The Elkhart Truth Questionnaire for 2006

William Larsen's Response

Congress has recently been wrestling with the issue of immigration reform. What should the U.S do to properly balance open borders with cracking down on immigration?

The perception is we are in need of less educated workers, which is not true. Steven Camarota, Research Director for the Center of Immigration Studies, says our infrastructure suffers from illegal immigration and we pay for it in our schools and healthcare. Data clearly shows immigrants do not perform jobs that Americans won’t, but displace the least educated Americans. Unemployment among less educated Americans (high school only) is up 11% while13% for dropouts.

In 2005 there were 4 million Americans unemployed and 19 million who stopped looking for work. The share of unemployed with less education is way up. They already have the highest unemployment rate, lowest wage rate and employment participation among less educated has declined dramatically. They took the poorest workers and made them poorer. Less educated immigrants and less educated Americans do the same kinds of work. Allowing legal status to illegals has enormous implications for America’s poorest workers. America is not short of less educated workers given the high unemployment rate and the high number of less educated workers who have stopped looking.

Immigration is not bad: uncontrolled/illegal immigration is. We need to know who is entering our country to deal with terrorism. We need tighter border security.

The Social Security program will collapse for younger generations if the federal government doesn’t step in and make is solvent. What should congress do to ensure that those who are paying into the program will get something back in the future?

Since 1983 social security has been working on resolving its latest funding problem. It is no closer to a solution now than it was in 1937. Social security has earned 8.6% compounded continuously since 1980, but as a middleman will pay you a 0% return. It’s a dreadful value.

There is no painless solution. The best young workers can do with Social Security is to be paid 29 cents in benefits for each $1 in taxes paid. Raising taxes, retirement age or cutting benefits will not change this fact!

I propose workers retain what was the social security old age tax paid by employee/employer in their own accounts. We use the current $1.65 Trillion in the old age trust fund to pay a means tested benefit of $1,133 per month to each senior in need. After ten years the trust fund will be exhausted. Taking care of those in need is not just a worker's responsibility, but everyone’s. In year eleven we use general revenues. After 37 years about 9% of seniors will need assistance at any given time. Young workers would see what used to be the payroll tax of 10.6% replace 90% or more of their wages in retirement compared to 25% payable under social security.

Earmarking in the budget has led to many pork-barrel projects throughout the country. Should congress end this practice? Why or Why not?

There are two sets of books our politicians like to keep, the General and Unified budgets. The Unified Budget includes every government expense while the general budget excludes social security and Medicare. Politicians like to use the Unified Budget because they can show a lower deficit number. In 2004 they passed a Unified Budget resulting in a $553.6 billion deficit. Excluding social security’s dedicated cash surplus the General Budget deficit was $726.1 Billion.

There was Katrina and now we have the Rx Medicare drug program. The deficit this year is going to be over $800 Billion. Interest on the Debt is over $450 Billion or 40 cents of every dollar we pay in Federal Income Taxes.

The problem is, they could eliminate the unified budget deficit and still have a very large general budget deficit. We need to eliminate earmarks, require each bill to cover one area and one area only, and we need to prevent politicians from inserting language in the bill at the last minute without anyone's knowledge. The reason is simple: Congress cannot say no to anything. They cannot budget and they keep buying votes with our money. The simple answer is we cannot afford earmarks.

At what point will it be feasible for U.S. troops to return from Iraq?

I could say this fall, but would that be realistic? It may make you happy and it may be what we all would like to hear, but it most likely would not be honest or realistic. I served my country in the U.S. Navy. Life is unpredictable. The information that you and I have gotten has not been totally above board so who is in a position to know when it might be feasible to have our military men and women come home? I believe the number one priority now is to ensure our men and women have the best equipment and training to carry out their assigned tasks. And on an equal level, ensure those who have sacrificed much be taken care of to the fullest extent possible. If elected I will move to bring them home as soon as humanly possible and ensure they have the best equipment and training to minimize our casualties. Rest assured, I will strive to make sure those men and women sacrifice much in terms of causalities will be taken care of to the best of our ability.