There is a stark lack of experienced voices in the United States Senate who have the knowhow to address one of the most important issues of our time – increasing crime and lawlessness. At present, the Senate is a refuge for former businesspeople trying their hand at politics or Congressmen who couldn’t fathom a career outside of Washington. Today, no one in the United States Senate boasts a law enforcement background, and it shows. Yet it is in the United States Senate that a possible first step towards righting America away from violence and lawlessness exists.
Turn on your local news and it’s like groundhog day - the masked thug engaging in a senseless act of violence against a well-to-do law-abiding citizen, the group of young people descending on a retail outlet in a smash and grab crime. These scenes have become all too common in modern-day America. The rise in crime can be attributed to the proliferation of soft-on-crime policies, the failure of policymakers to take a community-centric approach to combating crime, and the politicization of prosecutors.
The plague of crime that’s swept our nation can be attributed to soft-on-crime policies including reduced sentencing efforts, bail reform, and less funding for law enforcement. Each of these policies contributes uniquely to the uptick in crime. Reduced sentencing efforts undermines the deterrence effect of facing consequences for one’s actions. Bail reform enables those who would typically be behind bars to roam the streets and engage in the same sort of conduct that found them on the wrong side of the law in the first place. Less funding for law enforcement feeds a vicious cycle that emboldens criminals who perceive there being no consequences for their actions.
Crime and safety is an intensely local issue, with conditions in some of our nation’s cities varying drastically from block to block. Therefore, the best solutions to such a problem will tend to be community-centric as well. Crime is an incredibly complex, multifaceted issue that requires action on multiple fronts. Education and employment stand out as issues that play a significant role in the crime equation. Communities that prioritize education have higher graduation rates, which translates to lower unemployment rates, which translates to lower crime rates. Communities with lower graduation rates have statistically less opportunities, as most jobs require at least a high school degree. It’s no surprise, then, that many young people in such communities turn to lives of crime. For those without a formal education, the income security provided by a minimum wage job with limited growth prospects pales in comparison to a job dealing drugs. Thus, addressing educational attainment and employment deficits prevents crime before the conditions giving rise to it have the chance to materialize, leaving everyone safer and more secure in their communities.
The rule of law is the principle that all individuals are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated and equally enforced. The politicization of prosecutors threatens to erode those very values upon which our entire legal system is based. Decisions made by prosecutors concerning which cases to prosecute, defenses to mount, and plea bargains to enter into affect the implementation of law. Historically, even though prosecutors were appointed through political processes – by appointment at the federal level and by election at the local and state level – they never subordinated political agendas to upholding the law. Some of today’s prosecutors seem to have lost sight of that balance. Prosecutorial failure to impartially mete out justice undermines the legitimacy of and public trust in our institutions. As a United States Senator, I will make it my duty to ensure that no prosecutor brought before the United States Senate will be confirmed if their records, backgrounds, or answers to questions evince a sympathy towards the soft-on-crime policies of today.
Michigan is currently in the midst of an educational crisis. Whether it’s because of policy failure in Washington, D.C. or here in Michigan, our students deserve better. National assessments show that Michigan students are falling behind and not reaching their full potential. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the “nation’s report card,” is an assessment measuring student performance in various subjects including reading and math. States are ranked by the performance of their students. Currently, Michigan ranks #31 in reading and #26 for math in the NAEP. Not only does Michigan not lead the pack in the NAEP, its assessment scores are below median. Michigan is a state that has historically prided itself on its educational system, with one of the leading public university systems in the world. As such, it’s unacceptable that our state’s education system is failing to prepare our young minds to address the challenges of tomorrow.
Mississippi provides a model that Michigan, and the other 48 states, can replicate in order to improve outcomes for students. The Mississippi model is characterized by:
• Increased reliance on phonics and a broader approach to literacy called “the science of reading.”
• Emphasis on professional development, with coaches working with teachers, especially at underperforming schools.
• Funding for pre-Kindergarten programs targeting low-income areas.
• Full-day programs with qualified teachers paid at the same rate as elementary school staff.
After implementing their model, Mississippi moved from near the bottom to the middle in most of the NAEP assessments – and near the top when adjusted for demographics. Among those at the poverty level, Mississippi is tied for #1 in reading and #2 in math. The gains made are also reflected in high school graduation rates, which have risen from 75% to 87% since 2011.
Another defining feature of the Mississippi model is the “third-grade gate.” The third-grade gate is a pass-fail test administered at the end of the third grade which determines whether a student moves on to fourth grade or is held back. The pedagogical focus of the third grade is to ensure that students read well enough to pass the test. This approach is accompanied by close monitoring of student progress over the course of the school year so that students who are lagging behind are able to receive the additional help they need to pass.
The federal government’s record of success in education policy has been disastrous. Whether it’s the Improving America’s Schools Act or the No Child Left Behind Act, attempts by the federal government to regulate content and performance standards have been policy failures. Federal action on education policy is effectuated by congress through its spending clause powers, under which congress is empowered to spend for the “general welfare.” In practice, the spending clause power allows congress to regulate conduct and behavior that’s otherwise not under the purview of congress (e.g., interstate and foreign commerce) by tying funding to policy decisionmaking at the state and local level. By drawing on this power, the federal government can affect education policy without directly regulating it itself.
One of the defining features of federalism is the fact that states are able to function as policy laboratories, trying out different policies to see which work. Given its impressive track record, Mississippi’s model for improving educational attainment and outcomes deserves serious consideration by the federal government as a model to be implemented the country over. As a United States Senator, I will make it my duty that Michigan and any other state has the resources and backing of the federal government to replicate Mississippi’s success. Students deserve it.
As one of the only democratic outposts in the Middle East, Israel is an important ally and a committed partner in the fight against terrorism, domestically and abroad. So long as “death to America” is chanted in the halls of power in Iran, Israel will remain a crucial bulwark against the rising influence of Iranian-supported extremism in the region. The war launched by Iran-backed Hamas in October 2023 underscores the seriousness of the threat Iran poses to global security. While Israel continues to be the first line of defense against the Iranian regime, it deserves America’s continued strategic and intelligence support. Buttressing Israeli war efforts is an investment in the fight against a regime that is openly hostile to American interests and a symbolic commitment to the self-determination and sovereignty of nations around the world.
As of September 2023, the United States has pledged more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia. It’s clear these funds have done nothing more than prolong a conflict that would be better resolved at the negotiating table. That’s not to say that Russia’s war of aggression should not be condemned in the strongest terms and paired with a policy response to match. But, as President Trump said, “I want people to stop dying.” An unquestioning, unqualified commitment to fund Ukraine’s war effort is not the answer.
At a time when Americans are feeling the inflationary pinch at the pump and the supermarket, the last thing our elected leaders should be doing is sending billions of dollars more to Ukraine. Aside from the fact that Ukraine’s problems are not America’s problems, (i.e., Ukraine is not a democracy, not a member of NATO, not a member of the EU or a signatory to Schengen), we don’t have the funds to be committing to such an effort.
Last year, Washington spent $6.37 trillion dollars against $4.9 trillion in revenue, resulting in a budget deficit of $1.37 trillion dollars, necessitating the issuance of debt that our government doesn’t have the capacity to pay back. Simply put, America shouldn’t be borrowing from China to pay for a war in Ukraine as our fiscal situation deteriorates more and more every day.
Making Ukrainians more safe makes Americans less safe. Due to the sending of billions of dollars in equipment and munitions, our own homeland’s preparedness to withstand an armed attack is reduced. Even top Democrats admit that military readiness is a source of concern as our elected officials send more aid to Ukraine.
Mexico, our southern neighbor, is the source of the most pressing policy challenges of our time.
Over the course of 2022, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 2.2 million people crossing the border illegally. Many of those migrants crossing the border illegally are military-age males. From a policy standpoint, we need to call this large-scale migration what it really is, an invasion. That invasion starts at the Mexican border. Mexico’s lax border enforcement policy encourages migrants from Central and South America to make the trek to America, passing through Mexico in the process. America needs to take a firmer stance on the Mexican government’s failure to contain the migrant crisis, exacting the necessary diplomatic measures necessary to ensure that this crisis does not become the status quo.
The fentanyl crisis kills more than 200 Americans every single day. While the source of much of the fentanyl that makes its way to the United States comes from China, it all passes through Mexico. It is either trafficked to the United States in its unadulterated form or mixed into other drugs by the cartels. The failure of the rule of law in Mexico has created a power gap that the cartels have been able to fill, allowing them to operate with near impunity on Mexican soil. The Mexican government has not only failed to rein in the cartels, but has actively thwarted the efforts of American law enforcement to operate in Mexico.
Effectively addressing the threats posed to our homeland by lax border security and fentanyl trafficking requires diplomatic collaboration with the Mexican government. Up to this point Mexico has been derelict in their duty to address either of these issues themselves, burdening our border security apparatus and costing American lives. America has a number of diplomatic measures at its disposal to compel Mexico to cooperate as an ally, including the withholding of remittances from the United States to Mexico, which constituted 4.25% of Mexico’s GDP in 2022.
In October 2016, the Obama-Biden administration sent a plane with $400 million in cash as American hostages in Iran were freed. Less known, over the next 19 days, two more shipments, totaling more than $1.3 billion, were also made. At the time, Elissa Slotkin was acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security affairs. Despite Obama, Biden, and Slotkin being extorted by the Iranian government, relations have not thawed, but rather have gotten worse. These politicians empowered a terrorist state overtly hostile to American interests. Simply put, America does not and should not negotiate with terrorists. A country whose legislative body chants “death to America” is a terrorist state and should be dealt with as such. No United States Senator should ever allow their government to be extorted by an America-hating terrorist state.
China is America’s clear enemy. China is a totalitarian state that rules with an iron fist, arbitrarily imprisoning its citizens, censoring dissident speech, and monitoring the activities of expatriates abroad. Yet, America is too reliant on China for manufacturing and as the source of all the critical rare-earth minerals that power our electric cars and phones. Even worse, China is the first stop in the supply chain of the fentanyl precursors that are costing more than 200 American lives every day.
The failure to monitor and prepare for the rise of China is one of the gravest foreign policy blunders in living memory. However, America is by no means resigned to a certain fate. America can combat Chinese influence by implementing America First policies which encourage domestic manufacturing, developing strong ties with states that are susceptible to being absorbed into the Beijing sphere of influence, and prioritizing national security in future dealings with the Chinese. The Biden administration and Elissa Slotkin are currently selling out Michiganders to Chinese manufacturing companies, opening the door to Chinese Communist Party meddling in our state’s affairs.
The crisis at the southern border undermines our sense of sovereignty, national security, and the rule of law. Without borders, there is no sovereignty. Without sovereignty, there is no state. Threats to national security and the rule of law are downstream from the threat to our nation’s very existence posed by the failure to enforce our southern border. Nations are defined by their institutions, culture, and people (i.e., national character). Currently, America is plagued by weak institutions, at risk of compromising its culture, and can’t effectively police who crosses its borders. From a Gallup poll conducted in June 2023, 73% of those polled consider the situation at the southern border to be a major problem, if not a crisis. Washington is sorely lacking leaders who will solve this issue once and for all.
More immediately concerning than the threat to sovereignty posed by the crisis at the border is the threat to national security. Law enforcement at the border is understaffed and underfunded, ill-equipped and unprepared to adequately process all of the migrants arriving at our ports of entry. Many migrants crossing the border arrive without documentation, leaving law enforcement with no way of knowing their backgrounds and criminal history, making Americans less safe. A porous southern border also increases American vulnerability to terrorist threats. According to Department of Homeland Security data, the number of terrorist suspects processed at the border has risen rapidly in recent years. So far in 2023, border patrol has apprehended and processed at least 160 individuals at the southern border who are named in the terrorist watch list – who knows how many more individuals with terrorist ties were able to evade detection and are in the country today.
America’s lax border security has also invited cartels and other wrongdoers to conduct criminal activity across our border, from drug smuggling to human trafficking. The drug smuggling routes from South America to Mexico and then to the United States are among the most lucrative in the world. Even worse, cartels smuggle fentanyl on those same routes, leading to 200 American deaths a day. It’s high time that Washington classifies the cartels as what they actually are: terrorist groups. Our government spent trillions of dollars fighting enemies overseas with marginal gains to safety domestically. Imagine the American lives that could be saved if resources at that scale were deployed to counteract the pernicious effects of cartel activity at the border.
Failure to take action to secure our border threatens the rule of law on which our nation was founded. Every cartel that smuggles drugs or trafficks humans across the border, every migrant who enters the United States illegally – it all has the effect of undermining the rule of law. We are a nation of laws. America needs to be a nation that lives up to its values. By not taking decisive action to secure the border, our elected leaders fail to keep that promise.
For the last two years, Americans have been dealing with crippling inflation, which shows no sign of abating. The inflation rate, which currently stands at 3.7%, is well above the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%, which has led many to rightfully ask whether this is the new normal. This rate, however – high enough as is – excludes the price of energy and food, two of the most basic necessities of American life.
Many have pointed to “COVID” as the culprit behind inflation, deflecting blame from those who are actually responsible for our current predicament: the elected class of professional, revolving door politicians in Washington, D.C. In this case, the medicine was more destructive than the ailment. $4 trillion in runaway government spending later it’s no surprise that inflation has taken hold, with 61% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, and of the poorest among us the rate is even higher at 75%
While tackling inflation is a complicated issue that will require a coordinated effort across different branches of government, there are two surefire policy fixes that will work immediately to bring down inflation: reducing government spending and facilitating American energy independence.
Reducing Government Spending
At present, the U.S. government spends more than it earns, running up a budget deficit of $1.5 trillion. That budget deficit is likely to increase in line with the interest expense on our debt as a result of elevated interest rates. However, loose spending habits by the political class are what necessitated action from the Federal Reserve in the first place. To be clear, both parties are responsible for and complicit in the unchecked spending that’s allowed our fiscal situation to reach this point. The last time the government ran a surplus was 2001. Since that time, America has spent trillions on forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the expansion of entitlements, and the socialization of healthcare. The foregoing causes of the increase in spending over the past two decades show no signs of going away. As you’re reading this, the political class in D.C. are debating sending billions of dollars more in arms and funding to Ukraine to put to use against Putin in a conflict that is not likely to end anytime soon. The ease with which our politicians are able to stroke checks for billions of dollars to a far off land that most Americans couldn’t locate on a map is striking, and highlights the disconnect between “we the people” and the politicians charged with representing them.
American Energy Independence
During the Trump administration, America achieved energy independence. Joe Biden, beholden to the far left climate change/ESG agenda, by contrast, has done everything in his power to stymie investment in American energy, stopping many large scale projects in their tracks. A commitment to empowering American operators as they invest in exploration, discovery, and production will mark a return to the policies implemented by President Trump and a transition to energy security for the United States. No American president should ever feel compelled to travel to a foreign country, hat-in-hand, to speak with another sovereign’s head of state to influence their energy policy. Such an overture is a show of American weakness, not strength. America has the capacity to produce more energy than it consumes. It therefore makes no sense for us to be reliant on other nations to supply energy that we are able to produce ourselves. A bet on American energy is a bet on American innovation - with the payoff being permanently weaning ourselves off of foreign energy. There is a clear, obvious positive correlation between the supply of energy and the price of gas and other petroleum byproducts which power the economy. Policies that work to increase the supply of energy thus have an instrumental role to play in bringing down the price of energy, translating to more dollars in Americans’ pockets that they don’t need to be spending at the gas pump.
As noted, inflation is an incredibly complex multifaceted issue. Whoever and whatever causes it is important - but what’s even more important is finding out how to solve the effects of it for everyday Americans, who ultimately end up paying the price, both figuratively and literally.
With the power it wields, the regulatory state has become the unelected fourth branch of government. The regulatory state is comprised of agencies and departments in the executive branch responsible for carrying out and implementing the laws passed by congress through regulations. In principle, regulations which define the scope and reach of laws should be a net positive for society. In practice, however, regulations act as an obstacle for innovation and stifle economic growth. Through a morass of rules, regulations, and orders, the regulatory state is able to solidify its control over the operation of government, protecting incumbents and erecting economic barriers to entry, the antithesis of a free market.
In the early 20th century, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of the acceptable scope of nondelegation, foreshadowing the trajectory and growth of the regulatory state for the next century. Thereafter, congress was empowered to enact barebones legislation and let the executive branch (i.e., regulatory state) fill in the blanks, effectively writing the law themselves and legislating by fiat. The separation of powers between the branches envisioned by our founding fathers is a feature, not a bug, of our system of government. Ideally, the legislative branch legislates and the executive branch administers. The growth of the regulatory state has seen the executive branch hijack the legislative function from congress, removing the democratic accountability necessary for a well-functioning government and leaving Americans less free.
It will take a major bureaucratic renovation to course correct for the excesses of the regulatory state, but it is possible. Solutions include disciplining the congressional tendency to delegate broad swaths of legislative power to the executive branch, strengthening the regulatory review process to ensure that only those rules and regulations which are truly necessary to a well-functioning government are carried out, and starting a national dialogue on the excesses of the regulatory state.
Taxes are the cost of living in a civilized society - however, tax policy should only be concerned with raising the amount needed to support the critical functions of government. At present, the government spends more than it makes and can’t be trusted to be a responsible steward of the treasury. Simply put, it shouldn’t take as much as it does to run the government. A vastly simplified tax code that lowers taxes across the board would address excessive government spending and lower transaction costs for ordinary Americans.
For many Americans, tax season is one of the most stress-inducing times of the year. A simple tax code that eschews the morass of rules and regulations in favor of a flat tax or consumption tax would go a long way towards decreasing the stress that consumes Americans the country over every April. Our nation’s tax policy should reflect the idea that the government works for the people, not the other way around.
While the fundamental reshaping and simplification of the tax code is the ultimate goal, a productive first step towards changing tax policy would be the elimination or reduction of certain taxes, especially and including the estate tax, the social security tax, and the gas tax.
Firstly, the estate tax, otherwise known as the “death” tax, is a tax on the right to transfer property at one’s death. It’s calculated by taking the fair market value of everything one owns at the time of their death (i.e., the taxable estate) and then assessing a tax of up to 40% on the value of the taxable estate. The estate tax is a policy failure on multiple fronts and it should be eliminated. In short, it penalizes and acts as a disincentive to achieving financial success, facilitates the misallocation of capital away from successful small businesses, and increases transaction costs for both private actors and the government, resulting in a net loss for society. But at its core, what one builds in their lifetime should pass upon their death to whoever that person chooses. A tragic death should not be seen as an opportunity for the state to intrude on matters of private property.
Secondly, social security is the largest government program and by itself makes up almost a quarter of all government spending. To qualify for social security benefits, claimants pay social security taxes on their earnings for their entire lives. On top of the tax that’s assessed for qualification for social security benefits, the social security benefits that one who’s eligible receives are also taxed. This is among the most egregious instances of double taxation in the tax code and should be eliminated lock, stock and barrel. Social security is intended to provide income security for those of retirement age who may not have other sources of income. Double taxing those distributions amounts to nothing more than a penalty, and undermines the purpose of social security.
Lastly, at a time when Americans are feeling the pinch of inflation in their pocketbooks, the gas tax is unduly harsh. Over the last 3 years, as our unelected financial monarchs at the Federal Reserve assured us that inflation was “transitory,” Americans were greeted by $5+ per gallon gas at the pump. Prices have pulled back from the highs but are creeping up once again. To maintain a tax on gas as Americans are hurting illustrates the disconnect between the political class of professional politicians in Washington and the constituents they’re supposed to be representing. This is a tax that, at least for now, needs to be outright eliminated.
Term limits for members of Congress would go a long way towards fixing the dysfunction in Washington. Allowing politicians to serve unlimited terms misaligns the incentives, encouraging them to prioritize securing reelection over being effective advocates for their constituents.
Simply put, term limits are necessary to inject a sense of accountability and discipline into the political process. A stint in congress should not be seen as an opportunity to attend as many fundraisers and raise as much money as possible but instead should be seen as an invaluable opportunity to promote the policies and interests of one’s constituents. Term limits will bring much needed reform to Washington and are a welcome first step towards fixing a broken system.
To that end, I propose term limits of two terms in the U.S. Senate (12 years) and six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (12 years).