All information is taken directly from each senator's website.
Wayne Allard (R) Colorado
One of the most important things policy makers can do is to enact a sensible and enforceable budget. Every year Congress should enact a budget to serve as a guideline for all federal spending. Perhaps the greatest threat to the long term fiscal health of our nation is running deficits and the increasing of our national debt. The first and best place to address long term fiscal burdens is through the annual budget process. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee I will continue to work to reduce the deficit and debt and to inject greater accountability in to the budget and appropriations process.
Democracy & Human Rights
Protection of the human rights was the most important issue when the Founding Fathers established the Union. The United States continues to be a leader of democracy and human rights in the international arena, helping secure the peace, deter aggression, promote rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and assist during humanitarian crises. I have worked closely with my colleagues and the current Administration to spread democracy and prevent human rights violations worldwide, regardless of people’s political, ethnic, or religious affiliation.
It is important that education remain locally controlled. Those closest to the students are in the best position to know their educational needs. Parents and school boards should be able to tailor educational curriculum to local needs. Federal financial support should not encumber local programs with federal mandates. After all, the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow and it is essential that we prepare them for what lies ahead. We must continue to search for ways to make a good system of education even better.
I believe that education needs to be easier to attain through loans, grants, and scholarships. The price of education is increasingly high, but so are efforts to manage loans, develop community education sponsorship programs, explore grant and fellowship opportunities, and reign in many of the spiraling education costs students face. I feel the obligation of working, borrowing, and paying for an education is as good an investment as a young person can make.
There is no single approach to solving the problems of energy dependence or current energy costs. I support an energy policy that calls for greater dependence on domestic energy sources, including oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear, and renewable resources. I remain committed to the passage of sound, workable energy policy. We are fortunate in Colorado to have access to a wide variety of energy sources.
I feel that the U.S. immigration system is in need of reform. It is important to make a clear distinction between illegal and legal immigration. We must crack down on all illegal immigration. I feel we should not reward illegal behavior with citizenship. As for legal immigrants, I favor strong sponsorship requirements and other policies, which aim to ensure that immigrants enter this country as productive members of society in pursuit of opportunity, not public assistance. As Americans, we must not forget that many of our forefathers were immigrants who had a strong sense of personal responsibility and who established the strong foundations of individualism which have made this country what it is today.
Marriage Protection Amendment
As the core social institution of our society, marriage in the United States should be defined as it has been in every civilization around the world for thousands of years: marriage is the union between a man and a woman. The definition of marriage is far too important to leave open to interpretation by unelected activist courts. In response to recent efforts by activist judges to experiment with this vital social institution I have sponsored an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman and leaving all other questions of partnership, civil unions or contractual relationships to state legislatures.
I am a strong supporter of private property rights. One of the basic foundations of our democracy, both economically and philosophically, is ownership of property. We need to be careful that state or federal government does not infringe the right to own property. I believe strongly in the principles of local control and property rights. I will study any developing legislation trying to address the needs of property owners and protect the authority of local government.
Congress must be careful to address gun control issues thoughtfully and critically while keeping the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in mind. The Federal government should not restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to own a firearm. There is a clear distinction between legitimate and safe use of firearms and criminal or irresponsible uses.
In recent years, Congress has made important strides in reducing the tax burden on Americans. We have expanded the child tax credit, expanded eligibility for the lowest tax bracket, provided marriage penalty relief, and begun to eliminate the death penalty. While I have supported these tax cuts, I agree with the President that we need to undertake fundamental tax reform. The current tax code is far too large, complex, and burdensome. While this would involve the elimination of deductions and credits, it would more than be offset by a lower rate. While I was a member of the Colorado State legislature we implemented a 5 percent flat tax for Colorado. I believe we need to take similar action on the federal level I am also willing to consider a national sales tax or other ideas. This is appealing in that it would allow for elimination of the IRS. However, mechanisms would have to be put into place to ensure that the collection burden on small businesses would not be excessive, and that the income tax could not be resurrected. Unless the 16th Amendment were to be repealed, Americans could end up with both an income tax and a consumption tax.
Whatever specific proposals are considered, my priority is to ensure that any reform is a benefit to the middle class, which has borne much of the burden of the current system. Any reform should also reward savings and investment and promote economic growth and job creation. Finally, a new, simpler system must not penalize marriage or family and should protect the rights of taxpayers.
The Constitution of the United States is among the most historically significant documents ever written. The Constitution remains at the heart and root of our society and serves as a foundation for democracy and freedom all around the world. It is incumbent upon Congress to examine the constitutionality of various legislative and judicial issues every year. As the body most directly accountable to the American people Congress can not shirk this duty by leaving questions of interpretation solely to the courts. You may enjoy the following link for more information on the Constitution and other documents essential to American history and policy: National Archives
I believe the U.N should remain true to its initial Charter of serving as an international body aimed at solving international issues through diplomatic means. Over the last several decades, the United Nations has followed a pattern of big government solutions and encroachment on the sovereignty of its member nations. As the investigation of the several U.N. programs continues, I am committed to reforming the U.N.
Colorado has made remarkable progress in the Welfare to Work programs and has been able to move thousands from welfare rolls to working self-sufficiency because of the flexibility available under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. We cannot forget that welfare was intended to be a safety net for a transition period. Public assistance is meant to help people become responsible and self-sufficient. The first step to real welfare reform was taken in 1996 but more work remains to be done. Although the program has been temporarily extended, I look forward to reauthorizing the program to continue to promote flexibility and self-sufficiency.
(Blogger Comment: We really like Senator Allard. We can't find anything in his policies with which to disagree.)
Max Baucus (R) Montana
On December 26th, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2008 was signed into law. In combination with a Defense appropriations measure that became law in November, this bill contained over $140 million for over 100 projects across Montana. Montanans will see these federal dollars put to work on the local level in the coming year, creating jobs, providing educational programs, improving transportation and water infrastructure, and growing small businesses. These are difficult budget times, but I am proud of my work to secure these critically important funds for our great state. Money will be tight again this year, but I look forward to working hard once again on behalf of Montana’s priority projects. (Blogger Comment: The federal government shouldn't be appropriating any money to states for local use. Each state is responsible for their own expenses. Americans taxpayer money shouldn't be used for states they don't live in.)
During these times it's critical that we have a strong national defense. We must ensure that our troops at home and abroad have the tools they need to protect freedom and democracy across the globe. I'm committed to working together to ensure our military and our men and women in uniform have what they need to do their jobs.
A state's economy has a direct impact on its residents, on their families, and on the success of their businesses, farms and ranches. Unfortunately, like many areas of the country, Montana has experienced tough economic times during the past twenty years. And that's why, as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, it's my top priority to boost Montana's economy and bring more good-paying jobs to our state. Our economy is the foundation upon which our state rests and I'll continue to put principles over politics and do all that I can to continue strengthening our state's foundation.
Montanans are fortunate to have some of the best students and teachers in America. In fact, our eighth graders earned the top scores in the country in the science portion of a recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) evaluation. They placed second in the math section. These latest scores build on a history of outstanding performances on national exams. Our hard-working, high-quality teachers are the key to these successes; their dedication to their profession and to our children drives our education system. Moreover, our students' high test scores are a good sign that Montana's students are being prepared to meet the challenges they will face in the new millennium.
Montana is the Treasure State. We have some of the largest coal reserves in the world. We have the fourth largest wind energy potential in the country. There are many exciting possibilities for Montana’s small businesses and local energy produces as role players in securing our nation’s energy independence. Our wealth of energy resources will power our Main Streets both literally and economically.
Montanans are already taking advantage of their resources to produce energy and create new opportunities. Wind power production is increasing. Folks across the state are talking about energy production using switchgrass, camelina, and barley for ethanol and biodiesel production. Our refineries and power plants are working to increase their capacity in an environmentally-responsible manner.
As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I will work hard to promote tax incentives for the development of Montana energy resources such as wind, biofuels, and clean coal technologies. Our rural coops and farmers can take advantage of these incentives to increase efficiencies, develop local resources, and take the lead in our country’s clean energy future.
As Montanans, we are defined by our close connection to the land. From hiking through Glacier Park, climbing up or skiing down Big Mountain or Big Sky, picnicking in Hyalite Canyon, boating down the Yellowstone and Gallatin Rivers, or hunting and fishing throughout the state, our opportunities in the great outdoors are endless. These lands are part of our Montana Legacy - a legacy that we must pass on to our children and grandchildren. It's a top goal of mine to protect our lands for generations to come, while making sure that today's generations have free and open access to enjoy our public lands. (Blogger Comment: It is unconstitutional for the federal government to own any land without the direct approval of the state in which the land is located; and then the federal government can only own land to build military buildings. Montanans should make sure that their senators do not illegally take away state lands.)
Montana's small, independent and family-owned mills provide jobs and the economic backbone of Montana's rural timber-dependent communities. I'll continue to work hard with Montana's small timber industry to improve the SBA timber set-aside program.
Whether it's improving access to prescription drugs, keeping rural health care facilities open, expanding health insurance coverage or ensuring that the needs of places like Libby, Montana are met, I'm committed to ensuring access to quality, affordable health care. (Blogger Comment: We've blogged about universal health care several times, so we will just say that universal health care will ruin this country's health care system. See previous blogs.)
New communications technologies are bringing economic opportunities to our state, and I'm working to develop a system to ensure that we can take advantage of these opportunities. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I have the rare opportunity to craft the U.S. tax code to provide incentives for technological innovation and development. I'm committed to using my influence to narrow the digital divide and bring high-paying technology jobs to our state.
Growing up on a ranch outside of Helena, I quickly learned that the success of farmers, ranchers and other producers depends on more than just the success of their crops. Their success is also tied to the market and the international trade opportunities that are available to them. In order to protect our state's producers and provide them with additional markets to sell their goods, I've worked hard over the years to enact strong and effective trade policies for Montana and the nation.
I have tremendous gratitude for the service our veterans perform and believe it's essential for the United States to take care of them the way they have taken care of us. I have worked hard throughout my career to provide our veterans with the benefits and health care they need and deserve, and the recognition they've earned. There are more than 100,000 veterans residing in Montana. Protecting these heroes is of utmost importance to me and I will continue to do everything I can here in Washington D.C. and at home in Montana to fulfill this commitment.