A Democrat with a tax plan. A candid interview with Democratic Presidential candidate Lloyd Kelso.
Des Moines, Iowa
Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
Marco Battaglia: You were born and raised in Gastonia, North Carolina? How do you feel that your life experiences in the region helped shape your views?
Lloyd Kelso: Gastonia was known for its cotton industry, its textile mills. After NAFTA we lost them all, save for a couple. I think that all of your life experiences have some bearing on coming up with your views.
MB: You mention that in the 70’s you made it through college while working and paying as you went. Do you think that this is possible for students to do today? What role, if any, do you think that politics should play in this matter?
LK: I think that this was entirely more possible to do prior to the 90’s. I am aware that this would be a challenge to accomplish today. I think part of the problem is the Federal Government coming down on private for profit colleges. I would take a look at changing this….
I would not assume that a private college is engaging in fraud. I have a plan where students can take a tax deduction for monies that they pay on college loans and write off up to $5,000 a year for up to ten years after they finish school. I feel that this would give graduates an incentive to work and the ability to rapidly pay off loans instead of paying the federal government. I
think that this would create a work incentive and be able to get past the current congress.
MB: You have been a lawyer with your own practice for the majority of your adult life. How would you describe your practice and your experience as well as the type of cases that you have been involved in?
LK: I have taken on almost any type of case that you can think of. In the past 26 years I have been primarily in family law. I have run the gamut from bankruptcy, wrongful death, to federal anti trust suits. I feel confident in my knowledge of state and federal law.
MB: I have seen you speak of the importance of Medicare and social security. How do you plan on ensuring that these programs will be around and improved upon for all citizens to use?
LK: I think that it is important we preserve social security. I never felt that retirement age works as a one size fits all answer. I think that social security should be means tested to each individual. It is going to take comprehensive reform to do more than just kick the can on down the road on both of these systems, Medicare and Social Security. As far as
Medicare, I will be turning 65 in October and signing up for it myself. I think that we need better controls in terms of how we determine pricing in the Medicare system. We need more transparency on prices and we need the justice department to crack down on Medicare fraud. I think dealing with fraud in both of these systems would be a substantial step
in improving both Medicare and Social Security on down the line.
MB: Medicare and Social Security were not without their critics when these items were first introduced. How do you feel that this criticism compares to the criticism for The Affordable Care Act? What are your thoughts on the affordable care act?
LK: If we are going to agree on and have socialized medicine in this country we need a much improved plan than the affordable care act. We need to immediately review the affordable care act, as congress should have done before passing it, and either repeal and replace or fix the act. I would get rid of the fines for not buying insurance. I think that the affordable care act was outdated well before it was passed….it is similar to a plan floated in 1993……now that the citizens have shown that they want this type of coverage in this country, we need to restructure and revisit the ACA and figure out how to be make socialist medicine succeed.
MB: Are there any past or present politicians that inspired you to take on a Presidential Campaign?
LK: I was inspired as a youth by John Kennedy. I feel like he was one of the last fiscally responsible Democrats. There are things that I liked about Jimmy Carter; my heart actually goes out to him and his family right now. I know that Carter is facing a cancer battle. I can appreciate politicians that work in transparency. I would lead by example in terms of transparency and in terms of having an ethical compass. I can appreciate politicians that are accessible and still able to call people out, be it a staff member, or a congressperson that is in dereliction of their duties.
LK: I have enjoyed my time visiting with Iowans. I have been through areas like Knoxville, Chariton, and Cedar Rapids…..and I have visited multiple locations where I was told by people that they had never been visited by a Presidential candidate before. I am aware of the issues surrounding the Farm Bill as well as the issues with the corn, soybean, and livestock practices and markets…..Tom Harkin’s attack on for profit colleges stands out in my mind, I was not happy with this approach.
MB: There are currently 42 Iowa Ethanol plants and 13 Iowa Bio Diesal plants. Our Governor has made a case for a robust renewable fuel standard. Do you have any thoughts in particular on the RFS?
LK: I support the RFS. I think we do need to scrutinize and find a balance in regulation such as the RFS. But I think that at the end of the day that the RFS has been and remains positive.
MB: In your personal life do you follow a particular religion?
LK: I call myself a Christian. I have pastoral and religious teaching experience; however I want to make it clear that I do not intend to impose my views on anyone else. I think the President is President of Muslims, Catholics, Atheists, agnostics, Buddhists……we clearly
have politicians that do not understand the separation of church and state. In my first year of law school, I won best paper, in constitutional law. We are not to establish a national religion. I firmly believe in that. As far as President I would be neutral on religious matters. I believe that we need to let the church be the church and let the people make their own choices in their personal paths.
MB: Do you have anything that you would say to an agnostic or to an atheist voter in terms of how you would treat them versus anyone else?
LK: I would treat them the same as every other citizen. They have the freedom to believe what they wish and they deserve a President that would represent them just as well as they would any other citizen.
MB: Do you have any general thoughts on the Middle East? There have been billboards that have gone up around Iowa recently questioning the amount of aid that we give to Israel. Do you have any thoughts on this matter?
LK: I do not think that spending or throwing money at a problem has been bringing us closer to peace or even necessarily helping matters…..We need to figure first what is best for Americans before we can successfully help people anywhere else on the globe. As far as ISIS we need to listen to our joint chiefs and immediately cut off any supply line to ISIS, supplies, weaponry, ect…… we are seeing the consequences of decades of bad policy. We need take accountability for the genocide that is occurring as a direct result of our training and armament. I do not think that there is an easy way of solving the problems in the region but we need to acknowledge where we are at today, how we got here, and what we can change to better work towards peace in the future…..
MB: Do you have any thoughts on the Democratic, Republican, and third party or independent field for President at the moment? Have you spoke to any other candidates that are running?
LK: I think Trump is going to have a negative impact on the Republican Party. I think that if they continue to support Clinton that Clinton is going to have a negative impact on the Democratic Party. I have difficulty supporting the nominee if that nominee should be Clinton.
My difficulties come from her time as Secretary of State and her words and actions while she has held office and been first lady. I feel that I have been excluded up until this point by the Democratic Party. I will have to give a lot of thought to putting support behind any Democratic nominee after the experience that I have had during this campaign with the Democratic Party.
If it comes down to it I will take legal action against the Democratic Party due to my treatment during this campaign. I have written them formally letting them know that we do not like how our party is treating the field of candidates.
I have reached out via email, physical mail, telephone, and I have not received anything in response beyond a bulk emails looking for money to support the party. I do not see a third party run from myself as likely, but I would be open to speaking on this matter with third party or independent candidates that like my platform.
MB: What your thoughts on “Democratic Socialism”?
LK: I think that there is some argument on the agreed upon definition of socialism. I can say that I support specific programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security…….but as far as redistribution of wealth in any direction I am severely opposed…..I am heavily opposed raising estate taxes or extreme estate taxes……I think that unless a specific socialized program is run very well….the money is always going to run out……I would not like us to become a socialist or a communist country……we need to scrutinize all of our programs and we need to thoroughly vet any new program that is introduced…..
MB: You have a tax plan on your website. Can you describe your plan?
LK: I would call it a flat and fair tax. My plan stops discrimination of citizens in terms of taxes. It stops discrimination between the haves and have nots….or the don’t have yets…. it stops discrimination between people have children and people that do not have children, it gives the lowest class tax relief. If you make 8 dollars an hour and you have to give the federal government an income tax…..this is wrong. Under our current policies we have seen a downward spiral as far as mobility in our class structure…..until someone is making $50,000 dollars a year you will not be taxed nearly at all….it is time to allow Americans to work their way out of poverty……….the opportunity for upward mobility will be a boon to all citizens…..I have full faith in my plan……
MB: Do you know much about the Fair Tax or Rand Paul’s Tax plan?
LK: If you mean the fair tax, as in the plan based on consumption tax? I think that this plan in unfair to the poor…..I think a complete consumption tax is a really bad idea……as far as Rand Paul’s plan I believe that it is comparable to my plan……I encourage people to read
up on both plans…..
MB: Can you give your thoughts on the current state of military spending and the current state of Veteran Affairs?
LK: I would get a full assessment from our Joint Chiefs of Staff as to our current state of spending…..I am talking cost guard, army, navy, marines…..
I want to be well studied and have a good idea of exactly what we need to spend to best support our troops…..I honestly am willing to cut my personal salary….to what our troops get paid……there are many ways that we can reevaluate military spending………I think that the long waiting lists for Vets to get assistance is unacceptable…..I think that our veteran issues are at critical mass…..there will be no more vets left around from the world wars and even the Vietnam war before much time passes…..we need to act immediately to make sure that these people that put their lives on the line for us have the best care available. The VHA is not going to have nearly as many people to treat in 10….20…..years…….veterans served our country… politicians MUST serve them in return…..
MB: What are your thoughts on the national debt?
LK: My goal…the first year….is to create a 500 billion dollar surplus to pay off the debt, by my second year…..a trillion dollar surplus…….I want the next President to come into office to be dealing with a 10 trillion debt……this would be moving us in the right direction……
We have to get this debt to a much more manageable level….we need to be working toward this…….we need to watch the overall debt in terms of it’s impact
on inflation, and interest……our current interest payment on the debt is unacceptable……I want to pay off the debt a lot quicker than we are at the moment….
MB: Do you support debate reform? For example open debates?
LK: I think something like we have with the NCAA tournament would be a great start. Have regional debates and work your way to a final four……
This way there would be some assurance of both access and quality control. What we have seen over the last century has pretty much been elite vetted candidates saying very similar things. I do not think that this is good for America or the American people. I would support the open debate plan.
I think that giving everyone filed with the FEC some sort of opportunity to debate would have a positive impact on the process.
MB: Are you familiar with the group Clean Water Iowa, in terms of what groups like this are working towards…..what…..if any actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that everyone has access to clean water?
LK: I have direct experience. I represented a group of people that were opposing a landfill. It was located right next to a river. I saw the whole process. I saw the impact first hand.
I can sympathize with people on this matter. I am a person that thinks that this matter is important. If your business is going to involve water or soil contamination it is your responsibility to address these matters. That is the bottom line. We have got to be cognizant of environmental matters. I would call myself an environmental President.
MB: Are you well read on Glass Steagall? Would you support the current “Glass Stegall” bill introduced by Senator Warren?
LK: I saw flaws with the original Glass Stegall legislation. I am certainly concerned about the white collar crime and predatory lending practices. I would have agreed with doing away with Glass Stegall as we knew it, but I would be in favor of good legislation to take on
wall street crimes and predatory lending practices…..
MB: What do you think of the current Audit the Fed legislation on the table?
LK: I am in favor of this legislation.
MB: How about Senator Wydens “Audit the Pentagon” bill?
LK: I am in favor of it. I would also like to audit the state department.
MB: What are your thoughts on Senate Bill 1471, the transparency for 911 victims and survivors act?
LK: I would support this transparency and this bill. It is time that we clean up our act. I think conspiracy theories are generated mainly due to secrecy. The best way to be able to correct past mistakes is to be able to know what exactly these mistakes were. If we keep hiding behind the guise of security we will continue to have low information politicians and low information voters.
MB: What are your thoughts on recent high profile whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning?
LK: Ed Snowden has never been tried or convicted of any of these offenses. There would be nothing to pardon as of this moment. Historically, I thought the pardoning of Richard Nixon was wrong. I would need to learn more about these individual situations before I could decide on if any action should be taken.
MB: If elected President could you see yourself limiting the powers of the President during your time in office?
LK: I have not given this matter a whole lot of thought. I certainly do not see myself trying to expand the power of the Presidency. What we need to do is to look towards the constitution and the bill of rights, and you need to ensure that the processes that we have established for our Republic are followed.
MB: Earlier this evening when I was listening to you speak; you gave some figures in terms of comparing your personal campaign spending to Donald Trump’s?
LK: I was doing some figures, comparing to what I am worth versus what Trump is worth, and then comparing the investments that we have made on our own respective campaigns….I do not have the figures in front of me now…..but I worked up a figure about…. $25,000 that I have spent on my own campaign…..if we took that percentage relative to Trump’s total net worth…..he would have already spent…$750 million dollars on his campaign…..so who do you think has made the bigger commitment…..I think that my commitment… is as or more sincere than any candidate actively running today.
MB: Are there any questions that you wish you be asked in a debate or an interview?
LK: I hope that I get asked about the debt. What happens if we default on our money owed to China? I hope that I get asked about education. How are we going to turn this huge out of control federal government around? I want a chance to call every member of congress out if need be. Let us make America a great place to be again.
Note from Marco Battaglia
I want to make it clear that Lloyd Kelso did not vet my questions, he did not know the questions beforehand, nor did he vet me as an interviewer. I asked for the interview and he accepted I would encourage anyone running for President to give answers related to these items that we touched on. I would gladly give equal time to anyone running.
You can read more about Lloyd Kelso at http://www.lloydkelsoforpresident.com/ and you can interact with him directly via that site or at https://www.facebook.com/lloydkelsoforpresident2016
You can look into more declared Democratic candidates here