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Press Office of Adam Benson (R-UT)

Steven Andrews

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Benson for President 2016 Platform

A Benson administration will support investment in all forms of energy production while emphasizing a transition to a more energy-efficient economy as well as one less dependent on fossil fuels.  The reason is that while domestic US production can cover our needs for some time, and future exploration should provide us with the resources we will need, too many of the other countries on the global stage which have extensive energy resources have also shown themselves to be either questionable allies of the United States, to have policy agenda which conflicts with ours in key places, or to be outright hostile to the United States and the United States' interests.  Everything we can do to make energy production less profitable for Venezuela or Iran, in particular, is another step forward for American interests.

A Benson administration will, in particular, support the use and development of ~~nuclear power.  Modern reactor designs are extremely safe as compared with those which have had the most infamous accidents, and the use of common sense should fix those issues which allowed the Fukushima accident to happen.

With that being said, a Benson administration will work to encourage the survival and stability of the coal industry as a matter of national security: Coal has uses beyond power generation, and in particular is used in the production and refining of steel.  A stable domestic supply of coal is essential to ensuring economic stability in the event that global circumstances threaten to disrupt said supplies.

Health Care
The "Obamacare" legislation passed in 2010 has been repeatedly repudiated by the electorate.  The legislation fundamentally confuses having health insurance with providing health care; though the two questions are not without a connection, they are also far from being the same thing.  In particular, current legislation requires individuals to acquire insurance even if they cannot acquire an insurance plan which will provide them covered care for a condition they have at a facility in their region.

A Benson administration would seek to repeal the mandate in the 2010 Act, replacing it with a robust system of required disclosures on costs within the hospital industry.  We would require that up-front payments for procedures for uninsured patients not exceed the lowest negotiated compensation that a hospital would recieve from the combined coinsurance and patient copay from an insurance plan.  The same conditions will apply to the purchase of medication from any pharmacy.

We will also propose legislation to compel the inclusion of various classes of drugs in pharmaceutical formularies without respect to the producer or cost.

A Benson administration supports, first and foremost, the establishment of a competent security system on the southern border of the United States.  The current circumstances, with a hodgepodge of sensors which date to various times from the last few decades, is simply unacceptable.  It has led not only to a situation where hundreds of thousands are able to cross the border illegally every year, but also where drug cartels are able to send all sorts of illegal goods across the border.  These run the gamut from "just" drugs and weapons to human trafficking.  With these goods has come violence spilling across the border from the troubled situation in northern Mexico.

We will set a goal of a border security system which is able to detect and intercept not less than 95% of illegal crossings.  This will involve a mix of physical barriers, modern sensors, and drones alongside the hiring of additional Border Patrol officers and staff as well as improving security procedures at crossings.

But fixing the physical elements of the border is only part of the challenge: We also need to amend laws to make human traffickers, so-called "coyotes", criminally liable in the event that their customers die.  A Benson administration will press to make such deaths liable for felony murder, and to make the coyotes guilty of any crimes committed by their charges under the common law doctrine of common purpose.

A Benson administration will also work for federal legislation which will require state and local authorities to notify the Federal Government when they have anybody in custody for a crime other than a misdemeanor when that person is not a United States citizen, so the Federal Government can consider whether and/or when to initiate deportation/removal proceedings.  Failure to comply will make the jurisdiction(s) in question civilly liable if the person is released and goes on to commit further crimes.

As to the present immigration system, a fundamental overhaul is needed.  On the one hand, current immigration laws must be clarified so that the executive branch does not have nearly total discretion as to what to decide the law is.  The fact that programs such as DACA can be legal alongside potentially far more aggressive enforcement of existing legislation creates an unacceptable degree of uncertainty.

We also recognize the need to hire more immigration judges to clear the endless, often mounting, backlog of immigration cases.  Right now, people who have a legitimate claim on status can be stuck in limbo for years through no fault of their own.  This needs to change and we will work to change it.  We will also work to, at a bare minimum, guarantee translation services for all persons facing such situations and legal counsel for minors.

A Benson administration will also work to overhaul our visa system.  At present, the vast majority of those in the United States illegally arrived on valid visas or under waivers and then simply never left.  Because the United States has, in effect, no system for determining if a foreign national has left the country we don't even know who we *should* be looking for in the event of an overstay.

A Benson administration will attempt to work with Canada to achieve an agreement which will expand the ability of nationals in both countries to cross without needing passports, particularly in the cases of residents of near-border or cross-border communities (e.g. parts of Maine and Vermont as well as Washington State, etc.).

A Benson administration will examine a path to citizenship for individuals brought to the United States improperly at a very young age.  While we are opposed to doing so for those who came to the US of their own free will, we're hard-pressed to take quite as hard of a line against those who had no say in the decision.  Such a plan will not be anywhere near as sweeping as DACA, and will include the establishment of criminal penalties for illegally bringing a minor into the United States or illegally keeping them in the United States in circumstances where they can not consent.

A Benson administration will support a comprehensive infrastructure bill which will include significant federal investment.  While such investments will need to be paired with state, local, and/or private-sector funding in various situations, we support not less than 50% of the funding coming from the federal government.  We will set a target size for such a package of $1.5 trillion over ten years, including a 2-3 year ramp-up.

A Benson administration will work to reform existing laws slowing infrastructure projects.  While we will not cut the public out of comment periods and the like, efforts must be made to remove the perpetual jams in projects that result from dubious NIMBY lawsuits and endless "consultations" and studies.  The observation has often been made that we could never have built Interstate 95, let alone the rest of our national infrastructure, under current laws.

A Benson administration will also work to move transportation funding from the current "silo" system, where money must be spent on an often overly-specific form of transportation (e.g. commuter rail vs intercity rail), to something more closely approximating a block grant system.

A Benson administration will negotiate with states for reforms to the strictures of the Highway Trust Fund.  As things stand, the fund will almost definitely go bankrupt within the next decade and the political will to enact a new funding source has been lacking.  We will work with states to figure out possible "bail-outs" from the system (e.g. I-80 in Pennsylvania) to relieve states of their part of the burden if the Federal Government finds itself increasingly unable or unwilling to do so.

International Relations
A Benson administration regards Red China as the biggest long-term strategic competitor to the United States as well as the biggest long-term threat to the national security of the United States.  We would particularly draw attention to the lengthy pattern of damaging cyberattacks which the Chinese have either committed or been a highly-apparent party to, as well as their questionable behavior in the South China Sea.

As such, a Benson administration will take the following actions to confront China:
-We will label China as a currency manipulator and will initiate actions to counteract their history of corporate espionage.  We will also work with major technology companies to incentivise the diversification of their supply chains.  Finally, we will aggressively investigate cyberattacks which can be connected to Chinese sources with an eye towards determining whether official or semi-official government forces are behind them.
-We will also work with Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan as strategic partners to "hem in" China both militarily and economically.  Our objective will be not only to work with them but to ensure that they can defend themselves in the event of hostile action from China.
-We will consult with Taiwan on formally recognizing the reality of their present status.

The Middle East
The Middle East is no more of a clear-cut situation in 2016 than it was in 2008, 2001, or indeed in the 1990s, 1980s, or 1970s.  In far too many conflicts there are no clear "good guys" and American interests are at best unclear.

In Syria, in particular, we can identify no forces which would make for an obvious ally.  There are, in general, shades of bad and worse: The forces of the Assad government have engaged in crimes against humanity, the "democratic" forces have allied with al Qaeda-aligned terrorists, the Kurdish forces have expressed a desire for control of more territory than just part of Syria, and the atrocities of ISIS are numerous enough to fill out an entire platform on just an overview.  We might also note that the vast majority of ISIS' equipment acquisitions came from Iraq, where US-supplied equipment was allowed to fall into their hands amid an embarrassing wave of panic and disorder.

In light of this, a Benson administration will be prepared to use non-ground forces to defeat ISIS without regard to the erstwhile controller of the territory in question.  We are not, however, prepared to engage in ground combat without the support of other allies in a material manner, and we will demand the right to hand over ISIS leaders for potential capital punishment by the relevant authorities in light of their crimes.

We will also pursue federal charges of murder and terrorism where appropriate, including asserting jurisdiction over crimes committed in lawless warzones and/or of American citizens by illegal combatants where sufficient evidence can be collected as to those committing the crimes in question.  In particular, we will regard persons who engage in combat with allied forces without a uniform or insignia to be a violation of the Geneva Convention.

We will consider voluntary participation in the crimes of ISIS to be sufficient to deny refugee status regardless of the nature or basis of a claim to said status, and will consider migration to reside under the jurisdiction of ISIS to be sufficient evidence of voluntary participation.

A Benson administration will also examine whether to consider a public, voluntary statement of allegiance to ISIS or related organizations with similar aims to be inherently acts of treason, to be a renunciation of American citizenship, or both.  At a bare minimum, doing so and/or participating in the crimes of such an organization shall provide prima facie evidence that one is an unfit parent and we will revoke the custody of any minors which the individual(s) in question have custody of.

In light of the nature of the threat posed by ISIS, a Benson administration will be prepared to take a lenient view of Americans who have opted to join forces fighting against ISIS on their own.  In light of the nature of ISIS as a threat to the civilized world, we will be favorably inclined to pardoning such individuals for crimes which they might later be charged with.

As to the question of Turkey, find ourselves forced to confront the questionable status of them as an ally.  The decision of the current government there to erode democratic norms while acting increasingly contrary to the interests of NATO means that we will need to consult with our allies about the long-term status of Turkey as a strategic partner.

With respect to Israel, a Benson administration will be prepared to attempt to mediate the ongoing conflict in that part of the world.  However, as long as Palestenian organizations refuse to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist and/or call for the destruction of Israel, we are not optimistic about the prospects for success.  We would also note the hypocrisy of both countries and groups who call for the abolition of capital punishment but which are also prepared to extend recognition to Palestine, where we would contend that the rule of law does not even prevail and where the putative government effectively endorses lynchings.

A Benson administration will work with our European partners to develop an equitable sharing of the burdens of the NATO alliance.  Though all countries are supposed to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense, over 20 of the 28 countries do not meet this level and have regularly failed to do so.  This has led to embarrassing situations where many of our allies have much of their equipment lying inoperable.  If these countries are unwilling or unable to meet their obligations, some alternative arrangement, such as payment into a collective fund for both equipment maintenance/acquisition and research and development in lieu of direct spending, will need to be sought out in the long run to ensure the sustainability of the alliance.

Notwithstanding these issues, we will work to strengthen our ties with our European allies and work to coordinate with them in efforts against mutual threats, both those which are military and those which are economic in nature.

Climate Change
A Benson Administration will work to ensure that other countries actually back up their commitments and ensure that the US doesn't get screwed over by badly-drafted agreements such as Kyoto.  We are prepared to engage other countries in negotiations only if such agreements do not let countries such as China off the hook.  If we are going to be party to such treaties, we must demand the right to enforce compliance with trade actions including but not limited to focused tariffs against non-compliant states.

Labor Relations
A Benson administration will support and champion the right to work at the federal level.  We will work to reform the Davis-Bacon Act.  In particular, we will exempt contracts where employment featherbedding requirements significantly increase labor requirements above equivalent projects in other states and/or other countries.

Additionally, we will work to restrain featherbedding requirements in federally-funded infrastructure projects.  For example, the cost overruns on the Second Avenue Subway in New York City can largely be chalked up to portions of the construction process requiring two or three times the workers that an equivalent project in France or the UK would require.

Right to Life
A Benson administration will be committed to working to overturn Roe v Wade as it stands.  Adam Benson believes that life begins at conception, and that as such abortion should be illegal outside of cases of rape, incest, or serious threats to the life of the mother.  We will work to ensure that federal funding is not provided for abortions outside of these broad categories of circumstances.  However, we will also work to ensure that there is improved support for lower-income mothers during their pregnancies, and will also work to improve access to social support for those mothers after the birth of their child or children.

A Benson administration will work to achieve a general reduction in income tax rates.  This will be achieved by reforming the white-collar jobs program that is the current tax code.

A Benson administration will work to reform corporate income taxes to ensure that the rates that are in the tax code are actually paid.  In particular, we will work with our economic partners in Europe and elsewhere to bar tax avoidance/evasion strategies that have been abused in recent years by internet companies.  Previous abuses of these loopholes will be rectified by a one-time tax on financial assets held overseas, with a complete deduction for corporate income taxes previously paid on said assets.

Our reforms will result in lower nominal tax rates alongside a substantial simplification of the tax code, and with that a reduction in compliance costs that will disproportionately benefit smaller businesses.

On individual income taxes, we will aim for the same sorts of changes and simplification.  We will close the "carried interest" loophole which treats hedge fund compensation as capital gains instead of income.  Alongside simplifying existing credits and reducing "topline" rates, we will also work to create a rental equivalent to the mortgage interest deduction in recognition of the fact that due to a mix of the need for mobility/flexibility related to employment as well as their income situations, many young adults are not in a position to purchase a home at this time.

Andrew Byrd (and family), Virginia

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Benson Comments on Fitzgerald Endorsements

I am somewhat concerned by the company which Senator Fitzgerald finds himself in.  I cannot comment on his endorsement by Senator Ross, who is at least a fellow Republican even if he has views that many conservatives might have concerns with, but I find the explicit support of Senator Tillman to be cause for particular concern.  Notwithstanding some generic desire for cross-party cooperation, this endorsement give me pause if only because in my experience members of the opposite party tend to support either a candidate they think is the weakest candidate for the general election in the primary or one likely to cause a contest to drag on.

Andrew Byrd (and family), Virginia

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