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Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Interview with Dan Sebring, Republican Candidate for Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dan Sebring. Mr. Sebring is the Republican candidate running for Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District seat this fall against Democratic incumbent Gwen Moore.
I don't mean to start this interview out on a negative note, but let's be realistic here. Wisconsin's 4th Congressional District seat has been occupied by an unbroken line of Democrats going back to 1949. In 2006, incumbent Gwen Moore, your opponent, defeated your party's candidate, Perfecto Rivera, by a margin of 72-28%. In 2004, she defeated Gerald Boyle, 70-30%. Your party failed to field a candidate in 2008. But to your credit, Scott Brown and others have shown us that anything is possible. That being said, what do you think you're doing better than past Republican candidates for this seat to make your message resonate with voters?
What we’ve found in our research is that Gwen Moore’s support base is actually about a third of the district. Also, we’ve learned that large portion of the remaining two thirds of the district in large part have actually been unaware that they are represented by Ms. Moore. The focus of the campaign has been four-fold. To educate the voters of the District as to who their representative in Congress is, what their current representative actually stands for, what I stand for and that if my values more closely represent their own this year they have a choice, and get out the vote.
What prompted you to run for Congress? And what do you feel are your strongest credentials for the job?
Prior to the 2008 election cycle, I had written Gwen Moore a letter in which I expressed my opinion that it was important for me as a citizen to convey my ideas, opinions, or concerns on issues that were important to me to the appropriate elected representatives. Then I asked her to “please support” a particular House Resolution. In Ms. Moore’s response it was clear that not only would she not support the resolution, but she had no intention of taking the ideas, opinions, or concerns of her constituents into consideration on this resolution or any other. When I read “between the lines”, what I interpreted her response to say was “How dare you tell me how to do my job! I’m a member of Congress and you’re just a citizen.” When I went to vote in the 2008 primary I learned that there was no Republican candidate. That was the final straw. By the end of the day I was a legitimate, registered write-in candidate in the 2008 election cycle. In a six week write-in campaign for that election that next to nobody knew about, I garnered over 470 of 514 write in votes. That told me my efforts would not be misplaced if I pursued a campaign for the 2010 election.
As to my credentials, I think it’s important to remember just who the Founding Fathers of our country were. They were farmers and tradesmen who temporarily put their lives aside to serve their country. Our government was meant to be a representation of our society in miniature and the House of Representatives was meant to be the direct link between the people and the government. It’s members were meant to be ordinary citizens who would temporarily set their private lives aside to advocate for their constituents in Congress. Equally important, I think, is the fact that having served in the U.S. Navy on the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Staff at the Pentagon during the Reagan administration, I am familiar with and have experience navigating a politically charged work environment.
This election year, perhaps the biggest concern on the minds of voters is jobs/the economy. What are your solutions for getting the country back to work and creating economic opportunities?
As a representative of Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District, rather than the entire country, I will concern myself with getting the people of the 4th District back to work. As we have seen in the past, Wisconsin government at the state level has long tried to lead the country when it comes to certain issues. Unfortunately, Wisconsin state government has been leading in the wrong direction. Rather than pouring money into non-profit entities to provide job training for a job market that doesn’t exist, we need to put job training in the hands of the job creators; private business. From my very first day in office I will begin the fight to have Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District in it’s entirety designated a “Federal Free Enterprise Zone” which will provide tax incentives to private sector businesses that start up, stay in, relocate to, and hire from the 4th District. It will also provide on-the-job training to new hires. Perhaps after the program has reached a level of success, other parts of the country will look to Wisconsin and say “Oh, that’s how you do that!”
You signed the "10th Amendment Pledge". Who is the group that is responsible for that pledge and why did you feel it necessary to sign?
The Tenth Amendment Center , a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism is responsible for the “10th Amendment Pledge”. I didn’t feel it was necessary to sign. I signed the “10th Amendment Pledge” because they asked me to and because I agree with every word of it.
As a follow-up to that question, it appears you're more of a libertarian for having signed this pledge. Is that accurate to say?
The fact of the matter is that I’m a Republican. While to some it may “appear” that I’m more of a Libertarian, I think that appearance is due to the fact that so much of the Republican Party has moved so close to the center that many people see little difference between Democrats and Republicans. This is why you hear so much talk about the Republican Party getting back to it’s core principles and that’s why to some my having signed the “10th Amendment Pledge” appears to be a Libertarian move on my part. Believe me when I tell you, I’m a Republican!
According to a recent poll (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37758174/ns/politics-white_house/), support for the recent healthcare legislation is starting to pick up. With provisions in the bill such as the elimination of pre-existing conditions and the practice of terminating coverage once a person becomes majorly ill, wouldn't it amount to political suicide for your party to try to repeal this legislation? After all, illnesses and diseases do not discriminate between Democrats and Republicans.
The problem with the recent healthcare legislation is there’s more bad in it than there is good. Ostensibly, the intent of the healthcare legislation was to drive down the cost of health care, thus driving down the cost of health insurance making health care affordable for everyone. The health care legislation does nothing to address the cost of health care. In fact, much of the legislation only serves to increase the cost of health care.
In America we already enjoy the best health care in the world. And the argument that millions of people don’t have access health care doesn’t wash. It’s against the law in America to deny medical treatment for any reason, period. What millions of people don’t have is health insurance. The people have access to health care and they use it. Ask any emergency room billing clerk at any hospital. The recent health care legislation has poised corporate America to cease providing health insurance to it’s employees. Small businesses who can’t afford to provide insurance or pay the fine for not providing insurance will either lay off employees or go out of business completely placing an even heavier burden on an already overburdened taxpayer.
Political suicide? I should think I would be hailed by the vast majority of America if I were to repeal ObamaCare. But then, health care costs would still be out of control. That’s why we can’t simply repeal ObamaCare, we have to replace it with a market-based solution that will drive down the cost of actual health care. There is a proven plan we see daily, but perhaps fail to recognize.
For example, today Lasik Eye Surgery costs a national average of $1,800 per eye. In 1997, costs per eye were far more expensive, sometimes up to $4,000 or more per eye. But since insurance does not cover Lasik, providers were forced to compete with each other on price, as well as other factors, and reduce costs. In the end, consumers and providers both win with higher quality, lower costs and lower prices. There is ample reason to believe that this model can be used to provide the same results for all medical related expense.
Consider this. When a consumer goes to his health care provider and is covered by insurance, he has little reason to consider the costs of his “purchase”, except perhaps his co-pay. The health care provider likewise has very little incentive to keep his prices low, as it has little impact on his “sales”. Both parties are acting as they should, and it’s all because they are insulated from each other by the insurance companies. Today every major insurance company could be converted to a more market-driven and economical entity with minor changes to their infrastructure.
You can learn more about it on the issues pages of my campaign website, http://www.dansebring.com/.
Many people across party lines are getting extremely frustrated by the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You're a Navy vet (and thank you for your service). What are your thoughts about the current situation?
The right or wrong of having gone to war in Iraq and Afghanistan is a moot point and, in my opinion, not worth debating. The fact of the matter is that we are engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan and we need to either fight unrestrained within the rules of war and achieve the goal of ending the war, or we need to extricate ourselves from the conflict. I don’t believe that cutting the funding for the war effort as a means to extricate ourselves from the conflict is either viable or moral. I advocate for a strong military and the defense of our nation. However, I also find an interventionist “policeman to the world” foreign policy inappropriate.
I always like to ask this question of all the government officials and candidates I interview: What advice do you have for young people looking to enter public service?
My advice to young people looking to enter public service is to stay in school; then after you graduate, spend some time in the private sector. Do some volunteer work or maybe join the reserves in your spare time. Go out and get a job and earn your pay. Sweat and toil and worry about how you’re going to pay the rent or the light bill. I know from my own life experience what it’s like to literally not know where your next meal is coming from or when you might get it. You have to know how to make your own way in the world before you can know how to best make the world a better place for others. You can’t learn that in school and they don’t teach it in public service. You have to live it to learn and know it. When you know the plight of the everyman and the power of your faith and self-reliance because you’ve lived it, then and only then should you enter the arena of public service.