As I travel across the state of Maine as a candidate for the United States Senate and have the opportunity to meet so many of the great men and women of our state — farmers, fishermen, small-business owners, veterans, parents, seniors and youth — I hear one concern more than any other, and it is a deep concern about the direction of our country under the current leadership in Washington, D.C. Our nation is, plain and simple, headed in the wrong direction, and I am running for U.S. Senate to work toward reversing that and getting Maine and America back on track.
In order to get our great nation back on track, we must, first and foremost, address our country’s staggering $16 trillion debt. We must reduce government spending now. Government bailouts and stimulus packages are weak and short-term attempts to prop up our economy, and they have not worked. The national unemployment rate is still above 8 percent, the strength of the American dollar continues to wane, and excessive and overreaching government regulations are stifling business growth and job creation.
Additionally, gas and oil prices are having a devastating impact on struggling and hardworking American families. Not only is our dependency on foreign energy resources unsustainable, it is a matter of economic and national security. We must exploit our own energy resources here at home: gas, oil, coal and nuclear. Washington seems to lack the will and fortitude to do this, and this must change.
To add insult to injury, the largest federal program of our time, Obamacare, is set to take control of one-fifth of our economy. Projected costs for this job-killing program are now double what they originally were projected to be. As a U.S. senator, one of my first priorities will be to repeal Obamacare. America’s health care system needs market-based reforms, such as Association Health Plans, where individuals and businesses can purchase health insurance plans across state lines. We also must allow the cost of health insurance to be entirely deductible from the federal income tax.
Finally, as a veteran of both of the major wars of our time — Iraq and Afghanistan — I am deeply concerned about the drastic cuts our military forces are facing. While our military’s obligations at home and abroad continue to expand, and the demand on our servicemen and women continues to increase, we are set to reduce military spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years. This is unacceptable.
We are on a path of trying to tax and spend our way to prosperity, and it is the wrong path. More government spending, overreaching and stifling government regulations, and higher taxes on America’s already struggling workers are not the answer. In fact, we must get government out of the way.
Here in Maine as secretary of state, I successfully lobbied for a small-business advocate to help businesses navigate the bureaucracy of state government. In just a few short months, Maine’s small-business advocate has saved several Maine businesses tens of thousands of dollars. One business even saved nearly a half-million dollars in wrongly imposed fines. I plan to propose a national small-business advocate if I am elected to the U.S. Senate to help small businesses across the country do the same.
With my military experience, having served as a state senator, as state director for Sen. Olympia Snowe, as regional administrator of the Small Business Administration, and as Maine’s 48th secretary of state, I believe I have the breadth and depth of experience to be a strong voice in Washington, D.C., and Congress for Maine.
In Washington, I will be a strong voice for our country’s men and women in uniform and our nation’s veterans. I will be just as strong a voice for fiscal sanity, spending restraint and lower taxes. I know, like all Maine families know, that you cannot spend what you do not have. In that vein, I am a fervent supporter of the Balanced Budget Amendment. It must be passed as a first step toward getting our nation’s fiscal house in order.
In 1980, when I was 20 years old, Ronald Reagan addressed the great issues facing America and the lack of leadership at the time in dealing with them. He said, “I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself.” Now, 32 years later, we find ourselves in an eerily similar situation. I, too, cannot stand by and let America destroy herself. That is why I am running for United States Senate.
I believe we can, and must, change our great nation’s course, and in doing so, build a brighter future for Maine and America.
Charlie Summers is Maine’s 48th secretary of state and a Republican candidate for the United States Senate.