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Congressman Ron Kind discusses congressional issues Dec. 28 at the Star-Times office in Mauston.

Congressman Ron Kind is not a fan of the newly passed United States tax bill.

Kind, who represents the third congressional district of Wisconsin that includes most of Juneau County, voted against the bill.

“I didn’t think it was fiscally responsible,” Kind said. “It will call for about $2 trillion in new debt over the next ten years to pay for the lowering of rates.”

Kind said it was impossible for any members of congress to read the bill in its entirety before voting. The 479-page bill “was made available to us just a couple of hours until it was on the house floor,” Kind said.

Pass-through entities were particularly concerning to Kind. “There’s language in it now that will enable professionals to set up their own special pass-through entities for themselves alone, so they can enjoy a lower rate,” Kind said. “And that was never the intent behind it.” He anticipates hedge funds and private equity individuals will take advantage of this.

Kind also says the cut will result in less revenue for other major projects, such as healthcare and infrastructure.

Gerrymandering

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing Gill v. Whitford, a case involving gerrymandering in Wisconsin. The case will decide whether a political party can give themselves an unfair advantage through drawing district lines that will result in uncompetitive elections. The decision is expected to have a nationwide impact.

For Kind, gerrymandering is a major concern, and something he said he fought against for years.

“I’ve led the effort for redistricting reform so that politicians don’t get to choose their voters, but the other way around,” Kind said.

Kind would like to see independent commissions draw the political map in Wisconsin.

It is expected that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the deciding vote on the case. He has previously stated if there was a way to measure how gerrymandered a map is, then the courts could be expected to make a reasonable decision on the matter. “All eyes are on Justice Kennedy,” Kind said. “He’s going to be the swing vote in that decision.”

Concerns about President Trump

Kind said he had major concerns about President Donald Trump. In Kind’s view, Trump “is isolating us from the rest of the world… (When) you’ve got major problems like Iran or North Korea developing nuclear weapons, it’s helpful to have allies and friends around the globe that you can work with.”

Kind believes a potential withdrawal from NAFTA would be a disaster. When it comes to impacting the local economy, the dairy industry would be severely impacted.

“Mexico is our largest dairy export market,” Kind said. “If we lose that market if he withdraws us from NAFTA, dairy prices will plummet, the dairy industry will be racked overnight, and many more family farms will go out of business here in Wisconsin.”

Though he does not agree with withdrawing from NAFTA, Kind said “I’m all for improving these agreements, so we get a better deal.”

President Trump’s expressed views on American institutions are also deeply concerning to Kind.

“Anyone that tries to hold him or any other elected official accountable, he claims is fake news, and needs to be attacked,” Kind said.

To Kind, Trump’s actions show a willingness to flirt with the “path of authoritarianism… That was never what our founders envisioned for this country.”

But Kind is ultimately confident in the American people, saying they “are going to be the ultimate referee on all this, come election time.”

On the sexual harassment scandals

2017 saw a shocking number of revelations on sexual harassment involving prominent figures in Hollywood, media, and politics. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, dozens of other cases of sexual misconduct were brought to the public’s attention.

“This is a wake up call,” Kind said. “And it’s time for societal attitudes to change when it comes to treating everyone with the decency and respect that they deserve.”

Ultimately, Kind says, “this is all about dignity and respect, is what it comes down to.”

Investing in American Opportunity Act

Kind is proud of a piece of legislation designed to help struggling areas. “What it calls for is, creating a tax incentive for the unrealized capital gains that have piled up on the sidelines because of the tax rate that they would be charged if they became realized.” Kind says this totals about $2.3 trillion. “If they used that money to invest in economically stressed areas like Juneau County, Adams County, they get a tax preference… that early stage capital is crucial for job creation.”

Rural Opportunity Zones are something Kind sees as a good way of moving forward. His legislation uses the same definition for economically stressed areas.

The issue seems to have a degree of bipartisanship. Currently, Republican State Representative Ed Brooks is working on legislation to implement Rural Opportunity Zones across Wisconsin, incentivizing college graduates to move there.

Future Elections

Kind tentatively believes that just as 2010 was “a tough year for Democrats across the board,” the 2018 midterms could be the opposite.

“Virginia, New Jersey, now Alabama are indications,” Kind said. Midterm elections tend to favor the party not currently in the White House “because of the disappointment, or promises that weren’t kept.”

In the event that Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives, he would not support Nancy Pelosi returning to her former position as speaker. “I was one of four who voted against her last time,” Kind said. “I think it is time for leadership change at the top, and I would be calling for that again.”

Kind said he would likely support US Representative Jim Cooper, of Tennessee, instead.

Currently in his eleventh term in office Kind says he still has “a lot of faith and optimism in our country.” With several universities in his district, Kind gets to be around young people often and thinks “they’re ahead of legislators on some things.”

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl