Tiffany talks issues during Medford visit
Sen. Tom Tiffany is one of three Republicans seeking the 7th congressional seat
Tom Tiffany wants to bring the same sort of house cleaning to Washington, D. C. as he did to Madison when he was elected to represent the northwoods in the assembly in 2010 and then to the state senate in 2012, winning reelection in 2016.
He currently represents Wisconsin’s 12th Senate District containing communities in Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Shawano, and Vilas counties.
Tiffany is one of three Republicans to have announced candidacy seeking to fill the vacant seat previously held by Sean Duffy. There are also three Democrats seeking the seat.
Citing family issues, Duffy resigned his position in September. A special election will be held on May 12 to fill the position. With three announced candidates on each of the Republican and Democrat ticket, there will be a special primary election on February 18.
7thCongressional District Candidates have until December 2 to file nomination papers in the race.
On Friday, Tiffany stopped at The Star News for conversation about why he is running and to answers questions ranging from postal reform to trucking regulations and what can be done to improve healthcare for Americans.
Tiffany lives in Minocqua with his wife, Chris. He has three daughters.
Tiffany grew up on a dairy farm near Elmwood and graduated from UW–River Falls with a degree in agricultural economics.
“It was a great upbringing,” Tiffany said of milking and doing barn chores with his five brothers and three sisters.
After college, Tiffany worked for seven years for a farm supply cooperative in southern Minnesota before moving to the Rhinelander region. In 1991, he began a small excursion business, Wisconsin River Cruises, which he ran for 20 years with his wife.
Tom has also worked as a dam tender for 25 years on the Willow Flowage. He is a former town supervisor in the town of Little Rice and served on the Oneida County Economic Development Board of Directors.
Immigration and jobs — For Tiffany any discussion on immigration or the need, especially among agriculture and food service, for immigrant labor must begin with ensuring the security of America’s borders.
That said, he said he recognizes the need for agriculture and industry to have access to these workers and said he would support reforms to the current system.
However, he noted that these efforts, as well as many other pieces of important legislation are not being addressed, as Democrats in Congress are preoccupied with impeachment hearings.
Tiffany said more needs to be done to address the labor shortages impacting Wisconsin and elsewhere. He said a step would be to eliminate restrictions on retired teachers and others from going back to work in schools.
Health Care - Tiffany supports the expansion of healthcare options while referring to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as being a “failure.” He noted that the ACA was passed with the promise of increasing options and decreasing costs, something he said it has not done on either account. He said he would support efforts to expand access to Health Savings Accounts to more people and allow additional levels of employer contribution, regardless of if an employer offers health insurance.
He also advocated for more local control when it comes to healthcare reform, saying that states should have more leeway to come up with solutions that meet the needs of their residents rather than a one-size-fits all approach from Washington, D. C. He cited Wisconsin’s BadgerCare system as an example of this type of thinking.
At the same time, Tiffany was critical of the various “Medicare for All” plans being proposed by presidential candidates, noting that in his opinion Medicare for all would actually translate into Medicare for none as he predicted the system would collapse eliminating the care current enrollees receive.
Trucking - Tiffany would support easing restrictions on federal regulations that prevent drivers under 21 from carrying commercial loads across state lines. Current rules allow drivers under 21 to haul loads within the state, but prohibit them from crossing into neighboring states.
While broadly supportive of the idea of eliminating this ban, he said he would want to see data to ensure younger drivers are as safe as older ones. He suggested that mileage restrictions, such as allowing younger truckers to go to bordering states could be an option to look at.
Tariffs - Tiffany said there is no doubt that tariffs are having an impact on Wisconsin farmers and businesses. Despite the short-term pain, he said he has spoken with a number of farmers who still stand with President Donald Trump on the tariff issues.
He is a supporter of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is the successor trade agreement to NAFTA. He was critical of Congress for not taking action to pass this legislation.
In a broader picture, Tiffany sees tariffs as one of the issues where the legislative branch has ceded too much of its authority to the other branches of the government. He said he feels Congress should have a say in tariff discussions and policies to ensure that concerns of their constituents are addressed. That said, he explained that there needs to be a strong stance against countries such as China which steal intellectual property on a regular basis from the United States.
Deficit -- Tiffany said that he would work to reduce the federal deficits, citing it as a major concern. He cited his track record in Madison.
When Tiffany was elected to the State Assembly in 2010, Wisconsin was facing a $3.6 billion structural deficit. This deficit amounted to a projected cost of $640 for every man, woman and child in the state. Previous administrations and legislatures hiked taxes on Wisconsin families, property tax owners, seniors and businesses by billions of dollars. These tax increases were never enough to close the gap on the budgetary shortfalls Wisconsin was facing. According to Tiffany, Wisconsin didn’t have a taxing problem, it had a spending problem. “My colleagues and I had to make some tough choices then, but Wisconsin showed the nation that you could balance a budget without raising taxes,” Tiffany stated in his campaign materials.
“The decisions we made, paved the way for my colleagues and I to include meaningful tax reform for middle- income families. Working families of the 12th Senate District saw one of the largest income tax cuts in over a decade across every income bracket. Not only did we cut taxes by over $600 million, we reformed Wisconsin’s outdated tax laws, simplified our state tax form and removed Wisconsin from being one of the top 10 highest taxed states in the nation. I have always, and will always, put the taxpayer’s interests first,” Tiffany stated.
Postal reform - Tiffany said he supported the concept of reforming federal requirements that mandate the United States Postal Service (USPS) account for retirement benefits from the moment an employee is hired. This is a requirement that is not matched in either the private sector or in other federal agencies and with this obligation on the books, presents the USPS as being worse off financially then it would be by using standard measures. Tiffany held off on going on record in support of a specific bill to address the issue because he had not had a chance to read the legislation. He said he will be reading all the bills that come before him before voting on them.
Broadband and telephone security -- Tiffany said he would support efforts to increase reliability and access for internet and telecommunication services to all areas. This would include looking at ways to ensure redundancies in the system so that outages for commercial customers did not occur. He noted that if his business had been without phone service for a period of time, it would have been difficult to operate and he was empathetic to businesses that deal with outages in voice over internet lines.
The Star News office this week to talk about the issues in the race.
BRIAN WILSON/THE STAR NEWS