[Dan Bongino is the GOP candidate for Senate in Maryland]
Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards once stated during his campaign that there were “two Americas." His “two Americas” theme was designed to stoke the flames of a class warfare script being resurrected in 2012 for use in the Democratic Party platform. This class warfare, “two Americas” theme has been given a focus-group tested makeover and will now be presented to voters in the November election as a means to achieve what they now call “shared prosperity."
I think we can all agree that the fundamental principle of a degree of prosperity, shared among us, is a goal to strive for. Where my opponent Ben Cardin and I disagree is simply regarding the means to which this can be accomplished. When politicians use this phrase to manufacture a class warfare struggle, it is done in an effort to make more palatable the idea that sharing your prosperity, not theirs, is a path to prosperity. Now, to be crystal clear, this is not an argument against paying taxes or against societal benevolence. To the contrary, it is an argument for responsible taxation and benevolence based on choice, not force.
To contrast the two approaches to shared prosperity, I will briefly highlight the disparate approaches my opponent and I have with regard to government spending, the tax code, energy policy and education. The current administration, and to be fair, the last administration, opened the government spigots with your tax dollars. Government spending as a percentage of our GDP is at historically high levels and cannot mathematically be supported even if we taxed the wealthiest among us at rates of nearly 100%.
Although the deep recession played a significant role in the dramatic spending increases, there have been no serious efforts made to curtail this spending despite mounds of economic data conclusively showing the catastrophic results of these levels of debt. How one can make an effective argument that prosperity should be “shared” while voting to spend away the future earnings of our children and grandchildren, is a lesson in hypocrisy. It is our duty to provide our children the opportunity at a better, more prosperous life than the one we had. Spending their future income before they have even had the chance to earn it, in order to provide a short-term band-aid for us, is neither responsible nor benevolent. I fully support and will vote to implement a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It may not be the perfect answer, but it is certainly a starting point to control spendthrift, career politicians.
Our tax code has become so riddled with cronyism that it only results in “sharing prosperity” from those who work hard each and every day to those who have developed the necessary “insider” connections to get their very own tax loophole built into the code. These loopholes are designed to give tax breaks to politically favored elites who spent more of their time cultivating political relationships rather than producing quality products and services.
In business school I learned that one of the primary means by which you can wound potential business competitors is to ensure that there are “barriers to entry." This is exactly what a tax code laden with cronyism does. It creates significant “barriers to entry” for average, working-class Marylanders who, through the sweat of their brows, have created products or services that they wish to bring to market. Without the same “insider” deductions, they are placed at a cost disadvantage. I fully support a streamlined, simplified tax code with no more than three brackets, and lower overall rates in exchange for a streamlining of deductions. This will level the playing field and ensure we all have a fighting chance at becoming the next business success story.
The United States’ energy policy is really not an energy policy at all. It is a disjointed, myopic collection of the remnants of past policy prescriptions combined with a few select sound-bites. Here in Maryland and throughout the United States, we have abundant energy resources that we must develop responsibly. It is fundamentally unfair to ask middle-class Marylanders to pay more than four dollars a gallon to fuel their vehicles while we sit on decades of supplies of both oil and natural gas. Prohibitively expensive energy prices disparately impact the middle and low-income citizens among us and only serve to share the prosperity of working-class Americans to the Solyndras of the world. I support an “all hands on deck” national energy policy which focuses on responsible development of our hydro-carbon resources in the short-term and an ironclad commitment to basic research in new-energy technologies in the long-term.
Finally, we must reform our education policy. We will never be a more fair and equitable society as long as we have a public school system where a zip-code lottery determines one’s level of access to the American Dream. How any politician can justify a speech on “shared prosperity” while at the same time denying parents in struggling school districts the opportunity to give their child a better education through school choice initiatives is a national disgrace. Just think of how many iPads, how many new-energy technologies, or life-saving medical devices could have been created in Baltimore if the children living there simply had access to world-class schools. This is not simply a political outrage but a moral one as well.
Delivering speeches about “shared prosperity” and “two Americas” does not require political guts or an iron will, but for delivering real-world results, under extreme political pressure, they are mandatory qualities I promise to demonstrate.
Dan Bongino, a devoted husband and father, served in the United States Secret Service for more than a decade and was assigned to the elite Presidential Protective Division. He represented the U.S. as a lead government security official in over 25 countries. Holding graduate degrees in Business Administration and Psychology, Dan has developed several successful businesses in Maryland. As an entrepreneur, he understands the role small businesses play in establishing a framework for continued prosperity and economic growth. He is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from the state of Maryland, running to unseat Senator Ben Cardin.