Mike Huckabee Should the government have a role in expanding access to health care? What, if anything, would you do to restructure the health care system? Yes, to make health care more accessible, it must be more affordable and portable. First, we don't have a health care crisis, we have a health crisis. About 75% of our $2 trillion spent on health annually is spent on chronic disease, most of which could be prevented by not smoking, eating healthier diets, and exercising. These three lifestyle changes could prevent 40% of cancers, 80% of type-2 diabetes, and 80% of heart disease! Prevention would contain an enormous source of our spiraling health-care costs. People who live healthy lifestyles should be rewarded in their health insurance costs. Employers should allow exercise breaks during the workday, and allow a total number of days off to be used for any reason, so that healthy employees aren't pu nished by getting less time off. Health insurance should cover smoking cessation plans. Second, early diagnosis and better, more consistent management of chronic disease will also contain costs significantly. Our system is happy to pay $30,000 for a diabetic to have his foot amputated, but won't pay $150 for a podiatrist who could save that foot. We must change our coverage to avoid the catastrophic outcomes that the system now encourages. We must waive deductibles and co- pays for screenings (such as mammograms, colonoscopies and PSA tests) that lead to early detection. Third, we must move from an employer-based system to a consumer-based system, which will make health insurance both more affordable and portable, and thus more accessible. Our current employer-based system doesn't let the free market function because the overwhelming share of the cost is picked up by the employer, while the person actually using the system, the employee, pays only a small fraction of the bill and often doesn't even know what the total cost is. Whenever the person using something and the person paying for it are not the same, whenever something is essentially free, more of it is going to be consumed. With a consumer- based system, you have skin in the game, some incentives to stay healthy and not take every MRI you can. Consumer-based health care will be portable - it wi ll belong to you, not your employer, and won't be lost when you change jobs, start your own business, work part-time, or take a break from working outside the home to care for children or an elderly parent. Fourth, moving to electronic recordkeeping will reduce both costs and mistakes in treatment. Do you support setting a deadline for either a withdrawal or a partial pullback of troops from Iraq? If so, what would be the date of that deadline? No, I support General Petraeus' plan to bring our troop level down to the pre-surge level by mid- July, about 130,000 or so, assuming circumstances permit. I do not support a deadline. We must bring our troops home based on the situation on the ground, not the calendar on the wall. What distinguishes your plan for Iraq from those of the other candidates? I differ from those who want to set a deadline for withdrawal, those who want to withdraw any faster than General Petraeus has proposed, or those who want to partition Iraq. What would be your top three national security priorities if you were elected? Going after Al Qaeda, making us safer at home ( sealing our borders, protecting chemical plants, water facilities, nuclear power plants, ports, cargo inspection, etc.), becoming energy independent. Should the government have a role in encouraging development of energy-efficient technologies and sustainable energy resources? If yes, how would you do it? Yes, government should agree to buy some of this energy so producers will be assured of a market. Government should also set aside a federal R and D budget that will be matched by the private sector to seek the best new productsin alternative fuels. Government should remove red tape that slows innovation. How do you think the United States should handle illegal immigrants? Do you support President Bush's immigration plan? I do not support President Bush's plan because it is amnesty. We have to secure our border first, and so I supported the amendment to the recent homeland security bill that will provide the $3 billion to convert the rhetoric about controlling our border into results. These funds will train and deploy 23,000 more law enforcement personnel, add four drone airplanes, build 700 miles of fence and 300 miles of vehicle barriers, and erect 105 radar and camera towers. They end 'catch and release' by providing money to 'catch and detain' those caught entering illegally and to crack down on those who enter legally, but overstay their visas. These border security provisions will stem the tide of illegals, which is what we mus t do before we can turn the tide and deal with those who are already here. Before you fix the damage in your house caused by a leaking roof, you stop the leak, which is what this legislation will do. We must enforce our laws and end sanctuary cities. No one believes more than I do in limited government, in letting issues be determined on the state and local levels as much as possible. But illegal immigration is clearly a federal issue and the consequences for illegal entry must be swift, certain, and consistent throughout the country. In this age of terror, illegal immigration is a national security issue. Cities and towns must not be allowed to put the rest of us at risk if, by offering sanctuary to illegals, they unwittingly become magnets for terror cells. The federal government must issues guidelines to our states and localities on their proper role in enforcing our immigration laws. We have to crack down on businesses that employ workers w ith false Social Security numbers. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to do this, but its new rules are being challenged in court. What are your top three priorities with regard to immigration? Secure the border, enforce existing immigration laws and end sanctuary cities, crack down on businesses employing workers with false Social Security numbers. What are the three most important things you would do to promote economic growth and prosperity? First, I would put the IRS out of business by eliminating all federal income and payroll taxes, personal and corporate, and adopt the Fair Tax, a simple consumption tax like state sales taxes. All of us will get a monthly rebate to reimburse us for taxes on purchases up to the poverty line, so that we're not taxed on necessities. We'll be taxed on what we decide to buy, not what we happen to earn. We won't be taxed on what we save or the interest on those savings. The tax will apply only to new goods, so we can save more by buying a used car or computer. Our current tax system penalizes us for becoming more successful. The Fair Tax doesn't punish the American dream of success, or the old-fashioned virtues of hard work and thrift. The Fair Tax lowers the lifetime tax burden of all of us: single or married, working or retired; rich, poor, or middle class. The Fair Tax untaxes the poor with the prebate provision, which refunds the amount of the tax up to the poverty level for each member of a household, making it a progressive rather than regressive system. Everyone will be treated the same -- no more clever loopholes, no more untaxed underground economy. Prices will come down because they won't be inflated by corporate taxes. Our goods will be more competitive overseas because we won't be disadvantaged because of our tax system. When you export over-priced goods, you end up exporting jobs and entire industries. We are the square peg trying to fit into the round hole of international trade. Companies that have moved offshore to avoid taxes will come back, and foreign companies will come here, hiring Americans to build and work in their plants. With the Fair Tax, we can become the world's tax haven. Second, I would improve education because there is a direct correlation between income levels and education levels. We must reduce the 30 percent high school dropout rate because dropouts can expect to earn a quarter of a million dollars less than a graduate, during a lifetime estimated to be nine years shorter. Third, I support free trade, but it has to be fair trade. China , with whom we had a $232 billion trade deficit last year, refuses to play by the rules. Yet for the past six years, we've relied on diplomacy, when we should have imposed sanctions and brought legal actions against them. It's only very recently that our government has begun minimal action against some of China's unfair trade practices. We need less talk and more of that action. If elected, would you balance the budget? If you answered yes, how soon would you do it? es, but how soon would depend on the state of the economy when I took office and the state of the war in Iraq and on terror generally. We need to increase defense spending. Would you roll back tax cuts that were supported by the Bush administration? No. Do you support the No Child Left Behind program? Why or why not? I support NCLB. I believe it has made a real difference in identifying and helping failing children and failing schools. But I support local control of schools and believe the states must set their own standards. What changes, if any, would you attempt to implement in national education policy? We know that the 21st century will belong to the creative, they will thrive and prosper, both as individuals and as societies. How do you nurture something as elusive as creativity? I want to offer art and music to all of our students, all the way through high school, because the secret weapons for becoming creative are art and music, our Weapons of Mass Instruction. I want to deploy these weapons throughout our country, to fund them as conscientiously and consistently as we do our tanks and missiles. Studies have shown a direct correlation between quality music education and higher English and math scores, up to a third higher. No Child Left Behind has encouraged school districts to focus on reading and math at the expense of the arts, so our schools are shortchanging the very subjects that will increase the scores they are trying to raise! Music develops both sides of the brain, it improves spatial reasoning and the capacity to think in the abstract. Arts education results in what all parents and school districts are looking for -- higher SAT scores. I also want to implement a new delivery model for transforming our schools, especially at the high school level. I have a plan that will virtually eliminate dropouts, raise standards, yet save so much money that we can strengthen early learning , reduce college costs, and save billions of dollars. It's called personalized learning. I want to put each student at the center of his learning, so that it is personal and relevant. With the help of his parents and teachers and community, each student drafts a learning plan. He studies a core curriculum for part of the day, but beyond that, he is encouraged to integrate his personal passions and career ambitions into credits toward graduation. What has traditionally been extracurricular becomes part of his custom-made curriculum and a source of academic credit. A student who takes karate gets gym credit. A student who plays in a rock band gets music credit. A student intern at a newspaper gets English credit. The opportunities are as limitless as each one's imagination and dreams. One of the major reasons for dropping out is simple boredom. Those students are taking very expensive naps. Let's remove the walls and roof of the classroom and realize that it encompasses the entire community; with the Internet, it now encompasses the entire world. What is your position on the proposed constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman? I will fight hard for such an amendment. What is your position on civil unions between same sex partners? I am opposed. Do you support the Roe v. Wade decision or would you like to see this decision overturned? Why or why not? I would like to see it overturned. I believe life begins at conception. Should the federal government have a role in seeking an end to poverty? What would you do, specifically, to deal with poverty? Yes. I believe that changing from our current tax system to the Fair Tax would create jobs and growth and help end poverty. Better education is the surest path to escaping poverty, so I would improve education and bring down dropout rates. Do you think gun control has an impact on crime rates in the United States? No. I believe criminals will always find a way to get guns. Do you think tighter restrictions should be in place for those buying a firearm? No. If elected, would you keep the current ban on funding for embryonic stem cell research in place? Why or why not? I would keep it in place because I believe life begins at conception. Embryonic stem cell research has created a great deal of debate among politicians without creating a single treatment for humans. By contrast, stem cells obtained from umbilical cords are delivering results right now. Including current clinical trials, these stem cells are being used to treat and even cure over seventy diseases and conditions. Another very exciting development was announced earlier this year -- the successful production of bone, heart, fat, nerve, and liver tissue from amniotic fluid stem cells. Amniotic and umbilical cord stem cells have the advantage of embryonic stem cells because they can become many different typ es of tissue, without the disadvantage of destroying human life. The scientists have to show the politicians where we should put our federal funding -- into umbilical cord and amniotic fluid stem cells. What would be your top three overall priorities if elected? Winning the war on terror, securing our borders, becoming energy independent.
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