Contributions by zip code: John Mues (D)
Primary questionnaire responses
Particularly as the nation deals with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, what federal action would you support to help create good, high-paying jobs for Montana workers?
My proposal — published in Havre Daily News — is different than anyone's in the country. I am calling for — as a hedge against a possible prolonged bout with COVID-19 — suspension of all small business and personal expenses. This, as opposed to compensatory revenue schemes, will not result in subsidy-revenue mismatch, will alleviate undue pressure to prematurely re-open the economy, and is sustainable. In addition, government subsidies for essential goods and services should be supplied. In effect, we need to "freeze" our economy in place, rather than risking countless personal and business bankruptcies and the fracturing of our nation.
What separates you from your primary opponents as your party’s best candidate to represent Montana in Washington, D.C.?
I am not another attorney and career politician, of which there are already too many in the U.S. Senate. That body needs something far different and the existential nature of the problems we face demands it: someone who grew up particularly humbly in Montana and who has lived in eastern, central, and western Montana; Naval Academy-commissioned naval officer with decorated service and leadership in hot spots throughout the world; international business and governmental (NATO) experience; Montana public school teacher and union member; Montana cattle ranch owner; one who has grown up and worked on a tribal nation in Montana; world-class grasp of economics and job creation; engineer deeply versed in renewable and traditional energy systems and able to navigate a best path to a clean energy economy tackling climate change.
If elected to the Senate, how would you attempt to bridge partisan divides to represent the concerns of Montanans who don't share your political orientation in Washington D.C.?
I have lived and worked with Republicans and Libertarians all of my life. Many are my good friends. There is no politician in Montana today who can feel as at-home in any corner of our state. This is based not on compromising on principles — which I don't — but connecting personally based on a shared Montana heritage, military service in a combat zone, highest integrity, and ability to articulate the solutions to complex problems.
Would you have voted to convict President Donald Trump of abuse of power or obstruction of justice based on the evidence presented to the U.S. Senate in his impeachment trial earlier this year? Why?
Yes. I have worked with countries trying to thwart Russian aggression. The placating of Russia's Vladimir Putin, vis-a-vis withholding needed military aid to Ukraine's President Zelensky in exchange for denigrating a political opponent of President Trump, was shameless, illegal, and betrayed the trust of the American people. (Please see op-ed I wrote in the Flathead Beacon regarding this topic.)
Do you see reining in the federal debt as a priority? If so, how should that be accomplished? If you support new taxes, whom specifically should that burden fall on? If you support spending cuts, which specific places in the federal budget should be targeted? (We assume that working to minimize waste, fraud and abuse is a given.)
Conditionally, yes. Timing is the key piece to debt reduction. In an emergency or given the multi-decadal lack of public infrastructural investment or in disinflationary conditions — our current state — debt reduction should come second to high-return on investment investing, which could result in deficit expansion. Foremost, we need to invest and rebuild our country. Then, appropriately, deficit and debt reduction.
Do you support keeping the Affordable Care Act in place? What if any alternate federal policies would you support to promote Montanans’ access to safe, affordable health care?
We need to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to fend off Republican attacks against the Affordable Care Act, which has done some real good, while fighting for a system that truly inculcates the idea of health care as a human right, unrealized by the Affordable Care Act. That could mean a public option or Medicare for all — each has merit. Given mass unemployment due to COVID-19 (and due to employment pressures from automation and globalization), the present construct of employer-linked health care must be reworked.
Do you believe the federal government has enacted effective policies to keep Montana’s family-owned farms viable businesses? If not, which pieces of federal policy would you push to change?
As a former Montana farm and cattle ranch owner and as one who still lives in rural Montana, the agricultural industry faces excessive consolidation pressures, impacting Montana's family-owned farms. Local, family-owned farmers and ranchers need to be empowered. Antitrust review must be applied to (usually) out-of-state conglomerates in the supply chain that skew profits away from the little guy and towards large multinationals. Moreover, macro-economically, we need to find ways to stand up to China short of all-out trade wars during which our farmers and ranchers become vulnerable. We need Country of Origin Labeling, as well. In addition, we need to advertise Montana-produced goods to a much greater degree, which would provide additional revenue to family-owned farms and to Montana broadly. Finally, we need to replace politicians — from Sonny Perdue to Steve Daines — who favor the big agricultural players over the small guys.
Should the federal government consider transferring some federally held land into state ownership?
Unequivocally, no. That is a tactic that ultimately puts public lands in private hands, depriving Americans of quality public land access and hurting public land-dependent businesses. To do so would not only be immoral, it would be anti-business.
Do you support the Montana Water Rights Protection Act implementing the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes Water Compact in its current form before Congress?
Yes, and as one who has struggled to secure an under-attack senior Montana water right myself. Water is precious. Tribal nations are precious. Our farmers and ranchers are precious. And we do not want to squander capital, time, and focus re-litigating a water compact that strikes an impressive balance across stakeholders.
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