Thursday, August 09, 2012

Interview With Pat Martin

Last Thursday, I wrote a post titled There Is Another Choice where I mentioned the choices of candidate’s in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District this year: the incumbent Republican James Lankford, his Democratic opponent Tom Guild, and a rising-star Independent candidate named Pat Martin.
I had the chance to conduct an interview with Pat this week and here is the transcript of that interview:
In a nutshell, why are you running for Congress?  
I was encouraged by family and friends, on multiple occasions, to run for political office.  I've always been very politically-minded, always the first to strike up honest yet friendly debate.  I'm running because our politicians have lost sight of reality, our reality.  Regular Americans have a long history of working together, prioritizing our household budgets and generally getting a job done. 

Our Congress does not work together. They bicker and attack one another.  They do not prioritize finances; instead they slash at tax-payer benefits while leaving government waste and mismanagement virtually untouched.  They have not gotten the job done.  It's time to put the 'everyday American' work ethic back in our government.
Why should someone vote for you over the incumbent, James Lankford, or his Democratic opponent, Tom Guild?

Simply put, Rep. Lankford has wasted our time and money.  The House has spent its time repealing the same piece of legislation, in the health care law, more than thirty times.  They've passed the minting of a Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin.  They voted to keep our national motto, even though no one ever proposed we change it.  Representative Lankford hasn't fought for a smaller federal government, especially when he suggested we close local Poison Control centers and replace them with one large federally run center. 

Tom Guild is the other side of the same coin.  Just another side of a two-party conflict that has been raging for decades with the tax-payer caught in the middle.  In the last several years, both sides have damaged our country.  People have said for years that they're tired of choosing 'the lesser of two evils'.  It's time for new choices.  You've heard the quote:  The definition of insanity is repeating the same action again and again while expecting a different result.

What are the three most pressing problems in the United States today and how would you address those problems?   

The economy, national security, and energy independence.  And these things are inextricably tied together.   

(1) Let's start with energy independence.  For too long, our energy needs have been tied to, at best, a volatile part of the world.  At worst, it's tied to nations and individuals who want to see our country fail.  My energy solution is an 'all of the above' solution.  We're a vast nation of hard working people and viable resources.  What's more, this is the twenty-first century.  We have the technology and the necessary understanding to do it safely and responsibly.  This means producing and refining American oil.  This means putting wind generators where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.  This means harnessing our deserts for solar arrays.  This means American energy, brought to us by American workers performing American jobs.  That's going to help the economy.

(2) The economy.  That's tough, to explain exactly how to address it.  It's the foundation of everything we do, and so it has to be addressed from many, many sides.  Encouraging new American jobs and production, as mentioned above, is vital.  But it's not enough.  

The House has routinely tried to hack and slash at federal spending... but in the most irresponsible manner possible.  They've dramatically cut things like tax-payer benefits at a time when people have come to need them the most.  We face potentially higher taxes, regardless of our income levels.  But virtually nothing is done to address government waste and mismanagement.  Our federal government is anything but efficient.  And it wasn't the tax-payer that got us into this mess.  The responsible thing to do is to fix the government's 'business as usual' before any further burden is put on the tax-payer.  That's what I'm going to bring to the forefront.

We also have this idea that we have to pursue free trade.  We continue signing these “free trade” agreements with other countries.  And why not?  It sounds so American doesn't it?  Free Trade?  The sad truth is, though, nothing could be further from the truth.  We remove tariffs on imported goods, making us a consumer nation and not a producer nation (that's jobs, by the way.)  These practices are little more than overseas outsourcing made easier.  What makes us think countries like South Korea, Japan, France, anyone have our best interest at heart more than we do?  They don't.

(3) National Security is the last of my top three.  We can do this more efficiently, and with a smaller defense budget.  We've scattered the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  We've removed Saddam.  We even got Osama bin Laden.  We've completed our objectives.  Now, it's time to bring Homeland Security back to the Homeland.  Our borders and ports are our greatest weaknesses.  A fraction of our imports are inspected, and illegal immigrants cross into this country every day.  Simple logic dictates that shoring up our own borders and ports is cheaper than military occupation of the other side of the globe.  Yet, again, very little is being done in this regard.  That needs to change.

What types of cuts in defense spending would you recommend?  
The best kind. Those that naturally come about when you shift your priority to American soil.  Our objectives in the Middle East... to unseat the Taliban, to scatter Al Qaeda, to remove Saddam and even kill bin Laden have all been accomplished.  We've spent ten years doing it.  We've spent more than a trillion dollars doing it.  Some might claim that we have a moral obligation to police the globe... but we do it selectively.  Nations like North Korea don't find themselves invaded.  The mess such an action would create is almost impossible to imagine.  But in situations where we can police the world, we believe that means we should police the world.  That's a falsehood, and it's time to come home.

Our own borders see infiltration on a daily basis.  A shockingly low percentage of the goods coming into our ports are inspected.  Customs officials have all but confirmed we've had weapons of mass effect brought to this country. (See
 YouTube video San Diego Port Security Says WMD Found on American Soil)  These weaknesses allow us to come under threat.  There can be no doubt that our borders and ports are our greatest weakness from a Homeland Security point of view.  By ceasing operations on the other side of the globe and conducting Homeland Security here in the Homeland, the cost savings are obvious.  
What ideas do you have regarding tax reform, if any?  
Simplification.  The tax code is even longer than the enormous health care law, the length of which drew a lot of criticism.  Loop holes and shelters and havens abound.  It's little more than legalized theft not only from the federal government who would collect these taxes, but from the average American who then has to make up the difference.  I support a lower corporate tax rate, to not only bring businesses back to America from overseas but also attract foreign business to come here... but I expect corporations who earn their profits to pay a fair share.  Gone should be the days of 2%, 1% or even 0% paid tax for corporations.

One thing that has been brought to me is a suggestion to abolish the Federal Reserve.  I supported Rep. Paul's call to 'audit the Fed', but we're not in a period of financial stability.  And we would have to be in order to implement anything as radical as a complete financial restructuring.

How do you feel about implementing the Fair Tax as a replacement for the current tax codes?

I'm concerned about it.  On paper, I can certainly see the appeal.  But I think it brings with it a number of caveats that haven't been fully explored, yet.

I've yet to see any firm numbers that indicate we won't be drastically cutting government income.  And when you're in a situation like this, where you've got more money going out than you do coming in, you don't take a huge pay cut as one of the first orders of business.  I also worry that the purchasing power of the middle class becomes limited in certain areas.  On smaller purchases, yes, the middle class might notice a savings.  But for larger purchases, such as homes or cars, things get a little trickier.

For example... a $25,000 car loan with 23% consumption tax would come to a tax of 5,750.  That's on top of any required money down on the loan.  Tax also can't be rolled into the loan, and has to be paid up front.  Let's look at something bigger, like a home.  A $200,000 home would require a whopping $46,000 in taxes... again, something that can't be rolled into a mortgage.  Money upfront.

We're in a financially precarious time.  We need to be in a period of financial stability before we begin implementing such drastically different systems.  I'm not saying it might not work one day... but for now, my plan is simplification of the tax code and eliminating loopholes.  This is the same reason I don't believe in abolishing the Fed at this time, though I do support an audit and transparency.  

You mentioned the criticism of the health care law. What are your thoughts on the Affordable Health Care Act and if you oppose it, what thoughts do you have on health care reform in general?
I oppose certain things about it.  I'll be very honest with you here, I appreciate the spirit of what it seemed to want to accomplish.  I like the idea of including preventative procedures and medicine.  I like the idea of addressing certain preexisting conditions.  Our health care system was a shambles, and insurance companies were routinely harming families as a matter of profitability.  All of it made legal, mind you, thanks to legislation 'purchased' by lobbyists.  

Having said that, though... I'm deeply concerned.  I'm concerned by the fact that it's around 2,700 pages long and still very few people, if anyone, understand fully what it does even to this day.  I'm concerned by the fact that it seems as though taxes for the poor may increase as a result.  I think most conservative-thinking Americans believe the same thing, and I've even heard from registered Democrats who aren't satisfied either.  But this is where the Republican-controlled House and I differ on things. 

They've sought to outright repeal the ACA.  They've done this with no plan to address the original problems in our health care system.  Rather, they've just been looking for a reset button.  That failed, and I think rightly so.  It's irresponsible to pass legislation that's 2,700 pages long... it's irresponsible to pass it without reading it.  It's irresponsible to implement it without knowing the full ramifications.  But it's equally irresponsible to simply yank it all out by the roots without a proper plan to replace it.  And you can't responsibly replace it without first reading and understanding it... do you begin to see the problem, here?  

So they tried to repeal it.  The repeal failed.  They did this more than thirty times, because they were unsuccessful in moving it through the Senate.  They repeal it... the repeal fails.  Again and again.  Not only does this waste tax-payer dollars, it wastes valuable time that could be used to see us through these troubling times.  It's one reason this Congress has accomplished less than any other congress in modern history.  The U.S. House is not a place for carrying out a symbolic political statement.  It's a place to get work done for the American people.

I want to see consumer protection embraced by both sides of the fence.  I want to see choices in medical care.  But I want a clear understanding of what our laws actually do, and what impact they'll have on all of us.  I want to be certain that we're encouraging the market without vastly increasing government involvement in our lives and wallets.  I want to be certain that anything we change is changed because a better idea can be put into practice, not because I want to defeat an opponent.  And that's what the people of Oklahoma want, too.  This isn't the practice we've adopted toward health care, and it's something I intend to push heavily in Washington.

What are your thoughts on the National Right-to-Work Act that is currently being discussed in a House Committee? Are Right-To-Work laws helpful or harmful?  
This is quite a complex issue, as I see it.  I don't support forced union membership, but I believe that the employee has a right to negotiate with their employers regarding wages, benefits and other compensation.  It's an area that I think has become far too politicized as a party agenda item for Reps and Dems.  I have to think that compromises and middle-ground can be established to ensure a strong relationship between employees and employers without curtailing rights for either.

What are your thoughts on legalizing drugs and your thoughts on the War on Drugs in general?

I think there's some middle ground here, as there is with many things.

If we look at alcohol, it's easy to realize it has the potential to be harmful.  But it's not illegal, in so far as it doesn't infringe upon the rights of others.  We choose to regulate it and tax it.  Looking at certain illegal drugs, like marijuana, I see very little reason we couldn't do the same thing.  

But I am not a proponent of simply legalizing all drugs, as some have suggested.  I do believe that there are substances out there, like Meth or the cannibalism-inducing "bath salts", which we're simply better off without.

The War on Drugs seems more directed against marijuana than it does other substances, it's certainly the higher volume of drug-related "crimes" committed. As a general rule, I think we can stand to examine the way we're pursuing it by legalizing certain substances, or at the very least reclassifying them under a different schedule. In many cases, the sentence is disproportionate to the crime. In many cases, we lock up people for years over a fairly harmless and non-vilolent offense. That needs to change... But as I said, I'm not going to propose we simply give up on trying to control on other more volatile substances.

Why are you running as an Independent, rather than as a Republican or Democrat?   
What have they done for us?  Seriously, what have they done?  Congress shares a responsibility to the rest of the nation.  It's a single body of our government, not two separate bodies, but you'd never know it by looking.  They push a party agenda.  And politicians tow that party line.  After all, straying from the established ideology is a great way to get kicked off one's committees and lose party support.  When they're caught in scandals or inappropriate behavior that violates the trust of the people, their parties don't fire them.  They fight and bicker and refuse to compromise.  They can't prioritize what needs to be done.  Need I continue?  They are the ones responsible for this mess.  It's not about Reps and Dems; it's about us and them.  

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:38 PM

    Wow you guys are lucky to have this candidate down there! Although I don't agree with everything he says, he sounds like a reasonable and intelligent person! And one not lining up on partisan lines on different issues. What a breath of fresh air!