George Allen is currently the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in the Old Dominion. His long career in public service includes a term as governor of Virginia, almost a decade in Thomas Jefferson's seat in the House of Delegates, a term in the U.S. House of Representatives and a term in the U.S. Senate. In 2006, he lost his bid to keep his Senate seat by a mere one-third of 1 percent of the vote. Son of Hall of Fame Washington Redskins football coach George Allen, the governor is author of "What Washington Can Learn from the World of Sports" (Regnery, 2010). You can find out more about Gov. Allen's campaign at: georgeallen.com.
Decker: If you get sent back to the Senate, what are you going to do to help wrestle federal spending under control?
Allen: Reckless, irresponsible Washington spending has resulted in unprecedented annual trillion-dollar deficits and put our country on a dangerous and unsustainable path that will endanger our children's future and their ability to catch their American dream. It is time to get back to basics. You can't set priorities when you don't have a budget -- and the Senate has not passed a budget in over three years. In that time, Washington has added $5 trillion in debt, punted on nearly every effort to restrain spending, and the credit rating of the United States has been downgraded for the first time in history.
It is time for responsible reform of the budget process to ensure accountability. I have long advocated for what I call the Paycheck Penalty Act to withhold the pay of members of Congress if they fail to complete annual budget appropriations on time. Virginia businesses know that if they don't get their job done, they don't get paid. Congress ought to abide by the same basic rules. We also need to change the way Washington does business. In the Senate, I will again introduce a Balanced Budget Amendment that would prevent Congress from spending more than it takes in. This would include taxpayer protections for limiting taxes and line-item veto authority. As senator, I was one of 15 to vote against the "Bridge to Nowhere," and it's clear Washington needs additional accountability tools like the line-item veto I used as governor to cut out wasteful spending that drives up our annual deficits.
Decker: The George W. Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire in December, which will dramatically increase the cost of government on already suffering taxpayers. What needs to be done to lift the tax burden on hardworking Americans?
Allen: Brett, it amazes me to hear those in Washington talking about raising taxes on American families and small-business owners when our unemployment rate has been stuck above 8 percent for 43 months now. When I served as governor, I worked with legislators from both parties to cut taxes by $600 million and streamline our regulations to send a message that "Virginia is open for business!" -- and we added over 300,000 net new private-sector jobs during those four years. I know we can bring people together in Washington to achieve similar results. America needs a tax code that is more simple, fair and competitive, not higher tax burdens. We also need comprehensive and permanent reform so Americans have the certainty they need to plan and invest. Getting our economy healthy not only will mean more jobs for Americans, but it will also bring in more revenue without raising taxes.
Decker: The United States obviously needs greater energy independence, but many actions taken by the Obama administration have wasted billions of dollars on unproven technologies and moved us farther away from that goal. What can be done to tap domestic sources to achieve true energy freedom?
Allen: Rising prices for fuel and electricity are hurting American families and businesses and underscore the importance of unleashing the plentiful supplies of coal, natural gas and oil under our own land and water as well as encouraging practical conservation and innovation. America is blessed with the most plentiful energy resources of any country on earth. If we reversed our current counterproductive energy policies and unleashed our American energy resources, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be created, we would have more affordable fuel, food and electricity, and over $1 trillion would be added in revenue to the federal government.
Virginians from our coalfields to our coast are ready, willing and able to provide the energy to power our country. On Day One, I will introduce a bill to allow Virginians to produce oil and natural gas off our coast and use the royalties for roads and transportation. With common-sense energy policies, we will make our economy more competitive, create jobs, enhance our security and keep our money here in the U.S.A. It is time to say yes to Virginia energy production, yes to the Keystone pipeline and yes to American energy freedom.
Decker: It used to be said that, "The business of America is business." Now, we have a worse corporate tax rate than Europe and businesses are strangled by miles of new red tape every year. I have had many job creators tell me that if they had to do it all over again today, that starting their own company would no longer be worth all the hassle, harassment and heartache. What are the most damaging government hindrances to entrepreneurs today and what can be done to make the U.S. business climate competitive again?
Allen: We can reinvigorate the entrepreneurial spirit of our country with less burdensome tax laws, reasonable regulations, affordable energy and empowering education policies. One thing weighing down our economy is America's worst-in-the-world tax on job-creating businesses. I have proposed reducing this tax to a better-than-world-average 20 percent rate. A lot of leaders in Washington -- Republicans and Democrats -- have discussed various plans to reduce this tax. Some have called for smaller or larger reductions to the rate than what I propose, but we clearly have the building blocks for positive reform. At a meeting with a local chamber group in the Mount Vernon area this summer, a woman who runs a nursery business told me, "I wish Washington would walk a mile in my shoes and understand what it's like to balance a budget under the taxes, regulations and energy costs they've created. I don't want to be controlled by the government." In every region of Virginia, I hear that same message from hard-working entrepreneurs who simply want the freedom and opportunity to grow, innovate and create new jobs.
To begin reining in the over-reaching, unaccountable federal government, I would require an economic- and family-impact analysis on all proposed new regulations. Regulations costing more than $100 million need to be voted on by elected representatives in Congress. That's the kind of accountability Americans deserve in a representative democracy. Business owners large and small tell me that Washington's new health care tax law with its costs, mandates and uncertainties is a significant impediment to hiring and expanding. I look forward to being the 51st vote to repeal this unpopular and unaffordable law and replace it with real health care reform that provides families with personal, portable, market-based health care solutions.
Decker: OK, it's prediction time. Which way is Virginia going to go in the presidential election, and why?
Allen: Virginians tell me they envision a better future than what we are enduring these days. They have seen where Tim Kaine and President Obama's agenda leads -- the trillion-dollar annual deficits, soaring gasoline prices, our country's credit downgraded and the ongoing lack of jobs and opportunity -- with even greater jobs losses and devastating defense cuts being threatened. Virginia will determine the leadership of the U.S. Senate, and how Virginia votes will likely determine the next president of the United States. That's a lot of responsibility. Virginians are eager for leadership that will bring people together to get our economy moving. That is why, on Election Day 2012, with all the eyes of the country on Virginia, people are going to see Virginians standing strong for freedom and opportunity -- and America will begin to ascend again, electing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as well as common-sense conservative leadership in the U.S. Senate.
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book "Bowing to Beijing" (Regnery, 2011).
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