It has become nearly impossible these days to turn on a television without running into one or another partisan screaming match.
That is among reasons that Mac Schneider decided to jump into the race for U.S. House of Representatives, to fill the seat that Congressman Kevin Cramer vacated in favor of a Senate campaign against Heidi Heitkamp.
Schneider is a lifelong resident of North Dakota, growing up in Fargo. He has an undergraduate degree in history from the University of North Dakota, and a law degree from Georgetown.
He presently has a law practice in Grand Forks and Fargo. He is also on the board of the Community Violence Intervention Center, and the board for Red River Valley Community Action.
His wife’s name is Crystal and they have two children.
His entry to politics began after he was hired to write letters for Congressman Earl Pomeroy. A few months later, a press secretary job opened up on Pomeroy’s staff. He was hired, and stayed for two or three years before deciding to go to law school.
He was attracted to politics because of the public service aspect, and ran for a Senate seat in the state legislature in 2009. He served two terms as a Senator for District 42, and also served as the Minority Leader from 2013 through the end of his Senate tenure. He was defeated for re-election in 2016.
“I’m going to try to pull up the tents on the partisan circus,” Schneider said, “and focus on the things that matter to North Dakotans.”
Those things aren’t so hard to understand, Schneider suggested, regardless of the side of the aisle you’re on. They’re kitchen table topics. Jobs. Health care. Retirement.
Schneider said while he respects his opponent, but believes there are substantial differences between them on key issues.
“Kelly voted to expand corporate farming in North Dakota, and I voted against it,” Schneider said. “And he’s supported policies that led to a trade war that’s been disastrous for North Dakota.”
Medicaid expansion, meanwhile, brought health care to 20,000 North Dakotans who lacked it, Schneider said. It’s been a success in North Dakota, he added, particularly for rural hospitals that before weren’t getting reimbursed for providing care to low income families.
“Kelly voted against that,” Schneider said. “And he is now supportive of this lawsuit in Texas that stands to overturn Medicaid expansion and protections for people with pre-existing issues. So, on those kitchen table issues, there’s a stark contrast.”
If elected, Schneider’s top three priorities include advancing the North Dakota economy and way of life.
“It doesn’t look like the farm bill is going to get done,” Schneider said. “But if that’s not done in the lame duck session, that is priority no. 1, making sure a strong farm bill is in place.”
He also wants to see Congress reassert itself on trade issues, and he’d like to see Congress actually pass a budget resolution and set short-term and long-term spending goals.
“That’s something Congress hasn’t done for the better part of a decade,” Schneider said. “I want to be the kind of legislator who will work in a bipartisan fashion to return to governing, rather than this chaos.”
He believes voters are better served when Congress has a mixture of Democrats and Republicans who are focused on the kitchen table issues Americans care about, and willing to work together to find bipartisan solutions to them.
“There’s been no incentive to meet in the middle,” Schneider said. “Electing more centrist lawmakers for both parties would be healthy for our country, and it would dramatically change the way Congress works. It’s not working very well right now.”
Schneider has a pro-energy record, he added, and would continue that on the national level.
“I am very much pro-energy, and I voted in support of fracking in the legislature,” he said.
While serving on the state legislator, he was also of a group called Energy Blue, a coalition of pro-energy Democrats.
“Energy means jobs in the state,” Schneider said. “I would be supportive of North Dakota Energy. “
Next generation coal, renewable fuels, and oil and gas are good for the country, he added.
“North Dakota can provide it all, and we should, because it’s good for the country and it creates jobs,” he said.
He also supports repealing WOTUS and other regulations that don’t make sense, such as the recent BLM methane rollback.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “It gives more flexibility to industry rather than maintaining control in the hands of government bureaucrats.”
On healthcare, what Schneider would like to see happen with the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is to keep what works and is popular, and get rid of what doesn’t and isn’t.
“Medicaid expansion worked for rural hospitals,” he said. “Prohibiting pre-existing conditions has worked.”
He would like to see states have more flexibility in how they achieve federal health care goals, but he doesn’t think a better system will be achieved if Medicaid expansion is taken away. That will mean rural hospitals are once again not getting reimbursed for care they provide, which, in turn, raises health care costs for everyone else.
He believes a lot of things could be done to make health care markets more affordable. The 55 and up age group could be allowed to buy into Medicare, for example. That would ultimately make both risk pools better by adding a lower age group to Medicare ,and taking an older age group out of the rest of the market.
“Those are some things you can do if you’re willing to separate the politics from the issue and focus on what works,” Schneider said. “When folks are looking for a cardiologist, they don’t care if he’s Democrat or Republican. Congress should take the same approach.”
A lawsuit, Schneider said, is absolutely the wrong way to try to solve healthcare in America.
“We need to sit down as Democrats and Republicans to iron out these issues,” he said.
As far as trade issues, he feels the present administration’s approach has largely been disastrous for North Dakota, particularly farmers and ranchers.
Schneider wants to see Congressional oversight of national security tariffs that a president proposes before they are put in place.
“Congress should get a say in that,” Schneider said. “The tariffs have been wreaking havoc on our farm economy.”
Among Schneider’s accomplishments while he was a legislator was support for bipartisan efforts to increase the share of production taxes for oil-impacted communities. Schneider believes that work helps illuminate the kind of legislator he would be in the House.
“I always felt while I was in the legislature, that you have to address the impacts of oil development first,” he said. “The impact on the roads, the increase in the population that causes increased educational needs,” he said. “That was a moral obligation. That may seem strange, coming from an eastern legislator, but you have to take care of people out here.”