Ahead of this weekend's Republican state convention, we're taking a look at what the three Republicans who hope to run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar would do to balance the federal budget. The candidates are former state Rep. Dan Severson, Minnesota Army National Guard Capt. Pete Hegseth and state Rep. Kurt Bills.
Today we report on Severson. Tomorrow we'll publish Hegseth's views, and do the same with Bills on Thursday.
Severson was the first Republican to announce a run, launching his campaign a year ago. Ever since, he has been sounding the alarm about the size and cost of the federal government. The former Navy fighter pilot says one of the biggest problems with the federal government is that it's doing too much -- far more than he says the nation's founders ever intended.
"I strongly believe that the solutions to our problems are getting back to constitutional government. It's about getting back to the confines of the Constitution," Severson says. "Our founders really believed that limited government, that a smaller, central government with states retaining most of the power, would guarantee not just individual freedoms, but a more successful United States."
As Severson campaigns to convince Republicans he's the one they should choose to run against Klobuchar, he lists federal government agencies he says the constitution never authorized and that should be shut down.
"Well the EPA is not in there, the Department of Education is not in there, the Department of Energy is not in there. Those need to be defunded," he says. "Those authorities need to be brought back to the states, and that's part of the solution to bringing government down."
Severson maintains that shrinking the federal government would not only save money, but that it would also remove regulatory burdens that he says are holding back business growth. He says fewer regulations would help turn around the economy, and bring more revenue to the federal government without raising taxes.
"You create private-sector jobs by reducing the amount of regulations, the amount of anchors that our small business people have tired around their ankles," he says. "We can grow ourselves out of this dilemma, but we have to give free-rein to the people who actually want to work in the private sector."
Severson backs former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain's so-called 9-9-9 tax plan, which would scrap the current tax code in favor of a flat 9 percent personal and business income tax along with a 9 percent national sales tax.
The non-partisan Tax Policy Center analyzed the Cain plan and showed it would disproportionately tax low- and middle-income families and be a boon for the wealthy.
Severson also says Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposals - including a call to cap spending as a percentage of the nation's gross domestic product - are a step in the right direction. He says U.S. House Republicans came up with their budget-cutting plan because they listened to voters. He's hoping the same voters who gave Republicans control of the House will now remove Democrats like Klobuchar from the Senate and replace them with Republicans like him.
"If you have a Congress that was overwhelmingly elected to enact change in the 2010 election process and the House is doing their job but the Senate is stonewalling, then there needs to be a modification scenario," he says.
Severson has been in the Senate race much longer than the other two Republican hopefuls. He's hoping what he lacks in campaign money he's made up for travelling the state meeting people who will make the endorsement.