'A big deal as to which direction the country goes'

By Mike Stoll, Austin Daily Herald - Republican congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn spent Friday campaigning in Mower County.

The stop was part of his 21-day, 21 county tour of Minnesota’s First Congressional District as voters prepare to head to the polls on Nov. 6.

“People see that whoever controls the House and Senate, it’s going to make a big deal as to which direction the country goes,” Hagedorn told the Herald. “We’ve told everyone all along this is an important election. My opponent, Dan (Feehan), he’s going to vote with the Democrats in the House and that will set in motion how they interact with the president and what kind of policies they pursue. I’m going to vote with the Republicans and try to work with the president.”

Hagedorn said that healthcare has been the most prominent issue among voters he has spoken with, saying there are two clear sides.

“One is people, such as myself, who say Obamacare hasn’t worked,” he said. “Minnesota didn’t need it; we had 94 percent covered with a system in place for people with expensive pre-existing conditions getting paid for by the insurance companies. Obamacare disrupted the market, drove up everybody’s cost, and now we have deficient insurance with much more cost. The other team says to go to socialized medicine or some form of single-payer or public option. In the end, it’s going to underfund doctors and hospitals, it’s going to diminish the medical technology and the quality of medical care and exacerbate the doctor shortage. I think it’s a bad idea for Southern Minnesota.”

Hagedorn called ads saying he wanted to drive up premiums and remove coverage for those with pre-existing conditions “ridiculous.”

“In Minnesota, you can’t sell insurance unless you cover people with pre-existing conditions; that’s the law,” he said.

Hagedorn said he was committed to working with President Trump to protect the borders and fight illegal immigration, calling sanctuary states and cities a “bad idea.”

“If you made Minnesota a sanctuary state, you’d have every illegal alien from a 10 state region rolling in here because they’re going to feel safer,” he said. “They’re not going to get deported as easily, it will drive up our costs, it will drive up our crime, it’s a terrible idea. We let one million people a year into our country legally. The ones who have gone through the legal process are some of the strongest critics of the illegal process. I want to help the president secure the border and make sure we reinstate the rule of law and defund these sanctuary cities.”

Hagedorn accused Feehan of supporting amnesty, open borders and sanctuary cities, saying their opposing views on the matter were “a big difference.”

Although Hagedorn has stated he supports President Trump on most issues, he is wary of how Republicans have approached spending and government reform under Trump.

“Republicans were wrong under Bush to double the national debt from five to ten trillion,” he said. “Democrats were wrong to do it with Obama from 10 to 20. And now, the House and Senate controlled by Republicans need to get a handle on the debt. They need to make sure we grow the economy and take the revenue and try to pay down that debt. The budget process is broken. President Trump passed one of those big omnibus bills. I will never vote for something like that. You can’t reform government with one of those bills; you can’t get any changes you need in order to get a handle on spending. The president said he would never sign another one, and I would hold him to that.”

He also said he did not support the use of tariffs for an excessive amount of time during negotiations.

“I see what (President Trump is) doing and I think that, as the president, he should have a little leeway when negotiating, but if it goes on too long, I’d say it’s not good,” he said. “Most of the farmers and people in agri-business that I speak with say they understood it was going to be volatile, but they understood why it needed to be done. They didn’t like what China was doing and they knew Trump was right to say it was going the wrong direction. Sure enough, a couple of months later we had a deal with Mexico, a deal with Canada, a deal with Korea, a deal with the European Union and pretty soon I think we’ll have a deal with China. The people at the Farm Bureau who endorsed me believe it will be better for farmers and agri-business.”

Hagedorn reaffirmed his desire to serve on the Agricultural Committee if elected to Congress, saying he wants to “keep the input costs of farming low to sustain farmers when times are tough and to open these markets so they have stable commodity prices upwardly trending over time.”

He said that continued Republican control of the House of Representatives would keep the country moving, stating Republicans would work with President Trump as well as cooperate with Democrats “if they want to come along and help.” He argued that Democratic control of Congress would result in resisting “every last thing the president is trying to do to help the people.”

“I think most people would say, even if they didn’t vote for (President Trump) in the last election, that he is doing a pretty good job in some areas,” he said. “Maybe not all, but some.”

Hagedorn concluded by stating he has roots in the district, saying Feehan had never lived in any of the First Congressional District’s 21 counties before Congressman Tim Walz announced he would not seek  re-election.

“(House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy) Pelosi air-dropped him in and they followed it up with millions of dollars, 85 percent of which comes from outside Minnesota,” he said. “If people are expecting someone to represent them and their values and look out for them, I think that someone who is from here will be much more attentive to their needs than someone who is only here to win a political seat and go back to try and impeach the president.”

“It’s a clear choice,” he added.