Monday, August 6, 2012--1:30p.m.
MADISON--Meet the Republicans vying for your vote: There's Mark Neumann, a former U.S. representative; Jeff Fitzgerald, the speaker of the state assembly; Eric Hovde, a businessman specializing in banking and real estate; and Tommy Thompson, the former governor and secretary of health and human services.
As impressive as each of their resumes reads, what many people really want to know, is how would they fix our economy and balance the budget? How would they bring jobs to America? And what do they want you to pay in taxes?
Each of them parrots some version of the mantra that the government doesn't take in too little--it simply spends too much.
Mark Neumann showed up to his interview with a list of 150 programs that he'd like to see reduced or cut. "They spent $400,000 to study the effect of cocaine on the sex habits of a Japanese quail," said Neumann. "That is just absolutely ridiculous spending. We've got a bunch of that in here, we also have substantive things in here, some of which have already been done like ending ethanol subsidies, another one: reduce the federal workforce for non-defense employees by 15 percent."
Eric Hovde wants to examine each agency's relevance--and consolidate when needed. "A basic question you'd ask in the business world is: how many different agencies are focused on this task? We have 47 different agencies focused on job training, it's absurd," said Hovde.
Tommy Thompson wants each federal agency to come up with a budget 5 percent less than what they're currently getting. He also wants to allow companies to bring money back to America without paying a penalty. "I'm on a board that's got several hundreds of millions of dollars offshore," said Thompson. "We would love to bring it back to the United States and invest it in our companies. We can't do it because we're not going to give up 35 percent."
He proposes offering a waiver to companies that bring money home--provided it's invested in people, plants and equipment.
"You'll have over a trillion dollars coming from offshore to invest in businesses here in America. It would be the largest stimulus package from the private sector ever," he said.
As for taxes, all of them want to see a lower corporate tax rate--25 percent seems to be the popular choice.
All of them say they'll aim to balance the budget--but won't raise taxes to do so.
Simplifying taxes is another theme several share. Jeff Fitzgerald wants to make them something you could do on a postcard. "Zero to $50,000 for an individual would be a 10 percent flat tax rate," he said. "You know if you're a married couple zero to a 100,000 be at corporate tax rate anything above that I think you look at a 25 percent flat tax rate."