Mark Neumann talks national debt, Obamacare at Press Club
If you were in downtown Milwaukee yesterday, you would have seen former Congressman Mark Neumann cradling a 10-month piglet named Mr. Favors. The pig was Neumann’s visual representation of his biggest gripe with federal government – pork barrel spending.
“Pork belongs on the dinner table, not in Washington D.C.,” he said.
Neumann is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and a run against Democratic candidate, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, in November. However, he has to get by former Governor Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and political newcomer Eric Hovde in the September primary. He was a guest of the Milwaukee Press Club on Monday as part of their Newsmaker Luncheon Series.
Neumann previously ran an unsuccessful campaign for Senate against Russ Feingold in 1998, and was also on the losing end of the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010. His platform remains similar to his successful 1994 congressional campaign – eliminating the national debt and operating the nation under a balanced budget with spending cuts and zero tax increases.
Neumann said he is ready and tested for the Senate primary. He is often asked in 2010 why he was running for governor when a Senate run then would have made sense, Neumann said he doesn’t look at 2010 as a missed opportunity.
“We now have Ron Johnson and Scott Walker in positions of power and the only thing better than that would be to add Neumann to the team,” he said.
He also said he is not surprised that some of his congressional staffers ended up at the conservative think-tank Club for Growth, which has panned Thompson’s run for Senate, deeming him too moderate. Neumann said his campaign has not, and legally cannot, collude with interest groups while campaigning.
Neumann said Tommy Thompson’s current lead in the polls is due to the former governor’s almost universal name recognition. He asked people to look deeper into voter polls, noting a recent Rasmussen poll shows either Thompson or Neumann would win in a contest against Baldwin.
“That shows there are two choices to beat Baldwin and once conservatives see that, they will come to me,” he said.
Neumann said the most important election in the state this year is the recall of Walker. He said Walker has done something, balancing a budget without raising taxes, which Obama will never be able to achieve.
“Instead, Obama is the worse fiscal president on record,” he said. “He has taken us to the edge of the cliff and we will fall off like Greece if we don’t get it under control. Here is one number you need to know. The current debt per person – man, woman and child in the United States — is currently $48,000. In Greece, it is $39,000. This is unacceptable.”
His plan to achieve this goal includes eliminating the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), cutting $1.4 trillion in spending over the next five years from specific budget line items, and setting up a plan to pay off the national debt over a 30-year period.
“The bottom line,” Neumann said, “is this is my way of saying to China to take their money and go home because we don’t need their money to solve our debt problem.”
Neumann has been critical of Obamacare since its inception, leading an effort to collect more than 20,000 signatures to encourage Scott Walker from implementing any of the provisions. His disdain for the plan, and for a similar plan implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, was palpable.
“The premise that any government, state or federal, should meddle in health insurance and care is wrong,” he said. “Businesses and their workers should be negotiating health care coverage. For the federal or state government to step in with mandates, it is an overreach.”
Neumann said the complete repeal of Obamacare would also pump $500 billion back into Medicare, allowing seniors to keep their current coverage. Neumann would also look for administrative cuts in the program and efficiencies to save an important program without raising taxes.
While balancing the budget is Neumann’s main issue, he also spoke on energy and foreign policy.
He would support drilling offshore and in the Dakotas, along with approving the Keystone Oil Sands Pipeline, to increase the domestic supply of oil. He added he just couldn’t understand why Obama vetoed the pipeline, which would have created thousands of jobs.
As for Afghanistan, Neumann criticized Obama’s policy.
“The proper way of conducting military intervention is to first determine why we are going; second, what are we doing, then how do we get it done?” he said. “And then we need a measuring stick to know when to come home. Obama has not followed that and we don’t know the reasoning or logic of why we are still there. I would get to mission accomplished before bringing the troops home.”
Prior to his talk, Neumann said he is impressed with all of his fellow candidates, including newcomer Hovde, who he described as very bright. However, he described himself as the one true conservative in the race who can beat Baldwin.
This Wednesday, Jeff Fitzgerald will visit the Press Club; look for ThirdCoast Digest’s coverage of his comments this Thursday. Hovde will appear at the Press Club on April 11. For more information on the Milwaukee Press Club Newsmakers Luncheons, click here.