Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Campaign for Liberty Questionnaire for Federal Candidates

I actually missed the Campaign for Liberty's deadline for this questionnaire but I still feel a certain obligation to answer the questions, even if it's only on my blog.

A few thoughts on the questions before I proceed: I couldn't help but notice that the options that were given me on the form were only "Yes" or "No" and I was not allowed to explain any of my answers. The wording of the questions was also peculiar in that they alternated between asking if I "support" something or if I "oppose" something. The reason for this is because "Yes" answers are preferable to "No" answers in the eyes of the Campaign for Liberty. Look at the answers given by candidates and you can see that the "Y"s are in green and the "N"s are black. This makes it easier for people to make quick--albeit superficial--judgments about where the candidates stand on the issues.

Well, I am NOT a superficial candidate and I do not believe that there are simple answers to any of the issues facing our country so I'm going to do what the Campaign for Liberty wouldn't allow me to, offer more than a simplistic, one-word answer to these questions.

1. Will you cosponsor and call for roll call votes on Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed bill, designed to bring transparency to the Federal Reserve (H.R. 1207/ S. 604 in the 111th Congress)?

Absolutely! The Federal Reserve has been given so much power that it operates practically as a fourth branch of our government and the people of the United States deserves to know what they're doing and how they do it.

2. Will you support legislation removing capital gains and sales taxes on gold and silver coinage?

Sure. Considering the concerns that more and more Americans have about our currency, I see no reason to give people such a break on investments in solid commodities like gold and other precious metals.

3. Will you vote to oppose any legislation that allows the federal government to prohibit the sale, use, or carrying of firearms?

Sure. This country has enough firearms legislation. We don't need to bog down the system with more restrictions. If people want to own a gun, let them. It's their right.

4. Will you support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that includes hard spending limits and allows for no increase in taxes or other federal revenue enhancements?

I do NOT support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Government needs the flexibility to run budget deficits during emergencies such as wars and times of economic crisis. Considering rates of inflation and other financial variables I can't support hard limits on spending or limiting Congress' Constitutional authority to levy taxes.

5. Will you support legislation that forbids U.S. troops from serving under United Nations command?

In principle, yes. But is legislation actually needed? The command authority for U.S. Troops lies solely with the civilian government of the United States--or am I mistaken?

6. Do you support and will you vote to protect states asserting their rights under the Tenth Amendment?

Yes. I honestly can't think of anything else to say about this. :-)

7. Will you oppose Big Labor’s Card Check bill and any other legislation designed to empower union bosses?

No. I do not buy into the belief that unions are "bad." Unions helped create the middle class in this country. My dad was a union man and his union took very good care of him, enabling him to earn a wage that allowed him to support his family and own a home. Considering the fact that union jobs have decreased considerably over the last generation--coupled with stagnant wages for working Americans--I find the idea that unions are hurting business is asinine. I discuss my position on unions in more detail in a separate blog post.

8. Do you support U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations?

No. I think there needs to be a forum for international dialogue and the U.N. serves in that capacity sufficiently enough.

9. Will you support the American Sovereignty Act to restrict the Executive’s ability to forge international agreements that lessen our sovereignty?

This is kind of a trick question because it basically repeats the last question. I could see someone reading it and simply answering "Yes" out of fear of Executive power and "lessening our sovereignty." Of course, when one actually looks up the "American Sovereignty Act," it's primary purpose is to get the United States out of the U.N. which I do not support for reasons expressed in my answer to the previous question.

10. Will you oppose using U.S. forces to occupy a foreign nation without a declaration of war?

Considering the fact that every conflict the U.S. has participated in since World War II has been with only tacet approval of the Congress without a full declaration of war, I can honestly answer this question with a yes. I also find it interesting that it specifically speaks of U.S. occupation and says nothing about air or missile strikes.

11. Will you oppose any attempt to nationalize our health care system, including any sort of public option for insurance?

I think I've been pretty clear on where I stand vis-à-vis healthcare reform. However--despite the fact that healthcare reform legislation has been passed without a public option, making the latter part of the question moot--I don't care for the wording of the question because there are different definitions, especially political ones, for "nationalizing" healthcare. Republicans are convinced that the healthcare legislation signed into law in 2010 is "socialized healthcare" when, in reality, there's very little socialization about it. Is an individual mandate and so-called health exchanges--consisting of private insurance companies--really socialistic? I don't think so. Especially when one considers that the legislation that was passed has more in common with the Republican alternative to Hilary Clinton's healthcare proposal than it does a truly nationalized system like the UK's NHS--and the US's VA healthcare system--let alone a single-payer system like Medicare or the aforementioned "public option."

This is what healthcare reform comes down to for me. The legislation signed into law by President Obama doesn't go far enough to truly reform the system that we have now. I support measures that leave healthcare in private hands but eliminates the profit motive without creating any new government programs.

However, should the U.S. government choose to implement a single-payer system in the future, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Is that a "nationalized" healthcare system? Technically, no. I already use a system that is owned and operated by the government, the VA healthcare system, and I can testify that such a program wouldn't be a good idea to implement for civilians in the U.S. I discuss the concerns of constitutional authority in regard to government action regarding healthcare but I would not object to a legal interpretation that says the federal government has the authority to implement a single-payer healthcare system--or public option--under the general welfare clause. Some self-annointed constitutional purists might object to such an interpretation, arguing that the founding fathers didn't interpret "general welfare" in such a way but that would be misleading. Even the founding fathers had differing opinions on how the general welfare clause was to be interpreted, some stating that it refers to the welfare of the states and others the welfare of the people.

12. Will you oppose so-called “Cap and Trade” legislation?

No. Considering the fact that cap and trade legislation has been implemented successfully in the past to curb sulfur-dioxide emissions, I have no problem with implementing similar legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions. I have no issue with a carbon tax either. Curbing our nation's dependence on fossil fuels is essential to both our environmental and national security interests and the sooner we start weaning ourselves from oil, coal and gas in favor of nuclear, wind and solar energy, the better.

13. Will you vote to eliminate the IRS?

And replace it with what? There must be a means to collect taxes. Give me an alternative to the IRS and I might support eliminating it.

14. Will you vote against any budget that increases our debt?

In the middle of the worst economic crisis in generations when depleting tax revenue is going to increase the debt anyway, what sense would that make? How about pulling all our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq immediately, shutting down overseas bases that serve only to subsidize the defenses of foreign nations and cutting our bloated defense budget instead?

15. Will you oppose federal power grabs like roving wiretaps and warrantless searches, and oppose Patriot Act renewal that includes such items?

I never liked the Patriot Act to begin with so how about we just repeal the damned thing?

16. Will you oppose any legislation that requires states and citizens to participate in a National Identification Card program?

This I can answer with a resounding YES! I already have a perfectly valid state-issued ID and a social security card. I don't need anything else cluttering up my wallet.

17. Will you oppose the so-called “NAFTA Superhighway” and any move toward a North American Union?

I'll go with a "Yes" on this question. Does anyone seriously think that we need a "NAFTA Superhighway"? We already have interstate highways that effectively connect the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Instead of making new highways, how about we just maintain and upgrade the ones we already have? As for a "North American Union," that's pretty much been taken care of with NAFTA as it is and I'm not even too crazy about how that's worked out for us. We certainly don't need a new currency, especially when one considers that the U.S. dollar is a de facto international currency as it is.

18. Will you support legislation that ensures Members of Congress have at least 72 hours to read any bill before it is allowed to come to the House floor?

Yes! Does this really need an explanation?

19. Will you oppose all tax increases?

Considering the fact that most budget items are sacred cows and even penny-ante earmark appropriations are pork in the eyes of their critics and "vital public programs" in the eyes of their sponsors, tax increases are all but inevitable. The fact that our nation is trillions of dollars in debt because GOP policies that gave tax breaks to rich people and spent money as if it grew on trees, the time is going to come where people are going to have to bite the bullet and actually PAY for the government they put into power.

20. Indicate the tax cuts you are willing to vote for:
[ ] Across the Board Income Tax Cut
[ ] Capital Gains Tax Cut
[ ] Business Tax Cut
[ ] Estate Tax Cut

Again, I was given check boxes and not allowed to explain or justify any choice I would make. So, here goes:

I do not support an across the board income tax cut. We got that in 2001 and again in 2003 and look where it got us. I'll support extending the bush tax cuts across the board for a few years but then I'd come right in with a millionaires tax because they can afford it.

I do not support capital gains tax cuts, especially for people who accept stock in leu of a salary. Why the hell should some overpaid CEO only pay 15% on his income just because it isn't in the form of cash?

I do support tax cuts for businesses but only as incentives for investing in domestic production or for corporations that choose to reorganize as mutual companies and cooperatives.

The only people who complain about estate taxes are people with actual estates--i.e., the super rich. This nation is in debt, it needs revenue and the super rich have enjoyed their wealth on the backs of the middle class for too long. Politicians like to call the estate tax a "death" tax because it's so scary and absurd sounding. Well, Benjamin Franklin said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes and no one can avoid either of them. Why should we make exceptions for millionaires?

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