Editor’s note: This week, NM Political Report will publish Q&As with candidates for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and governor about their policy platforms regarding a range of topics, including abortion, contraception, LGBTQ issues and domestic violence.
For links to all of our stories, see here.
The following is from a Q&A with Jerald Steve McFall, the Republican nominee in the 3rd Congressional District.
NMPR: If elected, how will your beliefs about the separation between government and religion guide your work in Congress?
Jerald Steve McFall: First, there’s nothing in the Constitution about separation between church and state. … I’m a Christian. I don’t have a lot of use for organized religion because what the Bible says and religion are two different things. But that’s what guides me a lot. …
I look at everybody as who they are and what they are. … There are a lot of people in this district that need things that don’t have anything to do with Christianity. … It won’t influence my decision as far as if they’re religious … We’re all Americans, and whatever the issue is will be based on us all being Americans. My idea as far as that goes is how can we the people solve this or that problem among ourselves, without the government? The less government we have, the better.
NMPR: Is healthcare a human right? Why or why not?
Jerald Steve McFall: No, it’s not a right. Let’s say you’re a doctor: Is it my right to demand you take care of me? It’s not my right to do that. It’s my right to pursue healthcare as part of my happiness. That is a right. If healthcare is one of the things that makes me happy, it’s my right to go after it as hard and as much as I want to. But is it my right to have it? No.
NMPR: If elected, describe measures you would take, if any, to ensure contraception is easily accessible to anyone who needs it?
Jerald Steve McFall: I didn’t know it wasn’t. … Why is it hard to get? I don’t even think it’s that hard to afford. My daughter is very low-income, she doesn’t have insurance paying for it, she’s a single mom who does just fine on her own. I don’t know what everybody else’s problem is.
NMPR: What measures would you take, if any, to ensure that abortion is legal, safe and accessible?
Jerald Steve McFall: It’s legal. I don’t think we can just flat take it right out of society. That would cause far more problems. I believe abortion is wrong, I believe it is killing a baby, and in rape or incest, one evil action doesn’t beget another. … I’m against abortion, and I would like to see it gone, but I don’t think we can just yank it right out of society. That would just freak everybody out and cause far more problems than abortion right now. I don’t think any government money whatsoever should be going to fund it. … Government should be out of it. If a private entity wants to do it, that’s their business. … We can’t just say it’s legal today and not tomorrow. … If we’re going to make it illegal, we have to ease out of it, a little over time. … I would really work here on educating people so we can slowly remove it from our society. We have far more lax laws than anywhere else in the world. I think we do need to move away from it. …
NMPR: Please describe how an LGBTQ person in your life has affected your worldview.
Jerald Steve McFall: I don’t know that anybody has affected my worldview. … There’s a lot of call for gay rights, or whatever you want to call it. Everybody’s protected under [anti-]discrimination law already. We don’t need any extra laws for that group of people. Besides, it’s like three percent of the population. We’re not going to make laws for three percent of the population because they think they need it. … We should not be discriminating against anybody, but again, that’s your choice. If you want to be gay or whatever your choice is, … it’s not my business. It’s not up to me to dictate what you should or shouldn’t do. … But as far as the laws go, no, we don’t need any more laws because there’s already enough there. … There should be a lot less laws. The less the government is involved, the better off we all are.
NMPR: What are your priorities when it comes to addressing needs and concerns of LGBTQ people, including those in rural and tribal communities?
Jerald Steve McFall: We have to know what their needs are first, in order to address them. We read in the media that they’re worried about discrimination and things like that. Other than that, I don’t know what needs they have … and what specifically they want that’s not being addressed. … Doesn’t mean people aren’t going to … discriminate, because in every group there’s bad people.
NMPR: What is your stance regarding proposals to enact federal work requirements for SNAP, subsidized housing and other public assistance programs?
Jerald Steve McFall: Seven years ago, I got knocked all the way to homelessness by government. That’s what pushed me into politics. There’s no study to show, out of all the people that are on government assistance, to say, “These people don’t care,” and “These people want to get out of poverty.” … If I come interview you, you’re on assistance, and I ask, “Do you want to stay on the government dole?” You’re not going to say, “Yeah, I’m lazy, I want to stay here.” There’s no information to know how many on people on welfare really don’t care. Well, there’s a lot of people who do not care. I saw them with my own eyes.
As far as being required to work, I think it’s a good idea. There are too many people who abuse the system. … We have an army of social workers in New Mexico, an army, thousands of them. And what is their job? To help people get help. They’re very good at it. … But there’s nobody helping people get out of that system, off of that system, and back to the middle class. If we retooled our social workers that we already have in place and change the programs in two ways. … There are so many ways you can cheat the system, that’s what I learned. If we retool that system, teach people how to get through there, don’t make it so easy for people how to cheat the system. But we also need to have a line for those who refuse to take the steps toward getting an education, getting a job, getting out of poverty, they need to be cut off. I’m talking able-bodied, able-minded people. If they’re disabled and need help, we’re good humans who will help for as long as they need it. But everybody who is able mind and body, which is most of the people on welfare, they’ve got to go through the system or get cut off. It’s that simple, it really is.
As far as making sure we get to the work requirements, that could be part of that plan that’s put together. Either you’re going to school, and if you refuse to go to school, then you only get to do this so long until you get cut off. You’ve got to get educated so you can get off the system.
NMPR: What is your stance regarding the Republican tax bill that includes major cuts to food assistance and a provision to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a key part of the ACA, that will go into effect with the tax bill next year?
Jerald Steve McFall: I’ll start with the ACA. It was going to go the way of the dodo all by itself. Republicans haven’t done anything to it yet, and it’s going the way of the dodo, simply because we have a free market system. Forcing the American public to buy a product is a contradiction of that. … The insurance companies signed on because they were going to make everybody buy insurance. … There were so many people that gave the government the middle finger and said, “I’m not going to buy insurance, even if I have to pay a fine, I’m still not going to buy it.” It’s killing insurance companies. They need healthy people to buy insurance, otherwise they can’t afford the people who need the insurance. Without anything happening, it’s trashed all by itself.
… We need to be accountable for our own health. If we’d lose a little bit of weight, exercise, stop taking pills, that would change healthcare without the government ever doing a thing.
… We need to change regulation. … Each [insurance company] has their own little gimmick. They need to be sold the same way, from state line to state line, and you’ll see the cost go down. Almost anybody now can afford car insurance because of the competition. That’s the way the free market is supposed to work. … And as far as the [Dept. of Veterans Affairs], we should can it, the buildings, the personnel, all of it, … to make sure every veteran has a card they can show, to show they’re veterans, so they can go to the free market for healthcare, car loans, home loans, and put some money back into the general fund.
… The Republicans say they’re going to repeal and replace [the Affordable Care Act]. … Well, they didn’t have anything to replace it. We don’t need to replace it, we just need to back out of it and put in regulations, as such that insurance companies can sell across state lines and competition will take care of it.
I have no problem with food assistance, but … there needs to be through the process of vetting people, who they are and what they’re doing, checking up on them. That takes more taxpayers’ money, more government employees, but eventually that will be reduced as we get more people off of welfare and through the system. There will always be poor. Jesus said in the Bible, “The poor will always be amongst you.” But he didn’t mean the same people for generations. … Making people buy insurance who can’t afford it was just silly. And then you’ve got to get on the state exchanges and go through, you still get a government—might as well just give everybody Medicaid. But there isn’t a system in the world that works like it’s supposed to that’s single-payer or universal healthcare. Again, that goes against our free economic system.
… As far as the tax program, I attended the grand opening of a brand-new business yesterday that is the result of the tax plan. … We have more jobs for skilled people available than there are skilled people to fill them, more than has happened ever, really. Our unemployment’s at a 16-year low, Hispanic unemployment is at a historical low, black unemployment is at a historical low, all because of that tax plan. So I’m for it. …
NMPR: What’s your agenda for helping combat our state’s and our nation’s high prevalence of substance abuse disorders?
Jerald Steve McFall: First, we’ve got to close the border. … Especially with heroin and meth and fentanyl, most of it is coming across the southern border. The very first thing, before anything else gets done, we’ve got to stop that from coming into the country. … But people need to be accountable for themselves. You can’t expect the government to do every single thing. We’ve got to enforce our laws. I think if our economy is doing better, if people are doing better and they have a decent job, we can work all that together. … One of the reasons we there’s such an opiate problem now is that everybody’s just existing, I guess you could say, or just not happy with their life for whatever reason.
… I don’t think any more stringent laws are going to make a difference. … I do think marijuana will be legalized here eventually, because it’s being pushed hard, and it’s not serious like those other drugs. I read all the reports we get from Colorado since marijuana was legal up there. There are negative things that go along with it, but … one of the big ones up there is that 911 calls have gone through the roof. People don’t know what [cannabis] does, and they go and try these edibles … pretty soon, they’re higher than a kite, they think they’re dying, they’re full of anxiety, and they call 911, and that’s costing taxpayers a lot of money. But on the other side of that, not one of those people have died. … Cocaine, heroin, meth, those are just bad, nasty, and we need to do everything about it. But education and stopping what’s coming in the country are the two best ways to do it.
NMPR: If elected, what will you do to address the high numbers of families affected by incarceration, including rising numbers of women?
Jerald Steve McFall: We incarcerate more people than any country in the world. The violent murderers, people committing crimes with guns, anything that has any violence attached to it, they need to stay in jail. But again—our economy is picking up, and I think part of the reason our numbers were increasing is when our economy is terrible, people look to other ways of taking care of themselves. … That’s the thing, instead of just cramming them in jail and trying to rehab them that way. Most of them come out and go right back, especially the violent ones, the ones who have been there long-term. We need to keep them away from it, instead of trying to rehab them there, because it’s almost a lost cause. …
NMPR: How will you take action regarding the federal government’s detention of asylees and immigrant families, including families with children?
Jerald Steve McFall: Taking kids away from their parents, I know about that probably better than anybody, because my kid was taken from me. It was the worst three months and eleven days of my life. … That being said, if I lived in one of those countries, and I had a kid and was coming up here, and I knew they were going to take my kid away, if it gave my kid a chance to come to this country, I would do it a heartbeat. Where those people are coming from are terrible living conditions, there’s gangs, all kinds of violence, drugs.
… If the border was secured, we wouldn’t have that issue. Put the kids back with their parents and get them run through the court for their hearing on their immigration status as fast as we can. Put them back with their parents, for God’s sake. Those poor kids. … I can’t imagine those folks that are in a strange place … who don’t even speak English, … and their moms and dads aren’t there—it’s terrible, terrible. I get a lump in my throat thinking about it.
… Close the border, secure the border, whether we have to build a wall, put 9,000 people down there, whatever we have to do. I think we need a secure border, because we are the wealthiest, most powerful country, but at the same time, we are the most generous country ever in the history of countries with humans. And for us to continue helping people like we do, we need to have a secure border so we can stay strong. …
NMPR: What are your top priorities for improving safety and support services for survivors of sex offenses?
Jerald Steve McFall: The safety is a hard thing. You can send people to a concealed carry program. There are predators out there all the time, you never know when they’re going to attack. So as far as safety, people need to pay attention and be aware of their surroundings. … It’s easy to invade someone’s life. … So how to you protect people from that? I think education, so people know what’s going on.
As far as their recovery, we need to do everything we can. I don’t know that we’re lacking in that area. I haven’t talked to anyone who works in these areas who says that we’re lacking in support for those folks. … Sometimes they don’t know where to go, but there’s not a lack of support that I know of. As far as helping with safety, that’s going to have to come down to education, because there’s no way you can control every human and what they’re going to do. …
NMPR: What are your top priorities for improving safety and support services for survivors of domestic violence?
Jerald Steve McFall: Domestic violence needs to be looked at in a way, because it’s a really, really biased deal. … If you’re a man, you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent, period. … That needs to be addressed, because it is one-sided, big time one-sided. … But domestic violence is a bad thing. I’ve seen it on all different levels, all the way up to people getting killed. I just think, What is wrong with you people? Why are you so full of hate or hurt, that you think you think you have to control this person? … I don’t know how you stop that other than go back to younger people, starting with education and teaching them that … beating anybody up is wrong. Protecting yourself is okay
… If we had more value in human life, we would make sure everybody was okay, make sure our elderly have what they need … If you take your kid to church, believe in God, read the Bible, it shows you how you should treat humans. … How do you get that to society? You’ve got to understand that life is precious, that freedom is precious … The rest of it is pretty much up to you. … I’m not going to force you do to what I want to do. Just because it’s what I want to do, doesn’t mean it’s what you want to do. … But I value your life and … we’re not hurting each other, so we’re going forward from here.
NMPR: Is there anything you wish I’d asked about issues that affect New Mexico women and families?
Jerald Steve McFall: As far as I’m concerned, a tiny baby, even if it’s a zygote has the right to live … . You made a choice when you had unprotected sex. … Now you have a life growing in you. It’s not your choice to end that life. … Deal with the consequences. A baby’s right to life trumps a woman’s unwillingness to deal with the choice she already made. As far as social justice, hey, come on. I came from $3.16 to my name as a single dad, and now I’m running for Congress, just got married two weeks ago, there’s no reason to stay poor in this country.
All of this week’s candidate Q&A’s were edited for clarity and length, although we did not edit the meaning of candidates’ answers. We did not include, however, tangents or off-topic issues candidates raised during the course of the conversations. It’s also important to note that the candidate’s answers aren’t annotated and we don’t point out any possible inaccuracies or misstatements.