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.
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.
- 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.
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