Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interview With Florida U.S. Senate Candidate George LeMieux

MELBOURNE, Florida -- Former U.S. Senator for Florida George LeMieux is now running in the U.S. Senate Republican primary to challenge Senator Bill Nelson's seat.  LeMieux is making the campaign rounds in Brevard County today, and took the time out of his busy schedule for an over-the-phone interview to answer a few questions for Brevard Times.

There is a large contingent of Brevard County Republicans who supported Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.  These first three segments of Brevard County Republicans represent the more conservative contingent, while moderate Brevard County Republicans supported Mitt Romney.

None of these factions represent more than 50% of the Republican party on Florida's Space Coast. How can you bring social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, constitutional conservatives, interventionists, non-interventionists, and moderates together to get behind your candidacy when their policies often conflict with one another?  What kind of a Republican are you?

I am a Reagan Republican.  I hope that what I stood for while in the U.S. Senate, and what I stand for now, would appeal to supporters of limited government.  

Troops in the Middle East - In or Out?

Iraq: We have withdrawn our troops from Iraq due to the noncooperation of the Iraqi government.  I would not support the return of troops into Iraq. 
Afghanistan: We are drawing down our troops in 2014.  We face challenges transferring security for the Afghan people to Afghan forces.  The withdrawal from Afghanistan should not be on a political time line after spending 10 years of U.S. blood and treasure.  I would listen to commanders in the field as to the timeline of troop withdrawal.  President Obama is trying to tie the withdrawal around an election clock.

TARP, HAMP, GM, Citigroup, and other economic government bailouts - For or against?

Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.  In the case of  GM, the unions got a bailout while the bondholders took a bath.  Other car makers remained in business but did not get the benefit of government help.  The role of government should be much more limited then it is today.

I would not have voted for TARP - it was not successful.  After the banks received money from the U.S. they did not in turn loan those funds back out to businesses.  This recovery is dismal and the worst recovery after an economic shock.  The sharper the drop in the economy, the stronger the comeback.  President Obama's stimulus package and TARP made the road back to normal difficult.  European banks are facing a financial crisis now.  We should not use U.S. dollars to bail out European banks via the IMF or by any other means.

As for HAMP, the purpose of government in helping homeowners should be in a targeted and temporary way - a short term helping hand.  I support those temporary programs.  But the market needs to work itself out.  There are many Floridians out of work because they can't move to another job because the are locked in their underwater house.  We need a much more expeditious process than HAMP for helping homeowners.
It's always great to say that we want to make home ownership affordable for everyone. But federal government intervention does not work in the real world.  Whether well intentioned or not, we should let market forces work. 

We should not create new GSE's like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to support the housing.  We have to wind down the ones we have, but can't stop them tomorrow because of the impact to the market place. 

What do you think of the Federal Reserve's role in intervening in the economy?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did a good job of stabilizing the market when we were in the thick of it.  But the Federal Reserve should have read the signs along the way to the financial crisis.

The Federal Reseve is printing so much money and lending it out to banks at such a low interest rate, it is bailing out the banks on the backs of Florida's seniors who cannot get a good interest rate on their savings to keep up with inflation.  My folks, who live in Florida, are in the same situation as most seniors.

I do not support the Fed's policy of creating a negative real rate of return. I voted to audit the Federal Reserve.  Congress has essentially created a fourth branch of government.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Is it a federal issue or should it be left to states?

I am pro-life and believe that it is a federal issue as well as a state issue.

Are you for or against off-shore drilling? What is your energy policy?

I am in favor of off-shore drilling if it is done 100 miles off the coast of Florida.  The leasing of federal waters to oil companies for off-shore drilling should be market-based to get the best price for the U.S. Treasury.
We need to build more nuclear power plants and take advantage of the energy resources found domestically in the United States.  For example, we are recently finding a tremendous amount of natural gas in the U.S. from North Dakota to Texas which has caused natural gas to drop 50% in price.   

If we were to produce more energy resources that are found in the U.S., it would put the U.S. back into the manufacturing sector because energy would be so cheap in certain parts of the U.S.   Also, we wouldn't be dependent on mid-east oil and oil from Venezuela, just what is produced domestically and from our friends like Canada and Mexico.

I do support continued sanctions against Iran to halt their development of a nuclear weapon even if it means higher gasoline prices.  The safety and security of the U.S., Europe, and Israel is more important than higher gas prices.

I believe in an all-of-the-above energy strategy.  But unlike President Obama, I really mean it.  I supported the Keystone XL pipeline.  Senator Bill Nelson voted against it.  Again and again, Senator Nelson proves he's a real liberal in Washington, D.C.

PIPA and SOPA - for or against?

I would have voted against them due to the language drafted in those particular bills.  However, we do need to protect intellectual property rights just like any other property right under the U.S. Constitutions.  We also need to encourage innovation and the power of peoples ideas on the internet.

NDAA - for or against?

I am for most of the bill.  However, when it comes to the detention of folks, in no way should any American be detained without the right to a lawyer and a right to go before a judge even if they are accused of terrorism.

I will make the distinction though, that if an American travels outside of the U.S. to aid our enemies and fight our troops in a theater of war, those rights should not apply to him.

Deficit and Debt. How do you propose we tackle this problem?

This is the number one issue facing America.  We will not be able to make our interest payment at the current rate of spending in the next ten years.  Our kids and grand-kids will not grow up in the same America if this financial meltdown is allowed to happen.  I support the "2007 Solution" which says lets go back to what we spent at that level in 2007.  This will cut 4 trillion from national debt and not increase our deficit by the end of the decade.

What committee memberships would you seek if elected?

The Armed Services Committee and Budget Committe.  No Florida senator is sitting on the Armed Services Committee.  As for other committees, it depends on Marco Rubio because two Republicans are not allowed to sit in the same committee.

U.S. Missile shield systems in Eastern Europe: For or against?

I support it.  What President Obama did was wrong when he ended President Bush's plan to deploy a U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe.  Iran is a perfect reason why that shield is needed.  We took some of the components of that shield to Turkey, but we need a land-base and a sea-base missile defense shield to defend Europe and Israel.

The U.S. tax code is a Byzantine labyrinth of political carve outs, credits, and deductions.  Today is tax day.  What is your position on how the U.S. tax code could be improved?

Everyone should pay taxes - every person, and every corporation.  We can lower everyone's tax rate if we were to eliminate the tax loopholes which give away 1 trillion dollars to special interests.  30 of the Fortune 500 companies pay little or no tax.  The top tax rate for people and corporations could be reduced to 25% if those loopholes were eliminated.  Not to mention, there are billions of dollars spent every year by taxpayers for lawyers and accountants to prepare taxes due to a complicated tax code.

Making the U.S. competitive on a global scale. The U.S. seems to take it on the chin with each trade agreement we enter. What is your position on free trade agreements. Should free trade exist for say produce, where in Brazil they use fungicides not allowed in the U.S. (which has just recently made national headlines) that gives their growers a production price advantage over Space Coast citrus growers along our Indian River lagoon?

I am for free trade and fair trade.  As for health and safety, we should impose requirements on other countries in our trade agreements to guarantee safe food.

When it comes to manufacturing, what countries do in their own countries is their business if there is a lack of environmental protection.  Manufactured products are going to be made and paid for on a world market place.  In the U.S., we need proper regulation, not over-regulation of our companies.

The Space Shuttle Discovery left this morning for its final piggy back over Florida's Space Coast. What is your vision for the future of the U.S. Space Program?

Senator Bill Nelson and President Obama have killed the U.S. space program.  American exceptionalism is going to the museum right along with the space shuttle.  Today our space program is in shambles, we lost over seven thousand jobs on the Space Coast with no plans for the future of the U.S. space program.

We need to have a real solution for the space program before the China and India get ahead of us.  I don't want to live in America where the Chinese have planted a flag on the moon.  

As for Newt Gingrich's call for a moon colony - that is a little far fetched.  We don't even have a space program right now.  We rely commercial companies for low earth orbit launches, which is great.  But let's have a real definitive plan.

The Constellation program Congress passed was a quarter measure, not even a half measure, for the future of a real U.S. space program.

Any thing else you would like to add?

I hope that your readers know that I want to balance the budget, safeguard our freedoms.  If elected, I will limit myself to two terms in office.