ATLANTA - Even if he's considered a long shot to win Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat this year, Allen Buckley is a man on a mission.
Mr. Buckley, the Libertarian Party candidate for the seat being vacated by Zell Miller, is campaigning across the state, telling voters that the nation faces a potential financial catastrophe and that neither of his opponents is willing to tackle the problem.
Mr. Buckley faces U.S. Reps. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, the favorite for the seat, and Denise Majette, D-Stone Mountain, in the Tuesday election to replace Mr. Miller, a conservative Democrat.
The issue that concerns Mr. Buckley most is the massive bill he says will come due if the federal government doesn't balance the budget by restraining the size of government and restructuring the federal tax code.
During the next 75 years, according to Mr. Buckley, the government will rack up more than $42 trillion in debt - adjusted to current dollars - if nothing is done.
The libertarian says he's the only one who has addressed the problems.
"My opponents won't even deal with them, won't even acknowledge them," Mr. Buckley said.
He said he would eliminate the federal Department of Education, which he says meddles in state and local issues and has done nothing to improve education. He said he would consider repealing some of President Bush's tax cuts, if necessary, to help balance the budget.
And while libertarians generally support smaller government, Mr. Buckley said he believes in a strong Environmental Protection Agency and improving the nation's intelligence services to deal with terrorism.
Mr. Buckley also supports establishing a timetable for getting U.S. troops out of Iraq.
"I think we should make every effort to get out of Iraq in two years," he said.
On taxes, Mr. Buckley said his plan would raise the level of tax-exempt income from about $8,000 to about $18,000 for an individual and $15,000 to $27,000 for a married couple. Meanwhile, the rate for any income higher than $500,000 would be taxed at 39 percent.
Anything between would be taxed at a rate set at whatever level is needed to cover government spending for that year.
Because the rate would be set every year and taxpayers would see the link between their taxes and federal spending, Mr. Buckley said, Congress and the president would be more careful about how much they spend.
Glenn Tatum, the executive director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, said that Mr. Buckley is a "strong libertarian" even though the candidate doesn't hold to 100 percent of the party's platform.
And while Mr. Buckley might not be positioned to win the race, the director said, he's campaigning in areas slighted by Mr. Isakson and Ms. Majette.
Mr. Buckley said that even if he doesn't win, each voter who casts a ballot for him will be telling the major parties to deal with the mess that prompted him to run in the first place.
Reach Brandon Larrabee at (404) 681-1701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Political experience: None
Education: Bachelor of arts in accounting from Kent State University, law degree from the University of Georgia, LL.M. in taxation from the University of FloridaWeb site: www.buckleyforsenate.org
ON THE ISSUES
War in Iraq: He said he would withdraw U.S. troops on a timetable, preferably within two years.
Elimination of some military bases: He said he would consider recommendations of the Pentagon on the process that could close 25 percent of the nation's military bases. He said he believes some overseas bases should be closed.
Abortion: He opposes a ban on abortion or using taxpayer money to pay for the procedure.
Tax Cuts: He said he believes in revising the U.S. tax code to pay for government spending; he said he would consider repealing President Bush's tax cuts.
Gay Marriage: He opposes the effort to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage; he notes that the government has a law allowing states to refuse to recognize those marriages.
School Vouchers: He opposes vouchers.