Not long ago, I entered the race to serve as South Dakota’s next member of Congress. It’s obviously a daunting task. But often those are the tasks most worth doing, and I’m thrilled by the support I’ve received in my first weeks as a candidate.
Since I entered the race, I’ve been talking to folks from every corner of our state. Not surprisingly, I’m hearing from voters disappointed with Kristi Noem – disappointed by unfulfilled promises; disappointed by her leadership role in a dysfunctional Congress.
But people also want to know more about me – what are my convictions? What are my motivations for running? Sometimes the questions are blunt: “When the going gets tough will you be willing to do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may?"
The answer is yes.
I will work with anyone, if they’re right on an issue---and right for South Dakota's interests. But I'm also willing to stand by my principles even when the criticism gets fierce.
That’s why I'm not afraid to say that I would have joined my former boss, Senator Tim Johnson, in voting for health care reform. That may lose me some votes, but the fact is that's what I believe.
It is by no means a perfect law. But we can’t afford to repeal the law, as Kristi Noem voted to do, and go back to the bad old days when insurance companies used pre-existing conditions to deny people coverage, and too many people found out the coverage they paid for wasn’t there when they needed it. Frankly, I think most South Dakotans support the law’s key provisions like providing tens of millions of Medicare recipients with preventive services; closing the prescription drug "doughnut hole"; and making health insurance accessible to tens of millions of Americans who currently don't have it, including 2.5 million young people aged 18-25.
This is a moral issue, plain and simple.
I'm also not afraid to say our country faces a real problem in the growing gulf between the very wealthy and the rest of us. If anyone has any doubt about how big the gap has grown, consider this: the 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than 150 MILLION lower-income Americans! If we are serious about fiscal responsibility, we need to enact spending cuts AND tax reforms to make sure that even the wealthiest individuals and corporations pay at least the same percentage in taxes as the rest of us.
This too is a moral issue – an issue of basic fairness, and I look forward to debating it with Kristi Noem.
I’m also not afraid to say she was wrong when she voted to end Medicare as we know it. She believes Medicare should be a "voucher program," where seniors are forced to shop for private insurance. Worse, if their voucher doesn’t cover their actual costs, —they’d either have to make up the difference out of pocket, or just go without care.
That’s no way to treat seniors. I will oppose the Tea Party’s Medicare-voucherization plan with all my strength.
And I'm not afraid to take a strong stance on family-scale farming and ranching – just as Tim Johnson has for 25 years.
Family farming and ranching is still the life-blood of our rural state, and I’ll fight for long overdue reforms to remove the bias toward the rich and powerful in federal agricultural policy. I'll work to cap farm payments for mega-farms, block meatpackers from anti-competitive practices that tilt the market away from family-size ranches, and implement GIPSA rules to stop meatpackers from giving volume premiums to large corporate producers. To be honest, I also believe voters should be aware that Kristi and her own operation took more than $3 million in federal farm subsidies between 1995-2008, despite her supposed concerns about wasteful government spending.
When push comes to shove, I will speak clearly and from the heart, and let the chips fall where they may. If that is the sort of person you want in Congress--someone who is willing to seek common ground, but also willing to stand up for what he believes is right--then I hope you will join my campaign, and make a contribution by clicking here.
I promise I’ll give this race everything I've got, and I’m convinced we can win. More importantly, I’m convinced we can make a real difference in the lives of middle-class and working South Dakotans.