(Nancy Dallas) – Joe Heck is running for the Congressional District 3 seat, currently held by Democrat Rep. Dina Titus. You can learn more about Joe’s background and political views at www.heck4nevada.com
1. Please write a brief summary of your professional and political history.
I am an emergency medicine physician who also operates a consulting company specializing in emergency preparedness/response and medical aspects of terrorism. I serve in the US Army Reserves, holding the rank of Colonel and commanding a Medical Group comprised of more than 2,000 soldiers in six states. I was honored to serve the residents of Senate District 5 as State Senator from 2004-2008. During that time I sat on the following committees: Commerce and Labor, Education and Human Services, Natural Resources, and was vice-chair of Transportation and Homeland Security.
2. What past experiences do you think best qualify you to represent Nevada in Congress? Why do you want to replace Dina Titus?
My more than 30 years of public service as a community volunteer, small business owner, military service member, and healthcare professional provide me with the real-world experience to tackle the tough issues we face as Nevadans and Americans. Dina Titus lacks this depth of practical experience.
3. Should individuals be allowed to contribute unlimited amounts of money to Federal candidates? Would you support a law requiring immediate disclosure via the internet of large contributions? Do you have any suggestions as to how campaign finance laws could become more transparent?
I believe campaign contributions are a “freedom of speech” issue. If someone feels that strongly about supporting a candidate that they are willing to invest their own money, then why should they be prohibited from doing so? I am not opposed to transparency in this process, and would support more timely disclosure of contributions through a web-based portal.
4. What are your greatest concerns with the recently passed health care reform bill? What would you specifically propose to address your concerns?
Health care reform is such a critical issue that it simply cannot be done effectively in such a wide-ranging bill that includes many provisions that have nothing to do with health care! The cost of the bill and the accounting gimmickry used by the proponents is a great concern – this bill will saddle future generations with increased debt. The legislation cuts $500 billion from Medicare, institutes billions in new taxes and penalties on individuals and businesses, and still leaves 13 million people without coverage.
I would approach this problem through a more deliberative process and break it down into smaller pieces targeted at specific issues.
• The uninsured poor – I support allowing individuals who make <100% of the FPL to enroll in Medicaid. For those between 100%-300%, I would allow them to buy into the Medicaid system rather than create another bureaucratic program to provide coverage, and provide increased assistance to the states to offset the costs, while transforming Medicaid to a block grant program: Allow the states to determine how best to take care of their residents.
• Increase access – move to an individual-based market with each person able to buy the policy they want from whom they want and from wherever they want: allow free-market principles to work. This would provide individuals with a policy that is truly theirs regardless of job status or where they live – it is truly portable.
• Control costs – weeding out fraud, waste and abuse should be an on-going priority and doesn’t require a 2,700 page bill to enforce.
• Comprehensive tort reform is another critical component to curtailing costs that is left out of the current legislation.
I could go on forever on this topic, but there are other questions to answer!
5. Our national debt is growing at an astronomical rate (to $1.4 trillion this past year). Do you support a ‘balanced budget’ amendment to the Constitution? If so, specify your plan to create an annual balanced budget?
I do support a balanced budget – we have it at the state level. I support a PAYGO requirement that only allows for a decrease in spending for every increase, not the option of increasing revenue, as was recently passed. I also believe it is time we completed a bottom-up review of all government programs and offices to determine if they are still needed or effective – create a commission similar to the military BRAC to assess where we can down-size government, thereby containing costs. We must get back to the legitimate functions of government as delineated in the U.S. Constitution.
6. Do you support the current U. S. military’s rules of engagement in Afghanistan? Explain. Should accused terrorists be tried in civilian courts of law? Explain.
As a military member, I do not support the current ROE. I believe they are overly restrictive and place our young men and women in uniform at increased risk. Certainly we must exercise extreme caution to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage, but if we want to accomplish the mission, we must provide our troops with the tools they need to get the job done. I do not support trying terrorists, captured by the military on the field of battle, in civilian courts. This only gives them the notoriety and exposure they desire to propagate their end-goals: the destruction of America.
7. Nevada’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation. What, if any, steps should be taken by the Federal government to specifically address Nevada’s unemployment concerns? Do you feel Nevada received it fair share of ‘bail-out’ money? Has the ‘bail-out’ program been successful in your district? Do you support the bail-out program?
The role of the Federal government in addressing unemployment should be one of support and not primary action. Government cannot create a demand where none exists. If we want to increase employment, then we must have people demanding goods and services. To increase that demand, those people must have more disposable income in their pockets to spend. If we want to add jobs, we must provide a stable, predictable tax structure for individuals and businesses, minimize onerous regulations on businesses while ensuring consumer safety, and reward, instead of penalize, success through the repeal of the death tax and markedly reducing, if not eliminating, long-term capital gains taxes.
Whether or not Nevada received its “fair share” is moot – the bailouts and stimulus were destined to failure before the money was released. According to Recovery.gov, in the reporting period of 01 Oct-31 Dec, 2009, CD 3, the most populous district in the state, received the least amount of money and had the fewest jobs created!
8. How would you propose the Federal government address the issues related to:
• The unabated migration of illegal aliens into the United States to
• The large population of resident illegal immigrants?
Immigration reform must contain four principles:
• Secure the border through technology and boots on the ground;
• Remove incentives to illegal immigration – make E-verify mandatory and institute harsh penalties for those that do not comply;
• Strict enforcement of current immigration laws and enhanced support of the 287G program;
• Reform the legal immigration system from priority/quota based system we have now to facilitate family reunification
9. What would be your priorities in resolving concerns related to the increasing dependency of the Untied States on foreign oil? What measures would you propose at the Federal level to help alleviate Nevada’s high energy costs? Do you support Nuclear energy? How do you propose we resolve the dilemma of dealing with nuclear waste?
We must utilize all of our domestic resources to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, both for our economic and physical security. As the veritable “petri dish” of renewable energy, Nevada should become the leading state in renewable energy R & D – this would bring long-term, high-paying jobs to Nevada and the results of that research would yield lower energy costs for all Americans.
Nuclear energy must be a part of the solution. Increased research on the Thorium Reactor should take place at Yucca Mountain, turning the site into a leading research location. Thorium reactors burn cleaner, produce less toxic waste and can actually consume the waste from traditional plants, thereby offering a small part of the overall solution of what to do with highly radioactive waste.
10. Is there a Federal department/cabinet position you would support eliminating? Explain.
• As stated in question 5, I believe all agencies should be evaluated. Certainly I have some ideas that come to mind: The Department of Education was created by the Department of Education Organization Act in 1979 under Jimmy Carter and our students were performing better before the Department’s formation than they are today—so what has 30 years of D.C. involvement in local education done for the students of America? Adding thousands of Washington D.C. bureaucrats to help direct the education of Nevada’s children is an ineffective answer – education should be left to the states, to principals, parents and teachers. My children are incredibly different and that’s just one American family…how can a bureaucrat that’s probably never met my child, never been in their school or never taught in a classroom say what is best to teach my son algebra? I have a child in Nevada’s public school system and if someone can tell me how his education is better today and how he’s better prepared to compete on a global level than students were BEFORE the creation of the Department of Education I am open to learning more, but I don’t know that the empirical data proves that out.
• The Department of Homeland Security may be another area for review: it has done little to actually increase our ability to keep our homeland secure while spending large sums of money. I believe that Congressman Duncan of Tennessee was right when he stated in 2002 that the proposed Department would make the government bigger, more bureaucratic, and more expensive without making the country any safer. Over time, not much has changed. During testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee six weeks prior to Hurricane Katrina by then-Secretary Chertoff, Congressman Bennie Thompson, the ranking member and current Chair of the committee remarked,” Your review and proposed reorganization confirms what many of us on this committee have known for a while: The department is broken. Some of us have been waiting quite a long time for the repairman to show up and fix the agency.” As a person who has served in the military for 20 years I believe that protecting the American people and our homeland is the first and foremost priority of the Federal government. Unfortunately Washington D.C. added more bureaucracy instead of boots on the ground in its effort to protect us.
11. Should the Federal government be involved the regulation of our nation’s public school education system? If so, to what degree? Are you satisfied with the “No Child Left Behind” law? Explain.
Education is an area best left to the states to ensure the educational curriculum is meeting the needs of the students in that particular state. NCLB was a good concept with a flawed execution – you simply cannot make wide-ranging comparisons of performance across the country and believe they are statistically valid.
12. The inclusion of wasteful, foolish “pork” and “earmarks” in federal legislation is an historical practice – the public and many elected officials decry this practice, but, with no one wanting to be left off of the gravy train, it seems it is impossible to curtail. As a U.S. Congressman, what will you do in regards to this issue?
I do not support the earmark process, especially when the inserted earmark has nothing to do with the underlying content of a particular piece of legislation but is attached because it is a “must pass” bill. All potential appropriations should be openly debated in a transparent manner, not inserted in the dark of night. During the 2007 legislative session in Carson City I was one of two senators that voted against the end-of-session pork bills. As a Congressman, I will introduce legislation that will include such reforms.
13. Should the United States support Israel in their efforts to protect their nation’s security and safety of its citizens? Explain.
As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel finds herself in a position where the unwavering support of the United States is critical to the very survival of the Jewish state. In a region of recurring instability and significant strategic importance, and as terrorist entities consolidate power along her borders, the United States’ firm commitment to the continuation of a Jewish state is vital to Israel’s future. The centerpiece of this commitment must be an on-going level of security assistance foreign aid necessary to safeguard our mutual interests.
A strong alliance with Israel must continue to be a vital pillar in our nation’s national security strategy. In a region that is unstable and where rogue countries continue to be hostile to America, our relationship brings a level of stability to the most volatile region of the world and brings us much needed support in our counterterrorism efforts. The Jewish state finds herself on the front lines in the struggle between radicalism and moderation in the Middle East. The fall of Israel would signal a weakness to western influences in the region and will only bolster the resolve of the terrorists and their fight against the west. Strategic cooperation between our two countries serves our vital national interests.
14. How would you propose to reform the Social Security program?
I believe that any individual should have the right to voluntarily take their portion of Social Security withholding and invest it as they deem appropriate. It is arrogant of government to think that they can invest someone’s money better than they can. Since this would be voluntary, any individual who would exercise this option must understand that they are assuming the risk associated with private investment. The employer contribution should continue to go to the Social Security program and the benefit upon retirement calculated based on those contributions.
15. Senator Harry Reid has a long history of using dubious Congressional rules and procedures to skirt normally accepted procedures in order to promote/pass his personal/party’s agenda. If elected, it is likely you will be a member of the minority party in Congress. What would be your position in regards to skirting the normal process in this manner in order to gain approval of your (the Republican) agenda?
I have lived my life based on the principles of integrity and personal courage – I play by the rules, period.
16. Would you support the designation of additional ‘Wilderness Areas’ in Nevada? Elaborate. Do you have any proposals in mind, or been approached by others, in regards to Public Lands Bills for any area of Nevada? Elaborate.
I believe that the key word in Public Lands is “Public.” While recognizing the need to protect certain resources, we cannot simply deny access or specific types of use in areas that have been long-enjoyed by Nevadans.
17. Is there any issue I have failed to address that you would like to comment on? Go for it…….
This was pretty comprehensive! Thanks for the opportunity!