Hoekstra in Ontwa

Published 10:24 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Former congressman Pete Hoekstra spoke to 40 people Dec. 6 at Ontwa Township Hall about his U.S. Senate bid

EDWARDSBURG — U.S. Senate Republican frontrunner Pete Hoekstra, allotted 20 minutes to introduce himself to 40 in Ontwa Township Tuesday, dispatched the task with, “I’m interviewing to work for you. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a job interview where the person takes 20 minutes telling ‘all about me.’ You’re interviewing me. The agenda is yours,” for 90 minutes of questions moderated by Mark Jamrog.
Hoekstra, 58, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010, served in Congress from 1993 to 2011, voting five times to raise the debt ceiling.
“Most occurred when we were on a path to a balanced budget or we were at war with troops in harm’s way. I took hard votes in the ’90s to balance the budget. Excessive spending started when (Democratic leaders Nancy) Pelosi and (Harry) Reid took over the House and Senate in 2007. Spending skyrocketed, and yes, (George W.) Bush did not veto this stuff. Business confidence went down dramatically.”
Hoekstra also voted for TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program bailout Bush signed into law in 2008.
Hoekstra voted after consulting bankers and business people across his district — “Main Street, not Wall Street. If you think it was absolutely wrong, I respect your opinion. I don’t have the same passion about TARP I do about local education control. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do because of what people in my district thought would happen if we didn’t do something. We’ll never know if it was the right vote or not. In hindsight, I would vigorously advocate doing different things. The reason we got into TARP or GM was because of government, when Bill Clinton and Barney Frank said everyone’s entitled to a home. Not until you get a job, save and can put money down so you look like a good credit risk. It’s not the responsibility of the federal government  to go to banks to lower lending standards. I’m not going to tell you all of them, but there are votes I regret.”
Hoekstra identified the U.S.’s most pressing issues as “getting the federal government under control and restoring constitutional governance in Washington.
“I’d immediately move from the federal government to the states’ K-12 education — I was one of the few Republicans who fought No Child Left Behind when President Bush was at the peak of his popularity in 2001 — highway construction; leave gas taxes collected in the state; and third, Medicaid.

‘Drill, baby, drill’
Hoekstra advocated more fully developing American energy resources. “Get out of the way and allow deep water drilling, exploration of gas, use of coal and fossil fuels and building nuclear plants. If we do those things, the end result may be we no longer have a need for the Department of Energy.”
Hoekstra also advocates “trade agreements which put us on a level footing with countries we are trading with. We won’t be able to compete so long as we’ve got bad trade deals. Trade deals that are fair to American companies; you may not need a Commerce Department.”

Box the EPA
As for the Environmental Protection Agency, “You need to have some kind of environmental standard, but it’s time to put a box around EPA so we are clearly defining its framework rather than giving it latitude to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant.