Where he stands: Ben Carson

Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr. (born Sept. 18, 1951, in Detroit), a Republican, is a retired neurosurgeon. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School, Carson has authored numerous books on his medical career and political stances.

He was the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland from 1984 until his retirement in 2013. Among his achievements as a surgeon were separating conjoined twins  and developing a technique for controlling brain seizures. Both achievements were recognized in 2008 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Following his parents’ divorce, when Carson was 8 years old, both he and his older brother, Curtis, were raised by their mother, who worked two or three jobs at a time, usually as a domestic servant. They were poor, and his mother occasionally relied on food stamps and other government assistance.

Carson and his wife, Lacena “Candy” Rustin, have three sons (Rhoeyce, Benjamin Jr. and Murray) as well as several grandchildren.

In 2013, Carson, his wife and Carson’s mother moved to West Palm Beach, Fla.

www.bencarson.com

Education

Five principles:

  1. School choice: I will support school choice programs, such as vouchers and charter schools, so every student has the opportunity to fully realize his or her God-given potential.
  2. Empower parents, teachers, local school districts and the states – not Washington: In education, as in so many endeavors, the best decisions are made by those closest to the issue. I will work to cut red tape and reduce the size and authority of the Washington educational bureaucracy.
  3. Encourage innovation: Everywhere I travel, I am inspired by the creativity of educators whose ideas offer real promise for tomorrow’s students. Rather than micromanaging these educational innovators with one-size-fits-all regulations that suppress their ingenuity, we should promote innovative ideas in education.
  4. Reward good teachers: Instead of an outdated system that rewards teacher tenure over performance, I will advocate for flexible block grants to the states to advance and reward teacher quality, and to develop teacher evaluation systems that focus on effectiveness in advancing student achievement.
  5. A simpler, streamlined student loan process: The Department of Education needs to get out of the lending business. We need a simpler, more streamlined and transparent financial aid process that gives students and their families the kind of simple, reliable information they need to make good decisions.

Government reform

The federal government employs 8,000 senior executives supervising more than 2.6 million civilian employees. The Congressional Budget Office says it is “unaware of any comprehensive information about the size of the federal contracted workforce.”

The GAO estimates that almost $125 billion was spent through improper payments. This $125 billion represents a figure larger than the market capitalizations of 17 of the largest 50 American companies.

To pay for it all, Washington is projected to spend $3.7 trillion in 2015.

Five principles:

  1. Accountability: Establish a government-wide culture that holds managers and employees accountable for their success or failure in meeting performance objectives — with consequences in either case.
  2. Analysis: Define each program’s performance objectives, identify and evaluate the resources available to meet them and establish objective metrics to measure the cost and value of operations.
  3. Reforms: Encourage bold experimentation to create efficiencies that eliminate waste and duplication, and improve service delivery and remove departmental silos to encourage sharing of what we learn across agency lines.
  4. Taxpayer feedback: Solicit and utilize feedback from citizens on government services and agency policies.
  5. Public reporting: Treat taxpayers as citizen-owners of their government by visibly communicating our progress in making government more efficient and cost-effective.

Health care

Without immediate change, Americans will face:

Fewer choices: Already, 5 million Americans have been kicked off the private health care plans they depended on, with 21 percent fewer health plan options than before Obamacare.

Fewer doctors: Even now, specialists essential to diagnosing and treating stroke (America’s fifth leading killer) are in severe shortage under the Obamacare insurance plans.

Broken promises under Medicare and Medicaid: Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries face a two-tiered health care system, as many doctors can no longer afford to participate; meanwhile, both programs are unsustainable.

Health Empowerment Accounts (HEA) to put patients in charge, with more choices at lower cost:

  • First-dollar coverage for out-of-pocket expenses and premiums to buy the insurance of your choice.
  • Your HEA belongs to you, even if you change jobs or cross state lines.
  • Transferable between family members, because each of us has different medical needs.

Save Medicare and Medicaid by putting beneficiaries in control:

  • Give Medicare beneficiaries a fixed contribution to buy the health insurance they actually want and need.
  • Give Medicare and Medicaid enrollees HEAs to cover first-dollar expenses and insurance premiums for coverage they choose.
  • Modernize Medicare to keep pace with medical advances by gradually increasing the eligibility age (by two months each year) until it reaches age 70.
  • Treat Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries like the rest of us. Give Medicaid beneficiaries the same insurance coverage, doctors and choices that other Americans enjoy, with HEAs to provide first-dollar coverage, supplemented by a major medical insurance plan of the patient’s choice.
  • Save Medicaid by providing fixed-dollar support to the states, which must use the funds for premium payments and HEAs for beneficiaries — not wasteful state bureaucracies.

Tax reform

Our complicated web of tax laws and regulations has grown to an absurd size of 10 million words. Last year, Americans spent more than $230 billion and 6 billion hours just to prepare our taxes.

The tax code is riddled with special-interest loopholes that incentivize taxpayers to “game” the system, and rewards those who do so skillfully.

The maze of rules, double-taxation of dividends and oppressive 35 percent federal corporate tax rate – the highest in the developed world – encourage U.S. companies to keep their profits and jobs overseas.

Treatment plan:

  • Replace the tax code with a true flat tax – no deductions, tax shelters or loopholes.
  • Tax all income at a uniform 14.9 percent rate.
  • To protect those rising from poverty, apply the flat tax only to income above 150 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). For example, a family of four will not pay the 14.9 percent tax on their first $36,375 of income.
  • Treat everyone in America as citizen-owners and require those whose income is at or below 150 percent of the FPL to make a minimal tax payment annually.
  • Tax income only once: no more double taxation of capital gains, dividends and interest income at the personal level.
  • Eliminate deductions for home mortgage interest, charitable giving and state and local taxes. The overwhelming majority of Americans do not benefit from these itemized deductions.
  • Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Under the current tax system, the AMT forces middle-class Americans to calculate their tax liability twice and punishes them by requiring them to pay the larger of the two tax bills.
  • Abolish the death tax in its entirety.

Friday: Chris Christie

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