Chris Fields Answers Patch Readers' Questions (Part 2)
The Republican is challenging incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District.
Editor's Note: 5th District Patches recently asked readers to pose questions to incumbent Rep. Keith Ellison and challenger Chris Fields. This week, we are running the candidates' answers to some of the best questions we received. Today, we're featuring Part Two of our interview with Fields (you can read Part One here). Our interview with Ellison will run on Wednesday and Thursday.
Dave W asks: How would you have voted on Audit the Fed (HR 459), and why?
Fields: I would have voted to audit the Fed. I 100 percent support Dr. Paul in that effort. Auditing the Fed is one of the central points of our campaign. What I don’t like is a shadow government, and these bankers act like a shadow government. What they do is secret. In an age where we’re seeing our savings decline (and) we’re working more hours for less pay, we need to have some measurement of accountability for these central bankers … The Fed in effect gets to decide who gets a loan and who doesn’t. If you’re trying to buy a house, or trying to start a business, you should have some answers as to why you’re not getting a loan.
Karen M asks: Is it truly the job of the federal government to "create jobs" across the country? If no, then what decisions can Congress make that would allow job growth in the private sector?
Fields: The answer is no. It is not the job—it is not the mission—of the federal government to create jobs. It is the mission of the federal government to protect our freedoms and to look out for individuals. What we can do is create an environment where jobs grow. I’ll give you an example here locally: If you look at Washington and Hennepin, there is an apartment building that is going to go up. On the bottom floor is going to be a Whole Foods. Two doors down, on the same block, there are two empty buildings. It would absolutely tickle me pink if those buildings were converted into some sort of vertical garden. Where people could grow (produce) and then sell it to the Whole Foods. We cut down on our carbon footprint (and) that food would taste a whole lot better. What are some of the things we can do to spur that growth? We can look at regulations. We can look at the way we’re taxing business. So as to make that place more attractive to investors. That should be the job of the federal government. Help build an economy—help build a country—that is attractive to investors and one that encourages entrepreneurs to take that leap.
Abigail Smith asks: What are your thoughts on the approaching "fiscal cliff" in January, when current temporary tax cuts are set to expire? Would you support a bill that would allow tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans (those making $250,000 a year or more) to expire while preserving tax cuts for the middle class?
Fields: This is what’s dangerous; this is why my focus is on economic growth and creating an environment where jobs can grow. If we go back into a recession, we start at 8.2 percent unemployment. There was one recession where we started at 5 percent and we bloomed to 9 percent, almost 10 percent. If we start at 8.2, what does it look like if we go to 12 or 13 (percent)? … (If) Congress continually ends up in these hyper-partisan fights and doesn’t get down to business, we’ll fall right back into a recession … The fiscal cliff we’re about to cross here really does frighten me. There are a lot of families that are looking for opportunities right now … I think that folks that say they can see the next Great Depression, I wouldn’t say they are entirely wrong … My view of the economy and my view on how to fix the problems that we have in this country are very bipartisan and they’re very open minded. In general, do I believe that sending more money to Washington is ever a good prescription? No, I don’t. I’d like to see money left here in Minnesota. I’d like to see as much money left here in Minnesota as possible. (All the federal government does) is fight. They haven’t gotten the job done for us. So why give them more money? … Why not leave it here and put the pressure on the state legislature to do something with those resources?
Grant Vlasak asks: Would you work to repeal the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA?
Fields: I’d work to repeal the provision that allows for the detention of Americans without due process. Absolutely. I’d be 100 percent on that one.
Lemmen Kainen asks: It is obvious to almost everyone that the faltering economy is hurting Minnesota families. Predatory lending and criminal foreclosures by banks have forced people from their homes, and often the current bankruptcy laws prevent people from moving forward. Do you have any plans to remove the restrictions implemented by the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 and also to allow student loans to once again be dischargeable in a bankruptcy?
Fields: That’s an interesting question. I’d say this: We have to be consistent across the board. Our bankruptcy laws were written, then we came in and had an administration change them for the GMs of the world. And you can make an argument whether that was appropriate … On the other hand, the individual (says), “Hey, these guys got a bailout but I didn’t get a bailout.” There’s no equity in our bankruptcy laws. So yes, there need to be some fundamental changes ... You can’t do something for GM and not do something for individuals. And if you say (that) individuals don’t get to discharge their student loans because this is the law, then you have to follow the law when it comes to corporations.
Eric Ferguson asks: What can we do to help the participants in the Arab Spring protests?
Fields: What do we want to do to help them? I’m not an isolationist, but I do recognize the fact that those countries—and those individuals—have to fight for their freedom, their voice. One of the reasons I’m reluctant to getting into the business of helping one group out over the other is, frankly, I don’t think we know all the players over there. Everyone wants to jump up and say, “Oh yeah, Gaddafi is gone!” But who’s the next guy who’s going to take charge? Are they friendly to the U.S.? Sometimes it is better the devil you know then the devil you don’t know. Overall, in regard to the Middle East, I think we butt our nose in too much. Sometimes it’s best to let the people on the ground make those decisions … U.S. foreign policy has to be one that supports an individual’s right to be free. And I think that we can leave it at that.
Aaron Rosenthal asks: What are your feelings about the budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan?
Fields: I think like Simpson-Boles, it’s a place to begin a conversation. I haven’t seen anything from Washington that I’d go all-in with. Probably the closest thing is Simpson-Boles, because it’s bipartisan. One of the troubling things about Washington is just the poisonous environment. People think you have to get the policy just right. That the policy has to be right, so they’re duking it out left versus right. And I don’t believe that at all. I don’t believe you have to get the policy right. Where you and I as concerned citizens should spend our time is (making sure) we send the right people to Washington. The right people who will work together to find solutions that work for all of us. And I mean the vast majority of us, not 50 percent plus one.