By Carla Howell
LP Political Director
Libertarian candidates running for federal office in 2014 boldly pledge to give Americans what they desperately want and need: a balanced budget, radically lower taxes, and massive reductions in government overspending.
American taxpayers: How would you like to get back every dollar you pay in federal income taxes — every year — for the rest of your life?
In the first week after its launch, 10 Libertarian candidates running for federal office this year have already signed a pledge that states, “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to cut federal spending to the 1998 level, eliminate the federal income tax, and get the IRS off the back of taxpayers.”
Ending the federal income tax gives back an average of $11,525 — every year — to each of 120 million American households that now pay the income tax, starting the first year. This would create tens of millions of productive private-sector jobs.
Balancing the budget and ending the federal income tax — while raising no other taxes — would reverse dangerously high federal government spending, reducing today’s $3.78 trillion spending to the level of 1998 ($1.65 trillion). This would immediately end deficit spending. No more government debt.
Candidates who have signed the pledge so far include Danny Bedwell, U.S. House in Mississippi 1st; Andy Horning, U.S. House in Indiana 8th; Sharon Hansen, U.S. Senate in Illinois; Arvin Vohra, U.S. House in Maryland 4th; John Daniel, Shadow Senator for District of Columbia; Martin Moulton, Shadow Representative for District of Columbia; Scott Somerville, U.S. House in Virginia; Jim McDermott, U.S. House for Alaska’s at-large district; Matt Schnackenberg, U.S. House in Florida 11th; and Ray Netherwood, U.S. House in Florida 19th.
Libertarian candidates who have taken the pledge aim to contrast their plans to substantially shrink the size, scope, spending, and taxation of the federal government with their Democratic and Republican opponents’ plans to grow Big Government.
The pledge is based on information gathered by the LP Facebook candidate support team from candidates who have declared their intention to run and who filled out surveys indicating the issues on which they plan to run. The federal tax and spending pledge is one of several pledges for which the group is gathering support. Others address the topics of foreign intervention, the War on Drugs, the Fourth Amendment, and Obamacare.
Below are some of the candidates who have pledged to end the federal income tax.
Andy Horning, Indiana, U.S. House District 8
— Andy Horning, LP Indiana candidate for U.S. House
Andy Horning is running for the U.S. House on the heels of his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign, in which he won 146,002 votes, an impressive 6 percent of the vote. It was one of the highest vote percentages for a Libertarian candidate running for U.S. Senate in a three-way race in the party’s history.
Horning has written columns for newspapers across Indiana. He is a researcher, product developer, writer, and educator in the field of health care, where he sees the dysfunction that results from Big Government intervention in this heavily regulated field.
He wants to end Big Government interference in all areas where it doesn’t belong.
“Obviously the promised benefits of military actions, ‘stimulus’ programs, Fed policies and income tax, were bunk,” Horning said. “Besides the fact that our economy, as well as freedom and security, have been going the wrong way, the cost of our massive political intervention and complex taxation has been tragic. We passed broke, and charged on to massive generational theft. This will end either in slack-jawed collapse or in a rapid, disciplined return to fiscal sanity.”
He continued, “If we were to do no more than cut government spending to 1998 levels, we could eliminate the personal income tax and replace it with … nothing. I propose we do just that, and ride a wave of liberty and economic rebirth unlike anything seen on this planet for too long.”
Horning is speaking to groups around the state such as Tea Party chapters and town hall meetings. He’s challenging incumbent Larry Buschon, a party-line Republican whose votes and policies are in line with those of Speaker of the House John Boehner. Buschon has voted to raise taxes and fought against attempts within the GOP to force spending cuts.
Horning plans to challenge Buschon to a series of debates. It’s not yet clear whether a Democrat will enter the race.
Danny Bedwell, Mississippi, U.S. House District 1
— Danny Bedwell, LP Mississippi candidate for U.S. House
Libertarian House candidate Danny Bedwell of Columbus, Miss., is passionate about restoring the federal government to its original design: a small, unobtrusive government that derives its power from lower levels of government and from the people.
Bedwell is chairman for the fast-growing Mississippi LP and ran for the District 1 house seat in 2012. He may face the same two opponents this year, or he may run a two-way race against Republican incumbent Alan Nunnelee. It is not yet known whether Democrat Brad Morris will enter the race.
Bedwell sees the possibility for peeling off voters from Nunnelee’s support base who are unhappy about his reluctance to oppose Obamacare. Members of the Lee County Tea Party picketed in front of Nunnelee’s office when he refused to defund Obamacare in favor of avoiding a government “shutdown.” One of the demonstrators told the Daily Journal newspaper that Nunnelee “wants to play ‘go ahead and get along’ with his leaders instead of standing with his constituents in Mississippi.”
“Democratic and Republican politicians have no intention of balancing the federal budget. The $17 trillion dollar government debt isn’t enough for them. They want more. So they plan to add another $5 trillion dollars in debt over the next eight years,” said Bedwell.
“This irresponsible and unethical exploitation of hard-working Americans must end,” he continued. “I will proudly work to end the federal income tax, end reckless overspending in Washington, D.C., stop the devaluation of the dollar, and put money back where it belongs: in the hands of the men and women of this country who earned it.”
Bedwell works in the timber industry, where he sees daily how government regulations stifle economic growth.
“I am running for office to cut the federal government back to within the confines of the Constitution,” Bedwell said. “If elected, I will work to repeal unconstitutional legislation, halt out-of-control spending, cut taxes, and remove burdensome regulations. Send me to Washington, and I’ll regulate Washington, not the people.”
Sharon Hansen, Illinois, U.S. Senate
— Sharon Hansen, LP Illinois candidate for U.S. Senate
Sharon Hansen is running for U.S. Senate in Illinois, opposing Republican Doug Truax and key Obama ally Richard Durbin, the Democratic assistant majority leader.
Hansen is running to end marijuana prohibition, expand gun ownership rights, and dramatically downsize federal taxes and spending.
“We know what the Democrats and Republicans will do to us — take away more and more of our rights. Tax and spend,” she said. “Don’t believe there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats. Vote for every Libertarian on your ballot. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Hansen said she was never interested in politics until 2012 when she became outraged by the Republican Party’s treatment of Dr. Ron Paul.
“They changed the rules mid-process to exclude him from the GOP convention,” she said. “I was so angry that I then looked at the Libertarian Party. I had the feeling of a huge weight being lifted off of me when I realized I had finally found a home. I knew who to vote for and could feel good about it.”
Sharon Hansen was a critical care nurse for 30 years, and now owns and operates an award-winning bed and breakfast. She sees firsthand the burden that taxes place on small businesses.
“I live in a small town in Illinois, and I know what it’s like for the people who are struggling to earn a living,” she said. “Having to keep track of every penny I take in and spend to file taxes is exhausting. It makes it hard to operate a small business.”
Hansen recently became a grandmother.
“I support slashing government spending, ending the income tax, and balancing the budget because I want my grandson to have a safe and secure future with unlimited potential, and not be a slave for the government for his entire life,” she said.
Arvin Vohra, Maryland, U.S. House District 4
— Arvin Vohra, LP Maryland candidate for U.S. House
Arvin Vohra advocates dramatically reducing the size and scope of government, noting that the real danger facing Americans today is Big Government. He has been a driving force in the party for appealing to young libertarians and is an at-large member of the Libertarian National Committee. He recruits, trains and oversees the Libertarian Party’s volunteer Facebook team whose efforts are credited for tremendous growth in the number of visitors and fans.
“‘Extreme? Dangerous?’ It’s hard to find words that adequately describe the recklessness that goes on in the halls of Congress today,” Vohra said. “What could be more insane than for Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C., to spend $3.8 trillion dollars every year? Or to rack up $17 trillion dollars in government debt?
“D.C. big spenders need their allowances taken away — immediately,” he continued. “I’m prepared to do that. I will proudly co-sponsor a bill to end the income tax and roll back spending to the level of 1998. If elected, I will work tirelessly to pass end-the-income-tax legislation and to support the election of other Libertarians to build a coalition intent on downsizing Big Government,” he said.
Vohra runs a private tutoring business and has authored two books on education: Lies, Damned Lies, and College Admissions: An Inquiry into Education and The Equation for Excellence: How to Make Your Child Excel at Math.
Scott Somerville, Virginia, U.S. House
— Scott Somerville, LP Virginia candidate for U.S. House
Libertarian Scott Somerville is running for Congress in Virginia with plans to end the War on Drugs, end U.S. foreign wars, and slash federal government spending and taxation. An active member of the Stop Watching Us coalition in Washington, D.C., working to restore the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment, he spoke at a rally last summer aimed at protesting and raising awareness of the federal government’s mass surveillance programs.
Somerville currently works for an online marketing firm and previously worked as a tech expert for Apple and Microsoft in their retail stores. Working alongside skilled workers making modest wages, he understands the hardships that working class people face and the roadblocks that government puts in their way.
Scott Somerville strongly supports downsizing the federal government and ending the income tax.
“We need to constantly ask the question: Who do you want spending the money you earn: the federal government or you?” Somerville said. “Most Americans know that government is chock full of waste, redundancy, and failed programs that don’t work. We must move that money out of government coffers and return it to its rightful owners — the people who earned it. This will give back thousands of dollars every year to the average American family and create tens of millions of productive private-sector jobs.”
Martin Moulton, D.C., Shadow House
— Martin Moulton, LP D.C. candidate for Shadow House
Because many residents and public officials in Washington, D.C., want the federal government to recognize the district as a state, they formally elect a congressman and senator who, should the district achieve statehood, would become their representatives in the House and Senate. Candidates who run for these offices are referred to as “shadow candidates.” If elected, the D.C. government provides them with offices in the city where they can lobby the federal government on behalf of the district.
Libertarian Martin Moulton is running for shadow representative for the district. He supports cutting federal spending enough to both balance the budget and end the federal income tax.
He puts the impact of boldly downsizing the federal government into perspective.
“We can easily roll back spending to the level of 1998, when the federal government was brimming with cash,” he said. “At $1.65 trillion, it was larger than the economies of most nations on earth. We had a military defense, a justice system, and hundreds of heavily funded federal government programs. We were on the verge of one of the biggest economic booms in the history of the United States.
“When we roll back federal spending to $1.65 trillion, we’ll have enough to easily pay for all the government services we need — and more. And, by ending the income tax and balancing the budget, we’ll stimulate real economic growth, creating tremendous prosperity and tens of millions of new jobs.”
Moulton participated in a peaceful protest where statehood advocates gathered around the capital building in D.C. to protest lack of representation in the federal government. He was arrested along with other protesters and later released.
“Citizens of the United States capital — unlike those in similar jurisdictions in Baghdad, Iraq, and capitals of all other democratic nations around the world — have zero voting representation at the federal level in Congress, but we are subject to the tyrannical whims and ideological experiments of congressmen from other states,” he said. “This nation was founded on the principle of no taxation without representation. If they want to experiment with the District of Columbia, they should experiment with not requiring us to pay federal taxes until we have voting. This will make the district more affordable for working individuals and families struggling to live, work, worship, and educate our children in Washington, D.C.”
Moulton works in the medical/tech industry, is a graduate of Dartmouth College, and was a 2012 Ron Paul alternate delegate, now a Libertarian.
John Daniel, D.C., Shadow Senate
— John Daniel, LP D.C. candidate for Shadow Senate
John Daniel, a tech entrepreneur who owns and operates several private companies, is running for shadow senator. He aims to win statehood for the district, end the federal income tax, and advance civil liberties.
“I’m running against incumbents Michael D. Brown and Paul Strauss, who are too comfortable in their seats by not doing enough to push for D.C. statehood,” he said. “We need new blood to energize the debate nationally. By accomplishing D.C. statehood, the Libertarian Party will make history! We’ll make this seat non-paid, part-time, and with term limits. It will be the model for all Congress and the Senate.”
Among Daniel’s specific goals are ending the War on Drugs, which emboldens cartels and puts nonviolent citizens in prison; reducing foreign involvement and pulling back troops from bases that are on allies’ land; consolidating intelligence and security agencies into one; and doing major surgery on the “disastrous” tax code.
“Taxes should be collected primarily by local governments — not the federal government,” he said. “This will empower Americans to be more in control of their communities. It will create a thriving economic engine. I fully support ending the federal income tax and balancing the budget.”
Daniel emphasized the importance of Libertarian Party candidates and activists in making this kind of radical change possible.
“Every time a reform passes, people are hopeful that it will help, but it never does,” he said. “The new generation, the young voters across the country, are tired of reforms. We want a revolution!”