The four surviving candidates in the GOP presidential race plan to descend on the state this week to campaign ahead of Saturday's Republican caucuses. The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked them four questions that concern Nevadans the most as the state suffers record unemployment and home foreclosures.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO CREATE JOBS?
NEWT GINGRICH: America only works when Americans are working. I have a pro-growth strategy similar to the proven policies used when I was speaker to balance the budget, pay down the debt and create jobs. The plan includes:
Stopping the 2013 tax increases and reform the existing tax code by eliminating capital gains; reducing the corporate income tax to 12.5 percent; allowing 100 percent expensing of new equipment; ending the death tax permanently; and moving toward an optional flat tax of 15 percent.
Strengthen the dollar by returning to the Reagan-era monetary policies; implement an American energy plan; and balance the budget by growing the economy.
Remove obstacles to job creation imposed by destructive and ineffective regulations, programs and bureaucracies; repealing Obamacare, Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank; breaking up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; replacing the Environmental Protection Agency with an Environmental Solutions Agency; and modernizing the Food and Drug Administration.
MITT ROMNEY: I will cut taxes, spending and regulation to stop the government from overwhelming the private economy. I will increase trade by opening new markets for American goods and services, and by cracking down on nations like China that refuse to play by the rules. I will expand access to our domestic energy resources to increase production, reduce foreign dependence, and bring prices down. I will end the political favors President Obama has done for union bosses, instead returning power to the businesses and workers who can make our economy grow. And I will strengthen our workforce by including the private sector in retraining programs so that unemployed workers are preparing for actual jobs, and by welcoming legal immigrants with technical and engineering skills so that the best and the brightest from around the world are doing their work right here in America.
RON PAUL: My top priority will be to restore the American economy and revive the job market by reducing unconstitutional spending, balancing the budget, reforming monetary policy, reducing taxes, and stopping federal bureaucrats from strangling businesses with job-destroying regulations. On the first day of my presidency, I will use my constitutional authority to order all federal agencies to stop enforcing any regulations related to "Obamacare," Dodd-Frank or Sarbanes-Oxley. I will also order a moratorium on all new federal regulations, and I will work with Congress to pass the REINS Act, which requires congressional review and approval of any new major regulation.
I will work to create jobs by lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and by allowing American companies to repatriate capital without additional taxation. I will encourage investment in new businesses by allowing individuals to make penalty-free withdrawals from their IRAs and 401(k)s to start or invest in new businesses.
RICK SANTORUM: My pro-growth proposal will cut and simplify personal taxes to 10 percent and 28 percent rates and corporate taxes in half to 17.5 percent for all businesses and 0 percent for all U.S.-based manufacturing respectively. I also eliminate the alternative minimum tax and death taxes and cut capital gains taxes by 20 percent to 12 percent. This pro-growth plan will unleash job creation and by one estimate create more than 10 million jobs in three years and double real GDP growth.
I will also repeal burdensome regulations including repealing and replacing the burden of Obamacare on family and business health costs, and Dodd-Frank financial burdens, and will immediately repeal all other Obama regulations with an economic impact over $100 million. All of these regulations kill jobs. I will also unleash America's domestic energy potential and approve the Keystone Pipeline and other projects killed by the Obama administration. This will lower energy costs for families and businesses and create jobs. To further help struggling families, I will triple the deduction for children and eliminate all marriage tax penalties in the federal tax code.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO ADDRESS THE HOME FORECLOSURE CRISIS?
GINGRICH: I would repeal Dodd-Frank tomorrow morning; we would see the economy start to improve overnight. Dodd-Frank has let the biggest banks get bigger while crushing independent banks. It has an anti-housing bias. Federal regulators are slowing down and making it harder to make loans for housing, and it is crippling small-business borrowing. All these things are functions of a bill passed by the Democrats called Dodd-Frank. If they would repeal it tomorrow morning, you would have a better housing market the next day.
The No. 1 thing that we can do to help the housing market is to strengthen the overall economy, and that starts with replacing President Obama.
ROMNEY: I outlined my plan for jobs and economic growth. These actions will help the housing market recover and help those in financial distress because of their mortgages. I will repeal the Dodd-Frank legislation, which is harming local banks and hurting credit creation right when we need it most. Furthermore, I support private-sector solutions between banks and homeowners that avoid foreclosure. ... I believe that markets work, and our housing policies for too long encouraged irresponsible lending that led to the massive ($160 billion and counting) bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Obama administration has hindered the recovery process with program after program that has overpromised and underdelivered.
PAUL: It is truly tragic that so many Americans are paying the price for years of government meddling in the housing market. Whether it was federal subsidies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- or the Federal Reserve's loose monetary policies -- Americans have seen firsthand the danger of federal involvement in the economy.
The only way to get things moving in the right direction again is to allow the housing market to correct itself. Once this is done, we will see a full and healthy recovery in the housing market. Unfortunately, any further federal programs designed to fix prices by pumping credit into the housing market will only compound the damage done by prior interventions. But, to ensure homeowners are as shielded as possible from any more damage ... , I strongly support preserving the mortgage interest deduction. I also support expanding tax credits for those who lost their residence as a result of the housing bubble collapse to help ensure they can find new residences.
SANTORUM: Getting the economy moving and people back into jobs is step one. ... Second, to help families who need and want a fresh start, I will allow deductions of losses in the sale of a home. Third, government reforms are also necessary for government sponsored entities and the Federal Reserve, since government policies were major contributors to this economic crisis.
I plan to eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's federal housing role, the two government-sponsored enterprise mortgage giants who are as much to blame as anyone for the housing crisis. ... As senator, I urged massive reforms with Fannie and Freddie; otherwise American taxpayers would continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that they pose to the housing market. Now it has gotten out of hand, and they must be phased out of the housing market completely. ... And while Dodd-Frank overregulated the private sector, the president and Democratic lawmakers let Fannie and Freddie off the hook.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU DO ABOUT YUCCA MOUNTAIN?
GINGRICH: Yucca Mountain was picked by the scientific community as one of the safest places in the United States. The project has always had very deep opposition here in Nevada, and when I was in Congress, I worked with the Nevada delegation to make sure that there was time for scientific studies. But we have to find some method of finding a very geologically stable place, and most geologists believe that, in fact, Yucca Mountain is that.
Any deal that is reached must be agreed on by local, state, and federal officials and follow sound science. While working to meet Nevada's concerns, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to look for an interim depository in a locale agreeable to scientists and residents. This will diminish the extent to which our nuclear waste is spread across the country in temporary and less secure locations.
ROMNEY: President Obama has allowed politics to trump science. His Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman has come under heavy criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike for incompetent management, and his administration has disregarded the scientific and technical analysis conducted for the site. A return to sound management and science is part of the solution, but it is not the entire solution. No state should be forced to accept the nation's nuclear waste against its will. Instead, the federal government should offer Nevada terms that would make acceptance of the site attractive. If the people of Nevada do not want the site, then the federal government should allow other states to identify potential sites and bid for the terms on which they would accept the waste.
PAUL: As a member of Congress, I have always voted against forcing the people of Nevada to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site. As president, I will work with Nevada officials to ensure that whatever is done with Yucca Mountain reflects the wishes of the people of Nevada.
SANTORUM: I will encourage domestic innovations and energy resources. This includes oil, natural gas, hydro, biomass, wind, solar, clean coal and nuclear energy. For nuclear energy we need safe storage sites for nuclear waste, and I support Yucca Mountain as one when done in a safe and responsible manner. I will also restructure the priorities of the Department of Energy . The DOE spends an exorbitant amount of money on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and alternative-energy vehicles. All of these energy sources and technologies are currently available, but they are not yet commercially viable because of burdensome regulations or because they are still prohibitively expensive.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU DO ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION?
GINGRICH: No "comprehensive" plan can work. Immigration reform can be outlined as a complete proposal but has to be passed in a series of steps, with each one understood and passed on its own merits. These steps must include securing the border, restructuring our legal immigration and visa systems, and expediting the deportation of illegal immigrants involved in gang and criminal activity.
Under no circumstance can a path to citizenship be created which would allow those who have broken the law to receive precedence over those who patiently waited to become residents and citizens via the legal process.
We must reconcile the goal of legality with the reality that there are millions of immigrants currently here outside the law, some with a long set of family and community ties, and some with no ties. A system has to be established that establishes legality but no citizenship for those with deep ties, repatriates those with no family or community ties in a dignified way, and quickly sends home those who have committed criminal and other destructive acts.
ROMNEY: The right course for America is to welcome those who want to come here legally, and I will pursue policies that ensure America attracts the best and the brightest from abroad. But to protect legal immigration, we must end illegal immigration. ...
First, I will build a high-tech fence and provide enough border patrol resources to finally secure our borders. Second, I will turn off the magnets that encourage illegal immigration. I will turn off the jobs magnet by instituting a tamper-proof employment verification system like E-Verify that will ensure that employers do not hire illegal immigrants. ... Third, we must resolutely enforce the law. ...
We must address the issue of illegal immigrants already in the United States in a civil and resolute manner. I oppose amnesty because it acts as another magnet that will encourage illegal immigration and is deeply unfair to the millions who are patiently applying through legal channels. ... Illegal immigrants should be able to register and -- after a transition period to get their affairs in order -- they must return to their country of origin to get in line and apply for legal status.
PAUL: I will increase the resources devoted to border security, end all welfare benefits to illegal immigrants, and reform the immigration system to make it easier for those who wish to legally come to the U.S. and work and build a better life for their family to do so. I do not support programs like E-Verify, which threaten all of our liberties.
I will work to create a reasonable and humane policy of dealing with those who were brought here illegally by their parents that does not simply deport those who were raised in this country, have never committed a crime, and wish to become productive citizens. However, given that the federal government is bankrupt and simply cannot afford to extend any federal aid programs, I do not support federal aid for children of illegal immigrants.
I also do not favor amnesty for those who entered this country in violation of our laws. ... However, this does not mean deportation in all cases. Alternative punishments such as substantial fines may be appropriate for many who have not violated the law since entry and have integrated themselves into U.S. society.
SANTORUM: As the son of an Italian immigrant, I value the important role immigrants have played and continue to play in shaping our nation. One thing that makes America exceptional is that anyone from any part of the world can become an American by embracing our ideals and following our laws. Securing the border first, all of our borders, is critical for national security and for fairness to those who come here legally like my father and grandfather. While securing the border is not the only solution to immigration, it is the essential starting point to fix the broken immigration system and clear the path for responsible reform. I will also streamline legal immigration, and create a workable guest worker program for America's farmers. We must also oppose amnesty as unlawful, unfair to legal immigrants, and expensive to taxpayers. This includes opposing federal incentives for illegal immigration such as the DREAM Act. Moreover, it is time to partner with states to enforce immigration laws, not sue them.
Compiled by The Associated Press
GINGRICH: Give younger workers the option of diverting Social Security taxes to private retirement accounts.
ROMNEY: Says raising the age for benefits and reducing adjustments for rich retirees are among options that should be considered.
PAUL: Says younger workers should be able to opt out of Social Security taxes and retirement benefits.
SANTORUM: Supports option of private retirement accounts instead of Social Security taxes and benefits for younger workers.
GINGRICH: Let oil and natural gas industries drill offshore reserves now blocked from development; end restrictions on Western oil shale development.
ROMNEY: Drill in the Gulf, outer continental shelves, Western lands, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska; exploit shale oil deposits.
PAUL: Remove restrictions on drilling, coal and nuclear power, eliminate gasoline tax, provide tax credits for alternative fuel technology.
SANTORUM: Favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and scaling back "oppressive regulation" hindering drilling elsewhere.
GINGRICH: Supported Iraq War and opposed early withdrawal; said U.S. forces should not have been used in Libya campaign, after he had called for intervention.
ROMNEY: Has not specified troop numbers behind pledge to ensure the force level necessary to "complete our mission successfully" in Afghanistan.
PAUL: Bring most or all troops home from foreign posts; opposed U.S. intervention in Libya; cut Pentagon budget.
SANTORUM: Said 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops should remain in Iraq; troops should withdraw from Afghanistan slower than in Obama's plan.
GINGRICH: Once backed tougher environmental regulation; now wants EPA to balance energy, jobs and environment.
ROMNEY: Acknowledged that humans contribute to global warming, but later said "we don't know what's causing climate change"; opposes cap and trade.
PAUL: Once said human activity "probably does" contribute to global warming; now calls such science a "hoax"; states or regions should set emission standards.
SANTORUM: Said science establishing human activity as a likely contributor to global warming is "patently absurd" and "junk science."
KEY LEGISLATION REFERENCED ABOVE
■ The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was enacted in 2002 after the Enron financial scandal to protect against accounting errors and fraudulent practices.
■ The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in 2010, created new financial regulatory processes.
■ "Obamacare" refers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 overhauling the health insurance industry.