12 Questions with 7th Congressional Republican Candidate Tom Tiffany

Published: Oct. 24, 2019 at 3:45 PM CDT
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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. Tom Tiffany's interview occurred on October 21.
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?

Deficit reduction. I think there are Republicans and Democrats that want to reduce the deficit. I believe the average person--every man, woman and child--have $187,000 of debt that's attached to their name at this point. And I would like to see serious effort at deficit reduction. I think that could be a bipartisan issue. We need to balance the books in Washington D.C., just like families do.

2. Is the tariff-based approach to dealing with Chinese trade practices the most effective solution for Wisconsin consumers and producers?

We would prefer not--I would prefer not to have tariffs. However, you have a country in China that is--that threatens its neighbors, denies people human rights, and steals intellectual property. That is private property. And we cannot continue to do that and allow that to happen as a free society, where a country is stealing our intellectual property. So I think President Trump should be given some latitude to work on this issue. And if it takes tariffs in order to cause them to be better actors, to not steal our intellectual property, then I'm going to support that approach. But I would hope over time, that we'll be able to reduce tariffs, and get to freer and fair trade.

3. Dairy farms in Wisconsin are closing at a rising rate of hundreds per year. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s said 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?

I think Secretary Perdue perhaps could have chosen his words a little more carefully. But I grew up on a dairy farm. We milked 50 cows. I know what it's like to have been on a dairy farm. And I think that we--there really has to be some--I think President Trump's approach in regards to helping out dairy farms who are caught in the middle of these trade wars, I think is one approach that could be taken. While I'm not crazy about subsidies, I think in this instance, perhaps we need to help them at least temporarily to be able to weather the storm.

4. What’s your plan to continue to support Wisconsin’s low unemployment rate while addressing an aging workforce?

We need to have more opportunity. I mean, I think about my three daughters who are early adults, Karlyn, Lexie and Katherine. And that's what we want--my wife Chris and I want--to give our kids, is opportunity. I mean that's why I'm running for Congress, is to give people opportunity like my kids. And I think by having lower taxes and reasonable regulations, that we can bring young people here to Wisconsin. Because you're absolutely correct. We have an aging demographic, especially in the far north here in Wisconsin. And I think it's all about opportunity. Give people freedom and opportunity, and they'll come to the state of Wisconsin.

5. How do you plan to make healthcare more affordable for the American family?

Well first of all, the Affordable Care Act has not worked. And the proposals that are being put forth by Democrat presidential candidates, where they want to take over the health care system, where they have the federal government take over the health care system--that is not going to work. And a better solution is to return control to the states, because we've seen it here in the state of Wisconsin. Where health insurance--health insurance has been kept flat, where we have not seen rising health insurance rates. And I've worked on things like direct primary care that gets everybody out from the middle of the doctor-patient relationship. I think things like that, direct primary care and additional funding for our nursing homes as has been done in the state budget, I think those things are all things that work. The solution does not lie in Washington D.C. In fact, premiums went up and people had fewer choices of doctors after the Affordable Care Act was passed. The solution is not at the federal level. It's to return control to the state and local level.

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?
[Disclosure note: As a result of human error, this question was missed during the on-camera interview. Sen. Tiffany’s campaign was given the option of sending a written response or coming back to our studio for an on-camera response to the question. This response was issued as a written statement in an email, following the interview.]

Family households balance their budget. I’ve worked as a citizen legislator to balance the state of Wisconsin’s budget, without raising taxes. Now it’s time for the federal government to do the same.

We can achieve this by cutting waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government and imposing fiscal restraints. This would limit spending and allow us to balance the budget without digging into the pockets of hardworking taxpayers. In fact, in Wisconsin, we’ve cut taxes by $13 billion since 2011.

This is an important issue to me. Our Country cannot continue on this course. As a father of three young-adult daughters Karlyn, Lexie and Katherine I find it unacceptable that our children and grandchildren would be forced to take on this burden.

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?

Well I think that the whole thing of the never-ending wars needs to end. And I do give President Trump some deference in regards to that. He's trying to negotiate our way out of the Middle East, which I think is--which I think is appropriate. I think that there are countries over in the Middle East that need to take responsibility, including keeping ISIS in check. I mean, remember President Trump right after he came into office, he got--he fought ISIS. He said, "We are going to get them under control." And he's done that. And so I think he deserves some deference on this issue to get us out of the Middle East. Because really, people are tired of the never-ending wars in the Middle East. And it's not a matter of just that there's one--you know, it's one side against the other. I mean, this is multifaceted. And we've been mired in the Middle East now for over a decade. And President Trump has proposed a different foreign policy over there than what we've used over the last couple decades. I think it's important to give him the opportunity to be able to get us out of the Middle East and stop the never-ending wars.

And I'm going to re-ask the second part of that question. Do you believe this sets the Islamic State up for a resurgence?

I hope not. And I trust that President Trump, because he has gotten the Islamic State under control a couple years ago, I think that he is very mindful of making sure that they stay under control.

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?

As part of an overall resolution to maintaining security at the border, I'm certainly open to any ideas that people would put out. We do have to maintain security at our borders. I mean, it's one of the--it's one of the fundamental functions of the federal government is for us to have a strong defense, and also defend our borders. And I think this is an instance where we have to make sure that our borders are defended. And I believe that, if there can be an overall resolution to this concern, I'm open to any ideas that people may have. It is important to defend the borders, not just to make--it's not just important to make sure that we know who's going in and out of our country, which is very important. But we have drugs that are streaming across our border that we should be stopping. We have human sex trafficking that goes on across the border. This is really a multifaceted problem. And we do need to get control of [unclear]; we need to have border security.

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?

I think there's two things going on there with the whole climate change issue. I think, for a lot of people, they focus on energy conservation, 'let's do what's right for the environment.' And I very much support that. We really need to make sure that we're protecting the environment. But then you get these extreme proposals, which are basically saying 'We're going to drive up the cost of energy.' For example, you mentioned the Green New Deal. I mean, it basically eliminates animal agriculture is what the proposal says. I mean, we're America's Dairyland. Why would we entertain--I mean, that goes to our way of life here in Wisconsin. I will not support a proposal, I will not support a proposal like that. But you know, we went through this a number of years ago, where the cost of energy went up. Propane prices went to $5 a gallon a few years ago, if you remember, during the polar vortex. And that put a tremendous strain on family budgets. That's what they're talking about is driving up the cost of energy. That hurts poor people the most. So any proposal that drives up the cost of energy for the American people and for people here in northern, western Wisconsin, I'm not going to support.

10. Do you believe the President has done anything wrong in asking a foreign government to investigate political opponents?

Well, first of all, in regards to the Ukraine, I don't think he asked specifically to investigate a certain person. In the transcripts that I've read, he was asking for review of interference by the Ukraine government in the 2016 election. He was asking for help to be able to investigate that, and know exactly what happened. What did the Ukrainian government do in the 2016 election to interfere in the American election? And I think it's appropriate to try to get to the bottom of what the Ukrainian government did in 2016.

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?

There are two things along this line that are of deep concern for me. One is religious freedom. We're seeing some people that are saying we should deny others their religious freedom. That goes to the very heart of our founding. But political speech is another part that is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. And we are seeing on college campuses where speakers are being run off from college campuses before being able to give their speeches. That's just wrong. We have to allow the free flow of political ideas of vigorous, robust political debate. That's at the heart of our freedoms. And so we have to do everything possible to make sure that people can share their political beliefs in a safe, inviting atmosphere.

12. What single thing do you want to have accomplished by the end of a full 2-year term?

So I think there's a few things that can be done. I mean, I think about instances in the Seventh Congressional District. There's a paper mill in this district that had to spend $13 million to build a new smokestack that gave no environmental improvement. Zero. And they spent $13 million to do that. That was all as a result of regulations, heavy-handed regulations and red tape by the federal government. That type of thing has to change. And I will put forth a proposal to do that, where agencies can't just put forth regulations without doing a cost analysis on them. I think about small businesses. As a result of laws that have been passed at the federal level, it's dried up credit for entrepreneurs and others--what I would call Main Street businesses. And we see our small banks and credit unions not able to offer loans, the lifeblood for entrepreneurs and others that want to start businesses on Main Street. That is something that I would tackle. And then also, we have the federal government weighing in on how we manage wildlife here in the state of Wisconsin. That should be a state function. The federal government should get out of that. Those are the things that I'll work on. Real issues for people here in Northern Wisconsin who are my friends and neighbors to make their lives better, to give them greater freedom and opportunity.