Q&A: What Tom Emmer wants for Minnesota businesses

Rep. Tom Emmer

Tom Emmer, an attorney and former state legislator from Delano, is the only freshman in Minnesota’s congressional delegation. The 53-year-old Republican represents the Sixth District, which includes large portions of central Minnesota. Twin Cities Business recently spoke with Emmer about key issues. What follows are edited excerpts from the interview.

When you were campaigning, what were the top concerns you heard from the business sector?

TE: They want to have someone who is there that can actually respond to them. It’s a customer service situation. They want to have you available and they want an office that’s responsive to them. In St. Cloud, they want to have quarterly meetings. They want to create a business roundtable so they can get a download on what’s happening in Washington. More importantly, they want to say, “These are our needs, these are the issues that we see.”

Your district has a diverse economic base. Have businesses from various industries raised common concerns with you?

TE: The No. 1 issue that got louder and louder toward the end of the campaign was a concern about uncontrolled and rising health care costs. I was also hearing from our community bankers on a regular basis about Dodd-Frank [the financial regulatory act that became law in 2010]. Everybody was suggesting that perhaps the intent behind Dodd-Frank was a laudable, good-faith goal to protect consumers. But in the end, it has had many unintended consequences that are making it more difficult for community bankers to do their job. The regulatory process has become so severe and so burdensome.

Twin Cities BusinessYour predecessor, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare. As a new member of Congress, are you focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act or fixing it?

TE: This is [President Obama’s] signature piece of legislation. The odds of him actually signing a repeal bill in the next two years … I don’t know. I’m not a gambling person, but if I were, I don’t know that I’d bet on that. The administration is, by virtue of [implementation] extensions, acknowledging that the law as drafted does not work.

In the short term, there are going to be specific pieces of the law that will be addressed by Republicans and Democrats alike within the Congress, giving the executive an opportunity to take these pieces out. As far as an overall repeal, obviously we’ll have to wait and see what the leadership does with it.

But I think Republicans need to be focused on making it clear, this was [the Democrats’] idea. A government, top-down, one-size-fits-all federal solution was not the answer. And Republicans need to be focused on creating more opportunities for small employers to pool together and get the discounts that large employers get, tie health insurance to the individual instead of the job and provide for insurance purchases across state lines. At this point, you have to address the pieces of the law that aren’t working, and we have to keep putting out our solutions.

Your neighboring congressman Collin Peterson, a moderate Democrat, voted against the Affordable Care Act. Do you think he is someone you could work with within the Minnesota delegation?

TE: What we need to be talking about are free-market solutions. We need to put people back in charge of their health care. To the extent that Collin Peterson or any other colleague in Congress is interested in promoting these free-market solutions, absolutely I would love to work with them.

A Democratic president and a Republican Congress seem to be far apart on immigration reform. In Minnesota, the Chamber of Commerce has said the current immigration system is “broken and needs fixing now.” What approach do you plan to take on immigration?

TE: First and foremost, you secure your borders. Second, you make sure you identify the folks that are here and try to assist local law enforcement. When the chamber says that immigration is broken, all right, where is it not working? Is it in terms of making sure the process is fair and equal for anyone who wants to come to this great country? Or is it trying to help certain corporations attract some very talented people from across the world in certain work scenarios?

Although the U.S. economy has been undergoing a modest recovery, many American workers are struggling because their wages have stagnated. What do you think needs to happen before workers will start to see their incomes rise?

TE: You’ve got to reduce the overall tax burden on individuals and corporations alike. You’ve got to streamline regulation, eliminate excessive regulation, because that in and of itself creates costs in the private marketplace. And thirdly, you have to have a monetary policy in place that promotes a strong U.S. dollar. If you do those three things, you will see greater and stronger economic growth.

Liz Fedor is the Trending editor of Twin Cities Business.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/16/2015 - 04:28 pm.

    ….Q. what were the top concerns you heard from the business sector? A.It’s a customer service situation. They want to have you available and they want an office that’s responsive to them….

    How many votes did you get from a corporation, Tom?

    They’re not your customer, unless this is you acknowledging that they bought you.

    The people are your boss, not business. You are a representative of the people.

    The purpose of the Constitution, which you just swore to uphold is to protect and defend the rights of the PEOPLE.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/16/2015 - 08:44 pm.

    My thanks

    …to Neal Rovick, whose reaction is much the same as mine. It’s not Minnesota businesses that Mr. Emmer should be representing, it’s Minnesota citizens. Businesses ought to be very much secondary to the concerns of individual citizens.

    Most of what Mr. Emmer had to say in the interview is right-wing boilerplate. Cutting taxes seems to be the only policy idea in the Republican playbook, and I would suggest Mr. Emmer take a close look at Kansas and Governor Brownback’s program of tax reduction for both individuals and businesses there. It is an unmitigated catastrophe for the state and its citizens, and simply provides the latest in a long string of examples that show the futility of cutting taxes as a strategy for either individual or statewide economic growth. While I give him credit for loyalty, Emmer gets none for intellect or ideas, or for telling the truth.

    The ACA is a Republican plan (see: Romney, Mitt), tweaked substantially at the request of insurance companies. If it’s top-down, one-size-fits-all, it’s because Republican members of Congress and their insurance company allies want it that way. More importantly, despite years of Republican criticism of their own idea, providing party leaders with many, many opportunities to present Congress and the public with GOP alternative(s) to the ACA, none have been forthcoming. They don’t have one, save a return to the abysmal system the ACA sort-of replaces.

    “…What we need to be talking about are free-market solutions. We need to put people back in charge of their health care…” isn’t a serious answer to a question, it’s simply right-wing propaganda talking points, for which no detail is provided nor will there be any forthcoming. There is no free market, and never has been, especially in health care.

    Sadly, Mr. Emmer seems more concerned with corporate health than that of his human constituents, and what he has to say in this interview suggests that his grasp of public policy is equivalent to that of his predecessor, who demonstrated repeatedly that she had no clue whatsoever.

  3. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 01/16/2015 - 09:56 pm.

    “The people….

    are your boss.” Elected officials seem to forget that when they take office.

  4. Submitted by Franz Kitzberger on 01/17/2015 - 01:17 pm.

    Tom “Bachmann”

    You don’t have to cover this thinly-veiled corporate/Tea- Partying shill, you know. He and that really-comma-really weird legislative district of his are wrong on EVERY major issue of the times! It’s just a matter of time until this carpetbagger shows his true and very Un-Minnesotan intentions.

  5. Submitted by Richard O on 01/17/2015 - 06:47 pm.

    “What we need to be talking about are free-market solutions.”

    Isn’t this “trickle-down” economics? And “…put people back in charge of their health care…”? Wow! ACA has given people access to health care who formerly received it only in emergency rooms. Does he really want to sacrifice peoples’ welfare to the god of so-called free markets? C’mon!

  6. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/19/2015 - 07:06 am.

    What Tom Emmer wants for Minnesota businesses

    So when do we get the interview where Tom Emmer says what he wants for the little guy? After all, he was elected to represent people, not corporations.

  7. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 01/19/2015 - 09:16 am.

    Ugh

    I had a hard time reading Mr. Emmer’s comments. I’m very sad to say that he “represents” me in Congress. Everything he said was as if he was hired as a lawyer for a stereotypical financial institution, not elected as a representative of his constituents. Don’t get me wrong, I like lots of lawyers and I work for a large corporation. But my corporation, and many of those I choose to patronize, disagree with Mr. Emmer’s positions and actively seek to behave more socially responsibly than Mr. Emmer’s positions. I believe that Minnesota’s businesses, especially those that employ a lot of people, have realize that this “me first/only me” attitude isn’t good for their workers, and by extension, it’s not good for them. A truly free market is a market that constantly collapses, which isn’t good for ANY business, and rarely benefits anyone other than the most sociopathic individuals.

    I can only hope that he keeps his mouth shut more often than Ms. Bachmann.

  8. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 01/19/2015 - 12:07 pm.

    ACA

    The problem with opening up markets to plans from other states is it doesn’t decrease costs in any way. All you accomplish is to get a plan that someone in another state doesn’t want. And it doesn’t do anything for closed markets such as Rochester, which is so dominated by Mayo that no one wants to even try and get in there.

    I hate to sound like a broken record to anyone who’s ever seen me post on a health care article, but the only sensible solution is to go with single payer universal government run system coupled with compensation reform. It would be pretty easy to expand Medicare to include children, then later on to all adults.

    Emmer’s solution is to not only to rearrange chairs on a sinking ship, but the chair you get is broken. This, of course, assumes you’re not in steerage and you get any chair at all.

  9. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 01/19/2015 - 12:27 pm.

    Lowering Wages

    On Rep. Emmer’s hidden agenda is passing a national Right to Work For Less law. He won’t lead the charge, and surely like Scot Walker I’m sure it’s “not something he’s interested in at this time”. But if there is a vote, you know which side he’ll come down on.

  10. Submitted by Michael Hess on 01/20/2015 - 08:57 am.

    Lost context

    A lot of the comments her are taking Emmer to task for talking about business and not the general population, citizens. The title of the article is “Q&A: What Tom Emmer wants for Minnesota businesses”.

    The description is that it’s an edited summary of a longer interview. you don’t know from this if MinnPost conducted a long interview and just distilled down the business related questions or if the interview was from the start targeted. It’s not like the interview starts generically and the respondent steers it to only be about business issues. Maybe there is a part II coming. Maybe while the readers work on their reading comprehension skills, Minnpost can give some more context to this article before the readers here jump to the conclusion that this is all the Congressman cares about.

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