August 24, 2010

Neumann: Big numbers, and small, at town hall forum

There was a lot of math in GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann's town hall forum in Racine Tuesday -- which is not entirely surprising given that the former congressman is also a former math teacher.

The most significant number among many -- the state's $2.5 billion deficit, the $5,658 Wisconsin spends per capita, the 300,000 jobs Neumann promises to bring to Wisconsin if elected, the "biggest one-year tax cut in Wisconsin't history if his voluntary plan for monthly payment of property taxes is adopted -- was a small one, however: barely 12, in fact. That's how many people attended the hour-long session at Gateway Technical College, after subtracting the media, his staff and wife, Susan.

Still, Neumann offered a lot during a 20-minute presentation and 40-minute  question-and-answer session.

His chief message was one he learned during his first year as a home-builder, when he lost $20,000: "You can't spend more money than you have." Neumann has gone from there to big success, owning multiple businesses -- chiefly home construction and real estate development -- earning enough lend his campaign $2.7 million. Whether that's enough to overcome the state Republican Party's endorsement of his Sept. 14 primary opponent, Scott Walker, remains to be seen.

His chief point -- illustrated with slides and graphs -- is this: if government cuts spending, then people will retain more of their own money -- which they will use to buy things, which will cause jobs to be created. That's Neumann's top priority from an economic perspective: "Cut taxes and build jobs."

As his model, Neumann looks to North Carolina's Research Triangle, where 110,000 jobs have been created in five years. His goal would be the creation of 300,000 new jobs in Wisconsin by 2020.

He pledges to "cap the growth rate of spending" by at least 1% below the rate of inflation.

Neumann's second priority is education. The creator of three Christian Choice schools, and one charter school, he wants all Wisconsin schoolchildren tested yearly -- with standardized, national tests so their progress can be compared to students throughout the country. Today, Wisconsin uses its own tests. He wants to replace "small-print" state mandates with accountability measured against each student's annual progress.

He wants schools to compete on the basis of their success, noting that "if you've got a D or an F school," parents will move their children out -- whether those failing schools are private or public.

Third, he wants to streamline government bureaucracy, and eliminate red tape. One way to do this, he says, is term limits for elected officials. His first step, Neumann says, is his own pledge to serve a "self-limited" maximum of eight years if elected  governor. (No sooner had he said that, but someone's cell phone rang, loudly. Neumann joked: "That's just God calling to say he approves this message!")

During his four years as 1st District Congressman (1995-1999, before his unsuccessful run against Russ Feingold for the U.S. Senate), Neumann said he voted at least 15 times for term limit legislation, "Career politicians won't let one get through." Government is "ruled by special interest groups," he says, noting his own rise through the private sector -- and his pledge to return there.

Other points:
  • He supports virtual schools -- "They're less expensive." and would work to eliminate existing caps.
  • High speed rail: "We'll do everything in our power to shut it down." Neumann rejects the notion that the $800 million Milwaukee-Madison rail project is funded with federal dollars, saying that the money will come from "our kids and grandkids. If the federal government had it, I would give it back to you as tax cuts." Scott Walker also opposes the rail project, but would "spend the money on road building and bridges," he said. Democrat Tom Barrett supports the rail plan.
  • Health care: Asked if he would "sign a law"  to fight national health care, Neumann said, "Yes, I would... I don't think Obamacare is the right thing. Government shouldn't be taking over." But when asked if he would sign a bill to limit the construction of healthcare buildings, he said no. "I'm for the free market," he said.
Neumann has given a lot of thought to some of these issues, and wrote a 210-page book, Wisconsin Taxpayers First: A bold plan to take back Wisconsin. It is available free for the downloading from his website.

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  1. The Translator8/24/2010 3:41 PM

    What ticks me off about neumann is he goes bankrupt on his developments in the county, but has the personal wealth to finance his campaign. He cant run his family business, how can he run the state. The only way he gets my vote is if it's between him and Tom the taxer. IMHO, this guy has a Heckenlively's chance of winning.

  2. I'm sick of this lie. Mark Neumann had nothing to do with the company that went bankrupt except that it shared his last name. All of his businesses have been successful, even in a failing economy where career politicians (read: Scott Walker) increased spending and taxes through the roof.

  3. "The creator of three Christian Choice schools" - I guess government handouts are fine if he is on the receiving end.

  4. Mark's tax plan is just a shell game. The money that the municipality uses to operate in 2011 is paid in December of 2010 by most people. You then either pay the mortgage company monthly if you escrow or put it away each month and pay your bill in December of 2011. This money is then used by the Municipality for 2012. This plan doesn't save you anything it only delays it. There is no cut in this plan. Don't believe his bull.

  5. Neumann says don't vote for a lifetime politician. That's what he would have been had he not loss the election the last time he ran - try another line Mark - Walker is going to beat your ass no matter how much money you spend on this election.

  6. Bill Jenkins8/27/2010 11:46 PM

    Neumann is an untrustworthy hack.

    He trashed Walker in commercials and then whined about the governor's race against Barrett going negative.

    I'd vote for Seinfeld's Newman before I'd vote for this clown.