Lewis talks decreased taxes, regulation with Goodhue residents
Editor's note: Reporter Maureen McMullen followed candidates Angie Craig and Jason Lewis on the campaign trail. Read about the Angie Craig stop here.
GOODHUE — More than 20 neighbors, farmers and local business owners gathered at Buck's Unlimited dairy farm Thursday, Sept. 22 for a visit with Republican congressional candidate Jason Lewis.
Known for his career in radio, Lewis vies with Democrat Angie Craig for Minnesota's 2nd District, which encompasses Goodhue, Dakota, Scott and Wabasha counties as well as parts of Washington and Rice counties.
Although he's endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota, Lewis said in his opening statements Thursday he plans to run as a more independent candidate to tackle an "onslaught" of federal regulations and taxes hindering economic growth.
"Somebody has to have the courage to go to Washington and just say 'no,'" he said. "Let me be perfectly honest: you've got to say 'no' across the aisle. You've got to say 'no' to both sides. For too long, the Republican Party has been the party of good government conservatism. We've regulated, we've done whatever it took to get elected. We've placed party over principle."
He outlined plans to challenge the federal government's "monopoly of force," which included implementing sunset legislation — laws that will expire at a specific date unless legislators pursue an extension — and supporting the termination of the tax code in 2019, which Lewis said would lower tax rates by 12 to 13 percent.
He also described the 2016 presidential election as a "tipping point" in the United States, particularly for family farms and small businesses.
"This election is very important, because if Hillary Clinton wins, the Supreme Court is lost for a generation," he said. "Everything you hold dear regarding returning power to the states, the limited government, regarding the kilo decision with private property, regarding your right to defend your life and liberty with the Second Amendment — that's our law if Hillary Clinton gets in."
Lewis welcomed questions from attendees following his statements, garnering inquiries about his stance on issues ranging from environmental regulations to immigration and economics.
He described himself as a free-trader while answering a question about his views on world trade.
"There's a lot of things that can be done with global tax reform that deserve a look," he said. "But there's no question that free trade is crucial to Minnesota agriculture and is a principle of modern economics that I support."
Although he lauded the benefits of opening trade with Cuba, he criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership for deviating from "pure free trade."
"I'm not a big fan of multilateral organizations because it's not real free trade," he said.
One attendee asked Lewis about his stance on immigration, particularly regarding guest and seasonal laborers who work in Minnesota's agricultural industry. Lewis said he'd be willing to look into migrant worker programs but emphasized his focus on protecting U.S. borders.
"My line in the sand is, in the midst of a war on terror, the first thing you do is control who gets in this country and who doesn't," he said. "If there's an opportunity (in guest worker programs), I'd be more than happy to look at that, but I'm not going to back off on making certain that the United States of America has a border. A nation without a border is no nation at all."
Guests at the event also voiced concern over proposals for a high-speed train that would run through Goodhue County on a 100-mile route between the Twin Cities and Rochester.
Lewis said he'd prefer see gas tax revenues go toward highway transportation rather than mass transport such as rail.
"We do have an infrastructure problem, we do need more revenue," he said. "I'm not opposed to that, but I want it to go to roads and bridges."
The topic of environmental regulations on water emerged in the discussion, during which Lewis said federal government oversteps its authority with water buffers.
"Unless there's an interstate component to something, the federal government may not regulate it by the interstate commerce law," he said. "So, how is it that they can come on this farm and say that's an interstate navigable waterway?"
Ann Buck, who operates Buck's Unlimited with her husband, Dave, and family, said she was impressed by Lewis' background knowledge of the issues, particularly health care for independent businesspeople and the federal school lunch program.
"We're fortunate that he came," she said. "I just think (voters) need to educate themselves on the history of some of those regulations that were put into place. Just to find out the facts and what's really going to be for the benefit for us and our children."
For Lewis, visits like that to Buck's farm solidify his commitment to the issues he identified in his campaign.
"I'm always amazed at the knowledge and the talent that goes into an operation like this," he said. "Intellectually, I can talk about it on the radio or in a campaign all day long, but when you get out here, it's validation. ... Everybody in politics and the press should run a business. Think of how much better the reporting and the policy would be. They just don't understand the challenges."