Editor’s note: The following story, along with a related Q&A with Sean Hannity, is reprinted from the April issue of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled “THE WAR FOR THE GOP: How conservatives plan to take over the Republican Party and stop the Obama juggernaut.”
In his dual roles as popular Fox News host and top-rated syndicated radio talker, Sean Hannity is confronted daily by many of the heartbreaking problems Americans face amid an extraordinary economic downturn, now greatly exacerbated by Obamacare.
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He often is asked by exasperated callers, What can be done?
With crucial midterms on the horizon, but little inspiration coming from Washington, he decided to offer his own plan.
"I am suggesting that America is at a tipping point, and is a country in desperate need of a major course correction. It is self-evident that government today has become an increasing burden. Government is now an obstacle in people’s lives, obstructing the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness."
Stipulating that he is neither calling for “abolishing the government or secession,” nor advocating a third party, he cites Ronald Regan's 1975 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference calling for a "revitalized second party, with no pale pastels, but bold colored differences."
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In that spirit, Hannity’s plan, outlined in his "Conservative Solutions Caucus 2014," includes the following:
- Cut a penny from every dollar the government spends for six years, which will result in a balanced budget;
- Pass a balanced-budget amendment to keep it that way;
- Limit the amount of taxes the government can collect;
- Encourage home-grown energy resources, conquering in one fell swoop unemployment, high energy prices and dependence on hostile foreign powers;
- Replace Obamacare with health-care savings accounts so people can use the money to buy their own insurance in the private market;
- Enact term limits: six years in the House, with only one term in leadership, and 12 years in the Senate with only two years in leadership;
- Allow school choice; and
- Secure the borders.
The penny plan for balancing the budget
In describing America's troubled economy, Hannity goes beyond figures and balance sheets, framing it as the "moral issue of our time."
"We are literally stealing from our children and grandchildren. We are taking a sledgehammer to their piggy banks, removing any spare change, and borrowing even more money from countries like China. They will end up spending their entire working lives paying this money back, unless we do something bold today."
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He cites the record national debt of more than $17 trillion, $90 trillion in unfunded liabilities, record deficits, the impending bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare, the lowest labor participation rate America has seen in decades and nearly 1 in 6 Americans living in poverty, among other problems.
And top-down redistribution, such as President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty" in the 1960s, isn't the answer, he says.
"If I told you it was possible to balance the federal budget in six years without raising taxes,” he asks, “and all that was necessary to achieve this would be to cut one penny out of every dollar government spends every year for six straight years, would you support this plan?”
It seems incredible – considering that entitlement spending has more than doubled over the past 20 years, with discretionary spending having grown by 60 percent – that cutting one penny out of every dollar spent is a feasible solution. But the “penny plan’s” math has been repeatedly verified.
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Along with the penny plan, Hannity proposes passing a balanced budget amendment: "We need a new conservative caucus that says no to any and all deficit spending."
Another measure he suggests is a percentage limit on the amount of money government can take from working Americans: "Is 35 cents out of every dollar you earn going to the government enough? Forty cents?"
To create jobs and simultaneously strengthen national security, Hannity espouses energy independence by taking advantage of new technology such as horizontal drilling and hydrofracking.
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"Every single fiscal issue this country faces can be solved, in record time, if we move toward energy independence," Hannity says.
He cites former Shell Oil President John Hofmeister, founder and chief executive of the nonprofit Citizens for Affordable Energy, who contends America is blessed with more oil and natural gas than the country will ever use.
America is "the Saudi Arabia of natural gas and shale oil, and we have more untapped resources than most Middle East countries combined," says Hannity.
That means the vexing problems of unemployment, deficits, debt, dependency, Social Security, Medicare and health care can be solved, he says, "if we engage proactively in the effort to become energy independent."
Hannity has personally witnessed the employment-producing potential of America's energy resources through the many jobs he's lined up for listeners, acting as a liaison with energy employers in places offering an abundance of high-paying jobs, such as North Dakota and Texas
He believes lawmakers are not pursuing this avenue to prosperity because of radical environmental politics and "appeasers" on Capitol Hill who "would rather placate than work for a real solution." A prime example? Opposition to the Keystone Pipeline, he says, noting that “regardless of your opinions on oil, it is the lifeblood of our economy."
"How come Midland, Texas, has a low unemployment rate of 3.2 percent?" he asks.
"The answer is simple: energy, drilling, fracking, black gold, Texas tea," and much of the harvesting is taking place on private lands, with no thanks to the government.
With all of its resources, America can duplicate and institutionalize the success of North Dakota and Midland, he insists, creating new jobs that decrease dependency and increase wages, benefits and purchasing power.
"More people working means more money in taxes and fewer people on welfare and food stamps."
Also, with the increase in supply of energy "comes the natural reduction of costs, paying less at the pump, paying less for heating and cooling, and that equals more dispensable income for the taxpayer."
He notes the "rising tide that lifts all boats" in North Dakota, where rising incomes and job creation have resulted in the building of new homes, schools, infrastructure, a massive state surplus, lower taxes and trainees at Wal-Mart earning $17 an hour.
Energy independence also means, significantly, no longer being at the mercy of Middle East dictatorships that spawn Islamic terrorism that threatens our national security.
If government would facilitate energy expansion rather than hamper it at every turn, Hoffmeister says America "could well be on the cusp of a new prosperity such as we have not seen since the multi-decade post-WWII building of the nation."
Competition in health care
Hannity calls Obamacare – fraudulently sold to the American public and to Congress with an astonishing array of outright lies – a Ponzi scheme in which the younger generation is saddled with "the burden of purchasing health plans they do not want, or need, in order to subsidize the sick, elderly and uninsured."
In its place, he proposes several sensible, free-market strategies, such as expanding and enhancing individual health savings accounts, increasing competition and a "concierge system" offering direct primary care services.
With individual health savings accounts, he says, customers can buy the insurance they need in a competitive marketplace.
"Every year you contribute to your own health-care account. Such an account would incentivize yearly checkups, which would help facilitate the early detection of disease, and would help to mitigate overall costs."
Health savings accounts allow the young and healthy to purchase plans more suitable to their needs, such as catastrophic plans with higher deductibles.
He cites John Goodman, author of the influential 1992 book "Patient Power," who says when patients "aren't spending their own money, there is no way doctors can compete for their patronage based on price."
"When they don't compete on price, they don't compete on quality either," he says. "The services they offer will be only those services the third parties pay for and only in settings and ways the third parties have blessed."
However, if patients are given control over their own health-care dollars, "the provider community will begin to meet needs in ways the third-party-payer bureaucracies could never have dreamed of."
Another option is to encourage Americans to use their HSA funds to pay for concierge, or as they now call it, "direct primary care" services.
Under a direct primary care system, the doctors charge patients a monthly membership fee that includes unlimited access to their offices and services.
The model of care allows for more personalized treatment and even gives patients the option to email, text message and call their doctors.
Kansas-based physician Dr. Josh Umbehr, founder of the practice, charges monthly membership fees ranging from $10 for children, $50 for adults aged 20-44, $75 for adults aged 45-64 and $100 for those over 65. Membership includes unlimited home and office visits, some in-office procedures and discounted prescription drug access.
On average, Umbehr saves his patients anywhere from $500-$1,000 a month on insurance because his model adjusts their insurance to cover less of what they don't need.
The original concept of America's Founders, Hannity notes, was electing "citizen legislators." Men and women would work in the private sector and bring that knowledge to government. After a limited amount of time, the "citizen legislator" would then return to his place of business.
Instead, Hannity points out, America has a created a self-perpetuating political class composed of lifetime legislators who often have little contact or understanding of the private sector.
Although he's been reluctant to support term-limits, Hannity calls them "a bad idea whose time has come."
"In an ideal world, I would like to think they are unnecessary, but objective reality dictates they are necessary," he says.
Term limits, he argues, would automatically demand a simplified system that would prevent spectacles like Nancy Pelosi's insistence that Congress had to pass the 2,000-plus page Obamacare bill that virtually no lawmaker had read so the American people could "find out what’s in it."
"Nancy Pelosi has been in office since 1987, and this is the best she has to offer the American people," Hannity says. "It is lifers, like Pelosi, that have created the need for term limits."
Americans "want to elect good people with a fire in their belly for freedom and progress,” he adds. “The only way to sustain that is to give new people a chance."
Secure the borders first
Currently, at a minimum, the U.S. has 11 million immigrants who have entered the country illegally at a reported cost to taxpayers of $346 billion annually.
Hannity points out that Mexico itself fiercely controls its southern border and has a strict immigration policy that doesn't grant aliens citizenship. Mexico also deports more illegal aliens than does the United States. And it's a felony to be an illegal alien residing in Mexico. The country's immigration authorities keep detailed records of all foreign visitors and accept only foreigners who are useful to Mexican society.
In stark contrast, Mexican officials team with the U.S. to facilitate passage of Mexicans into the U.S. in violation of American law and help Mexicans who have crossed the border illegally to settle into regular life.
And while Mexico has condemned America's construction of a border fence, Hannity notes, the Mexican government reportedly was building a wall in the state of Chiapas along the country's border with Guatemala.
Along with "undocumented" workers receiving "undocumented" wages from which income tax revenue cannot be garnered, the unlawful workers depress the wages of low-skill U.S.-born and lawful immigrant workers by 10 percent, or $2,300, per year, according to estimates.
Furthermore, multiple studies show a large majority of illegals aliens – if granted amnesty and citizenship, including the right to vote – will vote Democrat.
Choice in education
The U.S. public education system undeniably is in shambles, even though hard-pressed taxpayers pay an average $12,000 per year for every student in the government’s school system.
In just one measure, the U.S. ranked 36th out of 65 countries participating in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, which administers tests in reading, math and science to 15-year-olds.
"We must save American kids from failing and mediocre schools if we want them to enjoy a prosperous, thriving and innovative future," Hannity says.
He advocates school choice, which was supported by the great American Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as a "far better alternative to political control."
Latching on to Friedman's idea, Hannity asks: "Why not say to every parent, 'The community is committed to spending X dollars a year on schooling your child. If you do not send your child to our public school, you relieve us of this cost. In return, the community will give you a voucher for X dollars a year per child. You can use this voucher to purchase schooling at any other approved school, public or private, but for no other purpose.'"
Decentralizing schooling in this way gives parents more effective control over schools and opens up opportunities for children who live in poverty, Hannity argues.
Friedman called it the "right way to meet the growing problem of organized teachers battling political bodies to divide up the spoils."
"It is the right way to get a more sensible salary structure for teachers,” Friedman said, “one that pays higher salaries to good teachers and lower salaries to bad teachers – in place of a rigid civil service structure that fixes salary mainly by seniority and degrees rather than merit."
Says Hannity: "Imagine if, instead of those funds going towards public schools directly, America heeded the advice of Milton Friedman and gave families those funds to pay for the schools of their choice.
"This would create competition between schools and weed out the failing institutions and leave our children with an opportunity to receive the proper education they deserve," he says.
The preceding article is reprinted from the April 2014 issue of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine, titled "THE WAR FOR THE GOP: How conservatives plan to take over the Republican Party and stop the Obama juggernaut."
View short video trailer of Whistleblower Editor David Kupelian describing the unique mission of the magazine: