Rep. Kevin Yoder, the Republican incumbent seeking another term in Kansas’ 3rd District Congressional District, met with The Kansas City Star editorial board and answered questions about policy and politics. Here are highlights from the conversation:
The president has endorsed you twice, full-throated, no reservations. What should voters take from that?
A lot of folks in journalism want to make (Trump) the only issue in the race. I think there are more issues to the race, other than the president. I’ve laid out my work; you and others want to disregard all that and make it about this one issue. Never would have done that to a Democrat.
...If the president wants to endorse me, that’s fine. I’ve never gone to the president and said, “I want your endorsement.”
How do you think Trump is doing?
When the president’s working on the economy, when he’s focused on national security, reforming government, the president has the majority of my district behind him, and the majority of the country.
I don’t like the incivility. I don’t like the tweets. I think those things are, at a minimum, they make the president less effective.
Do you think he tells the truth?
Yeah. I think the president loves the country. I think the president wants to make this country stronger. I think stylistically, it’s not how I would do it.
Can you talk about the payday loan industry [which has contributed to your campaign]?
I’ve always believed everyone needs access to credit. A lot of the mainstream banks, the big banks, they won’t lend to people who have no credit ratings. So I’ve always been for lots of access to different types of credit.
I certainly think there are reforms that can be done, to make sure people don’t get trapped into cycles. At the same time, I don’t understand why the argument is that if you have a low credit score, we’re going to make sure you have no banking options.
Who’s going to lend to folks who have 300, 400, 500, 600 point credit ratings? To say you want to outlaw that industry, to me, will ultimately take away credit options for people who don’t have any other options.
What is your attitude on work requirements for those on government assistance?
They’re important. But I think if you’re going to do them, we need to do more for job training. We expanded the Pell Grant this year ... You have to give people the skills.
Did you vote for the farm bill that has the food stamp work requirement in it?
I did. ... I do think we ought to have, for able-bodied adults who are not disabled, who don’t have young children, who aren’t the primary caregiver, to move them off of welfare and on to work. But you have to give them the tools to do that.
What do you think of the border situation and sending troops?
I’m OK with that. I’ve been down to the border. I’ve been with the customs and border protection agents. I’ve seen it firsthand. I know the challenges they’re facing.
It is logistically very difficult to secure 2,000 miles of border with the personnel we have.
We need more personnel; we need more technology; we need stationary cameras, drones. We need a smart wall, but we also need barriers.
The president ran on the wall. The left wasn’t for it, and the right was all for it, and the reality is there are areas where we absolutely need walls, or barriers.
I’ve been to Mexico City. I’ve been leading on this stuff, trying to bring commerce across the border safely.
... I think there’s too much time spent here trying to oppose the president’s efforts to secure the border.
Next year’s deficit is expected to be another $1 trillion, with deficits as far as the eye can see. Can you talk about that?
Everybody believes growth is important. Democrats and Republicans. We have different opinion on how to get there. Democrats want to stimulate the economy by spending more money. Republicans have tried to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes.
Republicans are spending more money, too. You voted to lift the sequester caps, for example.
Yes. What we learned from the sequester was, it was a hammer as opposed to a scalpel. It was across-the-board cuts. There were areas, particularly in defense and medical research that were short-changed for so long that we were able to get bipartisan agreements on these spending bills this year.
I wish that the tax bill had been revenue-neutral. I would have changed the types of tax cuts occurring, or increased the offsets. This is not like the Brownback tax bill.