Election issues: Q&A with U.S. House and Senate candidates

The next Congress will face major decisions on a wide range of issues. The Journal-World sent questionnaires to all the candidates on the ballot for the 2nd congressional district and U.S. Senate, asking about their positions on those issues. This week, we are publishing their responses to questions about health care, the future of Social Security, immigration reform and raising the federal minimum wage. Next week, we will publish their responses to other questions dealing with the federal budget, climate change and the future of the Internet.

Health Care: Do you believe the Affordable Care Act should be repealed in its entirety, amended to address specific problems or left as it is?


Lynn Jenkins (Republican): The 2013 Politifact Lie of the Year was President Obama’s famous line regarding his health care law, ‘If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.’

I will continue to fight to repeal the President’s health care law and replace it with patient-centered health care. Americans are empowered when they are free to make their own health care decisions. My plan starts over with health care reform that lets patients choose the plans they want, the doctors they need and the costs they can afford. We can also set up the framework so that small businesses and individuals can join together to negotiate for cheaper health care premiums

Other improvements would be to allow insurance companies to cross state lines to give individuals more options and provide for more competition that will also lower costs and set up state-based pools to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions. The president’s health care law on the other hand cut $716 billion from Medicare. We need to preserve and protect Medicare for current and future retirees.

Margie Wakefield (Democrat): We need Congress, led by Lynn Jenkins, to end their obsession with repealing the law. We cannot go back to the old system that denied insurance to those with pre-existing conditions, enforced lifetime benefits caps on the chronically ill, forced Americans into bankruptcy, and left taxpayers to pick up the tab for the uninsured. The ACA isn’t perfect, and once we rid Congress of the obstructionists, we can get to work on constructive, common-sense solutions to improve the law. But, also, we need to push the State of Kansas to accept the Medicaid expansion. While we fail to expand Medicaid, our taxpayers are paying for other states that offer the benefits that Kansas cannot. The decision not to expand Medicaid is killing rural hospitals, creating an uncertain future for the communities those hospitals serve.

Christopher Clemmons (Libertarian): I believe the ACA should be largely repealed, while leaving many of the helpful regulations in place on insurance carriers regarding pre-existing conditions, etc. We need to address the real issues behind the high cost of health care: long-term patents, an overly burdensome regulatory structure that often times keeps natural and more effective methods of treatment from those who need it, middle-men markups on all medical supplies and a judicial system that allows too many frivolous lawsuits to be tried in court. Simply addressing health care from the ‘insurance end’ is a backwards approach to solving the real problem. This country was based on the principle of liberty and the ACA takes away exactly that from individuals. You are now required by law to purchase insurance from a PRIVATE insurance company. This is one of the largest corporate handout bills in history and it’s being passed off as a public service.


Pat Roberts (Republican): Obamacare may be the most destructive law in our nation’s history, which is why I voted against it at every turn and have introduced multiple bills aimed at repealing and replacing it. As I predicted, it has cost Kansas families thousands of dollars in new taxes, higher premiums and canceled insurance. In fact, it is now predicted Kansas families’ premiums will increase by another 13.6 percent next year. It has jeopardized the doctor-patient relationship and rationed care. My legislation to repeal the many big government rationing boards that would decide whether someone receives treatment or not has the strong support of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Kansans for Life (KFL). Obamacare is the president’s legacy and rests solidly on his shoulders. I believe we must seek every opportunity to dismantle, repeal and replace it, and I will not stop this fight.

Greg Orman (Independent): I opposed ACA because it did nothing to fix a broken system. We had a national crisis in health care before the Affordable Care Act passed, and that crisis still exists today. But instead of playing political games with this issue as Republicans and Democrats in Congress have done, I believe we need to focus on what Washington can actually do to ensure that health care is affordable for all Americans.

It’s clear that with the Affordable Care Act the Congress simply expanded a broken system, one that rewards providers for more tests and procedures rather than for better outcomes for individuals. We have to change that way of thinking, alter the incentives to providers to reward quality and not quantity of care, and ensure that our government — as the largest purchaser of health care in the country — is prudent with the dollars it spends.

I would support a viable plan to replace or reform the ACA that will actually reduce health care costs and protect access to good quality health insurance, including protections against unreasonable premium increases, lifetime limits on coverage or patients being denied coverage for “pre-existing conditions.”

Randall Batson (Libertarian): I believe the individual mandate should be repealed. I think if this remains in place holistic choices would be prevented; also innovation could be stagnated due to this.

Social Security: Do you believe major reforms are needed in the Social Security system? What, if any, reforms would you support?


Lynn Jenkins: When seniors retire, they expect benefits that were promised to them to be there. They deserve nothing less. The federal government can’t be in the business of breaking promises, raising taxes or cutting benefits to our seniors.

More than 50 million Americans are currently receiving Social Security benefits, and the baby boomer generation is beginning to retire. While the program is currently financially solvent, if reforms are not made for future generations, there will be no Social Security for our children and grandchildren.

At this point, Social Security is spending more than they are taking in, and by 2037 seniors could see a 22 percent cut in their social security checks or workers could see their payroll tax increase by 30 percent. There is no simple solution to solving the financial problems facing Social Security, but any serious plan must protect current benefits exactly as they are for people 55 and older, preserve the safety net for those who need Social Security the most and provide certainty to future generations.

This solution will require bipartisan cooperation that keeps our promises to today’s retirees and workers and strengthens Social Security for future generations.

Margie Wakefield: Social Security is a promise that we’ve made to our seniors, and it’s a promise that I intend to keep, while some in Congress insist on making cuts to this vital social safety net, or even privatizing it. The way we make Social Security solvent for future generations is to expand our economy as we did in the ’90s. We need to raise wages that have been stagnant for far too long. We need to raise the minimum wage, close the gender wage gap, and make legal taxpayers out of the undocumented workers in our country. The more money people make, the more money flows into the system, and the more people have to spend, which will further expand our economy. We should also consider raising the cap on payroll taxes. But, what we cannot do is break the promise we’ve made to our seniors.

Christopher Clemmons: Americans should be allowed to opt out of paying for Social Security and invest their money in their own retirement plans instead of allowing a corporately owned Congress to be in charge of where their money is placed. For those who paid into the system, they should continue getting their services until death, as they are owed what they paid in. I have a real problem with allowing the federal government to continue handling this incredibly important service when they have a hard time completing their main job on time every year, which is funding the government.


Pat Roberts: The Medicare and Social Security Trustees Report have warned that without significant changes the Social Security Trust will be depleted in 2033 and the Medicare program will become insolvent by 2026. I have fought hard to ensure that those at or near retirement are not affected by reforms to Medicare or Social Security. However, we have to face facts: Right now we have fewer people paying into Social Security and more people receiving benefits. Likewise, people are living longer, which is great, but something we need to take into account if we would adjust the formulas. I support enacting reforms to both these programs to ensure their long-term solvency so they can continue serving not only our current seniors, but will also be around for our children and their children.

Greg Orman: For those approaching retirement I wouldn’t support any changes. I would look at the Social Security benefits of the most successful. Given our fiscal crisis, I shouldn’t personally be getting Social Security checks.

Randall Bateson: What if people were recipients of their own contributions? The idea is payroll deduction choice. Individuals could opt-in, opt-out, and adjust percentage payments anytime. Individual choice requires ownership. Individuals would be owners of these savings accounts. Funds could be transitioned to existing pensions, 401(k)s, or savings accounts, IRAs, life insurance policies, CDs, savings accounts, or to spend as they like. We should not tax these investments.

Immigration: Please describe the policies the United States should adopt to address the problem of illegal immigration in the United States.


Lynn Jenkins: The migration of immigrants from Central America and Mexico is the result of our president refusing to secure our borders. Just last year President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security stated, “Our borders have in fact never been stronger.” This unrealistic observation coupled with his lack of engagement in addressing this border crisis conveys an image that he does not take the border seriously.

We must strengthen our borders by actually enforcing our current law and by increasing the number of border agents and utilizing technology to monitor our borders. Without a secure border, we will remain vulnerable to a number of very serious international threats.

We also need to address illegal immigration in the employment line. Employers should have an easily administered system that can accurately and quickly confirm a person’s identity and immigration status. The workplace verification system known as E-Verify is an important tool for employers to ensure their employees have a legal immigration status. We must continue to improve the program to make certain it remains an effective tool to ensure a legal workforce without placing unnecessary burdens on our small businesses.

Margie Wakefield: I do not support amnesty, but we know that the federal government is not going to deport millions of people at the cost of billions of dollars. We need to make legal taxpayers out of these millions of undocumented workers. Unfortunately, the gridlock, dysfunction and obstruction in Washington isn’t allowing us to get anywhere on responsible immigration reform. Congress’ inaction is affecting the lives of real people. All of us, from citizens to undocumented workers to farmers to business owners, deserve a solution.

Christopher Clemmons: The system we have today encourages people to immigrate illegally and it needs a complete overhaul. It is too hard for college-educated, job-ready people from other countries to immigrate legally in this country, let alone skilled and unskilled laborers. The process generally takes months to years to complete, costing hundreds and even thousands of dollars to complete and often times leaves some of the most eligible candidates for immigration back in their home countries due to some small technicality. Rules need to be simple enough for any layman to understand and navigate on his/her own and encourage folks to want to seek the legal process. We also need to heavily fine businesses that are hiring illegal immigrants and further encouraging immigrants to cross illegally and allow for the businesses to take advantage of their illegal status, forcing them to work long hours, in terrible conditions under the threat of being turned in to immigration officials. Finally, we need to ensure we are securing our border adequately in order to protect our borders from potential terror threats.


Pat Roberts: I will never support amnesty — period. I stand firm on the principle that any discussion of immigration reform must begin with securing our border to stop the influx of illegal immigrants entering our country. Barack Obama must stop encouraging the policies that have led to this dangerous chaos. Our government cannot take care of the thousands of children that have entered the U.S. this year. Our schools, our health care, our infrastructure cannot support it. With renewed terror threats and ISIS growing, it’s imperative we secure the southern border. In 2006, the Secure Fencing Act became law and required that fencing be constructed across the southern border. However, this law has never been fully implemented by the administration. We must start there — removing access points and constructing infrastructure that deters illegal immigrants from entering our country. Also, we must ensure that we have adequate personnel and resources placed at our southern border to combat illegal entry. I have a long record of opposing amnesty.

Greg Orman: Illegal immigration is yet another example of how Washington is failing us by refusing to act on a constructive solution. When Senator Roberts was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, we had fewer than 3 million undocumented workers in this country. Today, we have 11 million. Clearly, for many of our current elected leaders, the only thing they want to do about illegal immigration is grandstand and use it to generate voter support without any real intention of doing anything constructive to solve the problem.

For us to deal with our current immigration system, we have to adopt a policy that’s tough, practical and fair. By tough, I mean we need to secure our borders. It’s something that we’ve been working on, but we’re not there yet. We’ve dramatically increased the number of security agents that we have on the border over the last 10 years — from roughly 10,500 agents in 2004 when the Department of Homeland Security was formed to more than 21,000 today. We need to continue the commitment to the number of agents there. We also need to re-evaluate the use of technology at the border and determine whether or not recent advances in technology can help us tighten our borders.

Randall Batson: (No response provided.)

Minimum wage: Do you think the federal minimum wage needs to be increased? Why or why not?


Lynn Jenkins: The minimum wage is more practical as a state or municipal issue. The cost of living in New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco is much higher than Atchison, Lawrence and Baxter Springs. So while it may make sense for major cities to raise their minimum wage, expecting the folks in Wathena to pay the same as New York doesn’t make economic sense. I suspect that disparity is why the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could cost our economy nearly 500,000 jobs.

Margie Wakefield: Wages have remained stagnant for far too long. We need to raise the minimum wage, making it a more livable wage for working families.

Christopher Clemmons: The minimum wage is a very blunt tool where a scalpel is needed. Raising the minimum wage will adversely affect small-business owners while barely affecting large corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s who can absorb the additional cost without hurting their bottom line. The key to economic growth in the middle class is to encourage small-business growth. Every time we raise the minimum wage, we hurt small business and help big business, killing downtown areas and building up big-box retailers. If we want to see an increase in wages for people working for big business, we need to take responsibility as consumers and refrain from shopping at stores who pay below the wage we believe is fair until it’s raised and allow workers from corporations like Walmart to unionize and negotiate their own wages. That allows for a more agile, selective increase in wages that won’t kill one of the best ways into the middle class, small-business ownership.


Pat Roberts: The Congressional Budget Office reported that raising the minimum wage would take away 500,000 jobs. The federal government should not be adding to the mandates of employers, especially at a time when we have low participation in the workforce. Small businesses are our backbone for job creation. We don’t need the federal government telling hard-working Kansans how to conduct their business. Cutting burdensome and costly regulations will allow employers to continue to provide jobs for Kansans. States and localities are able to raise the minimum wage as they see fit, and I trust the people of Kansas to make the right decisions for their communities rather than have it forced to them by the federal government without the foresight of consequences it would have on our job creators, our small businesses.

Greg Orman: I support pegging the current federal minimum wage to inflation, but I believe any future real increase in the minimum wage should be done at the state and regional level to better account for cost of living differences.

Randall Batson: No. I will go the other direction and this is self-serving to the federal government. I suggest a radical, different approach. No matter one’s opinion of the social safety net, one thing realized is those attempting to re-enter the workforce face the rug being yanked from underneath financially. The federal government is playing this cash-flow game throughout the entirety of a year and then pays back a full return to these people; this interest gained would be better for those sitting on the fence. I propose this bill: 1) No federal income taxes on the threshold of minimum wage or lower; 2) Any worker willing to sign a minimum wage waiver avoids taxes so long as they work below minimum wage.

Budget deficit: Many economists say the only path toward balancing the federal budget involves a combination of increased revenue and reduced spending. What policies do you support to bring the budget into balance, and describe specifically what areas of the budget you believe should be cut?


Lynn Jenkins (Republican): One thing is certain, Washington has a spending addiction. In my short time in Congress I have supported a balanced budget amendment and I have supported four budgets in a row that get to balance, begin to pay down our debt, and do it without taking more money from hardworking Kansans.

There has been a failure by President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to propose a budget that ever balances. In fact, it wasn’t until the House of Representatives passed the No Budget No Pay Act that Senator Reid chose to do his job and pass a budget. Our country is $17 trillion in debt, which amounts to about $55,000 per person. This kind of spending is unsustainable and puts America’s future at risk. I will continue to support efforts to rein in Washington’s spending addiction.

I think the best and most economically sound way we can increase revenue is not through raising taxes, but through domestic and international comprehensive tax reform that allows us to broaden the base and bring down the rates by eliminating most of the junk and giveaways that currently pollutes our tax code.

Margie Wakefield (Democrat):We know that continuing to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires on the backs of the middle-class, from our working families to our students to our seniors, just won’t work. So, I say, enough of trickle-down. We need to expand our economy, just as we did in the 90s, which is the last time we had a balanced budget. We need to create good-paying jobs and raise wages, which have been stagnant for years. We need to close the gender wage gap and raise the minimum wage. Also, we need to enact responsible immigration reform that would make taxpayers out of millions of undocumented workers.

Christopher Clemmons (Libertarian): The only way we will strengthen our economy is by reducing the tax burden on Americans to encourage consumerism and initiate a positive feedback loop, reduce federal spending, and stop the federal government from obstructing new growth in developing markets with regulations from 20-30 years ago.

Steps to balancing the budget:

First, the current military budget is approximately $700billion with a large amount of off the books, black budget spending. We need to cut military spending by around 25-50%. Here’s a break down of how that can happen without reducing our capabilities to protect American soil and without reducing the services to our soldiers serving in the military:

  1. Consolidate 17 spy agencies into 1 agency
  2. With draw from at least 2/3 of the 120 countries that we currently have bases in.
  3. Stop supplying small regimes in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe with weapons, training, etc.
  4. End wasteful, excess spending on military equipment that hasn’t been requested by the individual branches of the Armed Forces (ex. extra-aircraft carrier, unwanted tanks, etc.)
  5. Structure our military to resemble a defense only force.
  6. End interventionist policies overseas.
  7. Stop paying to upgrade the facilities of private military contractors
  8. End the “build it up, tear it down” policy in Iraq and Afghanistan where bases are being built on one side and tore down on the other simultaneously simply because the money had been appropriated to do so.

Secondly, we need to reduce the size and scope of outdated regulatory agencies, which hurt innovation in developing fields and simply bloat the government budget.

Finally, we need to introduce zero-based budgeting so that agencies aren’t concerned with spending their entire budget every year to justify that level of spending the following year.


Pat Roberts (Republican): The federal budget needs to be cut in real terms, not just reductions in the spending rate. Raising taxes just won’t work — any taxes you would raise would just go to more spending. What we must do instead is make basic, structural changes to entitlement programs to strengthen and preserve these programs for future generations while protecting current participants. We must also establish strong budget rules, including a Balanced Budget Amendment and return to the regular process for developing the budget, if we are to restore fiscal discipline.

Recently, I proposed legislation to save the taxpayers $36 billion by restoring integrity to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by eliminating eligibility loopholes, duplicative programs, and unnecessary State bonuses while ensuring that those in need still receive essential benefits.

I support pro-growth tax reform – to allow businesses and taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money – to invest, to grow their businesses, and to create jobs. Kansans are much better at handling their resources than the government. Pro-growth tax reform means reducing corporate and individual income tax rates, improving equipment write-offs, and modernizing the international tax system. These steps would provide a strong boost to investment and economic growth.

Greg Orman (Independent): There are many examples of programs we should cut.  For example, I believe we should really look hard at the Social Security disability program and make sure we’re not having it abused by people.  Another example are the programs the Defense Department has told Congress they don’t want any more but Congress keeps funding.

We also need an entire overhaul of our tax code.  Our federal tax code is a 70,000 page monstrosity.

It’s way too complicated and way too burdensome. We need to streamline the tax code that the average American can do their own taxes easily – you shouldn’t have to hire somebody or buy a software program to get your taxes done. At the same time, simplifying the tax code would also allow us to reduce our overall regulatory burden.

Randall Batson (Libertarian): Reduce spending to 1992 levels. In short this show the necessity within time to eliminate the federal income tax.

Is there a specific tax you would repeal, reduce or increase?


Lynn Jenkins (Republican): The tax code is ten times the size of the Bible with none of the good news. That means there is more needed than just a tweak here or there to the tax code.

I believe fixing our broken tax code is the single most important thing we can do, right now, to make our economy stronger and more secure. Tax reform isn’t glamorous. Tax reform doesn’t turn out hundreds for a political rally. Yet any family, individual or small business that has filed a tax return or forced to file for an extension in April knows our tax code is an outright mess. I will work in my committee, the Ways and Means Committee, to advance tax reform to kick-start our economy and get America back on the right track.

Margie Wakefield (Democrat): We need to close corporate tax loopholes. Corporations ought to be paying their fair share of taxes. We cannot allow them to continue to duck taxes by parking money overseas. 

Christopher Clemmons (Libertarian): All taxes should be abolished and be replaced with a single time, flat consumption tax of around 34%. The tax would only apply once to non-necessity type purchases. This would treat all Americans equally under law, put more money in the pockets of Americans, encourage further consumption and ultimately make our citizens more aware of the cost of government. It completely gets rid of the ambiguity that leaves Americans confused during tax season, ends all the tax loopholes that only the most wealthy of our country can find and use, and rids the country of the uncertainty that our current system has. Finally and best of all, it completely does away with the IRS.


Pat Roberts (Republican): The federal budget needs to be cut in real terms, not just reductions in the spending rate. Raising taxes just won’t work — any taxes you would raise would just go to more spending. What we must do instead is make basic, structural changes to entitlement programs to strengthen and preserve these programs for future generations while protecting current participants. We must also establish strong budget rules, including a Balanced Budget Amendment and return to the regular process for developing the budget, if we are to restore fiscal discipline.

Recently, I proposed legislation to save the taxpayers $36 billion by restoring integrity to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by eliminating eligibility loopholes, duplicative programs, and unnecessary State bonuses while ensuring that those in need still receive essential benefits.

I support pro-growth tax reform – to allow businesses and taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money – to invest, to grow their businesses, and to create jobs. Kansans are much better at handling their resources than the government. Pro-growth tax reform means reducing corporate and individual income tax rates, improving equipment write-offs, and modernizing the international tax system. These steps would provide a strong boost to investment and economic growth.

Greg Orman (Independent): By overhauling and simplifying our tax code we can reduce marginal rates without negatively effecting revenue.

Randall Batson (Libertarian): Several actually. 1) A minimum wage waiver. 2) Eliminate taxes on overtime work. 3) If it didn’t benefit both parties people wouldn’t trade voluntarily. However income tax penalizes productivity and so discourages productive endeavors. Taxes should only be voluntary; at point of consumption of new goods, and services only. Repeal the 16th amendment. Replace with the FairTax; this national sales tax replaces most federal taxes. Currently, embedded taxes result in overpricing all items in the market. Once transitioned to the FairTax, prices would drop while at the same time boosting peoples’ paychecks. Unlike the proposed inclusive rate of 23%, with payroll deduction choice mentioned earlier, the FairTax could be lowered to 9%.

Climate change: Do you believe climate change is being caused by carbon emissions from human activity?


Lynn Jenkins (Republican): Growing up on a farm I’ve seen first hand the importance of responsible resource management. Protecting the environment can go hand in hand with our efforts to expand our economy. One of my top priorities is that we continue to balance growth with stewardship. The advances in farming technology are a perfect example of how we can improve our resource management without sacrificing economic prosperity. Technology advances have allowed our farmers to increase yields while reducing their carbon footprint and the amount of resources needed to plant and grow crops.

Kansans do not need an overarching EPA to tell them how to manage their resources. What Washington doesn’t understand is the pride our farmers and ranchers take in responsibly managing the resources that are so crucial to their way of life. I will continue to support our farmers and ranchers and oppose the EPA’s federal overreach.

Margie Wakefield (Democrat): Yes.

Christopher Clemmons (Libertarian): This is a very, very nuanced argument that a simple yes or no answer does not suffice. Human beings are clearly having an impact on climate change. However, the planet has been coming out of an ice age for the last 20,000 years and the evidence is located on many coastal shores and ancient ruins all over the globe. Many historic sites date back to well over 12,000 years ago (ex. Gunung Padang, Gobekli Tepe), when the ice sheets extended well past their current levels. The evidence is even located on the Sphinx in Egypt, where water erosion from a time well beyond 10,000 years ago where the climate was much, different in Ancient Egypt. At one time, Egypt received seasonal and possibly torrential rainfall for quite some time in order to cause the erosion that is seen on the Sphinx.

So the answer isn’t as simple as, Western Culture is the only cause. Clearly, we are having an effect, however to what extent is still somewhat uncertain.


Pat Roberts (Republican): (See next question)

Greg Orman (Independent): It is real and it is impacted by human activity.

Randall Batson (Libertarian): I believe this pseudo science is falling apart. When someone says that a science discovery is finalized doesn’t know that science itself evolves from its philosophy through the duration of time. Propaganda for profit exposes itself thoughout this same duration.

What measures, if any, do you think the United States should take to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere?


Lynn Jenkins (Republican): The Fiscal Year 2015 budget resolution that I supported builds on previous House-passed budget resolutions and supports the nation’s enduring energy policy priorities. These priorities are economic prosperity, lower gasoline and energy prices, and greater revenue generation from domestic energy production, all while moving toward market-based solutions for sustainable energy sources.

I will continue to oppose President Obama’s cap and trade (tax) scheme. Cap and trade does absolutely nothing to address emissions and will only drive up energy costs. Kansas cannot afford to see more of their paychecks going to basic needs like heating their homes.

Margie Wakefield (Democrat): In Congress, I’ll champion the growth of new, responsible industries that are important to the future of Kansas, like renewable energies. We should be exporting wind and importing cash to Kansas. That means investing in wind farm development, as well as brining the manufacturing of wind turbine components to the district. While it would help combat climate change, it’s also an industry that promises good-paying jobs and sustainable revenue to parts of our district that are in desperate need of both.

Christopher Clemmons (Libertarian): The actions that need to be taken to curb carbon emissions need to come from individual consumers. We, as a society, can curb our environmental impact from changing our habits as consumers. Buying local produce at farmers markets and taking up back yard gardening will reduce the amount of shipping, refrigeration, waste, etc. from our current supermarket model. Buying local beef, chicken, etc. instead of buying everything from the super market will have a major impact. Often times, local farms raise and slaughter their own livestock, drastically reducing the carbon footprint as the cattle aren’t shipped all over the country from pasture, to feed lot, to processing facility, etc.

Consumers also need to focus on purchasing products made locally and within the U.S. Every time a consumer purchases a product made in Indonesia, China, etc., they are supporting the massive shipping operations that require those products to be hauled across entire oceans and driven across the country to make it to us.

Americans need to be investing money into solar panels to run their electric needs at home, purchasing laptops instead of desktops, investing in additional insulation in attic spaces, etc. All of this can be handled by the consumer without any government regulation needed and best of all, it will be much more effective than anything congress can come up with.

U.S. Senate

Pat Roberts (Republican): While I–and all Americans–support common sense environmental protections, I don’t believe the Obama Administration’s current carbon reduction plan makes sense. As noted in 2009 by then EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, any unilateral action by the United States to reduce carbon emissions will have no impact on lowering global temperatures. As long as large developing countries like China and India continue increasing their carbon emissions on an annual basis, which they are, anything we do will be inconsequential. Furthermore, for Kansas, which generates about 75 percent of its electricity from coal, any environmental regulations restricting carbon emissions will do nothing to improve the environment, while undoubtedly driving up utility rates for consumers. I oppose increasing any Kansans’ electricity bills. Our hard-working men and women need that money for more important things. What we can do, though, as a country is continue supporting our domestic clean tech industries that are both creating U.S. jobs and diversifying our national energy mix.

Greg Orman (Libertarian): Climate change is real but I think its a false choice, to say we have to choose between economic growth and a good environment.  This is another problem with the way Washington operates.  Both sides have dug in and don’t believe there’s any basis for cooperation.

Environmental Lighting Concepts, my first company, designed energy efficient lighting systems for commercial clients. Our company created jobs, helped the environment, and made money for our customers

Randall Batson (Libertarian): Nothing. If private entrepreneurs seek this within marketplace without subsidy, if it has merit it will attain its goals on its merits.

Open Internet/Net Neutrality: The Federal Communications Commission is proposing rules that would allow large Internet Service Providers to charge businesses for priority access. Concern has been raised that this would give an advantage to established content providers such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, to the detriment of entrepreneurs and new start-up companies. Do you support such a change in Internet regulation?


Lynn Jenkins (Republican): The interconnection agreements that Netflix has reached with Comcast and Time Warner were approved by the FCC, and on their face, they will provide benefits to broadband customers who wish to pay more for premium video streaming services. I do however, have some concern that these agreements could create a barrier for future companies that are trying to enter the marketplace and with the potential for consolidation of provider companies this could lead to less competition, which in the long run is bad for consumers and will likely stifle innovation.

Margie Wakefield (Democrat): I think creating inequality in internet availability would be a mistake. We ought to be expanding access to the internet, not limiting it.

Christopher Clemmons (Libertarian): The government needs to have a hands off approach to the internet, while ensuring net neutrality remains.


Pat Roberts (Republican): (See next question.)

Greg Orman (Independent): I am generally supportive of the concept of net neutrality.  An open internet has served the country well for the previous twenty years and I would be hesitant to change that.

Randall Batson (Libertarian): Personally I don’t beleive the FCC should exist. Therefore favortism should not exist nor should there be net neutrality either.

Would you support or oppose legislation allowing the FCC to regulate the Internet as a public utility?


Lynn Jenkins (Republican): The really great thing about the internet is that because it is relatively free from government regulation, entrepreneurs have been able to create amazing innovations. For this reason, I have real concerns that regulating the internet like a utility will create barriers to future innovators. This is likely to result in federal bureaucracies choosing winners and losers and ultimately disabling a major driver of our economy.

Margie Wakefield (Democrat): (No response.)

Christopher Clemmons (Libertarian): Vigorously oppose it. The internet needs to remain unregulated and free. If elected, I would fight attempts to regulate the internet through sneaky trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other liberty killing bills.


Pat Roberts (Republican): I do not support reclassification of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as common carriers or regulating the Internet as a public utility. I believe the free market, not the heavy hand of government regulation, has led to the extraordinary development of the Internet over the past 20 years. I think most Kansans would agree with me that giving the federal government a larger role in regulating anything, let along something as important as the Internet, is a frightening idea. But this is exactly what regulating the Internet as a public utility would mean. To this end, I do not believe it is unreasonable for large content providers like Netflix or YouTube, that have made fortunes providing content on billion dollar networks they did not build, to pay for their fair use of bandwidth – which is a limited resource. To think otherwise is to support subsidization of these large companies by Kansans whose normal use of the Internet on a daily basis is to check email or read up on the news. If there are bad actors then, yes, punish them on a case by case basis. But let’s not introduce sweeping government “fixes” without first identifying if there’s even a problem.

Greg Orman (Independent): Oppose

Randall Batson (Libertarian): No. This is being administerred in the private sector just fine. People can adventure whever they wish by the click of a mouse.