VERN BUCHANAN, Republican
BIRTHPLACE: Inkster, Mich.
FAMILY: Married, spouse: Sandy; two sons, 30 and 28.
EDUCATION: Cleary University, B.B.A.; Master’s Business Administration, University of Detroit; Honorary Doctorate of Science in Business Administration, Cleary University
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: U.S. representative 2007-present, House Ways and Means Committee 2011 to present; founder, Buchanan Enterprises; chairman, Florida Chamber of Commerce and Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame in 2005.
FUN FACT: I bicycle 80 miles a week.
If you controlled Congress, what specific steps would you take to balance the annual federal budget?
Washington’s irresponsible pattern of borrowing and spending has put our country on a road to bankruptcy. That’s why the first bill I introduced in Congress in 2005 was a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. It simply demands that the federal government stops spending more than it takes in.
Forty-nine out of 50 states, including our home state of Florida, have balanced-budget requirements. Why should Washington be any different?
The time has come to put aside partisanship and make the tough choices necessary to balance the budget for taxpayers today and future generations.
I also introduced legislation to prevent members of Congress from getting a pay raise until they do their job and balance the budget.
Finally, it has been over three years since Congress has even passed a budget. That is why I co-sponsored legislation that simply says no budget, no pay.
Seven tax rates are expected to increase Jan. 1 unless Congress acts. 1) 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?
The last thing Congress should do in an economic downturn is raise taxes. But Americans in every tax bracket will be hit on Jan. 1 with the largest tax increase since WWII if we don’t extend current rates.
We should let working families keep more of their money to invest in the economy and help small businesses grow, not punish them with job-killing tax increases.
My pledge to my constituents is to oppose higher taxes on small businesses and working Americans.
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?
For too long, both parties have turned a blind eye to our government’s budgetary mess. I voted last year for legislation to cut more than $2 trillion in spending and avoid the nation’s first default in history.
I was disappointed that the super committee failed to do its job and report bipartisan legislation to cut an additional $1.2 trillion.
It is time to put an end to the irresponsible spending policies that have created a mountain of debt for our children and grandchildren.
The federal tax code is 72,536 pages. What specific proposals would you make or endorse to change the federal tax code?
We need comprehensive tax reform to get Americans working again and get our economy back on track. That includes lowering the top tax rates for both individuals and small businesses and eliminating loopholes that allow some businesses to pay little or no taxes.
What is your position on a national flat tax?
As this questionnaire noted, the current tax code is more than 70,000 pages long. It takes too much time and money for people to comply. The IRS says the average person spends more than 21 hours to fill out the forms. Compliance costs taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
I support a simpler, fairer, flatter tax code that promotes economic growth.
Will you support the repeal of Obamacare? What, if any, proposals would you make instead?
I have voted to repeal Obamacare.
Although I support provisions that provide coverage for pre-existing conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ policies, Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced with common-sense reforms that lower the cost of health care, including tort reform, competition across state lines and association health plans.
What would you propose to make Medicare and Social Security solvent for future generations?
We must keep our promise to seniors by preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare for today’s retirees and for future generations.
The Social Security trust fund, which will provide assistance to more than 45 million people in 2012, will be unable under current trends to fulfill its obligations in 2033, three years earlier than projected last year.
The Medicare trustees have warned that Medicare, which will provide health insurance to more than 50 million elderly and disabled Americans this year, is expected to start operating in the red in its largest fund in 2024.
We need to work in a bipartisan effort to strengthen Social Security and Medicare in a manner that treats all generations fairly.
The House budget approved in March allows private plans to compete alongside the traditional Medicare plan. Seniors can keep traditional Medicare or switch to a private plan that better meets their needs.
The savings from private competition will drive down health costs and preserve the Medicare program for future generations.
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?
The most important role of the federal government is to protect our national security. We need to provide our troops with the resources necessary to defend our country.
I believe these cuts should be replaced with targeted cuts, which is what I voted for earlier this year. There is waste in defense we can cut. For example, I voted in 2011 to cut the second engine for the F-35.
If Israel strikes Iran’s nuclear plants, what would you recommend the United States’ response should be?
Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East. I support Israel’s right to defend itself.
MUSIC REVIEW: Sarasota Opera's "Jerusalem"
Read June LeBell's review of Sarasota Opera's "Jerusalem," which runs through March 22.
PHOTO GALLERY: Sun Circle Art Festival
Residents and art lovers spent their day at Sapphire Shores Park for the Sun Circle Art Festival Saturday, March 8. Attendees enjoyed live music while shopping for artwork by professional and aspiring artists.
PHOTO GALLERY: St. Mary Royal Rummage Sale
On March 8, the Women’s Guild of St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church held its Royal Rummage Sale. The sale began on Friday with an early bird entry and continued on Saturday with large crowds and great finds.
PHOTO GALLERY: Christ Church Sale Away Preparation
Christ Church of Longboat Key hosted its Sale Away featuring books, clothes, electronics, fresh baked goods and much more on March 8. Proceeds benefit local missions.
10 Nia with Gail in Sarasota
4:45 pm - 5:45 pm
10 'Latin Variations' Gala honoring Teri Hansen
10 Mote's Special Lecture Series
11 Nia with Gail on Anna Maria Island
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
11 Girls Inc Custom Pendant Auction
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
11 Celebration Luncheon Launch Party and Designer Meet and Greet
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
12 3rd annual Leadership Luncheon
11:30 am - 2:00 pm
12 LWRBA March Membership Luncheon
11:30 am - 1:00 pm