Republican U.S. senatorial candidate Heather Wilson, a former U.S. Representative, spoke with Freedom New Mexico in Tucumcari Wednesday about some of the issues she will address if elected to the position Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman will vacate in 2012.
What made you decide to run for the U.S. Senate in 2012?
I am concerned about the future of the country.
First and foremost, we need to get our financial house in order. The federal government has had a 24 percent increase in spending in the last two years and borrowing 41 cents on every dollar spent by the government. We are going to burden our children with this debt. We simply are spending money we do not have.
What course of action would you support to improve health care?
The health care bill passed by the president takes a large portion of money from Medicare. A particular program which is popular in New Mexico, Medicare Advantage, is used by 40 percent of senior citizens in New Mexico. With the passing of that bill, they and many other Americans will lose access to that program.
There are a number of things we can do to try and improve the state of health care. One, allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. The other is to allow small businesses to band together to get the same insurance rates large corporations receive.
If elected, would you support funding for the Ute water project?
I am at the point of wanting to learn more about the project. There are many steps we need to take, short term and long term, to conserve the water resources in this area.
I would like to see how that project will affect the Ute reservoir. Areas like Quay, Curry and Roosevelt County, which have high agricultural industries, have already begun water conservation and planning. The Ute water project is one avenue to explore. Others include further research on extending existing water sources and the desalination of brackish water.
Do you think the Ute water project is a good idea?
In general I support the federal role in assisting local entities in water planning, water research and water projects.
How would you address unemployment issues which are affecting every state in the nation?
The government cannot create wealth. It can create the conditions for small businesses to invest and create jobs. One of the most difficult things we have seen over the years is the uncertainty of federal regulations. Many times businesses step back, waiting to see how things sort out before they invest in a new plant or hire new people. Low taxes and low regulations with certainty in those regulations will help.
What would your top legislative priorities be if elected?
We need to get our financial house in order. We have over $14 trillion in publicly-owned debt. Our debt is almost to the point where we are beyond the capability to pay it back. That will affect many things such as businesses being able to borrow money. We need to repeal and replace the health care bill.
If elected, would you support future funding and expansion of the Special Operations Wing located at Cannon Air Force Base?
In 2005, when Cannon was placed on the Base Alignment Closure list, Sen. Pete Domenici asked me to come to Clovis and explain the importance of New Mexico from an Air Force point of view. I was the only one in the leadership group who had served in the Air Force.
I spoke of the air space for training in New Mexico and how it is a valuable resource to the Air Force. I can still remember Operation Keep Cannon.
When we were going from the hotel to the presentation, there was a man wearing a ball cap. The cap was worn and just by the look of him, you could tell he was a man who worked in agriculture … and he had a sign leaning next to him which read “Even the cows love Cannon.”
I participated in the efforts to keep Cannon open and bring a new mission to the base. The special operations wing is a growing operation and New Mexico is a fantastic place for them to train. We will work hard to make sure they will have what they need in the future to continue their vital training. New Mexico makes a disproportionate contribution to our nation’s defense and Cannon is a part of that contribution.