Lakeland Currents 606 – A Conversation with United States Congressman Rick Nolan

Lakeland Currents 606 – A Conversation with United States Congressman Rick Nolan


? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Lakeland Currents is sponsored by Nisswa Tax
Service. Nisswa Tax Service
offers tax preparation for individuals and businesses. PPAcross from city hall in Nisswappand on the web at nisswatax.com. Hello again everyone and welcome to
Lakeland Currents, where today my guest is an experienced
congressman. Let my just put it that way. He served in the
House of Representatives the
first time from 1975 -1981. He was a former aide or assistant to then
Senator Walter Mondale. He has been president
of the world trade center. He has been a private business man.
He has been a teacher. He is now in his second go round
in the House and I think the thing that is most impressive about PPthis past couple months is thatpphe bagged 3 deer on the deer opener.
I think that was pretty
impressive. My guest today is 8th district CongressmanPPRick Nolan. Welcome to theppshow. Great, Thank you delighted to be here.ppRay: I think there is a million things we could talk about, but
in 28 minutes we can’t cover
them all. But one thing that I really am
curious about being that you
were served in the House in the
’70’s and early ’80’s. What is
the major differences you are seeing as
you go back there. Rep. Nolan:
Well the differences are really quite dramatic.
It’s kind of like you know when
you see that nephew or grandson or neighbor kid
and you haven’t seen them for 4 or 5 years between the
ages of say 12 and 16. They show up and you say
wow you’ve really grown. You’ve really change. And so
my hiatus from the Congress was 32 years. It’s the longest
in the history of the country. When I showed up and
saw what was happening it was like wow this is so dramatically
different. And quite frankly not good Ray.
And the two primary there are many differences. Some very ppmajor and some not so major. And the two major ones
are opposites sides quite frankly of the same coin. My previous last election cost
a couple hundred thousand
dollars. This one we just got through
all money in was over $20
million. I mean that is just
obscene. It’s wrong. And when congressman and women
get to Washington now, they’re
told by the pros and by their leaders:
they should spend 30 hours a
week in the call centers that the Republicans andPPDemocrats have across theppstreet from the capital calling for money.
Ray: 30 hours a week. Rep.
Nolan; They tell you that you should spend 30 hours a week.
Why? Well cause generally the
one with the most money gets the most votes.
And then in addition to that they tell you that you should spendPPanother 10 hours a week inppactual fund raisers and fund raising development.
So the opposite side of that coin then if
the members of Congress are across the street dialing for
dollars. Then 40 hours a week and God knows
how many hours traveling back and forth to their district.
In my case it’s a 7 hour trip door to door. You’ve got 54 hours into the week PPand you haven’t spent any timeppgoverning yet. So that’s the opposite
side of that coin. And that the Congress doesn’t
really govern anymore. It’s really not a very
democratic institution. I did a little study, and found
that when I had served before. We had between 7,000 -8,000 some committee and full committee meetings. PPWe worked 5 days a week. Ray:ppIs this like in a course of a year?
Rep. Nolan: Over a term, a two
year term. 7,000-8,000 meetings and
we worked 5 days a week. And you would come in
every morning and you got to
know your colleagues. You got to know
where the opportunities were for compromise, for agreement,
for fixing things, for solving
problems. You know getting things done.
This Congress now we are only half way through, but we’ve had PPless than 500 of thoseppmeetings. So everything comes
from the top down now. It doesn’t bubble up through
the committee process. And of course it’s ended up being
the most unaccomplished
Congress in the history of the country.
And it’s no wonder the Congress is not governing.
And I don’t mind telling you. I’ve made a
commitment. I’m not going to spend and I have not spent one
minute in those call centers
across the street. At my age I didn’t go to Washington to
become a professional fund
raiser So I’ve spent my time in governing andPPtrying to represent thisppdistrict as best I could and have had a lot of success at it.PPFor no other reason there isppkind of a vacuum with everybody else across the street. PPYou know those that do show upppfor the meetings get to
make the decisions so I’m feeling quite good about some of the things
that I’ve been able to
accomplish here for the district. You know some of thePPlarger issues, the deficit,ppthe wars of choice, the nation building abroad,pphealthcare, budget priority They are suffering greatly.
So you hear people being very upset
that politics needs to be changed.
Congress is not working. We are faced with
gridlock and the country is suffering because of it.
Ray: You represent a very large
district, the 8th district, How is the, this is a term
we probably never use in our
vocabulary, a couple years ago. Sequester.
How is that sequestering process affecting your district.
Rep Nolan: Well it’s not only affecting my district,
it’s affecting the whole
country. And that is one of those issues
where there is bipartisan agreement among the Democrats and
the Republicans that
sequestration is not a good idea.
And I can just give you one example.
It requires a mandatory cut across the board for
all of the agencies in government. As a result
of it numerous employees here at Camp Ripley are
being furloughed and laid off. As are National Guard members
of the 148th Air Wing Division in Duluth. Now I’m a business guy.
I’ve been in business for 32
years. In business if you are
struggling you don’t do across the board cuts. You cut
where you can save a buck you might invest some more,
where you need to expand your
market. At any event you look
at it intelligently as oppose to just doing
slashing across the board. So in the case of Camp Ripley and the 148th.
That’s the National Guard They become the front line
of our national defense. They are very, very good
and guess what they cost about
a quarter of the regular army. So if youppare struggling financially you want to invest in the National GuardPPor do you want to maybe cutppback the troops in Afghanistan or some
far away place around the
world. For me it’s an easy decision
but sequestration doesn’t
allow you to make those kind of decisions. So I’m hopefully that in this new budget deal
at a minimum we will allow the
various departments in this case the defense department
to use some discretion on where the cuts would be
made. And if I had my judgment
we would do away with sequestration. And we’d just sit down PPand take a hard look at theppbudget and see where we can save money
and maybe in some areas where you need to invest some more. I can give you
one quick example, I’ve been
meeting with the Inspector General
on Afghanistan. In addition to the trillion on the war we spent
$60 billion on infrastructure
projects not a one of them has been completed. ppI mean it breaks your heart. Patriotic young men and women who
sacrifice their lives to secure
some of these areas. It’s now the number one
nacro state in the world. Produces more heron then the rest of the worldPPcombine. It’s the most corruptppnation in the world. And we have $12 billion
in the budget for Afghanistan. I’m working to see if I can’t knock that out.
And you know what we can use that money for some
deficit reduction maybe some
tax reduction But we can also use it to
invest in America, our roads our bridges, our harbors.
Our infrastructure is falling apart. It’s 60 -70 years old. ppAnd that is the foundation of our
economic success. So the thing like sequestration don’t allow you
to make those kind of changes. and adjustments, so I think it is a bad idea.
And there are a lot of
Republicans and Democrats who agree with
that. So hopefully there will be some changes to
that coming up in this next
budget deal. Ray: Speaking of the next budget deal,ppyou’re looking at February sometime in February you need
to come up with a new plan. Is anything happening in the planning stagesPPof that right now? So howppthat’s going to be dealt with? Rep. Nolan: Well the conference ppcommittee is meeting. But that is one of the big changes that’s occurred. PPYou know I got on theppagricultural and transportation committees. I’m glad I did. They’re two
of the few committees that actually have been meeting
like they did in years past. But the conference committee
on the farm bill only the big four met to resolve the differences
of opinion on that. The rest of the conferees weren’t invited
to the meeting. When I say the
big four The Chairman of the House and Senate Ag PPCommittee and the rankingppmembers of the House and Senate Ag Committee.
Now I’m on the conference
committee for the water resources
development bill. I’m hopeful that the whole committee
will be able to meet. But when I served before
if you are on a conference committee, made up of the members of the
House and Senate, Republicans
and Democrats everybody would meet. And you would
go over your points of
difference and argue the merits and
ultimately have a vote and you know how that worked Ray. I mean thePPleft would always haveppamendments to make it more perfect and the right would have
it’s amendents to make it more
perfect. But usually there was a middle ground PPthat emerged that everybodyppcould be comfortable with. But that is just
symptomatic of how the Congress doesn’t govern anymore.
When the conferees are
appointed and they don’t meet and you
just have a couple of people. You know what happens in this process,ppsomething very important to our region, our area here.
I teamed up with Congressman Vicky Hartzler
from Missouri, a Republican and we defeated a budget proposal
to have USDA inspectors of catfish. What does that got
to do with the 6th district? Well first of all
it’s a $170 million program. And it affects several thousand
people who work in seafood processing, just west of town
over here in Motley. We have the highest number per capita of people
working working in the seafood
processing in Motley MN,than any county in
America. Now the FDA does that seafood and fish inspection. So and they do a good job.
Nobody’s complaining about it. So the thought that we
would have a FDA inspector there inspecting the salmon,
the walleye, the cod, the octopus.
And then a USDA inspector standing along side of them
waiting for a catfish for $170 million to protect
some catfish producers down in Mississippi. I mean it’s an absurdityPPit’s the kind of thing thatppdrives people crazy.
It’s a waste of money It’s very upsetting to
the people in business. We got the killed. Vicky and
I teamed up and we killed that
in the House agriculture committee
but it went through the Senate
bill. Well Thad Cochran, a Senator,
a minority member with the minority is saying there ain’t going
to be any farm bill unless I get my catfish inspection program. And you know in years past, in a conference
committee we would have had a
debate on the pros and cons and the merits,
like we did in the House. And we would have defeated that catfish PPprogram save the taxpayers someppmoney. Saved the seafood processors Trident and Morrey’s and others
around the country the extra hassle. But that is one of the
changes that is not good. If you are going to have a conference committee
everybody should be on the
committee and you should discuss the merits of all of these PPproposals. Ray: We’re into theppend of January and the last time we
had the government shut down it seemed like there was so much fall out thatPPthere wasn’t really anppappetite to have that happen again. Do you see that
is still a risk? Cause there
are still some people who are saying if that’s what it takes
to get what we want we’re going
to do it. Rep. Nolan: Yeah,
the consequences were so harmful to the economy.
You know I growing up in the country like you here.PPI guess I’m kind of theppeternal optimist of all this horse manure,
we’ve got to find a horse or a pony somewhere.
So I would like to see put an end to that. But
Ray: Who knows. Rep Nolan: Yeah who knows. There is so much
political posturing. as opposed to sitting down in committee
and fixing things and solving
problems getting things down. Ray: You have if I’m not
mistaken you use to live in
the Middle East. Rep Nolan: Yeah I did I lived therePPfor four years did business.ppRay: So you have some real experience. Were you
in the Saudi Arab area? Where where you when you were there?
Rep Nolan: Lived in Aubu Dhabi
but did business in Saudi and throughout the region.
Ray: Do you think that we are
going to have an exit strategy to get out. It doesn’t ppseem like we are really changing their cultures. What is your feeling about that?PPRep Nolan: Well you know I wasppa was cited as having played a leading role
in keeping us out of the war
in Syria. To do that I had to challenge the
President and Secretary of
State Kerry and Secretary of the Defense
as well. And I was glad that I could do that.
I sensed within the Congress
that there was very strong
bipartisan against us getting involved in that war in Syria. ppAnd I found myself working with Rand Paul and Republican Chris
Gibson and Republican Walter Jones.
We were able to persuade them President that this matter should go
before the Congress and you
should find a diplomatic solution.
And we were able to do that. I having lived there, and
worked there, studied the
language studied the culture.
Ray, I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt
whatsoever that we have no friends in this age
old century old conflict over there between the
Shiites and the Sunnis And the more we get involved,
the more we alienated that
entire part of the world.
It seems we inadvertently obviously not intentionally
but we incentivize more and more people to
become more and more radical. more anti-american. You get
into places like Afghanistan 95% of the people are
illiterate they don’t have access to mass communications. Hell they
wouldn’t know we existed if it
weren’t for there right. But you know you
start dropping warheads on people’s foreheads and no matter
how good your intentions are you just stimulate a tremendous
amount of resentment. And I don’t think that it’s
in our national interest to be continue, to engage
in these conflicts. That’s at the heart of our economic problems.
We have spent trillions of
dollars in Iraq, in Afghanistan. And in support
of these other regimes and conflicts in the region. And there are many many
costs going forward. They estimate that Iraq alone will cost between
$5-6 trillion before it’s all
done. There is so many wonderful
young men and women who have lost arms and legs
and had their brains scrambled and we have an
obligation to take care of
them. I mean they were willing to serve, they put
their life on the limb. We dam
well better take care of them
when they come home. See to it that their taken care of. See to it thatPPthey get jobs, see to it thatppthey get education. That they get the health care that they need. PPThat’s going to be very veryppcostly. These wars are extremely costly.
I know some people are upset with this deal with Iran.
Well what’s the alternative.
Do you want to go to war with Iran now?
I don’t mind telling you I’m familiar with Iran.
They’ve got that whole Iranian coast lined up with missiles,
Chinese, North Korean, short range missiles, long range missiles.
You unleash that oh my God it could be just devastating. ppSo are there some risk associated with diplomatic solutions,ppof course there are. Are there some risks associated
with going to war? Big time and guess what once you are
into the war it’s pretty dam
hard to get out of it. Once you are
pursuing peaceful initiates and I for one don’t want Iran
to have nuclear weapons. And I voted for
tightening down on every
sanction we can to preclude
them for getting I’m all for diplomatic solutions.
We found a diplomatic solution in Syria. We got rid
of the gas weapons. And I’m hopeful that we
can find a diplomatic solution in the case with Iran in get
rid of there nuclear weapons. Ray: Let switch gears here for a little bit
and talk about the farm bill. I know that it’s a real controversy cause
there are programs like the
snap program. and others that are tied
to that farm bill and a lot of people feel like that’s an inappropriatePPconnection. What do you seepphappening? Rep Nolan: Well you know we’ve
always had a collaborative effort between producers, the
farmers and urban consumers
of food and fiber. It’s always been an integral
part of our foreign policy, send them food rather than
bombs you know. I’ve never
heard anybody complain because
you send them too much food. There have been a lot of complaints
about some of the bombs. that have end up dropping on
villages and peoples homes. So in the attempts to separate
the that have been taking place in congress.
The farmers from the consumers has had extremely adverse
affects on putting together a good farm and food policy.
I’ve always been an advocate You know we are the best producers of foodPPand fiber of anywhere in theppworld. And we are a wealthy nation,
and I don’t want people to go hungry in America.
Especially when you look the snap or the food
stamp program, great. Half of the people are
working full time. You know you’re working
for $7.25 an hour. $5000 goes out the door on taxes.
You are trying to get by on
$10,000. You know and the other half is made
up mostly of children and
senior citizens. There are a few people here
and there abusing the program
and we got to focus on trying to cut out any kind of abuse that occurs PPanywhere. But you can’t loseppsight of what the program does. It provides
essential food and fiber for working men and women,
for children, for seniors who need help. 40 million people
with food shortages in this country, the richest country
in the world. So we need to support our farmers, our producers ppand I think we need to make sure that we do everything we can to feed
our people as well. Ray: Let’s
talk about healthcare. Rep Nolan: Before you
get to that you can’t you got to talk about WORDA cause you
and I have a special interest
in fishing. Are we going to have time to get to that? ppRay: To talk to about what? Rep Nolan: The water resource
development bill. Ray: Oh I’m
not familiar with it. Rep Nolan: Oh you’re not.
Ray: So no let’s talk about
that right now. Rep Nolan: Ray we got to talk about this. PPRay: Yeah yeah go for it. RepppNolan: I’m on the water resources development
sub committee. Hard to get on
that. And there are a number of very important
things to us up here in the 8th
district. I worked with
Senator Klobuchar and Keith Allison and go the lock
and damn shut down at St Anthony Falls in Minneapolis.
Ray: To keep the Silver Carp
out. Rep Nolan; Yeah What does that have to
do with us? It has everything
to do us Ray. The object of it is to keep these Asian carpPPfrom coming up through theppMississippi watershed. They grew to be 70-80 pounds. They just
consume all the native fish. And they are even a hazard.
Water disturbances they come flying out of the water.
So what does that do for the really all about the 8th district.
The Mississippi watershed. that’s going to keep these
Asian carp out of the
Mississippi. Out of the Gull River
through the Gull Lake chain, Out of the PIne River,
the Crow Wing River through the Park Rapids,
the Rum River up through Mill Lacs.
This is critical to protect our fisheries.
And you and I are both fisherman, you are a lot betterPPfisherman than I am. Ray: Ippdon’t know about that. But we both have interest in that area. ppRep. Nolan: We love fishing. And not just as a hobby and a sport
but it’s a big part of our
tourism and our industry. So I
was very excited to be able to get that. And then also I had
another amendment I got through to expand the definition
of invasive species. The Army Corp now has it
defined as plant life. I’ve got to define as animal life.
The significance of that is is that now money can
be used for research and abatement of zebra mussels,
Asian carp things beyond plant life. There is a number
of other good things in the
bill You know securing the harbor
trust fund for maintaining Ray: So when has that bill been housed.
Rep Nolan: We passed it in the
house. We passed it in the Senate. And I’m on
the conference committee and as a good chance of becoming the law
of the land. Ray: Well that’s
great Rep Nolan: But back to health care I’m sorry. PPRay: Yeah we are down to aboutpp4 minutes. But obviously the roll out that
the President had with the
healthcare did a lot of harm to
his Presidency and I’m sure did a lot of harm to the
actual American Health Care
Act. There must be some good things about that
we don’t hear much about? Rep
Nolan: Well There is some wonderfully good
things about it. Which is why
I have supported it. But that’s not to say I don’t PPhave reservations or problemsppwith it too. But the good stuff is pretty good,
I mean it’s really good. It provides insurance for people
with pre-existing conditions. It removes the cap after which insuranceppcompanies won’t pay anymore. forcing so many people into bankruptcy.
It allows parents to keep
their kids on the policy up to age 27. And it expands coverage
to just a lot of areas that have been neglected here. It expands coverage to people
who haven’t had insurance
before. That’s all good stuff,
that’s a part of it. But I think you would be remiss in not
recognizing there is still some
problems associated with it. I’ve had meetings at the
White House and in the Congress Unfortunately, again the committees
are not sitting down digesting all this. But I will tell you this.
In Minnesota’s 7th down in southern Minnesota,
we’re going to pay more the twice the rate for the exact PPsame policy that they’ll bepppaying for in the Twin Cities. Why because
they have dozens of companies competing for the business down there.ppWe only have one up here. So they got thin margins in the Cities, so they are
going to make up the
difference by whacking us up here in the rural areas of Minnesota
and across this country. You know that’s not right. That is just one among many things.
I personally have always
favored you know a single payor. I was lookingppat the roll out on MediCare and that was a hard fought
political achievement. But the
rollout was almost a non-event.
Why? Well guess what everybody paid the same rate.
Everybody had the same policy and everybody
paid in. Nothing more fundamentally egalitarian
and American than those three principals so
everybody was comfortable with
it. That’s not happening under
the Affordable Care Act and
that’s why you have a lot of the consternation,
a lot of the concern. So I’m not giving up
on single payor. not only because it’s more
fundamentally American, most of
the country in the world as done that.
And guess what they have
dramatically lowered health care costs and they have better life
expectancies, better life better results. So one of the things that happens
immediately when you are going
through the private sector on
this insurance. About 27% that goes to administrative costs. MediCare ppthey run that for 3 or 4%. Well Well right out of the shoot you save 25%
of your healthcare dollars. You
can put it in to savings or into healthcare.
That is ultimately the way we
got to go in my judgment. Ray: We are out of time. PPCan you believe it we are outppof time. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy
schedule to come and share with
us many interesting things. Rep Nolan: Well
Thank you. You have a great
listening audience and I’ve always cherished
our relationship with Lakeland Television, you and all the people here.ppIt’s a great pleasure. Ray: You’ve been watching Lakeland Currents PPwhere were talking about whatppyou’re talking about I’m Ray Gildow.
So long til next time. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

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