Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Chip Cravaack is U.S House candidate for 8th District

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 10/14/2010 10:12 AM

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Chip Cravaack

Republican, 8th District

Family: Wife, Traci, two children.

Birth date: Jan. 29, 1959

Education: Bachelor's degree, United States Naval Academy; Master's degree, University of West Florida. Attended courses at the Naval War College and National Defense University.

Work experience: Pilot, Northwest Airlines; Captain, United States Navy Reserves, retired.

Chip Cravaack writes on his website that running for Congress was the last thing on his mind after he retired from the Navy and as a commercial airline pilot.

But as he watched Congress, he made up his mind.

"I knew it was time for me to stand up," Cravaack writes.

Cravaack is running for a U.S. House seat in Minnesota's 8th District. The district stretches from Isanti and Chisago counties to the Canadian border and from Wadena and Hubbard counties on the west to Wisconsin on the east.

Cravaack says the big concerns he hears from farmers while campaigning include the estate tax and access to credit. Farmers are unable to get credit, he said. He favors a permanent elimination of the estate tax. Guys work all their lives creating farms and their heirs are forced to sell chunks of the farm to pay the taxes when they die, he said.

"When a loved one passes away, the last thing a family needs to think about is paying a tax bill to keep their farm running," Cravaack writes on his website.

He said he's learned more about farming during his campaign and his respect for farmers has only grown. It's a 24/7/365 job, Cravaack said. It was an honor for him to be endorsed by the Minnesota Farm Bureau PAC, he said.

Cravaack continues to learn more about agricultural issues. He is reading voraciously to discover more about ethanol. He is weighing the details and hasn't made a decision yet on whether to support renewable of the ethanol and biodiesel tax credits.

One thing he likes about ethanol is that it reduces the nation's dependence on foreign oil, he said. As far as a long-term energy strategy, he said it must include all of the above.

Cravaack said the next farm bill must be written so that farmers understand it and know how they can use its provisions. He mentioned the ACRE program as one that few farmers understand.

The best way to invigorate the economy is to start cutting back on rules, regulations and restrictions, he said. The Bush tax cuts can't be allowed to expire. If they do, it will result in a $3.9 trillion tax hike, the biggest tax increase in American history, Cravaack said.

Taxes should not be raised in a recessed economy, he said.

Congress needs to start cutting back on rules, regulations and restrictions on small businesses because small businesses are the bread and butter in the rural 8th District, Cravaack said.

"You've got to keep government out of everybody's pocket, out of everybody's way," he said.

In order to make the U.S. economy soar, Congress needs to pass a balanced budget amendment, Cravaack said. It will signal to the world that the United States is serious about getting its budget under control. Over spending has created problems.

"Our country's in trouble right now," Cravaack said.

He said the key to supporting agriculture is opening new markets, such as Cuba. Keeping transportation costs low is also vital for agriculture, Cravaack said.

He does not support raising taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements, rather he said the country needs to separate its wants from its needs and spend what it can afford to improve transportation.

"We've got to cut out the pork," he said, and focus on hard core truck transportation as a way to move products efficiently and safely to market.

Cravaack said the way to address the shortage of skilled health professionals in rural areas is to do tort reform. Doctors want to live in the country, and tort reform will make it easier for them to do so, he said.

On the hot button issue of immigration reform, Cravaack said the immigration debate must wait until the borders are secured. Until the United States gets serious about guarding its borders, it can't be serious about immigration reform.

If people are in this country illegally, they should be held accountable, he said.

There also has to be a better process for farmers to hire needed labor. Farmers are caught in a catch-22 because they can't ask certain questions when interviewing a potential new employee.

"We just need to put common sense in this process," Cravaack said.