Answers for the Debate and a Reader  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We got a question for the campaign in on the last post. I will address that today as well as the questions from the recent Republican debate.

Regular reader TomJW presented the following question:

Will you tackle the dismantling of entitlement programs first or eliminate nearly all the the spending that comes after defense or entitlements?
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to do this would be to dismantle the newest illegal programs first. Each would be placed into the hands of the states for its final fate to be determined. States would be responsible for deciding whether the program should at the state level be continued, altered, or dismantled altogether. My objective here is to place these programs into the hands of those who are legally responsible for the things they were put into place to accomplish, not to necessarily do away with them. If the people of New York want a particular program, for example, they should be able to have it without interfering with the right of the people of New Hampshire to not have it if they so choose.

Before continuing to the debate, I must address the 9-9-9 tax plan put forth by Herman Cain. While it is better than the status quo, it fails to accomplish one very important and necessary objective: removing the power of direct taxation from the federal government. Nine percent flat corporate tax, nine percent flat personal tax, and nine percent retail tax ... Think about it. There are already corporate and personal taxes in place. Does it make sense to allow the federal government to continue to tax given its track record of abuse? I say no. Cain's tax plan doesn't do anything to divest the federal government of its power to tax. In fact, it adds a new consumption tax to the mix - yet another potential abuse for the federal government.

Best to stick with my tax plan, which taxes the states instead of the people directly. Each state would pay a portion of the federal budget equal to its percentage of the population. It's simple, it's fair, and it takes the power to tax away from those who have so flagrantly abused it.

Now on to the debate:

Question 1 (to Herman Cain): When Standard & Poor's downgraded American credit, they noted not only the economic difficulties, but the political dysfunction. So we begin this evening with the question: What would you do specifically to end the paralysis in Washington?

The political dysfunction has nothing to do with paralysis in Washington. Quite the contrary, it has to do with the wrong things succeeding in passing. Political dysfunction starts with power-hungry politicians who are too busy lining their own pockets and amassing power to bother to obey the basic law of the land, and ends with economic difficulties and downgraded credit ratings. As President, I will do the only thing I can do: use my veto pen to keep this in check. If the Congress wants to pass an illegal law that violates any aspect of the Constitution, it will have to override my veto in order to do so. There is much more the people of this country can do than that.

Each American must read the Constitution and insist, under penalty of electoral defeat and/or the exercise of Second Amendment rights, that it be followed to the letter. The people have much more control over this than any president.

Governor Perry, are you prepared -- even though you've said that you want to make Washington inconsequential -- to go to Washington and, as Ronald Reagan did, compromise on spending cuts and taxes in order to produce results?

When it comes to the Constitution, there will be no compromise from my office. If an expense or a tax is constitutional, it will be supported if it is necessary, if it is neither constitutional nor necessary, it will be vetoed. No dog-and-pony shows, no "showdowns". Either Congress sends me legal and constitutional bills for my approval, or they will be forced to override my veto, period.

Governor Romney. The paralysis there, and everybody's concerned about it. What specifically would you be prepared to do to make the country moving again on addressing its problems?

It's not gong to be enough to get the country moving again. It won't do anyone a bit of good to get the country moving in the wrong direction. By electing me, voters will be doing more to address America's problems than they have in nearly a hundred years. The only thing any president can legally do is see to the things that are outlined for him in the Constitution, and stand firm against things that violate that Constitution. The rest is up to the people.

So it's essential to deal with Democrats and be prepared to compromise on the big issues of our time?

If the Democrats (or the Republicans, for that matter) are prepared to implement the Constitution instead of stomping on it year in and year out, I'll consider "dealing with them". The problem is that the major parties and their illegal big government agendas ARE the big issues of our time. Until those issues are addressed, there would be no compromise from me. Any compromise I make will be within the boundaries set forth in the Constitution.

Governor Perry, this plan that you would like to lay out, because Governor Romney has said you have had two months to produce a plan, an economic plan, he's had a 59 point plan, what is the plan? What will you say specifically?

I have a three point plan. 1. Cut spending and work to eliminate programs the federal government should not be involved in, 2. Cut taxes and divest the federal government of the power to tax the people directly, and 3. Restore the rights of the American people and let their genius take over. There's a fourth point as well, and that is to do everything I can to put into place the means to keep the federal government out of people's business for good.

Bachmann, three years after the financial meltdown, Main Street continues to suffer. People have lost their jobs, they've lost their homes, they've lost their faith in the future. But Wall Street is thriving. The banks not only got bailed out by the government, they have made huge profits, they've paid themselves huge bonuses.

Do you think it's right that no Wall Street executives have gone to jail for the damage they did to the economy?

I'm not sure about Wall street executives not having gone to jail for the damage they did to the economy, but I would love to know whether anyone thinks it is right that no presidents, senators, or congressmen have ever gone to jail for the damage they have done to the economy, which is just as bad. Do you really expect Americans to believe that earning profits and making bonuses as rewards for keeping people employed is worse than breaking the law by not only offering bailouts, but requiring businesses to accept them whether they need or want them or not? If you are going to lock up the beneficiary of the problem, you had better make sure you are locking up the cause as well.

Speaker Gingrich, it sounds like Congresswoman Bachmann does not believe that Wall Street is to blame for the financial mess. You've said that the current protests on Wall Street are, in your words, "the natural product of Obama's class warfare."

Does this mean that these people who are out there protesting on Wall Street, across the country, have no grievance?

They are barking up the wrong tree. Gingrich is right when he says these people are the natural product of class warfare, but he acts as if Obama invented it. It goes back much further. If the whole point of Affirmative Action wasn't to get class warfare started, it sure has been its effect. These people's grievance is with the micromanagement of the economy by the federal government. Anyone with some risk capital can become a Wall Street investor, and anyone with a job an earn some risk capital.

What does that tell you about the protesters? It tells you that many of them probably don't have a legitimate gripe with Wall Street at all. There are some protesters making good points, but there are many out there who are just venting jealousy that some people have more money than they do. Well in all honesty, I'm not financially wealthy. My wealth lies in my heart, and I'm quite all right with that. The federal government could satisfy the legitimate protesters there by simply reinstating the gold standard, which would also go a long way in stabilizing the economy. Of course, that would divest them of a significant amount of power, so don't expect to see it happen under any Democrat or Republican administration.

GINGRICH:The fact is, in both the Bush and the Obama administrations, the fix has been in. And I think it's perfectly reasonable for people to be angry. But let's be clear who put the fix in: The fix was put in by the federal government.

And if you want to put people in jail -- I want to second what Michele said -- you ought to start with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and let's look at the politicians who created the environment, the politicians who profited from the environment, and the politicians who put this country in trouble.

ROSE: Clearly you're not saying they should go to jail?

If Charlie Rose is talking about putting Wall Street executives and investors in jail, then lock up Frank and Dodd with them. As far as politicians who profited from nutty environmentalism and who put this country in trouble, Gingrich would be wise to keep his trap shut, as his own suggestion would result in his incarceration.

Senator Santorum, I want to turn to jobs, because you've said that when you were growing up in a steel town in Pennsylvania, 21 percent of the country was involved in manufacturing. Now it's down to 9 percent. Can those jobs ever return? And what would you do to create jobs now?

Cutting taxes and divesting Washington of the power to tax directly would force states to tax responsibly, as the states with responsible, fair, and consistent tax codes will recover, and any that are oppressive will not. States with oppressive tax codes will face the wrath of their people, and either replace those tax codes with ones that are responsible, fair, and consistent, or be forced out of office. That's the way it's supposed to be. As far as jobs returning is concerned, it depends on the market for those goods and services. If there is a market for those jobs, there will be people to fill them. If there isn't, then there won't. There isn't anything a president can do directly to create jobs. The Constitution doesn't allow that sort of government meddling in people's lives, for good or for bad.

Governor Huntsman. From the Erie Canal to the Internet, innovation is what has always fueled economic recoveries. So shouldn't the focus now not be on trying to create the innovative jobs of tomorrow? And what do you think those are?

I'm running for President of the United States, not of Microsoft. The innovative jobs of tomorrow are not going to arrive until the government stops fueling economic disaster. What those jobs may be is not my concern as President of the United States. What is my concern is whether something the government is doing may be getting in the way of a successful economy, and doing what I can to put a stop to anything that is. Governments are at best evil, and therefore cannot and should not be relied upon to do good things. The important thing is to get the government to stop trying to fix the economy, and let the people, who are good, take care of that. Those wealthy studs on Wall Street could wind up with some competition when that happens.

Speaker Gingrich, Medicare is going broke. Consider the fact that half of all Medicare spending is done in the last two years of life, and research that has been done right here at Dartmouth by "The Dartmouth Atlas" would suggest that much of this money is going to treatments and interventions that do nothing to prolong life or to improve it. In fact, some of it does the opposite.

Do you consider this wasteful spending? And, if so, should the government do anything about it?

What the government should do is get out of the business of deciding whether treatments are "wasteful spending". The fact that the government wouldn't know the difference between wasteful spending and non-wasteful spending isn't even the issue. The issue is the blatant illegality of the government getting involved in people's personal health decisions in the first place. There is no provision in the Constitution that allows for a program like Medicare to be instituted by the federal government. If a given state has a constitutional provision allowing it, then let them take it on. Otherwise, it needs to go away and be replaced with something paid for directly by those who use it.

Getting rid of Medicare is likely going to be a three-step process. The first step would be to transfer Medicaid authority to states with legal provisions for it. The remainder of the states would follow a two-step process by which people over a certain age would continue on the program if they so chose, while people under a certain age would be able to seek private sector options. This makes sense, and unlike Medicare, it's legal.

Congresswoman Bachmann, of course no one wants the government to come between a doctor and a patient. But do you think that Americans are getting the most for their money in Medicare spending? And how can we make sure that the money that is being spent is being spent on the treatments and the preventive treatments that do the most?

No. To make sure, see my previous answer. Put it all back into the hands of the people who pay for it directly and get the federal government out of it.

I want to talk about advisers and appointees. Tell me, Governor Huntsman, whose advice do you seek on economic issues? And who -- what's the profile of the kind of person you'd like to have advising you in your White House?

Art Laffer was probably the most effective economic advisor to any president. The kind of person I would like to have advising me as President would be someone like James Madison. Thankfully, he published some of the best advice available during his lifetime, and we should all heed it.

So what we have today, Charlie, we've got a professional governing class of people on one end and then you've got private- sector people on the other.

ROSE: And so what would you do about that to change that, to attract those kind of people so that they would be willing to serve a cross-section of people from every gender...

There's nothing I can do. That is entirely up to the people of the United States of America. If private sector people want private sector people to serve, they will simply have to demand it under penalty of losing their vote. Nearly 100% of the American people voted in the last election for candidates they wouldn't support for dog catcher. If you want your party to stop offering you John McCain or Barack Obama, it is imperative that you stop voting for John McCain or Barack Obama. There really isn't anything more to it than that.

When you mention a flat tax, does that mean that you look with some favor upon 9-9-9 that Herman Cain mentioned at the beginning of this conversation?

I only support a flat tax if by flat tax you mean every citizen is taxed at the same rate. I would also be ok with having a standard level that was untaxable. However, the better plan is the one that takes the power of direct taxation away from those who have abused it for so long. My plan does exactly that.

[Whom] do you turn to for political advice and for economic advice?

Our Founding Fathers. Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Washington. Can't go wrong with them.

What would you do differently than what President Bush, Henry Paulson, and Ben Bernanke did in 2008?

I would implement a fair and responsible budget and get started in paying off some debt. It's important that we see that the cause of those crises is out of control borrowing and debt. Our best defense against having it happen here is to reverse our own similar trend.

Would you get the federal government out of housing? Yes?


No Freddie -- no Freddie Mac, no Fannie Mae, nothing?

Exactly. They were all started in violation of the law anyway.

RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The single most important question facing us tonight is, do we reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share? Or do we accept a bigger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment simply because we disagree on certain features of a legislative package which offers hope for millions of Americans at home, on the farm, and in the workplace?

Do you agree with the former president?

In 1980, I might have. Today, the single most important question facing us is whether we want to re-orient ourselves back onto the path set forth by our Founding Fathers, or just scrap the whole thing and become another future failed socialist country. The reason for America's success over the last two hundred-plus years has nothing to do with what the government did, it's what the government did not do. Look at history and you will see America's biggest failures occurring at places and times when the government stepped in and did something it should not have. I don't even have to get into specifics. We all have seen it in our own lives.

And if, in fact, they can't find an agreement, you are going to have a trigger with automatic cuts, including defense.

So doesn't that demand some kind of compromise, as Reagan suggested?

No. It demands standing firm on the things that make legal and economical sense. What good is it if they agree on something that's bad for the country and her Constitution?

... some mix of revenues and cuts or these draconian automatic spending cuts that would include defense, which of those two, if that is the choice, would you prefer?

First of all, taxes must be cut to increase revenues, accompanied by spending cuts, especially in areas where the law does not allow the federal government to be involved.

right now, the president has a jobs bill.

That bill is the perfect example of something bad for America that should be stood hard and firm against. If Congress were to pass that bill and send it to my desk, they had better have the votes to override my veto if they want it to become law.

The American people want to see growth and jobs, and they believe that the right way to do it is by cutting back on the scale of government, and they're right.

ROSE: Without any increase in revenue?

Charlie, when you say "increase in revenue", you are talking about tax increases. Tax increases do not increase revenue. Check the books. Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush all instituted tax cuts that resulted in increased revenues. Increases in the deficit were the result of spending more than the increase in collected revenues, which is yet more reason the government should be cut back to its bare minimum.

It imposes a 9 percent business flat tax, a 9 percent personal flat tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax.

See my earlier comments.

A competitive agenda of yours would be what?

Getting the government out of the business of trying to micromanage the economy would have the greatest effect.

So which Federal Reserve chairman over the last 40 years do you think has been most successful and might serve as a model for that appointment

The Federal Reserve is a joke. As such, there is more reason to consider shutting it down than who would serve as a model for an appointment there. Bozo the Clown could do as well as anyone else there for all it's worth.

Businesses like mine have great difficulty obtaining credit. What specifically would you do to make bank lending more accessible to small businesses?

Nothing. It's not part of the job I seek. You would probably be better off starting your business without borrowing money. Borrowing money is a recipe for economic disaster on all levels.

taxpayers stand to lose half a billion dollars in the collapse of Solyndra, which is a solar energy firm that was a centerpiece of the Obama green jobs initiative. Do you think there were inadequate safeguards there, or do you think this is just the risk we run when the government gets involved in subsidizing new industries and technologies?

It's the risk you run when you refuse to play by the rules. The government isn't legally allowed to do that.

is the American dream of owning a home no longer a realistic dream, and is it too easy in America?

If the government gets out of the way, the sky is the limit.

If the payroll tax cut is not extended, that would mean a tax increase for all Americans. What would be the consequences of that?

Ditch the payroll tax altogether too.

Is this acceptable (high poverty rates)? And what would you do to close that gap?

No, but it is not the place of government to intervene. What I would do is get the government out of the business of trying to deal with a problem that it is neither properly equipped to deal with, nor legally authorized to.

I want to talk for a moment, as a last impression, a sense of what it is about you that you want to say here and let the American people know about you and your sense of recognizing their own pain, as well as their hope?

I have never experienced wealth. This economy hit me hard. That is their pain too. I also believe that the return to the Founders' plan is the answer. That is America's only hope, and Americans relate to that as well. I am not a politician. I run my campaign from a dingy basement in New Jersey. I don't spend money on commercials or attack ads. I am who I am, and if the people want someone who will stand firmly in favor of the Constitution and the men who created it, they will vote for me. If they don't, then the America they get is the America they get. They have no one to blame but themselves if their hopes are destroyed by the continuation of these big government shenanigans.

Very tedious, but I am pretty sure I got the job done.

Comments are welcome.