U.S. Senate candidate Jim Slattery chats about U.S. Senate Democratic primary
July 22, 2008
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Jim Slattery, a former Democratic congressman, is running against Lee Jones for the right to challenge Sen. Pat Roberts in the November general election. He'll take your questions on the upcoming race.
Welcome to this online chat, sorry for the late start. Thank you Jim for being with us. We'll jump right in.
Thank you. Happy to be here.
Okay, let's jump right in.
Many people are returning to work or using retirement savings to pay increasing costs of health insurance. What do you think the government can do to help?
I'm concerned about both the cost of health insurance and the availability of health insurance for seniors. One thing that we could consider is allowing people in their late fifties and early sixties, who do not yet qualify for Medicare, to buy into the system early. As we look at the broader health care issue, my focus will be on expanding the availability of health insurance for low income children and families. When I was in Congress I worked to expand the availability of health insurance for low income children.
Do you believe the PTC for renewable energy should be extended and if so, for what length of time? How does your take on this question differ from Senator Roberts' stance?
I favor making the tax credit for renewable energy permanent. Pat Roberts voted against extending these credits several weeks. It's important that we encourage the development of alternative energies like wind and solar. Clarity in our tax laws is important to attract the investment in these alternative energies.
What are your thoughts surrounding the Boone Pickens plan to reduce our dependency on foreign oil? Why do you think this plan has generated such a buzz among the people, but not in our elected leaders?
I am intrigued by his plan and I have been reviewing it. I am pleased he is embracing the notion of wind energy as an alternative to foreign oil. But I also think it is important for us to realize that Boone Pickens wants to sell natural gas and natural gas energy generation is the best alternative when the wind dies down.
I think the general public is interested in the plan because it creates a viable alternative to foreign oil. However, policy leaders are likely concerned that the Picken's plan will drive up the price of natural gas and are therefore hesitant to endorse it.
A reminder to readers that we continue to accept questions until the chat concludes - scheduled for about 1 p.m. We already have a lot of questions in the hopper, but we're always looking at new questions that are thoughtful and on a topic we've not yet discussed.
Thanks for running Jim. It takes a lot of emotional and physical energy. What is your overall view of government's role? Do you believe that government should meet the people's needs or do you believe that government should be limited to protecting the populace?
The most important role of the federal government is to provide for our nation's defense, but it also has an important role in the promotion of the general welfare of our citizens. In the law few years, the government has not done enough to ensure economic justice in our society. The government should be working to expand the availability of health care, reducing the price of gas, and managing our nation's financial affairs to ensure the economy is strong and vibrant and creates the needed jobs for our citizens. Unfortunately, in the last few years, the government has failed on these fronts.
Have you contributed to Barack Obama for President?
Yes, I believe Barack Obama is potentially a transformational political leader.
What strategies do you think the US should pursue in Iraq and
The election of Barack Obama will dramatically improve the US standing in the world and it will be extremely important in the war on terror and improving our nation's security.
I think we need to reduce the number of troops in Iraq in a responsible manner as soon as possible and we have to prepare to deal with the growing violence in Afghanistan. The next president will face some very difficult choices because this administration failed to capture Osama bin Laden and instead got distracted by the war in Iraq which stretched our military forces to the breaking point.
As I'm sure you can imagine, several members of our audience would like to know about your "past as a lobbyist." So I'll condense those questions into one.
1) What groups did you represent?
2) Did you pay Kansas income taxes on your earnings?
3) How do you respond to those who say a former lobbyist shouldn't be elected?
1) I have released a full list of my lobbying clients and the work that I did on behalf of those clients. Many of my clients were Midwest companies that had national and international problems. For example, Midwest Grains in Atchison, my hometown, was my first client. I also did work on behalf of the Kansas City Southern Railroad. I'm very proud of the work I did for those clients because it helped save jobs in the United States. I never took a client whose cause I did not believe in and I did not represent any large oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, or foreign governments.
2) I paid Kansas income taxes on my earnings in Kansas. I have paid income taxes in Kansas every year since I graduated from college.
3) It depends on who I lobbyied for and I never did anything I didn't think was in the public's best interest. I am very proud of the clients that I represented and the work that I did on their behalf. Had I lobbyied on behalf of EADS/Airbus, like Pat Roberts son, that would be a legitimate objection.
Nancy Boyda is refusing to accept money from the DCCC. Will you accept a donation from the DSCC?
Absolutely. I'm facing an opponent who has been in Washington for 40 years and has nearly unlimited financial resources. He has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from big oil companies, thousands from the pharmaceutical companies-- nearly every special interest in Washington is supporting Pat Roberts.
Jim, a lot of your answers are focusing on Pat Roberts, who you wouldn't face until the general election. Do you have any thoughts on the differences between you and your primary election opponent, Lee Jones?
I don't know much about Lee Jones but I don't think there are significant differences in our positions on the issues. Where there will be a difference is in my capacity to raise the resources necessary to compete against Pat Roberts in November.
Many people believe our increased costs of living -- higher fuel prices, higher food costs, and simultaneous cuts in services to our own citizens -- can be traced to the "war against terror" for which there is no clear definition for victory. As a Senator, what actions would you take to get the best information and be part of a solution that will be best for Americans?
The war on terror has contributed to huge budget deficits. The huge budget deficits have caused the value of the dollar to plummet. The plummeting dollar has driven up the cost of gas and imported goods. And the war in Iraq has added to the instability of the MIddle East which has destabilized the oil markets and driven up the price of gas further. I call this a war premium.
We can't afford any more screw ups in the Middle East. The pursuit of truth is absolutely essential to a successful war on terror and defeating radical groups like al Queda. We went war in Iraq based on faulty, intelligence data at a time when Roberts was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. American's were led to believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9-11.
We'll have time for just one more question before we let Jim go.
Jim, What would you suggest to get the consituency back involved in the process of government? With public satisfaction about the job our elected officials do running at all time low, how would you get the common 'man' back on board?
I would tell the truth about the complex problems we face. It's time to retire the Washington politicians who got us into this mess. I will work tirelessly to solve the problems threatening our families in Kansas like high gas prices, the cost of health care, and the economic instability that threatens our jobs and financial security.
Jim, thanks very much for joining. A reminder to our audience, we have several other Election 2008 chats this week and next here at LJWorld.com. If you'd like to post a question - including for Jim's primary opponent Lee Jones, who is chatting with us tomorrow - you can do so at LJWorld.com/chats. And for complete election coverage, visit the LJWorld.com homepage and click on the Election 2008 logo near the bottom of your screen. Thanks again everyone for joining us.