Attorney General Jon Bruning wants to be United States Senator, but to do that he must maintain his front-runner status in a crowded Republican primary that will be decided Tuesday.
Bruning has made opposition to the 2010 federal healthcare law and criticism of the $15.7 trillion federal debt the main points of his campaign.
His front-runner status has attracted attacks, especially from Republican opponent Don Stenberg, the current state Treasurer and former Nebraska Attorney General, who questions Bruning’s conservative credentials.
“Nebraskans know my record. I’m a guy who created a Medicaid Fraud Unit (in the Attorney General’s office) that Don Stenberg didn’t want to create. The Medicaid Fraud Unit, for a million dollar investment, has returned $45 million to Nebraskans,” Bruning tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Nebraskans know that I’m a guy who gets the job done.”
Bruning led Nebraska into the fight against the federal health care overhaul approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010. Nebraska and 25 other states sued the federal government, claiming the law violates the constitutional.
But what if the United States Supreme does overturn the law? What then?
Bruning says Congress should seek a number of remedies to reduce the cost of health care and make health insurance more affordable. He advocates tort reform, claiming doctors order more tests than necessary, fearing lawsuits, driving up costs. He says consumers should be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines.
Bruning claims the lawsuit is about more than health care. It is about the authority and reach of Congress. Can Congress compel Americans to buy health insurance under the powers of the Commerce Clause? He says the Constitution gives Congress lonely imited power.
“Everything else goes to the states and the states can be laboratories of democracy. So, if Nebraska wants to run a tight ship, which we do, and balance our budget, that’s the way we can do it. And, if Illinois wants to spend themselves billions into debt, well, they can knock themselves out. In the end, when competing for businesses and where they’re going to locate, Nebraska’s going to win, because of our common sense,” according to Bruning. “But, we don’t need a federal government with unlimited power.”
Congress isn’t the only entity in Washington that needs to be reined in according to Bruning. He says the size and scope of the federal government must be reduced and overzealous federal regulations must be scaled back.
“Germany had a renaissance in its economy when it pared back its regulatory regime. They stopped chasing every business around for every imagined problem that business had and the businesses started taking off,” Bruning says. “We have to get out of the way of our small business people in this country and let them be successful.”
Reform of the federal tax code is high on Bruning’s list as well. He says the tax code is too complex and its rates are too high.
“This is not a good environment to entice businesses to stay here or to entice individuals to continue to grow their businesses here,” Bruning says. “We need to be competitive in the United States. We need to reduce those tax rates, both corporate and individual, and make it a simpler, flater tax code. And, if we get rid of loop holes, we need to return it to the citizens with lower tax rates, not with more spending.”
The leading candidates in the Republican primary are Bruning, Stenberg and state Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine. Also on the ballot are Pat Flynn, Spencer Zimmerman and Sharyn Elander.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]