Tom Bagwell is running for Michigan’s 12th congressional district against incumbent Debbie Dingell (D) and Jeff Jones (R).
Dillon Eliassen: What is your background? Employment, education, family, hobbies, interests?
Tom Bagwell: I have a BS in Political Science from Eastern Michigan University and have taken some graduate coursework. I was elected in 2008 as a Libertarian on a partisan ballot to the Ypsilanti Township Park Commission where I served a partial term. I work in sales at a car dealership now. I enjoy soccer, stand-up comedy, and comics. Really normal stuff, I guess, but between my 3 kids (ages 7 months, 3, and 6), work 50-60 hours a week, and activism, I have little time for much else.
Dillon: Why are you running?
Tom: I am running to advance the liberty agenda and give people a chance to vote for a liberty option. I have no delusions of grandeur about winning, though I am trying to win, but if I can bring new people to the liberty movement and the LP then it will be a success.
Dillon: The 12th is reliably Democratic. Why not get in the Republican primary and go after Dingell that way?
Tom: I considered that but the GOP candidate still typically loses, just with a higher percentage. I would much rather stand on principle and stick with the LP, especially if the result is almost guaranteed already. The Dingells are a dominant political machine in Michigan. The GOP candidate usually only gets between 29-35%.
Dillon: If elected, what is the first piece of legislation you would introduce?
Tom: My priority would be addressing taxation and spending. I have a plan that would call for a 14% flat income tax that would be further reduced by 2% every year over a 7 year period until the income tax is eliminated. Over that 7 years, Congress would be tasked with reorganizing government and balancing the budget. After that, I would introduce a constitutional amendment to repeal the 16th Amendment.
I would also introduce legislation to cut the corporate income tax by half and close its deductions and loopholes. A long term goal is the elimination of the corporate tax at some point.
My 3rd priority would be to shut down the VA healthcare system and provide private insurance or Medicare to vets. This is still an entitlement, but the benefits are contractually obligated to be provided. Shutting down the VA would mean great cost savings and better choices and care for veterans.
Dillon: What, if anything, do you think you could do at a national level to help the citizens of your district? There must be some regulations that could be repealed, or some other removal of government interference in the economy that would help an economically depressed region such as yours. Is there any specific policy you could dismantle that would allow Michiganders to more easily generate wealth for themselves?
Tom: I think one thing we could do is try to get economic enterprise zones into Metro Detroit and Flint. These would be areas where we temporarily suspend large amounts of regulation and allow entrepreneurs to thrive. We can see the results from that and make the case to repeal regulations overall nationwide. I would also seek to remove some regulations from the auto industry that will create more automotive innovation and more jobs.
Dillon: How absolutely shocked were you that Hillary Clinton will not be indicted?
Tom: Based on what was presented I was expecting her to maybe be recommended on a misdemeanor for gross negligence.
Dillon: How long have you been a member of the Libertarian Party?
Tom: I’ve been in the Libertarian Party since I was 16 years old.
Dillon: What sort of assistance have you received from the Libertarian Party for your campaign, financial and/or otherwise?
Tom: The party links to my campaign info on the state and national website. That is it. The Michigan LP doesn’t directly fund candidates nor have the mechanisms to. They do hold candidate training workshops and help you with filing your paperwork and getting on the ballot, but really after that you are on your own. The LP does assist candidates in setting up a basic free website if they need one.
I think this year will be a good year for the LP. If Johnson’s numbers hold at around 10% I think we will also see a good showing in down ballot races too. I would like to see the LP concentrate more on down ballot candidates and support them.
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