Read this candidate profile of 1st District Republican candidate Gail Boliver. He was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.
Give an example of an experience you’ve had that you believe prepared you to become a U.S. member of Congress.
Just one. I would probably pick, today, my military experience. I began my career when the Vietnam War was going on in 1971. I was an Air Force pilot at the time and in training. I thought that I might be assigned to Southeast Asia. As it turned out, the war completed, and I did not get sent that direction, but was knowledgeable of the cost that that war laid on individuals and on the nation. I think that’s very important today because what we see today is a world that’s not all that peaceful. It is a world that has all types of difficulties - from the Ukraine to Syria to the Central African Republic to Korea, where we have a fellow that continues to starve and otherwise abuse his people. It’s a rough world, and if you don’t understand that, you have an inadequate background to deal with those events.
What do you think is the one thing you can do in Congress to help create jobs in Iowa?
It’s a key platform that I have and have been articulating since the beginning of my campaign. One of the quickest things that could and should be done is to lower the corporate tax rate and incentivize our global corporations to bring some of the cash they have overseas and bring it back to the United States. Once cash returns to the balance sheet of a company they typically invest that into new jobs, new opportunities, and that creates jobs.
An Iowa poll in March shows 65% of those polled support an increase in the minimum wage. Would you support a minimum wage increase?
I would suggest that poll is probably outdated. The Federal Reserve chairman recently spoke about the effects that raise would have now on the economy, and it would not be favorable. I had previously said that if that were to occur, there would be lots of jobs lost for the 18 to 24 year old category. That said, I think things could be done in terms of writing an increase in the minimum such as exceptions for certain types of positions. Those held by high school students, for example, exclude those and others. So, I think that’s a negotiable item that everyone favors. And I think the market will soon take us to that position.
The proposed changes to the fuel standard seem to suggest that the administration may move away from grain-based alternatives to conventional fuels. What would you do in Washington to work in a bipartisan manner on energy policy that would benefit Iowans and still have national appeal?
A number of things. We have to maintain the current levels and standards because I don’t believe there is evidence, economically speaking, to show that there is an increase in the price of foods because of the use of grain byproducts. One, I’d like to see that those levels are maintained. Second, the Keystone pipeline is a must. Right now we transport that type of oil product by railcar, which is totally inefficient and has some risk to it, which we’ve already seen. I think the opening of the pipeline has been redesigned around the aquifer, which makes it safe. The Alaska pipeline shows how safe pipelines are today. Opening that pipeline, allowing exportation of liquid natural gas would help with our energy independence, the independence of our economy, and have a real impact on the globe. Perhaps even a peace dividend from that.
Even with a former Iowa governor heading up the Agricultural Department, farmers were kept in limbo for years over new farm policies. How will you represent the interests of agriculture and rural communities in an environment that is heavily urban?
Iowa is a state that has a substantial agriculture economy. We demonstrate how good that is by having a very low unemployment rate - lower than the national average. There are certain models that one can offer the nation: food costs, we want to keep those low. I think by articulating those positions I can work across party lines. That’s been a difficulty – parties not speaking to each other. I think that’s very important that we understand that we’re the bread basket probably of the globe and need to be careful of the costs. That will be something that most Congressmen, whether they’re Democrat or Republican, would work towards.
You’re campaigning to join Congress at a time when its approval ratings are some of the lowest in history, hovering in the low to mid teens in most cases. How do you think we got to this point?
By being too partisan. I might mention that when I signed up for the military, and starting in ROTC, there were a lot of diverse opinions on the war at that time. I thought it was my duty to sign up at a time when my country needed me. It’s a similar situation today. Parties have been too polarized – both parties. I have been involved in litigation for 30 years and realized that’s not a way to run a business or a government. One must listen and seek common ground with both sides. When you keep in mind that the goal is the best government for the money, most parties should be reasonable. There will be a few that will never see it that way, but I think the vast majority of Congress-people will be looking toward a common goal. We have to today because our debt is a threat to us.
The news media right now is describing you as the more moderate candidate and you call yourself an “old-time Republican.” In what areas can you imagine yourself compromising with the other party to get something accomplished for Iowa and what, specifically, did you mean by calling yourself an old-time Republican?
I believe across the board I can work with the Democratic Party to try to seek common ground. Let me quickly run through those.
One, social issues: I believe that personal decisions are moral issues and those best addressed through our moral portion of our country; most of the time that’s religious beliefs but not only that. The government should play a smaller role. We have enough guidance on those social issues.
Let me take you to immigration. I believe that Speaker Boehner is trying his best to get the Republicans in his caucus to join with moderate Democrats and solve the immigration issues. I think it’s solvable. Last year the Senate passed a bill that captured the essence of what we need, which is securing our southern border and dealing with those that have come here illegally.
I think energy policy, which I articulated earlier, has to be reestablished. I think that’s an example where the administration is playing politics with that Keystone pipeline and it is hurting jobs. Opening that pipeline opens jobs, lowers energy costs, more discretionary income that means more dollars for consumer items, frankly.
On the national debt, that’s one area we haven’t covered. Jobs, we’ve already addressed, and I think moderate Democrats would agree there is a way to incentivize corporations to bring money back, which then gets reinvested and creates jobs. But let’s go to the debt, and I think moderate Democrats would agree across the board that our debt is jeopardizing the future of our Social Security and Medicare. I speak to a lot of young people in their 30s and 20s that say Social Security won’t be available for us, and they could be right. I’m saying we at Congress need to address that issue and do something now so that those programs are sustainable into our future. I believe reasonable people in both parties will be able to see that and come to a solution.
Nearly every candidate running in this race says they want to cut government waste and bring down the deficit. Name a program you would cut and why.
I would cut the Department of Education because, as a former school board member, I believe Education is local. The state of Iowa has done extremely well in supporting education and having our students trained for and educated for a global economy. I think we’ve been successful. Probably what happens is those states that have failed programs have reached to the Federal level and asked for their assistance. That’s been disastrous. Those states need to adopt better state programs. Traditionally, Education is a state function driven by state policies. The Federal government has been responsible for national defense. So, the Department of Education would be a first cut, I believe.
Are we spending enough on national defense?
I wish I knew more, but I would say I think we are. Take into consideration that the Chinese have increased their military expenditures by a large amount. I don’t have it at the tip of my tongue right now exactly what that is, but I’ve read information that tells me that the Chinese are expanding their military role rapidly. I read things about their ships running into Vietnamese ships. They’re trying to take control over a Philippine island and a Japanese island. That’s all suggesting a strength they believe they have and they can back up by military posture. We always have to have strong military posture. We likely have cuts available.
Again, let me take you back to Congress. I believe the Pentagon wants to cut certain bases. Yet, Congressmen who would have cuts in employment in their district don’t want to block those. The military has been handcuffed to a certain extent and not allowed to cut programs that they want to cut because of politics. So, let’s get politics out of our military. Let’s have a military that’s lean, mean, and effective. Perhaps a little cut back because we wouldn’t expect a WWII-type action. Do we expect actions with Special Forces? Yes. Do we need a strong Navy? Do we need a strong Air Force? Yes. We have to be careful about cuts and what impact that has on other countries.
Immigration reform is an issue important to Iowa, but it’s stalled in Congress. What immigration reforms would you support?
I would support the Senate bill that was passed last June.
According to figures from NASA, 97% of climate scientists agree that climate warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Where do you stand on global warming and climate change?
I believe the science behind that is accurate. I can believe that there is some impact that humans have because there are more of us and we consume more energy than we ever have in the past. I don’t have this knowledge. I would seek that knowledge to say, “What happened over time?” The world was once inhabited by dinosaurs and they went away. Is there a natural sequence of events that occur that make the world colder, hotter? Again, I’m referring to the scientists. I would also believe that we as humans have made an impact. We have to look at that impact and see how we can address those issues.