Newly-minted 8th District congressman Chip Cravaack was the guest on Talk of the Nation today in, presumably, one of his first national radio interviews since his election. The segment featured questions from Minnesota (likely they were listeners to Minnesota Public Radio.) There were no great surprises. Or even little surprises.
Q: Are you prepared to split from your party on occasion?
A: We’ll take each issue on its face. I’ll be representing the people of the 8th District. That’s my job.
Q: Will you be joining the Tea Party caucus?
A: I haven’t decided yet, but the Tea Party’s values are pretty much what my values are, too. I may very well join that caucus.
Q: You plan to try to repeal health care?
A: Repeal, defund, and then replace it with something more patience-centered.
Q: That will take a long time.
A: The Senate is going to be the place where this is going to play out.
Q: (Kathy from Duluth) What’s your position on reauthorization of the Clean Water Act?
A: The Clean Water Act of 1974 is in place. If you’re talking of the AQUA bill, I cannot support that. The state of Minnesota has plenty of safeguards intact that protect our waters. We live here. We’re going to protect it much more than any federal mandates or laws.
(Kathy was disappointed)
Q: (Elizabeth Scott from North Branch) What’s the reasoning for putting a half on the Northern Lights train? It’s going to create jobs.
A: We can’t afford it right now. If we can’t afford something and if it cannot sustain itself — as with other rails in Minnesota — it only creates further debt. Anything that creates further debt at this time, we cannot tolerate. (Bob notes: The obvious follow-up is the question of funding for the wars)
Q: (Matt from Finland, Minn.) What’s your exact counterproposal for health care? A lot of people up here can’t afford private insurance and while what the Democrats passed isn’t great, the thing is something is better than nothing. We have a state health program and that may get the ax?
A: For the state we have one of the best health care systems in the country. The federal program dummies down the state program. We have a great safety net for the people. On the federal level, competition has always been the key in driving down costs. I use Lasik surgery as an example. It’s never been covered under any health care insurance. Through the years, because of the competition, the accessibility has increased dramatically. The quality has increased significantly and affordability is dramatically increased. Competition is the key. Allowing us to purchase health insurance across state lines is another factor.
Q: (Follow up) We have a different set of regulations in Minnesota…
A: Why can’t you go across state lines to purchase better insurance? As a male, you shouldn’t have to purchase maternity insurance. We should also allow people to create buying pools. That creates buying power.
Q: You’re a former airline pilot at Northwest, you were a union steward. How do you go from that to a conservative member of Congress?
A: There’s a fallacy that union members are not conservative. A lot of union members are conservative.
(Bob notes: Airline pilots are quite conservative, since most come from the military)
What got me involved is the massive amount of debt that’s being transferred to our children. I could not sit idly by and watch that.
The congressman-elect was obviously heading heading out of Minnesota for the holidays, which got me to wondering how many of the new Minnesota delegation to Congress is a Minnesotan by birth. The answer: One. Betty McCollum. I’m trying to research whether that’s ever been the case before.
Update Hat tip (h/t) to Aaron J. Brown for providing the answer.