Jesse Ventura on Budget & Economy

Former Independent MN Governor; possible Presidential Challenger


Balance American Dream with unfairness of capitalism

Let's face it, capitalism isn't always fair. So if you're looking to bring fairness to life, you have to take steps more toward socialism. Which then causes a conflict of interest, because socialism means you're going to be even more controlled in your decision-making by the Establishment. Then again, is that what's required to keep an equal balance? What I really see leaving is the American Dream. The destruction of the middle class means you're no longer going to have that dream, which is that a youn person can achieve anything if you put your mind to it because the opportunities are there. Now are they still? Yes. But are they more difficult? Yes. I see many more obstacles in the way of the American Dream today, and a great deal of it is caused by greed. It's understood that a certain amount of wealthy people are going to control the majority of the money, but when it's moving so drastically that you've got 5 percent of the people having 90 percent of the money, that can't be healthy.
Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p.165 , Mar 8, 2010

Keep savings banks separate from speculative investments

The new era of deregulation resulted in a boom time for the rich getting richer. Reagan opened wide the door for companies to gamble with taxpayers' money. In 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed, and a real free-for-all began. It was passed in 1993 to keep separate the low-risk commercial banks where we put our deposits, and the brokerage banks that engage in high-risk speculative investments. This worked just fine for more than 50 years. During the Reagan years, the lobbyists for the finance, insurance, and real estate outfits started pushing to dump the law; then the rules of the game changed totally. Mergers and commercial/investment partnerships skyrocketed. Now banks could start taking multiple home mortgage loans and turning them into securities to trade on Wall Street. They could all gamble like crazy, and with very little regulation.

How insane was it to destroy one of the main protection devices created out of the pain of the Great Depression.

Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p.169 , Mar 8, 2010

Return to staid banking: low-risk highly-regulated loans

    Is it naive to think about banking returning to the austere, staid practice of simply taking deposits & making conservative loans at low interest rates to qualified borrowers, under rigid regulations administered by moderately paid federal employees? Here's what some smart economists think we need to do:
  1. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act and wall off commercial banking from investment bank gambling, and require strict leverage limits
  2. Insulate the federally insured depositors from reckless investment schemes with no social utility whatsoever like there "credit default swaps" that are entered into by entities that don't own the underlying bonds
  3. Withdraw the massive handouts and taxpayer-backed guarantees given to prop up specific banks and financial institutions, and use these funds to instead support the struggling homeowners and defaulting borrowers who form the root of this crisis
  4. Let the already-insolvent bank go bankrupt and begin removing the bad debt from the system.
Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p.180-181 , Mar 8, 2010

Entered governor race when legislature spent $4B surplus

Minnesota had just seen its first major budget surplus--and they spent it, about $4 billion! The governor and the legislature didn't care one iota. They had all this extra money and, by God, they could fund all these pet projects they'd dreamed of--they were like kids in a candy store. I started explaining to people [via my radio show] how this represented overtaxation. I felt that money ought to be returned to the people.

State budgets do not run on deficit like the federal government. If you had a situation where you applied that additional money to a debt, maybe I could have lived with it more. As it was, I started complaining vehemently on the air about how wrong our supposed leaders were for doing this. After all, this is OUR money!

I started stating that maybe I should run for governor. Well, it caught on like wildfire. I felt I'd boxed myself into a corner--if I didn't attempt to do this, I would lose my credibility. And in the world of talk radio, once that happens, you're finished

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 37 , Apr 1, 2008

Concentrate on what's necessary, not what's nice

We build and maintain roads, bridges, prisons and schools. We educate our children, we care for our elderly and we protect the public's safety. Unfortunately every year that we do more it will cost you more in taxes. It is my belief that when we are facing a two billion dollar budget deficit we should concentrate on what is necessary and not necessarily what's nice.
Source: State of the State address to 2002 Minnesota legislature , Jan 3, 2002

Government spending hurts the economy

You don't help the economy by more government spending, in my opinion. You help the economy by putting money back in the private sector's pocket so they can invest that money, so they can spend that money, so they can help the economy. By putting more money into the government, in my opinion, is not going help the economy. It's going to hurt it.
Source: CNN coverage: interview on Larry Kind Live show , Mar 14, 2001

Government is no bottomless pit of money-it’s from you & me

We have more to worry about from the folks on the Left, the “undeclared socialists,” who think you solve every social problem by throwing money at it. There’s no way this group is anywhere near the threat that the Right wants you to believe they are, but they do advance a policy that we need to steer clear of. The government is not a bottomless pit of wealth. Where do you think every penny of government money comes from? The taxpayers. You and me.
Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p. 52 , Jul 2, 2000

Never, ever forget it's the public's money

Within one week of my election, I set three top priorities: budget, budget, budget. Today I am releasing mine to you in a handy wallet form. They boil down to this:
Source: 1999 State of the State Address to Minnesota Legislature , Mar 2, 1999

End pork-barrel spending; return surplus to the people

I decided to run for governor because I got mad. In 1997, the State of Minnesota had a budget surplus of more then $4 billion. The voters wanted that surplus returned to them because, in their opinion, they’d been overcharged. But Minnesota legislators chose to ignore the wishes of the people and instead dreamed up all kinds of pork-barrel projects to make themselves look good when reelection time came. Some of that surplus money was bonded to pay for high-profile projects that the people didn’t want. As a result, our children are going to have to assume the payments on the out-of-date convention centers and sports facilities these politicians built to help themselves get reelected. Is that how we show our children we care for them? Is that the kind of public servants the voters really want?

I want to make government more directly accountable to the people.

Source: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, p. 8-9 , Jan 1, 1999

Return any budget surpluses to the taxpayers automatically

Wherever we have a surplus of revenue above what is needed to run the government, that money should be returned to the taxpayer. The utility companies do that, why can’t government? The Democrats always argue that as long as there’s tax money left over, we can always find good, worthy programs to spend it on. That’s true. But there’s another way to handle that: It’s called “No!” We can’t be looking for excuses to spend money just because we have it to spend. The bottom line is, if there’s any money le over, it should go back to the people who paid it. Plain and simple.

The “Keep it Simple” rule applies to how we send it back, too. The citizens don’t have time to watchdog the government; they’re busy working and raising families and trying to survive. We have to set up a refund mechanism that runs itself smoothly and efficiently. People should be able to trust that anything that’s left over will automatically come back to them.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 23-4 , Jan 1, 1999

Government policy should facilitate business

Government policy should facilitate business. The more money businesses get to keep, the lower their costs will be, and the less they’ll need to look to government for help. Government’s role should be only to keep the playing field level, and to work hand in hand with business on issues such as employment. But beyond this, to as great an extent as possible, it should get the hell out of the way.

Businesses pay too much in taxes, just as individuals do. Businesses are overtaxed because government has taken over more functions than necessary. We need to figure out which services could be handled better by private sector. In the hands of the private sector, unlike government, competition will keep quality high and cost low. Once we’re left with only the services that government provides best, we can then figure out ways for it to perform those services as cost-effectively as possible.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 32 , Jan 1, 1999

Let state meat inspection suffice for interstate shipments.

Ventura signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Meat Inspection 00-MGC3 on Jul 25, 2000

Bankruptcy reform: limit Chapter 7; protect states' role.

Ventura adopted the National Governors Association policy:

    The Governors are particularly concerned that bankruptcy reform legislation address the following issues:
  1. Prevent Chapter 7 Use by Those with the Ability to Pay: Present bankruptcy law does not prevent use of Chapter 7 by those with ability to repay, nor does it require that debtors use Chapter 13, which would require them to repay creditors what the debtor can afford. The Governors strongly support federal efforts to prevent debtors from using Chapter 7 when they are financially able to pay some or all of their unsecured debts.
  2. Encourage Payment of Domestic Support Obligations: Bankruptcy interferes significantly with states’ ability to assist citizens owed domestic support and to collect unpaid domestic support owed them. The Governors strongly encourage Congress to ensure that any federal bankruptcy reform requires that domestic support obligations have the highest possible repayment priority, that all domestic support obligations be nondischargeable, and that commencement of bankruptcy not prevent the continued collection of child and other support obligations.
  3. Give State Claims Parity with Federal Claims in Bankruptcy: Today, bankruptcy rightly gives certain preferences in payment to federal claims against the bankruptcy estate, but similar treatment is not always accorded state claims. The Governors strongly support congressional efforts to reform the treatment of state claims in bankruptcy to provide parity of treatment with federal claims.
  4. Protect the State Role: The Governors oppose efforts to preempt state authority to determine exemptions under state bankruptcy law. Currently, debtors have a right to choose between federal and state exemptions. The Governors support efforts to shape bankruptcy reform policy that protects the rights of states to determine their own standards instead of having uniform federal regulations imposed without regard for individual state needs.
Source: NGA Economic Development Policy EDC-21: Bankruptcy Reform 01-NGA2 on Feb 15, 2001

Uphold commitments to states before other spending.

Ventura adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

The major budget issue will be over the surplus and how big of a surplus there will be. How much will be dedicated to paying down the national debt, how much to tax cuts, how much to increase defense spending, what to do about key discretionary spending programs, and whether and how to change key entitlement programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security? How these decisions are made could have significant impacts on the federal-state partnership, especially as they affect vital health and human services programs. What will happen to funding for priority state domestic discretionary programs for the federal fiscal year? When will Congress act?

NGA’s Position

Before considering new spending initiatives or tax cuts, the federal government must first uphold its current commitments to the states.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA8 on Sep 14, 2001

Foster dairy production that is market driven.

Ventura signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Dairy Reform 98-MGC1 on Feb 24, 1998

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Page last updated: Oct 27, 2021