Monday, May 24, 2010

Iowa Primary Race: The questions that have not yet been answered.

The debates are just about over and our primary Election Day draws near. As we enter the closing days of the campaign I find myself strangely unsatisfied by what I have heard from the candidates and the campaigns. Some of the most important and specific questions have yet to be asked, and, if asked, certainly not answered.

All three candidates say they will cut taxes. Every Republican says they will cut taxes. The rhetoric of lower taxes is no different than we've seen on a bienniel basis since, well, the 1850s. Given the current dire circumstances facing our state, is there a time better than now to establish some metrics by which we can evaluate which candidate is prepared to change the trajectory of state involvement in our lives, families and businesses?

So, to start, here's a simple questionnaire regarding taxes that every Republican deserves to have answered:

First, do we agree on first principles? I am a Republican because I believe in small government. Not just smaller government than the liberal progressives want but actually a small and limited government? Have any of the candidates actually committed to creating a small state government?

But talk is cheap. One's concept of a small government is, after all, ultimately subjective. I am confident that my concept of a small government is, shall we say, radically different from President Obama's concept of a small government. The proof of a committment to small government is perhaps best provided by a candidates description of who and what they will tax and to whom and what kind of services will government deliver. Let's start with the income side of the equation.

1. What state taxes will you cut?
2. By approximately how much?
3. How will you ensure that the burden of the tax cuts will not be shifted to other taxing authorities, like school districts, counties and municipalities?
4. How will you ensure that the burden of the tax cuts is not offset by increases in permits, fines, and other administrative and penal fees?

The other illuminating element is spending. All three of our candidates, like every Republican for 150 years, says they are for less spending. The Devil, as they say, is in details. What kind of a government will our candidate fund? Continue the nanny state that is bankrupting itself and our tax base or focus on the core missions of government. So,

1. What will you cut?
2. Approximately how much will that save?
3. How permanent are the cuts?
4. Will cutting the programs you suggest reduce the role of the government in our lives, families and businesses?

The VanderPlaats campaign website provides some idea of how he would answer the questions. MVP 2010 has put together a remarkably specific platform, in fact, although the competition sets the bar pretty low. When checking Branstad 2010 and Roberts for a Better Iowa I discovered the complete absence of a committment to do any specific act to change the status quo. Governor Branstad describes generally describes Iowa's economic situation when he left office but not a word about whose taxes he will cut, and, if so, by how much. Representative Roberts is even more vague, literally making nothing more than a generalized statement of a belief in lower taxes and smaller government.

For the last ten years our Republican candidates have given us nothing more than a very generalized statement of common beliefs as the reason to support them with our time, money and votes. That decade has given Iowa and the United States the Labor/Socialist/Democrat proto nanny state that is unfolding before us. If we want to hold elected officials accountable we have to have something more than the feel good pablum of thirty second spots.

Am I the only one that thinks we Republicans deserve some specific idea of what our leaders will do once the election is over if we are to get off the couch or the links and make the calls, lick the stamps and log the foot leather they will need to move Chet out of Terrace Hill?


RF said...

Those are damn good questions, Sporer. Like you indicate, talk is cheap. But without specifics, and not a very impressive track record (see the W administration and his R Congress), it's hard to believe all the "cut taxes and spending" stuff.

Chris Sanger said...

As Secretary of State I will:

1. Work to consolidate duties/roles/functions; I will cut costs by utilizing my business management and web design skills. I will take less pay than offered.

2. I cannot put a number on how much my consolidations will save. However, once elected, I will take less pay than offered. My goal is that my pay cut will provide enough income to provide at least one full-time job, possibly multiple part-time opportunities.

3. Four years of a Sanger term.

4. Absolutely. Furthermore, my management of the Secretary of State's office will change our business climate by cutting costs for businesses and entrepreneurs.