Thursday, August 19, 2010

On Jon Runyan

I saw a TV spot for for Jon Runyan today. It was cute in a generic sort of way, so went to his website to look at his issues. Surely a rookie candidate with over 3300 Facebook fans has a platform that's really going to turn Washington around...

Or will it? A cursory glance looks pretty good, but if you're paying attention, Jon Runyan's platform is actually pretty cookie-cutter. Here is the review of his Issues (not in order).

1. Cutting Taxes and Creating Jobs

Mr. Runyan has eight tax-cutting recommendations. They all sound pretty good in a better-than-nothing sort of way (like increasing the child tax credit from $1000 to $1250). I'm especially a fan of permanently repealing the grave injustice that is the Death Tax. But while I'm always in favor of cutting taxes for whatever reason, lowering taxes is a plank in every politician's platform. They're just words- especially without corresponding cuts in spending. Which brings us to...

2. Balancing the Federal Budget

Runyan talks about the debt, and wants a balanced budget. Everyone wants a balanced budget. The problem is that there are many things currently that are not counted in the official federal budget, such as advance appropriation (which "spends" in the future), delayed payments (putting off costs until the following fiscal year), and emergency and supplemental spending. There's no cap on these things, and none appear on official budgets. Oh, and neither does funding for Social Security, Medicare, the Post Office, or mortgage lending by Freddie and Fannie.

So talk of a balanced budget is largely meaningless so long as there are loopholes. The problem is the power to spend, not the spending itself. But in any case, to balance the budget (even to fake-balance a budget), some things need to be cut. In Runyan's Issues section, I can't find any specific cuts he wants to make. He does mention things he wants to spend on, though. Things like...

3. Beach Replenishment & Shore Tourism


Federal legislators, as a rule, should stay out of state business. But this is why they don't: it's a classic ploy to buy votes. "Vote for me and I'll give you federal money." This is where corruption comes from. It's why people get elected and stay in office. I'm not saying Mr. Runyan is corrupt, but he should use his power to work towards ending this this practice.

4. Military & Veterans Affairs

A sentence in this section reads: "I will ensure that our active military fighting to defend freedom around the world have all the tools necessary to defeat our enemies and return home safely to their family and friends."

This one is straight out of the Republican handbook. The United States has little legitimate business "defending freedom around the world." I want my own freedoms defended and the troops brought home. There are many people who believe war is necessary, and that the same government which has failed to secure the freedoms of its own citizens can effectively police the world. I just happen to disagree, and would rather the troops be brought home immediately. The government's job is to keep us out of war.

5. Seniors, Social Security & Medicare

Here, Runyan talks about keeping Social Security and Medicare solvent (impossible), as well as steering money towards (buying votes from) Burlington and Ocean counties (not federal business), and funding medical research he wants to fund. With our money. Whether we like it or not. We do need to honor the commitments made to the seniors who are helpless without their promised government handouts, but work needs to be done to free future generations as quickly as possible from these corrupt and wasteful programs. We need them gone, not done differently.

6. Energy

Runyan is rightfully critical of the Cap-and-Trade scam, and is in favor of letting states deal with their offshore energy production. These are both positives, but then he goes on about promoting both nuclear energy and the green agenda. And then there's the classic bit about the energy independence fairytale at the end.

I don't believe Congress can write respectable laws, much less determine energy policy. The federal government already subsidizes everything under the sun, which only politicizes the economy. The mere 535 people in congress need to back off of doing what they think is right, and let the other some 300 million people determine our energy policy.

7. Affordable, High Quality Healthcare

While rightly opposing Obamacare, Runyan wants to "start over with a more incremental approach." Wrong answer. There are at least half a dozen things that could be done to legitimately lower the cost of insurance and improve the quality of care, none of which involve the federal government calling the shots. Keep the incremental approach and stay out of it, please. Even among conservatives, this one should be a letdown.

8. Israel

The webpage says it best: As a member of Congress, I will strongly support continued foreign aid to Israel to ensure they have the tools necessary to stand strong in the face of hostilities by their enemies.

Just because it's called Foreign Aid doesn't mean it's not destructive and wasteful. If you want to help Israel or any other foreign country, send your own money and your own children. Our taking sides in foreign conflicts is a cause of our problems, not a solution.

9. Immigration

Taxes, war, education, and our welfare state are much bigger issues than immigration, so Runyan's conservative stance on immigration doesn't bother me as much as it probably should. Rather than go on the offensive, I'd like to see an easing of the path to citizenship (whatever that means exactly), but I'm willing to pick my battles on this one.

10. Congressional Term Limits

The real problem is political power, not the person who wields it. So I have serious doubts as to whether term limits are a real solution to anything. But until Congress gets under control, I do support Jon Runyan's call for term limits.

11. 2nd Amendment

His 2nd Amendment stance is out of the Republican playbook. I'd like to know what he means by "cracking down in illegal guns," but aside from that, this one's a keeper.

12. Marriage

When asked about marriage, all federal legislators should say, "No comment." Marriage should be totally done by contract- it shouldn't be a government issue at all, let alone a federal one.

* * * *

This is pretty typical political fluff that you're likely to hear from any Republican. It's great if you agree with all of it, but this isn't someone who strikes me as a candidate that people who want limited government would rally around. I see Jon Runyan as a guy who wants to go to Washington on his name recognition in order to do what he wants to do. Isn't that why most people run for office? To do what they want to do?

I like that his tax cut ideas are specific, but where are the others? What about the drug war? The spending? Education? The current overseas occupations? Trade? The welfare state? Whether he has Tea Party support or not, I can't get behind a guy who is so generic with his platform. When the best slogan you have is "The other guy is worse," what's that really say about you?

It says to get ready for the continuation of politics as usual. While Jon Runyan's election probably won't kill us, it doesn't look like it will significantly change the course we're on, either.

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