Mark Myles is a candidate for the U.S. Senate. He is running for the Democratic nomination to run against the incumbent Senator Tom Coburn. I had a chance to get him to answer a few questions for my blog here so here are his answers:
Why are you running for Senate?
I am running to give the people of Oklahoma a choice this fall. If elections go uncontested, then our system of democracy does not work. I want our democracy to work and I am committed to stepping up to the plate with an act of civic civic courage to help make our country a better place.
Why should someone vote for you as opposed to Tom Coburn?
Our founding fathers never contemplated an age of professional politicians who became unduly influenced by special interests, and who would go so far as to put special interests ahead of the interests of the American public. Mr. Coburn is now running for his 5th federal elective office and has become that professional politician. I am a forward thinking, fiscally conservative, independent minded person who will work to address the serious problems our country and our state face. I will not be an obstructionist. I will give the people a voice and I will champion the things that are important to our state.
If you were elected, what would you priority be in your first term? That is, what is the #1 issue that concerns you and how would you address it?
The number one priority is to get America working again. I will challenge and work to change the policies which have led to the outsourcing of jobs to foreign shores. I will work to provide the proper incentives to develop new industries and quality good paying jobs here in Oklahoma and across the United States. Once we get America working again, we can address all of the other issues this country faces.
How do you feel about term limits?
If terms limits exist, they should exist for all. Term limits do not work if they are enacted in Oklahoma, but the rest of the states do not have them.
How do you feel about salary caps for elected officials?
Elected officials effectively have salary caps and cannot vote themselves a raise. The public is the final arbiter on the level of salaries for elected officials and by and large, government employment is less lucrative than work in the private sector.
Do you support legislation that would make English the official language of the United States? Why or why not?
We will always be an English speaking country. I think legislation to make English the official language of the United States is a waste of resources. Not knowing English will have a limiting effect on the people who come here without a knowledge of the language and it will limit their opportunity in the long run. However, we are the world's importers of last resort. Everybody sells their stuff here. We are challenged in many ways trying to export our products to other countries and one of the reasons is our overall inability to do business in the language of other people. People living in this country who speak two languages should help us in our efforts to export more products to other countries.
Along the same lines as that last question, is illegal immigration a major concern for our country and if so, what are your thoughts on how to fix the problem?
Illegal immigration is certainly an issue for our country. An estimated 11-12 million illegal immigrants are in this country. Only 35% or so are from Mexico. The rest are from other countries who more often than not simply came here and overstayed their visas. My approach to solving the border issue is to spend more money and give Customs and Border Patrol the resources they need to properly monitor the border and intercept people who would come across the border. I do not think a fence is the answer. I favor enforcing immigration laws in the interior and I favor a system that allows people to pay into social security, and the tax system in order to get work permits. I also favor overhauling the broken immigration system currently in place.
What are you thoughts on tax reform? Do you support the Fair Tax? Why or why not?
Tax policy can always be modified. It is interesting that most citizens have the lowest tax rate they have ever had, but the economy is still in the tank. It suggests a failure of supply side economics. Our tax system has always been based on an ability to pay. I favor a strong fairness component of our tax system and I am opposed to taxes that are regressive because they impact poor people much more severely.
What do you think is the best way to fix the failing education system in our country?
The premise is that our education system is failing. A better premise might be that we are failing the education system by stripping it of the resources it needs to properly work. Oklahoma is at the bottom of the list for education support. Our teachers too often have to spend their own money to buy supplies and our teachers currently have a moratorium on professional development. I do not think every state is situated the same way. With that said, as a society we must address the problems that happen outside of the classroom, because they have an impact on what happens inside of the classroom. We need an educational system that breeds success independent of a person's zip code or the size of their parent's wallet. We must value public education more highly and find a way to give public education the resources and support necessary to deliver the promise of a better future as a result of having a good education.
Do you support legislation that would defines life as beginning at conception? Why or why not?
Not for the federal government, which should not used as a weapon against individuals who have different beliefs. The states, however, can do what they want.
What are your thoughts on health care reform? Does the system need to be reformed and if so, how would you go about doing it?
It is hard to believe that this great country cannot figure out how to ensure that everyone has the ability to get healthcare and the ongoing debate is far from over. We had a hybrid system before and we have a hybrid system now. I would remove the mandate that individuals must buy insurance or be penalized. I would leave in place restrictions on insurance companies which prevent them from excluding people or raising rates unjustifiably. I would open the states up to competition from outside of the states, let the dust settle and reassess when the market adjusts to the new landscape.
Do you feel like the two-party system has lost touch with the American people and do you think a third party would ever have a chance at elected a third party canidate to a major political position?
I think there are individuals within and outside of the party system who have not lost touch with the American people. Likewise there are people inside of the major parties who have lost touch in some respects. A third party always has a chance to elect somebody to a major political position.
What ideas do you have to control government spending and are you concerned at all with the percentage of the budget that is allocated to military spending? Do you think the percentage is too much or too little?
I am concerned with the amount of resources allocated to military and national defense but that raises the question, "What price is too much to pay for security?" My ideas for controlling spending are to examine what functions can be allocated to the states in an effort to eliminate duplication, and address the areas where we have excessive spending. We must remember that the money the government spends helps support the vastness of our economy. If government spending were to go away, then the economy would necessarily shrink. That is one of the problems we face now...the contraction of demand. We have all the supply we need, but not enough dollars to chase it with the high levels of unemployment.
What are your thoughts about the Tea Party Movement?
The Tea Party is a group of people who have fundamental beliefs in the way our government should operate. I believe it is fair to say they have legitimate concerns and favor an approach that would make government necessarily smaller. I believe there is some common ground in what they believe and what I stand for though our approaches in the short term might be different.
Any final thoughts?
I hope people will continue to participate in our democratic process because that is a large part of what makes our country work.