The historical record clearly shows the primary reason the Bush Administration attacked Iraq was not WMD or ties between al Qaeda and Saddam, it was the desire to provide a lesson to rogue states that opposed us. Like other adventures of this type, it backfired – thanks to the breathtaking incompetence of our civilian military leaders, the message we unfortunately sent to potential enemies was that a well executed insurgency can be successful against our military. The lesson is that we provide the greatest deterrence by keeping our sword strong and ready to strike – but remaining in its sheath except when absolutely necessary. We should only commit troops when there is a clear and present danger, and then use overwhelming force to achieve a complete and quick victory.

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.

The economic growth numbers show an incomplete picture. Statistics clearly show the purchasing power of the middle class has fallen the last six years, with the benefits of growth going to millionaires. Economic growth fueled by massive deficit spending is like a family maxing out all their credit cards; it will have to be paid for. The American people have more common sense than Republican leadership; national uneasiness over the economy demonstrates this.

To thrive in this century we must maintain our leadership in technology and innovation. So the most important thing the government can do to boost the economy is to provide excellent education to our children.

Other than the important goal of simplifying our income tax system, we should look at the way we tax our exporting industries. Moving from corporate income taxes to a VAT tax would help them be more competitive under current international trade laws.

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.

I support the call by progressive leaders and scientists that our generation s moon shot should be to make this nation energy independent in 10 years. This must be a broad-based approach, a partnership between private industry and government, to promote new technologies in conservation, bio-fuels, wind and solar, nuclear research, coal gasification etc. America should be leading the family of nations in this effort; we are currently behind.

Although the effort must be broad-based, one exciting prospect is the technology of creating ethanol from fibrous plant material rather than grains and sugar. I envision great American universities like agricultural giant Utah State working together to perfect this technology, and Utah farmers harvesting sawgrass and sending it to farmer-owned, bio-fuel plants. Wouldn t it be nice to send those millions of dollars to Utah farmers and Utah workers rather than Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

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.

I believe an emboldened Iran is responsible for the attack by Hezbollah on Israel – and there is no question that Iran s new, belligerent attitude is largely because they no longer fear us because we are bogged down in Iraq. Iran would not have dared to act this way four years ago. There are no easy answers to peace in the Holy Land. But it will not happen without America s leadership, and for America to lead, we must be seen as an honest broker by the Islamic world. The mistakes of our civilian military leaders in Iraq have seriously damaged our standing in the region; America is hated not only by Islamic extremists, but by average Muslims. New leadership is required to solve this problem. I support Gov. Bill Richardson s ideas for restoring America s moral leadership in the world – including the Middle East.

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?

No Child Left Behind has been a mistake. The Department of Education is important, but should serve as a resource, not a dictator for the states. I envision a DoEd that offers things like training courses for people interested in running for school boards, research into best practices here and around the world on effective teaching techniques, and help in equalizing funding so states like Utah with large tracts of federal land are not penalized for a lack of taxable property to be used for our schools. One thing our state leaders must not forget, however, is the important principle that our schools must ensure students from all socio-economic groups receive an equal chance at a great education, including higher education.

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 have spoken to many of our Iraq War veterans, such as Sgt. Marshall Thompson, who I supported in his walk across the state to inform Utahns of the real truths: that we have asked one percent of our citizens to fight this war, that our troops are despairing over the lack of a strategic objective, and that it s shameful that our leaders are engaged in partisan sniping and name calling while our troops continue to shed their blood in an alien desert. We need a non-partisan plan that all Americans can unite behind to bring this thing to a conclusion. A bipartisan group from Congress, over the objections of Donald Rumsfeld, instituted the Iraq Study Group last spring under the leadership of James Baker and Lee Hamilton. This distinguished group is working to come up with just such a non-partisan plan. Their recommendations are due after the elections.

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