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Rep. Paulsen on town halls, health care and Trump's taxes

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Rep. Erik Paulsen, U.S. House District 3
Rep. Erik Paulsen, U.S. House District 3
William Lager | MPR News graphic

MPR host Tom Weber has been checking in with some members of Minnesota's congressional delegation during their April recess. 

On Tuesday, he was joined by Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, who represents Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District. Here's what the congressman had to say on a few key issues.

• On hosting town hall meetings

Paulsen says he will hold a public town hall event with his constituents — but he didn't say when.

Some groups have protested outside his office and private events, calling on him to hold a town hall. Paulsen said on MPR News that he conducts telephone town halls every month, and he's held over 100 town hall events in his tenure.  

But he says he typically hasn't held one so soon after an election. 

  "Certainly I think there are some that would prefer to have campaign style events, with shouting, and that kind of thing. And that's not just very good, it's not Minnesotan," he said. "Civility is probably the most important thing that we need right now."

Congressional town hall events in other parts of the country have been interrupted by protesters. Paulsen said he does meet with people who disagree with him.

• Paulsen's take on the government's role in health insurance

The government should play a role in helping people obtain health insurance, Paulsen said.

Part of why health care reform failed to pass Congress earlier this year, Paulsen said, is because some of his Republican colleagues don't share that belief. 

  "There are some really conservative Republicans who just don't believe the federal government should have a nexus in health care. I don't think that's the case," he said. "I think there needs to be safety net provisions."

• Why he voted against forcing Trump's taxes public

Some Democrats in Congress say if President Trump hopes to succeed with his plan to overhaul the tax system, he'll need to release his own tax returns. Trump was the first candidate in 40 years who didn't release his taxes. 

When Weber asked Paulsen why he voted against forcing Trump to release his taxes, here's how he answered: 

 

"The Ways and Means Committee has never in its history been in the business of targeting an individual American's tax returns. ... That's outside the bounds of precedent and our authority, it only allows us to ask for an individual's returns based on tax law itself.

Members of Congress have to release publicly their investments, president should do the same thing. I do think concerns are appropriate [but are] better left to investigative committees, FBI, fully appropriate that suitable channels looking into that. ... I would hate to see anyone's civil liberties violated or privacy rights violated ... regardless of which party is in control."]]

 To hear the full discussion use the audio player above.