Below are the issue statements from Bob Barr’s newly-updated website. Some of the issues also have video statements on the site.
The federal government should neither regulate personal relationships nor discriminate against individuals for their personal preferences. Laws regulating marriage should be left to the states, precisely where the Constitution places the issue.
Regardless of whether one supports or opposes same sex marriage, the decision to recognize such unions ought to be made by each state rather than imposed as a one-size-fits-all mandate by the federal government. Any federal laws that prevent states from determining their own standards for marriage should be repealed; the federal government should not define marriage, whether by statute or constitutional amendment.
In this way, every state would remain free to determine for its citizens the basis on which marriage would be recognized within its borders, and would not be forced to adopt a contrary determination legislated by another state.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress and The White House have failed to adequately address the services and growing problem of illegal immigration. In essence, America has too many illegal immigrants and too few legal ones, particularly those with unique entrepreneurial, professional and scientific skills.
The government must address both immigration issues.
The border can never be completely open or completely closed. But the starting point of any immigration policy is to secure the borders to the extent possible. America needs to be able to check potential immigrants, criminal background, communicable disease and possible terrorism. Only by deterring massive illegal border crossings can the U.S. put in place a fair and enforceable legal immigration policy.
Equally important, we must end government benefits and services for illegal immigrants. Many local communities and states have begun to reduce payments to those who come here illegally, but a 1982 Supreme Court decision mandates that we provide education to the children of illegal immigrants. This detrimental ruling should be overturned through another Court challenge or a constitutional amendment.
Government and public hospitals also are forced to treat illegal immigrants for all manner of problems (over and above true emergency care). This costs states billions of dollars annually in medical costs. Private charities may support whomever they believe to be worthy of help, but taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize those who illegally enter America. Free health care and education benefits create a powerful economic incentive for illegal immigration.
The U.S. also should reconsider the policy of “birthright” citizenship. The members of Congress and state legislatures that approved the 14th Amendment (in the late 1860s) never imagined that their work would turn the children of tourists, as well as illegal migrants, into citizens. Although a constitutional amendment likely will be necessary to do this, America should join most of the countries of the world and require more the than location of birth to determine citizenship.
We also must transform our immigration bureaucracy and process that both impede legal immigration and encourage illegal immigration. We need to sharply increase the number of economically productive people allowed to enter the U.S. Americans benefit greatly from such immigration. At the same time, however, the government should improve the operation of the fabled “melting pot.” Policies, such as foreign language ballots, which discourage assimilation, should be ended. English should be made the national language for government and official public business.
There is no perfect immigration reform. The government must balance security and sovereignty concerns, which necessitate controlling the border, with the economic benefits of immigration. The best policy would be to stop illegal immigrant flows while accepting more of the world’s economically productive who want to come to America.
Over the past decade, total government spending (state, local and federal) has increased from $2.9 trillion to an astonishing $5.1 trillion in 2008. The $3.1 trillion federal budget submitted by President Bush for 2009 is greater than the combined 1998 spending of the federal government, all 50 states and over 87,000 local governments.
The government cannot continue spending at this rate if America is to remain competitive in the global marketplace. The new administration’s number one job will be to drastically reduce spending by limiting federal outlays to only the government’s legitimate functions, as provided in the United States Constitution.
Every area of federal spending can and should be cut. Entitlements must be reformed and welfare should be cut, including subsidies for business sometimes called corporate welfare. Military outlays should be reduced and pork barrel spending eliminated. Needless, duplicative, and wasteful programs, most of which have no constitutional basis, should be terminated.
Controlling government spending is a necessary step to enact true tax reform, which will reduce the burden on all Americans and allow them to keep more of their hard-earned money.
We should seek to establish a wall of separation between government and the economy. The legitimate economic functions of government are to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. The government should stop attempting to “manage” the free market.
Capitalism is the only economic system that rewards risk, protects individual liberty, and furthers economic freedom. America will be most prosperous and free when the government stops interfering with private economic decision-making.
The cost of entitlement programs is pushing America towards financial ruin. Even though the traditional, bloated federal welfare system had been reformed in the late 1990s, other programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are unsustainable at their current spending rates. With the latter two programs alone facing estimated total unfunded liabilities topping $100 trillion, the government will eventually face the choice of raising taxes by as much as 50 percent or defaulting on promised benefits, if we do not begin taking action right now.
Government should stop acting as the welfare agency of first resort under the guise of providing social insurance. In general, private charity should be the first resort for anyone in need. The process of welfare reform begun by Congress in 1996 should be continued to reduce even further people’s dependence on Washington. In 2007, for example, Americans gave more than $300 billion to charity, an increase over 2006 despite growing economic uncertainty. Government should eliminate regulatory barriers that inhibit private philanthropy, and expand tax deductions to encourage charitable giving.
As for Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, government must emphasize private choice in health care and private retirement accounts. Benefits also should be adjusted to reflect changing demographics as the Baby Boom generation retires, and to emphasize care for those most in need.
Every American who drives an automobile knows that something needs to be done about the cost of energy in the United States. While Republicans are calling for more subsidies to oil companies and Democrats are seeking to micro-manage energy companies with more regulations and laws — or to punish them by raising taxes on them — Americans are left to watch helplessly as fuel prices go through the roof.
Government intervention, whether through more regulations or more subsidies (or both), hurts consumers in the end. The free market, driven by consumer choice and reflecting the real cost of resources, should be the foundation of America’s energy policy. The federal government should eliminate restrictions that inhibit energy production, as well as all special privileges for the production of politically-favored fuels, such as ethanol.
In particular, Congress should allow the exploration and production of America’s abundant domestic resources, including oil in the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and alternative sources such as shale oil. We should develop our nation’s natural assets, which would lower costs to the consumer and assure more adequate and consistent supplies.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq were two separate mistakes, which collectively have cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. Every day that the occupation in Iraq continues without a withdrawal plan is a day that more American blood and treasure (some $400 million a day) is needlessly wasted.
Unlike Republicans, who are calling for essentially permanent bases in Iraq, and Democrats, who have done nothing to counter Republican calls for an indefinite occupation, I would put in place plans for withdrawal without undue delay. While I support an exit from Iraq as quickly as possible, I would not publicly announce a timetable to our adversaries. However, as President, I would begin to immediately and significantly begin to reduce both the military and the economic security blanket we are providing the government.
The Iraqi government has come to rely too heavily on American forces to maintain control of its country, and our U.S. taxpayer dollars to artificially support its economy. A continued U.S. presence in Iraq emboldens both insurgents and terrorists, and discourages the Iraqi government from taking control of promoting peace and prosperity in Iraq.
America should not be the world’s policeman. The American purpose is to provide a strong national defense, not to engage in nation building or to launch foreign crusades, no matter how seemingly well-intentioned.
It is time to reemphasize the word “defense” in national defense. By maintaining a military presence in more than 130 nations around the world in more than 700 installations, with hundreds of thousands of troops deployed overseas, the U.S. spends more to protect the soil of other nations than our own. Bringing these soldiers home would better protect America while saving lives and money. The U.S. requires a military strong enough to defend this nation, not to support and defend much of the rest of the world.
Moreover, foreign aid has proved to be a drain on the U.S. economy while doing little good for the recipients. Aid is routinely used by corrupt foreign governments to oppress their people and enrich powerful elites. Foreign aid almost always discourages economic and political reform, while subsidizing nations which often work against U.S. interests.
American foreign policy should emphasize swift, decisive and winning action against those who vowed would harm us. This means defense, not foreign intervention. We should encourage private involvement around the world, particularly through free trade. The most effective way to preserve peace is through an expanding free market, backed by a full range of cultural and other private relationships, not by maintaining permanent military presences around the globe.
Veterans have fulfilled their commitment to America. America must renew its commitment to our veterans.
Defending the liberties that we enjoy in the United States by serving in the Armed Forces is one of life’s most honorable pursuits. Our veterans who have sacrificed much and risked all to protect America, often paying in their own blood, deserve our support both during their time of duty and thereafter.
The federal government has an obligation to give back to our veterans for their earlier commitment to the nation, and the current administration has done a shameful job in fulfilling this duty. Our veterans have been neglected, ignored and often forgotten by their own government.
Our veterans deserve the medical treatment necessary to care for their injuries sustained in the line of duty. We must correct the deplorable state of health care provided to so many by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and other military hospitals.
Access to affordable, quality health care is an important objective. For this reason, some politicians have pushed for government programs to extend health care benefits to those who cannot afford or who otherwise do not maintain private medical insurance. These efforts come on top of taxpayer-subsidized benefits in the form of Medicare and Medicaid.
There are many causes of today’s high healthcare cost “crisis”. Medical care costs more than it should; access to insurance is more limited by government than it should be; the practice of medicine is more regulated than it should be. The American health care system desperately needs to be treated for ill health.
Our health care policy should be reformed based on the principle of consumer-oriented health care. Regulations which mandate insurance coverage and inflate premiums should be eliminated. Controls which unduly restrict competition within the health care industry, and that limit access to insurance across state lines, should be ended. Moreover, current tax policy, which is biased towards employer-provided, comprehensive health insurance, should be reformed, encouraging individual purchase of less costly catastrophic policies.
Federal health care programs, most notably Medicare and Medicaid, have become financially unsustainable. These programs need to be transformed to emphasize patient choice, focus on the truly needy, and add cost-saving incentives. Here, too, market principles should be applied to bring better quality health care at less cost.
Today’s health care problems are complex, but the solution is not socialized medicine in any form. Countries that have nationalized their medical systems inevitably ration care through the political system; costs are driven down only by denying needed care.
Parents have a duty to raise and educate their children, but without choice for alternatives to government schooling, the ability of parents to fulfill that role is severely limited. Education involves not just practical learning, but the transmission of moral values, making it even more important to return authority to parents for deciding their children’s schooling without interference from government.
The free market naturally provides both choice and competition, providing goods and services of higher quality for less expense. These principles should be applied to education. Unfortunately, the government’s near monopoly on education in the United States has seized control of our children’s education from parents, and has trapped children in failing schools across the country.
The more we increase government control over education, the bigger the problem becomes. Turning education over to the federal government, as through such legislation as the No Child Left Behind Act has not worked. Trying to fix failing schools with more money and regulations also has failed to do anything other than waste taxpayer money without results.
School reform starts by shifting control over education from government to parents. We must abolish the Department of Education, eliminate federal grants and regulations, and begin moving power back to the states and local communities. States should consider tax credits or deductions for parents who home school or send their children to private schools. Public schools should be managed locally, increasing accountability and parental involvement. Parents should have control of and responsibility for the funds expended for their children’s education. Ultimately, education will best serve the children of America if it occurs within a competitive private system rather than a government system.
This year marked the third anniversary of the Kelo decision, one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions in modern times. That decision dramatically limited the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against the wrongful taking of private property by government. Kelo dangerously undermined the protection of property rights in America.
Private property should not be seized absent an overwhelming public interest, including actual use by the public — and even then only with fair compensation that truly reflects the value of the property. Allowing governments, at any level, to confiscate property without a compelling justification represents a serious attack on fundamental liberty. Government’s most basic duty is to protect individual rights, including that of private property ownership, not to diminish them.
America’s Founders viewed the Second Amendment as necessary to protect the citizen, states and the nation from tyranny both domestic and foreign. Blackstone’s Commentaries termed this right as “the true palladium of liberty.”
The Second Amendment is no less important today. As the Supreme Court recently has held, the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right. The Second Amendment guarantees all Americans the means to hunt, protect themselves and their families from crime, and ultimately defeat any effort to impose tyranny in America.
I oppose any law requiring registration of, or restricting the ownership, manufacture, or transfer or sale of firearms or ammunition to law-abiding citizens. The Court majority behind the landmark Heller ruling was narrow, and should be supported by the Justice Department, not undercut by the federal government, as happened during the Bush and predecessor Clinton administration.
Americans pay far too much in taxes. In 2008, Tax Freedom Day was April 23, which means the average taxpayer worked nearly four months to pay all levels of government taxes. It is impossible for any one person to fully comprehend the U.S. Tax Code; each year billions of hours are spent by taxpayers trying to comply with the tax laws.
Tax reform is desperately needed in the United States; but before we can reform the tax code, we must sharply reduce the tax burden on Americans made necessary. Second, we need a tax code that makes taxation fairer and simpler for all citizens. Meaningful tax reform begins with reining in government spending.
There are several alternative tax reform strategies. One would be to create a flat income tax, while cutting or eliminating many other levies, such as the estate tax (or “death tax”) and capital gains tax. Another option would be to replace the income tax and payroll taxes with a consumption tax, such as the Fair Tax; but prior to which it would be essential to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, which allows government to tax the earnings of all hard-working Americans. Initiating a consumption tax while leaving the power to tax income in place inevitably would result in having an income tax on top of a consumption tax.
There may even be good alternatives for tax reform that have not yet been proposed. All of these ideas are better than the present system, and must be debated to determine which would best protect liberty and promote prosperity.
However, tax reform should not end at just reforming the tax code. America’s corporate income tax is among the highest in the world, putting the U.S. at an international disadvantage. The estate tax takes advantage of a person’s death. The capital gains tax discourages investment and capital formation. All of these must be reduced and eventually eliminated.
The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. Government should make no law that discriminates based on race, religion, sexuality or any other personal characteristic. Government laws should respect each person as an individual and treat them equally as such.
The Federal Reserve is a secretive and unaccountable organization which dominates monetary policy, regulates financial institutions, and increasingly intervenes in economic markets. Congress must insist on accountability and transparency in the Federal Reserve’s operation, while reconsidering the Fed’s almost total control over the money supply. We should begin a debate over more far-reaching policy changes, including eliminating the federal government’s control over the money supply, thereby leaving monetary policy under the control of the market rather than of politics.