Rep. Michele Bachmann is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president who enjoys strong Tea Party support. Currently serving her third term in the House of Representatives, she was the first Republican woman from Minnesota to be elected to Congress. A former state senator, Mrs. Bachmann understands the problems with the tax code inside and out from five years spent as a federal tax attorney with the Internal Revenue Service. She is author of the recently released book "Core of Conviction" (Sentinel, 2011). You can find out more about her campaign at: http://www.michelebachmann.com.
Decker: What would tax reform look like in a Bachmann administration?
Bachmann: The real world of taxation is not reducible to a sound bite or a bumper sticker. We need a real national discussion about what kind of tax system we really want, and as the only tax professional in the race, I will lead that discussion with some serious talk about what the principles "fairer, flatter and simpler" really mean.
First, it is only fair that everyone should contribute something to the core government services. Everyone benefits and everyone needs to pay something.
Today, we live in a world where only 53 percent of Americans pay federal income tax, 47 percent pay nothing. People who pay nothing can easily forget the idea that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Second, even though everyone should pay something, those who can afford to pay more should pay more. This is true not just in absolute terms. Someone at a higher income level should pay at least the same percentage of income as someone at a lower income level.
Third, fairness also demands that government limit its claim on the hard work and talents of the people it taxes. The income people earn is not the government's; it belongs to the people who earned it. When people in Washington say things like "We can't afford a tax cut," they need to think about who the "We" is. It is the people's money, not the politicians'.
Decker: What are the most important steps a new president should take on Inauguration Day to get America back on the right track?
Bachmann: First, the next president needs to unite what is a sharply divided country. Second, the next president must cast a vision for how to lead America back to prosperity and have the American people and the world believe in and follow that vision.
Decker: As commander in chief, what would you do about Iran's program to develop nuclear weapons?
Bachmann: As president, I'll stand on the side of Israel and will ensure that Iran never has a nuclear weapon. An Iran with a nuclear weapon is completely unacceptable to the United States and to Israel; it would be a grave threat to the safety of the world, and so the world community should confront that threat.
Two principles must guide U.S. policy toward Iran. First, we must never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. And second, we must realize that this is as much a threat to U.S. national security as it is to Israel's and should not outsource U.S. national security to the United Nations.
I will fully implement provisions of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010, and expand them to investment firms from Russia and China, who are deeply tied to Iran. I will also direct the Pentagon to develop plans for war and to impose a naval blockade. While only a fool would wish for war, we must have every option available.
The U.S. should develop and deploy comprehensive anti-ballistic missile systems on land, at sea, in the air and in space while moving additional Aegis and Patriot missile defense systems into the Middle East to protect U.S. and allied interests. We must sell Israel the additional fighter jets, bunker-buster bombs, refueling tankers and other materials they need to defend themselves.
Decker: There's some speculation about the Reagan coalition of defense hawks, social conservatives and economic libertarians starting to fray. Is it important to keep this marriage together for Republicans to win national elections? How can the standard-bearer be a source of unity for the party?
Bachmann: I disagree with this speculation. I believe it is a creation of the media aimed at dividing our party. While there are healthy differences in our party, we remain committed to Ronald Reagan's "three legged stool."
Liberals want you to think the Tea Party is the right wing of the Republican Party. But it's not. It's made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who've never been political a day in their life, libertarians and Republicans. We're people who simply want America back on the right track again.
Decker: The media have announced that the GOP primary is now a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. This seems premature, especially given the musical chairs in the top positions of the field. Clearly, Republicans have not all decided on a favorite yet. You came out of the gates charging and impressively won the Iowa straw poll in August but have since been surpassed. What separates you from your competition, and what can you do to rekindle your early success this late in the game?
Bachmann: What separates me from the rest of the field is that there are no surprises in my record. You won't YouTube clips of me advocating for abortion. You won't find me sitting on a sofa with Nancy Pelosi or taking millions of dollars to peddle influence in Washington, D.C. And every American can be sure that I will act to keep our country free, safe and sovereign and won't wait until we're attacked to act.
In my 55 years, I have faced daunting challenges that have shaped my character. As a mother of 28 children - 23 foster children and our 5 home-schooled biological children - the creator, together with my husband, of our successful small business, and a federal tax attorney by trade, I sought elected office to improve the education system for our children, and succeeded. I was elected to Congress and have taken the fight to President Obama on Obamacare, heavy-handed regulation and national security.
Our next president must put politics aside and boldly lead. Leadership must be born of the heart and cannot be read from a teleprompter. And it is leadership that has been lacking. It is time once again to lead, and I will.
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is co-author of the new book "Bowing to Beijing" (Regnery, 2011).
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