Accountability & Transparency
I am the first-ever Member of Congress to explain every vote I take on the House floor, which I do on my official congressional Facebook Page
. In addition, I have never missed a vote as a state legislator or Member of Congress. People need to know the actions of their government, and it is the duty of elected officials to keep their constituents informed and to be available for questioning. I have dedicated myself to transparency because doing so is the essence of my commitment to empowering people, not government.
Economy & Regulations
The fundamental purpose of government is to protect each person’s liberty. Government bureaucrats should not decide how you or I spend our time and money. When government uses central planning to promote certain activities and sectors of the economy—whether through Federal Reserve policies or targeted economic incentives—it destroys price signals and distorts behavior, creating dangerous economic bubbles. These bubbles become unsustainable, as happened with the housing market, and the economy crashes. This causes more pain and unemployment than otherwise would have existed without any government meddling.
Central planning hurts nearly all businesses and individuals, especially the poor, while benefiting those special interests that can afford to lobby for their favored outcomes. Expansive regulations generally benefit a few large corporations and punish thousands of small businesses that don’t have the resources to comply. With competition restrained, consumers can expect fewer choices, higher prices, and worse service. Government can best help the economy by making regulations predictable and uncomplicated, simplifying the tax code, and letting businesses stand or fail on their own merit.
The right of parents to educate their children as they see fit, including the right of homeschooling, should not be infringed. Government-mandated curriculums and teaching methods do not properly account for different learning styles, leaving many children confused and falling short of their potential. To encourage innovation and competition, the federal government should—and constitutionally must—leave the matter of education to the states, where it will be better managed and funded. Critical decisions should be made locally, letting parents, teachers, and community leaders determine the most efficient use of resources.
Our country is blessed with many options for producing energy. All forms of energy production should be allowed, and none should be given special benefits. Energy subsidies—whether for oil, wind, electric, or otherwise—make no sense. Subsidizing inefficient energy production in the hope that it will become efficient in the future is wasteful and ineffective. It requires higher taxes, locks in old technologies, and unfairly punishes entrepreneurs and inventors who do not have friends in government. Energy sources that truly meet the demands of consumers will thrive in the marketplace over time and do not need government handouts to be viable.
The best way to protect the environment is through strong enforcement of property rights and pursuit of sound economic policy. Wealthier nations have cleaner environments because their citizens can afford to pay for it voluntarily. Imposing environmental standards through federal government mandate is not a practical substitute. No matter what the government requires, Americans can’t buy clean technologies or follow environmental policies they can’t afford.
Government should punish businesses and individuals that pollute the land, water, or air of their neighbors, but it should not micromanage environmental protection through payouts, tax breaks, or subsidies, which discourage innovation and mostly benefit the politically connected.
Michigan has one of the most diverse agricultural economies in the country. Our state’s farmers represent the best in innovation, entrepreneurship, and stewardship. The future success of Michigan farmers is endangered, however, when the government seeks to take over farm production with needless, uninformed, and often overly burdensome regulations.
Similarly, the government must respect the private property rights of farmers and empower them to make decisions about the most productive use of their principal asset—the land. As a Member of Congress, I consistently vote to protect private property rights and leave decisions about how to run farms to farmers.
As a Member of Congress, I have voted to repeal the President’s plan to force families and individuals to purchase government-approved health insurance. Heavy-handed government regulation has created a hopelessly complicated medical system that benefits mostly insurance companies and lawyers. In this system, both patients and their doctors are disempowered and prevented from making reasonable choices about the matters they know best. Small businesses are suffering as they face higher premiums and less certainty about the future.
We need reforms that will reduce the real costs of health care, not force participation in a government system. A sustainable health care system requires that patients and doctors consider the costs and benefits of each decision, and work together to choose the right treatment. Insurance companies should face nationwide competition for customers. I support allowing insurance companies to sell health care policies across state lines and innovative programs, like health savings accounts, that improve care and reduce costs by aligning the incentives of patients, doctors, and hospitals.
The United States has always welcomed individuals who legally seek to enter our country to work or become citizens, but Congress and the President must make every effort to secure our borders. We need to reform our immigration system to implement a proper guest worker program that benefits our communities and reduces the incentive for immigrants to come here illegally.
Life, Faith & Family
The proper function of government is to protect individual rights—life, liberty, and property. I believe that life begins at conception, and it is unconscionable that government would sanction the taking of the helpless and innocent. I always will vote against government funding of abortion and will fight to protect life at all stages.
My Christian faith is an important part of who I am. It informs my values and principles. Our most important unit of government is the family. When larger units of government attempt to supplant the family, we must say no. I believe that marriage is a private, religious institution that should not be defined or redefined by the federal government.
Liberty is a universal human right, and I support the efforts of people across the Middle East to take back control of their lives from their governments.
All parties benefit from an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I share former President George W. Bush's vision of two successful, independent states, Israel and Palestine—two peoples, living side by side in peace and security. Since true peace requires a sincere commitment, the parties should negotiate a just and mutually acceptable agreement that is not imposed by the United States or any other outside power.
National Defense & Civil Liberties
National defense is the most critical function of the federal government, as provided in the United States Constitution. The full force of our Armed Forces should be used when we are faced with genuine threats to our safety, such as active foreign aggression or invasion. The exclusive power of Congress to declare war must be respected, and executive reactions to imminent dangers must not be allowed to drag on without the express authorization of Congress. It is my duty to make sure that perceived threats are actually a danger to our life, liberty, or sovereignty before voting to send American troops into harm’s way.
Even as we maintain our national defense, we must protect our civil liberties. I have led the fight against big-government initiatives like the Patriot Act, SOPA, CISPA, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2012. The 2012 NDAA allows the President to indefinitely detain anyone on U.S. soil, including American citizens, without charge or trial on the mere accusation that they are “associated” with terrorists. Dystopian, police-state laws like the NDAA run contrary to everything our country stands for.
As the Founders recognized, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the surest safeguard against violations of our liberty. We must defend the Second Amendment just as vigorously as we defend the rest of the United States Constitution. Congress must halt the unconstitutional practice of restricting a person’s ability to purchase, transport, store, or possess arms on public lands or on that individual’s private property under the guise of regulating interstate commerce.
Social Security & Medicare
We must keep our promises to seniors and not change benefits for those who are currently receiving or soon will receive Social Security or Medicare. Individuals who have paid into these programs for much of their lives have made decisions based on promised benefits, and those promises should be kept. For younger people, such as those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, these mandatory spending programs are unsustainable and unreliable. We must begin to phase in significant reforms for the benefit of future generations.
State Sovereignty & Individual Rights
The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The federal government should not improperly apply the General Welfare Clause, the Commerce Clause, or the Necessary and Proper Clause to justify regulating activities that are not within its authority.
Individuals have certain unalienable rights, and the Ninth Amendment ensures that all of our rights are protected, even if they are not among those specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights. I oppose legislative acts that unconstitutionally grow government and threaten our liberty.
Federal corporate and personal tax rates are too high. They don’t need to be. Government spending is out of control, and we can reduce tax rates if we reduce spending. But there are also too many large corporations paying little or no federal income tax. Government should end the unfair, wasteful practice of picking winners and losers in our economy through subsidies and targeted tax breaks. Instead of taking your money to give to a few favored government interests, Congress should leave tax rates low for everyone. The tax code is filled with way too many rules and exceptions. It should be radically simplified.