U.S. Representative Don Bacon’s Q&A with the Gateway

Photo courtesy of Don Bacon for Congress

Will Patterson
Opinion Editor

Q: What made you originally want to run for U.S. Representative?

Bacon: I thought I had something to offer being a retired general with 30 years of service. I understood national security and I thought our military was struggling. I had two clear issues that really defined me: I wanted our economy to be competitive in the world. I thought we were hurting it with antiquated taxes and regulations, but I also wanted to restore military strength. Those were the two areas that really motivated me, and I thought I could offer something unique.

Q: What changes would you advocate for in the American Healthcare system?

Bacon: We need to change the pool structure. Right now, everybody is put into the same pool, healthy people are getting out, which is making the rates even higher. There’s a way to charge everyone at the healthy rate, and then use your tax payer money.

I think we need to change the pool structure because right now everyone the same the rates have gone up. Healthy people are getting out, there’s a way to charge everyone at the healthy rate, and then use your taxpayer money to offset the cost of high-risk people. It puts their rates at the same level. It’s actually cheaper for taxpayers because right now those taxes are being spread out over a large pool, but it would be better just to target those taxes to those who are at higher risk. By doing this you would lower those rates by 20 or 30 percent for some people.

Two, we need more associational pools. We need farmers to pull together, small businesses to pull together. Right now, they’re all on the market by themselves, and they can’t share those risks so their premiums are very high.

Thirdly, I think we should allow for cross state shopping for insurance to provide more competition.

Fourth, we need to expand the use of health savings accounts. A lot of people think that they’re overrated, but for every person but for every person on ACA two people use health savings accounts. So, they are very much needed and used a lot. We can expand how much people can put in. I think that we need to able to allow people to use their HSAs to buy premiums, pay off deductibles and over-the-counter drugs. We should expand the use of HSAs.

I would say for the fifth thing, we need to get generic drugs and pharmaceuticals competition on the market faster so that we can drive down costs.

Q: The United States has withdrawn from the Paris Climate agreement. How do you view this decision, and would you change environmental agreement?

Bacon: I thought we shouldn’t of left the table. I thought we should have stayed there so we could change the limits the other administration agreed to since they were voluntary in the first place. I publicly stated at the time that we should stay a part of the agreement but change the levels we set since they were voluntary anyway. I think we’re always better to be sitting at the table. Since America is the strongest country and the wealthiest country we have a chance to help shape the discussions. You don’t have a chance to do that when you withdraw.

I’m always for helping make our environment cleaner. I think we do it through incremental change like we’ve done. One thing I do not support is when Bernie Sanders said we needed drastic change that would have created a dislocation in jobs for many people. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to kick anyone out of work.

I think the things we are doing are cleaner. Over 30 percent of our local area’s energy comes from wind. So, we are doing good stuff, we just got to keep that ball moving in the right direction. I would’ve liked to stay part of the Paris agreement and change what I don’t like.

Q: Where do you stand on DACA and immigration as a whole?

Bacon: I have voted twice to provide a permanent solution for DACA with permanent residence and path to citizenship. Unfortunately, not a single Democrat voted for it because it had some funding for the wall or portions of the wall in it. And we lost some votes on the right because they thought it was too generous for those who were here illegally. I feel like we got to able to compromise to make progress here.

Our district wants a comprehensive strategy. They want security at the border. They want changes to our immigration policy. In other words, they want a more merit-based system. Still protect the nuclear family, but not do all the extended family. They also want to make sure DACAs aren’t deported. They want a permanent residency DACA, and where the district lies on that reflects my views as well. I want a balanced approach that represents security, change policy to a more merit-based system, but also not deporting. I’ve voted for variations of this twice already.

Q: Should women be able to receive an abortion, and should there be any limitations?

Bacon: I am pro-life. I believe that life does start at conception, we’re created by god, and that we’re a miracle. I am pro-life fundamentally. I would say that I do believe in exception for the life of the mother. During the last Congress we have had two key votes on this. I voted to support the ban on abortions after 20 weeks—when they start becoming viable and when we think they can feel pain. And two, I’ve voted to protect the taxpayer’s money from going towards abortions.

I know this is a stark contract with where my opponent lies. She was quoted in the Omaha World-Herald saying she supports zero restrictions. I think our voters are pretty 50/50 on pro-life as a whole, whether life starts at conception. But when you start looking at 20-week abortions, this district thinks that there should be restrictions on later term abortions.

Q: Do you believe there should be changes in gun-control laws? If so, what changes would you advocate for?

Bacon: I voted to fix NICS because we found that the federal government was not entering felons into the NICS system if they were like in the military. I support red-flag laws. If someone—family or friends—say another individual is mentally ill and dangerous that there be a due process way that can have those guns taken away until they’re healthy again.

I’m on a bill with a Democrat from California. The Gun Violence Restraining Order is what he calls it. I support strengthening penalties for those who buy guns illegally for those who aren’t allowed to have them. For example, Officer Orozco was murdered in Omaha over two years ago by a felon who was not allowed to have a gun. His girlfriend bought him the gun, knowing that he wasn’t supposed to have it. She didn’t spend a day in jail. When I talk to our law enforcement leaders in our district, they say that’s the number one thing we can do to help them reduce gun violence is to punish those who illegally give guns to those who aren’t supposed to have them.

Q: Would you support increasing Nebraska’s minimum wage?

Bacon: Well I oppose doing it on the national level. I think Congress should not do a minimum wage change because what works in Nebraska would be different than New York or San Francisco. I oppose a national thing. I think this is a state decision, not a national decision.

Having said that, when we do minimum wage law changes the folks who pay for it the most are teenagers because they get priced out of their starting work. I started working when I was 13, and I think that our youth need to have those opportunities to work jobs because that’s how you learn to have an effective career. I oppose a national change, I think it’s a state decision, not a national decision.

Q: What changes in American tax policy do you support, and how would these changes impact Nebraskans specifically?

Well, we’ve made a major change in the tax law already this year. Now what we want to do is make those tax changes permanent. The reason they weren’t permanent was because we passed them through a process called reconciliation. So now I think the next thing we need to do is make those tax cuts permanent for individuals and small businesses.

Here’s the must—the main thing. We should want a tax policy that makes us competitive with the rest of the world. Prior to the tax law, we were not competitive. We were making our companies pay more, and it was harder for them to compete against their global competitors. And I think we have fixed that. Maybe we can make some adjustments if we see something that isn’t working quite right, but the main thing now is making those tax cuts permanent.

Q: What should the United States of America’s role in global politics be?

I think we should be a leader, but not a bully. We are the super power. We have the largest economy. I think we need to be involved and have our voice out there. We have the ability to galvanize free countries together. So, we can speak out against tyranny and dictatorships. And be a voice for human rights. We should be. I think we’re a safer world because we’re with South Korea, NATO, and our allies in the Middle East like Israel.

They serve as a deterrent to those countries that do not have our values. We have values of economic freedom, political freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of speech—the other major countries out there like Russia and China do not have those values. We need to be leaders if we want those values to be in our world. And other countries want our voices like South Korea and Japan because they embrace those same values, but they’ll be holding their breath without us standing with them.

Q: How would your re-election benefit students of the Nebraska University system?

The main thing is that we will have and maintain a growing economy that benefits all. Right now, we have a 40-year low for unemployment, and its good. We want jobs for folks coming out of college. Wages are increasing over inflation for the first time in 17 years. So really, we want to have a growing economy so when people work hard and have character they can get ahead and achieve their dreams. We want anyone who has worked hard and has character to climb that ladder.

Also, you’re going to have a more secure America. No one knows the military and national security in Congress as well as I do. I’m the most senior-ranking retired active duty guy. I served every single day for 30 years. I bring a strong voice for keeping America strong. Whether its major powers like Russia or China but also against terrorists. When it comes to actual education policy, I like to have choices out there. I really believe that economic freedom gives you the ability to pick the education that you want and also lowers costs.

The thing that concerns me is that through actions of Congress the interest rate of school loans is too high. We need to allow people to negotiate better interest rates so that when they do have loans they’re more competitive. I would favor re-looking at how we do our interest rate on student loans because I think they’re too high.