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Republican senate candidate - Matt Bevin

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By Stephen Lega

Matt Bevin was born in Shelburne, New Hampshire, as the second of six children. He attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia on a four-year ROTC scholarship.

After graduating from college in 1989, Bevin joined the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer. He served for four years attaining the rank of captain.

In 2008, he started working at Bevin Bros., a bell manufacturing company that has been in his family since 1832. In 2011, Bevin became the president of the company.

Bevin lives in Louisville with his wife, Glenna, and their nine children.

 

1. Why are you running for Senate?

MB: Well, I tell you because the debt of this nation is unsustainable and we need to start electing men and women that will actually do something about that, who actually understand from firsthand experience how the wealth of the nation is even created, because I'm not convinced that if we keep electing the same people who have created the problem they will actually be able ever to say no and stop spending. And unfortunately, if we don't address this, we are going to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren in ways that they won't be able to get out from under. And that, more than any other thing, has driven me to run in this race.

 

2. Why do you feel you are qualified to serve as a senator?

MB: It's interesting, Winston Churchill once said that history turns on moments like this, where there are times of trouble that aren't always obvious at the time. He said if you look through the lens of history you realize how critical that moment was. He said shame on the man who is either unprepared or unwilling to take up the task. That's sort of where we are now. I have been prepared, I think arguably, by a variety of things. Number one, just how I grew up. I grew up poor in the country in kind of a financially humble home. Nothing was given to us. Everything was sort of a hard-scratch existence, but it was a good thing. We grew pretty much everything we at on our own land. We had animals for eggs and milk and meat. I was very involved in 4-H, just a very rural life, but a good life. A life valued, in particulat Christian values, were the cornerstone of who we were, how we lived, where we learned, you know, the meaning of giving and honest day's work for an honest day's pay, of a good work ethic.

I paid my way through college. I joined the military. I was an active duty Army officer for a number of years. I got out of the military, since then I've been in the private sector. I currently own all or part of 10 different companies. I employ dozens of people. I create jobs, and I find myself every day regulating, you know, over- being regulated by and being taxed by any number of different entities. I'm regulated by everybody from OSHA to the Security and Exchange Commission. My businesses range from metal stamping to investment management to medical devices to LED signs, composite decking materials, etc.

I'm married. I have nine children. My wife and I had five children, then we adopted a sixth child. And then we learned of a sibling group of three others, and the oldest was already 10 years old at the time, and so it was going to tough to find a home for then. We decided to adopt them as well, and suddenly we had nine children.

So at every turn, I've been out here in the real world wrestling with the very same things that so many of us have, so many of your readers have. You know, I'm the only major candidate in this race that has been out campaigning that has grown up in a rural environment. I'm the only one who has served this nation in uniform on active duty. I'm the only one who is raising a family in this environment. And I'm the only one who has created jobs that the taxpayers haven't paid for. While these things in combination, while not unique or special, they are the things that do qualify me to be a citizen-legislator. To be someone, who like our founding fathers, stepped forward from their own lives to serve the public at the expense of themselves for a finite period of time and then went back. And that's what I propose to do. I am a big believer in term limits at the federal level, and I think that serving your fellow citizens for a short period of time and then going back to the private sector is what made this nation great.

 

3. The Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, has been controversial since it was passed, and the public remains divided over whether it will be beneficial or detrimental in the long run. What are the next steps the government should take regarding health care?

MB: It's interesting. It has indeed been controversial since it passed, in fact, even before it passed. YOu know, the real voices that should have been listened to were those in the medical field, not the big insurance companies who thought they were going to get a bunch of low-hanging fruit. They, too, now realize that they were tricked. I mean the President's lied to a lot of people. He told everyone that they could keep their healthcare plans, that this wouldn't have any effect on them. But that's not the case. And so what we are seeing is a system that is designed for failure. It cannot be financially sustained as it was proposed or even with all the many modifications and carve-outs and exceptions that the President has been trying to slice and dice into it. He no longer is even trying to enforce the very law that was passed, the very law that we were told was so good for us. And yet, it still can't stand.

I believe it was yesterday [April 24] actually, the state of Oregon has now thrown the towel in on their exchange. They basically said it's collapsing financially. We can't support it. So they've thrown this back on the federal government. They've said we're shutting down our exchange. They have received over $305 million in subsidies from taxpayers to help them set up this exchange, to help them with this grant, that grant and this thing and the other thing, to help them facilitate the implementation of their own state exchange. And now, where has that money gone? Our $300-plus million has disappeared and now the responsibility is back on the backs of the American taxpayers as a whole. This won't be the first -- this is the first, this won't be the last. They'll be others, and eventually the whole system will collapse because you can't design a system where 5-10 percent of the people are expected to pay for and carry on their backs 90-95 percent of the others. And that's the way it's currently shaping up.

And it's a shame. Because while we did not have a perfect system, it would have been tremendous if we had come up with some private sector solutions. Instead, in an effort to fix a part of the 15 percent that wasn't working perfectly or even as well as people would have liked, we've blown up the 85 percent that was worked well and the rest of the 15 percent that nobody was complaining about. So, we've made a 100 percent mess of everything in an effort to make a few people happy. And unfortunately, those people are now not happy either. NObody is going to end up being happy because we are driving private practice medicine out of existence. We're driving non-profit hospitals out of existence. We're driving small community hospitals out of existence. The very people who thought they wanted better access at cheaper prices and ... better coverage and better quality, which really was the purpose for all this, are going to end up with less of all of those things. They're going to have to travel farther, wait longer, have less access. It's going to be provided by less qualified people, and it's unfortunate. And we're going to end up with a system that has caused other people in the world who have these types of socialized medicine to, when their in trouble medically, they come to the United States. Well, those days will be over. Where will we go?

There are things we could have done. What I would like to see is an entire repeal, a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, of Obamacare. Because, frankly, it's not the Affordable Care Act. That was a lie. It's very unaffordable. I think it should be repealed. That will take a Republican controlled Senate, House and Presidency. And then upon repealing it, we should replace it with the system we had coupled with several additions that I think will help a lot.

Number one, we should allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. That would be a way to increase competition, give us better access to better coverage at lower prices. That's what competition does. So, that would be one idea. Another would be to allow individuals, people like me to buy health insurance, or you or anybody to buy insurance with pretax dollars. Why shouldn't we? We allow corporate entities to do that. Why not allow individuals to use pretax dollars? That would incent us to take responsibility, and that's the whole point, to help us have better access more people participating. So, give us incentive to do it. 

How about some common sense tort reform? Some changes to the maximum limits, some common sense limits on pain and suffering suits associated with healthcare lawsuits. Not taking away people's rights to the system, but taking away these out of control settlements that ultimately the cost of which get passed back to the system and that's what makes costs go up. That's what also keeps certain people from getting access to the system. That's the biggest issue. 

For people with pre-existing healthcare problems, pre-existing conditions that prevent them from getting access, we should take block grants from the federal government out of the federal budget, we should take dollars and give them to the states. I mean, right now, we're spending the money from Washington but it's inefficient and it's not effective. And many people are left out. Take the same amount of dollars out of the federal budget that we're spending on healthcare and give it to the states in a pro rata basis, based on population, and let the states come up with a way to facilitate people at the local and state level to get access to the system, to help people with pre-existing conditions get access to the healthcare system. It would be more effective in [unclear]. 

So these are just a few ideas, but these are the kinds of things that we need to do because the system is collapsing and it cannot stand.

 

4. The economy has shown signs of improvement, but it hasn’t bounced back as quickly as many would like. What, if anything, can the federal government do to help create more jobs?

MB: The federal government does not create jobs, and that's the biggest point that I wish we could get through to people, to your readers. Federal government does not create jobs. The federal government suffocates the creation of jobs with overtaxation and overregulation. And I say this as somebody who has created many, many, many jobs through the years. And I currently employ dozens and dozens of people. There is nothing that the federal government is going to do to create jobs.

What we really -- the real question we need to ask is what can the government stop doing to job creators? Not what can the government do. What can they stop doing? And what they really need to stop doing is punishing those and destroying the incentive of those who would take the risk necessary to create jobs in the private sector. We need less taxation. The corporate tax rate should be cut. It's shouldn't be -- I think it should be zero, frankly, but certainly well south of the 35 percent that it is now. We have trillions of dollars that are offshore that companies would love to bring back to the United States. If they brought those dollars back, they would spend those dollars on infrastructure. That infrastructure would build buildings. It would buy new equipment. It would improve new processes. It would create innovation. New ideas would be funded. All those things would create new jobs here in the United States. But instead, they keep the money offshore because if they bring it back they have to give 35 percent of it right off the top to the federal government. They're not incented to do that. So they won't repatriate the money, and they'll build those plants and explore those ideas and they'll employ those people where they've earned the money, which is in some other country.

There are many large global companies who make most of their money outside the United States, but they're headquartered here. And they'd like to bring their money home, so let's give them incentive to do it. So lower taxation would be one thing.

Lower regulation. We're suffocating entrepreneurial thinking by regulating people to death, which to me is insane. Everybody says we need to punish all these imports. We need to have tariffs. We need to have this, that or the other thing. Well, I think we should really just stop punishing our domestic manufacturers, stop punishing those that are trying to create jobs here in this country. I'm a proponent of something call the Reins Act. The Reins Act would require any piece of regulation coming from say the EPA that would have an economic impact of $100 million or more in one year on the people who have to comply with the mandate. So, that's a pretty big hurdle, if it's going to cost you $100 million or more to comply with the mandate in a single year, then that regulation would have to be passed legislatively. So, in other words, it would have to be an act of Congress, not some unelected person at the EPA who just decides, uh, I'm going to shut down coal production. This would have a profound impact on technology associate with, for example, scrubbing technology and smokestacks for coal-fired power plants. 

Never in the history of the world has their been more consumption of coal than there is right now. And yet, you wouldn't know that here in Kentucky. We're suffering, east and west. Both east and west, we're suffering with a loss of jobs because of the regulations that is shutting this industry down.

So, there's a couple arguments. I think government needs to get out of the way of the job creators, not continue to be involved to such an extensive degree.

 

5. Along those same lines, wages remain a concern for many people who are already working. Should we raise the minimum wage? Why or why not?

MB: The answer is, the answer is no in terms of arbitrarily raising the minimum wage. And I would challenge you, honestly, and it may be interesting as part of this story. Really, if you have time and interest, I really would encourage you to call two or three local area small businesses. Call some restaurants, maybe some people that have, I don't know, a dry cleaning business or a flower shop or whatever the case might be, just some small businesses that people -- a coffee shop -- place that people frequent on a regular basis that are just kind of little institutions within your community. Ask the owners of those small businesses that are part of your communities fabric, ask them was raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would do to their business. I don't think you will find a single business in your town or in your county that thinks this would be helpful or thinks that this would be beneficial. You will find, I guarantee you, a number who will say with all sincerity that it will destroy their business, that they will end of having to fire people or maybe even shut down. There are many of then that are just barely getting by.

This idea that just raising the minimum wage makes everything good is absolute ridiculousness. All the studies that have been done including by the government itself shows that doing so is going to cost us at a minimum a half a million jobs in this country. We already have such rampant unemployment. The economy really isn't getting better. It seems to be because many people who were looking for work have given up. We have more people who are able-bodied working age people not working than we have had since 1978. We have 92 million people who could go to work who don't go to work every day. This is only going to increase that number. 

And while it's great to imagine that $10.10 makes everything that much better, 50 percent better. People will make more money. That's great. Well, guess what? All the prices are going to go up everywhere, too, so that money that people are making is only going to disappear because everything they pay for is going to go up because all the businesses that are paying them and everyone else [unclear] pass those costs through in order to stay in business. So those very individuals will end up short term have a little bump, and then all of a sudden it will be right back to where it was. That's what has always happened. 

And if $10.10 is good, if somehow things magically get 50 percent better by raising the minimum wage to $10.10, then why not raise it to $20 an hour or $50? Why not make the minimum wage $100 an hour? The reason you don't do that is because it wouldn't work, nor would it work to raise it to $10.10. There's a cause and effect that people need to be conscious of and be mindful of. Nobody likes the idea of having to pay people such low wages, other than perhaps the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is trying to pass amnesty over and over and over again, for they want a lot of cheap labor that comes in the form of people that are here illegally. But people that are employing people legally, these are their neighbors. These are their children. These are people they go to church with. 

We need a healthy economy. We want a healthy economy. But the way to have that is to increase competition. The way to have that is to have a healthy economy that results in the boats rising on the surging tide of economic growth, not the government artificially demanding that wages be raised. How is a kid going to get a job out of high school if they're competing against somebody with a college degree for that same minimum wage job. So, I'm opposed to it because it doesn't make financial sense, and it will ultimately hurt -- and quickly hurt -- the very people that it's designed to help. It would be great for the person who finds the job at $10.10, but what about the two people who wind up not even having a job because of it?

 

6. The Bluegrass Pipeline has been another source of controversy. Proponents say it will bring jobs to the our state, while opponents are concerned about its potential effect on the environment and private property. What is your view of this and other proposed natural gas liquids pipeline projects?

MB: The only beef that I have with this is that in some instances people have talked about using eminent domain on behalf of a private company to receive private land. I'm very opposed to that. I think that's wrong. If this is a project that can justify it's existence from a cash-flow standpoint. If it's a project that's worthy enough to be able to be completed financially without the government intervention, then it's a project that should be able to pay for the land that it wants to use.

If individuals want to pay to move the product over their land and over people's land, and the individuals who own that land want to sell their land, that's their right. I strongly support that. But let it be handled in the private sector. I don't think the government should be involved in taking land for this project. 

At the same time, I think energy independence is something would be very good for this country, and there are many ways, whether it's this, the Bluegrass Pipeline as it's called, or whether it's the Keystone Pipeline, which moves crude oil across this continent from Canada down to refineries in Texas. I think whether it's fracking out in the Dakotas or in other places, whether it's the mining of coal in this state. I think --  drilling for oil in ANWAR. Whatever the case might be, there are any number of things that we could do as a nation to create energy independence. We should look at all of them and come up with those that are most cost effective and focus our energies on that.

 

7. You actually sort of touched on my next question, which was about the the construction of the Keystone pipeline, and the push by some for more alternative and renewable fuels. So, how should the United States address its energy needs?

MB: Again, use the energy that we have at our disposal, and we have tons of it. Literally, we are blessed with more resources than probably anyone in the world. Certainly, with respect to what has been discovered and what is able to be accessed. Nobody has the reserves that we have, so let's use them.

The idea of using taxpayer money to subsidize alternative energies, bad idea. If these things can sustain themselves, let the private sector prove it. If the only way that wind energy is seemingly able to survive is by taking taxpayer money and giving it to people to produce this energy, well, all you're doing is raising the cost on the individual who consumes that energy. By taxing him, you're taking it out of his back pocket, and giving him something back in his front pocket, but not as much as you took out of the back pocket. It's a joke. Robbing Peter to pay Paul to provide energy when we are rich with energy alternatives that don't need to be subsidized is a bad idea.

I'm all for alternative energy sources if they can justify their own existence. I don't want to subsidize them, nor should other taxpayers subsidize them in order to make them work.

 

8. What role should coal play in meeting those energy needs?

MB: I mean, why should -- never in the history of the world, never in the history of the world has there been more coal consumption than there is right now. Never. So why should we not as a state that is rich in this resource, that is rich in the history of knowing how to mine and use this resource, why should we not be participating in this massive boom of coal use? We should be. But instead we have regulations as we talked about earlier that have decided to pick winners and losers, and regulatory agencies like the EPA that have decided to pick winners and losers, that have decided coal is a loser and want to shut it down. I think that's a mistake. Let the markets decide this. Let supply and demand decide this.

I think coal should an integral part of our energy landscape as long as it, too, can [unclear] cost effectively to be such a source. And I think it can for some time to come.

 

9. The NSA’s data collection programs are a concern for many Americans. What procedures should be in place to protect privacy while allowing data collection when warranted?

MB: It's interesting. You're question is a good one, "when warranted", as in you get a warrant. That's the only time we should allow data collection, in my opinion. There is no way that we should allow the US government to spy on law-abiding American citizens. There's no way. If you're a law-abiding American citizen, then there's no justification to get a warrant to spy on you. 

I would not support the re-approval of the Patriot Act. Mitch McConnell is a strong supporter of the Patriot Act. Mitch McConnell thinks it's good for the government to spy on citizens. I don't. He has been leading the charge for the Patriot Act since it was first initiated. Not only voting for it himself every single time it's come up, but whipping votes from among Republicans to get them to along with him and along with the Democrats. Every time, there are fewer and fewer Republicans that go along, but Mitch McConnell tries hard to get them to go for it. I don't understand that. I don't think it's the role of government to spy on law-abiding citizens.

And so, I would not, as US senator, vote to re-approve the Patriot Act when it comes up for renewal in June of 2015, which is when I think it comes back up again. I would not for the approval of the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, which again, Mitch McConnell, same thing. He thinks it's great that the government can indefinitely detain American citizens. He votes for it every single time it comes up. I would not. I would never vote for that. I think it's a bad idea.

So, on many fronts, there's big differences between Mitch McConnell and myself, and I think Americans should be concerned about their government spying on them. I don't think that's the role of government. I think the Fourth Amendment is very specific and clear as to what, what constitutes and invasion of privacy and I believe that is certainly in that category.

 

10. What other issues do you believe will be important during the next six years, and how should we address those issues?

MB: The debt of this nation, without any question, will have to be something that is addressed. We cannot keep borrowing from future generations. We can't just keep raising the debt ceiling and expect this to magically disappear. You can't borrow your way out of debt. Nobody can run their home that way. Nobody can run a business that way. There's no way we can or should be trying to run the federal government that way. We can't print our way out of debt. That's also ridiculous. You just keep making more money. Well, all that does is depress the value of the money that's already out there. That'll ultimately lead to runaway inflation. It has always happened in the history of the world when countries have tried to do that, and it will be no different here.

So, we can't borrow our way out of debt. We can't print our way out of debt, so we need to elect men and women who will actually cut spending. Mitch McConnell refuses to do this. So do so many of the other career politicians. Because they get there, they started drinking the Kool-Aid. They start feeling great about wasting our money because they're disconnected from how that money is created. 

Mitch McConnell came out of law school almost 50 years ago and went on the public dime. He has become a very wealthy man. He's become worth tens of millions of dollars somehow earning a hundred and some thousand dollars a year. I'm not sure how he's done that, but it isn't by playing by the same rules the rest of us play by. So, I don't think he cares. His life it good. It works well for him, but he doesn't understand that out here in the real world, we don't have the ability to skirt the law, to exempt ourselves from the law.

There are several things that I think we should do. Number one, we should have a balanced budget amendment. That has to be addressed in the next six years. We must have a balanced budget amendment. I believe we should have federal level term limits. I think we should permanently ban earmarks. Earmarks are nothing but the dirty grease that allows bad legislation to happen. Basically, when politicians use our money to buy favors from each other. So they use taxpayer money to buy each other off, and we're the one's who pay for it.

So, if you want Joe Blow to sign this piece of legislation or vote for this and Susie Q to vote for that, well you trade taxpayer money to get them to vote for something they don't want to vote for. And it's not good for them or their constituents, but they'll do it if you put their name on a bridge somewhere.

We have the Mitch McConnell Conservation Fund that was paid for a million and a half dollars  of taxpayer money. It's not even in the United States. It's in Ecuador. Does Ecuador really need a Mitch McConnell Conservation Fund paid for by tax dollars from the United States taxpayers? And what favor did he give in exchange for that? What did he agree to? And how much of this nonsense goes on? It's not just him. It's all these career politicians. 

So, I think we should permanently ban earmarks. I think we should permanently ban insider trading. Why is it, you know, the same people how shook their bony fingers in Martha Stewart's face and gave here these self-righteous lectures and packed her off to jail were the only people in the United States allowed to do the exact same thing legally. That's crazy. Why are we allowing Congress to do things that are illegal for the rest of us.

And on that note, why in fact do we allow Congress to exempt themselves from laws they pass for the rest of us, not just insider trading.  But on so many fronts, they'll pass a law and exempt themselves and their staffers like Obamacare. They don't have to comply with all the same things that the American citizens do. That should end.

These are five simple little ideas that we should implement in the next six years, and they will make it much more likely that we will stay solvent as a nation. We still have other things to do, like cutting absolute spending. We have to start cutting, not cutting the rate of growth, but actually cutting the absolute rate of spending. Nothing else is going to keep our nation solvent.

 

11. And I know there's been some news reports this morning (April 25) related to your appearance at the cockfighting groups organization. I didn't know if you wanted to address any of the reports that came out.

MB: That's the same report that came out a month ago when I actually appeared at that event. So, there's no new news. It's just a rehash. This is the kind of stuff that McConnell's desperate to the point that he's using all his friends in media to try to whip up smokescreens. 

I have never, ever endorsed cockfighting. It's illegal in this state and in this country. But I absolutely support people's ability to talk about what they want to talk about. That's the First Amendment in this county's Constitution gives us that right. People can gather and talk about things that are important to them. That's their right. I've spoken with any number of groups that I have a difference of opinion on. I respect and will have defended or defend their right to talk about things that I may not agree with.

But it's up to the people of Kentucky to decide, and they have. Kentucky has decided as have many other states, every single state, that this isn't something that we want as part of our society. 

It's all a distraction. It's the same old recycled news. It's flabbergasting to me. I think people are just too lazy to talk about all these other issues that we've just been talking about. You think about it. When was the last time you read a report about any of the things we've discussed - energy, immigration, jobs, the economy, coal, you know, production, all these things that we've been discussing.

All these reporters don't want to discuss these things because they're hard. They take effort. Mitch McConnell's support of amnesty, his increase of taxes on Kentuckians. His votes for continuous debt ceiling increases, his votes for bailing out Wall Street banks and  bailing Freddie Mac and FAnnie Mae. All of this. His votes for the Patriot Act to allow the government to spy on law-abiding American citizens. All these things we've just been discussing, these are the things when I'm out on the road, this is all the people want to talk about are the things that I just mentioned, the things that affect them every day.

Not this kind of silly nonsense that just keeps getting recycled over and over and has nothing to do with anything. It's unfortunate that we're wasting time and energy while our nation is becoming insolvent financially.

 

12. What else would you like voters to know about you?

MB: No, I would just appreciate for Republican primary voters, of course, since we're a closed primary state, I would be grateful for their support. I'm giving voters the first chance in 30 years on the Republican side for an alternative, the first legitimate chance for somebody who has gone out and campaigned and actually tried to offer an alternative. And as I said, I'm raising a family in this environment. I understand the impact on families.

I'm a military veteran. I understand the impact on our military and on our veterans that are coming home. I'm a small business owner. I understand and deal every day with the impact of taxation and regulation in this country and what a burden that is becoming. 

These are the things that I'm offering. I'm willing to be a public servant, to be a citizen-legislator, someone who comes from our ranks and steps forward for a finite period of time. Two terms maximum is all anyone should serve and then go back to where you come from. That's what I'm offering people and I would be grateful for their consideration on May 20. Three and half weeks [at the time of the interview] people are going to do the voting booth, and I'd be grateful for their vote.