U.S. Senate candidates address the issues

jfrank@newsobserver.comApril 26, 2014 

How would you fix the health care system?

Greg Brannon believes the federal government has no role in providing health care because it is not enumerated in the Constitution. He pledges to vote to repeal and defund the Affordable Care Act. He supports “free market” solutions, such as allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines to increase competition.

Heather Grant supports the repeal and defunding of the federal health care law and supports market-based answers. She wants more robust health savings accounts and state regulations covering pre-existing conditions.

Mark Harris favors repealing “Obamacare” and replacing it with other options. He cites three fixes: allow insurance companies to sell plans across state lines, expand health care savings accounts and restrict frivolous lawsuits that he believes drive up costs.

Thom Tillis supports repealing the ACA and replacing it with other measures. He has spoken favorably about a plan put forward by Sen. Richard Burr that would keep some portions of the the law. He also supports ideas based in the private sector, such as selling insurance across state lines and considering high-risk pools.

How would you address illegal immigration?

Greg Brannon believes it’s the federal government’s role to secure the nation’s borders. He said those here illegally should not receive legal status. He supports deporting those caught in this country illegally and putting them at the back of the line for legal immigration.

Heather Grant says the immigrants who are living in the country illegally are criminals and favors deporting them if they are caught. She says her first priority is securing the border but acknowledges a fix to the problem is years away.

Mark Harris opposes the legal status for immigrants known as amnesty. He favors deporting immigrants caught breaking another law, but he cautions there is no political or moral will to round up immigrants here illegally.

Thom Tillis stands against granting legal status to immigrants here illegally. He wants to seal the border with technology and personnel. He said deportation should focus on what he calls “bad actors.”

Do you support the minimum wage and favor an increase?

Greg Brannon opposes a minimum wage increase and does not believe there should be a minimum wage because it’s “not a constitutional function.” He said “a free market will dictate the prices of your labor.”

Heather Grant says a minimum wage hike would hurt business and the economy but acknowledged that she can’t “take away something that is already there.”

Mark Harris is concerned that a minimum wage hike would eliminate entry-level positions and opposes an increase. He does not support abolishing it.

Thom Tillis opposes a federal wage standard, saying “if there is going to be a minimum wage, it’s a decision that needs to be made by the states.” He would not support a minimum wage hike.

What key change would you make to U.S. foreign policy?

Greg Brannon wants to see a “constitutional foreign policy,” in which only Congress can declare war and commit troops. He believes the military should be the strongest on the planet but used only to protect America’s national security interests, not those of other countries.

Heather Grant did not respond to request for comment. Like the other candidates, she recently said she considers Russia the biggest threat.

Mark Harris opposes proposed military cuts, saying the discussion hurts the nation’s standing on the world stage.

Thom Tillis seeks a tougher approach to thwarting the Russia’s aggressive stance, including recognition that a firmer energy policy will increase our leverage in the long run.

Which federal government agencies do you want to eliminate?

Greg Brannon would limit government to only powers in the Constitution and would first eliminate the departments of Health and Human Services and Education. Then he wants to eliminate the Federal Reserve and the Internal Revenue Service. He believes the states should assume those duties.

Heather Grant proposes eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency, saying its regulations hurt commerce and the agriculture industry.

Mark Harris says he would first look at the Department of Education and next Energy and Commerce, saying the regulations are hurting the economy. Supports a commission of business executives to look at trimming government.

Thom Tillis wants to “shrink government to its core constitutional size” and would first consider eliminating the Department of Education. His campaign later clarified he would not move to dismantle it on day one but wants a “significant retooling.”

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