Name: Debbie Stabenow
Office you are Seeking: United States Senate
Current Profession: United States Senator
Where Do you Live: Lansing, MI
Marital Status and Children: 2 children, 3 grandchildren
Why did you decide to run for this office (or for re-election)?
I grew up in Clare with my mom, dad and two brothers. My dad and grandfather owned the local Oldsmobile dealership and my mom was a nurse at the hospital. Michigan is my home and always will be. I am very fortunate that my whole family is here including my three beautiful grandchildren. I care deeply about our state and what the future holds for families all across Michigan. I am running for re-election because I want to continue to be a strong voice for Michigan. I want to continue to get things done that improve the lives of families working hard to stay in the middle class or get into the middle class. And I will continue to be laser-focused on creating opportunities for our businesses and workers to thrive once again.
I believe the only way we have a strong economy is if we make things and grow things. That is what we do in Michigan - it is, in fact, the way we built the middle class in America. Last year, I became Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee – the first Senator from Michigan in that position since 1889. And as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus, I am fighting every day for agriculture and manufacturing – the two drivers of Michigan's economy. When we grow things in Michigan and make things in Michigan, we create jobs in Michigan.
I also understand that the majority of our jobs come from small business, so I co-sponsored the Small Business Jobs Act, which has helped Michigan become #1 in SBA lending and cut 17 different taxes for small businesses. I also authored the repeal of onerous 1099 paperwork that would have taken effect in 2012. For my work, I was recognized with the Small Business Council of America's 2011 Congressional Award.
I am proud to work in close partnership with West Michigan farmers, businesses and community leaders. As Chair of the Agriculture Committee, it has been especially gratifying to work with the region's fruit and vegetable growers and agribusinesses to address critical challenges caused by this year's deep freeze and drought disasters. West Michigan has a strong history of leadership in making things and growing things!
What particular skill set or experience would you bring to this office?
At a time when Washington is more divided than ever, I have been effective in bringing
people from both sides of the aisle together to solve problems important to our state.
For example, I wrote the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, commonly called the Farm Bill, which has been heralded for bringing Republicans and Democrats together to modernize and reform agriculture policies and cut spending by $23 billion. In fact, my bill is the only bipartisan deficit reduction plan to pass the Senate this year.
We achieved these savings by ending four subsidy programs, cracking down on abuse in food assistance and eliminating over 100 programs and authorizations that were duplicative or unnecessary.
Instead, we focused on giving farmers tools to manage their risk, and we provided critical assistance to Michigan farmers who have been hurt by weather disasters this year. We strengthened the initiatives that are working to help farmers and agriculture businesses create Michigan jobs.
This is what we need more of – working together to reduce the deficit, get our economy
back on track and support the middle class.
What, in your opinion, is the primary cause for the political polarization that we see in Washington, and what could or should be done about it?
There are many causes of the polarization and partisanship in Washington, but rather than focusing on blame, my focus is on finding common ground so that we can bring people together to get things done for Michigan. That is why I have partnered with Republicans like Representative Dave Camp and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio on bills that will help stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. It is why I worked with Republicans to pass the Farm Bill. It is why I work alongside Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) as Co-Chairs of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus. And why I've built bipartisan coalitions to pass bills to crack down on China's illegal trade violations. These should not be Democratic issues or Republican issues – these are American issues that we all need to solve together.
If the deficit is a major concern, how best should we deal with it as a nation,spending cuts, tax increases or both?
The deficit is a very serious concern. We need to reduce federal spending and stop special interest tax breaks. I took on this responsibility as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee when writing the Farm Bill – we went through every single program to identify duplication and waste, and we eliminated more than 100 programs and authorizations along the way. We streamlined
programs to make them more efficient and ended programs that waste taxpayer money. In the end, we achieved a significant reduction in government spending - $23 billion.
If every committee in Washington went through the same bipartisan process as the
Committee I chair, our budget would be in much better shape today.
Cutting things we can't afford also means cutting loopholes and special tax breaks for millionaires and powerful special interests that are exploding our deficit. For example, right now we're giving oil companies $40 billion in subsidies even though they're collecting more profits than any industry in history. To reduce our deficit, we need to reform these outdated special interest tax breaks as well.
What is the biggest issue facing Michigan that you believe you could positively impact by holding the federal office that you are seeking?
JOBS. Without a doubt, that is the biggest issue facing Michigan right now. Our families have been hit harder and longer than anybody else in our country, and many families are still struggling. We need to be doing everything we can to bring the jobs of the future to Michigan. My Grow it Here, Make it Here initiative is bringing agriculture and manufacturing together to create new opportunities for businesses to create jobs. When we grow things in Michigan and make things in Michigan, we create jobs in Michigan. We are also creating opportunities in advanced batteries, information technology, biosciences, advanced manufacturing and clean energy. These efforts are paying off. Michigan is now leading the country in new clean energy patents. Building on that success, I helped lead the effort to make Michigan the home of the country's very first satellite patent office outside of Washington, D.C., which will create jobs here and help our innovators turn their ideas into job creating products.
It's also time to stop helping companies send jobs overseas and instead start making it easier for companies to bring jobs home. My Bring Jobs Home Act stops giving tax
breaks to corporations that move jobs overseas and instead cuts taxes for US companies that move jobs back to America.
And we need to ensure our businesses and workers are competing on a level playing field. That means standing up to China and other countries' illegal trade violations. I authored the American Competitiveness Plan to crack down on China's currency manipulation, which makes their goods artificially cheaper than ours (that bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support), create a Trade Enforcement Unit to seek out and combat trade violations (which is now a reality and taking action against China), increase penalties for counterfeiting and technology theft, and stop the U.S. government from buying Chinese products with our tax dollars as long as China refuses to buy our products.
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
Police say snow made roads "treacherous" Sunday and urged people to stay home if possible.