NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Up To Date

An Interview With 'The Next Ted Cruz,' Dr. Milton Wolf

file photo

Sen. Pat Roberts has represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate since 1997, but one man is trying to end that reign. Dr. Milton Wolf is one of four contenders in the Kansas Republican primary for U.S. Senate. A Tea Party darling, Wolf has taken a hard line against tax increases, government spending and says he would adhere to a strict two term limit. 

And he's also President Obama's second cousin, once removed.

Dr. Wolf joined Up to Date host Steve Kraske in studio to discuss his family ties to the president, his positions on policies ranging from health care to taxes, and why Kansans should choose him to represent them on the national stage.

Interview highlights:

On being related to President Obama

Isn't that the craziest thing? "The next Ted Cruz" is Barack Obama's unapologetic conservative cousin. I didn't know Barack Obama and I were related until about 2008. My mother was reading a newspaper article about [then] Sen. Obama running for the presidency. He was describing his great uncle Charlie Payne who, you might remember, served in World War II helping to open the concentration camps. And my mom was reading this and her jaw dropped. She said, "This is my uncle Charlie!"

My mom grew up in Wichita, and the Dunhams, Obama's mother's family, were from that area. My mom and [Obama's mother] Stanley Ann [Dunham] grew up together as young girls. My mom and Barack Obama's grandmother, Madeline, were first cousins. 

So there certainly is a family element, but it doesn't take away from the fact that I think he's the worst president in our lifetime. In fact, I think he's probably the worst president in our history. 

On how he differentiates himself from incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts

Number one: Pat Roberts voted for Barack Obama's $600 billion fiscal cliff tax hike. That effected 80% of Kansans. I would've voted against that. I would've voted just like all our Kansas representatives in the House who said it was a tax increase and increase in spending. That increased spending by $300 million and increased taxes by $600 billion. At some point we have to be fiscally responsible. Our families have to balance their budgets, our government has to do the same.

Pat Roberts has voted to raise our debt ceiling 11 different times. When he went to Washington D.C., the debt was $340 billion. Today, it's $17.5 trillion ... [Roberts] likes to raise taxes, he likes to raise spending, and he likes to raise the debt limit. What I'm saying is that at some point we have to recognize that this is unsustainable. 

On how he will work with politicians with different beliefs than him

In medicine, there's often not one right answer. We come up with different solutions to problems and you can certainly imagine there's a lot of egos in hospitals. At the end of the day, we have to do what's right for the patient. Nobody judges a doctor by their intentions or flowery speeches or anything else. I'm going to do what I believe is right. I'm going to abide by the Constitution. I'm really not going [to Congress] to make 99 friends. I don't want to be a part of the Washington crowd.

I really do take more of the Ted Cruz philosophy here. I'm going there to kick in the doors, tear down the drapes, and auction off the silver and the china. 

On cutting down the size of government

The only solution to that $17.5 trillion debt ... you can't tax your way out of it, and you can't even cut your way out of it. The one thing you can do is you can grow your way out of it. Ronald Reagan had four pillars of Reaganomics: lower tax rates, less regulations, less spending, and strong dollar monetary policy. Obamanomics is the exact opposite on all four counts. 

On how he would overhaul the Affordable Care Act

One of the things that is the most important is evening the playing field between buying your insurance through an employer or an individual plan. I would never mandate that you choose one or the other, but I want you to have the free choice to choose what is right for you. Right now, you face a tax penalty if you want to buy your own insurance plan. I don't think that treats you with the respect you deserve as a sovereign citizen, as an adult. 

If you had an even playing field, what I suspect most people would do is want an individual policy. They'd go to their employer and say, "Hey, the money you were paid by insurance, I want that money in the form of income to buy my own [insurance]."


Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill.