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Minnesota 2nd Congressional District candidate: Jason Lewis

Name: Jason Lewis

Party: Republican

Age: 61

City: Woodbury

Occupation: Radio host and commentator

Education: Education/business bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, master’s in political science from the University of Colorado-Denver.

Family: Wife, Leigh; daughters Lindsey and Lauren.

Civic involvement: Ran for Colorado’s Second Congressional district in 1990

Q: Health care costs have increased under the Affordable Care Act, and it remains unpopular with many Americans. Would you vote to abolish the Act? Barring that, are there specific reforms you would support?

A: Obamacare promised to reduce health insurance premiums by as much as $2,500 per family. Today, however, premiums are $4,865 higher, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation report. Because the Affordable Care Act mandated the most expensive coverage for everyone, young people, as well as smaller insurers, have been priced out of the market. Right here in Minnesota we’ve seen the system collapse under MNSure, and this year’s 50 percent plus increase in premiums is simply unsustainable for a growing number of families. The net result is a health care system bursting at the seams as employers drop costly coverage and dump part-timers onto bureaucratic ‘exchanges’ while providers refuse new patients due to government price controls. Obamacare even reduced the amount of out-of-pocket health expenses families could deduct. Let’s empower healthcare consumers by undoing the costly ACA ‘mandates,’ allowing individuals to buy policies across state lines, and enacting true portability by changing the tax code.

Q: What role should the federal government play in ensuring that U.S. graduates can compete in the global economy? Are there specific measures that you advocate?

A: Ideally, federal officeholders would not interject in what should be a local concern. But three decades and $70 billion (annually) later, the federal Department of Education continues to micromanage our schools with a litany of unfunded mandates. Even the recently enacted ESSA law, meant to reform Common Core, allows states to take over local districts if they fail to perform. We need real changes — such as merit pay, collective-bargaining reform, seniority rules changes, and school choice — in order to best serve our children.

Q: Do you support current restrictions on domestic oil and natural gas production, or would you like to see them reduced or increased?

A: Minnesota’s largest refinery is in the second district, and I do not support efforts to hamstring its productive capacity or reduce employment there. The administration’s Clean Power Plan would do just that, and I do not support it. Moreover, I do not support the EPA’s attempt to implement these onerous regulations without congressional input.

Q: What specific steps can be taken to keep programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid solvent and still serve those individuals in need?

A: The federal budget has doubled since 2002 and now totals an astonishing $4.1 trillion dollars. It remains the single biggest drag on economic growth and job creation, because wasteful government spending crowds out productive private investment. An unsustainable debt of $19 trillion is putting America on the road to Athens. Net interest on the debt will be nearly $800 billion in a decade, according to the CBO. Yet Washington insiders cut another back room deal last year, undoing the 2011 budget caps and adding another $112 billion to domestic discretionary spending. And though the federal government collected a record $3.25 trillion in 2015, we have a 2016 deficit of $600 billion. We need across-the-board budget reductions and bipartisan entitlement reform because no matter how you finance big government spending — whether taxes, borrowing, or printing money — it all comes out of your pocket.

Q: What role should the federal government play in funding state and local transportation infrastructure? Be specific.

A: Twin Cities’ traffic is getting worse. According to a new MNDOT report, congestion is set to jump again, with highways now clogged nearly a quarter of the time in rush hour. Believe it or not, some area roadways are congested five hours per day. But before we rush to raise gas taxes, shouldn’t we first stop diverting up to $6 billion or 17 percent from the federal highway trust fund away from roads and bridges? Prioritizing federal highway spending on where 95 percent of commuter trips occur — instead of on the $1.9 billion light trail scheme, hiking trails, and urban planning — would be a good first start towards solvency. Yet federal spending on such projects has increased 38 percent since 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal. We need to solve our infrastructure problems and new revenue streams should be found, but we have to be serious about our priorities.