As tuition costs rise, what, if anything, would you do to make college more affordable?
We need to keep college affordable.
That’s why I worked to prevent interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling and helped pass a law which makes higher education more affordable by removing private lenders from the federal student loan system at the same time it saves taxpayers more than $60 billion. This law also expands Pell Grants and invests in community colleges and career training programs.
But there is still more work to do. We need to make student loans easier to understand. I support efforts to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form more accessible and easier to complete. Also, I will continue to push to expand loan repayment plans that cap required monthly payments on federal student loans at an affordable amount based on income and family size. I’m committed to making sure that every kid who wants to go to college can afford it.
What is your stance on “Obamacare”?
I supported the Affordable Care Act that includes important reforms to our health care system, such as allowing young people to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26, and ensuring that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to health insurance.
But I have always said that this law is a beginning, not an end, and I believe that improvements still need to be made. Moving forward, we can continue to work on eliminating waste and fraud, as well as focus on more reforms to our health care delivery system so that we are rewarding high-quality, efficient care.
We also need to repeal the medical device tax. I opposed this tax from the beginning and during the health reform debate fought to reduce the original proposed tax by half. I understand the impact this new tax would have on small and large medical device companies in Minnesota and that’s why I’m working to repeal it.
What role do you think the U.S. should play in foreign affairs, particularly Iran and Israel?
In today’s interconnected world, protecting our nation means strengthening alliances with friendly nations, while using a full range of tools to address global threats such as terrorism, pandemics and poverty.
With Iran, I believe all options should be on the table. Our focus now is on using sanctions and all other diplomatic, economic, and political tools available to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. America and Israel are close allies whose interests in the Middle East and around the world remain strongly aligned. The deep and enduring relationship between our nations is based on values rooted in democracy and mutual strategic goals.
Particularly during a time of uncertainty in the region, I believe we must stand firmly behind Israel’s security. I also believe that the United States must push for a meaningful peace process of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that can lead to a two-state solution.
Students have cited the economy as one of their main concerns. What would you do to ensure a stable American economy as they search for jobs after school?
We need an economy that is built to last and one that creates economic opportunity for all Americans.
By 2018, 70 percent of all jobs in Minnesota will require at least some post-secondary education, so we must do a better job of preparing students for the jobs that will be available to them when they graduate — positions that may not require a Ph.D. or other advanced degree, but demand specialized training and experience.
That’s why I have been working to advance a competitive agenda for America that promotes long-term economic growth and private sector jobs, including revitalizing America’s innovative edge, educating the next generation of American innovators, opening up new markets abroad for U.S. producers, keeping college affordable, developing homegrown energy, and reducing our nation’s debt in a balanced way.
What is the most important issue our country must deal with today and how do you plan to address it?
While many in Washington focus on scoring political points, I believe we need to move past the partisan gridlock and that’s why I’ve focused on getting things done for the people of Minnesota.
Nearly two-thirds of my bills have Republican cosponsors. I’ve worked across the aisle to provide our National Guard members their full benefits, streamline the adoption process and pass legislation to prevent shortages of life-saving medications.
I’ll continue pushing for bipartisan solutions to get things done because I believe now more than ever we need elected officials who can set aside partisan divisions and find common ground on solutions to move our state and our nation forward.
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