October 14, 2008
Wherefore art thou, Marge Krupp?
A few days ago, we did a light-hearted post entitled Marge Krupp Found! Well, it turns out we were premature. She's lost again.
Krupp, the Democratic nominee, winner of the four-candidate primary last month, was a no-show at today's Racine Taxpayers Association forum for all three 1st District Congressional candidates. In fairness, Krupp never said she would appear at the forum; the Taxpayers Association said she never responded to the group's invitation. (Later Tuesday, Krupp told the Journal Times she had a family emergency and was unable to attend the forum.)
Nonetheless, Libertarian Joe Kexel and Republican incumbent Paul Ryan bookended her empty chair for an hour-long question-and-answer session. Few sparks were evident, as the two agreed on many issues.
Kexel said he is for "a smaller federal government, one that doesn't take sides, one that doesn't like debt. I fear for my children." What the country needs, he said, is "less federal government and more state and local government."
Ryan agreed, saying "I'm very concerned about our government and the its direction," and pointed out that 18.3% of GDP now goes to support the federal government, but in a few years, "the pathway of the trajectory we are on" will require 40%. He said the country now has $53 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
Here's some of the Q and A.
Q: How do you distinguish between wants and needs?
Kexel: "The free market is sufficient;" it's a personal issue. "Government has no say in it. Once the federal government gets involved, it skews it." Kexel blamed the housing bubble on the government's efforts to put even unqualified people into their own houses.
Ryan: "Wants are things that free individuals choose for themselves; where government gets involved is in needs." Agreeing with Kexel, he said, "Joe's right; the housing bubble was a want...fueled by crony capitalism."
Q. What's your position on the privatization of Social Security?
Ryan: "I am an advocate of privatized retirement accounts. We must stop the raid on the Social Security Trust fund." Ryan talked about his proposal to allow individuals to put one-third of their Social Security funds in "life cycle accounts," and said "there has never been a 20-year period where the market hasn't done better than Social Security."
(Note: At least, that's how I heard it. Congressman Ryan's aide Conor Sweeney says what he really said was this: "Congressman Ryan did not state that he is an advocate of "privatized retirement accounts." As he stated at the event on Oct. 14, Congressman Ryan is "an advocate of personal retirement accounts." Under his proposal (H.R. 6110), individuals would be given the option to either stay in the traditional government-run system or to enter a system of personal accounts. Under the voluntary personal accounts system, the accounts and investment options will be managed and overseen by a public Social Security Personal Savings Account Board – not a stock broker or private investment firm. People who choose the enter the reformed system will select from a handful of government regulated options—similar to the retirement plan the Members of Congress and federal employees use.)
Kexel: "The current system is a pyramid scheme. I recommend a privatized system."
Q. How can bonds be safe when government is out of control?
Kexel: "They may not be. The free market means you do your homework."
Ryan: "Bonds are the safest form of investment... but the full faith and credit of the U.S. government is on shakier grounds. Heaven help us if bonds can't be redeemed. Bonds are the safest ... well, next to gold, I guess."
Q. Are you in favor of reimposing the Fairness Doctrine (equal broadcast time for all points of view)?
Ryan: "No. The right to free speech is something the government should not be censoring."
Kexel: "I would vote against it. Balance will come if we let the free market deal with it."
Q. How would you educate all U.S. kids to compete on a global scale?
Kexel: "It's the parents' job, and local community."
Ryan: "Education is the moral responsibility of the parents. I've already come out against the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. I'm against the federalizing of the curriculum in our local schools. Trust me the bureaucrats in Washington will mess it up."
Q. Are you for or against the war in Iraq?
Ryan: "I voted for the authorization...but the administration messed it up for two or three years." Specifically, he referred to Paul Bremer, the first U.S. envoy there after the invasion, and the debaathification effort. Ryan said the question today is, "How do we come home with a victory?" and insisted "we can't leave a vacuum in the middle east. It matters that we leave a strong Iraq standing." He said, "the surge has worked," militarily and politically.
Kexel: "I would never have voted for authorization. That should only be by Congress, not a president. Now that we're in, I want to get out as quickly as possible." He said, however, that he agreed with former Secretary of State Colin Powell's dictum: "You broke it, you own it."
Q. Should there be a declaration of war before invading Iran?
Ryan: "Yes. I believe in the War Powers Act. Iran is probably our most dangerous foreign policy issue."
Kexel: "Yes, we should have a full debate. The people have to decide, not a person, or a neocon party." He said part of the reason Iran and North Korea insist on developing their own nuclear weapons capability is "because of Iraq, the Axis of Terror designation" made by President Bush.
Q. Do you favor a 9% increase in the Older Americans Act (Medicare reimbursement payments)?
Ryan: "I make a point not to comment on specif program levels...We're going to have a half-trillion-dollar deficit -- $438 billion right now -- We're going to need cutbacks." Ryan said, "My intention is to bring a balanced budget to the floor, as I've done before."
Kexel: "Cookie-cutter solutions do not work."
Q. How much border security is needed?
Kexel: "We should use all the force required. It seems insanity to worry about homeland security with a porous border."
Ryan: "I voted for the fence."
Q. What would you do with the Social Security trust fund?
Ryan: "Make it solvent. Stopping the raid is priority No. 1."
Kexel: "We made a deal with the devil. We should never have had Social Security within the government. If your bank did (what the government has done, using Social Security funds for other purposes), you'd probably sue them. We just broke the New York debt clock."
Q. Should CEO's pay be restricted?
Kexel: "Absolutely not. Companies should pay whatever they want, but we should not have bailouts either." He said the bailout "will create more inflation," and "we're teaching big business that the taxpayer is ready to pick up after you."
Ryan: "No, that's socialism." He said the bailout "was a very hard pill for me to swallow," but the economy is in a "one in 100-year episode" that he likened to "arteries clogged up." The government's intervention, he said, "is meant to prevent a crash, not to prevent a recession. The free market system is in jeopardy; it's an economic episode unlike any we've seen in our lifetime.
Both fear that inflation will follow.
Q. Would you suspend the war on drugs?
Ryan: "I do not support legalizing drugs...The border is a drug security issue too. And we must work on the demand side."
Kexel: "It's very important to have personal liberty. In reality, you can't stop a black market, and a black market creates crime. Most people aren't going to destroy themselves. Imagine a system where alcohol is banned. We tried that..."