WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- 7 Investigates conducted interviews with each of the five 7th Congressional District candidates between October 16 and 21, asking the same set of twelve issue and platform-based questions to each candidate, which included three Republicans and two Democrats. Click here for the complete methodology of the project. Lawrence Dale's interview occurred on October 16.
1. We’re seeing more and more issues get split along Party lines, which is leading to more issues deadlocked in Congress with no movement. What issue are you willing to cross party lines to address?
Well, that would have to be determined by what issue came up. I don't know. I wouldn't know how to answer that.
2. Is the tariff-based approach to dealing with Chinese trade practices the most effective solution for Wisconsin consumers and producers?
Well, the tariffs are good for protecting infant industries. And to tell you the truth, I don't like the idea that we're dealing with a totalitarian society to begin with. Having trade relations with a country that is under a strict totalitarian rule that doesn't allow democracy, all trade with such a country should be conditioned upon their--for their access to our markets, they should at least be able to introduce reforms that address the human rights condition. They don't have the right to organize over there. We don't have a balanced trade trading field to deal with, when we deal with those type of authoritarian countries. So if they want to deal with our country, if they want to trade and have access to our markets, they should at least agree that at some point down the road--give them some time, some reasonable time--but let's get to the point where at least the workers have a right to say, collective bargaining and workplace, number one. And the other would be, are they meeting environmental standards? If we're going to have trade with that type of country that can cut corners with regard to their working people, and with regard to their environmental standards, and yet we in this country, our producers have to meet these standards, then they should be subject to conditions if they want to trade with us. And that's what I have to say about that.
3. Dairy farms in Wisconsin are closing at a rising rate of hundreds per year. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s assessment that small family farms of 40 to 100 cows will likely go out of business. Do you agree with his assessment—and what legislation will you propose to address the dairy farming issue at a Congressional level?
Dairy farming, per se, is a question I would have to look into at the time, okay. But farming in general, I believe in the small family farm. We have a plan for small family farms in the seventh congressional district. So I can't really speak to what we would do on a statewide level right now without examining it further, but I can tell you this. We have a plan that calls for the creation of many processing plants throughout the Seventh. Hopefully, we can get a federal grant for, you know, a pilot program. But we have high demand in the Seventh for meat products. I did a study years ago. And I found that if we were only to tap 5% of the pork, beef and chicken demand here within the Seventh, that we would be able, for a targeted marketing area with a 75 mile radius, we would be able to actually achieve a quarter of a million dollars in profit. There is that demand for beef already, but you know, the best beef is farm-raised, and people appreciate that. And the thing is, we're not providing that even though we have acres, maybe thousands of acres of farmland in the Seventh district that is going fallow, it's not being productive. And you know, we should be doing something about that. And my plan is to do a feasibility study to determine if it's commercially viable to begin at least tapping part of that high demand market for meat. And then move on from there, if it is successful, to include eggs or--well not eggs, eggs would be probably, you know, sought after immediately. But things like produce and other types of high nutrition food. So that would be my plan. As far as the dairy issue, I think they would benefit from that because we could always you know, with our plan, advance into dairy too. And if dairy is run by the farmers, okay, and not dictated by outside forces so much, and if they were to tap into--you know, our local and regional markets and be a part of that. So our my plan would would be to look to creating more family-farm-run businesses, but first of all determine if it's commercially viable and and that would be my position on the farming issue.
Just to clarify the first part of that question. You don’t agree with Sonny Perdue that small family farms are going out of business?
Absolutely not. I mean, they're--well, yeah, if you have Republicans in office, they're going to go out of business because they support the corporatizing of agriculture everywhere. And we don't want to end up like Iowa, where they have the Quad Cities down there having terrible problems with their drinking water. And it's something--it's just an area we don't want to go into. You cannot concentrate animals and and be able to sustain good drinking water, good aquifers, clean rivers and streams, and your ecosystem in general will not survive with that kind of... and your neighbors? What are we going to do with the people whose wells are being subjected to this to this run off? We don't have a--we don't have in the state of Wisconsin, to my knowledge, the ability to support, you know, these large concentrated animal farm-type facilities, because they're not viable, given our geology. Our soil is so porous, it gets right into our aquifers, and so many people's private wells are connected to aquifers.
4. What’s your plan to continue to support Wisconsin’s low unemployment rate while addressing an aging workforce?
The aging workforce is becoming--I can speak to that because I am a health insurance agent. But in addition to that, when most of the bankruptcies in this country and certainly in Wisconsin, are due to the fact that people can’t afford their health care. And the health care bills are so expensive, and even if you have health insurance, in many cases you know, you can't afford to pay them.
I'm gonna stop there for a minute we're going to touch on health care in a minute. But this question is specifically asking, what's your plan to continue to support Wisconsin's low unemployment rate? While thinking about the aging workforce; we're focusing on the economy in this question.
Well, we know that there may be high employment, per se, but look what type of jobs we're talking about. And I don't know that I agree with you that we have a high unemployment rate in the seven CD, that pays good wages. If people are scraping by on some low paying job, I don't call that living a dignified life. We need to look to that farm policy I was talking about that, you know, our campaign is espousing. And that way we can look to building more opportunities to get your family involved in a family farm business itself. So creating new businesses is really--the Democrats in this Seventh district, that's, that's our objective. And if we can do it by creating more family farms by, you know, taking upon ourselves--tapping into markets that are in high demand, that's the way to grow high paying jobs. And also we haven't at all tapped the hemp industry potential in this state. I mean, for example, we have a Park Falls situation where there's a lot of layoffs, it seems like they’re on a down cycle over there. They're laying off a lot of people, the place may be closing or attempting, you know, forced to close again. But have they really looked at the potential for hemp? Hemp produces a variety of products, disposable products that are biodegradable. Countries like at least one country that I know of, Australia, has banned the production of disposable plastic bags. Well, what if it's commercially viable to produce this disposable and biodegradable paper bags? That would help our timber industry and our new hemp industry. We need to look into that; find out what's out there on the market that would show us whether or not moving into hemp production--which, if we're producing paper products, or even baby diapers and that kind of thing that right now are not biodegradable, converting to biodegradable products. It would also help the farm sector of our economy and increase opportunities for people to be active in farming. And if the viability--I'm sorry, the feasibility studies shows that it is commercially feasible, there are lots of USDA rural development opportunities for us in terms of grants. You know, there's all kinds of ways to raise money and look for investors. But mainly look for type of commercial or business model that would, you know, be run by and for the farmers who produce the goods.
5. How do you plan to make healthcare more affordable for the American family?
Well, the most affordable health care would be universal health care. And that means that the people of this country would have to, you know, they would have a right to health care. And we know that from a business standpoint, that makes sense, because right now we're paying twice as much for health care. I mean, our people are paying twice as much for healthcare and are not--are getting little in return and turning to bankruptcies in their sunset years just to cover costs of operations that, you know, we--it should be a right, you know, that people, I mean--to have health care should be a right for folks. And we know this because the countries that do have, you know, universal health care for their citizens, well, they can provide it at far less cost--half the cost we do--primarily because people in those countries don't wait till they're critically ill to go see a doctor. The more critically ill you are, the more expensive the care is going to be. And now we have a situation where there's, you know, if you can't afford to pay it, then they have to increase the rates on everybody else. And then the government has to step in at a higher rate. So we're basically subsidizing a health care system in this country already that is for profit. And it's a poor model. It's a model that simply doesn't work. Just like, you know, it wouldn't work if we had the post office run by a private party. It's not a viable enterprise for the private sector. We need to nationalize it, and we need to have universal health care for everybody instead of--I see so many people. I mean, they work all their life to build up, you know, a heritage and state for their progeny. For the kids and the grandkids. And it's all taken away by these expensive health care bills that they get.
6. Our national debt hit 22 trillion dollars this year. How do you plan to reduce that debt—and does your plan include raising taxes?
I think the debt can be reduced by what we said earlier, you know, having national health care. Raising taxes is out of the question, in my opinion. I know that some people equivocate on that. But I believe in the Warren Plan, which calls for 2% on every dollar over $50 million. That's not going to undermine anybody's standard of living up there in those echelons of income. And they have had the advantage of a democratic system all their lives. They have had the advantage of our fair court system to enforce contracts. That's something. And they've had a great American market from which their wealth is derived. They've also profited from the deindustrialization of this country, whereby they invest in companies that specialize, like Bain Capital and others that you may have heard of in the news, for moving our companies to Mexico and other--China, a totalitarian country, which I'm strongly against without conditions. And this is where they have derived their wealth. Now it's time for a little payback because they have pretty well milked us dry.
7. It’s been reported that hundreds of high-value ISIS detainees have escaped from prison in Syria. Do you support President Trumps withdrawal from Syria—and do you believe it sets the Islamic State up for a resurgence?
I'm a veteran and I'll tell ya, if I was there helping those people, and they are a democratic people. These are not--These are not people who believe in Sharia law. So it disturbs me to no end, and it's a traitorous act in my opinion, to allow for a outside authoritarian state like Turkey to come in and invade a country like the part of Syria that the Kurds hold, destroy the Kurds and slaughter the Kurds after they have helped us destroy the ISIS forces, which would have only turned and may still yet turn their attention to America to wreak havoc here as they've done all over Europe for the past few years. It's wrong, it's traitorous, and he should be, if for no other reason, impeached on those grounds.
8. The Supreme Court is expected to rule next June on the President’s move to strike down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. If they end the program, would you support Congressional actions to protect current Dreamers?
Of course. I mean, especially expedite the ones that have served our country. But the dreamers, definitely. They had no choice in the decision to come to this country. And I feel that it would be important to give them a path to citizenship. This thing has been going on a long time. But I think all we have to look at here is, what's fair? And they've shown--they've shown that they have have a respect for our laws, which most of them have. That they're looking to educate themselves to be more productive citizens in this country and want to go to college. They shouldn't be denied citizenship after they've taken all those steps. And even if they have simply lived their lives as regular rank and file Americans trying to meet the bills every month, that's commendable. Because they're trying to take care of their families and be honorable citizens in their communities.
9. In the past year, President Trump has pulled out of the Paris Agreement, and continues to roll back environmental regulations, and the far left has introduced proposals like the Green New Deal. Where do you fall on the climate change spectrum?
First of all, it's not a far left thing to want to, you know, save our environment. It's to be protected and honored. And when you take actions like endorsing fracking, injecting awful chemicals into the groundwater system, emit all this methane in the world--it seems like that has more potential for destroying--for destroying the atmosphere than any other greenhouse gas. Methane is awful. And yet they persist that doing this instead of going to a non fossil fuel source. We know through surveys and analysis done by other groups. What comes to mind, I know that the Sierra Club for example, has done and published studies and also do programs for talking about the conversion to wind energy and solar energy. These are higher paying jobs and safe for the environment. And that's where we need to go because I think we got about 12 years left, they say, before the tipping point comes with regard to the greenhouse gas effect, overwhelming us and undermining the Earth's very sustainability and the extinction of many fragile species.
10. Do you believe the President has done anything wrong in asking a foreign government to investigate political opponents?
Absolutely. I mean, that's again, that's a betrayal of--I don't know, if you define what is betrayal, it's usually comes back to the point of undermining American security in some way. That's exactly what has happened there, with the added punch that he's trying to figure out how to leverage something that's already been approved like armaments to protect Ukraine, which is part of our agreement with Ukraine for their dismissal. Or, not dismissal, but with their agreement to--I guess you would call it, do away with their nuclear arsenal. So in exchange for that we were able to, you know, agree that yes, we would provide for their security. And now for a president and a commander in chief to use that as leverage to, you know, for his own self dealing to interfere in our democratic elections is--well, it's just beyond the pale. This is outrageous betrayal of trust and his oath of office.
11. We continue to see domestic terror incidents where perpetrators target their victims based on their differences. Do you believe violent political rhetoric plays a role in these cases, and do you believe your personal moral compass should impact who you align yourself with politically?
Well, of course. You don't want to align yourself with someone who's inviting a foreign power in to slaughter your allies. I mean, of course, you wouldn't do that. You wouldn't support a party that--like the Senate of the United States or in the Republican members--are supporting the president and especially in this case in Ukraine are trying to, you know, make excuses for him. But yeah, you have to align. And it's like the old expression, birds of a feather flock together. And we're not flocking with that--with that flock. You know, we're not--we're not going to be a part of that. And that's why we're running. We oppose that. And it's--the thing is, you know, we're Americans, we have a right to express our differences, and we're trying to do it in a civil way. But some things are just beyond belief. You know, when it comes to abandoning allies that have sacrificed like in northern Syria with the Kurds who sacrifice 10,000 of their own people to help the forces that America put there to support them to an invading army, from an authoritarian state that almost--Well, like Trump, doesn't have that much respect for democracy, and certainly has no respect for the founding principles upon which our nation was founded.
12. What single thing do you want to have accomplished by the end of a full 2-year term?
Well, the thing is we're hoping with this special election that people will put the country before their party. If we accomplished that, or at least start that motion, I think that will be accomplishing a great deal. And that's why I joined this campaign. I was asked to join it, I found out what they wanted to do. And I said, "Hey, that's what I want to do too." I mean, I think we all have the obligation to set the ship aright. And because right now it's floundering our democracy, our democratic principles are being challenged. And anyway, my goal with this campaign is to move in a direction to encourage all Americans to put their allegiance to America before their allegiance for their party.