Where each candidate stands on a given issue has a large impact upon who North Dakotans will select to represent them. Citizens often select the individual that most closely aligns with their ideological beliefs or partisan proclivities. In order for Heitkamp to win as a Democrat in a Republican state she had to construct a campaign that would highlight her stance on the issues rather than simply tout conventional democratic ideologies. In this state Heitkamp had to be a North Dakotan first and a Democrat second in order to succeed. The overwhelming tendency is for people to vote based upon their party affiliation, thus giving Rick Berg an advantage in this race. Some of the more pivotal issues for the candidates in this campaign are flushed out below.
Heidi Heitkamp is invested in protecting Social Security and Medicare. While she supports a federal constitutional amendment that would require a balanced budget she is not willing to sacrifice Social Security and Medicare in order to obtain the equilibrium government spending needs. She is adamant that the amendment needs to have enough flexibility to provide for emergencies.Further Heitkamp thinks it is unjust to take away the programs North Dakotans have invested in for so long without being able to utilize them.
Conversely Rick Berg has had mixed opinions on Social Security. As a state representative in 2005 Berg introduced a resolution formally supporting the Bush plan to privatize Social Security. As this stance proved to be unfavorable among North Dakotans Berg quickly changed his position, stating that he “opposed privatizing Social Security and wanted to find creative ways to decrease the program’s deficit without raising payroll taxes or reducing benefits” (ontheissues.org). The Social Security policy he endorsed as a state representative in 2005 undermines his credibility in the new 2012 political environment. In flip-floping between stances the people of North Dakota cannot be sure what kind of action he will take once in office.
Heitkamp’s background in environmental law gives her a unique perspective on creating policy. In her campaign she stressed the importance of creating a long term policy that uses all resources and addressed the need for energy transmission. Further she criticized Obama by stating that he has not done the right thing for the country by denying a permit for the Keystone pipeline and argued that she would stand up to him if elected (ontheissues.org). Few democrats approve of the Keystone pipeline but this is an instance where the state and constituent influence trumps the partisan agenda. Such separation from the Presidents agenda and ideologies helps improve Heitkamp’s image with North Dakotans. In an attempt to undermine Berg, Heitkamp highlighted his inability to advocate for a new five-year farm bill; thus implying that he is not a man of action. Heitkamp thinks that a cut to the farm bill is prudent and understood to be a necessity by the North Dakotan farming community but that crop insurance is something to protect and preserve (ontheissues.org).
Berg also favors crop insurance in the farm bill. He believes that agriculture is a bright spot for North Dakota and the nation, especially as it continues to create new jobs and new revenue (Ontheissues.org). Therefore as Congress develops policy they should be mindful of encouraging this agricultural industry. Berg has promised to have a Farm Bill by years end. Further he hopes to restore checks and balances to the EPA and allow states, rather than the EPA, to control the regulation of coal ash (ontheissues.org).
Heitkamp has a clear stance on the healthcare debate. She claims that the Republicans premium support proposal would be a detriment to society, as only the elderly, who are as a whole the sickest members of the nation, would remain on traditional Medicare. Instead Heitkamp believes a better policy would keep Medicare solvent by negotiating prescription drug prices, reducing fraud and waste, and promoting wellness; therefore altering the current program rather than institution a new one. A better plan according to Heitkamp would be to keep “ObamaCare’s provision for people with preexisting conditions and retain the ‘frontier states’ amendment” as this would hopefully fix the inequities in Medicare funding to states as well as boost payments to North Dakota hospitals and doctors (ontheissues.org). Heitkamp said there is good and bad in the act, and “there is absolutely no reason not to amend the law as it currently exists.” Her pension for supporting the Affordable Care Act comes from her underlying sense that North Dakota needs a different state health care plan; while ObamaCare is not perfect Heitkamp believes it can be altered to serve the needs of the nation. She is a firm believer in state exchanges to minimize premiums on healthcare so people can self select what works best for them, and she is frustrated that the fruition of such a policy was hampered by partisan politics. In a discussion on healthcare with the Forum Hietkamp pointed out that Americans rarely talk about those who are actually underinsured, and who meet the cap on their insurance and then face problems paying for medical treatment (Daum). To hear more about Heitkamp’s stance on Healthcare, click on the link. She is very sympathetic to those who need insurance and cannot get it or cannot get enough of it. Heitkamp also wants to work on prevention and intervention, she believes the nation needs to work to get people healthier and such acts would in turn reduce the nations dependence on health insurance and healthcare. Further she likes health savings accounts to connect people to the costs of healthcare, so people can understand what the real costs are of healthcare and health insurance (Daum).
Berg championed the Premium Support proposal as a way to give Americans the opportunity to select a better coverage option. He is ideologically opposed to the Affordable Care Act and actively seeks to repeal this healthcare law (ontheissues.org). For Berg the best way to undo the Affordable Care Act would be to remove it piecemeal and replace each incremental piece with a better policy. In this election Berg captures those who are against the changes made to medicare and who wholeheartedly disapprove of the Affordable Care Act. During the debates most of his comments on healthcare focused on the effects of the Affordable Care Act in order to highlight his distinctly different stance on the issue.