Steve Andreasen

Remarks at Rochester Government Center

March 4, 2002

Over the past several months, I have been traveling around the First District, meeting with people and talking about issues and my interest in running for Congress. Because of the encouragement I have received, and because I believe this District wants and needs an independent voice in Congress, I am announcing today that I am seeking the endorsement of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party to be their candidate for Congress in Minnesota's First District.

I spent the first twenty-five years of my life in Minnesota. My parents, who are here today, both moved to Minnesota in the 1950's, my father, from Luck, Wisconsin, after serving in the Korean War, and my mother, from a small town in northeastern Montana. My parents first settled in south Minneapolis, and then moved out to Richfield, which at that time was a small, half suburban, half rural town, with both cornfields and the first shopping mall in the United States.

I grew up in Richfield and attended Richfield public schools. I earned a degree in political science from Gustavus Adolphus College in southern Minnesota, and a graduate degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota.

Growing up in Minnesota, I learned from my parents and others the importance of family, hard work, respect, moderation and tolerance. These are the values that I would bring to Congress.

Some have asked me, why run for Congress, and why now? The answer begins with my commitment to public service; and it ends with the extraordinary time we find ourselves in today, with both our security, and our economy, at stake in this election.

I first became interested in public service when I was a sophomore at Gustavus, when I took a course in Legislatures from "The Big O," Don Ostrom, a professor and former State Representative from St. Peter. Don started me on a path that took me from Nobel Hall on the Gustavus campus to the halls of the State Department, Congress, and the White House in Washington.

I served my state and my country for 14 years in our nation's capital, during the Clinton, Bush Sr., and Reagan Administrations. During this time, I worked hard to advance the interests of the American people.

But I also witnessed the corrosive effect of partisan politics, fueled by money and special interests, on our nation and our priorities. The United States House of Representatives, more often than not, charts a narrow course that is out of step with Minnesota's First District, the most independent District in the State. And our current representative, almost always, votes in lockstep with the House leadership.

I will do everything in my power to ensure that the United States House of Representatives follows a bipartisan course that will benefit all Minnesotans, and I will represent the First District with the independent voice it deserves. This is no time for sitting on the sidelines. This election will be a defining event in our nation's future, overseas and at home. And no one will work harder than me, with you, to shape events so that our nation lives secure, in peace and prosperity.

I'm running because I believe that Minnesotans in the First District want a Representative who will reach across party lines to find common sense solutions to our nation's challenges. I will work to find common ground on the most important issues before us today: first, how to improve our national security; and second, how to restore and strengthen our economy to improve the quality of life and opportunity for all Americans.

Improving our National Security

Providing for the security of Minnesotans and the nation will always be my first priority. National security will be a heavy part of your Congressman's workload in the months and years ahead. Our world has changed since September 11, and the dangers are still with us. We now have Minnesota National Guard troops, as well as other Minnesotans, serving in our nation's armed forces, deployed in and around Afghanistan. And there may be more U.S. military action to come. This District deserves an experienced voice on these issues in the United States House of Representatives, and I can be that voice.

I served in the White House on the National Security Council staff, in the State Department, and as a staff member in the United States Senate. I did so under both Democratic and Republican Administrations under Presidents Clinton, Bush Sr., and Reagan. I worked on agreements to cut Russian and U.S. nuclear stockpiles and to remove nuclear weapons from states in the former Soviet Union. And I played a key role in the successful negotiations to end nuclear testing worldwide. I worked hard to strengthen our national defense and reduce the threat of nuclear weapons being used or falling into the hands of terrorist groups and rogue states.

We need to have the right combination of tools at home and abroad to prevent further terrorist attacks, pre-empt the terror network, punish those responsible for past and any future attacks, and strengthen homeland security, including our public health system. Congress must be vigilant to ensure that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, our military and our State Department are equipped to make the fight against terror their number one priority. Congress must also ensure we take on the job of draining the swamps of poverty, despair and injustice overseas that create conditions that are exploited by and provide shelter to terrorists. And Congress must be vigilant to protect the rights guaranteed to all Americans by our Constitution.

Restoring and Strengthening our Economy

Winning the war on terror will require a great effort from the American people. I believe that Minnesotans are prepared and eager to do their part.

But Minnesotans also understand that our nation's security cannot be measured solely by our military might or progress on a foreign battlefield. We also need to take urgent action to restore and strengthen our economy, provide for the security of our society, our seniors and our children, and protect our environment. Our nation must be strong at home if we are to be strong overseas. Here, I think House Republicans and the Administration have put us on a slippery slope.

A year ago, the Government projected a surplus of $5.6 trillion over the next ten years; promises were made to maintain the Social Security and Medicare reserves; to provide a prescription drug benefit to seniors; to increase our commitment to education; and of course, to have a tax cut.

A year later, $4 trillion of our hard-earned federal budget surplus is gone, much of that going for tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of Americans. We will be raiding Social Security and Medicare to pay for other federal programs for the next decade. The Administration's own education initiative is under funded. And we are still waiting on a prescription drug benefit for seniors.

I do not want to go back to the days of sprawling federal deficits, high interest rates, high unemployment, and high inflation. Nor do I want to short-change the war on terror, or continue to rob from the Social Security and Medicare surpluses to pay our bills, at home or abroad.

My priorities on the economy will be to restore fiscal balance at the earliest possible date, including the Social Security and Medicare surpluses. This is the only way to ensure a long-term economic recovery, one that will benefit all Americans. And it is the first step towards protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare so that our seniors can live in dignity and good health.

I would also move as quickly as our economy and budget permit to put domestic priorities - education, prescription drugs, and rebuilding our nation's infrastructure - back on the front burner. We cannot move immediately, or simultaneously, in each of these areas. But I will fight to return these issues to the top of Congress's agenda in 2003.

Congress should provide the funding required for implementing the President's education reform bill, and it should provide the full funding promised for special education. It should deliver on the promises made by both parties in the 2000 election campaign to provide a prescription drug benefit to seniors. And it should allocate resources to upgrade roads and bridges that carry our agricultural products to market, as well as our airports, sewers, water and waste systems. And we must continue to work towards providing health insurance to the millions of Americans who go without health care, beginning with the children.

Reforms to protect Minnesotans

Finally, I would work to pass meaningful reform in areas that for too long have been neglected by Congress. In many cases, the warning bells have been ringing for years, but the House of Representatives has failed to find bipartisan solutions to avert a crisis.

Reforming our politics may not be popular with many of our elected politicians, who profit from a system fueled by special interests and soft-money. But political reform matters to the people, who are increasingly concerned by a system that overwhelmingly favors incumbents and erodes our democracy. Competition in politics, like economics, is good public policy, and should be encouraged, not feared. John McCain's bill to restrain the influence of money in politics is a good start, I applaud its recent passage in the House, and it should have passed by at least one more vote, that of this District's Representative in Washington.

Reforming federal agricultural programs must also be a priority in the years ahead, or these programs will be under increased risk of draconian cuts. We simply cannot sustain political support in the country for a system that gives a disproportionate share of farm subsidies to the wealthiest farmers, and has the perverse effect of increasing production and reducing prices. Our shared goal must be to work for reform that will yield fair prices for farm families - so important to this community and to America.

Reforming laws that govern corporate retirement plans are also long past due, as the Enron example shows. Congress should accelerate reforms that protect worker's pensions and increase corporate transparency and accountability.

I will work with you to insure that these are the priorities of our next Congress: improving our national security; restoring and strengthening our national economy; restoring fiscal balance and protecting Social Security and Medicare; protecting our environment; providing the necessary resources for education, prescription drugs and our nation's infrastructure; and enacting meaningful reform.

That is a tall agenda. It cannot be accomplished overnight. But we must get moving now. I ask for your support.

Thank you.

Paid for and authorized by Andreasen for Congress