Senate District 49 kicked off its first Dinner & Conversation get-together of 2016, hosting Erik Paulsen, our Congressman for Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District. Barb Sutter introduced Rep. Paulsen by reviewing his service, and the attendees enthusiastically welcomed him.
Erik began by discussing progress on a number of issues to which he is personally committed. Recently he was able to work on behalf of local law enforcement by fighting the IRS’s attempt to tax survivor benefits of first responders. He also discussed the heartbreaking case of Deana, a 13-year-old girl from Brooklyn Park, who had been caught in the human trafficking trap. He’s been able to author and push through legislation to help victims, as opposed to them being considered “criminals” by the justice system. Erik has also worked to stop the medical device tax that has cost over 35,000 jobs.
Rep. Paulsen highlighted the difficulty of working in Washington, where things are becoming ever more bureaucratic and regulated. One major difficulty has been a President who has used administrative authority to the point of subverting the Constitution. The Congressman believes that it’s more important than ever to work hard for gains, though they may not always be obvious. As an example, he cited the last spending bill, and the fact that domestic discretionary spending has reached its lowest point since 2008. While being the opposition party, providing needed oversight, the GOP also needs to be the party of proposals and solutions. He alluded to House Speaker Paul Ryan as a man of vision and as a very good communicator. Paulsen believes that Ryan will be a new-generation leader who can attract new voters with a new direction and a clear agenda.
He noted parallels between 1979 and today -- hostages were held in Iran; an ambassador lost his life; the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union then vs. the Iran nuclear “deal” now; and a poor economy. We have been rudderless and leaderless internationally. He recalled Ronald Reagan’s observation that you need to be strong at home to be strong abroad. Paulsen has found that of those queried, only 27% believe the economy will be better in the future. There is a yearning for new leadership in his opinion.
Locally, Paulsen recalled the District’s recent election history and the money spent against it, and he emphasized the need to continue to work hard, be strong, and “get out there” in order to succeed. He said he appreciated our group’s efforts to find leaders, and he’s grateful for the support he’s received.
In the Q & A session that followed, Rep. Paulsen discussed the difficulty of gaining agreement today between the parties. An attendee emphasized the importance of having an alternative plan for Obamacare. Paulsen agreed and said the House was ready to move legislation to make Republican solutions clear. When one attendee reviewed the impact of regulations on economic growth, Paulsen said the House will begin using the Congressional Review Act. This was recently implemented with an EPA rule, and even though the President vetoed the resulting effort, Republicans were able to show who the real obstacle was. An attendee asked what the priorities were coming out of the recent House Retreat. They were identified as national security, tax code reform, poverty, and Medicare reform. While the Senate did not agree to sign off on these priorities, McConnell agreed the Senate will break up bills into smaller pieces so there are more opportunities for leverage.
Representative Paulsen was heartily applauded and thanked, and he and his District Director and Campaign Manager, John-Paul Yates, remained for more questions and conversation. It was a great evening!