Compete Transcript: RURAL TOWN HALL with Senator Ted Cruz

Compete Transcript: RURAL TOWN HALL with Senator Ted Cruz

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The following is a complete transcript of Senator Ted Cruz's appearance on RFD-TV's RURAL TOWN HALL hosted by Mark Oppold.

Announcer:  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, Ted Cruz, Republican and U.S. Senator from Texas.

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 discussing issues of interest and concern to rural Americans, whether farmers, ranchers, or just folks who choose to live in 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 West Des Moines, Iowa, today.  The focus of our discussion may be rural and in a completely objective context, but this is also an opportunity.  We see an opportunity to ensure better understanding, better communication between rural and urban Americans.  We’ll start with key agricultural issues, extend to other topics, such as rural healthcare, rural education, government regulation, much, much more.  These are not debates.  These are conversations, and that said, RFD-TV and Mediacom welcome our Town Hall guest today, U.S. Senator from Texas and Republican candidate for President of the United States, Ted Cruz.  Senator Ted Cruz.


Mark Oppold:  Good morning.  Welcome. 

Ted Cruz:  Good morning.  Good to, good to see you.

Mark Oppold:  Have a seat, senator.  Good to have you.  Welcome to Iowa.

Ted Cruz:  Well, I’m thrilled to be here.

Mark Oppold:  Very good.  And we want to say, on behalf of Mediacom and RFD-TV, thank you for accepting our offer to be here for an hour and discussing issues that are important to all of America, but especially rural America and those gathered here. 

Ted Cruz:  Well, absolutely.  It is a pleasure to join you.

Mark Oppold:  Very good.  And as we get started, before we begin with our questions, take a look at a short video, a message provided by the Cruz campaign.

(Cruz video plays)

Mark Oppold:  Senator Ted Cruz joining us for our Rural Town Hall.  And Senator, as we get started, anything you would like to add, uh, to what we just saw as relates to rural America and issues?

Ted Cruz:  Well, sure.  You know, as you know, I represent the state of Texas, and Texas is a big agricultural –

Mark Oppold:  Mm-hmm.

Ted Cruz:  - community.  We, we have a ton of farmers and ranchers that really, both in Texas and across the country, form the backbone of this country.  And I gotta tell you, the values of rural America are values that we are slipping away from.

Mark Oppold:  Hmm.

Ted Cruz:  If you look at the direction of this country, we’re getting away from just common-sense values, from self-reliance.  You look at a farmer or rancher, everyone is an entrepreneur.  Every one is a risk taker.  Everyone is putting capital at risk every day, is providing jobs, and is producing something.  Something that at times our country seems to have slipped away from and understands principles of self-reliance, understands there’s nothing more important you can do in life than to be a dad or be a mom and raise a family on strong values.  And I think all across this country, people recognize we’re on the wrong track, that what we’re doing as a nation right now, it doesn’t make any sense.  And they want to get back to the free-market principles, the Constitutional liberties that made America great.  And I’ll tell you, I am profoundly optimistic.  People are waking up at an incredible level, and I think that’s what it’s gonna take to turn the country around.

Mark Oppold:  Mm-hmm.  We’ll cover a lot of those issues during the next hour and interested to hear your thoughts.  And we begin, as we have a tradition, something very close to RFD-TV is the National FFA organization.

Ted Cruz:  Sure.

Mark Oppold:  Welcome.  Go ahead, please.

Mikayla Dolch (Iowa FFA):  Good morning, Senator Cruz.

Ted Cruz:  Good morning.

Mikayla Dolch (Iowa FFA):  My name is Mikayla Dolch, and I’m serving as the Southwest State Vice President for the Iowa FFA Association.  This year’s theme for the National FFA convention is “Amplify.”  We want to encourage FFA members to amplify their voice for agriculture.  How do you suggest young people advocate for agriculture?

Ted Cruz:  Well, let me say thank you for your service in your FFA.  Actually, the fellow who is running my presidential campaign, his name is Jason Johnson.

Mark Oppold:  Mm-hmm.

Ted Cruz:  And he is the former Texas state president of the FFA.  He’s a Texas A&M graduate and –

Mark Oppold:  Mm-hmm.  I hear they have a good – pretty good football team down there.

Ted Cruz:  Well, well, so they say.  I will admit, I tend to lean a little more burnt orange myself;  but I represent the whole state and so I’ll be ecumenical in that regard.  But, you know, if you look at young people advocating for a future in farming, a future in ranching, part of it is advocating and innovation.  You know, one of the incredible things we’re seeing in farming now is the impact of technology, the impact of new innovations.  It’s why America leads the world in agriculture, because we’re not doing subsistence farming anymore, scratching out a plot of land; but it is creative, it’s innovative, and it’s changing the world.  And telling that story in a way that captures the imagination that captures the hopes and futures, uh, of young people I think is a powerful thing.  It’s something FFA does a wonderful job of.

Mikayla Dolch (Iowa FFA):  Thank you.

Ted Cruz:  Yeah.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you for being here, FFA.  Uh, I have a question from the National Rural Education Association; and we asked our viewers and listeners and they have, Senator.  And they ask, from your perspective, what are the unique challenges facing America’s rural schools and how would you address the challenges?

Ted Cruz:  Well, I’ll tell you, when it comes to education, um, and in fact when it comes to just about every issue, I’m a constitutionalist.  My touchstone for every issue is the United States Constitution.

Mark Oppold:  Mm-hmm.

Ted Cruz:  And under the 10th Amendment, the power’s not given to the federal government and then reserved to the states and then reserved to the people.  I think we need to get the federal government the heck out of education.  I think we should abolish the Department of Education.  And if you look at what’s happening in education, one of the greatest challenges we’ve got right now is Common Core.  If I’m elected President, we will end Common Core.  And the reason, you know, it’s interesting.  The media takes a position like that and they suggest, “Well, gosh, if you want to end the federal Department of Education it must mean you don’t think education is very important.”

Mark Oppold:  Yeah.

Ted Cruz:  And that gets it exactly backwards.  The whole point is education is so important that it shouldn’t be dictated by unelected bureaucrats in Washington deciding what the curriculum is, deciding what the standards are.  You know, if you or I don’t like some standard set by some bureaucrat in the bowels of a building in Washington, there’s not a darn thing we can do about it.  They’re not listening to us, they don’t care; and when it comes to rural America, I guarantee you, most of those employees of the Department of Education have no idea what is going on in rural America.  To their view, if it’s not Manhattan or San Francisco, it’s not America.  Education, the decisions need to be made at the state level or the local level.  You know who I trust to solve those problems?  The local school board that’s made up of parents, that’s made up of community leaders that are seeing the challenges that are facing the community, that can set the curriculum so it reflects the standards of the community.  And that provides accountability.  Look, if the local school board, if they do something dumb, you’ve got immediate accountability.  You’re gonna see them at the grocery store.  You can chew them out right there.  “What the heck are you doing?”  And if you really don’t like it, you can decide to run against them.  You can throw the bum out of office.  I mean, that’s the great accountability of keeping it at the local level; parents have a direct outlet and a way – there’s no way to throw the bum out, a bureaucrat in Washington, and I think we need to be empowering patient – empowering parents and students and also integral to that, is I think we should be looking for ways to expand school choice to empower more and more parents and children to have the maximum choices possible.

Mark Oppold:  And you’re hitting right to the core of RFD-TV and what we want to do with this and other programming is connect urban and rural America.  You kind of touched on that.

Ted Cruz:  Yeah.

Mark Oppold:  People in education, that’s just one example, not knowing what’s going on in rural America and how important it is.  All right, we go to –

Ted Cruz:  You know, on that point, I’m reminded of a revealing comment.  You remember back during the 2008 presidential campaign when President Obama was at a fundraiser, as it so happened, in San Francisco.  And he is sitting there sipping chardonnay, and he described much of America as bitter and angry and clinging to their god and their guns.  And, and frankly that’s the way a lot of the liberal elites look at rural America, look at everything that’s not on the bright, blue coasts, and I will readily admit – look, I’m not bitter and I’m not angry.

Mark Oppold:  Yeah.

Ted Cruz:  Uh, but when it comes to the federal government, they can’t have my God and they can’t have my guns, either.

Mark Oppold:  Let’s go to – we could have a whole hour discussion about that, and, uh, but we have a Des Moines Register participant this morning.  We welcome you, as well.

Kim Norvell (Des Moines Register):  Good morning.

Ted Cruz:  Good morning.

Kim Norvell (Des Moines Register):  My name is Kim Norvell.  I’m a reporter with the Des Moines Register and Gannett Company.  Uh, what is your vision for the future of American agriculture and what would you do to help young people get into farming?

Ted Cruz:  Thank you for that question. Look, we need to get back to an environment where the economy is booming. If you look, my top priority is economic growth, because growth is foundational to everything else. You look at every other challenge we’ve got, whether it’s unemployment, whether it’s dealing with the debt and the deficit, whether it is rebuilding our military, whether it’s improving and strengthening Social Security and Medicare. With growth, we can do all of that. Without growth, we can’t do any of it. Growth is foundational. If you look historically in this country, the economy has grown historically since World War II, about 3.3% a year.

Mark Oppold:  Mm-hmm.

Ted Cruz:  There were only two four-year periods where growth averaged less than 1% a year: 1978-1982, coming out of Jimmy Carter and 2008-2012, where growth averaged 0.9% a year. If you wanna turn things around, we’ve gotta get back to the booming economic growth that has characterized America historically, get back to 3, 4, 5% growth. Suddenly everything turns around. Suddenly for farmers and ranchers you’ve got booming demand. You’ve got more opportunity.  You’ve got capital available. You’ve got much more – many more avenues that are open. Now how do you get there? You know, if you look at cause and effect, every time we go down the road of out-of-control spending and taxes and regulation, the result has been stagnation and misery and malaise. It doesn’t work. I, you know, it’s, it’s amazing. Those ideas consistently lead to failure. But on the flip side, we know what works. Every time we pursue tax reform and regulatory reform, every time we reduce the burdens from Washington on small businesses, on farmers, on ranchers, on people who are struggling but are creating jobs, the result has been incredible economic growth. We saw that in the 1920s under Calvin Coolidge. We saw it in the 1960s under JFK. Ironically, JFK was a big tax cutter, something the Democrats – if JFK were alive today, he’d be a Republican because he’d be thrown out of the Democratic Party.


Ted Cruz:  And we saw it in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan. You know, it’s amazing. You look at the last four-year period of stagnant growth.  Reagan comes in 1980 and what does he do? He pursues tax reform and regulatory reform. He cuts the top marginal tax rate from 70% down to 28%, dramatically simplifies the tax code, and reduces the regulations that are strangling farmers and ranchers and small businesses. You know what economic growth was in 1984, the 4th year of Reagan’s presidency? 7.2.

Mark Oppold:  I was gonna say, yeah, six something, but…

Ted Cruz:  Booming growth. What does that mean? What does that translate into? Millions being lifted out of poverty into prosperity, having an avenue towards the American Dream. You know, you look at young people now. Young people coming out of school – tragically, economists are referring to this generation of young people as a lost generation, because for six and a half years, young people come out of school and there are no job opportunities.  They’ve got student loans up to their eyeballs. They’re scared. “Am I gonna get a job?  If I do get a job, is it going to be anything where I get skills? Can I work towards a career or is it gonna be a part-time job that’ll last just a little while?” And if we get back to booming growth, what that means for young people is you have two, three, four job opportunities across the spectrum of whatever field.  If it’s in agriculture, if it’s in, uh, technology, if it’s in whatever your passion is. That’s how you turn things around. And we know how to do it if we just get back to the common-sense principles that work.

Mark Oppold:  Visiting with Senator Ted Cruz from Texas and another question coming from our friends from Agri Pulse.  Good morning.  Welcome today.  

Frank Holdmeyer (Agri Pulse Communications):  Good morning, Senator.  Frank Holdmeyer representing Agri Pulse.  Uh, you voted against the, uh, 2014 Farm Bill Conference Report, so I’m wondering, do you support crop insurance as a risk management tool and if so, should there be some sort of means test to limit, uh, subsidies for large farmers?

Ted Cruz:  Well, thank you for that question. You know, I do think there is an important federal role in crop insurance, and there’s been a historic role in doing that. I think food security is critical to this country, the ability to feed ourselves, to provide for ourselves. And agriculture has always had significant risk associated with it, whether from acts of God or the potential for massive price variations. And so I think crop insurance is something where there is an important federal role. I think we should get the federal government out of the business of setting the price and let the market operate. That will expand competition and drive down prices. Whether it’s Obamacare or crop insurance, when you have the federal government stepping in, it ends up limiting choices and driving up prices. I’d like to see farmers and ranchers have more options, more choices, being able to buy insurance on, on a national market. Now, you asked also – and I’ll point out one of the reasons I voted no on that. As you know, it was tied to the food stamp program, which has happened in Washington for a long time. The food stamp program under Barack Obama sadly has exploded. One in seven Americans now is on food stamps.

Mark Oppold:  Hmm.

Ted Cruz:  That is a tragedy. One in seven Americans caught in dependency on the federal government. I believe we need to reform food stamps; and we need to reform all of the federal welfare programs, so that they do a far better job of getting people off of dependency. You know, if you look at public policy innovations, one of the greatest successes of modern times was in the mid-1990s welfare reform. Republican Congress took the lead, fought Bill Clinton tooth and nail, but they eventually got it through. All the liberal journalists said millions are gonna be thrown onto the streets, starving and suffering. Well, exactly the opposite happened. Millions of people got off of welfare, got jobs, began providing for themselves, rose out of poverty. And it’s an incredible illustration, you know, of a principle – I think the social safety net should be a trampoline and not a hammock.

Mark Oppold:  Hmm.

Ted Cruz:  And with regard to food stamps, the central object of the food stamps program should be to get people off food stamps. Put them in a position where they can provide for their own family. And so that was a big part of the reason I voted against it. Now I will note with the crop insurance programs, um, there are reasonable reforms that can be made in terms of the federal subsidies; and in particular, if you look at the top 20% of crop insurance policy holders in terms of the 20% wealthiest, they receive 73% of the benefits. And I think there are reasonable reforms to have subsidies focused on smaller farmers, on lower-income farmers, and I don’t think we necessarily need to be in the business of providing major subsidies to large conglomerate agricultural operations. But I think there is certainly an important role in helping ensure stability.

Frank Holdmeyer (Agri Pulse Communications):  All right.  Thank you very much.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you from Agri Pulse.  We are just getting started.  Don’t go anywhere.  We’ve dealt with some very important issues.  Needless to say, our minutes bleeding into this break here and we will tackle others equally important, including energy, fiscal policy, and more.  We’ll be back with Rural Town Hall with U.S. Senator from Texas and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz right after this.

Announcer:  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, and we’re talking with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is seeking the Republican nomination to become the next President of the United States.  And we’re giving the senator a chance to address some issues that are paramount to America’s farmer and ranchers and all of rural America, folks who just choose to live in our small, rural communities.  We’ve already addressed some important issues.  Moving on now to a new topic.  Senator, good to have you here again and welcome you to Iowa and accepting our invitation to spend the hour talking about rural issues.  Uh, America’s Renewable Future is our next, uh, comes with our next question.

Monte Shaw (America’s Renewable Future):  Hello, Senator, and thanks for being here.  I’m Monte Shaw with America’s Renewable Future; and unlike government spending programs, the Renewable Fuel Standard was a promise made to America’s rural communities and farmers and consumers and investors and based on that promise, regular folks poured tens of billions of dollars of investment into the industry to grow that industry and, uh, of course, you have some legislation that would end the Renewable Fuel Standard.  So my question is this – what would you say to those, those farmers and investors who would say whether you like the RFS or not, it was a – it was a commitment made, a promise made; and it’s simply not right to end it early, to break that promise, and to pull the rug out from underneath the private investment that was made based on the government commitment?

Ted Cruz:  Well, look, I certainly understand those concerns, and I support ethanol.  I support biofuels.  When it comes to energy, I think we should pursue an all-of-the-above strategy.  Uh, God has blessed this country with abundant energy sources, all sorts of energy sources, whether it’s oil and gas, whether it’s coal, whether it’s wind and solar, whether it’s biofuels, uh, whether it’s nuclear, we are truly a blessed country.  Uh, however, I don’t think government should be picking winners and losers.  I think when you have government deciding which energy sources are favored, which energy sources are not, what it does is it draws more and more power into Washington, uh, into the hands of a favored few, rather than letting the marketplace decide.  And it when comes to ethanol and biofuels, uh, there was a time when those were nascent technologies.  This is now a mature energy source.  There is real demand in the marketplace for ethanol and biofuels that will continue without a government mandate.  And I will note also, there are also antitrust laws on the books.  So I know people are always concerned about market access.  Those are reasonable concerns, but the existing laws prevent, uh, market access from being denied.  And you know, I’ll note, um, you know, five, six months ago there was a large agriculture summit here in Iowa, um, and I had that same question – what’s your view?  And just about every Republican candidate, uh, spoke at that summit.  And every single candidate who spoke at that summit pledged their support for the ethanol mandate, including a couple who campaigned against it. Suddenly when they got on that stage, they did a 180-degree backflip and – boom - they were for it.  Uh, and I gave the same answer I just gave you, which is that I support ethanol;  but government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.  And so I’ve introduced legislation to phase out the mandate, not to drop it out immediately, but phase it out over five years, in part to recognize, as you pointed, the investment-back expectations and to give some time in terms of changing the rules.  And you know, when I said that, I didn’t know what the reaction would be.  This was a thousand of many of the largest ethanol producers in the state.  You know, I joked I didn’t know if folks would throw tomatoes at me for saying that.  Um, and I acknowledged, I said, look:  I understand that an awful lot of y’all would much rather that I said I’m for the ethanol mandate forever and ever amen.  But every one of us has seen politicians who tells one group one thing and tells another group another thing – and we know what happens.  They go to Washington and they don’t do what they said they would do.  And what I told folks there and what I would tell folks here, is with me, you can count on me for two things.  Number one, I’m gonna tell you the truth and number two, I’m gonna do what I said I would do.  And I have to tell you, I think people are so fed up with Washington, they’re so fed up with politicians that can’t be trusted, that they recognize we gotta do something different and so even if you may not be thrilled with my answer on the RFS mandate, I’ll point out on the flip side when it comes to regulations, and I think in a minute we’re gonna get to regulations.  When I tell you that I’m gonna fight for every farmer and every rancher to keep the federal government, to keep the EPA out of your hair, to take on the Waters of the United States rule, to repeal these regulations that are strangling your jobs, other candidates say that, too.  The difference is they’re not gonna do it and I am.  And I hope that that in turn will earn your votes.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you very much.  Let the marketplace dictate is what you’re saying.

Ted Cruz:  Absolutely.

Mark Oppold:  National – in a kind of a follow up there, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is here and have a question.

Bob Kolling (Clarke Electric Cooperative):  Hello, Senator Cruz.  How are you this morning?

Ted Cruz:  I’m doing terrific.  How are you doing?

Bob Kolling (Clarke Electric Cooperative):  My name’s Bob Kolling.  I’m with Clarke Electric in Osceola, Iowa, and my question today really has to do with your regulations and EPA 111(d).  How do you balance new regulations for carbon emissions with the need to keep America, uh, energy affordable for rural Americans and all Americans?

Ted Cruz:  Yes.  You know, if you look at energy, um, I mentioned before,  my top priority is, is economic growth.  Uh, if we want to turn around growth, it truly is providential that we’ve got unbelievable energy opportunities right now in this country that are transformational.  We’re seeing an energy renaissance in America.  Uh, in the United States Senate, I’ve introduced legislation called the American Energy Renaissance Act that is the most comprehensive, the most aggressive legislation to get the federal government out of the way of exploring and developing and expanding our domestic energy.  If we simply do that, we can bring millions of high-paying jobs to America.  Now, when it comes to the federal government’s greenhouse gas regulations, you know, it’s an interesting thing – I don’t know how many of you all saw the, uh, the debate in California this week; but you know, Jake Tapper asked a couple of folks their views on global warming and I have to say, you know, it was interesting, both, uh, both Governor Walker and Senator Rubio, you know, they didn’t want to be characterized as a skeptic.  They kind of backed away and said, you know, they didn’t really want to engage it.  And I tried very hard to walk in.  I said, “Jake, if you want a skeptic, I’m happy to do – happy to play that role.”  And, and when it comes to so-called global warming, I believe we should follow the science and follow the evidence.  You know, I’m old enough to remember – a number of folks here are back in the 1970s when there were a bunch of political liberals and some scientists backing them up, they were talking about global cooling.  And they talked about we’re headed to a next ice age because of global cooling and they had a policy prescription.  They wanted massive government control of the economy, of the energy sector, and every aspect of our lives.  Well, there was kind of a little problem with that.  The evidence didn’t back it up.  So then, many of those same political liberals, many of those same scientists, they embraced their next theory.  Their next theory was global warming; and interestingly enough, their policy prescription was the exact same: Massive government control of the economy, the energy sector, and our lives.  But here’s the problem.  The science and data don’t back that up, either.  The last 18 years, if you look at the satellite data, there is no significant recorded warming whatsoever.  Now mind you, their computer models show that there should be enormous warming except for the fact that the satellite data are not measuring that warming.  And so then what happened?  They changed their theory another time.  Version number three became climate change, and I gotta say, from the perspective of a power-hungry Washington politician, climate change is the perfect pseudoscientific theory.  Why?  Because it can never be disproven, whether it gets hotter or colder, wetter or drier, it’s always changing.  Now, look.  I am the son of two scientists.  My parents are both mathematicians, computer programmers.  My father was a geophysicist.  The scientific method is you begin with a hypothesis and then you look to evidence to disprove the hypothesis.  Climate change is a perfect theory because it can never be disproven.  But interestingly enough, their remedy is exactly the same as what it was for global cooling and global warming – massive government control of the economy, the energy sector, and our lives.  And when it comes to making public policy, look, and my focus is on people struggling.  I’m not willing to look in the eyes of a single mom who is working hard to feed her kids or a teenage immigrant like my dad washing dishes, trying to survive, and say, “The federal government is gonna drive up your electric bills, double your electric bills, just to give more power to regulators.”  I think it doesn’t make any sense at all, and I think we ought to be working to lower energy costs for everyone and to unleash booming economic growth.  Bring back manufacturing.  Bring back heavy manufacturing.  Bring back the steel industry, but compete with foreign nations.  Compete with nations like China, not based on low-cost labor, but based on abundant energy here at home.  That’s what I’m fighting to do, and if I’m President, that’s exactly what we will do.

Bob Kolling (Clarke Electric Cooperative):  All right.  Thank you.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you very much.  American Agriwomen, moving along here and focusing on the rural American issues and American Agriwomen are here.

Annette Sweeney (American Agriwomen):  Good morning, Senator Cruz, and thank you so much for coming to Iowa again.  I am Annette Sweeney, representing American Agriwomen; and, in fact, um, being involved with that group, uh, with all the agricultural ladies, I am very blessed for all my generations’ farmers in my background.  So we’re concerned about rulemaking, and you’ve talked about things that are strangling rural America and also in agriculture.  So what actions would you take to current rulemaking related to the greenhouse gas emissions?

Ted Cruz:  Thank you.  Thank you for that question.  Listen, the current rulemaking makes no sense.  They are driven by extreme partisan ideology, and they are utterly disconnected from facts and evidence.  And, you know, there’s a simple reality.  When Democrats are in power, regulations increase exponentially.  But when Republicans are in power, sadly, regulations still increase, just a little bit more slowly.  You know, I have a cynical friend of mine who suggested a bumper sticker.  “Republicans – we waste less.”  It’s not exactly a banner to march into battle under.

Annette Sweeney (American Agriwomen):  No, it’s not.

Ted Cruz:  And, you know, if you look at what President Obama has done with executive power that has been wrong and abusive, what he’s done is he’s intruded into Article I into the legislative authority of Congress.  Under the Constitution, Congress has all legislative authority.  The President can’t change the law, can’t make the law, and can’t ignore the law.  However, under Article II of the Constitution, all executive authority is vested in the President of the United States.  And if you look at the regulatory state, these armies of bureaucrats that have grown up over the years, they represent Congress’s efforts to constrain the executive power of the presidency.  What we have never seen is a president willing to use the full Article II executive authority of the presidency to go after the regulatory state, to repeal regulations, to turn things around, to fire bureaucrats that are zealous destroying jobs; and I give you my word, if I am elected President, by the end of my tenure, it will not be the case that regulations have grown more slowly.  By the end of my tenure, the body of federal regulations strangling farmers and ranchers and small business owners will be materially smaller, and human liberty will be an equal amount larger.

Mark Oppold:  We’re gonna follow up on that.  Thank you for the question from the American Agriwomen.  Uh, and our next question kind of dovetails with that from the Iowa National Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Producers Council and the Iowa Pork Producers.  Welcome.

Dave Struthers (Iowa Pork Producers):  Hello, Senator Cruz.  My name’s Dave Struthers.  I’m president of the Iowa Pork Producers, and I raise hogs and crops here in Iowa.  Um, you touched on my question a little bit earlier; but, uh, will you rein in federal regulations such as the recent Waters of the U.S. rule that have, uh, negative impacts on agriculture?

Ted Cruz:  Absolutely yes.  You look at the Waters on the United States rule, it is nothing short of abusive.  It is the federal government trying to define a drainage ditch on your property as a wetland, as navigable waters.  Uh, it makes no sense.  It is a massive power grab.  As President, I will rescind it.  And…and the difference, and I really want to underscore it, because look, if you got every Republican candidate up here, all of them would say that.  That’s – those are the talking points.  But the difference is, you know, any time you take on the regulatory state, you pay a price.  You remember the beginning of the George W. Bush administration?  One of the first set of news stories concerned the arsenic rule.  There were headlines everywhere that George Bush wants our kids to drink arsenic.  And what you saw was the administration pull back.  They didn’t like getting smacked.  When you do that, when you take on the regulatory state, Democrats smack you, the media smacks you, and sadly, other Republicans smack you.  If we’re gonna take on Washington – it’s interesting watching these Republican debates.  You have a lot of people that are calling themselves outsiders that say they’re gonna take on Washington.  I think the natural question we ought to ask is, “Okay, who actually has demonstrated that they’re willing to take on Washington?”  Not just Democrats, but members of their own party?  Who has stood up to the Washington cartel?  And I think there’s an enormous difference between my record of doing that over and over again and being willing to get pounded by Democrats, by Republicans, and the media, to do the right thing.  The last president we had who consistently did that was Ronald Reagan; and Ronald Reagan likewise wasn’t working for the Washington cartel, he was working for the American people.  I gotta tell a final story, just ‘cause you’re with the pork producers.  It’s…it’s one of my favorite stories.  When my dad was a brand-new immigrant from Cuba, he came to America in 1957.  He was 18.  He couldn’t speak English.  Had $100 sewn into his underwear and he washed dishes.  He made 50 cents an hour to pay his way through the University of Texas.  That’s why I bleed burnt orange, because my dad went to UT.  Um, well, he had no money.  I mean, he worked seven days a week, scraping…scraping ends together to try to pay his way through school.  But at Christmas time, you know, the Cuban tradition at Christmas time is to roast a whole pig on Christmas Eve, which is a fabulous thing.  Uh, and he and a couple of other Cuban buddies who were at UT for Christmas, they decided they wanted to try to do that.  So they drove out to some ranchers just outside of Austin, uh, and asked, “Can we buy a little piglet from you?  We don’t have really any money or anything.”  And these ranchers decided to have fun with that.  And they let a little piglet loose in this muddy corral and they said, “All right, I’ll tell you what.  If you can catch that pig, you can keep him.”  And those ranchers spent I think about a half hour just laughing their tails off and watching my dad and his buddies run around in the mud and, well, they finally caught the pig. So a very kind pig farmer ended up giving them that little piglet for their Christmas Eve dinner.

Mark Oppold:  How about that?  Thank you very – well, how about that?  Thanks for being here, the Iowa Pork Producers.  And with that, we’ve covered some very important topics so far, and just scratching the surface.  Still to come, we’ll ask Senator Cruz about other topics, including rural infrastructure, food security, and more.  You’re watching Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV. 

Announcer:  RFD-TV’s Rural Town Hall, produced in association with Mediacom, the power to simplify.

Mark Oppold:  And welcome back to 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 they are on display and the current, future generations to enjoy as much as we do.  Welcome back.  Again, we are in the business at hand, talking to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, former – uh, about topics crucial to rural America; and our next guest comes from one of our great partners here from Mediacom.  Welcome.

Jeff Angelo (Mediacom):  Hi, Senator.  Jeff Angelo from Mediacom.

Ted Cruz:  Hey, Jeff.

Jeff Angelo (Mediacom):  As you know, advanced communications technology is playing an important role in the development of the agriculture industry. So what can the government do to continue to incent companies to invest in not only broadband but cellular networks in rural areas?

Ted Cruz:  You know, it’s a great question. One of the things I think we need to do is to move a lot more spectrum to the private sector. If you look at the amount of spectrum the federal government controls, it doesn’t make any sense. And right now, the bureaucracy, frankly, is incentivized to protect their spectrum. So, for example, the Pentagon has a huge swath of spectrum, but it insists that it needs all of that spectrum even though it’s not all being utilized. And I think one of the, one of the things we need to look to do is to incentivize. So for example, at a time when we need to rebuild our military, I think one of the ways to incentivize the Pentagon to prioritize and give up some of its spectrum is to allow it to keep those revenues and use it for modernizing the military, so that you actually invert the incentive, give them a reason to turn it over. But you know, I’ll point out also something else about innovation. One of the most dangerous things we’ve seen in…in recent years in the Obama administration is their so-called Net Neutrality Rule. And what happened was, the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, issued a rule that’s directly contrary to statute, where they decided they are going to treat the Internet like a public utility. They declared the Internet is now a regulated public utility. And if you think about the Internet, the Internet is a great example where it has been an entrepreneurial haven.  It has been free from meddling government regulators, free from taxes, free from a bunch of bureaucrats deciding what business model will work and what business model won’t. Well, this power grab – and it was dictated by President Obama, who said, “We want to take over the Internet. We’re going to regulate it.” And the FCC is claiming the authority to regulate prices on the Internet, to regulate terms of service, to regulate terms of access, and, you know, they claim this is for consumers. And listen, any of us who’ve lived on the planet Earth that is always the claim when federal government regulators are seizing control of something. They say they’re doing it for our own good. Well, can you think of any regulated public utility that is characterized by innovation that is characterized by dynamism?  Every time the federal government takes over an industry, what happens is stagnation. It freezes it all in place, and then decision-making becomes the big boys who have lobbyists in Washington getting influence with regulators. I think we should keep the Internet free. Keep it free of taxation. I’ve led the fight against the Internet sales tax; again, a bunch of greedy government regulators trying to get their hands on more tax money. And I’ve led the fight to keep the Internet free of regulations. That way, we can have the dynamism that expands innovation, and broadband expands innovation in communication. I trust the private sector to innovate far more effectively than anything being dictated by Washington.

Mark Oppold:  Very good.  Thank you from our friends from Mediacom.  Iowa Farmers Union have the next question for you, Senator.

John Gilbert (Iowa Farmers Union):  Good morning.

Ted Cruz:  Good morning.

John Gilbert (Iowa Farmers Union):  I’m John Gilbert.  I’m a family farm food producer from northern Iowa; and I’m here representing the Iowa Farmers Union, this year celebrating its hundredth year of supporting the needs of family farmers and, uh, also on the behalf of the National.  Um, my concern is balancing the need for our society to have safe, abundant food with, uh, those who are creating, um, maybe more…more concern or regulation about how it’s produced, as well as the consumer who really wants to know how it’s produced.  How will your administration balance the needs for safety and protect those who, um, are producing food from unnecessary regulations and also from those who, uh, don’t understand the importance of how food is produced?

Ted Cruz:  Right.  Well, it is a great question; and as I mentioned before when we were talking about global warming, I think government policy should follow the science and follow the data.  And when it comes to food safety, there’s certainly an important role in ensuring food safety.  That’s been one that’s been historically recognized.  Uh, if you look at – and I think your question is getting at, for example, GMO labeling.  I think that that was the direction you were going.  Uh, you know, I think there it needs to follow the science and the data.  And the science and data do not indicate significant health risks.  And in fact, they show enormous benefits, uh, from GMOs, from improving the effectiveness of our crops, and our crop yields have exploded dramatically as a result of that.  And I think it shouldn’t be government determining this.  If there are people who determine that they want, whether it is goods grown organically or they want GMO-free food, they’re welcome to seek out and purchase that; and there are voluntary labeling standards that there are right now, and people can pay higher prices for that if they want.  And then there are – you know, you can go to Whole Foods if you want to pay a little bit more and you want to get, uh, you – you have particular desires that you want to purchase, you can do that. But I don’t think the federal government should be mandating labeling that’s not driven by the sciences, particularly when there have been enormous benefits in terms of driving down the cost of food and feeding people all across the world.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you for the question, the Iowa Farmers Union.  We are nearing the home stretch of this edition of our Rural Town Hall with Republican presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz.  Still to come, though, posing important questions about Social Security and trade.  You’re watching Rural Town Hall on RFD-TV.

Announcer:  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, and we’re talking to Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, some topics crucial to agriculture and rural America overall.  Heading down the home stretch here, let’s get back to our questions.  Senator, this is from our partners at AARP.

Don Corrigan (AARP):  Senator, my name’s Don Corrigan.  As you probably can tell, I am a volunteer for AARP.  My question is, how would you specifically reform Social Security to ensure it is on stable ground for future generations?

Ted Cruz:  Well, Don, thank you for that question.  It is an incredibly important question.  What we’re seeing politicians in Washington do right now I think is reckless and irresponsible.  Uh, they are allowing Social Security and Medicare both to careen towards insolvency.  We need leadership to preserve and strengthen these vital bulwarks of our society.  How can we do so?  With regard to Social Security, I think we should follow four principles.  Number one, for seniors, for those at retirement or near retirement, there should be no changes whatsoever.  We have made promises.  People have ordered their financial affairs counting on those promises.  We need to honor those promises to the letter.  But for younger workers, you know, I’m 44 years old.  It is hard to find someone my generation who thinks Social Security will be there for us.  That presents a real opportunity to reform it now for future generations.  And how can we do that?  Number one, for younger workers, we should gradually increase the retirement age to recognize that people are living longer and give people time to plan their financial affairs to anticipate a later retirement age under Social Security.  Number two, we should change the rate of growth in benefits of Social Security so that it matches inflation rather than exceeding inflation.  Those two changes together bring Social Security into solvency.  But then the third piece, and I think this is critically important for younger workers, we ought to allow them to keep a portion of their tax payments in a personal account that they own, that they control, and that they can pass on to their kids and grandkids.  If we do that, and as President I intend to lead and to work to bring people together in bipartisan cooperation to actually preserve and strengthen Social Security for generations to come.

Mark Oppold:  I’m gonna – we’re gonna jump in real quick.  We have one more question, if we can in about a minute or so here, with the Iowa Soybean Association.  We want to hear from them as well.

Dean Coleman (Iowa Soybean Association):  Yes, good morning. 

Ted Cruz:  Good morning.

Dean Coleman (Iowa Soybean Association):  I’m Dean Coleman, um, markets – export markets make up a large portion of our soybean prices.  So what is your, uh, what are your plans to increase the market access for the American farmer?

Ted Cruz:  Well, Dean –

Mark Oppold:  We’ve got about a minute here, Senator.

Ted Cruz:  Dean, thank you for that question.  I strongly support free trade.  You know, in the state of Texas that I represent, we have an enormous export market.  We engage in a great deal of trade, and you’re right.  It is critical for farmers and ranchers to open up foreign markets.  We have the best farmers in the world; and when we open up foreign markets, we do well.  As President, my Secretary of the Agriculture, my Secretary of State, my United States Trade Representative will vigorously work every day to engage in bilateral trade negotiations, one country at a time, to open up foreign markets to our goods, to our services, to our agricultural products.  For six and a half years, President Obama, this has not been a priority.  They have not been opening up foreign markets.  It takes presidential leadership.  The foreign policy of this administration spends more time coddling dictators and enemies of the United States, whether it is Putin, whether it is the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, whether it is Fidel Castro in Cuba.  I think our energy should be working with our friends and allies to open their markets to our farmers and ranchers.

Mark Oppold:  Thank you very much, and Senator, thank you for being here as well.  It’s a fast hour and we’ve come to the top of that hour.  So thank you so much for coming to Iowa and talking about issues to rural America.

Ted Cruz:  Well, thank you for having me.

Mark Oppold:  All right, that’s a lot of ground we’ve covered here in one hour with our latest Rural Town Hall and Republican candidate for President of the United States, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.  As we wrap up, again, we want to thank you for tuning in, our members of our organizations who have asked questions here today.  We want to also thank the family here, Harry Stine and his family, so much for allowing us this beautiful place here in Des Moines, Iowa, to have this Rural Town Hall.  Our partners at Mediacom as well for helping us bring this to you today.  Please remember, your vote counts.  Be sure to register and participate in every election.  From all of us at RFD-TV and Mediacom, I’m Mark Oppold.  Thank you for joining us.


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