Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Like Lange

Although I walked away from the "Grand Old Party" at the national level in disgust during the big-spending Bush years, I'll be proudly marking my ballot for a Republican for Federal office this election. That candidate is Ben Lange. Lange is running for U.S. Congress in Iowa's First District.

Thirty-three year old Lange bills himself as a "new breed of political leader." I believe it's more that he's a part of a new generation than a new breed. This younger generation is picking up at the spot where former generations of politicians have kicked the can down road. They are inheriting obviously destructive and unsustainable levels of federal debt and spending. Ben Lange seems determined to fix this massive problem rather than passing it on to his three young daughters (or allowing it to destroy the nation around them).

“What we are passing off to the next generation, it’s unsustainable, absolutely. It’s financially irresponsible, absolutely. More important, it’s immoral,” he said recently. “We are taking from a generation that doesn’t yet know the problem, nor can they stand up against it.”

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others, has identified our own debt as the single greatest threat to our national security. To combat this threat, Ben Lange supports "enacting a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an essential ingredient to any meaningful debt-reduction strategy, and putting an overall cap on federal spending as a percentage of our GDP" as well as opposing all debt-ceiling increases until a debt-reduction strategy is established.

In related economic issues, Ben Lange supports dramatically simplifying the federal tax code and eliminating the death tax, establishing a 3-year sunset on bureaucratic regulations unless reviewed by Congress, repealing Obamacare, auditing the Federal Reserve and assorted other actions to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.

On foreign policy Ben Lange is not a Ron Paul non-interventionalist, but neither is he a neo-con warmonger. He would "[s]upport only those military actions that satisfy the 'Declare War' clause of the U.S. Constitution" and  "[o]ppose unilateral military actions by the President that are not authorized by the U.S. Constitution." He told me: "Our military deserves clear objectives and a definable mission, and when that is accomplished, we should bring them home. America can be the shining city on the hill, without being the world’s police force and nation builder." Sounds reasonable.

On the Constitution, Lange said, "in all I do as a legislator, the Constitution will serve as my north star. I am duty-bound to follow it and protect it from enemies of our state."

One of the first indications that I saw that Lange wasn't just mouthing political platitudes, but actually believed in fiscal conservatism and Constitutional limits on federal action, came during his unsuccessful 2010 run against Congressman Bruce Braley. When the Delhi Dam on the Maqueketa River burst during flooding, Braley went into full pandering mode, promising federal taxpayer money to rebuild it immediately.

Ben Lange took a more principled tack that I don't often expect from a politician.  In a statement, he expressed sympathy for flood victims but explained: "Based on the facts as I now understand them, I believe the repairs will require the state and local governments, working in concert with the private sector, to fix the Delhi dam. Despite the political pressure to reach an alternative conclusion, I simply do not believe the federal government should be involved with this local issue because it is a privately-owned dam on a recreational lake."

Lange continued: "I was disappointed, but not surprised, to read Rep. Braley’s statement yesterday, in which he said that we need to spend federal money to bailout a private entity now, and 'then tough choices are going to have to be made.' I respectfully disagree with the Congressman; our nation has reached a point where tough choices need to be made now. Rep. Braley’s 'spend first, think later' approach to this issue is exactly what is wrong with Congress as a whole, and the kind of thinking that has gotten this country into the fiscal mess we are in today."

Those words hold true today. The "fiscal mess" continues.

Philosophically, I'm a libertarian and Ben Lange is a conservative. Will we agree on every issue? Probably not. But on the issues involving the biggest existential threat to our nation today, our debt and unsustainable spending, we do. I'm willing to cast my vote to give this "new breed" of politician a shot to try to clean up the fiscal mess created by others, so that my kids (and his) might still have an America to raise their kids in.  That's why I'm voting for Ben Lange.

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