U.S. House of Representatives District 2
Election date: Monday, Sept. 20, 2010
|Family||Wife, Amy, who is a pediatrician, and they have two sons|
|Occupation||Business; energy industry|
|Previous experience||Congressman Matheson serves on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, an exclusive committee with the broadest jurisdiction of any Congressional committee. The Energy and Commerce Committee deals with energy policy, consumer protection, food and drug|
» Other candidate for this office: Claudia Wright
Why do you think delegates at the state Democratic convention advanced you to a primary? What do they expect you to stand for as a candidate?
I believe they appreciate my effective approach to protecting Utahns from health and safety risks posed by nuclear weapons testing and radioactive waste, enhancing our quality of life through protection of land and water and promoting fiscal discipline and accountability for taxpayer money. I think Utahns appreciate that I listen to them and pursue solutions that make progress on issues. I believe they also appreciate the top-notch constituent service my office provides.
They should expect—even demand—that I take a thoughtful, common-sense approach to every issue and listen to a variety of points of view, with the goal of making a decision on what policy is in the best interest of Utah and our country.
What should voters know about your background? How have your personal/professional experiences prepared you to serve in the House?
I am sixth-generation Utahn, with deep ties to the community. I am a husband, father, and a former small businessman who understands that Utahns want for their families what I want for mine: a safe, healthy, prosperous future. I learned my politics around the family dinner table, where I was taught that it is important to give something back to the community. As someone with a background in energy and in business, I have an understanding of the importance of energy to our economy and to our national security. Finally, as Utah's representative for the past 9 years, I have spent time throughout the state meeting people from all walks of life. The priorities that I have pursued are the result of the good ideas I hear during those discussions.
Under what circumstances would you support the resumption of nuclear testing?
I am strongly opposed to the resumption of nuclear weapons testing. I have a proven record of effectiveness on this issue. Resuming testing would be dangerous and unnecessary. Utahns have paid dearly for believing what the government said in the past regarding safety. U.S. scientific and military experts verify annually that our existing nuclear weapons stockpile is safe and secure. A prestigious panel of experts has recently confirmed it will remain so for decades. New weapons would require new testing and the only place in the U.S. where testing takes place is at the Nevada Test Site. Health studies have proven that even underground testing emits radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. We never want to go down that path again.
Do you support or oppose Utah lawmakers who are considering passing anti-illegal immigration laws, including one similar to Arizona's, because they don't want to wait any longer for the federal government to act? Why or why not?
Immigration is a federal issue and the responsibility for comprehensive reform falls on Congress. While I understand states' frustration with the lack of action, I agree with Salt Lake City's police chief that Arizona's law is too extreme and is a detriment to community safety. If politicians stopped leveraging the issue for political gain, I think there is a way to make progress, including setting up a viable guest worker program, so people coming to the U.S. to work do so legally and employers hire—and pay and tax appropriately—those with legal status.
What action should Congress be taking to deal with the continued effects of the recession? What steps should be taken to alleviate the national debt?
We are dealing with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. With astronomical job losses occurring for four consecutive months, I supported recovery act legislation that provided a tax cut to 95% of Utahns, gave help to the states, and invested in state and local "shovel-ready projects" in order to save and create jobs. Most economists now say that it is having the desired effect. The government cannot flip a switch and fix the economy. It can invest in research and development, infrastructure and high-speed broadband, and help job-seekers get retraining and education in order to compete in the global economy. Finally, it's critical that financial regulatory reforms be implemented to prevent a similar financial sector crisis in the future.
A series of tough choices face this country in order to deal with the debt. I am proud to have led the effort in Congress to help restore budget enforcement tools—known as pay-as-you-go—to help us stop digging a deeper hole. I support the President's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform which—as the independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) did—will consider all options and make comprehensive recommendations to Congress about how to pay down the debt. I have written to that Commission, calling on it to set a 5-year goal of getting the federal deficit to 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Should more offshore oil drilling be allowed in light of the BP spill? How do you envision energy development going forward?
The catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is unfolding in an unprecedented way. Until the spill is contained, and until we know what happened and why, I support the moratorium on deep-water drilling. Congress is holding hearings—many of which I have attended—aimed at getting answers and holding responsible parties accountable. Going forward, I support a short-term plan that includes environmentally responsible energy development with appropriate rules, regulations and oversight. Our long term strategy must be based on technological advances that take us beyond oil as the primary fuel for our vehicles.
Would you support a House-passed bill that would ban importing foreign low-level radioactive waste? Such importation has been proposed by EnergySolutions.
I wrote the legislation to stop it; I hope all others will join me in the fight. No other country in the world takes another country's radioactive waste and neither should we.
What action, if any, should the House take on such gay rights issues as the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy or moves to allow gay marriage?
Any American who wants to put their life on the line to protect our freedom and way of life should be honored and respected for their service. Military leaders agree and that is why we will soon see the repeal of the flawed "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Family law, including marriage law, has traditionally been the jurisdiction of the states, which is where it should remain.
What is your position on federal health care reform?
I remain concerned that fundamental health care reform is still needed. Until we address the ever-escalating costs of health care, we face the prospect of unaffordable care for individuals, families, small businesses and the federal treasury. I would resist efforts to repeal the new law, but there is more work to do before we reach my goal of access for everyone in America to affordable, quality health care.
How would you reform entitlement spending? Specifically, would your plans include eliminating and/or cutting Social Security? Would it eliminate or cut Medicare?
Reforming Social Security and Medicare will take bipartisan effort. As when Pres. Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill linked arms and proposed the reforms to save Social Security in the 1980s, the same is required today. The programs are too important to senior citizens in the country to attempt anything less. The ever-growing costs of Medicare in this country—which the new health care reform law fails to adequately address—pose a challenge, but all sides working together can solve it.