Tim detailed his goals for South Dakota during a forum in Sioux Falls on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
He described the challenges the state and nation face and what steps he would take to address them. Tim also sounded a note of optimism, saying South Dakota was a place dear to his heart.
“We have one of the greatest places on the face of the earth to raise a family,” he said.
But there is a lot of work to be done to preserve that, Tim said, including providing affordable healthcare for all, fixing the broken criminal justice system to return people to the workforce and restoring government to We the People, not the special interests who dominate it now.
Tim took part in a congressional forum sponsored by Americans for Prosperity-South Dakota, as did Republican Dusty Johnson, Libertarian George Hendrickson and independent Ron Wieczorek. About 100 people attended the event at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, which also was streamed live on the AFP Facebook page.
Augustana University Government and International Affairs/Political Science assistant professor Dr. Emily Wanless moderated the forum. All but the last question were written by her students, she said; she drafted the final one.
Tim said healthcare is the most pressing issue facing the nation.
“It has its tentacles all through government costs,” he said.
The answer is a bipartisan solution that obtains broad consensus to repair the system, he said. It would reduce spending and help balance the national budget while also reducing the burden on law enforcement.
Lack of access to healthcare is the “chief driver” in sending people to prison, Tim said. It helps explain why South Dakota’s prison population has grown at 30 times the rate of the state’s population.
A failed effort to clean up the problem by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, undertaken when Dusty Johnson served as his chief of staff, is an example of how government has failed to address and correct the problem, which only can be done by providing treatment appropriate for the needs of troubled people, Tim said.
Until that happens, law enforcement agencies will be burdened and taxpayers will have to cover the costs of these failed government choices.
Tim, who served on the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Parole, said 90 percent of South Dakota’s prison inmates have substance abuse issues. In addition, two-thirds failed to obtain a high school diploma and 68 percent did not grow up in a home with a father present.
It’s that cycle of unstable family lives, addiction, untreated mental illness and crime that has harmed the state and helped convince Tim to step down from his post as a circuit court judge to run for Congress.
During the 90-minute forum, he discussed how these problems have arisen and how they can be handled.
“Crime’s biggest enemy is a stable home, an education and job skills,” Tim said.
Methamphetamine has been “a scourge on our state,” he said. Meth has fueled a spike in crime and its production, distribution and use must be attacked and reduced.
But South Dakota has failed to address these concerns.
“It’s a fundamentally broken system,” Tim said. “It’s been used as a political football for far too long.”
Asked about the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” Tim said it was a “very imperfect first step” to address a problem that has existed for more than a century.
The primary problem, he said, is the inflated cost of health care, double what other developed nations pay for their care, because corporations, especially Big Pharma and Big Insurance, are making Americans pay far too much.
The cost of healthcare is $1.5 trillion annually. That should be cut in half, he said.
“That would about balance our budget even with the reckless spending we’ve seen this year,” Tim said. “We’re paying dearly for it. We can do it much more efficiently.”
He said it’s crucial the state has a strong advocate for family farmers and ranchers and he wants to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture.
Tim said he had consistently warned of the dangers of the trade war sparked by tariffs.
“I believe in free trade, but only if it’s fair trade,” he said.
Damaging trade relations will have a long-term impact, he said.
“Once they get severed, they’re very, very difficult to reestablish,” Tim said. “We’re going to see repercussions all across the Midwest.”
All this has caused great economic harm to farmers and ranchers, he said, with soybean producers losing $600 million off a crop of 270 million bushels due to the sharp decline in prices. More will face difficulties in the spring when they seek operating loans, Tim said.
As many as one in three may find banks declining to provide them with such capital, he said.
Tim has three more opportunities to face Johnson. They will debate the issues at the City Centre Holiday Inn in Sioux Falls at noon Monday, Oct. 22, in an event sponsored by the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary.
They will meet again on Thursday, Oct. 18, on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, with the event taking place at the SDPB Black Hills Studio, 415 Main St. in Rapid City. It’s set for 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, 8 p.m. Central.
Their final debate will take place the next day, Friday, Oct. 19, at the KELO-TV studio, 501 S. Phillips Ave. in downtown Sioux Falls, at 7 p.m. Central time, 6 p.m. Mountain.