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This is the second of two columns sharing my mid-October conversation in Albuquerque with Heather Wilson, former congresswoman and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Morgan: What are your observations about the financial challenges facing the country?
Wilson: (President Obama has) chosen to make this a political issue rather than trying to figure out what’s right to do for the country and start working to figure out how we’re going to bridge these gaps and get back on the right path to something that’s fiscally sustainable.
I just found that tremendously disappointing. So it does require the political will to say we will do what is best for the country.
I think there are two parts to this: One is major reforms, like (Sen. Daniel Patrick) Moynihan and President Reagan did.
The other one is the day-to-day hard work of oversight, to try to find things that aren’t working in the federal government and stop doing them. I’ve done that, both in the federal government and in state government.
Everyone talks about waste in government, but it’s actually very hard work to identify the things that are not working and stop them.
Morgan: You have called for the repeal of Obamacare. All of it?
Wilson: I think it needs to be repealed and replaced. There (are) a number of things disappointing about Obamacare, but one of them is that the biggest challenge is the escalating cost, and Obamacare does nothing about that. In fact, it’s going to exacerbate that problem.
Fundamentally I think that the Obamacare bill is unconstitutional for two reasons: One is that it is the federal government mandating that every citizen purchase a government-approved private-sector product. And if the federal government can tell you what you have to buy with the money you earned, then there is no limit to government power.
And the second constitutional argument that few people focus on is the mandatory expansion of Medicaid forced on the states.
Morgan: What about Dodd-Frank? Has anyone called for repeal of that?
Wilson: Yes. It’s a nightmare. (There are) 33,000 pages of new regulations on banks. That’s probably three-quarters of a mile of paper.
Morgan: What about this thing that I’ve always thought was strange, that Heather Wilson is somehow not conservative enough.
Wilson: I’m a free-trade, free-enterprise, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment person. I also believe that the things that government has a responsibility to do, it should do exceptionally well.
I think that we should have Medicare. There should be a safety net for the elderly and the poor. Maybe for some people that’s just not good enough.
Sitting senators in the legislature and almost two-thirds of the state representatives and an overwhelming third of the elected and local officials from around the state who have endorsed my candidacy basically think I’m OK.
Morgan: You have talked about defending New Mexico’s unique role in national defense.
Wilson: The stewardship of our nation’s nuclear deterrent is largely done by New Mexicans. We need to make sure that that deterrent is safe and secure and reliable in the absence of nuclear testing.
In addition to that responsibility, our national laboratories have taken on other national security responsibilities, including in intelligence, and try to make sure that not only is our nuclear deterrent safe, for example, but seeking to understand what other countries are doing.
And they play an important role in a lot of that. I think New Mexico needs a United States senator who is able to articulate the importance of that contribution and is willing to stand up and fight for it.
Wilson’s comments have been edited slightly to deal with the stops, starts and repetitions of speaking. See the transcript at www.capitolreportnm.blogspot.com.
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