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In anticipation of the August primary, KSMU invited all Republican and Democratic candidates running for Congress in the 7th district to sit down to discuss their backgrounds, priorities, and campaigns. In today’s spotlight is Democratic candidate Tim Davis of Branson. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.
Shelton: Joining me here in the KSMU studios is Tim Davis. He’s a Democrat running for Congress in the 7th district in Missouri. Tim, to begin, tell us about your background.Davis: I’m from Branson. I grew up in Branson. I still live there. I went to Branson junior high and high school and grew up on the college campus at School of the Ozarks because my dad was a biology professor. After high school, I did undergrad in economics and finance. Then, I went to graduate school at the University of Toronto and did a PhD in economics. The year my doctoral dissertation came out, it was found to be the best in the world in the area of economics. And so that led to a publishing contract with Cambridge University Press and now my work is sold worldwide. Immediately after finishing my doctoral dissertation, I went to law school at Oxford, finished my degree there, and then practiced law in Toronto and New York City, and then came back to Branson after a few years.Shelton: Have you held public office before?Davis: I held public office in that I was the city attorney for the city of Branson, which is a public office, though it’s not an elected office. It’s an appointed position.Shelton: What are the two or three issues that you would focus on if you're elected to Congress?Davis: I’d like to focus on those areas where I can make the greatest contribution. And that would be in economics and also foreign policy. Because of my economics background, if elected, I would be by far the most qualified person in Congress handling macroeconomic issues. In terms of foreign affairs, I didn’t mention this in the brief introduction but I have lectured in mainland China on law and human rights since 2006 and in 2007 was named honorary professor of law at Leoning University in the northeast of China. In addition to traveling to Asia, I’ve traveled extensively in the Middle East and in Europe so I believe I’m uniquely qualified, at least among this pool of candidates, to address the matter of foreign affairs.Shelton: Since economics is obviously an area of specialty for you, what are some of the economic issues that you’d like to take on?Davis: The single biggest issue we’re facing is our aging population and the economic implications of that because discretionary spending has remained more or less constant the past 30 years, in inflation adjusted dollars, hardly any increase. What’s driving our federal spending is spending on entitlements, being social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That’s not because Congress has become any more irresponsible than it ever was, if people think it was irresponsible. It’s because our population is getting older and there’s just greater demand for these services. So, my economic pitch and what will help the country most of all is if we can solve our demographic problem, the pressure on our federal budget goes away.Shelton: How do you solve a demographic problem?Davis: You can balance the federal budget, and it can be done so easily, if we slow the rate of increase of entitlement spending. If we can reduce the rate of increase of entitlement spending to 2.5 percent per year, at the same time we need to import documented labor, capital, and entrepreneurial ability to make the productive sector of our economy larger but without increasing this pool of dependents. What I propose to do is increase the number of people who will come into the United States under the H class of visa. That’s the temporary worker visa. We’ll let them know right up front, we want them to come, work productively, pay taxes, pay social security taxes and Medicare taxes but with the understanding that they’ll never be able to collect social security or Medicare because we want them to leave the country by the time they’re 60 or 65. That will enable us to increase the size of our labor pool without increasing the number of dependents.Shelton: So, that’s the price you pay for the privilege of working in the U.S.?Davis: That’s right. People will pay us, high caliber, educated people around the world will pay us because the United States has so much to offer. That’s why people will come here and pay us to work, and they’ll fund what would otherwise be a deficit.Shelton: What’s the primary funding source of your campaign?Davis: It’s coming from my family and friends of mine.Shelton: Are you using any consultants for your campaign?Davis: I don’t work with any paid consultants. Being a professional economist myself, I know a lot of other people who are professional economists. So, if I have a question about a particular area, some obscure question on monetary policy or taxation policy, I just call one of my friends who is a professional economist and bounce some ideas off of them. So, the answer is yes, I work with lots of consultants in an unofficial way.