By Kevin Joseph Ryan
Back in Early June, TNR Sat down for an interview with United States Senate Candidate John MacGovern. Mr. MacGovern will be interviewed on Common Sense Radio by host Rob Roper on WDEV radio AM 550 and FM 96.1 Waterbury on Tuesday, July 31st at 11 AM.
TNR: Bernie Sanders has been elected to the Senate or Congress 11 times, what makes you think you can beat him?
JMG: Well, I think the important thing is we differ on the issues. Someone needs to offer the people of Vermont a choice.
Secondarily, is you hope to win, and I do hope to win, given the fact that today in this country [there’s a] 7% approval rating in the United States Congress. There’s an extraordinary dissatisfaction rate with what is happening in Washington. In many ways, Bernie’s a part of that problem…blaming other people, blaming the 1%. That kind of strident attack, us versus them politics, is extremely unattractive to many middle of the road Vermonters, who perhaps in the past have voted for him. I think its possible to win.
Third point is it’s important to get good, solid common sense issues out there, to give people a choice on them. So, I plan to do that.
TNR: What are the issues do you want to promote?
JMG: I think the big one is the issue of… well… I’ve been saying freedom versus slavery. Under freedom versus slavery is the debt — this national debt and the fact that 40 cents out of every dollar that’s spent is borrowed money. That number is growing. The potential [is there] to really cripple this county, to cripple our ability to really do anything.
Most of the programs that people rely on, which I’m not saying…necessarily should be continued,…but anyone who has an interest in those…if you’re a farmer, if you’re a veteran, it’s not going to continue if these entitlement programs grow so much that there’s nothing left for so-called discretionary spending.So, that to me is the big issue. The question is how do you solve it? Is it all through cuts, or is it slash and burn? Or a combination of cuts and, I think, which gets to my second point, pro-growth tax reform? To me, [pro growth tax reform] is the positive way. That’s the thing I would try to be involved with. To get the productive, entrepreneurial, job creating energy… individuals… companies to grow.
TNR: What do think of the green jobs movement?
JMG: If green means the greenback, I’m in favor of it. I believe that, in general, when the government gets involved in the marketplace it only makes it worse. Once the Congress reforms the tax code, broadens the base, lowers the rates… the next best thing the government could do for the economy of the United States is get out of the way.
In most cases, not in every case, you need some referees. On Wall Street, making sure people aren’t ripping other people off. So, green jobs, meaning the government… is trying to create jobs in a sector which they believe is good for the people, is far more expensive than letting the marketplace [determine the best solution]. Once the government gets in there, it messes up in almost in every way possible.
A good example of that… is Obamacare. Obamacare – the government getting involved to save us from what’s not working in the health care world, right? That’s what the argument is. Much of that problem is created by Government. Much of that was created by mandates. For example, I don’t know what they are here in Vermont, but every state has mandates…. That’s what causes insurance rates to go up. Then the government says, well, people can’t afford insurance, therefore we need Obamacare.
TNR: It’s the Hegelian dialectic …what you do is you create a problem, then you turn around and tell everyone you’re here to solve it.
JMG: That’s right. I’ve been reading the “Road to Serfdom,” in which [German economist Friedrich von] Hayek talks about that very issue: the planners. Instead of calling them socialist, although the book is against socialism, he talks about the planners versus the free market people. The free market people have millions and millions of people who’ve freely chosen to do certain things, versus the few elite planners. Whether they’re the legislators in Montpelier, or in DC, or the bureaucrats on a panel, they decide whether you’re going to get your heart transplant or you aren’t…. Those people, apparently, screw it up. They have to create a problem in order get involved. Have you heard about the Rutland clinic shutting down? [The Rutland Regional Medical Center Inpatient Recovery Clinic announced it was shutting down this past May as the result of state government mandates coming from the newly appointed Green Mountain Care Board.]
So now, they need the Government to get more involved. Hopefully, this next election, 2012, I have great hope that more people than in the past are understanding these problems. Whether its 50% in Vermont, I don’t know.
TNR: Where are you from and what have you been doing before the race?
JMG: Since moving to Vermont, I’ve been on the development review board in the town [Windsor]. I’ve also been on their budget committee. I’ve been on it two or three times. The first time we produced a budget the select board didn’t go for it because there was such an outrage…. [Y]ou’d think the town budget is for things everyone needs, like the roads. Well, come to find out it doesn’t go to roads or whatever [everyone] needs, it goes to special interests and pensions and this and that…. Less and less goes to just a road budget. It always gets cut. We tried to change that direction. In the first case, it required fewer jobs on the town budget. This latest one, the budget committee pretty well went along…. I kept saying, I wont vote for one that adds one new cent in new taxes.
TNR: I take it that puts you against say, the cloud tax here in Vermont? (Taxing internet services)
JMG: There’s two reason I oppose taxes. One is, it hurts. It hurts the economy and it hurts jobs. On principle, I’m opposed to it because I think… one way to keep government small is to keep the spigot turned off. The more you give them, the more the more they’re going to do, and the more destructive they are. I think a smaller government, more focused on the more important things its has to do… I believe in the principle of subsidiarity.
You may be the first person to ever bring up subsidiarity to me: government at the correct level. That’s another principle. Not just is it a good thing for government to do, but is it the right level of government that’s handling it?
TNR: And the federal government handles too much?
JMG: That’s correct.
That’s where, I was talking to a Ron Paul person the other day. There may be an area where I differ with the Vermont Freedom Coalition. That is, the government can do some things. I think highways is one area where, say, a National Highway System is one thing I do support… defense. Aside from those things….not really.
TNR: What do you say to people who say the government is mixed up in social security and Medicare and Medicaid. How do people get taken care of if those programs go away?
JMG: I would support reforms of those programs that would move it to a model like Chile (private retirement accounts). You start that statement by saying that everyone currently on it would keep what they currently have.
The problem with people like Bernie Sanders is, you start talking that way, and he says, “I’m not going to destroy Social Security.” They start demagoguing it to such an extent. That’s why I think the victory of the guy in Wisconsin, Scott Walker, is so significant. Here’s a guy who touched the golden calf you weren’t supposed to touch. Everyone said, you touch that, you’re done… and he won. He got 56% of the vote. In a race where both sides had plenty of money to get their message out.
TNR: What’s your field usually?
JMG: I was in politics in Massachusetts for four terms in the Massachusetts State House. I majored in Chinese at Dartmouth. When I got out of politics, I went into helping American Companies do business in China.
Are you familiar with Shenzhen, the enterprise province outside of Hong Kong? An Enterprise Zone with a 1000% growth rate over 30 years. It’s extraordinary. We don’t want quite that, but yes. There’s a trillion dollars in American Corporate money offshore right now…they don’t know what to do with that. What if you changed tax policy? It would come back here.
TNR: Thank you for speaking with us, John.
JMG: Good to see you.