This page is dedicated to telling you what I believe and why. Politicians today spend too much time talking about specific “solutions” to this or that problem and almost no time explaining what they believe. Undoubtedly, throughout this campaign I will be asked how I would “fix” specific problems, and I can offer you my approach to most any issue, but I don’t profess to have all the answers, nor do I believe that I should.
My approach is simple. As your state representative I hope to keep government from offering you too many “fixes” because I believe that government is best when it governs least. It is the government “fix” that is often the problem.
Rather than offer you a series of canned answers on specific issues, let me express to you the principles that guide my thinking. If you understand the ideas that inform my beliefs you will always understand my approach to governance.
What are First Principles?
They are the moral, political and economic ideas that form the foundation of our understanding of the world around us. As an American in sympathy with the moral ideas of our founders, I support the notion of “natural” or unalienable rights granted to us by God and guaranteed by our Constitution.
As to political principles, I support the notion of ordered liberty. Because the founders understood the fallen nature of man, they created a system of republican democracy characterized by checks and balances on each branch of government. Like Thomas Jefferson, I believe in a limited or “federalist” system of government that empowers citizens to solve problems at the state or community level rather than looking first to the federal government for assistance.
On economics I embrace the wisdom of men like Adam Smith and Milton Friedman. I believe that capitalism is the most equitable system for the distribution of goods and property. The free market system allows individuals to make their own choices. It reinforces political liberty, rewards hard work, and supplies the necessities of life. Furthermore, it recognizes the human desire for competition and the pursuit of excellence. For over two centuries, the free market system has given hope to millions who have come to our shores seeking the “American dream.”
How do our founding principles relate to Ohio? They are precisely the ideas that empower Ohioans to govern themselves, free from the intrusion of the federal government. They are also the principles that are embedded in our political tradition and history. If our state is to regain its distinctness, one of the most important things we must do is to exercise those powers accorded to the states by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. We must recall that the states empower the federal government, not the other way around.
Let me give you a practical example. In 2005, Congress passed the Real ID Act creating a national identification card. The feds mandated that state IDs meet federal specifications. These included housing citizens’ personal information in a national database. The system was to be paid for by the states. Since then, more than two dozen state legislatures have formally rejected the Act. These states have availed themselves of their constitutional right to protect their citizens from federal mandates. Regrettably, Ohio is not among them.
As the federal government continually seeks to broaden its reach, it is imperative that the state’s leaders reject these federal oversteps. In 2009, several states passed legislation rejecting federal gun control laws. In addition, some states are now considering legislation to nullify any federal health care reform legislation that their residents reject. I support these efforts and would hope to affirm similar legislation here in Ohio.
There is no doubt that the number one concern of Ohioans is the state of the economy and the number one campaign topic will be jobs. But what is the proper role of government in regards to the economy?
The first and foremost duty of government with respect to business is to get out of the way so that businesses can prosper. Clearly, government has a role in regulating business practices to ensure worker safety and the rights of the consumer. However, as Alexis DeTocqueville said it is not the role of government “to cover the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate.” I believe government overregulation is stifling the creative energies of hardworking Ohioans.
As 2009 drew to a close, the state unemployment rate stood at over 10.6% and things were worse than that in much of the 93rd district. I support a low-tax, smart-regulation business policy designed to unshackle entrepreneurs and attract innovative business owners from other areas of the country. I do not, however, believe that government’s job is to ensure the success of any business. The opportunity to be in business must also include the possibility of failure.
Education appropriations in Ohio make up more than 30% of the state’s budget yet each year, second only to health and human services funds. At the local level, school funding is usually the single largest expense. Yet, school districts throughout the state continue to hold their hands out for more taxpayer funds with few accomplishments to justify those requests.
I support a statewide education policy that has as its focus the needs of the student rather than the demands of the teacher’s unions or the education bureaucracy in Columbus. To this end, I support developing a statewide system of school choice in which educational dollars are tied to the individual student rather than to a specific school or district. Such a system would introduce competition into education as families seek out the school system they feel would best prepare them for an advanced education at the collegiate level.
As to curriculum, I would like to see less control over the content of that curriculum from Columbus and Washington, DC and more in the hands of the local school board. What might work well in Cleveland, may not work in Caldwell. If we give students the freedom to choose their school, we must give those schools the freedom to act as laboratories of innovation and excellence. The United States ranks first in per student spending for education. However, in most studies our country trails a number of Asian and European nations in terms of what we get for that money.
Low taxes at the state and federal level are the key to job growth, and the evidence bears this out. When President Reagan took office in 1981, the top marginal tax rate stood at about 70% and the American economy was in dire trouble. Unemployment was high and interest rates were over 20%. One of Mr. Reagan’s first acts was to sign into law progressive tax cuts which brought top marginal rates down to just 28.5% by the end of his second term. Despite this massive cut in rates, federal tax revenues soared as businesses and individuals, freed from the confiscatory tax system of the Carter administration, once again had the incentive to pursue the American Dream.
On December 22, 2009 Governor Strickland signed a $851 million retroactive tax increase on Ohioans. Rather than fulfill a 2005 tax cut commitment, the leadership in Ohio eliminated the tax relief just when families and businesses need it the most. Ohio taxpayers have gone from some of the least taxed in the nation in the 1970s to some of the most heavily taxed today. Our state has climbed 38 places from 45th highest in 1977 to 7th highest in 2008. Ohio currently ranks 47th in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index. The Index compares the states in five areas of taxation that impact business: corporate taxes; individual income taxes; sales taxes; unemployment insurance taxes; and taxes on property, including residential and commercial property.
The point is that Governor Strickland and the Democratic leadership in Columbus have presided over a poorly designed, job-killing scheme of tax and fee increases that have caused businesses to leave Ohio or shed jobs in order to remain viable. In contrast, I support working with business-minded Democrats and Republicans to create an atmosphere designed to encourage businesses to move to our state. As a member of the National Federation of Independent Business and a small business owner myself, I am frustrated and determined to stand against the government’s penchant for punishing the job creators with punitive tax schemes.
Shortly after taking office, President Obama sought to reach out to the Muslim world by speaking in Turkey. In that speech, he made the comment that America is “not a Christian nation.” I could not disagree more. The impetus for those brave settlers who first came to our shores in 1620 was to create a society in which they had the freedom to worship a Christian god as they saw fit. A reliance on Providence and the protection of God is readily apparent in all of our nation’s founding documents. One needs only to conduct a quick internet search to confirm the many mentions of God and Christian principles in the public speeches and writings of our most prominent citizens. In fact, while tolerance for non-Christian religious practice has long been a hallmark of the American experience, the fact is that those who have risen to prominence in this country have overwhelmingly been a product of the Western Christian tradition.
As a weekly churchgoer, religious faith is important to both me and my family. I believe strongly in the tenets of Christianity. I seek to order my life in such a way that I might one day meet my maker on the best possible terms. Nevertheless, I recognize and support full civil rights for those who wish to practice a religion different from my own, or no religion at all. However, it is an error to deny the role of Christianity in the founding and character of this nation. Our unique history is nothing short of a miracle.
My deeply personal belief informs many of the decisions I would make as your representative. For instance, I do not support gay marriage. Marriage is the sole product of one man and one woman.
On abortion I am strictly pro life. I arrive at that position from both a religious and civil rights (the rights of the fetus) perspective. I absolutely oppose the use of state or federal funds for abortion procedures. Likewise, I am opposed to euthanasia or any other practice that would shorten the natural lifespan of any individual.
The Second Amendment has come under increasing attack by those who have misconstrued the meaning of this provision. Our founders were abundantly clear that the right of individuals to own firearms was central to the people’s ability to defend their other rights. In fact, in a draft of the Virginia Constitution (1776) Thomas Jefferson suggested, “No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
Furthermore, the issue of gun control has become a prime example of the federal government’s overreach into an area that should be the purview of the individual states. Much like representatives in Texas and Oklahoma, I would support an Ohio constitutional reaffirmation of the 10th amendment specifically aimed at discouraging the federal government from a one-size-fits-all approach to gun control legislation.
The reality of the issue is that no amount of gun control legislation will prevent criminals from possessing weapons. Rather, poorly reasoned federal legislation runs the risk of preventing virtuous citizens from protecting themselves and their families.