Joshua Cook interviews South Carolina Libertarian candidate Steve French for Governor. He will be facing Governor Nikki Haley (R), Vincent Sheheen (D), and Tom Ervin (Independent Republican / Petition) in the November elections.
Listen to the interview below:
Here is an excerpt of the interview with Joshua Cook and S.C. gubernatorial candidate Steve French:
Cook: This is Joshua Cook with Benswann.com, and I’m here with Steve French. He is running as a Libertarian candidate for South Carolina Governor. So Steve, the first question I have to ask is what made you wanna jump in? You are a business guy. You have a family. What made you jump into such an important race?
Steve French: Well, it was a number of things. I think like most people every time things build up. Obviously being small business owner, I understand that regulations affect small business, and when I got involved, it was to actually grow a business, not to sit in front of the desk to figure out ways of trying to comply with the tax system and a regulation system. So that already was a huge heartburn for me, but I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was when my son was born this past October and just seeing what kind of state and what kind of country he is being born into.
I think being young, it’s a lot easier to just keep your head down and just go on about your day. But the moment you come to realize that it is about the children, especially your children, you start realizing like, wait a second, here my child hasn’t had any say where this tax money is going, so why should he be the one that’s indebted, and it’s really in my view pathetic that I’m the one sitting at the pediatrician at the OBGYN, looking at all these fresh faces of children being born and shaking my head.
I mean, every child is born in this country has a fifty thousand dollar price tag to them for just the national debt. So I think that was one of the biggest factors. We’ve seen were all the waste, fraud, abuse and corruption. And it’s kinda like that old saying, “Somebody should do something,” and then you look in the mirror and realize that you are that somebody.
So it was time for me to, it was a good time in our life. I just decided that this was the time to go ahead and step up and at least put that face out that says you actually do have a choice. Now you don’t have to pick your poison. You don’t have to be like, “Well, I can’t vote for Republican, but I can’t vote for Democrats, now what do I do?”
We had more people that didn’t vote last election. So that’s a huge opportunity. There’s a lot of people out there that aren’t seeing their representatives represent their interests.
Cook: You know I think there’s a lot of frustration to with some of the Tea Party folks. There are fiscally conservative voters out there. Of course, Lindsey Graham won the nomination and a lot of people were frustrated about that, and they’re actually looking at Victor Kocher right now and will be stepping out and voting for Libertarian for the first time in their lives. You know there are Republicans who are sick of the system, also a lot of Democrats are really sick. I mean, let’s look at Nikki Haley, and let’s look at Vincent Sheheen. Are they really that different?
Steve French: Well, I would say, absolutely not!
And all I do is say, let’s just look at the data you know what we had in the past four years. Have we had more government or less government? Have we had more taxes or less taxes? Again, we just had the largest budget in state history get passed.
Vincent Sheheen, he’s open for expanding Medicaid. Nikki Haley may say, she does not, but yet, we’re still growing Medicaid at the fastest rate than any other state. So if we can show folks that it doesn’t matter if you vote for a Democratic, you can vote for Republican, you can even vote for Tom Ervin. My argument is, you’re going to get the same thing. None of them are talking about the things we’re talking about, and I believe that if we stay very fiscally conservative, talk about zero income tax, talk about smaller government, but at the same time be able to include people from the gay lesbian LGBT movement, talk about the decriminalization of marijuana. We can get that fiscal conservatism across to the people that normally will never, never be a Republican.
Cook: Let’s talk about crony capitalism, a lot of people they say, “Look, Nikki Haley is bringing the jobs like that tire company they just basically gave millions of dollars of tax money to.” A lot of people point to BMW coming to SC as a case study of why we need to give all the incentives. What is the problem with that type of thinking?
Steve French: Well, I think when anybody hears a politician talk about business investment, it should be to be the first notion for their ears to perk up because I don’t think it’s government’s role to pick winners and losers. I didn’t hear anywhere in college. I never heard anywhere in my business classes, anywhere growing up, that a business came profitable and sustainable based on government money, and I think it goes against everything this country was founded on that public dollars to be given to private entities based on the whims of whatever legislatures in office.
And I think a bigger argument to be made about that is you know when anybody talks about investment, what is the key to a solid investment? Diversification. That goes against everything by a quote unquote sound investment to begin with. So, I can make the case for the Charleston Restaurant Association. I mean, they employ way more people than Boeing. They employ way more people than BMW probably combined. But they’re not getting any tax break either.
We need to make this the most competitive state. If we can make South Carolina that state where they would never wanna go anywhere else, we’re going to get their jobs anyway without needing one single incentive.
Cook: Now you know it is argued by Senator Shane Martin when you give all these taxes, when you give these sweetheart deals to Boeing, you’re basically taking money out of the general fund. But yet, we can’t pass school choice. It’s the same type of money. So what’s your plan as governor? What would you do as a leader to make sure that issue stick, because the bottom line is people want school choice – real school choice. What would you do as a Governor to make sure that happens in South Carolina?
Steve French: Well, I’m gonna do couple of things. One – I think it goes back to our budget. I would ask anybody out there what have we got in South Carolina since 2010 that you can’t live without. We had a $20 billion budget in 2010. We had a $25 billion budget now. And my point by saying that is, it is all about getting rid of income tax to begin with because at first it puts money in people’s pockets. If you have money, if you have wealth, you have school choice already. So that’s not even a question, it’s about those folks that don’t have the money, they don’t have the means, they don’t have the way of getting that kind of choice. So, for me, it’s very simple to go back just say, “Hey, what have we gotten this past four years?” I think the vast majority of folks would say there isn’t anything they’ve gotten in past four years. If they can even name something that they couldn’t live without. So, we can go ahead and put the income tax, get rid of it that takes care of that part right there. It’s paid for it. We just get back to 2010 spending levels. On top of that, I think we should get rid of Department of Commerce when they have a $45 million dollar slush fund. It’s a $45 million dollar fund of our tax money that’s just going out again to the government picking winners and losers. So my argument again is, why are these people the one’s picking the winners. Why shouldn’t I be able to say, well you know what why are my restaurants getting help then? I mean they go under just as much as any other business, and the point behind that is we don’t need it. The government should not be involved in that. So, if I can first off get more disposable income back to families. That’s going to help first off. Secondly, I think that school choice movement is one of those bridged gap movements right now. There’s a lot of Democrats that are all about school choice. I’ve talked to some superintendents that are floored by the fact that the Democratic party’s all about food vouchers, they are for health vouchers, they are for house vouchers. But the moment you bring up school vouchers, it’s a non-starter. So, I think there’s enough to the Democrats on that side that will actually be able to come over. My argument though again is that the Republicans can’t do it because it’s come down to a point in politics were it’s about the winners. It’s not about whose idea it is anymore or it is. That’s all it is. It’s not about a good idea. It’s about whose idea is it.
So, we can have this be the idea from Republicans because then it looks like we’re gonna have the Republicans win. We can’t let the Democrats do this, because that’s a Democratic idea. Well, as a third-party Libertarian candidate, I can come in there and say it doesn’t matter whose idea. I don’t care if it’s a Democrat or a Republican idea. Is it a good idea? And if it’s a good idea, then how do we move that idea forward. And I think school choices is one of those perfect examples where there is enough consensus between both parties that right now I feel like they’re fighting just on the party lines whereas if we get somebody new, fresh that doesn’t have the same kind of stigmas, it kind of takes away that whole idea. Just saying, you know what, well, hey, Libertarian third-party candidates gonna push this. It’s no longer a Republican or no longer Democratic idea. That’s why I’ve talked about a lot of things like decriminalization of marijuana. That again bridges both side of the aisle. I think there’s a perfect issue to be able to get passed through right now in our time here in South Carolina because enough people on both sides of the aisle really want to push for things like that.
Cook: What’s your thoughts on health care? You know there’s a bill that will open up the competition where insurance companies would be able to come in South Carolina. So it can cross state lines. How could we make a health care really affordable for South Carolinians?
Steve French: Well, any question about the affordability in cost, it all comes down to competition. That’s why I fully support Mr. Massey’s bill. I find it very disheartening. It’s just like an income tax bill but our governor has not gotten behind. Certain bills that are already primed and ready in our state legislature to get passed. Now, on top of that, we know that Medicaid is going to be a huge issue. By 2020, it is going to take over third of this state’s budget. So, we have to start talking about this issue. Now, I would talk to Democrats that are all about this Medicaid expansion, keep talking about free money. There’s nothing free. I don’t think anybody sits and says it’s just free money given out. And being a business center, I can tell you that when I know that something’s bankrupt or business is about to go under, I stopped giving them business because I know they can’t pay for. Our federal government is broke. $70 trillion in debt folks! That’s what it is. So why am I going to give and I owe you to the federal government saying, “Oh! It’s free, you can pay our state back.” It’s only a matter of time before they can’t. And when they can’t that’s when it’s going to bankrupt the state. So, we have to start talking with these folks that the Medicaid isn’t like a lottery ticket. Like, “Oh my gosh! I won the lottery by getting on Medicaid.” It’s actually the opposite.
I would argue that Medicaid is one of the worst things when it comes to just doing our services and being able to provide quality healthcare. It’s more even of an income argument. We need to talk to folks about raising the matter of poverty. So you know that you can afford your own private health coverage insurance. I think there’s some good arguments being floated out there. There’s a lot of retired doctors right now that would love to start their own practice. The whole reason they can’t do that is because of malpractice insurance now. That goes back to tort reform but I think there is maybe some role for the state to be able to come in there and take some of that burden off as a bill by the state saying you know what, if you’re retired doctor you want to open your own clinic. We can help you do that and we can pull with all these other doctors in this state. On top of that, I think we really need to talk about the home health care issues. When you’re talking about being in your 70s, 80s, end-of-life care, Medicaid is not a financially viable option. We know that is way more expensive for someone to be on Medicaid at the end-of-life care. So we need to be talking about, okay what are the ways that we can keep people in their homes.
So, if we focus on home health care as opposed to just opening up Medicaid. You know for all, I think we can get a better return on that buck. But, like I said, I think it really comes down to competition, and I’m 100 percent behind Kent Massey’s bill about crossing state lines, and I think it’s a matter of time before that happens.
Cook: You know there’s a lot of people in Republican Party that’s really frustrated. What would you say to them, why should they come out and vote for you on November?
Steve French: Well, most Republicans would agree that they’re fiscally conservative. So that’s why we go back to what have we got that’s been fiscally conservative over the past four years. I don’t know one program or one tax that has got repealed. They are talking about an extra 39 cent a gallon gas tax. They are talking about expanding Medicaid, whether or not they are publicly for it, it’s still happening.
We get more and more regulations and make it harder and harder for the common man to just make a living. And I would ask all Republicans to look at the fruit on the tree, just look what we’ve seen. You know there’s some very good data out there that shows we are not in a fiscally conservative state. I haven’t seen it, I don’t know it in any programs that have been brought back or any kind of regulations that have been brought back and I know there’s been no taxes that have been brought back.
This thing by Nikki Haley getting rid of six-percent income tax bracket, giving each family $29 a year. It’s not just a joke, it’s pathetic. I mean twenty dollars a year is not helping anybody out.
And that matters to folks, most of us make fourteen thousand dollars a year which means most of us are only in the seven-percent bracket. So none of us will ever see any kind of tax break because of that. So check the data out. Look at what these people are doing, and I think the Libertarian Party is primed and ready to be that consistently philosophical party that is truly fiscally conservative. I’m trying to get rid of the Department of Commerce. I’m trying to talk about you know, but do we need to have the agriculture budget be millions and millions of dollars to promote barbecue? And I love barbecue, but does the state need to come in there and take our hard-earned money to go out there and advertise that? I would say that’s probably not an efficient way of government allocating public resources.
Cook: Well, you know it seems likes in the other states, a lot of Libertarians are really polling very well and seems like it’s really becoming more popular when people will actually listen to the Libertarian message, especially among young people and more the independent voters. How’s your campaign going? What are you doing to reach out to those voters?
Steve French: It’s going great! I mean, it has just started taking off. More and more the people meet me hear what my policy stances are and see what my background is and what my life has been all about. I think they finally see that I’m just a regular guy. I’m not a career politician. I’m somebody that has business experience. So first off, I know when to get the wrong people out of their positions and I know how to put the right people in the right positions, which I would say our Governor probably needs some work there. But that again is one of the reasons why I stepped up. I got very tired of so many people my age saying I’ll vote for that. But yet not having somebody to vote for and fifty percent of this state doesn’t vote. I would argue that most of them are probably 35, 45 and younger. On top of that they are probably minorities. So, that’s the whole point. We haven’t had third party candidate since 98. We have not had that choice. So, I want to take that excuse away from everybody now saying well you know there’s nobody for me to vote for. No, there is somebody that you can vote for now. The choice is, are you gonna get off the couch and actually do something about it?
Cook: I’ll give you the last word whatever you want say.
Steve French: I would ask everybody that’s listening to this just go to Frenchforfreedom.com, check me out on Facebook, watch some of the videos, listen to what I’m saying about the income tax and listen to what I’m saying about the school choice, decriminalization, equality in marriage. But folks, it does not matter, all those issues are great issues. But if we don’t have transparent official government, it is all for naught. And I think that is the biggest reason why it is time for this day to show and have a referendum on the status quo in office. And for me, that is what this November’s election is about. It’s not about just being one person of legislature. I could’ve ran for state house or state senate. I think it’s time for this entire state to show that we are tired of the status quo and it is time for us to move into the 21st century. Take things over like the income tax, I mean, we’ve got the data out there; we know that nine other states have it — zero income tax has created over half the jobs in this past decade in this past country. We know the school choice is probably one of the biggest ways of getting people out of poverty. So, if we know these things, we have to elect people that are firmly, philosophically implying in that. And I don’t see where either Vincent Sheheen, Tom Urban or Nikki Haley check someone else’s boxes. So that’s why I’m running, and what’s what I’m hoping to get across to the folks. There finally is a choice in South Carolina, and it’s somebody that gets viable and it is somebody that can make a difference here.
Cook: Well, Steve French, thank you so much for you time.
Steve French: Appreciate it.