Constitutionalist Todd Watson seeking Republican Senate nomination in Nebraska
Todd Watson is running against Senator Deb Fischer for the Republication nomination in Nebraska.
The 41-year-old Lincoln, Neb. resident owns real estate and technology businesses and farms in Wayne County, and says he has not only the smarts but the courage to do what it takes in Washington, D.C.
He’s a constitutionalist, believing in defending and following the Constitution, and his strongest accomplishment so far seems to be the fact that he put pressure on Senator Fischer so that she got a relaxation of the Electronic Logging Device mandate with the Transportation Committee, as well as a no vote on the Omnibus bill. “The reason she did this was because I put so much pressure on her,” with an article he wrote on his blog, he said. (See http://www.watson1776.com/senator-fischer-supports-more-business-regulations-and-mandates/).
As for agricultural issues, Watson’s stance is mainly to follow what the Constitution lays out, and limit the power of the federal government.
“In general, I’m a liberty guy,” Watson said. He’s not against ELD devices, but feels they should be used in instances of drivers committing traffic offenses that jeopardize public safety. “But if you haven’t committed an offense, why are we putting more regulations on you? I hate mandates,” he said, including the ELD mandate. “It is a DOT mandate and regulation, and it’s like the government knows what’s best for you, to protect your safety.”
Regarding land issues, Watson notes that President Obama, over his two terms in office, took 544,590,000 acres of land and sea out of use for private citizens. In 2014, Senator Coburn (R-Okla.) wrote an amendment to strip a provision of 544,000 acres to expand national parks and public lands, but Fischer voted against that amendment. “She did not stop the federal government from taking more lands,” Watson said, noting that “ranchers should be paying attention. I’m against the government taking more lands; I trust the people with the land, not the government.”
Watson is a full defender of individual property rights, noting that Nebraska hasn’t been included in any recent presidents’ land grab but that it could happen. “The Snake River, the Niobrara River, they’re gorgeous. I’m surprised they’re not parks already.”
As for country-of-origin labeling, Watson considers it more of a moral issue than a business issue. “I think it’s wrong,” he said. “If you get meat in from Argentina or Brazil, and you take it out and repackage it and label it from America, it’s not ethical. Our label is worth something, especially Nebraska beef. People need to know what they’re putting in their bodies.”
On the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), an agency of the USDA, Watson believes that agencies should not set the rules, the fines, and be jury, too. “This is in violation of the Constitution,” he said. “I’m a Tenth Amendment guy. The Tenth Amendment says all powers not listed here belong to the states and/or the people. When did we delegate that authority to the government? You can’t vest all those powers in an agency.”
With respect to the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Watson, as a constitutionalist, protects freedom of association. “You have the right to associate with whoever you want,” he said. “I don’t want the government getting involved in whoever you associate with.” He wants to be sure that Nebraskans aren’t forced to submit to rules created by an international body. “If voluntary members of that association want to put rules on themselves, they’re welcome to.” He might be for what the roundtable suggests, “but it doesn’t matter what I think, if you have rights. If you want to tie yourself to the global sustainability pact, that’s fine. It’s not creating laws for all American ranchers.”
Watson’s biggest beef is with international trade and tariffs, which is “completely messed up.” Congress’ duties are outlined in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, which states that Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises. For him, it’s not a question of whether he agrees or disagrees with trade or tariffs, it’s if the Executive Branch has the power to permanently set them. President Trump has the right to temporarily set tariffs for national security purposes, Watson said, but “even that technicality has a limited time frame. Those tariffs should go away or be written into law by Congress.”
Article 1 Section 8 Clause 3, the Foreign Commerce Clause, gives power to Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations. “The Congress, not the president, is supposed to be regulating commerce with foreign nations,” Watson said. “Everyone’s debating if the tariffs are a good or a bad idea. And I’m trying to say it’s not even a constitutional idea. We have to deal with that first.”
Watson also states that Sen. Fischer, along with other Congressmen and women, violated the Constitution when they passed fast track authority bill, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2015. The president is supposed to negotiate trade treaties and bring them to Congress to amend, but with fast track, the president is authorized to make the negotiations with no input from Congress. “The senators handcuffed themselves with fast track,” Watson said. “We’ve taken away any right to amend any treaty in the future. Whatever the president comes back with, we have to say yes or no.” That hurts agriculture, Watson said. “Let’s say President Trump says, sorry, ag, you got the shaft. Now Fischer has to vote yes or no. (Before fast track), Congress could amend the treaty. Now it can’t be amended. It has to be an up or down vote.”
Fischer “has butchered trade because she’s passed the fast track authority, she doesn’t know how to negotiate deals, and she doesn’t know tariffs are her job,” Watson said.
Watson grew up in Lincoln, a fifth generation Nebraskan and the son of a realtor and teacher. He graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School in 1995, then earned a business administration degree from Texas Christian University in 1999 and a masters in professional accounting from the University of Texas in Austin in 2000. He was a CPA and worked as a trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange but “hated sitting behind a desk,” he said, so he became an entrepreneur, starting several businesses. He and his wife moved back to Nebraska in 2009, to raise their four children.
He doesn’t have any prior experience in D.C., but he says he doesn’t need any. “Overspending, blowing our budget, giving arms to our enemies: what experience have you seen that’s good, that you wish I had?” he asked.
He does have intelligence and bravery, though, he says. “I have better ideas to fix things, and more importantly, I have courage. No one is making the tough decisions in Washington, because they can’t do the right thing. They pass the buck.”
He says he’s best suited to represent Nebraskans in Washington, D.C., because “I know the Constitution better than anybody. That’s my primary job, to defend that document. No one will defend it better.”
And he loves his state. “I love my people. I have a genuine love for the people. It’s cheeseball to say it, but I do.”