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Issues - Different Enough to Win

I believe in limits.  On how much national debt we can accumulate.  On how many immigrants we can absorb while maintaining a cohesive society with a high quality of life.  On how much CO2 we can pump into the atmosphere.  On how much political polarization we can tolerate as a society.  Healthy entities react and change course when limits are exceeded.  We haven’t yet, but I want to do my part.

We Republicans have to be fair about assessing blame though.  We've lost the popular vote in 7 out of the last 8 presidential elections.  That’s on us.  The problem isn’t with the messengers, it's the message.  We need to recognize that times have changed, our issues and problems are different today, and not just offer up comfortable platitudes from the ‘80s or ‘90s.  

I think that polarization is a problem and am committed to taking steps to diminish it where possible.  On both sides, a prerequisite to de-escalation is to acknowledge that the other side has some legitimate beefs.

I will be a provocative and unconventional candidate.  Let me say it right up front – the Democrats aren’t wrong about everything.  If we want to win in Colorado’s 7th district or nationwide, and govern with confidence, we need to appropriate some of their positions and take some of their voters.  Bill Clinton called it “triangulation”, but it's just common sense.  As things stand today, we’re a minority party.  I want to change that, and you should too. 


Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform said in 1995 - 

"Deportation is crucial. Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave. The top priorities for detention and removal, of course, are criminal aliens. But for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

Exactly.  Even before the latest 8-10 million surge under the Biden administration, we had 12-15 million illegals.  We'll have to get comfortable deporting lots of people.    

But even legal immigration numbers have been too high for too long and we've been too lax about it.  Across the developed world there’s a growing backlash to high immigration levels and conservative parties are benefitting from that.  Rapid demographic change and reduced levels of social cohesion, stress on infrastructure and the environment, expensive housing, and high levels of income inequality are all well documented downsides to high immigration levels.  The alleged economic benefits (0.31% of GDP!) are so small as to be negligible and new empirical research confirms this.

Past efforts at comprehensive reform failed because the future legal immigration levels were negotiated up rather than down.  I'm open to compromise, but with the foreign-born population at record levels, there's no point in making an amnesty deal unless legal immigration levels drop.

We have to decide whether the U.S. is a nation or an economic zone/sociology experiment.  We can’t be a real nation anymore with the current policies.

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Spending, Taxes, Deficits

The national debt is now $34 trillion.  As a % of GDP, that’s as high as at the end of WWII and headed in the wrong direction.  To realistically fix this, we’ll need some type of bipartisan “grand bargain” that includes spending cuts and tax increases.

For spending cuts, no category is off the table.  Even Defense is too big to exclude. 

The budget deficit for 2023 was $1.7 trillion.  Let's assume a grand bargain to eliminate it would be comprised of 70% spending cuts (~$1.2 trillion), and 30% tax revenue (~$0.5 trillion).

Recall the 2012 Republican presidential debate where all eight candidates refused to accept a deal to shrink the deficit by accepting $1 of tax increases in return for $10 of spending cuts.  How has that worked out?  That was a grotesquely irresponsible decision and set the stage for our current problems.  How long can we afford to be this ideological?

Among Republicans, the need for spending cuts goes without saying, but tax increases are far more controversial.  For that reason, let's discuss the tax side.  Click on the expanded section to see details of unconventional tax concessions that would potentially satisfy Democrats, and buy us a deal, without harming the economy.


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The Environment

Teddy Roosevelt said - 

"Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance."

Global warming is real, it’s due to human emissions of CO2 and we need to begin attacking it.  Yes, you read that right.  If you don't believe me, go ask an insurance company.

I suggest you read the Climate Leadership Council's proposal to see how Republicans should address global warming.  George Schultz and James Baker founded the group to encourage a conservative response knowing that willful blindness is a bad strategy.  Their "carbon tax and dividend" proposal in early 2019 started at $40/ton and generated roughly $2,000 dividend payments back to citizens.  Current prices in Europe are around $100 per ton.  H.R. 763 was introduced in the House in 2019 but didn't pass.  I support these efforts because they encourage innovation and conservation. 

Increased use of nuclear energy is part of the solution too as renewables have a variety of their own problems.  A carbon tax will advantage nuclear economically (vs. fossil fuels) and help remove some of the stigma that's unfortunately the case now.

This is a journey of 1,000 miles, all solutions should be on the table, and we need to get started.

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Foreign Policy and Defense

Our foreign policy should be evaluated on how it serves the interests of everyday Americans and not the national security industrial complex.   

On this basis, the Ukraine war fails, as did the Afghan and Iraq wars.  Supporting Israel in an existential war against foes who want to wipe them out is another matter.  Even though I'm skeptical about foreign intervention generally, anyone who can't see the difference between the two cases ("Hamas hates Jews and wants to wipe them out" vs. "Let's ensure that Ukraine can be a NATO member over Russia's objections") needs glasses and better judgment.   

We need leaders who recognize past failures, tell us the truth about the prospects for peace and victory, and understand that in a multi polar world, we need to realistically prioritize interests to limit conflict. 

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National Identity

Teddy Roosevelt said:

"There can be no divided allegiance here... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one sole loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people."

For a nation to run smoothly, the citizens need to have a high degree of unity and a shared belief in certain values.  Teaching people to hate their ancestors or their country's founders and/or founding undermines this.  As do tearing down statues, renaming mountains and military bases, or fetishizing negative aspects of our history, like slavery or Japanese internment. 

Patriotism has been declining for a long time.  While there are many factors contributing, we need to recognize that there will be long term consequences for military recruitment and social stability if this continues.



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Health Care

As a share of our income, we spend about double on health care what other advanced countries spend but don’t get extra life expectancy out of the deal.  Our system is expensive because we don’t really make any efforts to restrain it.

The Affordable Care Act focused mostly on increasing access.  I believe that the next iteration in health care reform should focus on efficiency and cost containment, especially since the federal government is responsible for almost half of all healthcare spending via Medicare/Medicaid.  See the expanded section for details. 

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I’m a gun owner, defender of the 2nd amendment, and believe that it confers an individual right to own and carry.  Three recent Supreme Court rulings (Heller, McDonald, NY Rifle and Pistol) over the last 15 years have put gun owners in the strongest legal position ever.  The recent incident in New Mexico proves this – even Democrats upbraided the Governor for attempting to abrogate the 2nd amendment. 

Because of the strength of our position, and the political benefits of compromise, we should be magnanimous about trying to address legitimate voter concerns about gun violence, especially mass shootings.  I am open to testing sensible gun safety laws with sunset provisions.

Universal background checks are one of these issues.  If we think it's a good process to have criteria to exclude people from buying guns, it doesn't make sense to have a loophole that allows 20% of the sales to avoid the criteria.  Magazine capacity limits and red flag laws are state issues and I think they should remain so.

I’m skeptical these changes would have much impact on mass shootings, but they won’t infringe my rights to any material degree either.

On the other hand, I can foresee real threats to gun ownership by repeatedly saying “nothing” when voters ask what we can do about mass shootings.  This could trigger lawfare against defensive gun use by left wing prosecutors and a genuine attempt to repeal or modify the 2nd Amendment. 

While the legal victories may be comforting, in the end, robust popular support for gun rights is more important.  Just look at how the Dobbs decision affected the abortion debate.  


I’m happy that the Supreme Court repealed Roe vs. Wade via the Dobbs decision.  It was the culmination of hopes and prayers on the pro-life side going back 40+ years to correct an obvious mistake and move the issue back into the political realm. 

Accordingly, abortion policy is now set at the state level.  I don’t support federal legislation on the issue on either side.  It’s time to call a cease fire and “render unto Caesar” on this.


American energy independence is unambiguously a good thing.  It's good for our trade balance, national security profile, and provides good paying jobs to hard working citizens.  I support the Keystone pipeline, oppose the Biden administration's shutdown of new LNG facility permits and am in favor of streamlined permitting for infrastructure generally. 

My approach to climate and energy is pragmatic, not ideological.  I recognize that affordable energy is key to our high quality of life, but also comes with some negative byproducts.  I see the solution to global warming as "all of the above":

  • Renewables
  • Nuclear
  • Carbon Capture
  • Conservation
  • Innovation

Citizens for Jim Hemenway
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