I have long championed both lower taxes and reform of the existing tax system, and recently signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose all tax increases. Much of our recent economic prosperity is directly attributable to the lower taxes enacted by recent Congresses. I believe America's tax code is overly complex and burdensome. Americans spend roughly $157 billion each year in tax preparation, to ensure they do not run afoul of the Internal Revenue Service. The system is desperately in need of reform. I support a flat tax concept that simplifies tax preparation, applies a low tax rate to all Americans, and respects the special financial burden carried by American families raising children.
How we define marriage is vitally important because of the message it sends to the culture-to the young, and to the next generation of citizens. Make no mistake, a society that undermines marriage and the family is undermining itself, and a government that attempts to supplant rather than to support the family and marriage is bent on its own destruction.
We must recognize that it is our families, built upon the institution of marriage, that are the fundamental and essential centers of commitment and care that have the real power to transform our society.
In addition to these threats, I remain concerned about the proliferation of pornography in our culture. The commoditization of the human person through pornography is a scourge upon our civilization and one of the most insidious threats to the stability of our families. I held a hearing in 2006 where we examined the detrimental effect pornography has on children and families. I will continue the fight to protect families from a variety of cultural threats.
I'm proud to be an original cosponsor of a bill that presents the same opportunity today for those willing to make a 5-year commitment to live and work in rural America. The New Homestead Act would help pay back college loans, provide a $5,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers and pump much needed capital into our Main Streets in rural communities across America.
This country has faced chronic out-migration before. In the 1970s, metropolitan urban cores across America were suffering from out-migration similar to what we are seeing today in rural America. Tax incentives were put in place to enhance economic development and it revitalized our nation's urban cores. It worked back in the 1970s for the urban core and it can work again today for rural America. We are simply looking to do for rural America what we have already done for the urban core of America.
Growing up on a farm near Parker, Kansas, I saw firsthand that communities in rural America exhibit the values and work ethic we all appreciate as Americans. We must act now to preserve the 'small town' lifestyles that have been so vital to our country's success.
After my recent trip to Iraq, I am even more convinced that the situation there is precarious, but hopeful. I see hope in the Iraqi people. I believe this hope will be the foundation of a new Iraqi society. Much remains to be done, and I think we need a plan to turn this country over to its citizens. I will continue to work with the leaders in our country, as well as leaders in Iraq, to find a solution that protects the future of Iraq, and the pride and dignity of its citizens.
During my time as Secretary of Agriculture in Kansas, I saw firsthand the issues faced by today's farmers. Clean air and water continue to be of top importance, as are the costs of fertilizer and other supplies. America must support the efforts of the agriculture industry, so that it can continue to supply a safe and economical food supply. I believe in agriculture innovation and remain committed to efforts that will help enable farmers to embrace the production of biofuels such as ethanol. I will continue to support America's agriculture industry by bolstering rural communities and the efforts of America's farmers.
Gun Rights/Second Amendment
At the heart of the Bill of Rights is the Second Amendment. This Amendment guarantees an individual the right to keep and bear arms, which is essential, as the Amendment itself affirms, to "the security of a free state." Restrictive gun control laws aimed at weakening this constitutional right are not the answer. Instead, it is important for the government to enforce criminal gun laws already on the books, for communities to stand against gun violence, and for parents to teach children about gun safety.