Mark W. Everson, who ran the IRS for President George W. Bush and oversaw President Reagan’s 1986 immigration amnesty at the INS, will announce a longshot bid Thursday for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination, saying Republicans need to embrace amnesty for illegal immigrants and take on the big banks if they are to win the White House.
Mr. Everson is jumping straight to the level of announced candidate, skipping the exploratory bid-stage that most other Republicans are using to test the waters, in an effort to show he is committed to the race.
He said he’ll offer voters a six-point plan, including pushing for a new consumption tax to replace most of the income tax, restore the military draft in order to foster a sense of shared sacrifices, tackle entitlement spending, and pledge to serve just a single term in the White House.
“I’m trying to confront the base and broaden the base on a certain series of these issues,” Mr. Everson told The Washington Times.
His deep resume spans several major government organizations, including running the IRS from 2003 to 2007, serving as deputy director of the White House budget office, overseeing the 1986 amnesty as deputy commissioner at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and serving as unemployment insurance commissioner in Indiana.
He described himself as “to the left” of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on immigration.
“I am for full-throated comprehensive immigration reform. Strengthen the border, you do the interior enforcement and you do the amnesty, the citizenship,” he said, defending use of the word “amnesty” and saying it’s “disingenuous” for politicians to call legalizing illegal immigrants anything else.
But he also said pushing immigrants to assimilate is critical to making sure the U.S. doesn’t fall victim to some of the cultural problems that plague other countries.
Mr. Everson vowed to take on big banks, which he said are leveraging their size to push community banks out of the market.
“They just run the light, pay the ticket and move on,” he said. He said one solution is to impose a 95 percent tax rate on the income of a corporate CEO whose firm is slapped with a major financial fine.
His tax plan, meanwhile, would curtail the IRS dramatically, but not eliminate it. He would impose a new consumption tax which he said would cut 150 million Americans off the tax rolls, but he would keep an income tax in place for the wealthiest Americans.
Mr. Everson acknowledged he has some issues he would have to surmount in a campaign, including a well-publicized affair with a subordinate that cost him his job as president of the American Red Cross after just six months on the job in 2007.
He has been out of the public eye since then, and lives in Mississippi where he is vice chairman of a tax consultancy.
“I have made mistakes, but at sixty I am wiser and humbler than I once was,” he says in a 16-page open letter to voters. “Still, I owe no one. I am unafraid to take on the special interests which enrich themselves at your expense.”
The open letter is brutally honest, including mentioning a child he fathered who was aborted. He said he opposes abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is at stake.
Mr. Everson joins an already crowded GOP field — though most potential candidates have either formed exploratory committees or have political action committees, but haven’t taken steps to officially file a statement of candidacy.
The field has a number of current and former governors and members of Congress, but several who have not held elected office are also eyeing a run, including former neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, businesswoman Carly Fiorina and reality TV star and businessman Donald Trump.
The RealClearPolitics.com average of polls puts Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the lead, with Jeb Bush, brother to Mr. Everson’s former boss at the White House, a close second.