Name: Rick Berg
Race: U.S. Senate
Questions for Senate candidates:
1) If a bill is introduced to repeal the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate, will you vote to repeal the law or uphold it in its present form and why?
My wife Tracy is a family practice doctor and we know first-hand the benefits of the patient-doctor relationship and the importance of a patient's ability to make his or her own health care decisions. When President Obama's healthcare law was passed, our number one concern was the amount of government intrusion created between a patient and their doctor.
I firmly support the repeal of President Obama's healthcare law. Obamacare cuts $500 billion from Medicare, raises taxes and puts a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of Medicare decisions. I was an original supporter of the full repeal of Obamacare, and on 26 occasions have voted to repeal, dismantle or defund portions of the law.
Over 70% of North Dakotans did not support Obamacare. I will continue efforts to end this costly healthcare overhaul and replace it with reforms that protect our seniors and ensure patients and their doctors, not bureaucrats, are in charge of health care decisions.
2) Do you favor or oppose religious employers, such as Catholic hospitals and Catholic schools, opting out of portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act they find morally objectionable? Why or Why not?
I joined over 150 members of the US House in calling on HHS Secretary Sebelius to reverse a decision regarding the overreaching insurance mandates in President Obama's healthcare law. In our letter, we condemned the ruling mandating that health insurance plans cover services in violation of religious-affiliated organizations' conscience rights.
This is an example of unprecedented overreach in Obamacare. I am opposed to the administration standing between the healthcare decisions of patients and their doctors and extending that overreach into faith-based organizations. Over 70 percent of North Dakotans did not support Obamacare in the first place, and this is another example of why I will continue to fight for its repeal.
I also served as a cosponsor of the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act," which would ensure that provisions of Obamacare would not penalize or discriminate against individuals for exercising conscientious objections to the health plans or programs established by it.
3) If a vote to override a presidential veto of the construction of the section of the Keystone XL Pipeline that crosses the Canadian border and runs through Montana into Nebraska is brought to the floor of the Senate, how will you vote and why?
I firmly support the Keystone XL Pipeline project. Unfortunately, President Obama and Senate Democrats have blocked its approval. In addition to creating needed jobs for our country, the project would make strides in our efforts to achieve energy independence while also relieving truck traffic on our overburdened roads here in North Dakota.
With national unemployment remaining over 8 percent and gas approaching $4.00 a gallon nationally, it is absurd that President Obama is waging a campaign against this common sense legislation. Instead, he should be looking to North Dakota for solutions to the challenges facing our nation.
By blocking the project's approval, President Obama has made clear that he would rather put politics ahead of American jobs and sound energy policy. But even if the President continues to block common-sense energy solutions, we will not stop pursuing them.
I will continue to lead efforts in the House and I look forward to working with Senator John Hoeven on proposals to advance the Keystone XL approval.
4) What provisions would you like to see included in the new farm bill that are currently not included in the current farm bill?
Agriculture is the backbone of North Dakota's economy, and it's critical that our interests and priorities are represented in agriculture policy and the next Farm Bill. That's why I brought Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) to North Dakota to hear from our farmers and producers about their priorities.
Crop insurance continues to be the number one concern I hear about, and strengthening the safety net will be my top priority. Crop insurance serves as a strong risk management tool and unsustainable cuts to this program would burden our producers with more uncertainty in an already unpredictable industry. Other priorities include livestock indemnity, research and export assistance.
I also support Sens. Hoeven and Conrad's proposal, "The Revenue Loss Assistance and Crop Insurance Enhancement Act of 2012." This cost-effective bill strengthens crop insurance, reduces duplication and contributes to deficit reduction. I will continue to promote and educate members about the importance of agriculture, crop insurance and North Dakota priorities as we work to advance a Farm Bill.
5) Name six federal programs that you would support cutting or reducing funding for in order to reduce the deficit and indicate the amount of money that you would support reducing or cutting from each program?
Unfortunately, leaders from both parties in Washington have balanced our nation's budget with a credit card. We are $15.5 trillion in debt, yet Washington continues to borrow $4 billion every day, placing an overwhelming $49,000 per child debt burden onto our children and grandchildren.
Last year, I fought to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. Unfortunately, President Obama rallied his allies to block it but I will continue to pursue one at every opportunity.
Referring to specific cuts, first I would repeal Obamacare. 70% of North Dakotans did not support this $1.7 trillion dollar government takeover of our healthcare system. Also, I strongly oppose President Obama's $1 trillion failed stimulus package and the $700 billion in Wall Street bailouts. Additionally, the House recently tasked six committees to find savings to replace across the board cuts which would harm our seniors, agriculture and energy industries, educational institutions and our military. The result was a combined savings of $315 billion over 10 years.