POLICY PRIORITIES

JOBS & THE ECONOMY

My old boss Jack Kemp used to say he cried at two events in any given year: on the Fourth of July and whenever a store opened. His sentiment was right, on both counts! There is no better social program than a job—that’s what Ronald Reagan said and it is also commonsense. And when given the fair chance to compete and work, there is no better worker, from the entrepreneur to the line employee, than the American worker.

But entrepreneurs, job builders, and employees have all been hobbled by an increasing set of unjust and unnecessary obstacles. For too long, with a burdensome regulatory regime and oppressive tax code, we settled for anemic GDP growth and poor employment numbers. Things are moving back in the right direction, but I want to achieve a new baseline of and goal for American success, a “new normal,” of four percent and even higher growth. While many have believed our country needed fundamental transformation, I believe it is our tax code that requires fundamental transformation—either with a simple flat tax or a consumption tax that will democratize and unleash capital, entrepreneurship, jobs, and growth.

That is only the beginning. We have become used to a Code of Federal Regulations that has become what I call the silent burden of business in America—and I will urge a public set of hearings and exposures of this huge drag and anchor on the ability of our small and large businesses to not only perform but thrive.

But we also need to take on our nation’s budget deficits and national debt from the spending angle as well, with a dramatic restructuring of our financial commitments to government programs we have accepted but do not need. There are hundreds of billions of dollars of waste in our federal spending, but not simply from fraud and abuse, but, rather, from actual financial commitments to programs and agencies nowhere contemplated by our nation’s founders and nowhere necessary but for those who’s jobs in the public sector rely on their perpetuation. A deep dive into what is being spent at the dozens of departments and agencies is required, not only in what they spend, how they spend it, but if they even need to exist. Our deficits are huge, but, again, they have become something we accept and live with. We simply can no longer afford this attitude, approach, or acceptance.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Among the many objects to which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their SAFETY seems to be the first
– John Jay, Federalist No. 3.

As our Constitution’s Preamble puts it: providing for the “common defence” is one of the few and main purposes of our government. For me, and most Americans, our national security—the safety of both our citizens and our institutions—is and should be our first priority.

Our national security not only depends on a strong military but a strong intellectual defense of Western civilization and American ideals. It also embodies our national sovereignty and border security. Our threats are both internal and external and have increased from lack of attention and commitment. For too long now, America has had a “Kick Me!” sign on its back—it needs to come down once and for all.

Throughout my career, this has been one of my primary commitments as well. I founded Americans for Victory Over Terrorism, I wrote a book with Bill Bennett, The Fight of our Lives, and I have worked to educate the American people on issues of national security in my speeches and on my radio show. In all this, I have tried my best to point out there is no greater duty than the protection of our country and our people.

But too many take our safety for granted. Too many cans have been kicked down the road. We cannot afford this any more. My commitment: comprehensive missile defense, increasing military spending as a part of our GDP, fully secure borders and an end to nullification cities (often described as “sanctuary cities”), ever-stronger ties and assurances to our allies, an intellectual defense of the West, and renewed calls to national service in our military as well as a much greater effort to take care of those who have served in our military. Finally, when we do deploy our troops abroad, they must, as Alexander Hamilton put it, “appear as Hercules,” and the mission and objective must be clear both to those in uniform and the rest of the country as well.

CHILDREN, DOMESTIC POLICY, & SUBSTANCE ABUSE

A country’s health, safety, and wellbeing can be measured by many statistics and yard-sticks. But too few have been willing to talk about how well we are doing when it comes to the common and leading driver of so many of our domestic problems—from health care costs to education deficits to child neglect to crime to poverty. That vector, the common denominator found in the majority of those problems: substance abuse.

This country needs a serious conversation and prevention campaign re-dedicated to stopping substance abuse before it starts. This is not just about our nation’s and children’s health and safety, this is about our future workforce and ability to recruit and serve in our nation’s military as well. It’s about all of us.

When this country was serious about educating on the problems of substance abuse in the 1980s and 1990s, we reduced the problem by over 50 percent. And then we took that success for granted. Worse, we ignored it—and in too many cases re-raised the “surrender flag” President Reagan spoke about when he spoke about preventing drug abuse. We now face an intolerable number of deaths due to drug overdose, and a much quieter but serious problem of non-lethal overdoses and addiction, sometimes referred to as “diseases of despair.”

This is reversible. We have done it before and we can do it again. One of my first commitments is to recreate and reinitiate a serious and bi-partisan substance abuse prevention campaign for our children and our parents. I commit to taking the lead on this issue not only with fellow lawmakers but with the entirety of the culture this problem requires: from the entertainment industry to religious organizations to professional sports to elementary, secondary, and higher education institutions.

We will never solve our problems in health care, education, crime, welfare, or the costs so many social services focused on these problems soak up until we reduce the rising problem of substance abuse with a serious education and prevention campaign. Few things motivate me more in my volunteer capacities than this cause. It is now time, well past time, to put that commitment in Congress as well.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech….
– First Amendment to the US Constitution.

In our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, our Founders put religion as our first freedom. Speech as our second. And yet few freedoms today seem to require greater intellectual and legal defense. It is actually a fairly incredible thought to consider: The First Amendment in America requires hundreds of non-profit and legal organizations to defend against its depredations. And our judiciary is of only occasional help in that defense.

Whether we are speaking of the religious conscience of a small or large businessman or the right to speak our minds on the public policy issues of the day in, of all places, our college campuses, it is clear that these rights, too, have been overly neglected for far too long.

When freedoms of religion and speech require a political candidate to say he will champion them, that is, itself, a problem. But these causes are far more worthy of defense than they have been given—and if they cannot be dealt with in our nation’s law schools, they must be dealt with in Congress, the very institution the First Amendment addresses.

From legislation reigning in and checking our judiciary and more robustly defending religious freedom and speech, to using the congressional bully pulpit to educate as many Americans as possible on these first freedoms, it is my pledge to restore those freedoms to their proper and original meaning and effect. We Americans have taken our liberties for granted, but miseducation on them has led to misunderstandings about them, and the result is the very erosion of freedom great leaders like Ronald Reagan warned us about. And if I may paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: where our first freedoms are sacrificed, to the extent of that sacrifice, we are no democracy.

VETERANS POLICY

We remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.
– President Ronald W. Reagan, Veterans Day, 1988.

My pledge and promise is that my congressional office will be known for helping veterans. My first staffing will be the hiring of two veterans’ liaisons, one in Washington, DC and one here in the district. These liaisons will report directly to me and be points of first contact for any veteran struggling with the system, their task will be to work one-on-one with our veterans in seeking solutions to and redress for their concerns and problems.

From General George Washington to every other great military and political leader in America, the request and plea to treat our nation’s veterans with the respect and benefits owed them has been both heart-felt and of paramount importance. How could it be otherwise? But, sadly, for too many, it is. I can attest to not only hearing from friends who have served about their trials and tribulations with the Veterans Administration and health care facilities, but also I hear from veterans on my radio show almost weekly—seeking avenues and forums to address their needs and concerns. When we hear these stories about the difficulties obtaining the benefits owed our veterans, their health care, or difficulties with employment, it not only offends us individually, it rubs against the very grain of Americans’ best beliefs, culture, and assumptions.

How can we ask our finest men and women to sign up to defend the promise of America if the rest of America does not keep that promise to them when they return? It is both our duty and commitment that We the People (as represented by the Federal Government) do what we say we will do. Veteran benefits are no place to trim a few dollars to pay for some lobbyist’s priorities. The agreement between the citizens and those who agree to serve should be an inviolable contract. From what I hear and see week in and week out, from my listeners, callers, and friends is that veterans are not looking for a lot. Most just want help for their friends.

Thus, there is no excuse for our veterans’ health care facilities not being able to provide both timely and the highest quality of care. When it comes to healthcare, veterans should have choice, the freedom and resources to select the best health care they want and need—be it from the government or another provider. When our veterans seek to obtain and access the benefits due them, it should be seamless and without effort. And, garnering good job opportunities should be the priority of all employment efforts from the private sector to the public.

In all of this, we also need to recognize that PTSD is real and is incredibly hard to deal with. We ask our (mostly) young men and women to undertake incredibly difficult tasks in service to our country. That service often entails witnessing and participating in incredible violence. This has been an ignored issue. It can be no longer.

Finally, a serious part of our commitment is the understanding that we commit our brave young men and women to fight only as a last resort. We have lost tens of thousands of our nation’s most valuable resource without Congress declaring war. Members of Congress should be forced to take a stand with a formal declaration of war to commit our military to combat.

All of this is not just the right thing to do, this is not just a commitment to national promises, this is also a key part of our ongoing national security. After all, we cannot expect of our military to volunteer and accept what we ask only for us to forget their “devotion and gallantry” after their service is complete.