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Having fun with congressional candidates

As I See It

I have been invited to serve on a panel to interrogate some, or all, of the Republican candidates for the Fourth Congressional District seat. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel, this is going to be fun plus.

I have a healthy skepticism when it comes to politicians and wannabe politicians. However, I’m a nice guy and will probably restrain my instincts to verbally tear these folks limb from limb. But then again, maybe not.

What should I ask them? What are the significant business issues of the day that the successful candidate will face when he/she crosses the Potomac to represent us? Should I limit my questions to just business issues or is everything fair game?

The most popular business issue of today seems to be revamping the tax code. There is growing excitement throughout the land at the prospect of a citizen’s vigilante group stringing up the IRS and thereby solving all taxpayer problems. Actually, hobbling the IRS will not solve much of anything but it gives everybody a warm fuzzy feeling to think that it will.

The natives are restless because their taxes are too high, which has nothing to do with the IRS. It would be more effective to string the Congress up for convoluting the tax code to satisfy special interest groups and gain political contributions that result therefrom. Enough on that subject, readers of this column have heard it before.

What about term limits? Some say the voters exercise term limiting every election and so therefore no legal limits are necessary. In a perfect world that would be true, but this is far from a perfect world. Incumbents no sooner unpack their suitcases in Washington before the fundraising begins. Huge financial war chests are quickly accumulated to prepare financially for re-election. Any non-incumbent challenger is at a tremendous disadvantage from day one.

Consequently, incumbents usually get to stay in office as long as they wish.

Government over-regulation used to be a hot issue. However, the twelve years of the Reagan-Bush regime made some substantial inroads in deregulation and that issue is not heard as frequently as it once was.

Legally-mandated affirmative action is about as anti-business as it gets. However, recently the courts have struck a harsh blow to this sweetheart of the social engineers and all is presently calm on the western front. It isn’t dead, but it’s seriously wounded and not a burning business issue right now.

Here are some juicy questions that might enlighten us as to the stance of these political wannabes.

1. Will you support legislation to narrowly and clearly define sexual harassment so that a measure of order can be injected into this volatile issue?

2. Do you agree that drastic measures are required to salvage social security and Medicare and will you support further deferring retirement dates and partial taxation of benefits as measures that will be required?

3. Are you categorically opposed to re-instituting legally-mandated affirmative action?

4. Do you support replacing the tax code with a flat tax which will allow no tax deductions and thereby eliminate the popular deductions for home mortgage interest and charitable contributions?

5. Do you feel that the taxpayers have received $45 million of value from Ken Starr’s investigation of the Clinton administration? If not, how should future investigations of presidential moral turpitude be conducted?

6. Should the local economic impact of military base closures be a consideration or should the question be decided solely on military need?

7. Do you support term limits for all elected officials?

8. What do you think should be done to stop the sale of political influence resulting from gargantuan domestic and foreign political contributions?

Nothing like some hard questions to test the mettle. Lest I be incorrectly labeled a right-of-Rush-Limbaugh conservative, my personal views on the above issues shouldn’t be assumed based solely on the eight questions.

Thought for the Moment

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.

— Ecclesiastes 12:13

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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