Republican Senate hopefuls discuss ‘fiscal crisis’

Kait Vosswinkel, News Editor

While going down the stretch in the state’s U.S. Senate race, the three Republican candidates for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat spoke briefly about their economic goals for the country at the recent Wisconsin Newspaper Association conference. The three candidates on the ballot are Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon), former two-term congressman Mark Neumann and former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Jeff Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald embraced his role in the statewide reforms that have been enacted in the past session, and promised the same level of budget reform on a national level.

“The same problems we face here in Wisconsin are the same problems we face on a national level,” Fitzgerald said.

He went on to explain the necessity motivating the extreme budget reforms enacted recently in Wisconsin and illustrated the precarious fiscal situation the U.S. is in.

Fitzgerald said the country was heading towards a financial and economic cliff and if it isn’t turned around America could be the next Greece.

“People thought that we had a choice. And that’s what people I don’t think get: is that we saw what democrats did last session,” he said. “They decided to raise taxes by $5 billion, and we were still stuck with a $3.6 billion deficit … so when we came in this session, you know, we didn’t really have a choice.”

Fitzgerald is proud of his connection with Gov. Scott Walker, and won’t shy away. He explained that although difficult decisions regarding budget cuts are always tough to do politically, he pursued the deep cuts necessary to balance the budget. He reaffirmed that they are balancing the budget without raising taxes.

His loyalties still lie in a small government structure and lowered taxes. He said that the problem in Washington is not a taxing problem in Washington D.C. It is actually a spending problem.

“We need a growth economy, and I think you do that by lowering the tax structure and growing the economy so that you can balance that budget,” he explained.

He commented on the past year’s experiences, saying that it was a difficult but rewarding session because Wisconsin is now “turned around.” Fitzgerald also emphasized the importance of entitlement reform.

He spoke of his strengths, and believes his relatively recent start in politics on a national level will do him service.

“I’m a fresh face for the Republican Party,” Fitzgerald said.

Mark Neumann

Neumann also struck a tone of urgency in his discussion on the economy. In his opening speech, he confidently attacked the precarious situation America is in.

“It’s exciting to be a part of the solutions to the problems facing the United States of America. I got in the Senate race because America is in serious trouble,” Neumann said. “Our financial house is not in order and we are on the brink of fiscal disaster in this country, but it’s not too late to fix those problems.”

Neumann was very clear on his stance of small government and lowered spending, as well.

“If we want to solve the financial problems facing the United States of America today, the answer is less government spending and lower taxes, leaving more money in the pockets of people where they will either save it or spend it, either of which will lead to economic growth and development,” he said.

Neumann was very clear about his plans to repeal Obama’s health care reforms, if elected. “We need to eliminate the job-killing Obama-care plan that is causing employers all across this nation to make the decision to not employ more people,” Neumann said.

He would like to see some reform in the medical sector, though. He hopes for legal reform in the area of malpractice suits, as well as in the area of health insurance.

Neumann also wants to see insurance made available across state lines while fostering the availability of HSA (Health Savings Accounts) in the elderly community.

He spoke briefly about the importance of returning to the fundamentals of the United States Constitution, paying special attention to the 10th Amendment. If elected, Neumann would try to put the majority of political decisions back in the hands of state authorities, while limiting the national government.

Neumann drew a hard line when compromise was discussed.

“I believe Barack Obama and his spending that he has laid out, bringing America to the brink of Financial disaster, should not be compromised with, and I agree with Ron Johnson in that respect. We cannot compromise and continue this nation down the path of more spending,” he said.

Tommy Thompson

Thompson’s approach to solving the fiscal crisis embraced a more moderate tone, and the former governor embraced compromise in his suggested solutions.

“You don’t have to give up your principles in order to work with somebody,” he said.

“I accomplished, ladies and gentlemen, all of what I accomplished in Wisconsin, when the Democrats were in control of both houses of the legislature,” he continued.

“What’s so wrong with developing a candid discussion that at the end of the day you’re coming out with a solution?”

Thompson’s campaign ads tell a different story entirely, though. Thompson doesn’t shy away from what is becoming a familiar Republican message, promising to cut spending, get rid of Obama’s health care reforms, and find “market-based solutions” to the problems the country is facing.

The three Republican candidates, although taking different tones with their speeches, remain unified on a vast number of issues.

As the race continues, it will certainly be interesting to see how newly announced candidate Kip Smith as well as Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin respond to similar issues.