On the issues
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?
Infrastructure investments create jobs that can’t be outsourced, strengthen our economy, and improve commerce. Investing in infrastructure will help America rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, revitalize hard hit Montana communities, and ensure we remain competitive globally. As governor, I passed and signed the largest infrastructure investment in over a decade to improve our buildings, bridges and water and sewer systems across the state to create good-paying jobs and boost the state's economy.
Additionally, the federal government should invest in apprenticeship programs nationwide. As governor, I worked across the aisle to pass a law providing businesses with a tax incentive to offer on-the-job training to increase apprenticeships across the state. Apprenticeships not only create jobs but keep jobs in Montana — almost 90% of apprentices stay in Montana after completing their programs.
What separates you from your primary opponents as your party’s best candidate to represent Montana in Washington, D.C.?
As governor, I've worked my level best to represent all Montanans. With our politics more divided than ever, we've been able to accomplish a great deal for the people of Montana. I’ve worked across the aisle to expand Medicaid to cover 90,000 additional Montanans, boost job training programs, build up our infrastructure and defend access to public lands. We’ve also enacted some of the toughest campaign finance regulations in the country to fight the corrupting influence of money in our system.
Right now, Washington is broken and Montanans are fed up with the political games in our capital. I’ve been able to find common ground with people that I don’t agree with one hundred percent of the time to improve and protect Montanans’ lives. I’m running for the Senate to continue the work I started, including increasing access to health care, creating more good-paying jobs, and keeping our public lands in public hands. I’m running for the Senate to make Washington work more like Montana.
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 believe that we share more in common than what drives us apart — but people don’t see that when they look at what is happening in Washington, D.C. Washington has become a place where talking has become a substitute for doing, and people are struggling because of that. We need leaders who will put their differences aside and do what is best for the American people, not what conveniently fits in partisan boxes.
I hope to make Washington work more like Montana, where people of all kinds find common ground to do the right thing and get things done. As governor, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to expand access to health care, strengthen our economy, and invest in public schools, freeze college tuition and expand career training so our kids can build a future here. I will bring those Montana values and experiences to Washington and continue to do what is best for Montanans. I will make decisions based on what is right, not what is politically convenient or popular.
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?
I was against impeachment for a long time because I thought it would further divide us as a nation. But as a public servant, I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and members of both parties found evidence that the president’s actions were dangerous and unlawful. Senator Romney said it best, the president’s pressure campaign on a foreign government put his own “personal and political” interests ahead of our national security interests.
However, I know that many Montanans sincerely believe the impeachment process was designed to hurt the president. Now, in part because the Senate refused to call witnesses and hear evidence, we came out of the process even more divided than before. That division is one reason I am running for the Senate. In Montana, I’ve worked hard to earn respect from folks who disagree with me on almost every issue — by showing up, showing respect and listening, not just talking. We need more of that in Washington.
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.)
Washington hasn’t passed a budget on time in more than 20 years. As governor, if I didn’t balance the budget, I’d be out of a job.
Reining in the federal debt is a priority of mine. Over the past few years, our national debt has spiraled out of control. In 2017, Republicans in the Senate passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut that benefitted big corporations and wealthy individuals, not hard-working Montanans and their families. This year, Washington ran a trillion-dollar deficit for the first time since the Great Recession. Now, we are projected to add over $4 trillion to the federal debt to help our nation endure and rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.
As governor, I prioritized fiscal responsibility and maintained a rainy day fund to weather the challenges of an up and down economy like we are seeing now. In the Senate, I will advocate for strong fiscal management so that future generations of Montanans don’t have to pay the price for our actions.
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?
This public health crisis has shown us the importance of accessible, affordable health care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, I was able to bring Democrats and Republicans together to expand Medicaid, which has kept our rural hospitals open, expanded health care to an additional 90,000 Montanans who need it, and protected Montanans with pre-existing conditions. We haven’t lost one rural hospital in Montana because of Medicaid expansion, at a time when our rural hospitals are needed more than ever in response to a global pandemic.
But there is still a long way to go when it comes to health care in the United States. We need to lower the cost of prescription medicines, provide a strong public option to improve access and ensure competition in the marketplace, and make record investments in America’s mental health system.
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?
No. I would immediately back efforts to create a mandatory COOL standard for beef and pork products so American ranchers can market their products as “Made in America,” giving them an edge in the global marketplace. Additionally, I would advocate to put a short-term pause on acquisitions and mergers within the food and agriculture sector until congress addressed the issue of market consolidation. This rapid consolidation hurts family farmers and ranchers and plays a key role in hollowing out rural America.
Should the federal government consider transferring some federally held land into state ownership?
No. Transferring federal lands to the state is the first step in a process to sell them off to the highest bidder. The transfer of public lands won’t happen on my watch. States can’t afford the massive costs that come along with ownership and these lands would instead find their way to the auction block. The transferring of federal land is a scheme gravely out of touch with the values and voices of Montanans who know that taking public lands off the nation’s balance sheet will take the life out of our economy.
Do you support the Montana Water Rights Protection Act implementing the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes Water Compact in its current form before Congress?
I worked with the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes and a bipartisan group of Montana legislators, landowners and water users to get this compact to my desk for signature in the state of Montana. I support Congress following our lead and passing this legislation.
Contributions by zip code: Steve Bullock (D)
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