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Missouri’s primary election is August 3rd. One of the positions up for grabs is southwest Missouri’s seat in the US House of Representatives. KSMU invited all Republican and Democratic candidates running for that seat to stop by for an interview. Today, we’ll hear from Republican Billy Long of Springfield.
Long: I was born and raised in Springfield. When I was two years old…my dad, who worked for the furniture company, took me to my first auction…I was selling real estate, was a real estate broker, and I thought, ‘Well, why couldn’t you auction these houses?’ So I went up to auction school in Kansas City a little over 30 years ago. I came home and asked mom to cashier and dad to clerk. We went on to build the biggest auction company in the state of Missouri.
I developed a real estate company in the mid-90s to go along with it, and merged with Murney & Associates Realtors, so I’m a partner.
Moore: What would you say are the top two or three issues you’re campaigning on?
Long: Well, those have changed since I began campaigning due to the health care legislation…No one understands it. I’ve talked to administrators from all the hospitals around—they don’t know what it’s going to cost them, they don’t know what it’s going to entail.
The economy is tied into the health care bill, because you have employers sitting around going, ‘We don’t know what we’re going to have to provide.’ So they’re afraid to hire people.
The debt was my number one, but right now, I think repeal and replacing the health care bill is my number one (issue).
In 1981 our national debt was one trillion dollars. Nobody had ever heard of a trillion dollars. They said, “How can we ever pay that back?” That was the debt. Last year, just our deficit alone was 1.6 trillion dollars. And it’s just staggering. And these people just do not get it.
Moore: You mentioned the federal health care legislation as being very expensive. But even more expensive than those projected estimates is the 1.05 trillion dollars the US has already allocated to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not asking if you support those wars—I understand you do. But I’m asking if you if you support the amount of money flowing into those wars, especially since it has contributed to a large portion of our national debt?
Long: Yes, I would definitely support our military in every way possible. We have to win the war on terrorism. If we don’t, we won’t have a country.
Moore: So you’d like to see the federal health care legislation repealed. What would be your solution instead, to get health care to people who can’t afford it?
Long: Insurance needs to be portable. You need to be able to take your insurance from one job to the next. They need to allow health savings plans, where individuals can save themselves. And you also need to look at the people who are uninsured: a big portion of those are making over 75,000 dollars a year. Now, you’ve got to quesion, if somebody’s making over 75,000 dollars a year, is it because they can’t afford it, or because they haven’t wanted it? Some of those people, to this point, haven’t wanted it.
It needs to be portable, they need to open it up so that these companies can compete across state lines which they cannot do now, and also, forcing you to buy anything, that’s just not in the Constitution.
Moore: Who are your top two or three donors so far?
Long: Well, I have several that have donated the same amount, because in a federal election you can only donate so much money. One name that people might know from around Missouri States is John Mahaffey. Another name known around Missouri State is Gordon Kinney. Ron Neville… Jim Hutcheson…there are several people here in Springfield who I’ve known all my life…They’ve kind of come up with this attitude that, “We can’t go ourselves. But if I ever wanted to go myself, I can send Billy Long. And that’s gonna be close as I can get to sending myself.” I hear that a lot.
Moore: Are you working with any consultants?Long: Yes. James Harris out of Jefferson City is our main consultant.
Moore: Tell me why you should go to Washington instead of your opponents.Long: The experience of a businessperson. Someone who grew up here in the Ozarks, who did over 200 auctions a year for over 20 of the 30 years I’ve been an auctioneer. So I know the people in the 7th district. I’m sure I’ll be there three weeks and they’ll say, “All right, buddy, you don’t vote the way we want you to vote.” And I’ll say, "Fine, I’m gonna do the right thing for the people of the 7th district of Missouri. And if they want to call me home in two years, I’ll be ready to go.”
Moore: I was going to say at the beginning of this interview you might have a slight advantage because you can speak at an auctioneer’s rate. You can get a lot more content in.
Long: Yeah, I can do an eight minute interview in four minutes!
Moore: Billy Long, thank you very much.
Long: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.
Note: To view interviews with other candidates, click on "Road to the Capitol" on our website, www.ksmu.org.