We're living in a serious time and that means Nebraskans need to have a serious discussion about the issues, Deb Fischer said Monday.
"We have to take on the spending issue, that's the main one. We're in a crisis situation now; the spending is out of control. It's not sustainable," Fischer, who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, said during an exclusive interview with the Fremont Tribune. "We're edging closer to $16 trillion in debt and if we don't make some major changes in how we operate government, we'll never be able to get it under control."
Fischer currently represents District 43 in the Legislature, wrapping up her second term in office. She can't seek re-election because of term limits.
She is running against Attorney General Jon Bruning, Treasurer Don Stenberg and Schuyler businessman Pat Flynn in May's Republican primary. For her, that's been the focus of the campaign - even after Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, announced he won't seek re-election.
"The focus is on the primary," Fischer said. "I think it always has been; though with Sen. Nelson out, I think that changes in people's minds what the race is about. It's not about who can raise the most money to beat Ben Nelson, it's who do you want to be your next U.S. senator? Who do you believe will do the best job for the people in this state?"
Fischer said she is different from her main opponents because of her effectiveness in the Legislature, is not a career politician and is a business owner. She and her husband of almost 40 years, Bruce Fischer, own Sunny Slope Ranch near Valentine.
In the Legislature, Fischer said, she looked for unique ways to solve problems. One of those was passage of a roads funding bill last year that takes money from sales tax revenue for highway projects.
"We looked outside the box," she said. "I looked for a way to accomplish a responsibility of government without raising taxes. I think that shows creative thinking."
It's that type of thinking that is needed in Washington, Fischer said.
"I think we have to change the type of person we send to Washington," she said. "If you keep sending the same type of person back there, it's not going to change Washington. If you send career politicians back, then that's what we'll end up with."
Getting federal spending under control is one of her top priorities. She also wants to see the tax code reformed, regulations reduced, energy costs cut, fair trade promoted and "Obamacare" repealed.
"It's not just going to take cutting the spending in order to get us back on the road here to some sort of financial stability," she said. "You have to have job creation, too. Without job creation, you're not going to see any revenue streams to help with meeting the obligations of government."
In efforts to control spending, everything needs to be on the table, she said.
"But let me be clear, this government can not go back on a promise that's been made to seniors," Fischer said. "I think there are other things we can look at for future generations, and when I visit with Nebraskans they realize that changes have to be made."