A libertarian conservative has declared his plans to "take out Nancy Pelosi" in the 2010 election to stop her from devastating the nation.
John Dennis, a businessman and real-estate investor in California's 8th Congressional District, told WND, "I've decided to run because the statist Pelosi agenda will destroy America."
Rep. Pelosi's district covers most of San Francisco, and Democrats have held the seat since 1949. Since first winning the House seat in a 1987 special election, Pelosi, 69, has breezed to re-election 10 times. President Obama received 85 percent of the vote there in 2008.
Looking ahead to 2010
What gives Dennis hope for 2010?
"I think we can build a very sturdy case for taking out Pelosi," he said. "I find most of the people on the left find that she's not their cup of tea. She engages in a lot of class warfare, and there are a lot of folks on the left who are disaffected by her and disaffected with her. We're going to leverage as many of those relationships as we possibly can."
California's 8th Congressional District
Dennis, son of a longshoreman and a city hall clerk, grew up in a Jersey City, N.J., housing project. He graduated from Fordham University with a degree in business administration and co-founded Humanscale, one of the world's top 10 design firms, specializing in office ergonomics. He later created Foundation Real Estate, a San Francisco-based investment company. In 2008, he served as Phonebank and Get Out the Vote director for Ron Paul's presidential campaign in San Francisco.
"I became actively involved in politics about two years ago," he said. "I was frustrated with everything – even my own party and the lost opportunities we had to put a cap on spending and the growth of government. I was looking for good candidates to support, and I just finally decided to be a candidate myself."
Dennis is founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, board member of the Republican Liberty Caucus of California and has served as an alternate on the San Francisco Republican Central Committee.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House
Asked whether he has the Republican Party behind his campaign, he replied, "I don't have the nomination yet, although I have some major endorsements. I don't suspect that's going to be an issue."
Dennis expressed deep concern over the "looming dollar crisis," the nation's "mountain of debt" and what he considers the federal government's unconstitutional expansion of power.
He blasted Pelosi's "disastrous" legislative agenda advocating government-run health care, cap and trade and the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, a bill that would give the president "emergency" control of the Internet.
"Everything that Nancy Pelosi has her hands on is anti-liberty and pro-government power," Dennis said, with a laugh. "I defy anybody to show me a speech or a press release that says she's going to somehow protect their liberties and reduce the size of government."
Energy and the free market
Dennis said he would like to see improved relations with foreign countries and that the federal government's only energy policy should be its foreign policy.
He noted that Sen. John McCain said during his 2008 presidential campaign that Americans are buying oil from "countries that don't like us very much."
"It stopped me in my tracks and made me think, what if they did like us?" Dennis asked. "How would we feel about that?"
He continued, "The first step is to see what we can do to improve our relationships so we feel more comfortable with other countries as trading partners for our energy needs. The second thing to do is let the free market do its job. If we allow the market to do what it does best, much better than any managed economy could ever do, then, ultimately, we'll find the appropriate sources for our energy needs that'll make everybody feel comfortable and drive our economy."
Cap and trade: 'Almost laughable'
Dennis blasted Pelosi's support for the cap-and-trade bill, calling the legislation a "poor excuse for a new tax."
"I'm very leery of the government," he said. "When I read the Constitution, I see our founders writing the document when they are very concerned about the potential abuse of power from the federal government. Every time I hear of a new scheme like cap and trade, it makes me ask, where's the constitutional authorization to do this? Of course, it's not there."
He called the science behind the climate legislation "almost laughable."
"The people who are advocating this say it will maybe reduce global temperatures by half of a percent by the year 2100," he said. "Good luck getting me behind that legislation."
Education credits for homeschoolers
Dennis proposes education credits for children enrolled in private, parochial and home schools.
"It's very simple," he said. "Make a tax credit available to those folks and give them the option to take their money and go wherever they want."
He said he lived in Holland for a brief time and noticed the region had a strong education system in which the students speak English by the age of 9 and are well-versed in history and mathematics.
"What I found was, instead of the money going to the schools, the money followed the kids," he said. "That's the objective – to actually have the money go to the kids as opposed to being stuck in schools or some bureaucratic organization like the Department of Education, which may be the single biggest waste of money in the federal government."
As for the Department of Education, Dennis proposes abandoning it altogether – and immediately.
"Of all the departments, the only one I would cut immediately and not gradually unwind is the Department of Education," he said. "I challenge anybody to tell me how their life will be affected if the Department of Education didn't exist tomorrow."
Dennis said he firmly believes education is an issue between parents and teachers.
"It's as local of a decision as you can possibly imagine, and that's where it's going to be most effective," he said. "To think that adding a layer of bureaucracy is somehow going to improve the educational prospects of students is beyond naive and almost infantile."
As for health reform, Dennis said he does not support Pelosi's agenda of big-goevrnment interference. He recalled a time when he was sick and his doctor made a house call, but he said that level of care doesn't exist today.
"Back then, I would guess that virtually none or maybe 1 cent of every health-care dollar went through the federal government," he said. "But today, conservatively, 60 cents of every health-care dollar goes through government."
Since the 1960s, Dennis said the nation has experienced an explosion in health-care costs.
"I wonder if there's a relationship there," he said. "The government got involved in a particular industry, and the costs went up."
He said free markets must be able to solve these problems, and government-run health care would seriously worsen an already overregulated system.
"People think their health care is expensive when the government is involved with 60 cents on the dollar? Wait until it's involved in 80, 90 or 100 cents on the dollar and see how expensive it becomes," he said.
Dennis proposes making all out-of-pocket medical expenses and insurance premiums tax deductible and using the Constitution's commerce clause to enable all insurers to compete anywhere in the United States.
While Pelosi has called enforcement of existing immigration laws, as currently practiced, "un-American," Dennis proposes an end to birthright citizenship, amnesty and government services for illegal immigrants.
"People come here and use services mandated by the federal government that help bankrupt states and put hospitals out of business in border towns," he said. "To the extent that those illegal immigrants weaken the dollar and usher in the demise of the dollar, I am very opposed to illegal immigration."
As a businessman, Dennis said he knows it is often difficult to find laborers during periods of economic growth. He also said he doesn't believe the U.S. border will ever be 100 percent "air tight."
"They can fly in and stay, run across the borders. That's a reality, and I don't think we can ever stop that completely," he said. "We can try like heck, and we can stem the flow, but it's always going to happen."
So Dennis proposes a temporary worker program that would require immigrants to identify themselves and register for work before entering the United States. The program would create incentives, such as a fast track to citizenship or partial Social Security benefits, for those who comply. He said harsh penalties would apply to those who don't participate in the program and to the employers who illegally hire them.
"I don't think it's the silver bullet," he said, "but I think it's something that can contribute to a much more orderly process of immigration."
Proud gun owner
Dennis, a member of the National Rifle Association, or NRA, said he is a proud gun owner and strong advocate of property rights.
"The Second Amendment is fine by me," he said, "and I don't even need a Second Amendment to tell me that I have the right to defend myself."
As for mandatory waiting periods before an individual may purchase a firearm, he said, "I find it remarkable that private citizens who are non-felons can't buy guns and have them at their disposal. It's staggering to me."
Clearly flustered at the mere idea of gun control, he added, "If I keep talking about this topic, I'll probably get upset.
"You have the right to your person, and you have the right to your property," he said. "Without the right to defend your property and your person, then those rights are meaningless. That just goes without saying."
Social Security and nation's 'mountain of debt'
Referring to Social Security as a "pyramid scheme," Dennis advocates offering citizens a chance to opt-out of the system. He also proposes abolishing various departments to save billions, shore up Social Security and pay down the national debt.
"I want to go back and look at every portion of the budget and say, 'Is this constitutional, or isn't it?'" he said. "If it isn't, let's cut it and manage to somehow create a surplus as opposed to a deficit. Let's start paying down the debt that we owe."
He said the nation cannot ignore a $12.5 trillion mountain of debt that doesn't include unfunded liabilities.
"We have no choice, we've got to do this," he said. "Either that, or we're going to debase the dollar and have a back-door default on what we owe. That will create chaos in the world."
As for Social Security and Medicare, he said he believes the nation still owes the benefits it has promised.
"But I think we have to find a way to make those private and get the government out of the retirement and health-care business permanently," he said. "We have to begin a reasonable, responsible march toward that end. I don't think governments are particularly good at creating wealth and managing wealth, and I really don't think they're great at managing money."
States rights and Senate elections
Dennis said he is a "big fan" of the 10th Amendment state sovereignty movement and advocates a complete repeal of the 17th Amendment, the 1913 constitutional amendment that calls for direct election of senators.
As one example of why he believes senators should be elected by their state legislatures, as originally outlined in the Constitution, Dennis recalled taxpayer reaction to proposed bailouts earlier this year.
"People are mad. People are upset," Rep. Mark Udall said on "Meet the Press." "My calls are mixed between people who say 'No' and people who say 'Hell no.'"
Dennis noted, "People didn't want those bailouts. They were vocal enough about it to their representatives."
However, he explained, the Senate passed the unpopular bill first because, with a re-election rate in the high 90 percent range, senators' races and positions are more secure.
"It provided political coverage so it could go back into the House, and the members who were on the fence could say, 'Hey, look, the Senate passed it. They seemed to think it was the right thing to do, so I voted for it,'" Dennis explained.
He said voters should imagine a situation in which those senators were elected by state legislatures and were forced to go back to those legislatures to defend their votes.
"There would be a lot less job security for those guys and a lot more transparency and responsiveness if the state legislatures were putting the senators in Washington as opposed to the people," he said.
'Time to bring troops home'
Soldiers enter house in Tameem, Iraq, in search of suspects linked to shooting on U.S. forces (photo: Tech Sgt. Jeremy Lock, U.S. Army)
While Dennis acknowledges that the U.S. military is "unwinding" in Iraq with goals to be out by 2011, he said, "I would just as soon see that time frame sped up so we can just get the guys out."
He expressed concern about a civil war in Iraq that may "suck the troops back in."
"That would be a heartbreaking thing to see happen," he said. "I'd like to see them unwind, and, if not, we can at least keep our fingers crossed that nothing happens to draw them back in."
Dennis called the Afghanistan war "particularly troublesome."
"Osama bin Laden and his whole crew, they deserve to be caught," he said. "We had the right to go in after them. But, frankly, we got who we got and we missed the big cheese. He's gone now, and the one place on Earth where he's not going to be coming back is the place where we are."
While he said the troops have performed "magnificently," he called the current mission muddled.
"They have done their job, and it's time to bring them home."
Ending capital gains and income taxes
From a liberty perspective, Dennis said he gets defensive when he discusses the income tax.
"Think about everything it implies," he said. "It implies that the government owns things that you work for. It owns you, and it lets you keep a portion of it."
When he suggests ending the income tax and cutting government spending, Dennis said some people ask him, "How are we going to finance our government?"
"My first question is, 'Why don't you want your money back?!'" he said, laughing. "Why are you making excuses for people taking away your money to spend it the way they see fit? Why don't you work to keep your money and spend it the way you see fit?"
While the income tax generates about $1.1 trillion, Dennis said the government must cut spending and send that money back to taxpayers.
"Just imagine if we put $1.1 trillion back into consumers' pockets," he said. "Think about that and what that would mean."
Abolishing the Federal Reserve
Dennis suggests the Fed meet its fate.
"Central banking is an interesting thing," he said. "It's a key plank in the Communist Manifesto. It's another form of central economic planning, just like they did in Moscow during the Soviet Union era. Look what it's wrought."
He said allowing a central group to set interest rates – which he said they invariably set too low – will send the wrong economic signals to entrepreneurs.
"By doing that, they start doing projects that will never be completed because the resources just don't exist for it," he said. "You might have mild business cycles, but with a central bank you have these gigantic boom and bust cycles."
On the bust side, he said the Fed's response is to ease monetary policy when it should raise interest rates so people begin to save again. When people save, those savings go into investment, leading to production and spurred growth.
"When you discourage saving by lowering interest rates, you can never start the kind of growth that you need," he explained.
Dennis said he's concerned the U.S. will face the same stagflation environment Japan has been suffering through for the last 20 years.
"Think about another 17, 18 or 20 years of what we just went through from here on out," he said. "That's the prospect that a Federal Reserve central bank can create, and that's one of the things I'd like to see abolished."
Homosexual 'marriage' and abortion
As for same-sex "marriage," Dennis said, "I don't think the government has any business being involved in marriage in the first place. As much as I don't have anything against gays by any stretch of the imagination – as someone seeking federal office – I can't find a way to support gay marriage."
Asked whether he believes the issue should be left to the states, he replied, "I'm running for federal office, and the states can decide what they want to do. But it's definitely not a federal issue."
Dennis also said he's strongly opposed to federal funding of abortion.
"I'm strongly opposed to the federal government getting involved in stem-cell research as well," he said. "That's just not its business. It shouldn't have anything to do with it. It's a really complex issue, and it's not in the Constitution that we should be subsidizing any kind of research, especially stem cell."
John Dennis, wife Heather and daughter Devan (photo: John Dennis)
'Sick' of Nancy Pelosi
While he expressed numerous concerns about Pelosi's legislative agenda, Dennis was most outspoken about the House speaker's reported use of Air Force jets to fly back and forth between Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
"Here's a woman who is a class warrior, constantly going after the rich, and yet she lives a very elitist lifestyle herself," he said. "In fact, her elitist lifestyle is subsidized by us."
Air Force C-32
Since Sept. 11, Pelosi has received what the Air Force refers to as "shuttle service," allegedly due to concerns for security. In recent years, Pelosi has reportedly requested a C-32 plane for her travels. The aircraft is a luxurious version of the Boeing 757-200 commercial intercontinental airliner and costs $22,000 an hour to operate.
Dennis said some estimates reach as high as $25 to $30 million to fly her all over the country.
"That's the sort of thing that infuriates people," he said. "You know why? We're borrowing one-third of that."
He added, "She could buy out every first-class cabin in every flight and save the country a fortune. But she's got to use military jets."
Dennis said he often asks people, "What's the one thing about Pelosi that bothers you most?"
"A lot of times, truth be told, people respond, 'Everything,'" he said. "Aside from that response, people say her holier-than-thou attitude, her above-it-all unresponsiveness."
Pelosi professes to have sentiments of being for the people, Dennis said, but her actions speak volumes.
"Her lifestyle doesn't support any of those positions," he said. "I think people in this district are getting just as sick of her as everyone else."