U.S. House District 9: Christopher Sheldon on the issues
On the Web
It’s no secret to those of us living in the real world that the key to resolving most issues we face as a nation is to improve the health of our economy. Whether we want to see our friends and family get back to work, find a better paying career, eliminate poverty, save for retirement, or encourage investment and innovation – the answer most certainly is not increased taxes, more regulations or some new government spending spree.
The answer to a better economy is a government that gets out of the way of the private sector, fosters a business climate that encourages financial investment, and allows individuals and corporations to retain capital and pursue worthwhile projects wherever they might appear.
Unfortunately, over the past three years the President and our divided Congress have done almost exactly the opposite of what should be done to get our economy back on its feet. They’ve run three consecutive annual budget deficits of over $1 TRILLION and allowed the national debt to nearly double in only three years. The President has blocked key projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline and Boeing manufacturing plant in South Carolina (at a cost of nearly 65,000 jobs!). The executive branch has heaped burdensome regulations on nearly every major industry, including the all-important fishing industry here in our district and the financial industry, nationwide. And finally, both he and his Senate counterparts have refused to support responsible energy exploration – which has directly led to sky high gas prices becoming the norm.
There are trillions of dollars sitting on the sideline waiting for the next shoe to drop on our economy, but it’s not too late. With the right people in Congress supporting the right President, I’m convinced that 2012 can mark the year that America got back on track, got back to work, and returned to its rightful place on the top of the world economic stage.
Debt and Deficit
The first phase on the road to recovery is admitting we have a problem. In 2010 the Federal Government spent nearly $3.7 trillion on revenues of only $2.2 trillion, for a total deficit of $1.5 trillion! That’s the equivalent of a family that makes $65,000 per year spending nearly $110,000. And that’s not just for one year – but year after year after year. To me, that is not a revenue problem, that’s a spending issue!
Along those same lines, we need to stop playing games with terminology and accounting and be honest about our problem. An increase in spending that turns out to be less than the previously announced increase is NOT A CUT. It’s still an increase. And we just can’t afford to be increasing anything that government does right now.
In the next ten years, if we were to stop increases and maintain today’s budget, we would reduce the projected federal deficit by $10 trillion – compared to the proposed $4 trillion that just last year was considered draconian. We need to be honest about these issues.
And finally, we need to start thinking about new ways to tackle government spending. I believe we can do wonders to reduce our deficit without cutting services. This can be done by eliminating the duplication of services, reducing fraud and waste and by getting creative with how our services our delivered. It’s no wonder that the former head of Medicare and Medicaid said that he believed 35% of his budget was taken up by fraud and abuse.
Some of the other ways we can get creative include reversing baseline budgeting, stopping corporate bailouts and crony capitalism, by passing a balanced budget amendment and by rewarding governmental middle-management for the kind of creativity and innovation that leads to lower costs.
Our existing tax code is over 88,000 pages long and is fraught with special interest tax breaks and loop holes. This creates an economic system that is inefficient and causes perverse incentives for both corporations and individuals. By dramatically simplifying the tax code and reducing the overall number of tax brackets, we will help streamline the tax preparation process and return to a more efficient use of investment capital. At the same time, we will create a more fair and just system that will maintain existing revenues while at the same time lowering overall marginal tax rates.
In addition to simplifying the overall code, I also believe that we need to lower corporate tax rates (including the elimination of federal taxes for small and new businesses) and eliminate the estate (death) tax - which directly targets small and family owned businesses.
During the first three years of the Obama administration, 129 new regulations were enacted that will each cost our economy at least $100 million annually – for a total regulatory burden of more than $40 billion per year. With over 140 similar regulations in the pipeline, it is clear that the single biggest threat to our economic future is not Europe, China or Wall Street, but our own government. Congress and the President need to stop treating tax payers and our local businesses as adversaries that must be punished, defeated or otherwise delayed, and start finding ways to encourage growth, commerce and domestic investment.
Our self-employed and small businesses, and the community banks that fund them, are drowning in complicated regulations. Long, complex rules create loopholes that the big companies can take advantage of, but they leave little guys out in the cold. We need rules that are written with small businesses in mind.
Developing a comprehensive long-term energy strategy is vital for our nation’s economic and physical security. Global success, or failure, over the next 50 years will be determined by our nation’s access to dependable and affordable energy. To achieve energy independence, our nation should seek to develop every domestic form of energy – free from government subsidies or taxes – and let the free market determine winners and losers.
I support common-sense environmental policy that will help conserve energy, reduce pollution and preserve our parks and open spaces. I realize that without action now, future generations will be left to clean up the mess we leave. I oppose a national cap and trade program because it will not achieve the intended environmental results and because it would create a new profit center for large corporations, Wall Street brokerage firms and hedge funds at the expense of our small businesses and consumers.
I believe that all Americans should have access to quality health care coverage. Unfortunately, recent efforts to accomplish this goal have done little to protect patients or lay the groundwork for more affordable healthcare in this country. By increasing regulation, limiting choices of insurance and centralizing decision making, Obamacare has ignored the two fundamental causes of rising healthcare premiums – a lack of true competition in the health insurance industry and the isolation of physicians and patients from the true costs of healthcare – and will ultimately lead to increased government spending and a reduction in the quality of care in this country.
Because of this, I believe we need to repeal Obamacare and replace it with sensible legislation that will both improve access to affordable healthcare and reduce healthcare costs for our small businesses and struggling families.
Medicare and Social Security
I will NOT support ANY reduction in benefits for our existing seniors.
Please allow me to repeat myself in capital letters so that there can be no confusion for Congressman Keating or his campaign staff…
I WILL NOT SUPPORT THE REDUCTION OF SOCIAL SECURITY OR MEDICARE BENEFITS FOR EXISTING SENIORS IN ANY WAY.
Our seniors paid into Social Security and Medicare, our government made promises to our seniors in return for those payments, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that those promises are kept.
That does not change the fact, however, that the futures of both Medicare and Social Security, as well as the fiscal health of this country, are at risk. Every option for reducing system costs and program liabilities (apart from reducing benefits for existing seniors) needs to be on the table. This includes raising the retirement age for those currently under the age of 55, changing the way inflation is calculated, and reconsidering benefits for the wealthy (under the age of 55).
We also need to consider shifting Americans under the age of 55 to a plan that gives beneficiaries a generous defined contribution and allows them to choose between private plans and traditional Medicare.
I am passionate about improving the quality of our public schools. Accountability and high standards are paramount. I support choice through charter schools, as well as the MCAS exam as a graduation requirement.
This is a nation founded by immigrants, and I believe that we should do everything in our power to encourage legal immigration – especially for those looking to invest in America and help our economy grow. However, we are also a nation of laws and government should not adopt policies that encourage illegal immigration. Providing driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to illegal immigrant families will act as a magnet, drawing more people here in violation of the law, and it will impose new costs on taxpayers.
I oppose a path to citizenship for those that have entered our country illegally and believe we ought to strengthen our border enforcement.
The United States needs to develop a coherent and consistent foreign policy strategy that more clearly outlines our foreign relations goals as well as defines our rules for engaging with, or continuing to engage, foreign combatants. In my opinion, regardless of how we describe our foreign affairs mission, the factors that led to our ground engagement in Afghanistan have passed and we should seek the rapid and safe withdrawal of our ground forces. Going forward, as we continue to reduce our boots on the ground we should also endeavor to develop a stronger counter-intelligence and special-forces effort proportionate to the threat.
I believe that Iran should be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons and I support the bi-partisan Iran sanctions bill that would isolate the country from the rest of the world. With its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran represents the biggest threat to Israel.
Israel, on the other hand, has made enormous sacrifices in an attempt to secure peace – including unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. I support a two-state solution that reaffirms Israel’s right to exist and provides the Palestinians with a place of their own where both sides can live in peace and security.
As our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel lives every day under the threat of terror yet shares with America a dedication to democratic ideals, a respect for faith, and a commitment to peace in the region. Until a lasting peace is achieved, I support the security barrier erected by Israel which has proven successful in protecting Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks.
I am aware of the importance and sacrifice of our men and women serving in the military. I will be a vigorous supporter of legislation providing benefits to returning service members, as well as, benefits for the families of those killed in action. I believe we need to recognize the sacrifice of all of our service members by keeping better track of returning military personnel so they get the services they deserve. That includes providing them with first-class medical care and other benefits to which they are entitled.
Gay marriage is a state issue and should not be dictated by the Federal Government. States should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people's will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives.
While this decision should ultimately be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor, we all need to work together to reduce the number of abortions in America. I believe that the Federal Government should avoid funding organizations that perform abortions and that government has the responsibility to regulate in this area. I support parental consent and notification requirements and I oppose partial birth abortion.
I support the Second Amendment and believe that citizens have the right to keep and bear arms as a basic constitutional liberty. I support safe and responsible gun ownership.
I believe there are some criminals that simply can not be rehabilitated and some crimes that are so heinous that they deserve capital punishment. Our Government should have the ability to impose the death penalty in cases where it is justified.
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