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Kapanke says his conservative values needed in Congress

Dan Kapanke

Americans must regain confidence in their country, their government and the U.S. dollar before they will start spending, create new jobs and pull the country out of recession, says Dan Kapanke.

Kapanke, who has represented the 32nd District in the Wisconsin Senate since 2002, is one of two Republicans challenging Ron Kind for the Wisconsin's Third District seat in the House of Representatives.

After completing a week-long tour of businesses in the district, he stopped in the area for an interview as he heads into the home stretch for the Sept. 14 primary.

"I've got to offer a dialogue for the people, show them the other side of the coin," said Kapanke, who describes himself as conservative and pro-business.

Kapanke, who was raised on a dairy farm near La Crosse, earned a bachelor's degree in political science and a Master of Education degree in professional development from UW-La Crosse.

He worked as an agricultural seed salesman and district sales manager for 25 years and has served on the Campbell Town Board for 13 years, including seven years as town chairman.

He and Ruth, his wife of 41 years, now own the La Crosse Loggers baseball team, a summer collegiate baseball team that is a member of the Northwoods League.

"It was a very informational, highly educational tour for me," said Kapanke of his 19-county tour of Wisconsin businesses. "One word that came up frequently was 'uncertainty' ... Several businesses that I visited are in a position to grow, to take on new employees but are not because of uncertainty."

"Hunkered down"

Kapanke said business owners are wary of the condition of the economy and watching to see what Washington will do with the health care bill and "cap and trade" legislation, currently stalled in the Senate. Cap and trade would set limits on how much carbon utility companies or manufacturers can emit, issue emission permits and then allow companies to buy and sell the permits as needed for their business.

"The businesses have kind of hunkered down," said Kapanke. "They're waiting for this downturn in the economy to pass."

But, said Kapanke, it's not just employers who are unwilling to take risks, workers seem to be stalled too.

He said the manager of a company that employs 400 people told him the firm had regularly received 60 new job applications a month in 2007-2008. More recently, the company has had months when it's gotten no applications and it never seems to get more than 15 a month.

Another company, said Kapanke, is finding that its new hires show up for a day or two but don't last. He said an employer in River Falls said people seem to be waiting for their unemployment benefits to run out before they find a new job.

That wait-and-see attitude carries over to consumers too, said Kapanke.

"People are taking the 'hunker down' mentality," he said, noting that he'd seen a report that American households are "sitting on" $8 trillion while businesses have $2 trillion they could spend or invest but are not.

His solutions

"Job providers today are surrounded by a climate of political and regulatory uncertainty, fearful of the next step government takes and how it will adversely affect them," said Kapanke. "This needs to end, as it is virtually impossible for economic growth to take place under these circumstances."

His solutions include using unspent portions of the stimulus package to reduce the national debt, implementing tax cuts to spur private-sector job growth and get money back into people's hands, stopping the national energy tax that he says would "crush farm income" and phasing in a constitutional balanced budget amendment.

Kapanke said he will "take business-type conservative values to Washington."

"I wasn't in favor of the stimulus bill when it was announced," he said. He said stimulus bills have taken $862 billion of money that the country doesn't have and have done little to create jobs.

"I'm all about private sector sustainable long-term jobs," said Kapanke. "That's where we're going to have the growth that we desire."

He pointed out that Wisconsin has more public sector jobs than manufacturing jobs: "That's a trend that needs to be reversed."

In the last year and a half, Ron Kind has made some bad votes, said Kapanke, using the stimulus plan, bailouts and health care as examples.

Even 34 Democratic legislators didn't support health care reform as it was passed and there still are questions about what it means, said Kapanke.

"That tells me that bill isn't ready for prime time. We don't know the effect."

Kapanke said he is also surprised Kind voted for cap and trade, knowing it will cost the Third District jobs and mean a 28 percent increase in input costs for district farmers.

He said America does need to keep its military forces strong.

"I think the world is more safe when the United States of America is strong, financially and militarily," said Kapanke.

Why is he running for Congress?

"Dan Kapanke doesn't need another title," he said, explaining that he doesn't need to fill out his resume.

But, he said, too many state and federal lawmakers have never owned a private business and don't know the consequences of their decisions.

"People are concerned. We're scared for the future," said Kapanke, maintaining that his common-sense and fiscally responsible approach can help stop out-of-control spending and bring jobs back to Wisconsin.

He said he would bring the same work style to Congress that he takes to Madison.

Kapanke said he doesn't spend a minute longer in Madison than he needs to get the work done. His place, he said, is back in the district with the people he represents.

For more information about Kapanke's campaign, go to his website:

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.