I routinely speak to groups across the country, generally about the domestic and global economy or about personal finance. In April, before I announced my candidacy, I addressed a personal finance conference attended by roughly 200 dentists who were the clients of a financial adviser. The conference was held in Charleston, South Carolina. In the course of my talk I asked for a show of hands of all those who strongly supported either Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump for President. Not a single hand went up. I then asked for a show of hands of all those who at least weakly supported one of these two candidates. Again, not a single hand went up.
Fast forward three months and Clinton and Trump, both of whom most Americans either dislike or detest, are telling us something that’s not true. They are telling us that they are all we’ve got — that they are our only options when it comes to selecting the next President.
That’s not the case.
On November 8th, if, like most people, you live in one of the 41 states that permits write-in candidates, you can either a) set some switches, pull a lever on a voting machine and select Clinton or Trump. Or you can b) write: Laurence Kotlikoff for President and Edward Leamer for Vice President on your ballot form.
It’s that simple. Voting for me and Ed is no harder than voting for Hillary or Donald.
But write-in candidates have never won a presidential election.
That’s true. But the two parties have also never offered up two more unpopular choices. We’ve also never had a serious and highly visible write-in candidate who has an equally serious and highly visible Vice Presidential candidate. Our support is rising and will rise far faster once Americans who can stomach neither Clinton nor Trump (i.e., most Americans) actively start considering our candidacy.
Let me now talk directly to those of you who are or were supporters of Senator Sanders or Governor Kasich.
Before I declared my candidacy, my wife and I put two bumper stickers on our jeep. One said Bernie. The other said Kasich. Well, to be fully honest, I put the Kasich sticker on after attending a very inspiring talk by John in New Hampshire. My wife responded by adding the Bernie sticker. But I was, truthfully, very happy to have them both displayed. (They are both still on the jeep. I don’t think we’ll ever take them off.) I was also very happy to attend a terrifically exciting Bernie rally in Boston. I went with my wife and younger son and found what he said very moving.
I waited till mid May to declare my candidacy until it was clear than neither of these two gentlemen would win their parties’ nominations.
The Sanders’ campaign has raised many of the concerns I’ve written about for decades. I agree with Bernie that the American dream is turning into a nightmare, that America’s middle class is disappearing, that we need to dramatically reduce inequality, that we need to get the rich to pay their fair share of taxes, that we need to fix the banks for real and for good, that we need to save Social Security (albeit not in its current form), that we need to immediately address climate change via a major carbon tax, that we need to provide free basic health insurance to all, that we need to immediately stop the sale of assault weapons, that we need to make massive infrastructure investments, that we need to equalize educational opportunity, that we need to make college affordable to all, and the list of areas of agreement goes on.
The major difference between myself and Senator Sanders is that I have a host of very simple and practical ways to handle the concerns he raises without driving our country even more broke than it currently is and, please believe me, our country is already absolutely broke.
My proposed reforms would not only accomplish Senator Sanders’ goals. They would also restore fiscal solvency. Moreover, Republicans will, I’m confident, not just accept, but actively embrace my solutions because I formulated them to make them acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.
John Kasich is a personal friend. We met while he was Chairman of the House Budget Committee. John called out of the blue one day and asked me if I’d come down to testify to his committee about the country’s fiscal sustainability. I testified and then became good friends with John. We spent many an evening talking policy over dinner. I learned first hand that he’s not only a deep policy analyst, but also a wonderful person of absolute integrity. This is why he is publicly opposing Donald Trump even though it means losing a shot at the Vice Presidency. John realizes that Trump is a grave danger to our country and refuses to sacrifice his principals for personal gain.
John and I agree on most domestic policy issues starting with the country’s grave fiscal position, which reflects the massive amount of unofficial government debt that Congress has spent decades expanding while skillfully keeping off the books. We’re also in close agreement on matters of national security. John and I also believe we are in a virtual economic war with government bureaucracy — that we need reforms that will not only fundamentally fix our institutions, but also do away with countless unnecessary government rules and regulations that waste vast amounts of our time and that stifle small businesses. (I have a small business, so I understand this problem far too well.)
John and I strongly disagree on social issues. I strongly support a woman’s right to choose. John does not. I also favor far stricter gun controls than does John. And I’m a strong supporter of the right of gay couples to marry.
Like Bernie, John is deeply concerned with the economic plight of the poor. But like me, John realizes that our tax and benefit systems are confronting the poor with terrible disincentives to earning more money. This reflects not just the additional federal, state, and local taxes they pay when they earn more. It also reflects the loss of food stamps, the loss of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the loss of welfare benefits, and the loss or either Medicaid or Obamacare benefits, and, far too often, the loss Social Security benefits — all from earning more money. Finally, John and I agree that we can’t fix our fiscal, welfare, social insurance and financial institutions with patchwork reforms. Instead, we need to perform open heart surgery on our economy.
Were I elected President, I’d ask John Kasich to serve as my Director of OMB and Bernie Sanders to serve as my Secretary of Health and Human Services. To be clear, I haven’t discussed my platform with either John or Bernie, who I met when I testified to the Senate Budget Committee last Spring. However, I believe they’d both support virtually all aspects of it.
This is why I’m asking all supporters of Sanders and Kasich to download and read the free book posted on this site. It spells out the domestic and foreign policy problems, many quite grave, that our country faces. It also describes precisely how Ed and I would, with Congress’s approval, address them.