By GEORGE M. WALSH
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Former New York Gov. George Pataki has entered the contest for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Here’s a look at where the three-term governor stands on various issues that will be debated in the GOP primaries:
Pataki has criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to use an executive order to offer protections against deportation to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally and said he backs efforts to reverse it. He supports making it easier for contract workers to remain in the U.S. for longer periods and a process for immigrants already in the country illegally to get legal status through a system of fines and community service. “I believe it’s totally unrealistic if we think we’re going to take 11 million people and send them back where they came from,” he said at an Iowa forum. “We do have to find a way for the vast majority of them to legalize their status here.”
Pataki doesn’t have a foreign policy background and has been out of government for more than eight years. But he has invoked the 9/11 attacks to call for a limited commitment of U.S. ground forces to combat the Islamic State group, saying the U.S. is more vulnerable to a domestic attack than at any time since then. He has said any deployment should be confined to destroying the threat, then pulling out. He says a U.S. force should have been left in Iraq when the U.S. ended its combat operations there. Pataki opposes the decision to normalize relations with Cuba.
BUDGET AND ENTITLEMENTS
Less government spending and limiting government power have been consistent themes in his appearances and on the website of his super PAC, We the People, Not Washington. He has been campaigning against President Barack Obama’s health care law for several years, arguing it is government overreach into what should be a private sector market. Pataki also favors overhauling the federal tax system by eliminating most deductions and reducing tax rates. “My advice would be to start all over,” Pataki said in Iowa. “It would put lobbyists out of business and believe me, I think that would be a very good thing for America.”
On social issues, Pataki falls to the left of many in the GOP field. He supports abortion rights and pushed through legislation as governor supporting civil rights and prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians. That included ensuring benefits for same-sex couples. Pataki said the question whether to permit gay marriage should be left to the states. New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011. He signed tougher gun laws in 2000 after a mass shooting, but said that is also an issue for each state to settle. He considers Common Core standards a federal takeover of education.
As governor, Pataki built a strong record on the environment. He promoted programs that conserved farmland and purchased large tracts of former timberlands to be set aside for recreation. He ordered New York power plants to cut emissions that cause acid rain and smog and backed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which capped carbon emissions in a 10-state region. Pataki says now that he believes private and market-based initiatives are the best way to attack climate change and he is against new federal limits. “I think it’s wrong to ignore environmental and conservation issues, I think it’s an important part of the federal government’s role,” Pataki said. “But I think it’s even worse if the federal government uses that as an excuse to raise revenue, shut down businesses, cut off innovation and pick winners and losers.”
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