12:00 p.m. In the second series of candidate forums sponsored by the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute, DFL 3rd Congressional District candidate Ashwin Madia is giving a speech entitled, “Green Technology, Green Power, and Greenbacks: A Plan to Protect Our Environment and Our Economy.”
12:07 p.m. Madia begins by listing all of the challenges facing the United States – the wars in Iraq, economic woes, budgetary crises etc. Madia is running neck-and-neck with GOP nominee Erik Paulson: a SurveyUSA poll of 634 likely voters released last week found Madia with a 46 to 43 percent lead, with Independence Party candidate David Dillion at 8 percent.
12:10 p.m. Madia now focuses on his plan for a comprehensive energy policy. The “bottom line” problem, says Madia, is our dependency on foreign oil. First, he says it has hurt our economy – with prices more than doubling in recent years – affecting individuals, small businesses, and corporations. Half of our 700 million dollar trade deficit is oil. Secondly, Madia adds, our dependence on foreign oil is a national security issue, with our money going to countries (e.g. Saudi Arabia) that sometimes funnel it to terrorists. The third problem Madia lists is its planetary environmental impact.
12:18 p.m. Madia’s solution is that the U.S. should become the world leader in carbon-free energy development. Madia says there are business opportunities in bio fuels, wind, solar, and geothermal which will create jobs for Americans. The private sector must be unleashed on this problem, Madia adds – so the government should create tax credits and rebates to spur the private sector on in this sector.
12:20 p.m. Madia says we should use the 14 billion dollars that the federal government gives in tax subsidies to oil companies and move it into research and development of these alternative energy resources. Madia says we must maintain this will for change in our energy independence, even as oil prices come down.
12:25 p.m. In a question and answer session with Larry Jacobs, Madia stresses his faith in technology to develop real solutions to these problems. He says we have only given ‘lip service’ to change, and have lacked the political will to date.
12:30 p.m. Madia acknowledges there will be a loss of jobs in some energy sectors (oil, coal etc.), but there will be new jobs created to offset this loss. Madia supports ‘cap and trade’ policies, as a means to get the government to work with the private market to make alternative energy solutions profitable.
12:34 p.m. On the issue of transportation, Madia says more money should go into mass transit (e.g. building a light rail in his 3rd District to downtown Minneapolis). Madia does not think a tax increase will be necessary to fund mass transit projects.
12:38 p.m. Madia says Wall Street is on the brink of collapse because of deficit spending, particularly during the Bush administration.
12:42 p.m. Like most of America, Madia’s 3rd District’s view regarding the most pressing issue for Congress today is the economy. Last week’s SurveyUSA poll found 66 percent of 3rd District likely voters believe it is the top issue, with terrorism (9 percent) and health care (6 percent) distant second and third issues. Only 10 percent of 3rd district likely voters approve of Congress’ job performance, with 78 percent disapproving. Bush’s approval rating in the district is 28 percent, with 68 percent disapproving.
12:47 p.m. Madia was not able to answer an audience member’s question as to whether people should be able to get insurance if they build or move into homes in say, a well-known flood plain. He said he had not thought about this issue.
12:53 p.m. Madia says his top preferences for committee assisgnments in Congress from Speaker Pelosi – should he be elected – would be the Armed Services Committe and the Budget Committee. Madia says he will not take a pledge to not support earmarks, because sometimes there are important projects that need to be funded (e.g. the I-35 construction legislation). But he says he would pledge not to sneak in pork ‘in the middle of the night’ and that any project he wanted funded he would subject to an up or down vote.
12:59 p.m. Madia says the three failed economic strategies of the past seven years have been massive deregulation, massive tax cuts during wartime, and too much borrow-and-spending.