Paul Burtzlaff has had quite a busy day today. Besides conducting worship services like he does every Sunday, he was out pounding the pavement and working the phones to get out the vote for Tuesday's primary. Earlier this evening, he sat down for an hour with the crew from Meet The Bloggers, then headed back to the church to watch his wife sing with the choir in a concert. After that, he e-mailed me his responses to an e-mail interview I requested a short time ago. I don't know where he gets the energy for this (I'd be comatose by now)!
Anyway, without further delay, here's my interview with Paul S. Burtzlaff!
If you could communicate one thing about yourself to the voters in Ohio's 13th District (perhaps something under-reported), what would it be?
Like the constituents I will serve in Washington, I go to work every day, I roll up my sleeves and earn a paycheck. As a former small businessman, I respect the value of a dollar. My family and I face the same struggles and challenges as the District 13 voters. I have spent my life in SERVICE -- service to my country in the United States Navy, service to families and students as a professor, teacher, and school administrator, and service to my congregation as a pastor and family life minister. Paul S. Burtzlaff stands for the common person and is committed to service
What would be your top policy priority if you were elected to the House of Representatives?
Restoring Integrity and trust in our elected leaders. Good government and trusted leadership are under scrutiny at the federal, state, and district 13 levels. IN ORDER TO EFFECT REAL CHANGE, we must first restore the public trust in our elected leaders. That trust, once earned, provides the gateway for the open and candid discussion of economic, social, and safety issues confronting the 13th Congressional District. My first policy action will be to institute an "open door policy" with District 13 constituents, business, social, and civic leaders, including regional District offices, numerous neighborhood and community meetings, and a high level of outreach by my congressional staff and me.
Under what conditions should U.S. military forces come home from Iraq and Afghanistan? Should they be immediately withdrawn as proposed by Congressman John Murtha (D-PA)? What should be Congress' role in the War on Terror?
It is crucial that our military and diplomatic forces continue to assist the Iraqi and Afghan peoples attain self-governance. A step-by-step action plan, such as the one in place, should be followed for the orderly and systematic withdrawal of forces from these nations. To withdraw our troops (and those of our participating allies) prematurely could result in heightened political instability throughout the Middle East.
Even worse, to pull out of these nations before they are effectively governing their peoples could signal a psychological victory for terrorist organizations and their supporters, thereby putting our borders at risk for future attack.
Terrorist organizations need to respect the United States and its will to protect liberty, as they did when Ronald Reagan led our great nation.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently characterized you as not fully backing President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq, and I must note that you sounded pretty tentative in the article. This has bothered some conservative Ohio bloggers, and no doubt lots of other folks too. How do you explain your answers? Here are the quotes I'm referring to.
PD: Has President Bush been good for the 13th Congressional District?
Burtzlaff: "I don't know that he has necessarily been good for the district."
Let me explain the context for this response.
The Republican-led Congress and President Bush's administration have championed a number of wonderful things in the last five-plus years, including meaningful tax relief, a rebounding economy, a shrinking unemployment rate for the nation, prescription drug legislation for our Older Americans, and the beginning of education reform and enhancement through the "No Child Left Behind" Act.
A president focuses on the entire nation, not just on the particular needs of a specific congressional district. District 13 has a diverse work force, educational basis, a changing industrial base, and room for growth and development. The needs of the District are unique and are in some ways at odds with the national needs. This is what prompted my response.
PD: Was the United States correct to send troops to Iraq?
Burtzlaff: "I don't know. I fully support our men and women in the armed forces. You need to get them out as soon as possible."
My answer to the decision to send troops into Iraq was based on an intellectual view. We will never really know whether Saddam Hussein actually concealed and held active weapons of mass destruction immediately prior to the re-entering Iraq, though we do know he committed mass genocide and previously used the WMDs ON HIS OWN PEOPLE.. I do support the President's decision to enter Iraq, as I supported Desert Storm, based on the information he had available and based on Saddam's refusal to follow United Nations directives. Once our objectives of helping the Iraqis gain meaningful self-governance, we should withdraw our troops as expeditiously as possible.
Whether or not you support all of President Bush's policies and priorities, do you consider him to be trustworthy?
Yes I consider President Bush to be honest, sincere and straightforward. I believe he makes reasoned decisions based on the information provided to him. I believe he honestly communicates his policy decisions to the American people.
How would you define America's enemies in this war (I mean more here than just naming a list of countries)? Who or what are we fighting, exactly?
If you are alluding to the War on Terror, America is threatened by those who insist on the imposition of fear and intimidation as a means of governance, those who choose to create global instability - politically, militarily, and economically - as a means of gaining control, those who see the United States as divided and lacking the will to protect its citizens and those others who seek freedom in a democratic society.
The price of gasoline has been rising lately, and Americans have begun to complain loudly. What (if anything) should Congress do to lower the price of gas at the pump? Should it permit exploration for more sources of oil (say, by drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or in the Gulf of Mexico)? Should the government reduce taxes on gasoline? Do you support President Bush's temporary halt of additions to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? What about his relaxation of regional EPA standards on clean fuel? Should Congress do anything else?
We live in a free market society, so we must exercise great care to avoid exercising emotional will over small and big business. Basic economic concepts of competition and supply and demand must be encouraged. One of the biggest issues Congress has grappled with for three decades is our growing dependence on foreign oil. The demand for petroleum, steel, lumber and other raw materials by the Chinese government further strains the limited global supplies.
Our refining capacity ground to a standstill over twenty years ago [thanks to] the Democrat-controlled Congress.
We need to further expand our oil exploration (in as environmentally safe manner as possible), invest in research and development of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and ethanol (which has been available for over a quarter century) with the ultimate goal of reducing significantly our dependence on foreign nations to supply all our needs.
What are your views on immigration? What should the federal government's policy priorities be on this issue?
I support the efforts of Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-52) from Southern California who for more than 25 years has led the charge to enforce our immigration laws through interdiction. Now, more than ever, we need to enforce the laws and secure our borders against the illegal proliferation of terrorists, drug dealers and criminals.
I am sensitive to the plight of those immigrants who fled their country due to social, economic, or political reasons. We need to balance those sensitivities against the stress illegal immigrants place on our welfare, educational, and social infrastructures. The solution in addressing those illegal immigrants should not be hasty, rather a balanced, non-partisan dialogue must be commenced.
[Ed.: Rep. Hunter's site is here.]
On your campaign web site, you say "We need to do everything possible to maintain, improve and expand our current industry and job markets while recognizing and preparing for a shift in markets." The national economy's doing well, but the common perception in Ohio is that our state is hurting badly. What's wrong with Ohio's economy, and what (if anything) should be Congress' role in fixing it?
You are correct in noting that Ohio, center of the Rust Belt, has suffered with the loss of major manufacturing, including in the steel and automotive industries. We see those impacts in Lorain County and the City of Cleveland.
The issues are complex and involve the Federal, the State, county and local governments, who must work in partnership to effect real change. Our goals must be to develop and expand our technologies in order to compete in the world marketplace. To do so, we need to encourage research and development of a whole new series of cutting edge technologies so we can regain global competitiveness. Tax credits for research, similar to President Reagan's in 1981, should be strongly considered.
On overseas outsourcing, the Medina County Gazette quoted you as saying: "I believe education is the answer. We need to pave the road for research and development and training to be able to fill those positions locally." How do you propose to implement that, specifically?
The threshold issue is that the Federal Government, the State, the local school districts and, most importantly, the family, must all make a commitment to excellence in education. Without one of these groups, excellence simply cannot occur.
Once the mutual commitment is made, all parties can engage in meaningful dialogue promoting heightened educational standards and results with a commitment to invest in R & D.
On your campaign web site, you say "It is imperative that we provide the highest quality education for our children, preparing them for professions and careers where they will thrive, enjoy their chosen vocation, contribute to society and provide for their families." What should Congress do to achieve this? Do school vouchers figure into your plan?
We are a country of liberty, freedom, and self determination. Although school funding and standards are generally a state issue, the Federal Government should encourage excellence within the states and allow for each family to decide what school system can best help their children excel and maximize his or her potential. School vouchers should be allowed so that a homeowner is not penalized because he or she felt their child could get a better education at a private versus a public school.
Please summarize your position on abortion. What (if anything) should Congress do about the issue?
The Ohio Right to Life organization has endorsed my candidacy. I am pro-life and believe life begins at conception.
I am a staunch believer in federalism, and I believe that this is generally a state issue. Nonetheless I would support a constitutional amendment banning abortion.
Please summarize your position on homosexual marriage. What (if anything) should Congress do about the issue?
I would support legislation defining marriage as the union between a man and a women (alternatively banning same sex marriage) as well as a constitutional amendment.
Should Congress do anything to permanently prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes?
This issue invokes the Takings Clause of the United States Constitution. This is a state issue under our system of federalism. The United States Supreme Court has so ruled and I support our separation of powers.
What should Congress do about the estate tax (a.k.a. the "death tax")?
There are several tax issues which merit review In 2011, the tax rate relief, new 10-percent tax bracket, death tax repeal, marriage penalty relief, small business expensing, and all the remaining tax relief enacted over the past three years will sunset, resulting in tax increases for every individual American man or woman who pays income taxes.
I believe these repeals should be made permanent.
Please contrast the Republican and Democratic parties. What should voters remember on Primary Election Day and on General Election Day?
In the last two decades both the republican and Democrat parties have gravitated "to the center" on several issues, thereby, on occasion, blurring the differences between them.
Traditionally the Democrats have been characterized by their "tax and spend" policies, social welfare programs, and demands for entitlements.
Conversely Republicans have been known for supporting a strong defense, limited government, federalism, and self determination.
District 13 voters should ask themselves two questions:
1. "Who can I trust to best represent my family and I and our interests, with integrity, in Washington?"
2. "Who is sensitive to the issues we face every day yet strong enough to stand up for us, locally, nationally, and internationally?"
As a veteran, former small businessman, educator and minister, Paul S. Burtzlaff is best equipped to represent District 13 with integrity.