By David Skolnick
American “troops are misdeployed” by being stationed at large bases in countries such as Germany, Italy and Japan, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and a Marine veteran, says.
“We’re not fighting the Nazis anymore, and we’re not fighting the Japanese anymore,” Mandel, who had two tours in Iraq during his eight years in the Marines, told The Vindicator on Friday.
The nation’s “main enemy today is radical Islam, and in my mind, we need to draw down a lot of the bases in Europe and Asia in order to save money here in the United States to fund important programs like Social Security and Medicare and pay down the debt,” he said.
Some bases should be shut down after a review of U.S. military facilities in those three countries is done, he said.
Most soldiers in those countries would return to the United States to serve here, Mandel said.
He also said the United States needs to increase its presence in the Middle East.
“The place that makes the most sense to me is Kuwait because they’re an ally,” he said.
When asked about Israel, Mandel said he hadn’t thought of that country.
In response, Justin Barasky, campaign spokesman for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic incumbent Mandel will face in the November election, said, “I imagine many Ohioans disagree with Josh and would think of Israel as an ally in the Middle East before Kuwait.”
Mandel also talked Friday about an “aggressive reform” of the tax code, saying “we need to dismantle” it, and build it back up, eliminating tax credits given to special-interest groups. The tax code should be simple and “needs to be flatter.”
“When approximately half of the American [adult population] doesn’t pay taxes, and General Electric” pays no federal taxes, “that’s the mark of a broken system,” Mandel said.
“We need more people working and paying into the system and less people depending on it through welfare and Medicaid,” he said.
Barasky said, “The fact that Josh Mandel just admitted that he wants to raise taxes on roughly half of Ohioans is a stunning piece of evidence that his main concern is obeying his special-interest bosses in Washington.”
Mandel says he is beholden to no one, including officials in his own political party.
The Republican candidate also said federal regulatory reform is needed. All current regulations should be reviewed to determine if they are needed, effective and not cost-prohibitive.
Also, “we need to stop all new federal regulations. Place a moratorium on new federal regulations” until the review on existing ones is done, he said.
Mahoning County probably is in the best position among the state’s 88 counties to capitalize on shale exploration as it has the natural resources and a skilled blue-collar work force, Mandel said.
Also, for the auto industry — including the General Motors complex in Lordstown — to survive and thrive, everything must be done to protect coal-mining jobs in Ohio, he said. About 86 percent of Ohio’s energy comes from coal, he said. To reduce coal as an energy source would force companies to spend more on operating their businesses, he said.
Mandel also brought up a Brown television commercial in which the Democrat touts his support of the federal auto bailout while next to and inside a Chevrolet Cruze, a car assembled at the Lordstown complex.
In the commercial, Brown says all of the car parts — like him — come from Ohio. But The Plain Dealer recently reported the aluminum wheels for the Cruze LTZ model in the commercial are manufactured in Europe. (The wheels on the Cruze Eco are made in Ohio.)
Brown’s campaign said the senator is aware only the Eco model has Ohio-made wheels, and was speaking generically, the Cleveland newspaper reported.
Mandel said Friday that Brown’s campaign “knew we were lying in this ad,” and is still running it. If it was his commercial, Mandel said he would have said a mistake was made and taken it off the air.
“Mandel can’t take a single breath without repeatedly spewing previously debunked lies,” said Barasky.
He noted Mandel recently was mentioned by The Plan Dealer’s PolitiFact Ohio political fact-checking organization as having the most false statements of any candidate running for office this year in the state.
Mandel met privately Friday with about 10 to 15 local business leaders at the Youngstown Club to discuss his proposals. The event was organized by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
Later in the day, Mandel attended a Mitt Romney campaign office opening at Eastwood Mall.