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Macmillan

East Coast News Network

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Name: East Coast News Network

Call Letters: ECNN

Owner: Chuck Harper

Media Markets: Tampa Florida

Political Leaning: Moderate on a lot of issues, Conservative on some issues, Liberal on an issue or two. A real mixed bag.


UK News Director

Formerly:

Rebecca Flair
Senate Majority Whip
Republican
Florida

Chuck Harper
East Coast News Network

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8 hours ago, Macmillan said:

Name: East Coast News Network

Call Letters: ECNN

Owner: Chuck Harper

Media Markets: Tampa Florida

Political Leaning: Moderate on a lot of issues, Conservative on some issues, Liberal on an issue or two. A real mixed bag.

Approved. This media entity goes public on February 10, 2016.

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Iran Deal Takes Centre Stage Across the Pond

It is perhaps one of the most controversial deals of all time, the World held its breath as Iran got ever closer to producing nuclear weapons only for President Obama and Prime Minister Suchet to declare that the danger had been averted with the signing of what they called a great deal. In the US the deal has been controversial enough, so controversial in fact that the President hasn't dared to send it before Congress for ratification, in the UK it has just ramped up a notch as well. The Shadow First Secretary of State, essentially the de facto Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, announced via Twitter that she was against the Iran Deal as part of a broader debate around the sponsoring of terrorism across the World, this quickly became Conservative Party policy with the Conservative Party leader informing the press that "If I were Prime Minister I would not have signed the deal".

What this means for the Iran Deal is anyone's guess. The UK's Government were quick to attack the Conservative Leader for his actions and the actions of his Shadow Cabinet, they have already apparently attempted to silence a Shadow Cabinet Minister using the Official Secrets Act on the issue of Pakistan's potential support of terrorism. It is unclear what will happen in the long term but this intervention will definitely help shape the debate in the US. President Obama, already unwilling to put the deal to Congress, may well keep it away until Republicans force it to the floor if a party which looks almost certain to lead the next Government three years out from the next election in the US' closest allied state says they will withdraw from it. What will SML Fitzgerald do as he ramps up his Presidential Campaign? Will he force the deal to the floor of the Senate knowing that it will almost certainly fail, will any Republican Candidates for the Presidency come out against the deal as firmly as the British Opposition has?

But what does Senator Tillman, the Democratic nominee for the Presidency, do? Obama is tied to the deal because he made it, the Republicans are bitterly opposed to it at least in part due to their disdain for him and for Iran, does Senator Tillman pledge to support a deal that is at best bitterly divisive? Where do the Democratic caucus in Congress go from here especially if the GOP force the issue to Congress outside of the Obama Administration? All of these questions and more will be answered over the coming months setting the stage for a titanic showdown on both sides of the Atlantic.

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UK News Director

Formerly:

Rebecca Flair
Senate Majority Whip
Republican
Florida

Chuck Harper
East Coast News Network

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Exclusive Interview with Adam Benson

Quote

Welcome to ECNN, I am your host Nicholas Eden

With me today is Republican Presidential hopeful Adam Benson, Adam hello


Adam Benson Today at 10:17

Hello, Nick, and thank you for having me on.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:17

Let's get right down to it

Mr Benson, the Iran Nuclear Deal is attracting headlines across the World with the United Kingdom's Conservative Party, led by Dylan Nicholas Eden, coming out against it. Where do you stand on President Obama's deal?

(In your own time xD )


Adam Benson Today at 10:21

The deal has way too many problems. Fundamentally, Iran still denies the right of a steadfast ally of the US, Israel, to exist. Letting a country holding views like that get nuclear weapons at any point is just absurd. Beyond that...look, if Iran wants nuclear power for civilian purposes, they should ask for a fuel contract where responsible parties would have custody of the materials at all times. I think we could arrange that. They should also look at solar and wind power. I'm sure Elon Musk would love to sell them solar cells and batteries. But their demand, to keep centrifuges as part of the deal, is a gross sign of bad faith on their part. We should have demanded the centrifuges be taken out of the country, full stop. Anything less is not something I can buy.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:21

So what would you do if you were sat in the Oval Office?


Adam Benson Today at 10:23

Go back to the drawing board on the deal. We'll withdraw from the deal as soon as we have a game plan to deal with making sure that Iran can't get nukes before we can rein them in. But in the scheme of things, that deal has to go. This isn't to say that there isn't a deal to be had, but the one we got is not that deal, and a bad deal is often worse than no deal. We have a lot of tools...secondary sanctions and the like...at our disposal and we should put them to use.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:24

And more broadly, President Obama has been seen by many as a deal maker for better or worse but also a man who is willing to authorise military action where necessary. In a Benson Administration what would the overreaching foreign policy tools you use?


Adam Benson Today at 10:29

Well, I presume you mean overarching...even though I think many Democrats will claim that whatever we do is somehow overreaching. In most cases, I would prefer to use economic tools wherever possible. If we can get the job done without our brave soldiers, sailors, and airmen being put in danger then that's a route I would prefer to take. But we also live in a world where we don't always get what we want...if my son asks Santa for a million dollars and a helicopter he might be a bit disappointed on Christmas morning. But there are also forces like ISIS...frankly, let's call them the monsters and barbarians that they are...that only understand force, so I'll use force where necessary as well. I just won't be cavalier about drawing red lines I'm not willing to back up or that I lack the votes to back up. So to answer your question, I'll use whatever carrot or stick I need to in order to protect and advance American interests.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:31

But let's talk about specifics, you mentioned ISIS or Daesh as they are also known, would you support boots on the ground to finish them? And what about the Assad Government?

Would you support measures to remove Assad from power?


Adam Benson Today at 10:37

Boots on the ground, no. Lots of bombs, yes. There are two reasons for this: First and foremost, I have trouble seeing any party in that civil war that I want to win. Outside of ISIS you have one group that's a geopolitical headache, one that's a human rights nightmare, and one that's a whole bunch of questionable characters thrown together and I'll let you figure out which is which. But the second is that, frankly, I'm not opposed to letting ISIS end up at the hands of folks who are not nearly so restrained as we are. Given what we've seen of them, I'm not opposed to letting them end up at the hands of folks who think the Geneva Conventions are mere suggestions. As to removing Assad, not unless we can come up with a replacement plan that doesn't pose a major risk of either sliding into some version of hardline Islamism or falling apart in another civil war. For once, we didn't break it and after Iraq and Afghanistan I'm not interested in buying another broken country.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:39

As we round off the foreign policy aspect of the interview I'll just ask this one last speculative question Senator, outside of Iran and Syria what is your most pressing foreign policy concern and how will you tackle it?


Adam Benson Today at 10:41

China is the biggest concern I have, partly because they've been playing a brutal long game in intellectual property theft and economic misbehavior, including cyberattacks that sure look like their military is behind them. And that's where economic tools primarily come into play, though I also want to start taking steps to ensure that our friends and allies in the region can defend themselves against possible military action. The day is some distance off, but I don't want Taiwan or South Korea to find themselves having to hope that the US is also up for defending them at the time if the Chinese or North Koreans eventually get froggy and jump at a fight.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:42

Senator Benson turning now to your fiscal policies, many in the GOP favour cutting taxes, how would you change the tax code in this country for working families and individuals


Adam Benson Today at 10:46

Primarily by simplifying it, but that's too easy and glib of a place to stop. I'd like to see a reduction in the tangle of deductions and credits and replace them with some mix of a larger standard deduction and fewer, more straightforward credits. I'd also like to see a renter's equivalent to the mortgage interest deducion...that's one thing that helps tens of millions of families, yes, but it doesn't to jack for a twenty-something who's likely to need to change cities for work in a year or two because their spouse gets a better job. Of course, the right answer is probably to transition to a housing expense deduction that you can pick what you need to cover...interest, rent, or home repairs...and deduct it to a point. Moving in that direction will help a lot of people who can't max out the benefits of the mortgage deduction, and it'll save them from having to pay points and origination fees to get to the tax benefits.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:49

How would you pay for it?


Adam Benson Today at 10:54

We'll have to see how the amounts come out, but the main thing I'm looking at is corporate tax reform. We've got a batch of companies that have used tax strategies that would be called fraud in any sane world to hide large portions of their income from taxation. I think one is called a Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich where money goes through two or three or four entities and profits are booked somewhere there's no tax through a bit of accounting wizardry. Pardon the language, but it's a load of bull and it rewards the wrong kind of innovation. So I want to sit down with our partners in Europe and come up with a tax agreement that makes sure that all countries get their fair share of that pie, the US included, and I want to get rid of the components of our corporate tax system that make it advantageous to keep hundreds of billions of dollars tied up offshore.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:56

And if Europe doesn't play ball?


Adam Benson Today at 10:58

I think they have every incentive to do so...the EU is, I believe, pursuing major fines against Apple for decades of this sort of thing...but if they don't then we can pursue other legislative avenues to achieve the same end goal such as establishing a floor on corporate effective tax rates before normally allowable deductions and taxes paid overseas.


Nicholas Eden Today at 10:58

But there are some EU countries that benefit from these arrangements, the Irish, the Dutch, Luxembourg. If those countries prevent a deal from being done what then?


Adam Benson Today at 11:01

Like I said, we crack down on some of the parts of our tax code that allow those issues to persist. For example, we implement a territorial tax system but require that firms pay a minimum tax on their global intellectual property regardless of where that IP is being held. IP shenanigans are most of what underpins these schemes, so if we shut that down it goes a long way towards ending the cost of these schemes to the US regardless of whether Europe wants to play ball.


Nicholas Eden Today at 11:02

Are there any areas of Federal Spending you would cut? Any departments you would abolish?


Adam Benson Today at 11:10

I'd like to see reforms to military procurement practices. I want the best gear for our military, but there have been way too many boondoggles that have either resulted in excessive per-unit costs for planes and the like, where features have been thrown on or projects forced to continue even after they're found to be infeasible because of Congressional fiat, or in the alternative situations where sunk costs are used to keep a bad project going through money like a zombie consuming brains. I'd also like to see reforms to transportation funding...the Highway Trust Fund was supposed to pay for the Interstate Highway System, but Congress has repeatedly had to bail it out. So we need to look at funding formulas and agreements with states there as well as a stable source of funding. And I'd like to reform a lot of legislation to reduce the number of studies that have to be pursued to get a project off the ground. We spend way too much time and money figuring out what we actually want to do, and between the cost to do the studies and the lost time, lawsuits, and other added costs there? It adds up to billions of dollars over the years, both at the federal level and the state level. A ridiculous amount of the stimulus funding for rail, for example, went to doing lots and lots of studies that will probably be invalid in a few more years. As to getting rid of departments, I'd prefer to focus on getting rid of nonessential employees in departments and forcing red tape to get cut within departments.


Nicholas Eden Today at 11:11

So you'd keep the Department for Education for example? Some Republicans want to see it gone but you'd keep it?

You wouldn't cut the number of departments in the Federal Government at all?


Adam Benson Today at 11:13

If we can get the votes to roll it in with another department, I'm game, but we saw these proposals mooted under Reagan and Bush and guess what? Both of them added a department each. Show me sixty votes and where the duties go and I'll show you an ex-department, but I have yet to see the Republicans in Congress actually put their money where their mouth is on that front.


Nicholas Eden Today at 11:13

Finally let's talk about a couple of things that are sure to be of interest in this primary

Firstly, do you have an infrastructure plan?


Adam Benson Today at 11:21

Yes, and I'm going to be frank: It won't be cheap. While I plan to use the long-term reforms to corporate income taxes to help pay for the cost of those changes to help renters, the up-front benefits of those changes will go towards the federal side of my plan. I'm aiming for about $1.5 trillion over ten years, half of which will come from the federal government and half as a match from local, state, and private sector sources, for all aspects of our national infrastructure. We've got highway bridges that are falling apart, Amtrak runs on catenary where the poles were paid for under the Hoover administration, we have out-of-date airports...I think Fiorello LaGuardia would be ashamed at the mess his namesake airport is most days...and we have a fragile power grid and aging plants, among other issues. I think we could do an hour-long special just listing the problems facing us on this front. At the very least, we need to be prepared to pay for a refresh on the work that was done between the 1930s and the 1960s and it will not be cheap. Anyone who is denying the need for this to keep America working is whistling past the graveyard on our economy.


Nicholas Eden Today at 11:23

So that's 750bn over ten years, $75bn each year, on top of tax cuts and on top of major shifts in how we tax in this country. Are bigger budget deficits going to be a factor of your Presidency?

If you Corporation Tax changes will pay for your tax cuts, where will this $75bn/yr come from?


Adam Benson Today at 11:30

The first two years or so of our infrastructure plan...I'm not as delusional as the current occupant of the White House that everything will be shovel ready next January...should be paid for by a one-time tax on existing corporate profits that have been abusively sheltered in recent years. Defense savings from killing bad projects, reforming procurement, and ideally not getting into yet another ground war should get us somewhere. And economic growth from tax reforms won't leave us empty-handed. But after that? We need to look at controlling Medicare and Medicaid costs, but this is one place where I'm willing to risk a deficit. Look, if we don't address this set of problems and address it sooner rather than later there's going to be a hidden cost of a slowing economy that's going to make everything else harder to pay for anyway and that deficit is going to go up then, or taxes will have to skyrocket, or both...and that's not a hole I can see us getting out of.


Nicholas Eden Today at 11:30

Well that's an excellent jumping off point for our final issue, healthcare

Where would you take Obamacare in this country?


Adam Benson Today at 11:41

Obamacare is a great example of the government managing to misidentify the problem and then misapply the wrong solution. Yes, it is good that more people have insurance now, but Obamacare did nothing to address what happens if your insurance doesn't cover a specialist in your area for a disease you have. There are a great many people who are worse off because they can't get the coverage they need but they're required to have coverage that won't help them. What I'd do is bin the mandated insurance approach Obama decided to go after and instead force hospitals to offer care for the cost of the cheapest combined coinsurance plus copay they negotiate with an insurance company to anyone who is prepared to provide up-front payment and require insurers to offer plans which let you take advantage of their block pricing without having to seek their approval as long as you pick up their share. I would give the FDA the power to require that insurance formularies list all drugs in a given category and require medical supply distributors...the middlemen between the drug companies and the hospitals...to act as suppliers of those drugs to hospitals whether they want to or not. Finally, I would require hospitals to list not only their "list prices" for procedures but their negotiated prices with insurance companies, so that for non-emergency care people can actually shop around. The problem with health care in America is that it is comprised of too many moving parts and the result is that everybody points the blame somewhere else, and they're not even necessarily lying. But we don't address these issues and so you get a mess like the insurance mandate that doesn't do even do what it is supposed to do and people get stuck dealing with lousy one-size-fits-all plans.


Nicholas Eden Today at 11:41

Senator, thank you for your time


Adam Benson Today at 11:42

Thank you for having me, Nick.

 

What's interesting in this race is that Adam Benson is clearly trying to define himself as more moderate than his three opponents. Where there have been calls to drop the Trans-Pacific trade agreement there wasn't very much said on the subject here with Senator Benson keen to keep foreign policy all about American exceptionalism and making foreign policy work for the American people. There's some stuff here that is likely to appeal to moderates but equally the more hardcore wing of the GOP might have trouble swallowing the healthcare proposals and the plan to introduce a special tax on businesses to pay for the initial parts of the infrastructure plan. On the whole Adam Benson seems to have done a good job of differentiating himself from three candidates who seem to all be running in quite similar lanes with nationalistic rhetoric and radical departures from GOP orthodoxy on issues like infrastructure being advocated for. Senator Benson's plan to half fund the money, with the other half coming from state and private sources, will be seen by many as an attempt to gain support from both business Republicans and more economically interventionist Republicans. As the primary hots up Senator Benson may have finally kick started a somewhat lacklustre campaign in the early goings.


UK News Director

Formerly:

Rebecca Flair
Senate Majority Whip
Republican
Florida

Chuck Harper
East Coast News Network

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