Thursday, February 25, 2016

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore On Issues The United States Is Facing Today


Veterans have sacrificed to ensure our nation’s security.

Many of our finest soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen have been wounded in the wars our nation has had to fight. Many more will be in the fights necessary to defeat the terrorist networks and other enemies.

More about this Issue

Preserving our Second Amendment Rights


“Every state and the District of Columbia will be required to honor the concealed carry permits issued by every other state and DC. There will never be an assault weapons ban during my presidency. As the Constitution says, our Second Amendment rights shall not be infringed.”

I am committed to the individual right to keep and bear arms by every American who has not forfeited that right by criminal conviction or other action. The right own, carry and keep a gun is under relentless attack and pressure. As President I will be committed to standing up for our rights under the Second Amendment.

There is far too much violent crime in America. But that fact does not arise from the right of Americans to keep and bear arms.

The real reasons for violent crime – especially crimes in which guns are used – is that it’s easier for politicians to huff and puff about the need for more gun control rather than deal with the real problems. You can see that in cities such as Baltimore and New York where the mayors scorn the police and don’t want to face the facts that are causing their people to suffer from so much crime.

We know what the real problems are: the need for easier involuntary commitment of the dangerous mentally ill, the dangers brought about by Obama’s open borders policy and surer appropriate punishment of criminals.

I know these are the real issues because I am a member of the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors. I have defended Americans’ Second Amendment rights throughout my career and will continue to do so because the Second Amendment is just as important as any of the other rights preserved for us by the Constitution.

Every tragedy such as the Newtown school massacre, the killings in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater and the mass murders at Virginia Tech have one thing in common. They were all perpetrated by people who were mentally ill and dangerous to everyone around them. That problem isn’t going to be solved by gun control and background checks.

For decades, the states have made it harder and harder to involuntarily commit the dangerous mentally ill. Psychiatrists and psychologists owe it to our society to devise effective tests, and states need to adopt better laws, to ensure that to the greatest extent possible the dangerous mentally ill can be identified and involuntarily committed for however long they remain a danger.

We need to do a lot more to protect our children in schools. Not every teacher should be required to be armed, but those who choose to be should be specially trained with Tasers and firearms. We need to put ballistic-resistant doors and locks on classrooms and protect first-floor windows with ballistic glass. Teachers need to have the training and means to save children’s lives until police arrive to deal with a shooter.

Gun-free zones serve only to tell potential murderers and terrorists where their most vulnerable victims can be found. We need to arm our off-base military, all of whom are terrorist targets. Failing to do so is irresponsible and puts our troops at risk.

Gun control advocates need to face the fact that their efforts will hurt far more than they help. And our minority community should realize that, as Justice Scalia’s brilliant opinion in DC v Heller showed, the American gun control movement began in post-Civil War years when southern states chose to prevent blacks from owning firearms. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

Gun control is not the answer to our society’s problems. Effective methods of institutionalizing the dangerously mentally ill, protecting our school children and ensuring the enforcement of our laws to imprison criminals and protect our borders are the answer.


Winning the War


We need to win the war the terrorists and terrorist nations are waging against us. The only way to do that is to defeat them not only on the battlefield but by defeating the ideology of radical Islam at the same time. My experiences – as governor of a state attacked on 9-11, as a counterintelligence agent in the Cold War – give me the necessary skills to lead America forward to victory.

We are fighting the longest war in America’s history. It is being waged against us by the terrorist networks and the nations that sponsor them such as Iran.

This war has been going on at least since the 1979 seizure of American diplomats in Tehran, Iran. It has continued through many other attacks, including the 1982 bombing of the Marines’ barracks in Beirut, Lebanon by the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah terrorists and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and the airliner that crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

It is a cliché to say that we cannot kill our way out of this war. That statement is correct as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. We must – and as president I will – apply the weapons of war necessary to win any fight. But we also have to win another fight: the ideological war no other candidate apparently understands.

Radical Islam is an ideology to the same extent that Islam is a religion. Radical Islam is an integrated system of beliefs and religious laws upon which a form of government is intended to be based. It’s not like American conservatism or liberalism, but it is very much like Communism, Nazism and Shintoism, ideologies we have defeated in the past.

Like the Nazis, the radical Islamists play on the sense of persecution and cultural inferiority that many people in underdeveloped nations have because they are truly oppressed. And, like the Nazis, the Islamists have convinced their followers that the problems of their world are the fault of others. The Islamists blame every ill of their world on America, the West, the Jews and Israel.

Like the Soviets, the Islamists believe that their enslavement of the world is inevitable (though, unlike the Soviets, they believe it is God’s will that they must succeed). Radical Islam’s adherents, like the Nazis and the Communists before them, believe their victory is both inevitable and irreversible. That is a powerful ideology which we have yet to engage with the necessary weapons.

Our military – comprised of many of the best people our country has ever produced – is winning every fight it enters. But it can’t win the war only by bombing and shooting. Our politicians have to do their share by fighting the ideological war.

When he first became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2005, Marine Gen. Peter Pace demonstrated that he understood this better than any of our politicians. In his “guidance” to the Joint Staff, published soon after he took the job, Pace said, “Our enemies are violent extremists who would deny us, and all mankind, the freedom to choose our own destiny. Finding this distributed, loosely networked enemy is the greatest challenge we face. We must find and defeat them in an environment where information, perception, and how and what we communicate are every bit as critical as the application of traditional kinetic effects.”

Pace was precisely correct. What we say and write is just as important in this war as how well we shoot. Unless and until we defeat the ideology of radical Islam we cannot defeat the terrorists who use it to propel their war. We cannot win the kinetic war without winning the ideological war.

So how do we do it?

There are two predicates to winning the war against terrorism and the nations that sponsor it.

First, we must have the strong presidential leadership that can lift up the American people and bring them to understand that in this longest war the enemy will have some successes, even in future terrorist attacks on our homeland. But instead of living in fear of such attacks, we can – and I promise to do – whatever is necessary to produce a victory over the terrorist networks and the nations that sponsor them.
I know how to do this. My experiences as governor when the Pentagon was attacked on 9-11, as Chairman of the congressionally-mandated Advisory Panel on Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction and as a counter-intelligence agent during the Cold War give me the skills to accomplish that, skills none of my opponents have.

Second, we must strengthen our intelligence capabilities – not only satellites but intelligence agents in hostile nations – who can provide the information essential to interdicting and deterring attacks on Americans at home and abroad. We should invest in new intelligence technologies in order to attain and maintain the upper hand against all our adversaries but especially against the natural advantage terrorists have in their ability to hide among otherwise peaceful people.

In doing that, we have to maintain our free society and not give carte blanch to domestic intelligence activities. Intelligence must be established to adequately protect us from terrorists who come across our borders and home-grown terrorists as well. But it must be limited by our laws and subjected to strict oversight.

In order to win this war we have to understand the grip radical Islam has on too many people in too many nations. It is the reason President Bush’s nation-building had to fail in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have to look for, and encourage, those moderate Muslim leaders who want to reform their religion to reject the Radical Islamists’ ideology.

I was encouraged by the January 1 speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In that speech, al-Sisi called radical Islam to account. His central theme was the insanity of Islam trying to set itself apart from – and to conquer – the rest of the world. His words flew in the face of all the terrorist network leaders saying, “It is inconceivable that the wrong ideas that we sacralize (sic) should make the entire umma [Muslim community] a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction for the whole world. This is not possible.”

Al-Sisi thus condemned not Islam itself, but those who say that Islam’s sacred texts should be read to demand that it dominate the entire world, to set itself at war with all other religions.

We cannot embrace al-Sisi because of his oppressive domestic policies but we can work with him to change those policies and to encourage his ideological fight. We can, and must, seek to encourage other Muslim leaders at home and abroad to follow his example. Those Muslim leaders, including those in the United States, who want to resist the radical Islamists’ ideology must be encouraged to do so and helped as much as a non-Muslim nation can.

In a highly significant speech on July 20th of this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron described why this war is an ideological one and outlining his policies on how to fight it.

Cameron first stated the obvious: that radical Islam, the Islam of the terrorists, is an extremist doctrine and, he said, an ideology that is subversive to Western democracies. He said that the ideology is based on a sort of paranoia. It’s based on conspiracy theories that are a warped view of the world, such as Jews exercise malevolent power in the West seeking to destroy Islam, that 9-11 was inspired by Mossad to justify the invasion of Afghanistan and that the terrorist attacks on London’s buses and subways were tolerated by the British security services to provoke an anti-Muslim backlash.

Cameron’s words are worth quoting because they outline the policies I will adapt to guide America and win the ideological war:

First, any strategy to defeat extremism must confront, head on, the extreme ideology that underpins it. We must take its component parts to pieces – the cultish worldview, the conspiracy theories, and yes, the so-called glamorous parts of it as well.
In doing so, let’s not forget our strongest weapon: our own…values. We should expose their extremism for what it is – a belief system that glorifies violence and subjugates its people – not least Muslim people.
We should contrast their bigotry, aggression and theocracy with our values. We have, in our country, a very clear creed and we need to promote it much more confidently. Wherever we are from, whatever our background, whatever our religion, there are things we share together.

Cameron’s words are a guideline that all Western democracies should use to defend their laws, their cultures and to insist on the obvious fact that they are superior in every way to the ideology of Radical Islam. That is the path to victory in this long war.

There can never be any doubt that America will stand for its Constitutional system of government. I will defend the Constitution, as every president must, against all its enemies. Together, we can defeat the ideology of radical Islam and terrorist networks to whatever degree may be necessary to make them understand they have been defeated.


Foreign Policy and America’s Role in the World


America must always be a force for freedom. To that end, I will take specific actions directed at correcting the many mistakes President Obama has made. Because of those mistakes, we are no longer trusted by our allies or respected by our enemies. Throughout my presidency America will keep its word to ally and adversary alike. We need to reject the Iran nuclear deal, stop drawing red lines we don’t mean to enforce and deny the UN the power to control our actions. In my presidency, we will be fully engaged and leading from a position of strength. That’s a real formula for peace through strength.

From World War II until President Obama took office, America was the respected and trusted leader of the free world. We stood up to the threat of Soviet communism and defeated it. When the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, there began a new birth of freedom in Europe and many other regions. But even before that, the rise of radical Islam began to enslave many peoples, an enormous threat to freedom that continues to rise because Obama refuses to deal with it.

President Obama believes that a weaker America makes the world safer and that we are have no greater place in the world than any of the UN’s other members. That’s flat wrong. America offers the freedoms, preserved by our Constitution, that ensure life, liberty and the ability to prosper. Our moral, religious and Constitutional systems make us superior to the many nations that don’t offer those freedoms.

Call it what you will, American exceptionalism is a fact, and that makes our place in the world what it has always been. America is a force for freedom, an untiring voice against oppression and slavery, and a stabilizing force. We have the right and the duty to defend ourselves and our allies. To do so we must act – diplomatically, economically and when necessary militarily — from a position of global strength.

I will recreate America’s foreign policy on that basis. I will guide our foreign policy with the understanding that both the neocons and the isolationists are wrong. The neocons are too willing to go to war to reshape the world. On the other hand, the isolationists refuse to recognize threats to our vital national security interests that have to be deterred or defeated. Their weakness only encourages aggression.

We should never engage in nation-building or fight indecisive wars. War is always a last resort. But there are some acts of aggression that have to be defeated. As we learned in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, if you do not fight a war in a manner calculated to win it decisively, you will lose inevitably.

We must engage constructively with our allies and with our adversaries to our mutual benefit. We should never draw “red lines” against an adversary’s action unless we mean to enforce them. I will not sacrifice America’s credibility to phony “red lines,” nor will I allow the United Nations to control any aspect of our foreign policy as Obama has done in his dangerous Iran deal.

We cannot rely on the United Nations to produce a diplomatic resolution to any significant problem. I will conduct American foreign policy in America’s interests with the objective, always, of keeping the peace. But our diplomacy will be conducted in a manner that uses all of our national assets – diplomatic, economic and military – to best advantage.

As the Obama foreign policy has proved time and again, weakness is provocative. We must always retain the option of acting unilaterally, but we should prefer to function internationally through real alliances with dedicated allies both new and old. Our diplomatic adversaries will quickly learn the difference between our vetoing a UN resolution and our sending an aircraft carrier battle group. We will neither demonstrate weakness nor provoke aggression. And, at all times, I will ensure that we have the ability to deter or defeat any significant threat.

I will recreate America’s foreign policy in accordance with those specific principles.

When Obama and Hillary Clinton began implementing his “transformational” foreign policy they began a process that has, intentionally in accordance with his plan, forfeited America’s influence and power. Obama has done this by shunning our allies and embracing our enemies. He has broken other presidents’ commitments to allies, such as President Bush’s promise of a ground-based missile defense system in Poland to protect Europe. And he has engaged in extremely unwise agreements, such as the new Iran nuclear weapons deal, which place our allies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Israel, under the intolerable threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

One measure of the great harm Mr. Obama has done is the number of nations that used to depend on us to guide their foreign policies and now reject our leadership. NATO is adrift. Saudi Arabia, among others in the Middle East, has made it clear that it will no longer follow America’s policy lead. Many other nations are going their own ways because we are not trusted. We must correct that and again make our nation the trusted and respected leader it was for so long.

Our next president will bear the heavy burden of repairing the damage Obama has done. America needs to again be a force for freedom and stability in the world. To do that, we first need to re-earn the trust of our allies and re-earn the respect of our enemies. If we are going to re-earn that trust we must do it in a way that respects our allies.

Some of the other candidates apparently believe we can just say America will resume its leadership to have it happen. That’s wrong. Our allies have to grant their trust based upon concrete actions.

To re-earn our allies trust – and our adversaries’ respect — we need to take foreign policy actions aimed specifically to correct Obama’s mistakes. The biggest example is the Iran nuclear arms deal which I will revoke if elected.

I will create a new Middle Eastern alliance along the lines of NATO. The Arab states, usually our allies, can be convinced that our foreign policy can be trusted as a guide to theirs. The Arab nations already understand that their common enemy is Iran, not Israel. A cornerstone of the new treaty will be that Israel will be a member of the alliance and share in the obligation to defend against Iranian aggression.

That is a plan from which we can derive the specifics of national defense and foreign policy. It is a plan to achieve peace through strength and responsible, constructive engagement with the world.


Immigration and Border Enforcement


The first thing I am going to do is get every illegal immigrant who is a criminal, like the man who allegedly shot down Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, off our streets. I will – quickly – secure our borders and end the ability of cities to declare themselves sanctuaries for illegal aliens. And I will insist that the only path to citizenship for illegals currently in our nation is a path back across the border. No one who comes to this country illegally should become a citizen. Those who come legally should be able to follow the path that has been taken by millions of other legal immigrants who have come to our country and become citizens.

A nation that doesn’t enforce its own borders cannot claim to be a nation. America is a nation of laws but President Obama has refused to enforce our laws against illegal immigration. In disregard of the Constitution he has refused to enforce many laws and has declared revisions to our immigration laws without congressional legislation to accomplish those changes. He has thus created an anarchy of open borders.

We are a nation of immigrants and should always welcome those who come here legally, who intend to become Americans, to join our culture and to help serve and protect our constitutional system of government.

But Obama’s open border policy has not only let too many illegal aliens into this nation, it has also refused to protect us against the violence that some bring with them. The murder of young Kathryn Steinle allegedly by an illegal immigrant who had seven prior felony convictions and was released to walk our streets, is a terrible lesson that Mr. Obama refuses to learn.

That lesson is perfectly clear. Our borders must be secured. That means people such as the alleged killer of Ms. Steinle – a man who had been deported several times — should never have been allowed to re-enter this country. When a person is deported, they should not – by negligence or lack of action – be permitted to re-enter our nation unless they apply successfully for legal entry.

Those are the first steps: secure our borders and not let anyone – far less known criminals — into our society. But our immigration system is broken. We need to reform it.

Reform doesn’t mean deporting all of the many millions who are here illegally. And it doesn’t mean that someone who came here illegally should ever be eligible for American citizenship. Reform also doesn’t mean that anyone who can get here should be entitled to remain. Amnesty – which has been defined to include a path to citizenship — is and will remain the wrong remedy.

Reform means that those who legally immigrate regardless of their racial or ethnic identity or their national origin should be welcomed. They should benefit from a system that works faster and more effectively. Those who entered illegally years ago – those who pay their taxes, who work hard to assimilate into our culture, who obey our laws and system of government and learn to speak our language – should be given the ability to work legally.

None of this can be done unless and until we secure our borders. Once that is done and our system of securing the borders has been proven to work we can proceed with these other necessary reforms.


Repairing America’s Defenses


America is in greater danger every day we continue down the path of weakness and retreat President Obama has followed. The threats our country faces are extreme and increasing. Thanks to Obama’s slashing of the defense budget, America’s military capabilities are in the worst shape they’ve been in 60 years. This isn’t just a matter of budgeting. I will restore a national strategy of peace through strength with specific plans and objectives to ensure America is worthy of our allies’ trust and our enemies’ respect. It will take time to solve the many problems Obama has created, but I will soon again to deter or defeat any nation or terrorist network that threatens our country.

President Obama’s wrong-headed policy has forfeited America’s influence in the world because of his core belief that America’s global standing needed to be reduced. He has created a situation in which America is no longer, as it had been since World War 2, the world’s foremost defender of freedom.

To put in simply, America is in great danger because of the policies Obama has pursued.

Natan Sharansky, one of the bravest survivors of the Soviet Union’s gulags, wrote last April in the Wall Street Journal that America has suffered a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. America, he said, has forgotten that it’s America. It is not just a lapse of collective memory. It is the necessary result of Obama’s intentional rejection of the principles that made America the most prominent force for freedom in the world, one which our most powerful enemies understood to be an immovable barrier to aggression.

We expect our military to defend America, help defend our allies and even provide disaster relief in remote corners of the world. Our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps are responsible for deterring and, if necessary, defeating any major threat to America. But we have no national defense and intelligence strategies to answer the key question: what do we expect our military to do, and what do they need to do it? Devising those strategies will be Job One when I am president.

What do we want America’s role in the world to be? To heed Sharansky’s admonition, we need to remember who we are and restore America to its role as a global power. We can – and must – be able to help bring stability to crucial regions of the world. We should not be the world’s policeman. But whenever a vital American national security interest is threatened or actually violated, we need to be able to deter or defeat that threat.
That doesn’t mean we would respond militarily to every situation or even to most. Only vital national security interests – not every interest everywhere – must be protected.

The threats to America are growing and outpacing defense and intelligence spending and planning. Yes, our military and intelligence capabilities must be restored and that will cost a lot of money. But to fix the problems Obama has created is not merely a question of budgeting. It’s a matter of devising an in-depth national security strategy.

That strategy, if I am elected, will be based on the rising dangers we have to face. Russia’s expansion into the Crimea and Ukraine as well as China’s growing domination of the South China Sea are only two of the threats that our best military minds will have to find solutions. Historically, we have been prepared to fight a two-front conflict. Now we are not only unprepared to fight more than one, we may not be able to fight and win any large conflict.

We face networks of terrorists including al-Qaida, ISIS and literally dozens of others with regional or global reach. Nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran – the most powerful sponsor of terrorism – need to be deprived of the capabilities that can endanger America. That is only one of the reasons I will revoke Obama’s Iran deal.

We need to deal with the broad threat of cyber attacks on our industry and government. It’s no exaggeration to say that the armed forces, intelligence community and defense and civilian industries suffer thousands of cyber attacks every day. Last March, Adm. Mike Rogers, commander of US Cyber Command, told congress that our efforts to deter cyber attacks aren’t working. We need an offensive cyber capability – and plans and strategies to use it – to deter and defeat these attacks.

It is only an in-depth understanding of these threats and definite plans to deal with them that can lead us to the proper budgeting for our armed services and intelligence community. We have to do better, and we can if we do some hard work and engage in the kind of serious thinking that hasn’t been done since 2008.

My experience equips me to lead these efforts and create the national defense and intelligence capabilities we will need in the near and more distant future. I know the intelligence world, having served as a counterintelligence agent during the Cold War. I was the Chairman of the congressionally-mandated Advisory Panel on Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction (which came to be known as “The Gilmore Commission.”) I’ve come to understand many of our global problems – and the allies who can help us solve them – on missions to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Croatia and Israel. No other candidate can claim that range of experience.

From the top down, as a matter of national policy, we need to understand at a detailed level just what the Pentagon is going to be expected to do for the next five to ten years. Without the analytical basis provided by such a review, budgeteers are working in the dark. I would also conduct a “bottom-to-top” review of our intelligence capabilities to ensure that our intelligence agencies – also suffering Obama’s from neglect – have what they need to protect America.

This is a strategy that will ensure our ability to deter or defeat any major threat to the United States. By implementing it when I am president, we will again achieve peace through strength.


Restoring America’s Economy


I am going to get America moving again and create jobs. I will cut taxes for all Americans, have three simple tax brackets, reduce business taxes to 15 percent and eliminate the death tax. The reason we are in this fix is because Obama has stifled our economy with Obamacare, excessive taxes, needless regulations and unconstitutional executive orders. I will get our economy going again so we can create full time jobs, increase wages and provide hope and opportunity to our citizens.

For most of the years since 1945, America’s economy has grown steadily resulting in a path to prosperity for a great number of us. It has, quite literally, been the most powerful engine of freedom in the world. When John Kennedy faced a period of economic doldrums, he took action that – after his death – resulted in economic growth of over 10% in 1965. Ronald Reagan, facing a similar problem, took similar action. He, too, brought our economy to average 10% growth in 1983-1984.

But the economic meltdown of 2008 saw our growth slow to a negative 1%.

Those growth percentages mean something to every American. They determine whether good full-time jobs are available. They determine whether families can afford homes, cars and college educations for their children. When the economy slows, jobs get scarce. When jobs are scarce, America’s path to prosperity – the American dream our parents always talked about – is blocked.

Since 2008, under President Obama’s economic policies, the only things that has grown in America is government spending and debt. His “stimulus plan” didn’t stimulate the economy. His Federal Reserve has kept inflation down by “quantitative easing,” a policy that artificially depresses interest rates by buying up government securities. His “jobless recovery” is an economic oxymoron, and all of his economic policies have only added obstacles to recovery.

In the first quarter of 2015, US economic growth was a paltry 0.6%. The second quarter results weren’t that much better: only 2.3%. Our economy should be growing at a rate three or four times as great.

Jobs are still scarce because America’s economy has still not recovered significantly. It’s stalled because Obama’s policies don’t allow it to recover. We have the highest business tax in the developed world. Regulations are strangling businesses and entrepreneurs face unnecessary risks. No wonder jobs are scarce. Businesses are faltering and growth is stymied.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly one-third of the entire population of the United States – about 100 million people – don’t have full-time jobs.

I have devised a plan called “The Growth Code to repair our economy. The Growth Code’s specifics are:


  • To simplify taxation on individuals and families those who continue to file their income taxes on the standard Form 1040 will be subject to a simplified progressive tax of 10, 15, or 25%. Deductions will be taxed in accordance with the “No Double Taxation” rule;
  • To unify all business taxation in the United States. All business income will be declared on the same tax form for each business. Taxes will be imposed at the rate of 15% for business-created income;
  • To allow for immediate first year expensing of business investments. An option should exist to allow expensing any credit against future years’ income if it can be shown that the income from the investment occurred after the end of the year in which it was made. Under current law, gradual depreciation schedules prolong recovery of the investment and prevents full recovery of the amount invested in the business for equipment or other assets;
  • To end double taxation on individuals and businesses which is an existing bias against investment. In the current system, profits, interest or other earned income from investment is taxed as ordinary income in addition to the business tax rate. Spending on consumption is now treated more advantageously than saving for investment. It is our contention that we should level the playing field so that consumption spending and saving for investment are treated the same.
  • To provide that profits earned abroad are repatriated to the U.S. tax free because those profits will already have been taxed once by the foreign country. Under this principle, dividends and capital gains will not be taxable to the person receiving the money, because it has already been taxed once at the corporate level.
  • To provide that deductions for mortgage payments will continue to be deductible for an individual. Also, The Growth Code does not propose to disturb the payroll tax which goes directly to fund entitlement programs. Charitable contributions will continue as deductions based on the recognition of the long-standing American belief that private citizens who desire to fund charity and provide services should be able to do so to relieve what would otherwise be the government’s burden.
  • To provide that every citizen will pay some form of tax, usually at the lowest 10% level under the simplified tax brackets. However, we recognize the need and desire to shield the very poor and families. With this in mind we propose to establish a Family Refundable Tax Credit (FRTC) of $4,300. Families earning less than the poverty level would receive this credit in the form of a check to supplement their income, reduced in the amount of their tax liability.

The Growth Code is not a collection of pie-in-the-sky theoretical remedies to our continued economic problems. These are the historically-proven policies that worked for Kennedy and Reagan.

When the Growth Code is enacted into law, the results will be a new turbocharged economy. Growth will recover quickly from its lows in the Obama years to exceed the historical average of 4% per year. Unemployment – real unemployment, which now ranges above 9% — will drop significantly because new good jobs will be created. Wages will go up due to job growth and the American dream will suddenly become achievable for millions of Americans now denied it.

Americans want jobs and deserve an economy that enables good, productive jobs to be found. Mr. Obama believes, as he once said, that if you have a successful business, you didn’t build that. Mrs. Clinton, as she has said, doesn’t believe people should listen to anyone who says businesses create jobs.

We know better. We have to get government out of the way so businesses can create jobs and America can prosper again.


Health Care Reform


I will repeal and replace Obamacare with a patient-oriented healthcare system. Obamacare has become an oppressive burden on our people and our economy. As a result of Obamacare, many Americans are now being force to work 29-hour weeks and have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. Millions of others have had their insurance rates increased or their policies cancelled. This law is a principal reason that our economy is not recovering. It must not stand.

The first duty of every doctor and surgeon is to do no harm. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act – also known as “Obamacare” – has interfered with their ability to satisfy that oath and has crippled our healthcare system.

Obamacare interferes with the doctor-patient relationship, raises taxes on some things and creates new ones on others. And, most importantly, it has created such a burden on our economy that it has become one of the principal reasons the American economy remains stagnant.

More than fifty percent of Americans favor repeal of the law. They are right: it should be repealed for several big reasons.

First, Obamacare is keeping employers from hiring new employees in full-time jobs by redefining the work week. Instead of the normal workweek of 40 hours, Obamacare defines full time employees as any who work 30 hours a week or 130 hours a month.

As too many Americans have discovered for themselves, you can’t support yourself and your family on less than 30 hours’ wages a week. Employers who are or will be covered by the Obamacare employer mandate don’t want to hire full time employees because if you do you have to either help them pay for expansive Obamacare health insurance or pay a big penalty.

You have to get a second or even third job to make up for the loss Obamacare imposed. Too many Americans can’t find 40-hour a week jobs and Obamacare is the reason they can’t.

Almost as bad has been Obamacare’s effect on the price of healthcare insurance in America. Millions of people and their families have had their policies cancelled because of Obamacare. If they can buy replacement policies, those policies come at a much higher cost. Some states, such as Florida, have seen the price of healthcare insurance premiums rise from 30%-100%. Many states have experienced the same, and some have seen expenses rise even higher.

According to Americans for Tax Reform, Obamacare contains 20 new or raised taxes including a hike in Medicare payroll taxes, taxes on medical devices and innovative drug companies and many others. It’s a drag on our economy that penalizes research and development into medicines and revolutionary medical technologies that save lives.

There may be some things we want to save from Obamacare, such as the coverage of young people on their parents’ insurance policies until they are 26 years old and the necessity of covering people with pre-existing conditions. But those things can be added to the legislation that should replace Obamacare or through state legislation.

We need an approach to healthcare that is predicated on free-market incentives. With those incentives, we need to encourage businesses to provide better healthcare benefits to their employees. This has the double benefit of employees wanting to remain in good jobs and employers given greater ability to retain good employees.

There are good ways to reform the American healthcare system. I favor the approach taken by Cong. Tom Price (R-Ga) who has repeatedly introduced bills such as his “Empowering Patients First Act,” which he offered in June 2013.

Under Price’s bill, healthcare reforms include:

  1. Interstate sale of insurance;
  2. Promotion of Association Health Plans (AHPs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs);
  3. Income-adjusted, “advanceable,” and refundable health insurance premium credits;
  4. A tax deduction for income spent on health insurance for households ineligible for premium credits;
  5. Malpractice and provider antitrust reform.

Under this approach, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal budget would be reduced by over $1.7 trillion over ten years.

Obamacare is a burden our people and our economy shouldn’t have to bear. It should be repealed and replaced with the sensible reforms such as those in Price’s bill.


Climate Change


Climate change is a reality. The question is why and what is the answer? The answer is not — as Obama has done — to take actions that cause utility bills to skyrocket for every American family and drive jobs out of the country so those same hard working Americans won’t be able to pay the higher utility bills. China and India will get those American jobs and they are doing nothing to help with climate change. The climate change problem cannot be solved by America alone.

Climate change is a reality, but the debate on whether it is caused by man – the anthropogenic climate change we hear about every day – is very far from over.

We should not agree to any treaties, congress should not enact any laws, and the administration should not issue any regulations that strangle our economy in pursuit of an ephemeral goal of reducing global carbon emissions. According to The Economist, America ranks between China – the world’s biggest emitter, which exceeds US emissions by about 50% — and India which emits about 50% of what America does. It makes no sense to agree to any global climate change treaty that doesn’t place equal burdens on those economies and those of Russia and Japan, which rank fourth and fifth according to the same source.

In 2009, President Obama proposed a “cap and trade” system which he admitted would cause the U.S. price of electricity to skyrocket. Fortunately, that plan never passed into law. But, as usual, Obama is going beyond his constitutional authority and implementing new regulations to force the same result by regulations on coal-fired generation plants.

By his new regulation, Obama is trying to force states and power companies to shift their investments to solar and wind power. We’ve seen that before and we know it doesn’t do anything other than burden our economy with false remedies. When government forces investment that the free market doesn’t reward, you get the results we’ve seen such as the failure of Solyndra. That cost the federal government more than half a billion dollars. The House Oversight Committee said in 2012 that the cost to American taxpayers of Solyndra’s failure could be as high as $849 million dollars.

America should not be driving industry to more costly failures like Solyndra and our taxpayers should not have to pay for them. Obama’s regulations should be revoked immediately.

We should all be conservationists. That means we will preserve and maintain our air and water quality, protect wildlife from extinction and thus help contribute to our quality of life. Making the cost of energy skyrocket will reduce our quality of life. That’s an unnecessary sacrifice to impose on Americans.


Securing Our Nation, Future & Values By South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham


Secure Our Nation


Prepared to be Commander in Chief on Day One

We need a president who is prepared to be Commander in Chief on Day One. Our nation faces grave threats at home and in every region of the globe. Radical Islam is on the rise, and authoritarian leaders in Russia and China perpetrate their aggressions with impunity. Our allies distrust us and our enemies have no reason to respect or fear us. We need a president who understands the complex threats we face, has a clear and coherent strategy for addressing them, and will restore strong American leadership as a stabilizing force that reduces the chaos and conflict that currently engulf so much of the world. As president, Lindsey Graham would ensure we have the capability, the capacity, and the will to preserve our security and our values at home and abroad.

Restore American Leadership

We must end the practice of capitulating to our adversaries, alienating our allies, and abandoning those who are confronting the naked aggressions of dictatorial regimes. The threats and chaos plaguing every corner of the globe demand comprehensive strategies, and the military might to back them up. Leading from behind or retreating into isolationism only allows global threats to grow and raises the costs in the long term of securing our nation. We need a return to presidential leadership on the world stage that ensures the protection of Americans.

Fully Fund and Support Our Military

Our ballooning national debt poses a serious threat to our national security, but failed attempts to address it by blindly and recklessly slashing military funding are equally dangerous. We must reverse President Obama’s disastrous military cuts that put our security and our troops at risk, and replace them with responsible, targeted cuts and meaningful reforms that reduce federal spending the smart way. Our military is the world's most elite fighting force, and we must maintain our global superiority while keeping faith with the men and women who serve in uniform.

Defeat Forces of Radical Islam

No other strain of terrorism today poses a greater threat to our homeland, our troops, or our interests around the globe. The forces of Radical Islam, such as ISIS, are bent on the destruction of our way of life. Under President Obama, they have been allowed to become large, rich, and entrenched. We need to make them small, poor, and on the run. This will require an expanded presence of 10,000 troops in the region as part of a well-defined strategy with partner nations. Only by taking the fight to the enemy will we ensure that this war is never fought in our homeland.

Prevent a Nuclear and Belligerent Iran

We must ensure – at all costs – that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon or has the ability to share nuclear weapon technology with violent extremists committed to killing Americans. Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It has sworn to destroy the State of Israel, and it has spread violence and chaos throughout the entire region. If Iran were to obtain a nuclear weapon, a nuclear arms race would ensue in the Middle East that would pose a direct threat to the security of America and our allies.

Provide Unwavering Support for Israel

Israel is one of our staunchest allies and closest friends. It is also the only nation in the Middle East that shares our democratic values. We need a president who will promote, protect, and support our critical relationship. Our president must not view support for Israel as a burden, but as the bedrock of peace, stability, and security in the Middle East.

Secure Our Future


Prepared to be Commander in Chief on Day One

National security and economic security are inextricably linked. A strong, prosperous, growing economy enables our nation to project leadership worldwide and effectively address the range of security threats we face. By the same token, a strong national defense preserves our liberties and ensures that every American has the opportunity to achieve economic success and pursue a higher quality of life. These opportunities must extend to all Americans, not just to a privileged few. As president, Lindsey Graham would pursue the policies and provide the leadership to ensure a growing economy and middle class.

Restore Fiscal Discipline

Washington spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much. We need to enact smart cuts and implement meaningful, systemic reforms of the entitlement programs that constitute the vast majority of our looming fiscal crisis. We need to simplify our tax code and expand our tax base. Lindsey Graham will end the practice of pushing the hard choices off to future generations.

Reform Entitlements

Within just a few short years, our entitlement programs face bankruptcy and trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities that will cause our already ballooning debt to skyrocket and cripple our economy. Fixing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is the linchpin to balancing future budgets and ensuring solvency for future generations. To do so, they must be reformed and modernized so that our seniors are protected, our critically important safety net is preserved, and our long-term fiscal outlook is secured.

Achieve Energy Independence

America should run on American energy. We cannot afford to exclude any source of energy here at home, from shale to nuclear to clean coal to renewables. We must build the Keystone pipeline and increase oil and gas exploration in the U.S., and do so in a way that protects the air we breathe and the water we drink. This is a vitally important matter of economic security and job creation, but it also has significant implications for national security. Every new domestic energy source we utilize reduces our dependence on oil from rogue regimes.

Ease Tax and Regulatory Burdens

Families and businesses should no longer suffer the consequences of a complex, burdensome tax and regulatory regime that stifles growth and innovation, and prevents Americans from reaping the full benefits of their hard work. Making our tax code simpler and fairer will unleash the economic power of American ingenuity and restore opportunity for working families at every rung of the economic ladder.

Secure the Border and Fix Illegal Immigration

The flow of illegal immigration across our borders is a threat to both our economic and national security. We need a comprehensive plan to address this problem and it starts with securing our border. On the economic front, American workers, who are forced to pay taxes, are being cheated by illegal immigrants paid under the table. We should require illegal immigrants to register with the government to ensure they are paying taxes, learning English, undergoing background checks, and paying restitution for entering our nation illegally. Then, after living under our laws and our rules, we should require they wait for citizenship behind legal immigrants already in line. Finally, after going through this lengthy process -- including paying fines, paying taxes, learning English, and passing an American civics and assimilation exam -- which should take a decade or longer, an illegal immigrant could become a citizen, rather than remaining in the shadows and outside the arm of the law. Most important, we need presidential leadership on this issue to build consensus and craft solutions through constitutional means, not executive fiat.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Obama's radical policy to remake our healthcare system has left countless Americans shut out of their preferred plans with their preferred doctors, paying higher premiums and deductibles, and working fewer hours. We need to repeal and replace this deeply flawed program with real reforms that will improve access to quality, affordable care for all Americans.

Making Washington Work

The president represents our entire country, not just a single party. We need a leader who is firmly grounded in conservative principles. But our president must also recognize we have two parties, as well as a large number of those who belong to neither. Getting the important work done requires reaching out to Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. True leadership is the ability to bring Americans of all stripes together to forge a path forward that makes our nation stronger, more secure, and more prosperous.

Secure Our Values


Prepared to be Commander in Chief on Day One

America was built upon the fundamental notions that life and liberty are sacred and inalienable rights. Our limited, constitutional government was designed to protect these rights. We need a president who will uphold the sanctity of life, defend our right to keep and bear arms, and preserve the liberties and traditional values upon which this country was founded. As president, Lindsey Graham will vigorously defend these core values and ensure that America remains a shining city on a hill.

Protect the Sanctity of Life

There is no part of society more vulnerable and in need of our protection than the unborn. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human being is an essential element of a civil society. From authoring the Unborn Victims of Violence Act to co-sponsoring the Partial Birth Abortion ban, Lindsey Graham has a long history of leadership on pro-life legislation. The Graham 20-Week Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is the most important federal pro-life effort today. This essential legislation, authored and sponsored by Lindsey Graham, bans abortions at 20 weeks, when a fetus is capable of feeling pain. It represents a critical step toward reaffirming the sanctity of life and preserving the basic constitutional rights of the most vulnerable. We need a president who always has, and always will, fight for the rights of the unborn.

Preserve Traditional Marriage and Protect Religious Freedom

Strong families are the core of a strong America. Traditional marriage as a union between a man and a woman has been the bedrock of human civilization for thousands of years. It is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship can. We must tirelessly support families, traditional values, and religious freedom against efforts to diminish and undermine them. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, making the need to protect the right of every American to freely exercise sincerely held religious beliefs all the more urgent. We need a president who will staunchly defend these liberties and devote the necessary federal resources to ensure that no one's First Amendment right to freedom of religion is infringed.

Protect Religious Freedom Globally

People of faith are under attack around the globe. Christians, Jews, and Muslims are being subjected to barbaric acts by radical Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and North Africa, while others face persecution in China, Pakistan, Sudan, and beyond. America must lead the charge in defending religious freedom and protecting people of faith from violent persecution throughout the world.

Defend Second Amendment Rights

As a lifelong gun owner, Lindsey Graham understands the importance of protecting the Second Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms is one of our sacred constitutional freedoms. We need a president who will vigilantly defend the rights of law-abiding citizens against the constant attacks of those who want to infringe on the Second Amendment and flagrantly disregard our constitutional freedoms.

Uphold Conservative Values in Education

Education is best handled by parents, teachers, and local communities, not Washington bureaucrats. The U.S. Department of Education has grown too large, and its bureaucratic reach goes far beyond its mission. Any coercive efforts by Washington to impose Common Core standards on state and local school districts must be resisted. Parental rights in education are of the utmost importance. Those who choose to seek a better school or to homeschool their children must be allowed to make choices that are best for their families.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hard Truth About European Style Socialism and “Free” Stuff By Brittany Soares

June 5, 2014

Sierra Marlee via The Examiner reports what life in socialist Europe is really like:

Americans are talking about the pros and cons of a Socialist society fueled by the extreme economic views of many Democratic Presidential candidates. Very few people, however, have actually lived under the system they are advocating for or against. So what does someone who has the experience of living under Socialism think?

Robert Moon wrote an article for The Examiner in which he goes into excruciating detail of life under the Socialism that so many Americans idolize.

After spending years living in socialist Germany and exploring all over Europe, what is striking is that, even in one of the wealthiest non-U.S. places on Earth, it is all about learning to do without.

Let’s examine the facts:

-There is a crushing 20% sales tax on everything. There is also a TV tax, a radio tax, a dog tax, a death tax of up to 50%, and every other kind of tax you could possibly imagine…for a grand total of about 60-65% of your income (unless you have already been brutalized into poverty by this system, in which case you get welfare).

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” –Ronald Reagan

-There is no such thing as Central Air…people just suffer through the heat, and freeze in the Winter with these dinky little radiator-heaters (which is all most people can afford, due to staggering government utility costs).

-Gasoline is usually $7-10 per gallon (about 1.50 Euros per liter as I write this), due to the government’s insanely aggressive taxes on fuel.

-People usually cannot afford 15 or even 30-year mortgages…they often must get 50-year mortgages to purchase a home (government makes housing astronomically expensive).

-Consumers are 100% disregarded, given total crap for options, and complaints over terrible service are completely ignored.

-It takes six hours to do half a load of laundry (government forces people to use these tiny, ‘environmentally-friendly’ laundry machines).

-Showers are the size of phone booths, water heaters are often woefully inadequate, and all water services cost an absolute fortune.

-Closets do not exist. The only thing you can do to store and organize your clothing is to purchase a huge, bulky piece of furniture called a “wardrobe” for every bedroom, which leaves you with very little actual living space in the already incredibly tiny homes Europeans must deal with.

-You can’t wash your own car in your own driveway. That might hurt the environment, so you must take your vehicle to a government-approved car wash and wildly overpay someone else to do it for you.

-Even the “big,” “Americanized” trash bins hold no more than a wastebasket of garbage…for two weeks of waste (no matter how many people live in your home). If the can is overflowing, they will not take your garbage, and every single item is required by law to be organized into separate color-coded recycling bags.

-You cannot even name your own child without government approval. There is literally an agency you must register with upon giving birth that decides whether or not your child’s name is acceptable to the government.

-Gun rights do not exist. The only way to get access to any firearms whatsoever is through a jaw-droppingly extreme permit/licensing process that involves taking elaborate tests, paying fees, and proving to the government you have a “legitimate” reason for wanting a gun (hunting, target shooting, etc.).

And even if you do manage to jump through all the hoops required to get a gun, you can still only keep it if you regularly verify to the government that you are actively using it for the purpose you listed, or it will be confiscated.

-Hunting and fishing also require an insane process of government-mandated training, tests, fees, licenses, permits and endless other restrictions.
-Having extreme views is illegal. Being a Neo-Nazi is a crime, as is questioning the Holocaust, or anything that could possibly be construed as “hate speech” by the left. Flipping someone off is also a criminal offense.

-It costs thousands of dollars to get a license, own a car, and pay for the more than $1 million of auto insurance you are forced to carry…and there are speed cameras everywhere, and there is no gray area (my boss couldn’t even get out of a ticket from when he sped his wife to the hospital to give birth).

-Nearly two-thirds of YouTube’s top 1,000 videos have been banned in Germany due to the fanatical German Journalists’ Union (DJV) absurdly demanding that artists be paid for each and every video that in any way uses any part of their music–even if it is just some random user having part of some random song on in the background of their video.

-Company web sites are usually primitive and have inaccurate/outdated information, while almost no one answers their phone and you are forced to show up repeatedly during (often ridiculously narrow) operating hours to get the simplest product or service. Germans only work 36-39 hours per week, and the French have a 35-hour work week.

It goes on and on, and on.

Democrats, who used to absolutely crucify people for pointing out their socialist ideas and beliefs, now openly defend this disastrous, time-disproven ideology (see deregulation and lower taxes in China in the 1980s, in India in the 1990s, in Ireland in the early 2000s, and the left’s class warfare insanity that destroyed the US economy in 2008) as it punishes success, rewards failure, and lures self-reliant individuals into total nanny state dependence through handouts.

Usually, they try to justify it by arguing that Europe has superior, more affordable education and health care (as if freedom were irrelevant and all that mattered was being better-maintained cattle). But when you actually live there, you can’t help but notice that there is more to the story…as when you discover that you have to pay a small fortune to get your kids through grade school. Or that you still have to pay through the nose for insurance every month, cover all your own prescription costs, and sit on waiting lists to see a “free” doctor.

The bottom line: The only difference between the nanny state socialist control freaks of Europe and the ruthless Third World tyrants they condemn, is that in Europe, they bankrupt, impoverish, and enslave people through the charade of voting, as opposed to at gun point…to maintain the appearance of legitimacy.

Think about that next time you’re sitting in the lap of luxury listening to Democrats talk about how well socialism works.

Does this seem like a system under which you would like to live? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Highlights From Former Florida Governor John Ellis Bush's (J.E.B.) 2016 Policy Proposals

IssuesBookJEB'S Plan for America

Western Land and Resource Management


October 21, 2015

The American West is a land of wonder and opportunity. The West is a destination for those seeking the serenity of the outdoors as well as home to many families that work the land, whether ranching, mining minerals or developing renewable or fossil energy. As in so many other parts of our economy, the federal government’s role in managing these resources is overreaching, priorities are misplaced, and it is harming people in the region.

People in the West feel the impact of federal decision-making more acutely than those in the rest of the nation. Of the 635 million acres owned and managed by the federal government, 582 million acres — 90 percent — are in the West, including Alaska. In the 11 most Western states, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, the federal government controls nearly half the land (see map below). For instance, over 80 percent of Nevada is federally-owned. By contrast, the federal government owns 4 percent of all the remaining 37 states further east.

Increasingly, the federal government does not treat Western states, local governments, tribes and land owners as equal partners. Under the Obama Administration, federal land management is characterized by restrictive regulations, more land use constraints, more land acquisition, more “analysis paralysis,” and more “sue and settle”-driven policies.

This relentless overregulation has undermined the trust between Western communities and the federal government. It must be restored. Washington, DC needs to acknowledge that people who live on the land in the West are the best stewards of the land. Federal holdings should be valuable recreational and economic assets, not a liability to economic freedom and growth.

I will fix the relationship between the federal government and the West. I propose four principles, backed up by specific policies, to rebuild trust.

Full and Equal Partnership

Western communities need an equal partner in the federal government. Washington, DC’s decisions from afar are too often based on the baseline assumption that states and tribes care less about the environment than federal officials. That is false. Decisions relating to lands, rivers and lakes, and wildlife affect local people’s livelihoods, the places their families camp or hunt and the water they drink. No one has a more vested interest in stewardship of our natural heritage than those that coexist with it.

For instance, as governor, I secured a full and equal partnership with the federal government in restoring the Everglades. It is the world’s largest intergovernmental watershed restoration effort and the most ambitious ecosystem restoration effort in history. I brought stakeholders, businesses and conservationists together with state and federal agencies, forging a fair and equal coalition to ensure the Everglades would be conserved for generations to come.

In order to fix this relationship I will:

  • Support moving the Department of the Interior headquarters from Washington, DC to a location closer to the lands it manages and the people it most affects, such as Denver, Salt Lake City or Reno. Historically, presidents export a Secretary of the Interior from the West to Washington, DC. It is time to import the Department from Washington, DC to the West;
  • Direct agencies, consistent with law, to give deference to states to determine what land uses are sustainable and most compatible for citizens who live in a particular area;
  • Practice dynamic and partnership-based decision-making starting with convening a meeting of Westerners (e.g., Western Governors, tribal leaders and other elected officials) to agree on a better framework for cooperative decision-making including, for instance, having a more inclusive process for establishing National Monuments which can lock up land from multiple uses; and
  • Adopt “states-first” wildlife conservation policies that provide more deference to state plans for protecting and restoring species’ populations such as the greater sage grouse.

Take Better Care of What We Have

The federal government owns about half of the west, yet it continues to acquire more land. In some cases these acquisitions make sense, such as inholdings or to promote recreational access, but in other cases they erode local tax bases and constrain growth.

Washington, DC needs to acquire less and take better care of what it already owns. Too much of the government’s property is a mess and our lands are sick. For instance, the National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016, but we have a maintenance backlog in our national parks of $11.5 billion. These are our national treasures, but over a third of our national parks’ trails are in poor condition, over two dozen bridges are “structurally deficient” and 90 percent of the national parks paved roads are in “fair” or “poor” condition.

Washington, DC needs to acquire less and take better care of what it already owns.

Worse, a lack of active management of our forests and rangeland has led to deadly wildfires that are growing in number, size and intensity. More than nine million acres of forests and rangeland were affected by wildfires this year, an area the size of New Jersey and Connecticut combined. Forests and rangeland are thick with fuel. This risk can be reduced by conducting prescribed burns, more actively managing invasive plants, removing dead wood and harvesting timber.

In order to rebalance our priorities, as president I will:

  • Back the temporary modification of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to better consolidate and maintain federal assets by:
  • Providing our crown jewels — the national parks — with a 100th anniversary gift by supporting the redirection of a portion of acquisition funds to reduce the backlog of maintenance projects in our national parks;
  • Targeting federal acquisition funds at inholdings and enhancement of existing lands and outdoor recreation opportunities; and
  • Supporting the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to provide greater certainty of funding for states; and
  • Convene the nation’s top experts on forest health to develop a new national wildfire policy and direct my cabinet to expedite the review of activities that would decrease wildfire risk.

Shared Use of Resources

The Obama Administration has increasingly attempted to grab state authority and constrain the acceptable uses of federal lands. This needs to be reversed. We can conserve our natural resources and create economic growth while avoiding the pitfalls of federal bureaucracy.

When it comes to the West, the federal government needs to demonstrate extra sensitivity to the decisions that can block economic opportunity for people whose livelihood is tied to the land. Onerous and overreaching rule-making, “paralysis by analysis” and “sue and settle” are all methods use to strangle multiple use projects, such as water infrastructure, grazing, timber, mining, renewable and fossil energy development and outdoor recreation. The overreaching Waters of the United States rule, for instance, has created great uncertainty among those families that rely on the land for their livelihood. The rule, for example, places up to 99 percent of Montana’s land under the Environmental Protection Agency’s jurisdiction.

When it comes to the West, the federal government needs to demonstrate extra sensitivity to the decisions that can block economic opportunity for people whose livelihood is tied to the land.

Even when Washington, DC does have clear authority to regulate, it is overbearing. Minerals and metals mined from Western lands are necessary for making computers, cell phones and structural steel. But an overly burdensome federal permitting process means a new mine takes seven to ten years before development can begin. That alone moves responsible mining operations to other parts of the world. Federal bureaucracy should not be denying Westerners jobs.

To help reinvigorate the West I will:

  • Reaffirm western water rights by protecting against federal encroachment of surface and groundwater resources and stopping the Waters of the United States rule in its tracks;
  • Expedite funding, studies and permitting for water infrastructure, especially water storage projects, as one way to address historic drought conditions; and
  • Support a “two is enough” permitting policy whereby projects on federal lands requiring federal approval must be permitted or rejected within two years unless there are unusual circumstances. (This expands the scope of a previously announced regulatory reform proposal.)

Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Access

Americans should be encouraged, not discouraged, to fish, hike, hunt, camp and recreate on Federal lands. Yet, millions of acres of public land in the West are inaccessible to the public due to historic checkerboard land ownership patterns and inadequate points of entry. Importantly, lack of access to lands is a primary reason that hunters stop participating in this traditional sport.

I understand this. As the governor of Florida, I instituted a “no net loss” of sportsmen’s access. I also signed a law ensuring Florida citizens had the right to carry firearms for lawful purposes while in national forests and state parks.

To continue to encourage families to seek out and enjoy outdoor activities, as president I will:

  • Establish a national goal of “no net loss” of sportsmen’s access, as I did in Florida; and
  • Support a set-aside in the Land and Water Conservation Fund for funding easements, acquisitions or other projects that provide access for hunting, angling and other recreational activities on landlocked federal lands.

A New Relationship with the West

Conservation implies that people can actually access and responsibly use our land and water, but this administration has consistently made more resources off-limits to human beings. They are not listening to Western communities and the individuals who know Western lands best. As president, I will fix that relationship and propose policies that will show greater respect for local values and needs. I will increase, rather than suppress, opportunity for Western families.



The Internet has transformed everyday life for people, revolutionizing communications and how Americans interact with each other and the world. The Internet’s impact on economic growth has likewise been profound. U.S. manufacturers reported e-commerce shipments were $3.3 trillion in 2013. According to one report, from 2004 to 2009, the Internet accounted for 15% of GDP growth.

Yet, for all of the Internet’s transformational power, its future rests in part on one critical factor—cybersecurity. If people have no confidence their information will remain safe online, they will—quite simply—be less willing to use the Internet, thereby jeopardizing future growth possibilities.

…for all of the Internet’s transformational power, its future rests in part on one critical factor—cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, a series of high-profile cybersecurity failures and the Obama administration’s feeble response to the growing threat have demonstrated real vulnerabilities in government and private systems, eroding public confidence in both the government and even the Internet itself. In June, I published some thoughts on cybersecurity, and at many town halls across the country I hear concerns from Americans about this threat.

This is an issue that gravely needs presidential leadership. Ultimately, we need Internet security, and a strong tech industry that can be leveraged to the public’s benefit, in order to achieve high, sustained economic growth that will benefit everyone. Let’s not mince words: in order to achieve 4% growth and the 19 million jobs that come with it, we need a vibrant and secure Internet. Here is my plan to achieve that, starting with tackling the cybersecurity challenge.

1. Place a Command Focus on Cybersecurity.

We need to recognize the reality that today we are under cyberattack and we are not keeping up with the threat. We also need to identify clearly the mission for government and the private sector: to work together to ensure the security of the Internet. The rapid expansion of information technology in the past several decades, coupled with both the open architecture of the Internet and poor cybersecurity practices, have contributed to a dramatic rise in cyberthreats to the nation. Last year, 60% of all targeted attacks struck small and medium-sized organizations, which often have fewer resources to invest in cybersecurity. In 2014, five out of every six large companies were targeted with spear-phishing attacks, a 40% increase over the previous year. Attacks against small and medium-sized businesses increased 26% and 30%, respectively. And these are just the attacks we know about. Many penetrations go unnoticed or unreported by companies that are victims of these attacks.

Effective cybersecurity starts with all of us — individuals, businesses, and the government—recognizing the importance of Internet security and our responsibility to help ensure its robust defense. Effective cybersecurity depends in large part on the protective measures one takes before a cyberattack. If we do not make cybersecurity a priority, we will continue to see major breaches and damaging attacks. Cybersecurity should be considered a critical element of our national defense and economic well-being.

Cybersecurity should be considered a critical element of our national defense and economic well-being.

2. Restore Accountability within the Federal Government.

The government should lead by example. We need presidential leadership to get government to take the cybersecurity threat more seriously, fix the vulnerabilities of government systems, and hold government leaders accountable for the security of information entrusted to their care. It is easy to give a speech about cybersecurity. What we need is unwavering leadership and determined implementation, including a concerted effort to work with Congress.

The intrusion into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—the human resources department of the U.S. Government—illustrates the cultural failure of the Obama administration to take these threats seriously. The OPM systems contain millions of personnel records—many of which included an intrusive and sensitive personnel questionnaire. OPM officials knew this data was valuable, sensitive, and vulnerable, but failed to take basic steps to protect it.

We need to change the culture of government, which is impossible absent presidential leadership. Leadership means not hiring political hacks or cronies for critical positions that involve cybersecurity. It also means holding executive branch officials accountable for their failure to prioritize cybersecurity and protect the networks under their care. The people who protect our systems are just as important as the technology itself.

The people who protect our systems are just as important as the technology itself.

The President also cannot allow cabinet secretaries and senior officials to violate rules and procedures meant to protect classified and national security-related government communications. It should not be too much to ask government officials to abide by the laws and rules in place to safeguard our national security. Secretary Hillary Clinton’s growing email scandal highlights reckless behavior by officials entrusted with some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets.

3. Increase U.S. Intelligence and Law Enforcement Cybersecurity Capabilities and Strengthen International Cooperation.

We need to preserve and enhance the capabilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community and law enforcement to identify, deter, and respond to cyberattacks as part of a national strategy to protect the country. This starts by undoing the damage that sequestration has done to the Defense Department and Intelligence Community and restoring funding to them. The National Security Agency and Cyber Command are on the frontlines of defending the United States against cyberthreats. We must stop demonizing these quiet intelligence professionals and start giving them the tools they need. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also needs more resources to fight back against the onslaught of cybercrime.

In addition, we must reform a convoluted acquisition process that imposes years of delays and inefficiencies in procuring new cybersecurity systems. The Defense committees of Congress are already working on acquisition reform—the President should work with these committees and others to ensure that a byzantine acquisition process is streamlined for cybersecurity defense technologies. The government could build upon some of the lessons learned by Secretary Bob Gates’ efforts to reform parts of the inefficient and costly defense acquisition process.

The President should also prioritize cybersecurity in discussions and agreements with our allies and partners around the world. No one country can solve the cybersecurity problem, which is a global challenge. The need to protect sensitive systems from bad actors is a modern-day equivalent of securing the world’s oceans for freedom of navigation, and just as nations came together to protect the seas, they should do so to secure the Internet. At the same time, the United States must retain a strong leadership position in Internet governance. For example, we should maintain oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the Internet’s domain name system.

We must also hold to account those who are stealing our nation’s intellectual capital. Efforts to expose, prosecute, and in some cases retaliate against these actors will raise the cost of conducting such attacks and increase deterrence of future attacks. Such deterrence will be stronger if we work with partners to establish international rules of the road and get them to establish the legal framework necessary to prosecute cybercriminals.

4. Create Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Cybersecurity in the Public and Private Sectors.

The U.S. Government and businesses should work together as partners to improve cybersecurity in public and private sectors in a way that also respects citizens’ privacy. Just as the government needs to pay more attention to cybersecurity, so too must the private sector. The government must do its part in getting its own house in order and then enable, empower, and expect the private sector to do the same. Some industries take this threat more seriously than others, and there are lessons to be learned from their experiences.

The country needs a President with the experience and trust necessary to mobilize public and private resources to enhance cybersecurity in public and private sectors. And to be clear, this will not be achieved with finger pointing and talking down to industries that have struggled with security while looking the other way as our classified information is handed over to state-sponsored cyberterrorists.

The country needs a President with the experience and trust necessary to mobilize public and private resources to enhance cybersecurity in public and private sectors.

At a minimum, the government should redouble efforts to: (1) reduce legal and technical barriers to cybersecurity information sharing between the federal government and private sector, and (2) promote best practices for the private sector, including voluntary cybersecurity standards (e.g., through the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s ongoing work).

The House of Representatives has passed a bill to facilitate information sharing by, among other measures, providing liability protection to private-sector companies that share cyberthreat information with each other or with the government. Unfortunately, the bill languishes in the Senate due to opposition from Senate Democrats. The President should lean on these Democrats to allow this bill to come to the Senate floor for a vote.

5. Remove Barriers to Innovation in the Tech Industry.

As part of this national effort to improve cybersecurity, the government must not be an obstacle to innovation in the tech industry. The government’s power to incentivize and empower must take precedence over its predilection to regulate and constrain. Because cyberthreats are always evolving, effective cybersecurity requires continuous innovation, which a flourishing tech industry provides.

We must remove regulatory barriers and red tape that prevent companies from developing new technologies, as well as encourage private and public research into cybersecurity.

We must remove regulatory barriers and red tape that prevent companies from developing new technologies, as well as encourage private and public research into cybersecurity. For example, regulatory barriers continue to make it extremely complicated, costly, and time-consuming for small companies to raise capital through the securities markets. The Securities and Exchange Commission should reassess existing regulations to further minimize the number and complexity of documents that must be filed before everyday Americans are able to invest in emerging companies. It should also work to ensure rules are in place to enable the creation of liquid markets for securities offered by startups. We need to transform immigration into an economically-driven system that retains and brings in highly-skilled immigrants. Such a system would help create startups and increase innovation. We must lower business taxes to encourage investment and hiring in the United States.

The Internet and innovation from the tech industry have enormous potential to help address public policy challenges. For example, digital connections between power plants, transformers, substations, and transmission lines allow for better management of the electric grid. With such networks, utilities are better able to anticipate, avoid, or respond to power outages. Using technology we can create a secure online credential for veterans that verifies their military service. Such a credential could allow instant access to medical records online, and help the private sector offer military/veteran discounts online. However, without a secure Internet, these types of initiatives may never reach their full potential. Our country, starting with the President and federal government, must recognize the cybersecurity challenge and dedicate itself to conquering it.

The Internet is one of the greatest innovations in history and has led to unrivaled opportunity and a great leveling of the playing field for all. I will be a President who works to actually bring people together from both sides of the aisle, as well as the public and private domains, to better address the very real threats confronting this critical global resource.

The Regulatory Crisis in Washington

September 22, 2015


America’s regulatory system has failed, and its families, workers, consumers, and small businesses are paying the price: weaker growth, less opportunity, fewer full-time jobs, and lower wages. Instead of improving our lives, regulation today too often oppresses and stifles the economy. Americans in schools, hospitals, and small businesses —even those working within government itself —are tangled up in red tape that makes no sense to them or anyone else.

Things happen when real people are able to act, not when they are forced to consult rulebooks or hire lobbyists to protect their interests from government bureaucrats. But leaders in Washington have increasingly fallen prey to a “regulators-know-best” mentality, which drives them to dictate choices and control the economy. This is the basis for President Obama’s infamous and sometimes unconstitutional “phone and pen” strategy to govern through regulation, disregarding Congress and the states.

Making this worse, Washington’s bureaucrats rarely evaluate how their rules actually affect people on the ground, the real daily choices made by businesses, teachers, doctors, and others. And so, regulation accumulates, like sediment in a harbor, building up over time, and ensuring that Americans must consult a rulebook or hire a lobbyist to accomplish basic tasks. The United States, long the shinning light of business dynamism, has consequently sunk to a dismal 46th in the world in ease of starting a business.

America needs to get moving again. We can unleash untold dynamism now buried under the weight of rulebooks by fixing our regulatory system. Nothing stimulates an economy more than the energy of real people, motivated to pursue their dreams in their own way. That has long been the secret of America’s success.

Fixing our regulatory system will promote growth and reduce consumer prices, while retaining the benefits of sensible rules to protect our health, our safety, and our environment. For American businesses, these programs will increase the ability to compete, both at home and abroad. These reforms are especially important for the many small firms and middle and low income Americans, who disproportionately bear the costs of regulation.

By identifying areas that are more appropriately handled at the state level, regulatory reform will also drain the federal bureaucracy of some of its power. An America where states serve only in the shadow of the federal government restrains our energy and keeps bottled up the full power of state engines of innovation. Combined with a forthcoming initiative on federal-state relations, regulatory reform will restore the proper relationship between the federal government and the states.

Regulatory reform can bring America into the top 10 in ease of starting a business. It can increase productivity. It can finally give American workers a raise. Fully implemented, regulatory reform can boost GDP by three percent over the next 10 years. In conjunction with Governor Bush’s tax reform plan, the regulatory reforms outlined here will help increase average compensation, so that by 2020 a typical family of four earning $50,000 will have an after-tax income that is approximately $3,100 higher than it would without these reforms.

To unleash the American spirit again and set the country on a path to achieve these results, Governor Bush is proposing reforms that will:

  1. End the Washington-knows-best mentality by scaling back existing regulations and promoting smarter regulation going forward.
  2. Make regulators accountable to Americans rather than special interests.
  3. Reduce red tape and uncertainty to restore business dynamism.

Reform Goal #1: End the Washington-knows-best mentality by scaling back existing regulations and promoting smarter regulation going forward.

The Obama Administration has overseen an annual increase in the number of major rules (those that impose more than $100 million in costs on the economy) of 30 percent. In 2010, the Administration set a record for the number of major rules adopted. In 2012, it imposed a record $219 billion in costs on the economy. Were they to be paid directly, regulatory costs would average nearly $15,000 per household —more than 20 percent of the average household income of $64,000 and almost 30 percent of average household expenditures of $51,000. This exceeds every item in the average household budget except housing.

The costs of economic activity that regulation prevents or delays are even harder to measure. Ideas that could turn into innovative products and services never make it off the drawing board because regulatory obstacles promote the status quo. According to one recent report, bureaucratic delays in permitting infrastructure projects cost more than $3 trillion—nearly double the total cost of modernizing infrastructure through the end of the decade, and more than $10,000 for every American citizen.

Regulation should be practical and focused on important public concerns: it should not be a source of paralysis or central planning. America’s businesses should be focused on innovation and expansion, not compliance with thousands of immaterial regulatory dictates or overcoming the next regulatory obstacle.


  • President Obama’s Carbon Rule forces states to switch some of their energy generation from coal to renewable sources, contrary to Supreme Court precedent that affords states ample authority to choose how they generate energy. The regulation is the EPA’s first foray “outside the fence,” requiring states to meet the rule’s requirements by taking action beyond the physical boundaries of electricity generation facilities. The regulation will likely result in substantial price increases —often of more than 10 percent —to many families’ energy bills without meaningfully affecting either global emissions or temperature.
  • The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule subjects nearly all private land use to review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The rule, which is inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent, requires farmers to cater to the EPA in order to obtain permission to build a fence, apply fertilizer, pull weeds, or spray for insects. The rule expands federal authority to virtually all wet areas (and temporarily wet areas) —ditches, drains, seasonal puddle-like depressions, and large “buffer areas” of land adjacent to waterways. For example, the rule subjects 99 percent of Pennsylvania’s acreage to federal jurisdiction. The WOTUS rule unnecessarily and arbitrarily increases the cost and uncertainty of many industrial, commercial, and farming operations. And those who fail to comply face stiff penalties of roughly $40,000 per violation.
  • Five years of heavy-handed Dodd-Frank regulation has created a two-tiered banking system. A few huge financial institutions sit securely at the top, insulated from competition by regulations that impose heavy compliance burdens on their smaller rivals. Community banks, for example, have to comply with capital and liquidity requirements, undergo stress tests, and adhere to corporate governance rules that are tailored to neither their activities nor the risks they pose to the economy. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for Americans with less than perfect credit to access capital to start, upgrade, or expand businesses and pursue their ambitions.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has imposed particularly heavy regulatory costs on smaller and community banks: 71 percent of small banks says that the CFPB affects their business activities, 64 percent report that Dodd-Frank has caused them to change their mortgage offerings, and 15 percent say that they have responded to Dodd-Frank by either exiting or considering an exit from the residential mortgage markets entirely.
  • Regulators’ efforts to protect the spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act have done little to protect the owl and much to decimate the timber industry in the Northwest and the jobs and the towns it supported. That same overly restrictive approach applied to the sage grouse will likely have a similar effect on the energy and mining sectors.
  • The Department of the Interior’s onerous regulations governing fracking activities on federal lands prevent America from harnessing the full benefits of the energy revolution.
  • Because of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules, safe sunscreens available elsewhere in the world cannot be found in America’s stores.
  • FDA regulations make food more expensive without materially improving health outcomes.

Policy Solutions:

  • Regulatory Freeze: To the extent permissible under existing law, Governor Bush will prohibit publication of new proposed or final regulations or significant guidance until they are approved by an agency head he has nominated. He will also direct agencies to withdraw proposed and final regulations awaiting publication in the Federal Register. And he will delay the effective date of regulations that have not yet taken effect.
  • Presidential Task Force: Governor Bush will establish a presidential, cabinet-level taskforce, staffed primarily by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), that will drive his regulatory reform agenda. The task force will also signal to agencies and others that smart regulation is a top White House priority and work to ensure agencies adhere to OIRA’s regulatory determinations.
  • Supplement Executive Orders on Regulation: Governor Bush will promptly issue an Executive Order to compel agencies—including independent agencies—to strictly adhere to principles of smart regulation listed below. Governor Bush will seek to codify these principles and empower courts to enforce them. His regulatory Executive Order will require agencies to:
    • abstain from regulation where there is not identifiable market or major policy failure;
    • prefer state-based solutions to federal solutions;
    • favor regulations that incorporate “best practices” from the state laboratories of democracy rather than those that rely on untested approaches;
    • ensure, to the extent possible, that each regulation’s benefits “outweigh” its costs, measured using an honest and transparent methodology, and has been crafted in accordance with the Information Quality Act;
    • select the least costly regulatory alternative, unless there are compelling reasons to adopt a more burdensome option;
    • favor simple and flexible regulations that enhance regulatory certainty, maximize competition, and minimize burdens on small actors;
    • strictly adhere to the plain, ordinary meaning of constitutional and statutory limitations
  • Regulatory Budget: Governor Bush will establish a regulatory cost cap of zero in the first year of his presidency. As a result, new regulatory costs will be offset by regulatory savings elsewhere. This “regulatory budget” will force government to make explicit tradeoffs between regulatory priorities and to eliminate old regulations—just as it does now under the fiscal budget. The UK operates under a regulatory budget that requires regulators to eliminate two rules for every new rule they add. Since its inception in 2011, the initiative has reduced regulatory burdens by roughly $3.4 billion. In Canada, small business owners successfully pushed for a 1:1 regulatory budget that holds the regulatory burden constant at $37 billion per year. Governor Bush will work with Congress to build upon this regulatory budget framework in subsequent years of his administration.
  • Spring Cleaning of Existing Regulations: Governor Bush will create an independent commission to conduct a regulatory spring cleaning. The current process for reviewing existing regulations works poorly. Those who create the rules review them, and they often ignore regulations’ cumulative and interactive effects. An independent commission—modeled along the lines of the military base closing commission or Australia’s regulatory review commission—will review regulations from the perspective of regulated entities. Governor Bush will encourage Congress to codify the commission’s mission and establish procedures for approving or rejecting its recommendations through a simple up-or-down vote. In its work, the commission will identify regulatory laws that need to be modified or repealed and areas of regulation that Congress should relinquish, in whole or in part, to state control. The commission will publish its recommendations within the first year of Governor Bush’s administration.
  • Retrospective Review of New Regulations: Governor Bush will empower OIRA to review the costs and benefits of each new major regulation within eight years of its effective date. In addition to helping weed out ineffective regulations, these reviews will create strong incentives for agencies with vested interests in their regulations to track their real world impacts.
  • Regulatory Hippocratic Oath: Governor Bush’s will require his nominees to regulatory agencies to commit to his regulatory reform agenda and take a regulatory “Hippocratic Oath.” Nominees will commit to “do no harm” through their regulatory initiatives and commit to working productively with OIRA to promote smart regulation. Personnel is policy and the oath will establish a leadership-level counterweight to the pro-regulation mentality and impulses toward perfection that regulators often exhibit. The oath will remind regulators to be humble about their ability to “solve” complex problems better than the American people.

Reform Goal #2: Make regulators accountable to Americans rather than special interests.

Agencies today make far more laws than legislators. But unlike courts and legislators, regulators conduct their deliberations in relative obscurity, often outside of the public’s view and effectively accountable to no one, not even the President. Ordinary Americans are accountable in their daily lives, and bureaucrats should be as well.

The regulatory thicket also protects the status quo and keeps less politically connected competitors on the sidelines. An ever-expanding and increasingly unaccountable regulatory state adopts and enforces complicated and highly technical regulations, without sufficient oversight or accountability. These rules inherently benefit powerful and politically connected entities, who are able to influence rulemakings to their advantage and deploy ample resources either to comply with or mitigate the effects of enforcement efforts. This makes it more difficult for smaller businesses to compete, creating a drag on the economy.


  • The Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rule classifies all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as “public utilities,” subjecting them to antiquated “common carrier” regulation. Rather than enhancing consumer welfare, these rules prohibit one group of companies (ISPs) from charging another group of companies (content companies) the full cost for using their services. Small broadband operators—like KWISP (475 customers in rural Illinois) and Wisper ISP (8,000 customers near St. Louis, Mo)—have declared under penalty of perjury that the Net Neutrality rule has caused them to cut back on investments to upgrade and expand their networks.
  • The CFPB, created by Dodd-Frank, is controlled by a single individual who is effectively free of oversight from either the White House or Congress. Given the lack of accountability, it is not surprising that the agency aims build itself lavish headquarters, featuring a two-story waterfall and a four-story glass staircase and a budget that ballooned from $55 million to $216 million.
  • The Financial Stability Oversight Council, also created by Dodd-Frank, has asserted the remarkable authority to declare entities to be “systemically important” behind closed doors without considering either the costs or the benefits of that determination.
  • Today, 30 percent of the U.S. workforce must obtain permission from some level of government in order to do their job. That’s up from five percent in the 1950s. From hair braiders and masseurs to florists and travel agents, more than 1,100 jobs now require an occupational license in at least one state. Licensing regimes slow job growth, limit employment opportunities, and make it harder for workers to relocate across state lines. They stand in the way of millions of jobs, raise consumer costs by more than $100 billion, harm military spouses and inhibit re-integration of former criminals, generally without improving products or services.

Policy Solutions:

  • End Sue and Settle: Governor Bush will end the abusive practice known as “sue and settle.” In sue and settle, agencies and special interest groups enter into collusive settlement agreements negotiated without input from all stakeholders or from the public. Because courts bless these agreements, special interests and agencies can use them to achieve regulatory outcomes, without public input, that undermine congressional and presidential priorities. The solutions are simple: Governor Bush will advance legislation to reform so-called citizen suit provisions, so that standing is limited to entities with tangible, particularized injuries. He will also advance legislation to ensure that parties with constitutional standing are not shutout of any settlement negotiations. He will also ensure that the public has a full and meaningful opportunity to comment before regulations are changed and require that covered settlements undergo OIRA review before they are submitted to the court.
  • Court Reform: Governor Bush will nominate judges and justices who recognize and are committed to the judiciary’s critical role in enforcing statutory and constitutional limits on regulators’ authority. He will also promote legislation to limit the deference that courts give to agency interpretations of congressional enactments. For instance, absent explicit congressional directive, courts should reject regulations premised upon novel statutory interpretations that depart from ordinary, common-sense definitions.
  • Congressional Oversight: Governor Bush will promote legislation to enable more robust congressional oversight of regulations. Consistent with the REINS Act, Congress will be required to approve, through an up-or-down vote, critical regulations that impose outsized burdens on the economy before they take effect.
  • Licensing Reform: Governor Bush will work with state leaders to develop appropriate federal incentives to encourage increased licensing reciprocity between states and substitution of lesser forms of regulation (e.g., certification, registration, no regulation) for existing licensing regimes that do more to protect incumbents than the public.

Reform Goal #3: Reduce red tape and uncertainty to restore business dynamism.

The government has strangled itself with red tape, rendering decision making on reasonable timetables nearly impossible—unduly hindering private initiative in the process. The United States ranks a dismal 41st in the world in “dealing with construction permits.”

The country’s infrastructure is growing obsolete and, in some cases, dangerous—roads, bridges, power generation and transmission facilities, water treatment and delivery systems, and ports all need repairs and upgrades. Yet it can take years to complete required environmental reviews and other permitting processes. Environmental reviews and permits are necessary to empower government to make informed tradeoffs between development and the environment. Project opponents, however, have increasingly abused the process to make projects costlier and to delay their implementation.

The stakes are very high. Delays burden both the economy and the environment. Wasted energy attributable to the country’s outdated power grid is equal to the output of 200 coal-burning power plants. Failure to build and upgrade roads, bridges, and railway projects prolong pollution-generating bottlenecks. Overall, delay may cost the economy nearly twice as much as simply giving American infrastructure the upgrades it needs. The upside of cutting this red tape is enormous: by one estimate, building all of the projects caught up in our permitting system could produce up to 1.9 million jobs and $1.1 trillion in economic activity during each year of construction.


  • Much of America’s infrastructure is between 50 and 100 years old and must be modernized. Accomplishing this task would stimulate the economy, create close to two million jobs, and improve environmental outcomes. But regulations and litigation bog projects down, sometimes for more than a decade.
  • The Bayonne Bridge is not high enough to allow the next generation of cargo ships to access the Port of Newark, which processes 10 percent of shipping containers entering the United States and employs roughly 250,000 people. Incredibly, federal environmental review of the solution, which called for raising the bridge on its existing footprint, took five years. One of the EPA’s core concerns was that enabling the port’s continued vitality by raising the bridge could generate “too much” truck traffic in nearby neighborhoods.
  • The Hempstead power plant in Arkansas filed for its first permit in 2006. It has been delayed by litigation that has deployed “virtually every statute and regulation” in the books to challenge “permits and approvals under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and several others.” Regardless of the outcome of the review, we need a faster review system if we are going to create a favorable climate for business investment.
  • Since 2005, Shell Oil has paid nearly $2.1 billion for federal leases in Alaska. It took years, however, to obtain the permits necessary to operate the drilling rig, diminishing other investors’ interest in energy exploration in Alaska.

Policy Solutions:

  • Permit Streamlining: Governor Bush will reorganize and streamline the federal permitting process so that, absent extraordinary circumstances, infrastructure projects can be permitted or rejected within two years. He will promote early coordination with stakeholders, synchronize reviews (so that, for instance, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers reviews occur simultaneously), reduce the number of decision makers by ensuring that each project is managed by a lead agency with authority to conclusively move projects forward, empower agencies to rely on high-quality and up-to-date environmental reviews that are already on file, and establish clear lines of authority up to the White House to assist the lead agency in dispute resolution. A comprehensive dashboard will also keep interested parties up to date on the status of any project, and let the public know when agencies have fallen behind schedule.
  • Environmental Litigation Reform: Governor Bush will advance legislation to reform environmental litigation so that it is not a tool of delay. Environmental litigation will be subject to strict standing rules—so that only parties who stand to suffer injury from the action can sue—and statutes of limitation. It will also be subject to fast-track procedures. In addition, courts will be instructed to give economic growth and job creation at least as much weight in the analysis as other concerns.


Federal regulation is holding America back from its potential, stifling job creation, inhibiting growth and responding to the needs of special interests rather than Americans. Governor Bush believes that America can break free of the so-called new normal of two percent economic growth and set its sights on a high growth strategy that will lift people out of poverty and give everyone a chance to achieve their dreams. These reforms are critical to that vision, fixing a broken regulatory system and unleashing the spirit and ingenuity of the American people.

Empowering Workers, Not Union Bosses


President Obama has so successfully politicized the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that the Board now regularly puts labor unions ahead of the best interests of workers. At the behest of radical anti-business interest groups, the NLRB has recently overturned decades of well-established labor law. It has repeatedly made decisions that limit choices for workers and weaken the nation’s economy.

For example, in 2011 the NLRB’s acting General Counsel, Lafe Solomon, attacked Boeing for creating thousands of new jobs in South Carolina. More recently, the Board adopted ambush election rules that allow unions to hold surprise elections before workers have adequate time to learn about the consequences of unionizing and before the NLRB is even able to identify those employees who are eligible to vote. The NLRB has developed rules compelling employers to post misleading, pro-big union notices – in violation of the First Amendment – and it is now forcing businesses to give unions access to company email systems.

We must reverse the radicalization of the NLRB. As president, I will return the NLRB to its intended purpose of protecting workers – not unions.

We must reverse the radicalization of the NLRB. As president, I will return the NLRB to its intended purpose of protecting workers – not unions. We will fix the way the Board operates, rein in the office of the General Counsel, undo NLRB’s anti-worker and anti-growth policies, and amend the National Labor Relations Act so that it protects all workers’ rights.

From the beginning of his time in office, President Obama nominated far-left appointees to the NLRB. After Senate Republicans stopped these misguided appointments the president tried to seat his nominees without the advice and consent of the Senate. This earned Obama a stinging rebuke by the Supreme Court, which found, in a 9-0 decision, that the president’s actions were an unconstitutional power grab.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s ruling didn’t stop President Obama from stacking the NLRB with lawyers closely tied to organized labor. The result has been a series of extreme rulings that are bad for workers and the economy. That must end.

As president, I will ensure that the NLRB is no longer beholden to union bosses.

As president, I will ensure that the NLRB is no longer beholden to union bosses. I will nominate NLRB board members and a general counsel that will enforce the law, not rewrite it. My administration will enact the NLRB Reform Act, which adds a sixth member to the NLRB, stopping the Board from making decisions along party-line votes of three to two. The Act will also restrain the NLRB General Counsel by giving accused parties the right to contest complaints in federal court.

My administration will end efforts to punish businesses, like Boeing, who employ workers in states with pro-growth economic policies. As governor of Florida, I was proud of our state’s Right-to-Work laws that gave workers the right to decide whether or not to participate in a union. As president I will stop bureaucrats from attacking companies who build factories and hire workers in states like South Carolina and Florida with strong Right-to-Work laws.

We must also undo the far-left rules and decisions written by Obama’s appointees.

We must also undo the far-left rules and decisions written by Obama’s appointees. The NLRB’s 2015 Joint-Employer decision (Browning-Ferris Industries) threatens thousands of small business owners who operate as franchises and the livelihood of millions of workers who count on them for jobs. In addition, under current law the NLRB is supposed to protect workers who choose “to refrain from any or all [organizing] activities.” But the NLRB has allowed union bosses to enrich themselves by pestering and coercing unwilling workers to join their ranks. As president, I will work with Congress to reverse the joint-employer decision, the ambush election rules, and other decisions that abet organized labor at the expense of workers and the economy.

Beyond overturning the NLRB’s egregious decisions, my administration will compel the NLRB to adopt smart regulations. As part of my plan to stop job-destroying rules, I will require all federal agencies – including independent agencies like the NLRB – to adhere to the principles of smart regulation. All new regulations must strictly observe the plain, ordinary meaning of constitutional and statutory limitations.

While other presidential candidates, like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders maintain close relationships with union bosses, I will protect workers from these self-interested chieftains by signing the Employee Rights Act. The Act, championed by many Republicans including Senators Orrin Hatch and Lamar Alexander, strengthens labor law to ensure workers have the right to make free and informed choices about their workplace representation. The Act requires unions periodically establish majority support from all workers they claim to represent. Unlike proposals advocated by Democrats that would strip workers of the right to a secret ballot election, the Act guarantees all workers have the right to vote privately on their choice of representation. The Act also makes it a federal crime for labor activists to intimidate workers who do not wish to participate in a union.

As president, I’ll stop these regulations so we can grow the economy, increase employment and raise middle class incomes.

Our nation has the most productive, hard-working employees in the world. Under President Obama, however, labor force participation has fallen rapidly and wage growth has stagnated. President Obama and federal agencies, like the NLRB, are to blame. They have adopted hundreds of job-destroying regulations that discourage businesses from hiring and push Americans out of the workforce. As president, I’ll stop these regulations so we can grow the economy, increase employment and raise middle class incomes.

The Conservative Plan for 21st Century Health


ObamaCare is a government takeover of more than one-sixth of the American economy, and it epitomizes why Americans are so fed up with Washington. To win on repeal, conservatives must unite around a vision of health care for the future – one that enables transformational innovation. Governor Bush’s plan would repeal ObamaCare and accomplish three things:

1. Promote innovation
2. Lower costs
3. Return power to states

Here is how Governor Bush would repeal and replace ObamaCare:

1. Promote innovation in health care

Health care costs grow faster than any other sector of the economy and innovation lags. Why? Washington over-regulation in health care creates high barriers to entry, adds excessive costs, fosters excessive complexity and impedes innovation. Governor Bush will:

  • Modernize the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory morass and increase funding and accountability at the National Institutes of Health
  • Promote private sector leadership of health information technology adoption and enable better access to patient de-identified Medicare and Medicaid claims data
  • Establish a comprehensive review of regulatory barriers to health innovation

Washington over-regulation in health care creates high barriers to entry, adds excessive costs, fosters excessive complexity and impedes innovation.

2. Lower costs and enable portable, secure coverage for all Americans

Until health care is oriented around consumers, providers and innovation, Americans will not get better value and results out of the health care system. In addition, coverage options must reflect a modern, 21st century workforce where workers frequently switch jobs or start new businesses and need the security of portable coverage.

Until health care is oriented around consumers, providers and innovation, Americans will not get better value and results out of the health care system.

It is critical to have a well-functioning individual market side-by-side with a strong employer-sponsored coverage market. The employer health insurance market represents a strong and innovative coverage platform for 154 million Americans. To improve coverage, Governor Bush will:

  • Provide a tax credit for the purchase of affordable, portable health plans that protect Americans from high-cost medical events
  • Increase contribution limits and uses for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to help with out-of-pocket costs
  • Facilitate transparency on costs and outcomes
  • Cap the employer tax exclusion to lower insurance premiums
  • Allow employers to use financial incentives to encourage wellness programs
  • Enable small businesses to make tax-free contributions to their workers’ individual, portable health plans

3. Take health care control out of Washington and return it to states

States should have responsibility, freedom and accountability to make their individual insurance markets more competitive, enhance access to care and design solutions for vulnerable Americans. Instead of Washington standardization, this approach emphasizes transparent outcome standards. States will have streamlined, capped federal funding and be responsible for meeting transparent metrics to:

  • Make their insurance markets more competitive. This will include enabling access to affordable, catastrophic plans in their states; a continuous coverage guarantee for individuals with pre-existing conditions; access to affordable care and improved health outcomes in their state; lower health care cost growth, including medical liability reform; and a transition plan for the 17 million individuals entangled in ObamaCare.
  • Strengthen the health care safety net. To achieve this, states may use a number of strategies: individualized, community-based benefit designs; coordinated care for individuals with behavioral health conditions and the disabled; tailored care delivery to reflect the diversity of state populations; personalized care solutions for high-risk individuals with proven data analytics; work requirements for able-bodied individuals; premium assistance for individual and employer-provided coverage; and consolidated funding from various programs to better coordinate care.



At the core of America’s military strength are the men and women who volunteer to serve in our Armed Forces. We have no greater asset than our service members or greater responsibility than ensuring they are well provided for – while they are in uniform and throughout their lives.

Recent revelations of grave conditions at facilities throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system have brought to light the failed leadership of the Obama Administration to serve those who have served our nation.

“I most enthusiastically endorse Jeb for president. He’s demonstrated that he is a true American patriot dedicated to projecting, protecting and preserving equality and freedom for all Americans!”- Lieutenant Colonel Hal Fritz, USA (Ret.)

Reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), fixing the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and improving services to veterans across the board must be a top priority for the next President of the United States.

Jeb’s Florida Record:

Florida has the third largest veterans population in the country. As Governor, Jeb made military families and veterans a signature issue. He increased the number of state veterans’ homes from two to six. He increased property tax exemptions for disabled veterans (from $500 to $5,000) and eliminated the fee to get a disabled parking permit. Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature created an employment advocacy and assistance program for military spouses and dependents.

He also passed laws that provide free undergraduate tuition at state colleges and universities to Florida recipients of the Purple Heart (and combat-related decorations ranked superior in precedence to the Purple Heart) and their children.

Jeb can reform veterans’ services and care and expand opportunities for them because he’s done it before.

Jeb can reform veterans’ services and care and expand opportunities for them because he’s done it before.

Jeb’s Seven-Step Plan to Keep America’s Promises to Our Veterans:

• Improve the Veterans Health Administration by Enhancing Care and Expanding Veterans Choice
• Hold Government Accountable for Providing Quality Services
• Modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs
• Create More Opportunities for Veterans
• Restore Military Troop Levels
• Improve Healthcare for Female Veterans
• Honor Veterans’ Service

Overhaul the Veterans Health Administration to Expand Veterans’ Choices and Enhance Care

Taxpayers entrust the Veterans Health Administration to care for our returning warriors. Unfortunately, the VA is long overdue for reform and a recommitment to its core mission. Veterans should be treated by a doctor and at a clinic of their choosing, not at the discretion of federal bureaucrats. Those who choose to use the VA system must have timely access to top-notch medical services.

Jeb’s Plan

Currently, only certain veterans are allowed to choose their doctor – those who can’t get an appointment within 30 days and those living 40 miles or more from a VA health facility. That number should be broadened and limitations to private access reduced. If a veteran wants to see a neighborhood physician, he or she has earned that choice. The VA must remain the guarantor of that choice and that care.

“Right now this country needs a leader. And Jeb is the only one with the experience and the leadership to do it.”- Colonel Jay Vargas, USMC (Ret.)

The challenge in expanding the choice program is in the cost and outreach. Approximately 30,000 veterans have opted to use the program, a paltry number given the nearly 9 million veterans who use VA hospitals. Though the program is still new, the VA has not sufficiently encouraged veterans to participate. Cost is also a problem. Although total VA funding grew by nearly 73 percent since 2009, the VA ran out of money in 2015. While it is unconscionable that the VA still can’t afford to provide reasonable options for veterans, the fact remains that choice is expensive and there needs to be a way to pay for it.

With budgetary concerns in mind, increasing choice cannot come at the expense of veterans receiving care at the VA. Despite well-documented problems with VA administrators, many veterans prefer to receive their care at VA hospitals. And many VA facilities specialize in care like post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and prosthetics.

“We don’t have the money” is not an acceptable answer when it comes to providing choice and care to veterans. This is a problem of priorities, not funding.

“We don’t have the money” is not an acceptable answer when it comes to providing choice and care to veterans. This is a problem of priorities, not funding.

The solution is to reform the VA, and redirect those savings into veterans care. This includes cutting excess administrators (not caregivers) through Jeb’s ‘3-out, 1-in’ proposal, and improving practices so that we eliminate billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse. For example, we must fire bureaucrats who refuse to make bidding for VA contracts competitive (as required by law), improve whistleblower protections –by accelerating the conferring of whistleblower status and disciplining bosses who retaliate against whistleblowers– and remove the VA from missions unrelated to veteran services, such as construction. A whistleblower said that the VA misspent as much as $5 billion in outside care contracts that did not meet requirements for competition. Those funds were misspent in violation of federal law, and included gross overpayments in pharmaceuticals, services, and procurement.

Ample resources exist within the VA budget to improve the quality and scope of care. Annual targets for reform savings and choice expansion should be set. Targeted increases in choice would be tied to savings achieved through reform. In other government agencies, commonsense reforms have saved billions. The VA must get its house in order, and send savings into improving veteran choice and veteran care.

The VA must get its house in order, and send savings into improving veteran choice and veteran care.

Further, steps must be made to address the wait list for care. Congress and Veteran Service Organizations have put several proposals forth to lower the wait for appointments, and many of them are worthy of careful consideration. In the short term, VA pharmacies should be allowed to fill prescriptions from outside doctors. The current practice requires that all medication be approved in-house, often requiring a VA doctor to confirm the opinion of a veteran’s private doctor. This is a redundancy that extends wait times for veterans in need.

Hold Government Accountable for Providing Quality Services

The VA Secretary said last year, “I can’t just walk into the room and fire someone.” If a VA employee is guilty of incompetence severe enough that a veteran loses his life, the Secretary should be able to do exactly that.

The problem is that the VA, like the federal government writ large, is beholden to both complex union contracts and a broken civil service system. These impediments make it nearly impossible for managers to discipline or fire employees. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, it takes an average of six months to a year to fire a government employee. And after firing, the employee can appeal that decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Then the MSPB process can add many more months before finality of the employment action.

The Veterans Choice Access and Accountability Act of 2014 created a new way to remove career Senior Executives (SES), based upon performance or misconduct within the Department. Unfortunately, the law only applies to Senior Executive Service (SES) employees — roughly 370 of VA’s 300,000-employee workforce.

Jeb’s Plan

It will take the will of leadership to truly hold employees accountable, which thus far has not been demonstrated by President Obama’s Administration.

The firing authority provided by the Choice Act should apply to all VA employees, especially those who engage in any conduct that results in a lapse of care for a veteran, or are responsible for waste, fraud, and abuse. Further, paid administrative leave for disciplinary investigations should be limited to 14 days per year.

The VA has also treated whistleblowers shamefully. To correct this, the timeline for deciding whistleblower status should be accelerated, new whistleblower protections added, and new disciplinary procedures for managers who retaliate against whistleblowers should be established.

Further reforms to the SES at VA are needed. This should include the ability to rescind an employee’s pension if convicted of a felony related to VA, and the authority to rescind a bonus at any time.

The point is not to simply punish those who fail, but reward the overwhelming number of VA employees who have devoted their lives to serving veterans. If a VA employee fails in his or her mission, to ‘care for those who have borne the battle,’ they must step aside or be removed so that talented employees can rise up.

Modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs

The VA still operates under archaic practices and procedures, despite spending around $4Bn on information technology annually. It has struggled to adapt to the 21st century. In an era of high speed Internet, revolutionary advances in medicine, fiber optics and interconnectivity, the VA can still take months to deliver care and responses that could be transmitted in seconds.

Jeb’s Plan

One of the key problems with the wait-list manipulation scandal in 2014 was that the VA relied on an antiquated and unreliable scheduling software system. The software was old and susceptible to falsification. New software is more than capable of eliminating those vulnerabilities and improving the VA user experience.

In this day and age, veterans should be able to login, make or cancel an appointment, and check on the status of that appointment with little hassle. The current online system is difficult to use, especially for older veterans.

In this day and age, veterans should be able to login, make or cancel an appointment, and check on the status of that appointment with little hassle.

There are also obstacles to refilling prescriptions online, a feature available at most pharmacies nationwide. While the VA does have a system set up for online prescription refills, it is poorly designed. The VA should explore public-private partnerships to replace shoddy software.

Veterans have gone too long without a secure online credential that proves their status as veterans. The current system requires a paper copy of the DD-214, a form used to verify service and military discharge. The VA should team with the private sector to create a single, safe credential for veterans that verifies their service and eligibility for benefits.

This credential would be provided as they separate from service. Such credentialing could allow a faster admission to veterans eligible for the choice program, allow instant access to medical records online, and help the private sector offer military/veteran discounts online. In person, a veteran should be able to pull out a smart phone and prove their service with a few touches of the screen.

The problems at the VA are not purely software issues. While it has failed to adapt as quickly as it should to technological advances, the VA still uses out-of-date practices that have outlived their usefulness.

An obvious example is that of hospital construction. A new hospital in Denver, Colorado was estimated at $800 million in construction costs. A new estimate is $1.7 billion dollars, nearly a billion over budget. The VA has no business being in the construction industry. It should stick to tending to the wounded. The practice is outmoded and would be better accomplished by more relevant federal agencies.

Create More Opportunities for Veterans

While veterans’ unemployment has dropped in recent years, nearly 600,000 veterans were still unemployed in 2014. Almost 550 service-members transition from the military daily, and approximately one million veterans will rejoin civilian society in the next 3-5 years.

Jeb’s Plan

Only 48 percent of working age veterans use their GI Bill benefits, and only 52 percent of those veterans complete their field of study. But veterans are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans, and $1.2 trillion in sales is generated from 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses – which represent nearly 9 percent of all U.S. small businesses.

A way to both reduce underuse and misuse of GI benefits is to allow the GI bill to be used to insure a small business loan. Eligible veterans could borrow against their earned GI bill benefits to start a small business, in lieu of using it for education.

Restore Troop Levels

While veterans’ benefits have rightly been protected from the Budget Control Act and Sequestration, the impact has still been felt at VA facilities. Active duty members of the armed forces (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force) hit a high point in 2010 with 1.4 million members. Under current defense cuts, it is set to drop to 1.2 million by 2019.

Put plainly, that means an additional 190,000 troops will be shed on top of natural attrition over the next four years. This is a heavy swell of new potential VA users.

Put plainly, that means an additional 190,000 troops will be shed on top of natural attrition over the next four years. This is a heavy swell of new potential VA users.

Jeb’s Plan

While the military cuts should be reversed for purely strategic security reasons, the fact stands that the sheer number of service members leaving service is overwhelming the VA. The Pentagon needs more soldiers and the VA is inundated with new veterans. Ending the rapid troop drawdown is a simple, pragmatic solution to both problems.

Improve Healthcare for Female Veterans

Fully 15 percent of active duty and 18 percent of National Guard and Reserves forces are women, with projections saying those percentages will grow. In contrast, the percentage of women in uniform was just 2 percent in 1950. Under modern combat policies, women are serving in hostile areas in increasing numbers and are incurring critical injuries at levels similar to their male counterparts.

However, since the VHA has been historically orientated to care for men, women have received fewer immunizations, fewer cancer screenings, and fewer mental health screenings than their male counterparts.

Jeb’s Plan

It’s time to improve healthcare services for female veterans. That starts by preparing for the further growth in the female veterans population with responsive programs in organization, staff, and training – including in obstetrics, gynecology, and specializations in ovarian and breast cancer.

The agency underwent an assessment in 2012 to measure the quality of care for the growing population of female veterans. That was a welcome step. However, more must be done, particularly when it comes to engaging the female veterans population and making them aware of the care options available to them, including in the area of mental health services as the long-term behavioral health effects of traumatic brain injury and PTSD are not yet known.

Military service members will be facing these challenges long after they have separated and will require care as veterans. The VA needs to ramp their behavioral health services and resources.

Honor Veterans’ Service

One obstacle to a successful transition from military to civilian life is the stereotype of the wounded, helpless vet overcome with issues like anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Many well-intentioned programs have unintentionally fed into the narrative of the “broken hero.” Polling suggests this has had a tangible effect on an employer’s willingness to hire veterans, despite the fact that they generally outperform non-veterans in the workplace.

Restoring the respect that veterans have earned requires national leadership, and Jeb is well positioned to offer precisely that.

Jeb’s Plan

Jeb is committed to using the bully pulpit of a national election and his presidency to honor the service and character of America’s veterans. Their many virtues –commitment, loyalty, reliability, and integrity— will be highlighted, as well as how those merits inject value into communities and businesses. Organizations like Team Rubicon and Hire Heroes recognize that the best way to help veterans is to offer them a noble purpose and the dignity of a rewarding career. They should be acknowledged. Restoring the respect that veterans have earned requires national leadership, and Jeb is well positioned to offer precisely that. This will be a priority of his first term in office and beyond.

A Blueprint for a 21st Century American Education System

January 18, 2016


Every individual in this country has the right to rise. Yet today, the American Dream — the idea that anything is possible through hard work — is threatened by an education system failing to prepare the next generation of children for success.

Too many low-income students start kindergarten already years behind their more affluent counterparts. Only one-third of students graduate high school prepared for college or a good career. And our higher education system has become too expensive for many Americans to afford.

To achieve equal opportunity and increased economic growth, we must provide every child the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the increasingly competitive 21st century global economy.

As the nation honors Dr. Martin Luther King and his legacy today, I firmly believe that ensuring every individual has access to a quality education is the great civil rights challenge of our time.

Achieving these goals doesn’t require additional money or programs designed by Washington. That’s why my plan is budget neutral and returns power to states, local school districts and parents. My plan requires a complete overhaul of a system from one that serves bureaucracies to one that serves the needs of families and students and is based on four conservative principles: 1) education decisions should be made as close to the student as possible; 2) choice of all kinds should be expanded; 3) transparency is essential to accountability; and 4) innovation requires flexibility.

Understanding that many families invest in their children’s education well before college, my plan allows for the conversion of 529 college savings accounts into Education Savings Accounts. These accounts would allow families and individuals to save tax-free for lifelong education, including for pre-K, elementary school, high school, college, job training, tutoring, summer school or online classes. We’ll make charitable donations to the ESA’s of low-income children tax-deductible.

To give low-income children a stronger start in life, we will consolidate the roughly $22 billion annual federal dollars spent through 44 disjointed programs, and allow states to deposit $2,500 annual scholarships in the ESA of every low-income child under five so their parents can choose the type of education services and care their children need to flourish.

To leverage the limited role of the federal government to improve all schools, we will take four main steps. First, we will dramatically expand choice by doubling support for charter schools; strengthening the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program; and making federal aid to low-income (Title I) and special needs students (IDEA) portable, so states can give scholarships directly to those students to attend the school of their choice.

Second, we will require states to ensure every citizen receives a complete picture of student achievement, system progress and finances in their schools. Parents, teachers and taxpayers need information to evaluate their schools because transparency yields better results.

Third, we will empower states with the flexibility to improve their schools, while ensuring the federal government does not interfere in academic standards, curriculum or content. Right now, too many regulations drown the system in compliance costs, wasting valuable resources. We need to give states the flexibility to reform and innovate to meet the unique needs of their students.

Fourth, we will focus on teachers. We will give schools whose teachers achieve good results for low-income students more money, incentivizing and rewarding success. And, we will foster excellent teaching by helping states reward the best educators, recruit new talent and improve professional development.

To drive down college costs and ensure every student is getting value for the dollars invested in his or her education, we will also restructure our higher education system in four main ways.

First, we will create state databases so every student can see the average unemployment rate, earnings, graduation rates and debt repayment rate of programs they are considering. We need students to be able to judge the cost and quality of programs so they can make better choices and hold schools accountable.

Second, we will give colleges and career training programs “skin in the game,” putting them on the hook for a portion of the federal funds their alumni are unable to repay.

This will incentivize them to reduce costs and ensure that students graduate with the skills needed to succeed.

Third, we will expand access to innovative new providers based on their rates of student success. Innovation has the potential to transform higher education and dramatically increase access and drive down costs while giving students a wider variety of options that fit their needs and budgets.

Finally, instead of the current burdensome federal loan system, we will give all high school graduates access to a $50,000 line of credit through their Educative Savings Account (ESA) to pay for college and career training. For every $10,000 spent, students would repay 1 percent of their income for 25 years. This ensures affordable repayment, removes risk of default and protects students during periods of unemployment, while the ESA structure gives students flexibility and the incentive to be cost-conscious. In addition, low-income students would have access to an improved need-based Pell Grant through their ESA.

To help borrowers with existing debt, we will allow them to transfer into the new income-based repayment system. And, for those who chose not to, we will make federal debt collection more transparent, simple and fair; allow private student debt to be discharged in bankruptcy; extend the debt repayment period; and ease transition into the existing REPAYE program.

I know what needs to be done. As governor of Florida, I increased student achievement across the board, particularly for those most at risk, and as president, I will do the same.

Making America’s education system world class is not only an economic imperative, it is moral one as well.