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Keith Sternkeith stern

 

Why am I running?

Do you believe the wealthy deserve to pay a lower percentage in taxes than the rest of us? It sounds like a foolish question but that is exactly what we have in our income tax and FICA (Social Security) tax. Why should someone who can throw a football or hit a baseball pay a lower rate of taxes than you or me? The reason is because both the Democrats and Republicans have set it up and kept it this way. Our Democratic and Republican candidates for the U.S. House obviously think it is right because neither is talking about changing it. So the question is; who will Peter Welch or Martha Rainville be representing if elected? Obviously if they aren’t for simple tax reform that will help the working class then they won’t be representing us.

That in a nutshell is why I am a candidate for the U.S. House seat. We need a voice for the people in the House and we will be losing it when Bernie moves on if we don’t replace him with another Independent putting us first.

I do agree with some of the points that Peter Welch and/or Martha Rainville have, but I believe if you take the time to see what I have to offer you will notice that I have plans that, if enacted, will make your life better.

The first is to exempt the first $75,000 of income from federal income tax and have a flat tax on income above that threshold. Imagine how your standard of living could be raised. With my plan we could eliminate tax filing for almost three quarters of Americans and save business owners quite a bit of time and expense of record keeping.

The second plan is to eliminate the income cap on the FICA (the Social Security) tax. Right now someone earning a million dollars a year pays virtually ZERO PERCENT in tax while between you and your employer the amount is TWELVE AND A HALF PERCENT. When dealing with the government it pays to be wealthy. I propose eliminating that cap so EVERYONE PAYS THE SAME RATE. With that simple change there will be no more worries about the security of Social Security. It is because of Congress‚ fiscal irresponsibility that Social Security fears exist at all.

A lifetime resident of Springfield and a graduate of Johnson State College, I am a small business owner, operating Stern's Quality Produce in White River Junction for more than 20 years. I have been married to my wife Judy for 24 years and have a stepdaughter Beth and two teenage grandchildren Kate and Ryan. I have served on the Springfield zoning board for ten years as a way of giving back to the community. I am not well known around the state because I am not independently wealthy. That is one reason that I am the best candidate to serve you because I am one of you.

I am a fiscal conservative, realizing that waste in government leads to unnecessary taxation. Government exists to help the citizens, not hinder them.

I believe every candidate should publish a contract with their future constituents. This is My Contract with Vermont. If elected I promise that I will:

  1. Put Americans and especially Vermonters first in any bill I vote for.
  2. Vote against any legislation that will be detrimental to the working class. I will protect the rights of American workers.
  3. Work to make health care affordable (and accessible) to all Americans
  4. Push to develop and use renewable alternative fuels and eliminate the need for fossil fuels as quickly as humanly possible.
  5. Introduce legislation to exempt the first $75,000 from income tax with a flat tax above that threshold so approximately ≤ of Americans are exempt.
  6. Work to ensure Social Security is solvent forever by pushing to eliminate the income cap on the FICA tax. The wealthy now pay less by percentage than the working class.
  7. Never take any special interest money; I will be accountable only to the "people I represent."
  8. Work to reduce government size and waste to create a smaller, more efficient government that cuts waste and is less intrusive in personal lives.
  9. Lead the way to replace our failed foreign policy with a treaty of nonaggression and basic human rights.
  10. Push for tougher environmental laws to protect our water, land, and air.

Answers:

1. We were wrong to invade Iraq on several counts: First, Saddam Hussein was containable and not a serious threat; second, he was the stabilizing force in Iraq between the three different people there; and third, the removal of Saddam has made Iran that much more of a threat. We should offer to help separate the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites, help write a treaty between them which includes oil revenue sharing, and leave. We are a magnet for hostility there and a poll done shows that over 60 percent of Iraqis want us to leave. We should listen to them. There doesn’t appear to be significant progress to warrant spending more lives and money there. Money from the oil sales goes to the insurgents; that tells me and it should tell you a lot about what the reality is there.

2. If you go to my website getstern.org you will see a plan for a treaty of nonaggression and basic human rights. That will be the future for peace on this planet. If elected I will take that plan to Washington and work to make it a campaign issue in the next presidential election. Whether this plan is carried out in two, ten, or twenty years, I believe my plan is the only one that exists to bring about true world peace. In the interim we must work with other countries to help with education and raise the standard of living for the Palestinians and others. We have to give them a reason to live and thrive rather than strap on a bomb and blow themselves up.

3. I believe the administration and Congress‚ energy plans are a disaster for this country. We need leadership now to solve our energy needs. First we should require cars meet 40 MPG requirements on 2008 model year vehicles. Second, all cars should be flex fuel ready for the 2008 models. Third, we should have contracts to buy all available alcohol from Brazil and any other alcohol exporting countries. IF WE DON’T DO IT NOW CHINA WILL BEAT US TO IT. We should set very high energy standards on appliances and help invest in other energy savings. We absolutely should be investing in renewable energy. Nothing should be off the table at this point. Putting solar collectors on federal land in Nevada has the potential to provide the western half of the country electricity. With nuclear energy we must be extremely cautious as a problem can be devastating. Yankee I don’t believe should have its license extended. Any consideration of new nuclear plants should be of the kind used in Europe. The government should pay people for inventions that conserve or create energy. Many people invent products or techniques that would benefit people only to see their idea never come to fruition because they can‚t afford the patent process. The government can help these people by buying the product and doing the patent work.

4. If elected I will push for a minimum of a two year freeze on nonessential spending and work to create a commission, a group of businessmen to look at the budget and make recommendations where cuts can be made. My opinion is that if a thorough job is done, the government can be cut by one third to one half without affecting any vital services. My major party opponents seem to feel that Congress can enact fiscal restraint, but their record shows otherwise. We need to end the majority of subsidies, look at what programs are ineffective and eliminate them, and also eliminate duplication and triplication in government. I believe there are some programs that would be better off privatized. We should take a serious look at where cuts can be made in the welfare program. I will call for a program called Americans Helping Americans where anyone receiving government aid will give back by giving time to run children‚s programs such as sports, cooking classes, etc. being a mentor and a role model. This will keep children busy and feeling better about themselves and away from drugs and problems. The people who shouldn’t be working with children can give time to the elderly. I would like to see more elderly people acting as mentors for children.

5. Yes I believe a non-government run single payer would be the best approach. All health care providers could pay into a pool to run a clearinghouse for bill paying. My plan is for a catastrophic illness plan where everyone has a co pay based on income. The amount would be low enough that insurance policies to cover that amount would be very inexpensive or some individuals may choose to cover that amount on their own. Businesses could offer to pick up that deductible as a benefit to employees without being overwhelmed by the cost. Having a single payer system would make negotiating drug prices very effective. Also I would push for tort reform (see my website getstern.org for details) so medical providers won‚t be requesting unnecessary tests and medicines to cover themselves from malpractice cases.

6. We need to secure both borders, not just the southern one to make this country safer and help control drugs. Unfortunately at this time and situation we have to be overly cautious. I have been so busy between running a business and campaigning that I have not had time to look at specifics of bills so I can’t comment at this time.

7. I do believe we need to raise minimum wage to a degree but one has to realize a raise of $1.00 can cost the employer as much as $1.25 because of payroll taxes and worker’s comp insurance. We have to look at ways to reduce or eliminate payroll taxes on employers and then bigger increases can be enacted with less hardship on employers. I believe a level of eight to nine dollars can be realized without too much strain on employers‚ budgets at this time.

8. My plans is very simple; close and secure the borders, set big fines for employers hiring illegals, and give illegals a one way trip to the border when seeking social services. The only exception to this is if they are married to an American, have a family, have no criminal record, and are gainfully employed should they be allowed to stay. I don’t see any possible benefit from breaking up a family. They should have to be able to pass a basic competency test for English skills and participate in some sort of community volunteer program.

9. Farmers are the most independent and self sufficient people in the entire world. In my business dealings I have never met one looking for handouts. If elected I will meet with farmers to look for ways to make farming profitable in this state. I will brainstorm with them to look at other crops or products that they can produce which would be profitable. Not too many years ago a group of dairy farmers approached the state looking for help in purchasing the old Idlenot dairy in Springfield and processing their own milk. I believe it was a mistake in turning their backs on them because that may have been the solution to their problems.

10. First of all, I would do away with the federal Department of Education. Millions are spent without educating one student. We need to make local communities the ones responsible for education. We should keep standardized testing only as a guide for school districts to see how effective their schools are. We can’t receive the same results in poorer communities as in the wealthier ones. The federal government should fund educators with the most effective, innovative programs to give seminars across the country. We should set up trials of for-profits running school systems and see how they compare. Very important I believe is giving teachers more support by parents and administrations. I believe that parents should take responsibility in their children’s education. We have to invest more in higher education in the way of grants and especially low cost student loans. We have to take a serious look at how we can reduce the cost of college. Community colleges are a very good way of providing low cost education. As far as special education is concerned, we have to look at the efficacy of educating mentally challenged children at all levels.

My website