an member station
The midterm elections are coming up on November 6, and there’s a lot at stake.
Voters will pick our next governor and state legislators, as well as our representatives in Washington.
As voting day draws near, we’ll be talking to Nevada candidates in key races.
Today we’re joined by Danny Tarkanian, a Republican who’s running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Congressional District 3. CD3 includes parts of Las Vegas and Henderson.
Why should you be the congressional representative for Congressional District 3?
“I believe the people of Southern Nevada are looking for someone who has been part of this community, lived through the good times, the bad times, has shown their involvement to make this a better community and has the courage and conviction to go back to Washington, D.C. and fight for the things that are best for the people of Nevada not what’s best for their political party or maybe themselves politically. I’ve shown that in virtually everything I’ve done my entire life.”
What went into your decision to switch from running for Senate against Sen. Dean Heller to this race for CD3?
“I believe President Trump made the decision that he would like to see Dean Heller run unopposed because he felt he that Dean Heller as incumbent U.S. Senator would have the best opportunity to maintain that seat. So, I did get a call directly from the president. Unfortunately, I missed him. It went directly to voicemail. I called him back and he was in a meeting. So, he had his campaign manager give me a call and express the president’s strong desire to run in the Congressional District 3 seat, which is one of the most important congressional races in the country nationally.”
Tarkanian said he originally wanted to run to unseat Heller because he didn’t feel that he supported President Trump’s American first agenda, an agenda that Tarkanian strongly supports.
Tarkanian said President Trump believes the race for CD3 is one he can win and it is important to the Republicans because it could determine which party controls the House.
What do you think some of the biggest issues facing Southern Nevada?
“I think what’s happening now is we’ve seen an economic resurgence here in Southern Nevada and across the country… I think the biggest thing they want to see is this economic momentum continue.”
Tarkanian pointed out that he has lived in Southern Nevada for 45 years and he and his family have seen good times and bad times, particularly during the Great Recession.
“I think the reason we’re seeing this turn around in our economy is President Trump has eliminated a lot of the unnecessary and burdensome regulations. I believe we need to have regulations on businesses ones that reasonably protect the employees and the environment but what often happens is you get a regulation that sounds good, but it doesn’t really have much of an effect, but it costs businesses a lot of money.”
Tarkanian says regulation reform along with tax reform passed by Republicans last year have helped spur the economic growth and he plans to support those policies if he is elected.
In the country, what do you think is the biggest issue facing us?
“I think the economy is always on people’s minds the most. But when you look at the dangers that are around the country from the North Korean nuclear arsenal threat the Iran issues that are going on with them possibly acquiring a nuclear bomb, those are catastrophes that could occur if they’re not handled the right way. I also think the country is very concerned about securing our borders and making sure we know what products are coming in and keeping out the illegal drugs and other products and weapons… and also making sure that the people who are coming into the country are the ones who have gone through the right process to be vetted and are going to keep us safe. Safety for the people of the United State is a top priority.”
You and others have credited the tax cuts with spurring economic growth, but economists have pointed out the cuts have also caused the national debt to balloon. What should Congress do to make sure we’re not burdening future generations with that debt?
“The debt is a serious crisis for the future of our country that current politicians keep kicking the can down the road, expecting that it will miraculously be resolved by future leaders of our country and that just isn’t going to happen. Some tough decisions are going to have to be made.”
Tarkanian said that if the economic growth continues more money will be coming into the nation’s treasury and that will bring down the debt some.
“That being said, I don’t agree with the omnibus bill that was passed. I don’t think the tough decisions are made in that, the one that led to this increase in the debt.”
Tarkanian gave an example of tough decisions he believes needs to be made and that is military spending. He said that while he supports the military and supports the idea that the nation’s military needs to have the best equipment and technology he said the past 17 years the military has been involved in wars they should not have been involved with.
“We spent close to $3 trillion that should have been used to either pay down the debt or take care of Americans here first. And that’s a good way to start reducing our debt.”
Do you think that one of those tough decisions could be cutting Medicare and Medicaid?
“I absolutely do not believe, nor would I ever vote to reduce the benefits that each American has paid in to from the time they started working with the promise that they were going receive those benefits when they reached a certain age.”
Tarkanian said he would not cut Social Security either; however, he did say that changing the eligibility age of the benefits could save a lot of money.
He pointed out that people are living longer but the age of eligibility hasn’t changed much since the programs were created.
What should be done to address student loan debt?
“I think the simple solution is you need to lower the interest rate that is being charged on these loans. You have some students who took it out and they were paying 5, 7, 8 percent interest. And these student loans are guaranteed by the federal government there is no risk to the financial institutions that are lending these loans out. So, why are they getting interest at such a high rate?”
Tarkanian said you could give the financial institutions 1 percentage point for servicing the loan but they shouldn’t be charging that much interest for student loans.
Do you have an idea on how to fix the country’s immigration policy?
“First, we need to stop the problem that’s happening right and that means secure the borders. I’m not saying we have to have a fence across the whole border or anything. But we as a country are sophisticated enough that we could secure our borders and make sure we know who’s coming in and out of the country.”
Tarkanian also said we certainly have the technology to find people who have overstayed their visas and deport them, who he says is, “a large part of the people who are here illegally.”
He secondly the country needs to fix the areas of the system that are broken, including making the E-Verification system that checks whether someone can legally work in the United States mandatory.
He also says the diversity lottery should be changed because he doesn’t think people should be allowed into the country based on a lottery system.
In addition, he would like chain migration revised so that it is limited to immediate family and not the extended family.
“The area I disagree with that President Trump is at right now is – I’m a believer in people they call refugees. People who escape their country because they’re in a life-threatening situation and they come to American because their lives are threatened.”
He said refugees who come to the United States come here and love this country and work hard to achieve the American Dream. For example, he told the story of his grandmother who fled Armenia during the Armenian Genocide. He said she saw her entire village destroyed by Turkish soldiers. She came to the United States unable to speak English and with a few dollars in her pocket but she worked for her American Dream.
Although, he did point out that people seeking refugee status should be properly vetted.
Besides those concerns, Tarkanian says another part of the immigration debate that needs to be addressed is people who are in the United States illegal, but haven’t committed another crime and have contributed to our society.
“Look, we gotta solve that issue.”
Schoenmann: It sounds like you don’t necessarily think they should be deported?
Tarkanian: “No, No, I think they should be given legal residency not citizenship and that’s where I differ with my opponent and many on the Democrats side. They are demanding citizenship. The way I look at it is this: They did come into the country illegally. There are people who are waiting in line and done it the right way and waited seven years or longer to come into the country. If you’re going to grant citizenship to people who have done it the wrong way before those people who did it the right way then we have a problem with our society.”
He says allowing people who came to the country illegally to obtain legal residency so they don’t fear deportation and they can continue to work “that is a win for both sides.”
He said most of the people in the Latino community that he has spoken to about this issue agree with him.
Tarkanian believes the Democrats have dug in their heels on immigration reform and citizenship because they don’t want to see it resolved so they can continue to use it as a political football during elections.
What did you think of the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance policy at the border, which many have said led to the separation of families?
“When you talk about President Trump’s no exception rule President Obama was doing exactly the same thing. He was separating the children.”
Tarkanian explained that a ruling in a California court made it so that parents could be detained but children couldn’t so the children had to be released but the parents were held. As a result, he said if you release the children and parents they never return for court dates but if you hold the parents for that court date, the children must be separated.
He further explained that because by law refugee cases need to be vetted people crossing the border were telling the embassy that they wanted refugee status. So, as they waited for that refugee claim to be vetted, they were released and told to come back when the case made it to a judge. However, a majority of those people never came back.
“It is a really tough situation. Under no circumstances should minor children be separated from their parents. There needs to be a resolution to it and something needs to be done.”
Tarkanian said this issue is what is wrong with Washington, D.C. He says everyone knows it is a problem but instead of finding a solution they use it as a political tool.
Do you think the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, should be dismantled?
“The problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it is not affordable. It absolutely should be disbanded because it is not affordable”
Tarkanian does admit that there are things in the ACA that have improved the health care system like guaranteeing reasonable rates for pre-existing conditions. He also likes the provision that allowed young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until they were 26.
“This is the problem with it. The Affordable Care Act ran off all competition. Here in Nevada, there are only two insurance companies in three counties and one insurance company in the other 14 counties. There is no competition.”
He said competition is needed to drive down costs.
So, what should be done to lower costs for health care?
“We need to make it so people know the cost of their medical treatment is. Do they want to spend that money and they have to have some skin in the game where they’re paying for part of it. Then they’re going to determine, ‘hey, am I going to spend the money for this that may not be necessary or do I want to go to another area that may be.’ Again – competition, the free market that’s one area.”
Tarkanian also supports Health Saving Accounts, which allows people to put money into an account to pay for health care services if they lose insurance through their employer.
Where do you stand on gun control?
“I’m in favor of people having background checks even at gun shows and so forth. There has got to be an exception when a father gives one of their kids a gun for a gift when they turn an age they feel is appropriate.”
He also believes bump stocks should be banned. Bump stock is a gun accessory that makes a weapon fire at a higher rate. They were used by the Las Vegas shooter to modify is weapons from to fire almost like automatic weapons.
Do you support marijuana being legalized on the federal level?
“I think it should be up to each state. But I don’t think the federal government should criminalize it when the other states are legalizing and passing it.”
Where do you stand on the plan to establish Yucca Mountain as the site of the nation’s nuclear waste repository?
“We should fight to stop Yucca Mountain from being a storage site facility. A repository is what it is called, storing nuclear spent fuel there but we should work with the federal government and use Yucca Mountain as a recycling facility of nuclear spent fuel.”
He said that France is able to recycle 97 percent of its spent fuel and we should be doing the same. Tarkanian says the fuel needs to be moved from the 100 or so sites around the country where it is being stored right now to Yucca Mountain to be recycled and sold on the open market.
Tarkanian pushed back on the criticism that moving the fuel could lead to an accident along the transportation route. He said there hasn’t been a problem in the past and low-level waste is moved through Nevada regularly.
Some might argue that the political climate is less favorable to Republicans, does that worry you?
“I don’t agree with that. Two years ago when I ran the party was in disarray over the candidate running for the presidency. Much of the top of the ticket, including our very popular governor, came out against President Trump and demanded that he step down – as did many others – I stayed and supported candidate Trump because I believed that the policies he was articulating, his American first policies were much better for the direction of our country and our state than Hillary Clinton was.”
Tarkanian said while people may not love some of what President Trump says or tweets they do like his policies, including those that Tarkanian and others say have helped improve the economy over the last two years. He said in November people will vote for the people who support the president’s agenda.
Danny Tarkanian, candidate
Our journalism speaks for itself, and we answer only to you. That’s thanks to the 11,000 members of Nevada Public Radio. Each of them made a small commitment and became members of Nevada Public Radio. They didn’t have to — but because they did, you are here now. So we extend a hand and say, “Come join us!”