Editor's note: We met Chard Reid Aug. 1 at the Paradise Café Castleton. Thanks to Bethany Tatham, a news intern from Indiana University, and her cohort Josh Watson for thier invaluable assistance with transcription.
NUVO: What do you feel what is behind a good congressmen?
Reid: The most important thing is that they abide by the constitution. The past 100 years both the Republican and Democrats alike have basically disregarded the 10th Amendment that says we have these 17 enumerated powers set forth in the Constitution everything else should be left to the states and to the people. The way I look at the 10th amendment is like a leash. If I see a body builder across the street from me holding a pit-bull I feel pretty safe because the dog is on a leash. If my daughter who is two is holding the pit-bull on the leash I don't feel very safe. I think what has happened is the 10th Amendment is as good today as it was over 200 years ago it's just the fact that we don't have the right people holding the leash. That is why the federal government gets so out of control and into so many areas that it shouldn't have ever been in. My goal is to honor the constitution and the make sure that the issues that should be left to the states are left to the states.
NUVO: What do you think is Representative Burton's greatest strength in the office?
Reid: I think 95 percent of the time that he has been a great conservative representative for this district. He has been very pro-life and very pro-gun. The reason why I ran against him last time was he supported cash for clunkers and as a Libertarian I am very much opposed to government intervention in the free market. He also supported the use of TARP [toxic asset relief program] funds. I think towards the end of his career he became more moderate in his fiscal policy. For the most part he was a great conservative for this district and very consistent over the years.
NUVO: In what areas do you think he fell short?
Reid: If you are going to claim to be a fiscal conservative you probably shouldn't be okay voting for budget deficits. I would've liked to see not only him, but a lot of republican's stand up and say no to budget deficits. When Bush had the presidency from 2003-2006 the republican's had the house and the senate and they passed four of the largest consecutive budget deficits of history. Everyone likes in this area likes to blame and say Obama is a big spender these democrats and the point I try to make is its both parties they both are big spenders. I think to really call yourself a fiscal conservative you have to have a real plan for a balanced budget and I'm sure we will talk about it later but I have a two year balanced budget proposal called the road to reality. As opposed to the one that Mrs. Brooks indorses by Paul Ryan, which takes 28 years. For me those are the big button issues.
NUVO: In what areas do you think you will excel if you were to be elected?
Reid: I think first and foremost I am not afraid to stand up for what is right and stand up to defend the constitution. Things like proposing a two year balanced budget are pretty scary for some people because they don't want to get the backlash from their fellow congressmen or from voters. For me it's doing what is right it's about setting us back on a path of fiscal stability and financial stability and a path a realistic path going forward. I think for me those are areas where I am really going to get in there and be able to excel and make a big difference.
NUVO: How will you negotiate the current partisan gridlock that seems to have stymied conversation and cooperation?
Reid: That is a really great question. I think gridlock can be healthy to be quite honest because that's the whole reason we have separation of powers you can't have the house dominated by the republicans bully around the democratic senate. I think the gridlock is a healthy thing and quite honesty I would like to see the government do a lot less than it does. For me I guess I am going to keep voting according to principle and if you don't have certain groups behind you and you have gridlock I am okay with that I would rather get nothing done than too much done, if that makes sense.
I would rather have the government shut down than propose another budget deficit. I would have been someone who stood up and said if you aren't going to play ball then lets shut down government. The truth is it doesn't hurt people on social security it doesn't hurt active duty military personal. It really does very little. If it were shut down why wouldn't it affect those people someone needs to be there to run the computer programs? If it is considered to be essential it's a fake shut down it really is. When you see what happened during the Clinton area the Smithsonian won't be open and if you are on a family vacation you aren't going be able to visit the Smithsonian. People are going to be unemployed because of that sure temporarily and generally these things settle themselves pretty quickly because voters are very upset and I have full faith that would happen.
I think, though, as we continue . . . the real problem I have with budget deficits is they are very, very dishonest because republicans say 'we promise not to raise your taxes' and they run budget deficits. Well, they have lied because they raised our future taxes and if you look by the year 2040, for example ,over 30 percent of our budget is supposed to be interest on the debt. The actual debt payments in the year 2040 are supposed to be $3.69 trillion dollars — that is almost the entire budget today. What percent on top of makes up keeping up with our pension obligations?
If you look at things like that the federal pension, social security, and Medicare these programs need to be reformed in a way that is reasonable without hurting people in the present. I actually have a plan to reform both of those on my website and the chart that I mentioned if you want to get the figures from the GAO [Government accountability office], also my website.
NUVO: What would your legislation priorities be if you were elected?
Reid: No. 1 is the balanced budget and also making balanced budget amendments, but not only that I want to see a balanced budget within two years. Truthfully speaking, I don't think it has any chance of passing, but I think someone needs to stand up and have a proposal that is more radical than what we have the best proposal we have out there I am a fan of its by Senator Rand Paul.
He has a 5-year, balanced-budget proposal. I would support that, but I would rather be the guy who people say man that guy is nuts look at his proposal than maybe senator Rand Paul's seems reasonable.
Another one for me is, and this is where socially Libertarians are a little bit more conservative in Indiana: Just depending on where you think life begins I think that is the big issue. I think that life begins at the point of fertilization and I would like to see a law that defines that. The Sanctity of Life Act Ron Paul has put that out there before and I would really like to work for that and basically what it does is it just puts everything on the same field where federal judges can't make their own interpretations of when life begins I think that would really help us on that front and understanding how the laws should be played out. Also, for me depending on what the Senate does the House just passed the audit the fed bill. I am a huge fan of auditing the fed and I think once people see that everything that they are doing I think they are doing they are going to want to end it. I would prefer to end it but I would push for audit the fed bill again if it doesn't pass the senate here.
NUVO: In what ways can congress if any best stimulate greater economic growth and job creation?
Reid: That is a great question. The truth is that congress can't create jobs I get really irritated when presidents and congress say they created jobs. Even when they do essentially create government jobs they are stealing jobs from the private sector you are allocating funds.
The best way Congress can create jobs: Number one is pass a budget with an actually tax bracket that is permanent so businesses have some degree of certainty going forward. I know a lot of business owners are very uncertain what is going to happen with taxes they are afraid to hire. I think we can create a lot of certainty by doing that.
I would like to see the fair tax adopted. Are you familiar with that? I like flat tax where everyone pays the same percentage. That would still be an income tax. I like the fair tax where you get to keep your entire paycheck. The IRS is abolished the 16th amendment is overturned. There is no income tax anymore, no business tax, no death tax, no FICA tax, the only thing you do is you pay a tax at the register. It is a consumption tax.
What is great about it is that: A lot of people say it hurts the poor — there's a prebate where the poor and everyone gets a check at the beginning of the month, so whatever you would've paid if you were poverty for taxes, you get that money back, so the poor, they aren't paying taxes.
[NUVO: You are saying they get an advance bonus on their taxes?]
Reid: Right so they still don't pay taxes so there isn't anything exempt? So there is are no special interest groups in Congress, which is awesome.
It gives us an incentive not only for businesses to expand but gives us, as consumers, an incentive to invest and save tax free. The truth is that the reason that there aren't loans available for businesses the reason there isn't a lot of that activity going on because there is no real savings. Why would we save when it is a half-percent interest rate. The Federal Reserve is really just pumping money in keeping rates low and that's why you see the stock market recovered the way that it has. People are just thinking 'Why not throw money into the market? I can't make anything in the banks.' So I think if you can encourage people to save again you are going to get some better rates. You are encouraging businesses to borrow again.
NUVO: So what extent do you feel government should provide a social savings net for the least fortunate among us?
Reid: That is a great question. My plan for social security is not as radical. It does not immediately privatize social security. What it does it acknowledges the fact that many Americans who are addicted to entitlement programs and would have a very difficult time adjusting their lifestyle in the present especially those over 50 my plan doesn't affect anyone over 50 for that reason. I think if you are over the age of 50 it would be very, very difficult for you to adjust your savings lifestyle and to put enough money aside to live on your own.
My plan (I have table on website) is cranking back the age every five years and moves it back two years so for instance instead of getting it at the age of 67 those under the age of 30 will get social security at the age of 75. I think there needs to be some safety net but it doesn't need to start so early. Right now the average American lives over 78 years and they get social security if you are younger person like myself you will get social security at age 67 you will have social security for 11 years that is one of the reasons that the program is unsustainable and will fail. I take an approach and let's fix the program and make some pretty tough cuts but lets make sure that it's there for some safety net. Eventually I think my program people will realize we saved 8 years we can probably go longer and my hope would eventually be people would say it would be manageable to privatize but I don't think America is in a place where they are ready for that. I don't think that it would be fair to the middle class and the poor to change that policy on them overnight.
NUVO: What do you think of Governor Norquist's no new taxes pledge?
Reid: Well, the thing is taxes in my opinion are way too high as is. I think that it is fine to pledge no new taxes and I would pledge the same that I don't want to see any new taxes unless like the fair tax is a technically a new tax but I am abolishing every other tax. But yeah I would pledge no new taxes and the reason is if you look at taxes as a percentage of our economy they were only 1.8 percent of our GDP but now our taxes are over 16 percent of our GDP that is an astronomically rise. The media likes to present it as a though the personal income tax brackets are lower than they have been in decades agreed I totally agree but you are ignoring all the other taxes we pay at the federal level more specifically the hidden taxes that we pay at the register because corporations never absorb taxes they pass them on to us with price increases so yes no new taxes absolutely.
NUVO: What does sensible tax reform mean to you?
Reid: First and foremost sensible tax reform spreads the burden of taxation throughout the citizens. All citizens who are working should be paying taxes to some degree more fairly than they are today. One of my biggest problems with our current tax system is with the progressive income tax the government is assuming that your labor belongs to them. When you tax labor you get less of it.It is a very dangerous system. It is the second plank of communism according to Carl Marks. The only plank more important was abolishing private property rights by moving to a consumption tax you decide when you pay taxes. It allows for you to save tax free invest tax free and give tax free.
NUVO: What do you see as the most important environmental issue facing the state?
Reid: Facing the state?
Reid: (Monumental pause. We'll try to lay in the sound bite.) That's a good question, specifically Indiana?
NUVO: Some environmental issues go over to other states, but what I am getting at is you are representing our state's interests and these things come up . . .
Reid: I don't have a great answer for you on that I really don't.
NUVO: It's OK. How concerned are you if at all with man made climate change?
Reid: I am really not concerned with it, I don't question whether or not we hurt the ozone and stuff like that but I haven't seen any evidence of climate change yet that I have really bought into. I believe in climate change not global warming, does that make sense?
NUVO: That's a loaded question.
Reid: Yeah, so I guess to specify I want to be clear that it's not global warming that I am referring to but climate change specifically, correct? I think that that is something that at this point I wouldn't be interested in regulating, the EPA has already established quite a few ground rules on that, and I don't see any need for further regulation.
NUVO: How do you think federal education policy has influenced the state's educational landscape and in what areas if any would you like to see that changed?
Reid: You will see in my budget I would like to abolish the federal department of education. I think that it has far too much influence over local school decisions. My theory of education is that local school boards should be making the most decisions at a school. And if there is going to be an oversight comity of sorts it should be the state department of education it should not be the federal level. Every state has a department of education and we are just adding bureaucracy on top bureaucracy having the federal department.
I'm a business teacher, so a lot of my classes benefit from federal money, Perkins grant money, but I don't like it. In the sense that now the federal government is essentially deciding what courses get taught, the standards in those courses, and they do it by giving grants. Of course local schools need extra money, and they are going to take advantage of those grants, and its done by how many kids you can get into the class. So last year, my finance classes received $450 per kid. So the federal government is basically telling our school board, "I would highly recommend you teach this class." Does that make sense? So they really are influencing it and not directly or in a mandatory way, but in a way that uses federal money (to incentivize) and I am not comfortable with that. I am also not comfortable with the common core. I don't like the idea of that coming down from the federal level. We have state standards that all schools follow, and I think states are more competent to create standards for themselves than the federal government.
NUVO: Bonus question that no one else is getting: That is an interesting issue to me. You don't thing that there is any need then to have an academic comparison of our kid's achievement levels?
Reid: We have that. We have the SAT, and that's not run by the federal government. I think that, does it cost money, yea sure it does, but a lot of schools in our state will help you pay for it if you can't afford it.
NUVO: So we don't need to have that comparison at younger ages?
Reid: That's a great question. I think that's fair. I think that if everyone is running acomparable program on their own, I don't think states are going to go rogue and say we want to have the worst education, I really don't. Some people think that that might be the case, but I think it's more helpful to compare school intra-state. We have over 300 schools to compare with, so there is plenty of comparison to be done.
My fear is this, as we through standards on standards; we are dumbing down our kids in a lot of ways. As I have to make sure that I have to hit all these standards for a test, and I don't personally but as a math or English teacher, I don't have as much time to spend on logical and critical thinking. Our kids are really taught to do specific tasks, but they are not able to complete unique tasks automatically. I see it in my classroom, kids really struggle when you give them an assignment that's outside the box. They don't know what to do with it. It's because they have been given so many standardized tests, that's what they are taught to now. If you look at the new evaluation rubric, standardized test are a big part of that.
As far as the department of education the one thing that I would keep for at least 10 years is Pell grants so that is part of the department of education that would maintained through a separate department just because again as we make these massive budget cuts I don't want it to disproportionately affect the poor and that is something that we want to encourage education we want to encourage that. I don't know if there is a better way to do it going forward but my guarantee would be for 10 years to at least maintain them and consider them from there. I think if there is no better way that we can come up with we would maintain them but I think they are helpful for the people.
NUVO: What about immigration policy?
Reid: I think the fair tax fixes a lot of it.
A lot of illegal immigrants, even that are working and some of them are working at restaurants and things they just get fake social numbers and they say that they have 8 dependents, end up not paying any income taxes. So they are paying their 7 percent sales tax, but when the fair tax comes in, and no one pays out of their paycheck, they will be paying 23 percent on everything and they are the only group not getting the prebate because everyone else, the poor that are citizens get a prebate every month to help them pay for the tax.
It would not be so it wouldn't be as lucrative to cross the border illegally. I think too I think as a nation we have done a poor job of enforcing the laws that we already have on the books you know that's what I think is the first step before you start trying to do a whole lot of fancy new policies lets try enforcing what we have and if we don't want to do that lets scrap and come up with something new. I think it is really important to remember that we all come from immigrants and that is kind of clique and is thrown around a lot but it is a very difficult process and I try to put myself in the shoes of people who want to come here and be successful and the truth is if I have a different life maybe I would try to cross the border I probably do because I'm motivated and I want to be successful and don't want to live in poverty forever, so I can see where they are coming from.
We need to streamline the process. It shouldn't be, I think that (the citizenship test) is $1,200. You can say it is very expensive and, quite honestly, high school seniors can't pass the test. There is a teacher at my old school that would give it to kids and they couldn't pass it. That is a big deal we need to streamline that process. I just think if people want to come here legally we should make way for them to do that.
NUVO: What about ag Policy? Are there sustentative changes you would like to see in terms of how congress relates to farmers?
Reid: That is a great question. Again on my budget I have addressed this to a certain degree. I want the subsidy program to be means tested I think that a lot of big corporations are getting subsidies that don't need them. The subsidies are there to encourage farmers who are on there own to keep farming to not give up so we don't run out of a base of farmers so I want to start by making those means tested so then the local farmers can still get those subsidies to survive but we aren't giving them to major corporations.
NUVO: How do you define a Hoosier?
Reid: It's a great question, I don't think I have ever tried to define it before.
NUVO: You are going to have to once you get to DC.
Reid: I mean I think it is somebody who resides in Indiana. I think that's the best way to say it.A Hoosier is someone who resides in Indiana, and I plan to maintain two residences, and come back often. I am not going to sell my house I am going to maintain it. My biggest thing is I am not a politician; I don't even want to be with those guys more than 6-10 years. I mean I can't stand the idea of working with these dirt bags (you can put that in there I think it will crack some people up). I want to be with kids, I love teaching. So I'm not the kind of guy that's going to go there and be a Washington resident. That's not me.
NUVO: Of our state's most well-known sons and daughters, which have been most influential to you?
Reid: From our state? Hmmmm, that's great questionÉ So this is a really tough question, I mean most of my reading is just not from Hoosiers let me think here for a minute. Can I come back to that one?
NUVO:Sure I mean it can music, it can be art, it can be anything. You know, just when you think about, ok when I say something like "our state's most well known sons and daughters", what comes to your mind?
Reid: You know, honestly, probably the people who have influenced me the most are not celebrities that the rest of the state knows. They're the teachers who put in extra time, who showed they cared. They're my young life leaders in high school, who were there no matter what and would walk beside you and encourage you in your daily life, professors at Anderson University. I guess I'm not really affected by celebrities, I mean famous people very much. And most of my reading is like; they're not from Hoosiers.
NUVO: On a broader plane, what books and thinkers have influenced the development of your political philosophy?
Reid: Yeah, um. Well economically speaking I am a big fan of the Austrian school.
NUVO: Is that [Murray] Rothbard?
Reid: Yes, Rothbard and [Friedrich] Hayek, especially [Henry] Hazlitt, he has a book called Economics in One Lesson. It's awesome, if you ever want to read econ, you could just read just the first chapters — like three pages, and it's awesome. The whole book revolves around that. Then as far as more politically speaking . . . You have got to be careful, certain names are very loaded?
NUVO: Well, like what?
Reid: Well for instance Ron Paul, I love to read his work. I think he's really a firm believer in freedom and liberty, and those are two things that are upmost important for us as Americans.
When you think about fiscal conservative side, the I.O.U.S.A. series was really instrumental in making me want to run for Congress. It's by the Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, David Walker. It's a very bipartisan look at the financial meltdown ahead, as far as our entitlement you know long-term liabilities that are facing our country. I use it in class a lot and just watching it just really infuriated me to think about like how short sighted our politicians are and how we continually kick the can down the road, and how long we have known this problem is coming.
So I think probably as far as actually motivating me to move from the couch, and from just being mad at the television during the news, to actually taking a step towards fixing the problem he would probably have had the biggest influence. He's also got a book called Come Back America. He's served under both Bushes and Clinton. So he's been under different administrations. It was actually my students who convinced me to run. The way I run my class is a lot of debate and a lot of discussion. Like I want them to think for themselves. And I always try to tell them; you need to get involved, you need to care about this. I don't care who you get involved with, you know, get involved.
Find someone you believe in. A couple of them came in one day and said, "Hey we looked at the other candidates and we don't like anyone. We think you should run." I was like "Great idea guys, good one." And they were like, "No, seriously, and there's an opening with the Libertarian party. The deadline is Friday." And it was like Wednesday. I was like "Are you serious?" And they were like, "Yeah." And I was like, "Well, during the summer you guys want to run the campaign, like not in the school year?"And they were like "Yeah, we will do it." So, last time it was an all-student-run campaign and it was fun. This time my campaign manager is a former student. He is studying Austrian economics at Grove City, the only program in the country.
Reid: Yea, it's pretty cool.
NUVO: What messages from veterans are you hearing in the field, if any, that you think necessitate congressional action?
Reid: Well I think first and foremost we need to take care of our veterans. They may be isolated incidents, but I have talked to several veterans who feel like they are not being taken care of as well as they should be. These are people who put their life on the line for our country. We need to protect them and take care of them.
You know, I think, too, most of them understand or agree with me: When we go to war, it needs to be declared. All these military conflicts that we have been in in the past decade they're not war, because they are not declared. That is an important function of congressÉ congress must declare war. And I think that most of the veterans are on board with that philosophy. A lot of the too, same thing for me, my first instinct is lets not to go to war, but show me why we need to go to war. And if you can show me the reason why we must absolutely need to go, then lets finish it in a week. Lets not draw this out for ten years. You know, lets not put the lives of our young men and women in danger from years, and keep them away from their families, and put that stress on their lives. Lets end it quickly with force. I think that most veterans don't like the way that it has been drawn out and they want some real leadership there.
NUVO: What question do you wish I would ask and do you want to answer it?
Reid: What do you think of the Paul/Ryan budget plan?
NUVO: OK, what do you think of the Paul/Ryan budget plan?
Reid: I think that the Paul/Ryan budget plan is a slap in the face to everyone who calls themselves a fiscal conservative, and I think it should be renamed the path to global mediocrity. (chuckle)
NUVO: Alright, if you could ask a question of your fellow candidates what would it be?
Reid: I don't want to be nasty thoughÉ.
NUVO: Is the first thing you thought of nasty?
Reid: Well I just, no. I just don't want it to sound nasty. I'm trying to think of likeÉ
NUVO: A diplomatic answer
Reid: Yeah, I don't like negative politics. Like all the commercials kill me, like how they go back and forth. Lets seeÉ.. I would ask Mr. Reske why he doesn't have any issues listed on his website? Is he running as strictly as a democrat, with only the national party's platform? Or does he have some of his own issues. I have checked several times and there isn't one issue on there. I probably wrote way too much, but I'm Libertarian, so that's what we do.
NUVO: And for Ms. Brooks?
Reid: I have to ask it in a nice way on the spot.
Maybe I can help you formulate the words so it doesn't come across mean spirited.
Essentially how could you call yourself, or could a real conservative support a budget that doesn't balance for 28 years and support the bailout of failing companies? Because she supports both of those, and that is a real issue for me.
I think that is a nice way, that's not mean spirited and it is straightforward.
I'm going to say: I understand that you support a budget plan that doesn't balance for 28 years, and that you support bailouts. Do you consider yourself a fiscal conservative? That doesn't sound mean spirited does it?
People need to understand that she is not really a fiscal conservative. And that's really I guess my challenge as a Libertarian is to get a message out there to people about where you really stand on the issues. Truthfully, I think our system is very flawed with a two-party system and a straight-party ticket. Most people don't think for themselves, they just fill in one bubble. I would love to see that change, and I think honestly it's a violation of antitrust acts because it restricts competition. People say "Well, it's the government." Well no its not, they are private parties, they are Republicans and Democrats and they are restricting competition on other parties.
NUVO: It's really amazing and there are so many things that I don't know, every so often you run across something, various boards and government things, and its up to two parties, there's supposed to be a balance board, has to be equal between democrats and republicansÉ
Reid: Right well that's not really balance, and they get state money for running their primaries, we have to run our own, well it's not a primary but a convention. And we are not allowed to participate, as a Libertarian I can't vote Republican because I'm not a Republican. So I'm not even allowed to participate in the primaries. To me its just not right, it's a side issue.
So I think it relates back to people's frustration and sense that nothing is worth it any more, that it's just the way it is anymore.
NUVO: How do you think the gay people feel about how their issues are handled at a federal and state representatives?
Reid: Are you referring to marital rights?
NUVO: There are a couple major issues that come up and that would definitely be one of them? How do I think they feel?
Reid: Many of my fellow Christians will say that marriage is between a man a woman and god, and I agree with that. But notice the lack of the word government. Government should not be involved in marriage whatsoever. It is a religious covenant. I know that can seem really judgmental and hypocritical to the gay community.The other thing is, I think we need to remember the number one enemy of marriage is not gay marriage its divorce. And, unfortunately, Christians have just the same percentage rate as everyone else. I think if we want to fix marriage as Christians we need to get our own houses in order first.
I'm serious about it, though. I have done Young Life for a long time, and my view is you love people, you don't judge people. We need to lovingly handle the issue, and if we get our own house in order, then that's a big deal. You never hear Christians saying lets make laws against divorce, because it affects them! They want to affect other people's lives, and I do have a problem with that, and that does come across in a very bad light to people.Just like we wouldn't want Muslim groups to try tell us how to live our lives, homosexuals don't like us to tell them how to live their life. So I think they do feel put off, and I think that the best thing we could do is change our approach. If we really are unhappy with the idea of homosexual marriage, let's build relationships with people and share truth in a loving way, and if they don't accept it then that's the best you can do.