About the series
The Star's editorial board invited primary candidates in contested races to lay out their views on specific issues. The candidates' comments are edited only to meet style rules. The series runs through Aug. 13; the vote is Aug. 24.
The Republicans seeking their party's nomination to run for Congress in Congressional District 8 weigh in.
How will you know when the border is secure? Please list benchmarks.
What specific changes must be made to keep Social Security solvent?
Jesse Kelly, construction project manager, Tucson
It doesn't take a political insider to know that conservatives are in a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. It is a battle for the future of America.
My name is Jesse Kelly. I am the conservative in the CD8 Republican primary. I am a U.S. Marine combat veteran, a businessman, a Christian, a husband and a father.
We, as conservatives, are no longer beholden to an establishment that has lost the pulse of its people. We believe in limited government, the sanctity of the individual and free markets. We believe that amnesty is unacceptable and that big government is indefensible, that the Second Amendment is non-negotiable, and our fight against terrorism must be won.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has unfortunately betrayed her promises to Southern Arizona. Upon choosing our new congressman, we must be sure that we don't replace her with yet another friend of big government.
The Jesse Kelly Border Security Plan: I am proud to have been endorsed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the National Border Patrol Council. Our border is secure only when virtually all illegal crossings and drug trafficking cease. Here are my benchmarks for achieving border security:
l: Complete the double-layer border fence.
2: Hire an additional 10,000 Border Patrol agents.
3: Reduce drug smuggling by 95 percent.
4: Reduce human smuggling by 95 percent.
5: Reduce crime in border counties by 50 percent.
6: Ensure that Phoenix is no longer the kidnapping capital of the nation.
The Jesse Kelly Social Security Reform Plan:
Social Security is the biggest pyramid scheme in history; however, it is also the bedrock of millions of Americans' financial sustainability. We must recognize that Social Security, as it currently exists, is bankrupt.
We must meet our obligations to those who have paid into the Social Security system their entire lives, while allowing our younger generations to transition their retirement into a more personalized, viable program.
We should look to other industrialized nations, like Chile, which have successfully reformed their retirement systems. While we guarantee the middle-aged and elderly their Social Security benefits, younger workers should have access to an opt-out provision, providing them with various options for individually owned accounts. Also, Rep. Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future has excellent ideas for reforming and strengthening Social Security.
My name is Jesse Kelly. I'm running for Congress to fight for the conservative principles that made this nation great. I ask you for your vote.
Brian Miller, Major, U.S. Air Force Reserve, Tucson
Even as politicians campaign every year to make the border secure - nothing changes. Sound bites are not solutions. I am the only candidate that recognizes that for true border security, we will need to tackle this from many different angles, not simply enforcement.
First, I ask if we want people to legally immigrate into this country, why do we have so many incentives for them to do it illegally? We incentivize this illegal behavior with welfare, the promise of amnesty and birthright citizenship. Those incentives must go away.
Instead, let's recognize the economic forces in play. Ninety percent of those crossing our border illegally are simply coming to look for work. We should be encouraging those people to come here the legal way, through our U.S. points of entry, so that they are accountable, in our system, and competing fairly with Americans for employment. Our system should be market-based, not arbitrary quotas thought up by bureaucrats. Our immigration system must meet the actual demand for labor.
The next thing we can do is to use our existing resources more effectively. For months, I have advocated putting our Border Patrol agents on the border. Agents should not be 50 or 100 miles into Arizona. I recently heard that the new chief of the Border Patrol, Mike Fisher, has been doing just this since he took office in June. As a result, the Border Patrol has seen its chances of apprehending an illegal crosser go up 60 percent.
I believe that a promise made is a promise kept. Those who are depending on Social Security for their retirement must get what they paid in. However, we must begin to allow people to opt out of Social Security. Studies have shown that 99 percent of workers would earn a higher return if their money was invested in the stock market.
I am a proponent of the Fair Tax. The Fair Tax is a national retail sales tax that replaces our current federal system of taxation. One benefit of the Fair Tax is that the money for Social Security and Medicare would come from a general fund, rather than the pay-as-you-go system that we have now. In the long run, this would actually make Social Security and Medicare more solvent and not dependent on the number of workers vs. retirees in the system.
Jonathan Paton, former state senator; Army reservist, Tucson
First of all, let's get this straight: I don't want Janet Napolitano or Gabrielle Giffords deciding when the border is secured. The people living along the border should be the ones to decide whether it's secured.
I would form a committee of ranchers and residents in the border community and empower them to make the determination based on whether they feel their property, children and families are safe. I'd want THEM to set the benchmarks based on their safety - not politicians or bureaucrats in Washington.
To solve the problem, we need to enforce our laws - that's why I voted for and helped pass SB 1070, our new immigration law. We need National Guard on the border - and we needed them there yesterday. We must complete the border fence, but even then, we need human beings along the border to stop the flow of illegal immigration.
I like Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America as a guide and I encourage everyone to take a look at it: www. roadmap.republicans.budget. house.gov online.
First of all, we need to stop raiding the Social Security Trust Fund. Then we need to allow the younger generation to have the option of voluntarily investing a portion of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts. The accounts would have built-in safeguards, but still allow for a greater return than the current system.
Those who have paid into the system need to have their money safeguarded. We can't break our promise to seniors as the Democrats would like to do by letting the program by bankrupt. The Democrats are already clamoring about this, but it's a plan that would help make the system solvent. And Gabrielle Giffords voted to treat Social Security like a piggy bank to pay for Obamacare. That's just wrong.
Jay Quick, business owner, Tucson
There has been no wall ever built that people can't climb over, around or under.
People say the federal government isn't doing its job. This is not true. We've built a thousand miles of fencing that is patrolled by a thousand Border Patrol employees 24 hours a day, and smugglers still come through. There are checkpoints on every road coming north from the border. There are camera towers placed at regular intervals along the border. I don't know what else the government could do.
We need to take a lesson from our experience from the Prohibition era, when banning alcohol produced the same kind of drug-related violence we see today. When we made alcohol legal and taxed liquor sales, the problem was solved. Marijuana is no more dangerous or addictive than alcohol, and making it legal would provide an additional source of revenue to our government.
History also gives us the answer to the undocumented-worker problem. When we instituted the Bracero guest-worker program decades ago, the influx of undocumented workers immediately dropped drastically.
If we establish a guest-worker program that pays fair wages so that immigrants won't be taking jobs from Americans, we'll see a sharp drop in illegal immigration.
Both parties realize this, but the Democrats insist on tying a guest-worker program to citizenship, which is unfair to those already in line. On the other hand, the Republicans insist that the border must be "secure" before they will agree to a guest-worker program. Both parties need to drop their unrealistic demands.
Social Security is in trouble because the ratio of working people to retired people is dropping drastically as the baby boomers retire. That problem is going to exist for at least 20 years.
We can improve the ratio of working people to retired people by passing a guest-worker program that requires the guest workers to contribute to Social Security like the rest of us do.
We also can place limits on people who have enough wealth that they don't need Social Security. Removing the cap on Social Security wages will bring additional money into the fund, as well as encouraging the boomer population to stay in the work force as long as it possibly can.
Unfortunately, the politicians from both parties have been raiding the Social Security Trust Fund for the past several decades to finance their deficit spending.
In the private sector, taking money out of a trust fund will put you in prison.