2014 is an election year in Nebraska, and Examiner.com is sitting down with some of the candidates for key races so that the voters will be able to make informed decisions. The next in this series is a phone interview with congressional candidate Todd Watson, an independent candidate for United States Senate.
Todd Watson is running as an independent candidate for Senate from Nebraska. He was born and raised in Lincoln, and is married with four children. He holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Accounting from the University of Texas and is currently a part owner in two businesses. He worked for a congressman and a lobbying firm on Capitol Hill. He considers himself a faith-based candidate and bases his platform on serving others.
We spoke with Watson regarding his run for the United States Senate.
Why are you running for office?
My grandparents sacrificed their future for our future. I have four kids, and I need to stand up for their long term future because nobody else is doing that right now.
What are your qualifications?
I’m a successful business owner. I have started four companies and sold a few. Employment and growth is a major need, and I’ve done that. I can work with both sides. The proof of that is my background as a professional landlord of 2,500 families. I’m used to working with wealthy owners and lower income renters, bankers and tradesmen. I work with a wide variety of people everyday. I’m well-versed in all segments of the population, not just certain segments of like minded people. I also interned on Capitol Hill and was able to observe the process from office, to committee, to floor. Although only a brief stint, I’m not completely naive about what goes on there.
Third party candidates have a reputation for being spoilers for the two major parties. Do you agree with this assessment?
No. I’m a faith-based candidate, I think most people are surprised to hear that and not republicans in the same sentence. To answer your question, I believe in the biblical story of Caleb and Joshua. In America we are focused on winning. Through that story we need to learn to vote for what is right, not necessarily what wins. Believing we are in control is a poor first step to start from. I think it is imperative to vote for what is right, regardless of the popularity or unpopularity of the position. Hopefully, “Right,” as our conscious views the situation, wins. God is the one in control and I believe he takes into account our free will expression before he acts. Winning the vote did not dictate the outcome to Caleb and Joshua and the 10 who won. I think Americans should revisit that story and change how they vote. Especially, republicanss who believe they are on the “right” side of the aisle but ignore concepts of “oppression of the poor.” Conservatives need to adjust to pro-liberty as opposed to “anti-big government”. Thomas Jefferson warned us against big government and big banks that both threaten our liberty. Aligning with banks and fighting against big government is inconsistent to those who claim to be for liberty.
Why do you think that you have a better chance than past third party candidates?
I think the mood of the country has changed.. Both sides are frustrated with both parties. 85 percent of the people are frustrated with congress. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think people know Washington needs to change. The question is does the voter have the courage to vote differently and go against the candidates paid for by the purchaser of the ads they are suckered by. People buy into TV and news ads. The media is trained to cover primarily two parties and people need to overcome what is spoon fed to them and do their civic research of all candidates. People are often unaware of the policies they will receive that works against their interests to “repay” the buyers of those ads. Knowing policies of large supporters and PAC’s is important, if not more important than the candidates themselves.
Same-sex marriage appears to be heading toward legalization in most states. What is your stance on the issue?
I think it’s going to be determined by the states. However, It shouldn’t be a federal or state issue. In my opinion, marriage is defined by God and not by man. If they decide to push it forward I will vote to maintain a one man and one woman approach. That being said, I don’t harp on the issue. Even though I have that position, I have gay supporters. My gay supporters are very few but consist of my friends that go back 20 years. They know I’m honest and know I care for them. I’ve achieved many team goals in life with the assistance of my gay friends and they know I care about them on a personal level. When we hang out, we don’t sit around and talk about our sexuality. I don’t believe in harping on the topic because it creates unnecessary angst and pulls people apart. I’m very grateful for their support in this process. They have let me know they can’t vote for me based on this position and I respect them to have their own view. That being said, I’m grateful we remain good friends. My conscious dictates that I must vote biblical laws. My conscious also dictates that I love my neighbor and I try to do that with all people. At the end of the day, I don’t look at the vote as a good thing to be crossing my desk. I think the issue shouldn’t be in government in the first place.
What is your opinion on oil fracking?
I support domestic growth of energy in all sources. I’m about 100 percent North American sourcing of energy, whatever it may be. I’m against foreign energy in general. Our constitution calls for us to insure the domestic tranquility. I believe occupying other countries is causing terrorism. We are losing lives and spending large amounts of money to protect oil. I believe the cost of terrorism, loss of life, and soldiers away from our family is hurting our Domestic Tranquility and I will seek policies and incentives to spur domestic energy, self sufficiency, and eliminate our reliance on foreign oil. I’m about national security, we need our millions of dollars to protect our homeland, not others.
Do you support an increase in alternative forms of energy, including green energy such as solar and wind?
I observe the constitution. The constitutional charge is to promote the progress of science. I don’t support how President Obama gave money directly to companies in wind energy. We need to investigate the science of storage, and improve the economics behind that for wind energy. I believe investment in science through Universities in partnership with wind companies makes more sense than direct handouts to these companies that went belly up. I believe we need more breakthroughs in technology to improve the economics of wind energy so our industries can compete using this source. I’m for more exploration of technology but do not believe as it stands now wind is creating an economic structure that allows our industries to compete on a worldwide scale. I’m with Senator Lamar Alexander’s (pushed out of leadership by the republicanss) stance of cleaner and cheaper. I’m about cleaner energy if it meets the cheaper test. For the record, I’m not aligned with oil companies. I believe they need their tax credits repealed, loopholes closed, and foreign oil taxed for the complete costs it creates. Let’s let the market drive alternative fuels by making all energy compete without government benefits. With that said, I’m about putting a revenue neutral plan in place that would tax imported foreign energy, and lower income taxes with proceeds of revenue on these foreign energy sources. Let the market work on pushing domestic energy, all sources, production from a pure economic standpoint, non subsidized by government spending or tax breaks. As domestic energy becomes abundant I believe we can recall troops home on foreign lands with oil to reduce spending. As a last point, I’m the only conservative to be on record to support the RFS standard of 15 percent.
Do you support the legalization of marijuana?
I’m staying out of that, legalization is a state issue. I think it’s going to be settled in the states. The problem in our state is that the western courts and jails are overwhelmed the state highway patrol is flooded based on the flow of drugs coming out of Colorado. It’s an extensive burden in western Nebraska. It’s a state issue, but I’m listening to the concerns of civil services. Laws need to be changed or civil services need to be expanded so that the rule of law is not jeopardized. I think it is a big issue the citizens of our state will need to settle. I will be of assistance to the state in coordinating across state lines with Colorado to achieve whatever way the will of the Nebraska people wants to go. I’ve heard discussion on lowering the threshold of offenders or increasing the supply of civil services. I’ve heard talk of seeking compensation from Colorado to cover the new expenses the state of Colorado is creating for Nebraska. Again, the Nebraska people will have to determine how they want to handle the problem at the state and local level and I will be there to assist them in the way they want to go as it pertains to federal involvement.
What is your opinion on gun rights?
I’m for Second Amendment rights because I’m for the Constitution. I believe the Constitution is paramount and if you violate one right you will violate all of them. Human history records that the government has killed more of their citizens than citizen on citizen crime. We have a brief world history view with a free government. However, history teaches us that citizens should be weary of their government protecting their life. I support the responsible gun ownership of all Americans, of which most people are.
What, if anything, will you do in order to make the Affordable Care Act more palatable to your constituents?
I’m in the middle on this. I’m against government control of healthcare. We have veterans dying under government care. Medicare is a disaster and bankrupt. Anything government touches in health care does not work well. At the same time, I stand with Democrats in fighting against special interest health care that dominates the republicans party. Pharmaceutical companies and health care lobbies dictate republicans health care policy and no one trusts the motives of republicanss who are taking care of their donors., They continue to fight for protectionism and other anti-market oriented policies.. You have poor choice A or poor choice B.
Where do we go from here? I do support pre-existing condition coverage in the ACA. I’m flexible on how to do that. There are a multitude of proposals to cover pre-existing coverage and I’m in favor of a plan that puts the costs of coverage on par with the cost of average citizens without pre-existing conditions. I also like the ACO model that I believe the ACA is doing wrong but can be implemented with more market oriented approaches to make it work. . We spend four percent on primary care, and 96 percent on procedures. We need to stop rewarding processes and start rewarding outcomes. I think significant savings exist if people take accountability over their own health, our country shifts to valuing preventative medicine and we begin eliminating unnecessary procedures through prevention and tort reform.
One thing to lower the cost is making drugs more competitive. The Constitution specifically charges a Senator for securing for a limited time the exclusive right of inventors of their discoveries. I don’t have an issue with the length of time on the first patent. However, “reformulations” of drugs are abused for patent sake and must be stopped. Our Constitution calls for limited time observances and I would make reformulations protected for one second. Furthermore, anti-trust law that lets pharmaceuticals buy off competition on a drug should be enforced. Third, letting pharmaceutical companies set prices in Medicare with no government negotiation is absurd. This is just three examples and one industry. There are millions of loopholes the GOP passes for their donor friends. I’m conservative, but my GOP friends do not understand budgets, competitive markets, or how to make tough decisions any more. This is why I left the party and became an Independent conservative.
Finally, spending 17 percent of our gross domestic product on this industry is way too high. It should be a lot lower. Finally, we have to realize cost is the problem with both sides, the ACA or republicans special Interest care. We must get the market working in our healthcare system and we can make healthcare affordable for all people. Citizens are paying for it one way or another with either system. We need to focus on cost reduction and I believe that is best achieved in a competitive situation with an Independent market oriented mindset that is not endorsed by either party.
Do you support school choice in the form of vouchers?
Yes. We should let the parents decide where the money’s going and what school their children attend with their tax money. This makes a lot of sense to me. Finally, the federal government should have no role in education. Education was always intended to be a state and local issue by the Constitution. I support moving the decisions of schooling as close to the parent as possible.
Do you support an increase in the minimum wage?
No. This issue is totally screwed up by both sides. If you study the history of wages, the problem is the Fed. They are the enemy of the capitalist and poor alike. They erode the value of the dollar by printing money and advocating member banks to multiply that money 33 times out of thin air with 3 percent capital ratios. Controlling the money supply is about restoring the strength of the dollar, it’s buying power. Furthermore, I talk about protecting and growing American jobs. We need to create demand for fundamental labor. Republicans demanding protection of the border tend to ignore protecting it for jobs leaving the union.
The power of printing money per the Constitution belongs to the congress, not to the Fed. They need to quit destroying the value of the dollar. Helping the poor is not about creating top line growth with government intervention. Helping the poor is about increasing purchasing power by strengthening the dollar from the hard work they do. We need to keep the Wall Street elites from eroding the dollar. Raising the minimum wage is the wrong tactic, it creates a small spike right after you do it, and that is quickly eroded by the Fed. This is why sending two incomes into the workforce did not work in the mid-1900’s. Think of it as doubling the minimum wage. We used to be able to do with one income what we need two incomes to do now. Now, we need three to create the same purchasing power. I’m about protecting jobs and creating demand with labor. to grow wages. We need to grow GDP by producing more of what we consume and rely less on consumption of imports. Second, its about taking back the printing and multiplication of money by the Fed. Taking back printing of money to the people, and protecting the border from the exporting of jobs is a way to take back our purchasing power and create market oriented demand for labor that will increase the standard of living for all people.
How would you handle the current immigration crisis?
I think we need to strengthen the border first. I think 1986 was a good blueprint, they just didn’t execute. One thing that’s never being talked about is the families. I believe that God created the family. we have splitting up of families with deportation. We should keep them together whether that be staying in America or deportation. I don’t think splitting up families is a God-fearing action. Once the border is secured we can sit around the table and see who’s been here for ten years. I think we need to be tougher on criminals with a one and done policy. At the same time, I think American history shows we are a nation of immigrants. If you have been here ten years or longer in a productive working capacity we should find some sort of legal status to bring people out of the shadows. I think it is is good for upstanding working immigrants to come out of the shadows. I think it is good for citizens to identify everyone living in the land for national security. Finally, citizenship should still be the same process for everyone around the world. I’ve met more frustrated families trying to go through the process the right way. We cannot, out of fairness, allow a “cut in line” because people are already here. Legal status is one thing, citizenship is another. We need to fix the citizenship process for all people equally.
At the end of the day, immigration is really four issues. Most people get worked up on one item of that issue that means more to them. We need to calm down and work through all 4 issues in concert. One thing we can all agree on is it is embarrassing to this country that democrats and republicans can’t figure out a solution over 7 years. It is a further embarrassment that we have a National Guard called up to the border and kids, we are talking innocent kids, dying and we have two parties choosing to go on recess or fundraisers and not deal with the problem. These are your leaders America. 85 percent of us are disgusted, yet 85 percent of us are probably looking to choose the same way. American’s should be more embarrassed by their unwillingness to adjust and prolong two poor parties.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
I think the biggest issue is getting debt under control. Simpson-Bowles was a bipartisan approach to fixing our budget. People need to reject the extremes. Congressman Paul Ryan and President Obama both rejected the plan for partisan self interest.. I’m conservative on constitutional and social issues. However,I’m very pragmatic on issues where morals or the Constitution is not at play. We had two years of bipartisan work on Simpson-Bowles and it went to waste. 80 to 85 percent of legislation doesn’t need to be held hostage for political gain. We had a farm bill held up for five years. We’re talking food supply! We held that up over the political game. We can’t even get food figured out because we can’t talk to each other. Politicians like to fight. We have a dominant lawyer contingent on both sides of the isle. They have a mentality of “win or lose” and it is killing the process of compromise and negotiation. Washington doesn’t need to operate this way. Immigration, supporting veterans, Iraq, passing budgets, these are huge fundamental issues. How many years does it take to figure that out? It’s a lack of talking because everybody is demonizing each other because they don’t agree. That’s unacceptable. That’s ridiculous. It is time for a change.