Complete Transcript: RURAL TOWN HALL with George Pataki

The following is a complete transcript of George Pataki's appearance on RFD-TV's RURAL TOWN HALL host by RFD-TV's Mark Oppold.

Complete Transcript: RURAL TOWN HALL with George Pataki

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The following is a complete transcript of George Pataki's appearance on RFD-TV's RURAL TOWN HALL host by Mark Oppold.

Opening Commentator:  RFD-TV News and Mediacom bring you Rural Town Hall. A conversation with the presidential candidates on issues important to rural Americans with the declared candidates for President of the United States. Our guest, George Pataki, Republican and former governor of New York State.

Mark Oppold:  And, from the beautiful Stine family barn in West Des Moines, Iowa, welcome to this Rural Town Hall meeting produced by RFD-TV News and Mediacom. I’m Mark Oppold and for the next hour we’ll be spending time with just one candidate, as we have in the past, discussing issues of interest and concern to rural Americans, whether farmers, ranchers, or just the folks who choose to live in our small towns that make up this great nation. The questions, in fact, come from a variety of interested parties, including most of the major organizations representing different sectors of agriculture. Some of the questions, in fact, will be asked directly from members of our studio audience who have come to Des Moines, Iowa, today. The focus of our discussion may be rural and completely objective context, but this is also an opportunity, we think. An opportunity to ensure better communication, better understanding between rural and urban Americans. We’ll start with key agricultural issues, then extend to other topics such as rural health care, rural education, government regulation, much, much more. These are not debates; these are conversations. That said, RFD-TV and Mediacom welcome our Town Hall guest today, former governor of New York and Republican candidate for President of the United States. Let’s welcome George Pataki.


Mark Oppold:  Welcome. Welcome.

George Pataki:  Thank you very much.

Mark Oppold:  Good to have you here.

George Pataki:  Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

Mark Oppold:  Yeah.

George Pataki:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Welcome to Iowa, Governor.

George Pataki:  It’s good to be back.

Mark Oppold:  How are the Iowans treating you?

George Pataki:  They always treat me very well. Friendly people in Iowa.

Mark Oppold:  Very good. Before we wanted to get started I want to, on behalf of RFD-TV and Mediacom, thank you for accepting our invitation to spend the hour with the people who are here and those watching, talking about rural America and issues of those people who live in rural America.

George Pataki:  Well, let me thank RFD-TV for giving me this opportunity to be a part of this Rural Town Hall. And, while I’m at it, I want to thank the rural residents of New York State.  You know, everybody… When you think of New York State, you think of the city. When I ran for governor the first time against the liberal icon, Mary O’ Conner, I got the lowest vote turnout, the lowest vote percentage ever of a successful candidate in New York City. But, rural New York, and believe me there is such a thing, turned out in record numbers and record percentages to carry me and give me the chance to lead, and they did that because rural New York had been ignored for too long. And the state of New York, rural America, has been ignored too long by Washington D.C., and with your help, we’re going to have the opportunity to change that, so thank you much.

Mark Oppold:  We welcome you for the hour. In fact, let’s get started here. As we begin, before questions from our audience, let’s take a look at this video produced by the Pataki campaign.

George Pataki’s (video):  America has a big decision to make about who we’re going to be, what we’re going to stand for. The system is broken. The question is no longer about what our government should do but what we should do about our government, about our divided union, about our uncertain future. We are founded on a miracle, a heroic past built on courage, on inventors, visionaries, and heroes. A God-given belief in the nobility of the human spirit and the fact that liberty is the only way for that spirit to thrive.

Washington has grown too big, too powerful, too expensive, and too intrusive. This is exactly what the founding fathers feared. They knew all governments have the tendency to grow endlessly, and ultimately to take power from the people and give it to themselves and politicians. It is time to stand up, protect our freedom and take back this government.

I was a Republican governor in a very deep blue state, the state of New York; and I was governor for three terms, and it’s because at the end people realized my vision was not a partisan vision, it was a vision about people, about what we could accomplish together. When I got elected mayor, the last thing in the world I thought about is someday I could be the governor of New York State. I was this unknown person from Peekskill. Not exactly Manhattan or New York City. If you care about people, you don’t have to be governor, you don’t have to be President, you don’t have to be a U.S. senator to try to impact their lives.

We can pass all the bills in the world, have all the rules and regulations, but unless we have men and women like you prepared to risk your lives to

We have always understood that we have a common background and a common destiny, and when we stand together we can accomplish anything. I saw that on the streets of New York in the days and weeks after September 11th. We understood we were all Americans who had been attacked and were going to rise up together and we did. We need to recapture that spirit, that sense that we are one people. When we do, we will stop empowering politicians and empower ourselves for the opportunities to have an unlimited, bright future. We, the people, not Washington, are equipped to lead this nation. We, the people, can make a difference. We, the people, are what make this nation great. When we stand together, Americans can accomplish anything.

We are all in this together, and let us all understand that what unites us is so much more important than what might mean superficial to the bias. If we are to flourish as a people, we have to fall in love with America again.

I have been up on that Tower, and that’s exactly what we hoped. You know, that we would not just rebuild what was here, but build higher and taller and soar to new heights, and show people we weren’t going to think small or live afraid. That really does what we wanted it to do, which is to reclaim the skyline and to stand out as a symbol of coming back not just as strong, but stronger and better.

Mark Oppold:  Former New York Governor George Pataki joining us for this Rural Town Hall.   And Governor, uh, to get things started, beyond what we just saw, very inspiring, but anything to add focusing on those folks watching from rural America and small towns.

George Pataki:  You know, that was all pretty much imagery of New York City at Ground Zero and the Freedom Tower, which is to soar 1,776 feet tall and is a symbol of our recovery. But, one of the things I do want to point out is that New York State is more than New York City. And, there was a little bit in there about how I grew up in this little town of Peekskill, NY. And, when we talk about rural America, it’s not something that’s new to me. When I was speaking at the Iowa State Fair about a month ago, I got up on the soap box and said, “I’m the other guy from New York. I don’t have a helicopter. I have 3 tractors.” And people kind of scratched their heads, but I actually grew up on a little farm. Lived on that farm my entire life. Worked that farm with my wife and my family, and today we still have a farm.  And so, this is not something that I have studied or learned about. This is the life that I have lived. I know what it does. I know the values it teaches, and so I’m prepared to fight very hard for the values, the assets, and the people of rural America.

Mark Oppold:  Well, you understand our first group that we, as a tradition… and their history you have an appreciation for as well. Very important and close to our hearts at RFD-TV, the FFA foundation.

George Pataki:  Absolutely.

Mark Oppold:  Welcome. Please, go ahead.

FFA:  In today’s society we are seeing the increasing need for expertise in science technology, engineering, and math.  How do you see them impacting the future of the country and particularly the agriculture industry? 

George Pataki:  You know, what you’re saying is very important. Agriculture is changing, and it’s changing in a number of different ways at the same time. One of them is the development of technology. And, what we have to do is have outreach for continual learning and the ability in rural Iowa, rural New York, to be able to link to educational facilities, courses. You know, one of the things people are always appropriately concerned about is the high cost of universities and college education. We should do a lot more distant learning. We should do a lot more over the internet or by satellite. You know, we did that when I was Governor. We have a great Ag school in Cornell University, a tremendous university; and we had not only cooperative facilities across the state, but we also did a great deal over the internet. Now, that brings to mind another issue: that much of rural America doesn’t have access to high-speed broadband, and we’re going to have to work on that. But, that’s another area where rural America has not been treated fairly in Washington, and we’re going to fight to change that.

FFA:  Thank you.

George Pataki:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  FFA. Great organization.

George Pataki:  It is a great organization.

Mark Oppold:  And you know, this next question, I’m going to ask it. We invited our viewers and listeners on Rural Radio to write in questions for you, Governor, all of our candidates. This is from the National Rural Education Association. They asked: “From your perspective, what are the unique challenges facing America’s rural schools, and how will you address those challenges?

George Pataki:  They are unique challenges because one of the sad things we’ve seen is a decline in population of some of the rural communities. Some of the schools that have had to close and consolidate and kids have to go too far. So, what we have to do is a number of things. One is that we have to recruit and incentivize teachers to go to those small communities and to actually teach. The second is we have to develop the ability for students to learn not just in that school, but distant learning is extremely important. Very much what I mentioned earlier when it comes to technology in rural American agriculture. It’s also technology empowering a school to access teachers from the best schools in America. You know, not every rural school is going to have a great physics teacher, or a great math teacher; but there’s no reason why every school can’t access a great math teacher or science teacher over the internet, over satellite. But, we have to put in place both policies that allow us to do that and the infrastructure to do that.

Mark Oppold:  Very good. ­Iowa Farmers Union have come today. They have a question for you. Go ahead, please.

Marvin Shirley:  Marvin Shirley from Minburn, Iowa, a family farmer. The average age of farmers are up to 58. You and I have contributed to that.

George Pataki:  Yes we did.

Marvin Shirley:  And, we wonder what you can do to get, uh, young people involved in agriculture and to have a…?

George Pataki:  I’ll tell ya, I am so excited about the future of agriculture in America. For too long it was taken for granted. You know, we are the great agricultural country in the world, and it’s because of the hard work of the farmers. But, as you’ve said, the farming generation is getting older. I think that it’s changing. Uh. What we are doing now, or what I am seeing now, is a lot of young people who are kind of fed up with the traditional paths and saying that agriculture has a bright future. Agriculture, first of all, we’re going to have to provide food for two billion more people over the next couple of decades. It’s going to be a growing industry. Second, it is a changing industry, as we were talking earlier about new technology. And, agriculture is no longer isolated. It’s not just planting a seed and then harvesting it in the fall. It is involving energy and other things as well. So, I’m very excited. But, let me just tell you one of the things that I’ve been involved in since I was Governor, as a private citizen, to help young people get involved. Because, we’ve seen a number of young people say, “I want to get into farming, but I grew up in a city.” Or, “I went to a school where they didn’t teach a thing about agriculture.” And, “I’m not going to go spend four years in college, I can’t afford it, but I want to get into farming.” So, there’s an institute, the Essex Institute that my wife and I have been helping. And, what they do is they bring young people who are interested in going into farming up for a year’s effort on the farm where they actually get involved in farming, they learn farming. They don’t just learn science in a book; they learn how you attach a plow to a tractor; and it has an enormous impact in two ways. One, if that young person or that young couple says, “I want to go into farming.” You know, they’ll know how to do it. So, they’ll be able to start. And, believe me, another part of it is a lot of them think they want to do it, and when they’re waking up 4:00 in the morning in February in northern New York when it’s really cold, they say, “Well, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea in the first place.” So, giving young people the opportunity to learn about agriculture, hands on, try it, and then go out and do it. And, I’ll tell you, my farmers in the Champlain Valley, way up in upstate New York, and we’re seeing young people opening up farms that are the abandoned… Not record numbers, time after time again. We can do this in America, we’re going to feed the world, and we’re going to prove the quality of the food we provide to Americans at the same time.

Marvin Shirley:  Thank you, Governor. That was a very good idea.

George Pataki:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you for the question. And, our next question comes from a group that you are familiar with. You are getting a cattleman getting into business here, this is our friends from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Governor.

George Pataki:  Welcome, go ahead.

Cattlemen’s Association: Hello, Governor.

George Pataki:  How are you?

Cattlemen’s Association:  John Haman from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, welcome to Iowa. Um. I’m curious how you envision federal programs such as Federal Crop Insurance playing a role and optimizing production and helping producers stay profitable going forward.

George Pataki:  Yeah. Federal Crop Insurance is absolutely critical. Just going back to my childhood, I grew up on the farm, and you learn so much on a farm. Mostly, you learn values. The values of work, the value of family, the value of community. And, also one of the things that... it makes me think of a debate a couple of days ago; there was a lot of talk. One of the things you learn on a farm, it doesn’t matter what you say, what matters is what you do. Uh. And, that’s a lesson that I brought to my time as Governor and I hope to bring to Washington as well. Talk is cheap, action is what gets things done. But, I remember one summer in particularly, I may have been 11 or 12 years old on a little farm in the Hudson valley. We had everything. We’d start with strawberries in the spring and then cherries and then we’d move to raspberries, and we’d sell it directly. My grandfather would go through town selling stuff, and then we had a stand. And, we had magnificent peaches. Now, I remember being in the peach orchard when I was 11 or 12 and my father is looking at the peaches and saying, “This is just wonderful. We’re going to have the greatest peach crop.” And, about a week later, we had a hideous hail storm; and instead of having one of the best peach crops we ever had, we had nothing. And, there’s nothing a farmer can do about that. You cannot control the weather, and you have to have access to that insurance. And believe me, when it’s a choice between the federal government’s subsidizing hurricane insurance for people having a billion dollar house on the coast or helping a farm family be able to survive a weather catastrophe, I’m for the farm insurance, that’s what matters to America.

Cattlemen’s Association:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you, Iowa’s Cattlemen. And, we’re going to follow up with another number one pork-producing state, you’re right here in Iowa, and our Iowa pork producers are here as well. Hi, welcome.

Steph Carlson:  Hi, Governor Pataki.

George Pataki:  Hi.

Steph Carlson:  Steph Carlson with the Iowa’s Pork Producers Association. The U.S. now imports about 15% of its food supply. Do you feel that’s setting us up to be as vulnerable with our food supply as we have been with energy in the past? And, if so, what changes would you make to the nation’s agriculture policy?

George Pataki:  Well, there are two vulnerabilities. It comes from whenever we’re reliant on foreign sources. Uh. One is having a cutoff so that we have to have the domestic capability of filling any void, and that was certainly the case with energy until, not because of Washington but in spite of Washington, fracking came along and has given us the ability to create all of  these new sources of energy along with technology like ethanol improvements and biodiesel and things of that nature. So, we manage to overcome that because of the creativity and ingenuity of the American people. With food stocks, there are two things that concern me. One is we have to make sure we have a strong domestic industry so we’re not vulnerable like that, and the second is the quality of the things coming in. We have to upgrade our inspections on the foreign produce being brought to America. We saw, maybe a year or two back, the scandal with the Chinese milk that was completely contaminated; and we have very high standards in America for safety, for hygiene, for environmental purposes. We have to make sure those same safety and health standards apply to every single product being brought to this country, and that is something I would make sure happens.

And by the way, just with the pork producers and the cattlemen that were here earlier, as Mark was alluding to. You know, we’ve had our farm… I’ve had a farm my whole life, uh, and now our farm is way up in upstate New York where the growing season could be tricky and short. Uh. And after three or four straight years where our winter wheat crop sprouted in the summer because it rained all the time, we switched to beef cattle. So, we are now raising beef cattle because if it’s wet, the cows still eat the grass. So, it works out pretty well. So, I understand exactly what the meat producers in this country are going through; and it’s not something, again, that I had to read about in a book, it’s something we’re living every day.

Steph Carlson:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you very much. We’re going to take a break. But, I know that like your father and grandfather you’re taking that beef to the market, the farmers market nearby.

George Pataki:  Yes, we are.

Mark Oppold:  Very good. Governor Pataki back with more. We’re just getting a good start. We have more to come. Again, our Rural Town Hall continues here from beautiful West Des Moines, Iowa. We’ll be right back after this.

Unknown:  Garry? Garry? Michael?

Mark Oppold:  They say we need to move the bottles here, the cans and…

Opening Commentator:  RFD-TV’s Rural Town Hall. Produced in association with Mediacom, the power to simplify.

Mark Oppold:  Indeed. Welcome back to our Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV. I’m Mark Oppold and visiting with former New York Governor George Pataki, who is seeking Republican nomination to be our next President of the United States. Giving Mr. Pataki a chance to address some of the issues that you are concerned about and asking about America’s farmers and ranchers and all of rural America. We’ve already, again, so far addressed very important issues. Moving on now to a new topic, and our next topic comes from our friends from the Renewable Fuels Association, and we welcome you as well today.

Renewable Fuels Association:  Thank you, Governor. We made a promise to investors, farmers, and consumers with the renewable fuels standard. As president, will you keep that promise?

George Pataki:  Uh. Absolutely. It’s quite clear to me that when government tells people, “If you do this, we’ll do that.” Government has not just a moral, but I think almost a legal obligation to keep their word. People have invested millions and millions of dollars based on a government’s commitment. Now, I am for throwing out all the exemptions, loopholes, and credits in the tax code. Our tax code is a special-interest, lobbyist-written disgrace; 74,600 pages of nonsense. And, I would get rid of virtually all of them except for home mortgage, charitable deduction, child credit, and some of the other things. But, we made... not we, but Washington… made a commitment to those farmers and those investors, “You make this investment in these facilities. We will require this to be done.” We have to keep our word.

And, by the way, when it comes to renewable fuel, I did a lot of that in New York State. And, one of the things we found out when we were looking at this, is that at that time in New York, uh, the service stations, the gasoline stations, had contracts with the oil companies where they refused those… those service stations could not offer any alternative fuel like ethanol or biodiesel. And, I signed a law… introduced and signed a law saying those contracts are void; they have to allow alternate fuels to be sold in those service stations. And, right now, one of the problems ethanol has, and ethanol is doing fine at the moment, is because we don’t have blender pumps in America; and you have to have access to the fuel. So, as we phase out over seven years as the law requires, the renewable portfolio standard, we should phase-in those blender pumps to give the consumer a choice.

Renewable Fuels Association:  Thank you, Governor, very much.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you very much for being here today.

Renewable Fuel Associations:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Governor, I have a question that we received from the National Rural Electric Cooperative. You kind of touched on this in a way, but their question is, “What role do you think renewable fuel sources like wind and solar play in the overall energy strategy, how deep do you want go with that?”

George Pataki:  I think that they’re a very important source. I’ve seen a tremendous growth in wind power here, particularly in Iowa. It’s been extremely successful. Uh. There are a couple of still ongoing issues. One is access to the market. You know, in the Great Plains and in other areas you have enormous wind resources but you don’t have demand. And, we have got to upgrade our transmission system so that we can get renewables to those markets. And, the second is, uh, it’s intermittent. You know, the wind stops blowing and you don’t get any power. So, what we have to do as a nation is not pick winners or losers in investing in companies as the Obama administration did with Solyndra, but invest in R&D, uh, and allow the American innovator, the American inventor and technology and universities to come up with better storage systems that will allow wind power and solar power to be stored so that if the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, we still have access to that power. But, I think they’re enormously important;  they’re part of a huge portfolio of what we need to have energy in America. And by the way, they help revitalize the rural economy. And, that matters to, obviously, rural New York and it matters to me. Can I just say something, Mark? I’m getting such a huge kick out of this because when I was a kid on our farm, uh, I don’t know if anybody out there remembers, but there was this show called Modern Farmer, and every Saturday morning I would wake up and turn it on and just spend an hour watching Modern Farmer. And, I wish they had some tapes of those because it’s probably so outdated; it would be just completely different.

Mark Oppold:  I can guarantee you, our owner, Patrick Gottsch, is writing that down, and he’s going to pursue that.

George Pataki:  That would be great.

Mark Oppold:  …on that recommendation. … We are glad to be working with our friends from Mediacom to provide these Rural Town Halls, uh, and they are here and have a question for you as well. And, welcome again, Mediacom.

Jeff Angelo:  Hello, Governor. Jeff Angelo from Mediacom. Back in January, President Obama came to Cedar Falls, Iowa, and he encourage municipalities to get into the broadband business and compete against private businesses. I was wondering how you felt about the government competing against the private sector in the broadband industry.

George Pataki:  I’m a private-sector guy, you know, and it’s not surprising to me that Obama says you should go through the government instead of the private sector, uh, but that’s just the side. We do have to do more, and I believe the government has a role to incentivize the development of broadband access in rural areas. We don’t want a digital divide. We don’t want two Americas. Uh. And, right now, more than half of rural America does not have access to the high-speed Internet that most of the rest of America does. Now, just speaking to the difference between government and private sector in the so-called stimulus program, they had over $7 billion for rural Internet use. None of the major telecom carriers took one penny of that because the government regulations, red tape control, and bureaucracy scared them away. So, what we have to do is find alternative means, private sector means, and incentivize the private sector. I’ll tell you one example, a few examples I’d give. One is allow the immediate expensing of the capital exemption. So, if you are a private company and you’re going to invest in rural broadband, you can write it off right away instead of having to write it off over a period of time. Another thing right now, there’s this big cable company, Internet provider, and in the metropolitan area of New York, Cablevision, that is in the process of being sold to a French company. The government has to approve that. Well, they have made billions because they’re able to provide Internet in very dense areas where they get a high return. For that merger to go through, I’d say they have to give some of that to rural America to allow them to have that same type of broadband. You know, where my farm is up in the Champlain Valley, we have that same problem. You know, and we don’t have access all the time, and you know, you’re always sitting there ready to kick the computer because it is so slow sometimes; but we have to deal with it. It’s the private sector that should best deal with it, but the government can have a role in providing incentives and assistance to do that.

Jeff Angelo:  Thank you, Governor.

George Pataki:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you from Mediacom. Again, I mentioned that we had asked and encouraged our viewers and listeners to send in questions. This comes from a viewer from New Mexico. This is Ted from Elephant Butte, New Mexico, and he follows up on exactly what you just talked about. His question is, “Governor, we need communication towers for cell phones and Internet on our roads and also are in desperate need of repair for the ones that are there. Would you audit the federal government to see where the money could be spent on infrastructure in rural communities?”

George Pataki:  Absolutely. Not just audit the federal government about this, but audit the federal government pretty much on everything. Because, if you look at the waste that is going on in Washington it is not in the hundreds of millions, it’s in the billions of dollars, and I have believed for the longest time. In the experience I had as the Governor of New York, everybody said that, “Oh. You’re broke, you have to raise taxes.” No. When you look at government, you can reduce the size and the cost, lower the taxes, and shift it to priorities like infrastructure. And, let me just give you one example of what I’d do. I would reduce the size of the federal workforce by 15%. You know, right now the Department of Education each year spends $68 billion. $68 billion to the federal Department of Education. I don’t think they educate one kid. It’s the local schools and it’s the sates and it’s the parents that educate the kids. We could shrink that. Uh. Not just audit it and get rid of waste, but reduce the size. Uh. I would repeal Obamacare. I would repeal Obamacare and get rid of all the bureaucrats doing that, and at the end of my time as president I would reduce the federal workforce by 15%. Now, a lot of people… rural Americans hear a lot of talk of, “Well, how are you going to do it?” Let me just say this. When I left as Governor of New York I had reduced the size of the New York state workforce by over 15%. The government was functioning more efficiently. So, it’s not just auditing waste, it’s getting government to operate more efficiently with fewer people, cost the taxpayer less, put the actual resources of the taxpayer into things like infrastructure, that means something to Americans.

Mark Oppold:  I see a lot of folks nodding their heads out here. Governor George Pataki with us, and then we have another question now. Our next is from friends at the Des Moines Register. Governor.

Linh Ta:  Hi, Governor, my name is Linh Ta. I’m a reporter with the Des Moines Register, and my question for you is, should the federal government or state government have responsibility for environmental protection? And, what would you do to help improve water quality and polluted rivers in streams in Iowa?

George Pataki:  That is the perfect follow-up to what I was just talking about in reducing the size of the federal workforce by 15%. Because I’m a great believer in intelligent, strong environmental controls, but not with what this EPA is doing. This EPA is out of control, and they’ve just had this new regulation that I think is completely illegal and, if it weren’t illegal, is incredibly stupid, called Waters of the U.S.,  where, if you have a farm and you’re improving your fields and you dig a ditch, the EPA says it has the right to regulate that ditch that sometimes may or may not have water under the laws that give them control over navigable waters. This is just ridiculous. So, I’m for strong environmental protections. I was a very strong environmental governor in New York, but not in a way that this destroys agriculture, not in a way that drives up costs to business and to Americans. You know, when I was… What I did was I said that the whole model of how the environmental movement in New York had been going was wrong. It was pitting the environment against economic growth and jobs. And I said, “No, no, no. That’s the wrong way to do it.” You don’t want to impose costs and tell businesses what they can’t do and fine people. What you want to do is fine synergies like renewable energies when you enhance the economy and improve the environment. That’s the way to deal with the environment. Find ways that allow us to both grow the economy, create jobs, lower costs, and enhance air and water quality at the same time. I know we can do that.

Linh Ta:  Thank you.

George Pataki:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you very much for being here. And, we’ve heard from the Iowa Cattlemen, Iowa’s Pork Producers, and another commodity here important to all rural America, the Soybean Association. The Iowa Soybean Association joining us today. Welcome.

Morey Hill:  Good afternoon, Governor. My name is Morey Hill.  I’m a fourth-generation farmer from right here in central Iowa. Kind of piggybacking on your last question there about the EPA. You know, out here, we’re drowning in regulations, and you touched on that with the EPA and the Water Rule. How would you work to assure that regulations that which are enacted work in such a way that they help farmers and not hurt us?

George Pataki:  Yeah. That is an absolutely critical question. Uh. And, it’s a question that I faced when I was Governor because we were dead last in America in creating jobs. And by the way, when I… Not only did I win as a conservative Republican in a state with three million more Democrats, 1 in 11 of every man, woman, and child in the state of New York was on welfare, not Medicaid, welfare when I took office. And, a lot of it was the tax burden; the other part was the regulatory burden. And, that’s something where a lot of people missed the fact that it’s not just taxes, it’s the job-killing regulations. So, let me tell you what I did. I created an office of regulatory reform so that if an agency like the environmental agency wanted to put in place a regulation, they couldn’t do it on their own. They had to go to my office and explain why they were doing it, what the cost of it was, and what the benefit was, and if we didn’t like it we didn’t let them do it. So, we stopped all these regulations where an agency just was dealing with the interest groups and not dealing with the public interest. And, the other thing that authority had was the power to go back and review existing regulations, regulations that had already been in place, and repeal them or modify them if they’re doing things like killing jobs and making an industry like the soybean industry suffer or go out of business. And they, by the time I left, had repealed or modified almost 4,000 different regulations that had been enacted before that were having a negative impact on New York’s economy. That’s exactly what I’d do in Washington. Shrink the size of the government dramatically, lower the tax burden, and go through those regulations and not just block new regulations that are going to hurt American business people and hurt jobs, but repeal and change many of those already in existence.

Morey Hill: Thank you.

George Pataki:  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you for being here, Iowa Soybean Association. We’ve covered some very important topics so far. We’re just getting started here. Once again, the hour goes fast. We still have more to come. Questions regarding Social Security, rural healthcare. You’re watching Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV.

Opening Commentator:  RFD-TV’s Rural Town Hall. Produced in association with Mediacom, the power to simplify.

Mark Oppold:  And welcome  back to our Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV. I’m Mark Oppold.  A big part of RFD-TV is the legacy of Roy Rogers, including his beloved horse Trigger and trusty dog Bullet. And we are proud owners of both, and on display for current and future generations to enjoy. Governor, I’m sure… Yeah, you were talking about Saturday morning programs.

George Pataki:  You’re kidding. You’re kidding. I just flew in from California and a friend of mine is from Victorville, where Roy Rogers was from. And the last time I went to Victorville, they had the Roy Rogers Museum and it closed. But, at least now I know where Trigger is.

Mark Oppold:   You know where Trigger is, and... Right. And Bullet is right at his side.

George Pataki:  Bullet is there, too. That’s good.

Mark Oppold:  So. Very good, yeah. So, I know you remember those days on Saturday morning with the ranch show and watching Roy Rogers as well.

George Pataki:  Absolutely.

Mark Oppold:  All right, back to our agricultural topics and those important to rural America.  And another group, a very much, the part of RFD-TV as AARP, and we welcome them today as well.

Chuck Betts:  Good afternoon, Governor.  My name is Chuck Betts.  I’m from Keokuk, Iowa, and I’m a member of the Executive Board for Iowa State AARP. Of course, we’re concerned about Social Security. Our question is, what would you do to address the financial shortfall for Social Security and reform that program so it stays on stable financial footing for the future?

George Pataki:  That’s the critical question. Let me first say I love the AARP. You guys have done great things, but you blew it when you endorsed Obamacare. Forgive me, but that is a terrible law, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to repeal it and replace it with a better, market-oriented, consumer-centric healthcare system. With respect to Social Security, I’ve heard in the debates some of the people running on the same side as me, seeking the Republican nomination, saying Social Security is an entitlement. I don’t consider Social Security as an entitlement. Social Security is something that you paid for. You know, your entire life when you’re working, the money is taken out. You earn it, but you don’t get it. And, it’s supposed to be set aside so that when you retire, when you’re older, Social Security will be there. So, first of all, I don’t consider it an entitlement unlike some of the others like Medicaid, Medicare, uh, where we do have to have reforms and I would talk about it. So, I would not in any way, reduce the benefits or make it more difficult for someone who has paid into Social Security to get it. Let me tell you a couple of things that I would do. First of all, a few years back the federal employees didn’t have to be in Social Security; that was changed. Now they have to. Right now, state and local employees don’t have to be in Social Security. I think it’s not right that people who hold public office or public positions are treated differently than the rest of us in America. So, I would say all Americans working should be a part of Social Security, and that would increase the pool of people paying in to Social Security. The second thing is to grow and expand our economy so we have more people working and fewer dependent on government. And, I talked about when I ran for governor, 1 of every 11 New Yorkers was on welfare. They were collecting entitlements, and it made the entitlements too expensive. When I left, we had moved over one million people on welfare off the welfare rolls to the employment rolls. And, not only did that give them the chance to live the American Dream and help our economy, but it reduced the cost of entitlements and it increased the contributions that were going in. So, I don’t think that we should consider Social Security an entitlement. I don’t think we should tell people that they’re going to have to work two or three more years. I don’t think we’re going to tell them that they’re not going to get what they have already earned and paid for. But, we will take intelligent steps to make sure we solve it. Now, with respect to Medicaid, that is an entitlement. And, the Bowles Simpson bipartisan deficit reduction commission came up with a proposal to block grants, send it to the states, and reduce it by 10%. I was a governor. It is ridiculous that that the federal regulations and rules that apply the same to every state whether it’s Iowa or New York, block grant Medicaid to the states, reduce that grant by 10, 11, 12%. The healthcare system will be better, entitlements will cost less, and we will have a better future for America.

Chuck Betts:  Thank you very much, and we can talk about Obamacare off-camera.


Mark Oppold:  Our friends from AARP.  And, we mentioned rural healthcare. I believe we’ll probably get a question here from the National Rural Health Association; welcome.

Samra Uzunovic:  Hello. My name is Samra Uzunovic. I’m a board member for the Iowa Rural Health Association, and I have a question regarding rural hospital closures. Rural Americans often have to travel twice as far or even further to receive medical care. With more rural hospitals closing, residents must travel even further to receive emergency attention. How will your administration ensure that rural Americans have access to necessary, life-saving medical care?

George Pataki: That’s a matter of life and death. So, it kind of is important so I’m glad you raised that question. And, we are seeing a dramatic shift in healthcare and we’re seeing community hospitals close, uh, and hospital services being shifted to large medical centers. And, in one way that’s a good thing because you can have specialties, expensive equipment, uh, in parts of the country where it didn’t exist before; but in the other, it’s bad because it is risking the health of those rural communities, and in particular in an emergency.  A disproportionate number of the fatalities from accidents and other things occur in rural America because we don’t have the urgent care. We don’t have the emergency facilities anymore because you don’t have your community hospital. So, at the same time that we’re creating these mega medical centers with all the new technology and the best specialists, we have to reinvest in emergency services and care in those local communities. It doesn’t have to be something where you have cancer surgery or heart surgery, but it does have to be something where if you have a heart attack, or if you have an accident, or you’re bleeding, those emergency services can be there. So, as we look at healthcare policy, we’re going to be looking to do that. Second thing is, bring health care services to rural America, one of the things I did as governor,  dental care, and vision care. For example, you didn’t have it in a lot of rural upstate New York. We created a system of vans where those vans would go on a schedule to rural communities where you could get dental work done, you could get vision done, and you could get mammograms for breast cancer so that you didn’t have to go to that hospital center a hundred miles away. The van would come to you. Those are things we can do. The third thing is we need more doctors in rural America. You know, the medical profession is getting harder and harder; the federal government intrusion is getting bigger and bigger.  But one thing they could do is incentivize through federal loan forgiveness programs. Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners who go practice in underserved rural America for a number of years where there would be a policy where their indebtedness would be forgiven to offset their commitment to a rural American healthcare. The solutions are there, the problem is there, what is absent is the right leadership.

Samra Uzunovic:  Thank you, Governor.

George Pataki:  Thank you.

Opening Commentator:  Emergency centers rather than building large hospitals is a great start up that makes sense.

George Pataki:  That’s what we did in New York. I mean, I remember the hospital in the town where I lived close. It consolidated and we had a big fight. You know, everyone wanted to keep the big hospital open, and I took a look at it and said, “That’s not going to work.” The hospital, you know, it doesn’t have the technology, it doesn’t have the specialists, and if you have a serious illness you want to go to the medical center; but on the other hand, if I have a heart attack I’m going to want to be ten minutes away instead of two hours away. So, we were able to convince, as part of that process, creating an outpatient emergency center where they could treat you if there was an emergency without the need to go to that medical center.

Mark Oppold:  I have a question that I’m going to post to you. This comes from our dairy friends, but it can cover any sort of segment of agriculture. But, they say, “Governor, it’s getting more difficult for family dairy operators and family farmers in general to pass their farm to the next generation. How would you help keep these in the family?”

George Pataki:  I’ll tell you, I look at New York’s estate tax, or death tax, and I think maybe I should live in Florida or Texas. You know, because we do have this farm, uh, and my kids love it, and I hope they have the chance to get it. Uh.  I think it is wrong to have a tax when people die. Quite simply, it hurts family farms, it hurts family businesses. It’s not just farmers, it’s other family businesses that have been built up over generations and all the sudden the government is going to take 40% of it? That’s not right. So, I would repeal that, and it’s just important for our economy.  And, by the way, you know, you pay the death taxes, you lose the family business. Um. It hurts not just that family; it hurts everybody who’s depended on the business. So, I think this is something that would help us to have a stronger rural agricultural economy and a stronger economy in general.

Mark Oppold:  Yeah. You know well we’re in a time where there’s a lot of turnover in the next few years with these family farms.

George Pataki:  Absolutely.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you, Governor. All right, we are nearing the home stretch of this edition of our Rural Town Hall with Republican candidate George Pataki from New York.  Still to come, important questions about foreign policy, agricultural trade. You’re watching Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV.

Mark Oppold:  Two minutes for the governor to make his… just a final comment. Right. Okay. I’m sure you will. So Governor, you’ll have… No matter where we are timewise, when the clock says, we’ll give you about two minutes just to make any kind of final thoughts that you want.

George Pataki:  Sure.

Mark Oppold:  Ask for their vote and…

George Pataki:  Yep.

Opening Commentator:  RFD-TV’s Rural Town Hall. Produced in association with Mediacom, the power to simplify.

Mark Oppold:  Welcome back to Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV.  I’m Mark Oppold. Thank you so much for joining us. We’ve been joined by former New York Governor George Pataki talking topics crucial to agriculture and those who, as we mentioned, choose to live in small communities around this great nation. We’re heading in the home stretch and we hear from our friends, Governor, our next from Agri-Pulse, welcome once again.

Frank Holdmeyer:  Good afternoon, Governor. Frank Holdmeyer representing Agri-Pulse. And, as Governor, and under your leadership, your state created a program called Pride of New York, which is a branding program to assist farmers in marketing their locally grown and processed Ag products. So, what would you do and what kinds of domestic international programs would you support to expand markets around the U.S. and for U.S. commodities in food products?

George Pataki:  Yeah. We did do that. With Pride of New York, and I’m always… I feel very good when I go into a supermarket and you see that tag “Pride of New York” that we’ve made it in New York State. But, let me just for a minute, that’s one of the things I did, and when I started out I said, you know, talk is cheap; it’s what you did. And I talked about how I was going to help agriculture in New York State. In addition to the branding, some of the things I did is I eliminated school property taxes from family farms up to 250 acres. I eliminated sales, use, and excise taxes from anything used in a farm. We created for, like we were talking earlier, with some of the beef and pork producers,  we created methane digester grants where you could take the manure and turn it into natural gas so that our farms could do that. Uh. We had program after program… and, I was able to do that in New York State of all the places. So, I know if I have the chance to run this country we’ll be able to do things like that for agriculture in America. With respect to branding, there are a couple of things. First, we have to fight to open foreign markets. You know, uh, it’s not right that we are getting, as someone said earlier, 15% of our food sources from overseas, and yet still major markets overseas that we could be marketing to, are protected. And, as we go forward with trade, we’re going to have to make sure that those agreements open up those markets to American farmers and American produce and agricultural products. And, I will fight to do that. The second thing is we are known for our high quality of health standards, safety standards, and of quality food. So, to the extent, we could brand American products. Uh. I’d be all for working with the Farm Bureau, working with the ag industry to make sure we came up with the right terms in the right places to make our products more attractive. Um. I’m very excited about the future of agriculture. You know, fifty years ago people kind of thought of it as a dying industry. I think of it as an expanding industry where we are going to have a lot more young people, we are going to have a lot more technology, we are going to have innovations and developments that are not just going to change America, but the world. So, branding American products as the high-quality, safe products they are, opening up foreign markets that are closed to us now, and protecting us from products from other countries that may not have the sanitary or health or safety standards we do:  those are all three things that can help us better market products produced by American farmers.

Frank Holdmeyer:  All right. Thank you very much.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you for being here today. And that’s going to do it for this hour. It goes way too fast. Thanks to all those commodity organizations and groups that have come today to ask questions. Governor, you have the last word. I want to make sure any closing thoughts you have, excuse me, to share with our audience and those that are here today.

George Pataki:  Well, Mark, first of all, thank you so much to you and RFD-TV. I’ve enjoyed this very much.  And, to all the viewers out there, uh, I’m seeking the Republican nomination for President. I’m a Republican, and I ask you to ask yourself two things. First of all, can the person win the election? We could nominate the perfect candidate who agrees with you 100% of the time, but unless they can win the election, we’re not going to have the chance to change Washington and take our government back. I won three times as a conservative Republican in New York State. If I get the nomination, I will win this election. And, the second thing is, it seems whoever gets elected, Washington doesn’t change. Are you going to elect someone or support someone who’s a good talker, but at the end of the day doesn’t get anything done? I was able to put in place sweeping transformations, the largest tax cut, the largest increase in jobs, the greatest reduction in crime and reduction in welfare of any state in America. Conservative policies in New York State. If I have the opportunity to lead this country, I can do in Washington as well. So, thank you for watching. Thank you for your concern for rural America. Rural America is not the past of America, it’s a critical part of the future of America, and I hope to be part of that. Thank you very much.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you, Governor, for being here as well and taking our invitation to be here today for this hour. And, that’s going to do it here from West Des Moines, Iowa. We would like to thank Harry Stine and his family for the dying barn, that we are here today in the beautiful facility. And again, our partners at Mediacom as well for the presentation. Remember, you have a right to vote. Use that right, exercise that right, register, and participate in the upcoming election. I’m Mark Oppold. Thank you for joining us, and good-bye from West Des Moines, Iowa.


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