Voter Guide - Keith Fitzgerald

BIRTHPLACE: Springfield, Ohio
AGE: 55
FAMILY: Married, Angela; two children (twins), age 12
EDUCATION: B.A., University of Louisville; Ph.D. Indiana University
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Political science professor, New College of Florida, 18 years
FUN FACT: University of Louisville Cardinals basketball fan



If you controlled Congress, what specific steps would you take to balance the annual federal budget?
The budget process in Congress needs to be redesigned. I support combining the Appropriations and Finance Committees together into a singular Budget Committee. Members of the Budget Committee should be responsible for meeting planned and justifiable budget targets.

We need to get control of health-care costs, one of the single, greatest drivers of the federal budget deficit. Furthermore, Congress must end pork-barrel spending, including pork-barrel spending in the military budget and permanently end earmark spending.

Seven tax rates are expected to increase Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. If elected, will you vote to stop those increases; 2) will you take the Americans for Tax Reform pledge not to increase taxes if you are elected or re-elected? If not, why not?
1) I would vote to maintain tax breaks for middle-class families and allow the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy to expire. 2) No. I will only make pledges directly to the people of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

If you are asked to raise the national debt ceiling, how will you vote? What specific steps do you recommend to reduce the national debt?
The debt ceiling is not the real issue. The real issue is that Congress has to become competent at budgeting. The immediate crisis in the next session will be to end the sequestration debacle. That means we need an immediate, fiscally responsible effort to make a sound budget.

Members of both parties must work together to avoid another debt-ceiling crisis that led to the downgrading our nation’s credit rating. We must stop the waste, special-interest manipulation of the tax code and rein in out -of-control spending in Washington and begin to reduce our national debt.

We must reform our tax code to eliminate unnecessary tax loopholes that benefit special interests and the ultra-wealthy and stop government waste, fraud and abuse that is costing us billions.

The federal tax code is 72,536 pages. What specific proposals would you make or endorse to change the federal tax code?
It is crucial to drastically simplify the tax code. It is unnecessarily complex and riddled with special-interest loopholes. We must simplify our tax code because regular hard-working Americans don’t have the luxury or resources to hire insiders and lobbyists with access to Congress. Even President Reagan agreed that we should “close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.”

Here are a few ways we can simplify our tax code:
• Introduce legislation to offset tax loopholes and deductions. Congress should have to approve individually all deductions based on their merit and fairness and performance.

• Eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies. While hard-working families are paying high prices at the pump, oil companies are making record profits and still collecting billions in tax breaks.

• Prohibit tax deductions for companies that ship jobs overseas. Our tax code allows a tax deduction for companies to ship jobs overseas. This is wrong, and we cannot have a tax code that promotes the outsourcing of American jobs.

• Abolish loopholes benefiting the ultra-wealthy. Currently, there are loopholes in our tax code for yacht owners, corporate jet purchases and race horses. We must go through our tax code and eliminate these and other reckless budget-busting deductions.

What is your position on a national flat tax?
We need simple, modestly graduated income taxes. These should be transparent enough that everyone understands what everyone pays.

Will you support the repeal of Obamacare? What, if any, proposals would you make instead?
Oppose. Mitt Romney has said he wants to retain most of what is in the Affordable Care Act. There is much work to be done to improve the legislation that passed, and we should drop the posturing and get on with the job of improving our health-care policies.

What would you propose to make Medicare and Social Security solvent for future generations?

We must honor the commitments we have made to our senior citizens who have already paid into Social Security and Medicare. I will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare and make sure that all retirees receive their full benefits.

The fundamental driver in the Medicare budget is cost inflation in health care. We must tackle the rising cost of health care to make Medicare solvent for future generations.

Social Security does not face budgetary issues that minor adjustments cannot solve. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said an expected $600 billion in defense cuts over 10 years beginning in 2013 “will tear a seam in the nation’s defense” and “lead to a hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned.”What is your position on this and defense spending?
Our defense spending must match our defense strategy. As we wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can reduce defense spending in a disciplined way to keep the United States the strongest military in the world.

The Pentagon has suggested modest cutbacks in military spending that would amount to significant savings and would strengthen, not weaken, our military force.

If Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear plants, what would you recommend the United States’ response should be?
American intelligence agencies doubt that Israel has the strike capability to eliminate Iran’s nuclear program in a single strike. If Israel were to unilaterally strike, the task of the United States would be to prevent Iran from rebuilding their nuclear program.


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