by Nicole Brodzik
During the U.S. Legislature’s spring break, Third District Representative Erik Paulsen visited the Mound Westonka Rotary meeting on April 18.
Paulsen gave a legislative update during the meeting at the Lafayette Country Club in Minnetonka Beach, saying he thinks meeting with constituents is an important part of the job.
“Last year, I did eight of these town halls, and they were small venues where people can come up and say whatever they want,” Paulsen said. “People want to be heard and that’s really important. Being accessible is really important. There’s a lot of anxiety for folks right now.”
He started his presentation with his views on tax reform, saying feels like there are four major keys to successful tax reform.
“It’s been a number of years since we’ve had a major overhaul of the tax code,” he said. “The tax code today has not kept pace with the modern economy by any means. Companies are leaving and inverting their head quarters to Ireland or other countries because our tax code has just not kept par with the where other countries are at.”
Paulsen said he sees a few major guidelines to creating the new tax code, including building for growth, simplicity in submitting taxes, getting companies to stay in and keep investing in the U.S. as well as permanency in the new tax code. He also said he understands that not everyone will be on the same page, but he’s hoping for some kind of change by 2018.
“From my understanding the administration is going to propose their own tax reform,” Paulsen said. “So even though the Republicans control all three branches, you’re going to have various sort of competing ideas, which is fine. That’s part of the legislative process. You want to work out that compromise regardless of who’s in charge. The initial goal is to pass something on the tax reform front by August, with the goal of something being enacted by the end of the year.”
The fifth term representative said that he was not pleased with the way the current administration handled their first attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare and that he believed there was a better way to get to a new healthcare system.
“The package that the house was planning, some conservatives Republicans were saying, ‘Well, you’re keeping Obamacare for two years,’” Paulsen said. “Well yeah, you’re not just going to pull the rug out from under anybody. You’ve gotta have a transition to whatever you’re going to have after that.”
He also said that he thought the rush to get a new plan in place was an issue.
“You can’t just set these artificial deadlines where you say, I’m gonna pass this by this date, just because it’s the anniversary of Obamacare,” Paulsen said. “You just don’t do that. Sure, at some point you gotta move things forward, but you can’t just confine yourself to a deadline and work backwards. You have to work from the ground up.”
Paulsen serves on a the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, which works predominantly on healthcare and tax jurisdiction. In working on healthcare, Paulsen said he’s concerned about the rising prices in the health insurance market and the number of people who cannot afford coverage that works for them. While he said he’s not exactly sure what the right solution looks like, there are a few things he wants to make sure remain from current policy.
“I do think it’s important to cover preexisting conditions and to make sure young people can stay on their parents insurance until their 26, and also make sure that lifetime caps that insurance companies used to trigger aren’t in place,” Paulsen said.
Before he left, Paulsen opened the floor to rotary members for questions.
Member Bill Pinegar asked Paulsen about how he thinks the government can move forward at a time where facts are disputed and people can’t seem to agree on what the truth really is. Pinegar said he doesn’t feel like the current administration can agree on what the major problems are or how to fix them.
“I think you’re right there,” Paulsen said. “You want to base everything on fact, you have to. Some of my Republican colleagues dispute climate and they end up disputing facts as a part of that. Even the president. He may tweet something out, for I think distractive purposes, but then people are like, I heard this, but it’s not true.”
Rotary member Joanne Champline of Mound said she was concerned about how polarized not only Washington D.C. has gotten, but even the people in her community. She asked Paulsen how he thinks people should communicate with people on the other side of the aisle.
“I think number one, you have to work at building relationships,” Paulsen said. “There’s only reason I was successful in getting the medical device law repealed. I literally took the bill and went around the house floor and got a number of democrats, from a policy perspective, to sign on. If it’s a good idea, you should be on it. You want to foster it and have it go forward.”
Paulsen and the rest of the U.S. House of Representatives will be back in Washington later this month when their break wraps up. To contact Paulsen, call (952) 405-8510 or visit https://paulsen.house.gov/contact-me/