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As Blunt departs, 11 compete for seat

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After more than a dozen years of representing Missouri’s U.S. House of Representatives seventh district on Capitol Hill, Rep. Roy Blunt is leaving his post to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. There are 11 candidates angling to fill the Republican congressman’s shoes. During the next four weeks, Springfield Business Journal will introduce their ideas for representing southwest Missouri’s business interests in Washington, D.C.

Of the candidates running for Seat 7 in the Aug. 3 primary, eight have filed as Republicans, two as Democrats and one as a Libertarian. They have varied backgrounds – some have held public office, others are lifelong businessmen – but the common denominator is the belief that a fresh voice is needed in Washington. In this issue, SBJ covers the federal deficit with Democrat Tim Davis, health reform with Republican Billy Long and tax policies with Republican Mike Moon.

Tim Davis

Branson-based Democrat Tim Davis considers economic policy his specialty. He quickly points to his doctoral dissertation, published by Cambridge University Press, that focused on pulling an economy out of a recession and outlining ways to make the economy grow over time.

Davis has been in private law practice since 2001 and was Branson’s city attorney until he decided to run for Seat 7. His experience as a lawyer, he said, will help when it comes to working with both sides of the political aisles.

“As long as you have honest parties on both sides, the open sharing of information is very helpful in settling disputes,” he said.

His economic training will help when it’s time to dig into key federal issues impacting local business owners, Davis said, noting one of the largest short-term problems is lack of job creation in the private sector. That, he said, is directly tied to the federal deficit in a number of ways, including the opportunity the deficit provides investors to put their money toward government, versus private, interests.

Another immediate weight on the local business climate, he said, is the lack of credit for small and newly created businesses, which was partially caused by the bailouts of big companies, giving the banks an implicit guarantee that some companies are too large to fail. That, he said, makes it cheaper for very large companies to borrow and draws capital that can be used for small and startup businesses.

“At the same time, community banks, especially, are being hammered by high (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) premiums, by a chaotic regulatory scheme, and perhaps overzealous enforcement,” he said.

His plan to help the economy of southwest Missouri will focus on national reform of financial markets to help free up banks to loan to small and new businesses, and to oppose large-scale government intervention in financial markets, Davis said.

Billy Long

Republican Billy Long isn’t interested in a long political future, he said, and he thinks that makes him an ideal candidate for Seat 7. Putting businesspeople in Washington, D.C., he said, would ensure that someone is watching out for the business owner.

“Our founding fathers envisioned citizen legislators, they didn’t envision legislator-legislators,” he said. “They were supposed to take businesspeople, community leaders, to go to D.C., serve a few years, come home and live under the laws they created.”

An endorsement from former Seat 7 holder Mel Hancock, who preceded Blunt, may give Long a leg up compared to other freshman Congressmen, he said, when it comes to aligning himself with like-minded conservatives.

Among Long’s goals is putting a stop to health care reform legislation, which he points to as the largest issue affecting the business community today.

“People are afraid to hire people right now because they have no idea what the ramifications of health care are going to be, what you’re going to have to provide, and what it’s going to cost your company,” he said. “The first thing I’ll work for is to repeal and replace the health care bill that they passed.”

The federal tax policy is another area Long would like addressed, he said, noting he’d like to see the estate tax – or death tax – remain dormant.

Primarily, Long said, his plan to spur economic development in southwest Missouri involves removing government barriers to business growth and encouraging capitalism.

“We need to lighten the litigation, taxation and regulation,” Long said. “We need to get the government out of small business’ way in Missouri.”

Mike Moon

Republican Mike Moon has been a cattle farmer for 10 years and an employee of St. John’s for 25 years, he said, and the same fundamentals of business apply in both endeavors.

“When you hire employees, you want them to work as efficiently and as productively as they can,” he said. “At the same time, you want government to be as hands off as possible, and I think that’s what we’re looking for.”

Moon recognizes that as a freshman congressman, there may be some limitations on his immediate impact on policy, but he said he’s been doing his homework.

“I’ve been doing compare and contrasts with other representatives throughout the country, finding out whose ideals align with mine and whose don’t, finding out who I would be able to make coalitions with,” he said.

Moon’s ideals include a focus on limiting federal government in accordance with the Constitution. The government should not play a role in health care reform, he said, noting business owners he’s spoken with are concerned about added costs that may stem from the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

He said a key issue facing businesses today is the overcomplicated tax code, adding that he is a supporter of a fair tax, or the repeal of an income tax, which could then be replaced with a consumption tax. A fair tax, he said, would close tax code loopholes and eliminate falsified incomes. Businesses, too, would benefit, he said, allowing them to invest in growth.

“The companies would have no corporate tax,” he said. “That could be tremendous to take that extra capital and invest it into hiring more people or buying more raw materials to produce goods.”

To help the local economy, Moon proposes a reduction in taxation and regulation, noting a decrease in taxes should spur job growth.

“I am for government, I’m just not for an increase in the size of government,” he said.[[In-content Ad]]

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