Replacing the income tax with a national sales tax and converting Social Security to a system of individual accounts are top priorities for Sam Clovis as he campaigns for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate.
The talk show host and college professor from Sioux City said during a Fort Dodge visit Thursday that he'll first try to change the Republican leadership in the Senate if he's elected.
"I think Republicans that we have in leadership positions are far too comfortable with big government and, frankly, far too comfortable with being in the minority because it's not as much work," he said.
Clovis is competing against state Sen. Joni Ernst, of Red Oak; former utility executive Mark Jacobs, of West Des Moines; Scott Schaben, of Ames; and former United States Attorney Matt Whitaker for the Republican nomination.
The winner of the June 3 primary election will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, of Waterloo, in the November general election for the Senate seat to be vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin.
Clovis said he wants to eliminate the personal and federal income taxes and repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution that made them possible.
He proposes to replace those taxes with a nationwide 19 percent sales tax.
Under his plan, most Americans would receive some money from the government every month to help offset the impact of the sales tax. He calls that monthly payment a "prebate." The prebate, he said, would be based on the individual's income, with those who earn higher incomes receiving smaller prebates.
Eliminating the corporate income tax, he said, would result in "money repatriated into the United States" that would spur economic growth.
Cutting federal government spending is a necessity, according to the candidate. He said tackling the entitlement programs has to be part of the budget-cutting process.
He said Medicaid, the joint federal and state health insurance program for the poor, will be the easiest to address. He proposes to give the states block grants of Medicaid money to use as they see fit.
Social Security, he said, should be transformed into a system of individual accounts that would belong to each person instead of the government. He said people would pay into their accounts via paycheck deductions just as they now pay into Social Security.
"The structure and mechanisms would be there, but it would be individualized and not going into the general treasury," Clovis said.
National defense must also be a part of the budget cuts, he said. Clovis, a retired Air Force colonel, said he would preserve active duty units while taking a serious look at how much money the Department of Defense spends on civilian contractors. He added that he would emphasize fast-moving units, such as airborne outfits, and drones. Clovis said he sees less need for tanks and other heavy mechanized units.
The candidate said the federal health care reform should be repealed. He said he would like to replace it with a law that allows health insurance to be sold across state lines, and a package of reforms to limit lawsuits. Combined, those measures would reduce health care costs by 50 percent, he said.
Clovis said he would support a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.