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Keizertimes: What did you think of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address?

Kurt Schrader: “I liked the call for unity, the reference to our servicemen and women who somehow find a way to get it done, they don’t get into who’s getting credit or what their philosophy is. They just get the job done. I thought that was an excellent point of really calling Congress out: The country’s hurting, step up and do it.

“I’m not real enthusiastic about all the tax credits he talked about, to be honest. We can’t afford it. There’s other ways to encourage American manufacturing, investments in diverse energy policy. That’s just good business.”

KT: One of the measures he talked about was requiring millionaires to pay at least 30 percent income tax – the Buffett bill. Thoughts?

KS: “I prefer tax reform. I think the smart thing to do is I’d reduce everybody’s rates, so everyone has to pay some taxes. I don’t care if you’re real poor, I don’t care if you’re rich, everyone has to pay something at the end of the day proportionate to your socioeconomic status. I prefer the Bowles-Simpson plan … you cut the 15 percent average rate down to about 8, cut 24 to about 15 and reduce the upper income rate from 36 down to about 28 or so. You got rid of most of the tax breaks and cut those rates, that means you have about a trillion dollars to pay down on our debt and deficit. Actually, if you cut those corporate rates, you get us more competitive internationally and they’ll bring those jobs home.”

KT: What do you want to see in a payroll tax deal by the end of February?

KS: “I do not favor the payroll tax cut. You’re underfunding Social Security, you’re spending people’s retirement today, no one knows you even have it, it’s a waste of money. … I would extend unemployment for another year and I like the creative mix the president put forward that encourages businesses to keep people on, but not maybe at full salary, and some of the training pieces and education pieces that are there.”

KT: You mentioned support for drug testing for welfare recipients. Have you seen data to suggest that would save money, or is it the principle?

KS:  “I think for me it’s more the principle. At the end of the day, I’m not looking at it to save money. You can’t help people if they don’t want to help themselves.… You give them something for nothing and continue to foster bad life habits, I think you’re just wasting money and not helping them. You’re being an enabler, and that’s wrong.”

KT: What’s your message as you seek re-election?

KS: “My message is about getting America back on track and creating a new job. I think you do that by going big and getting America’s fiscal house in order so that the $2 trillion comes in off the sidelines. I think it’s the… forest bill that creates real jobs in our rural areas, that have been in double-digit recession for the past 25 years. It has to do with increasing our exports. …  And I think it’s about the Transportation Infrastructure Bill. I’m a strong proponent of pushing that, at least at the $260 billion level over five years, and I’m open to creative ways to doing a little more. And … from my small business committee’s perspective, we should continue the expensing breaks, carry loss forwards so these businesses can invest in infrastructure and pay for jobs.”

– Interview by Jason Cox