By Nancy Lavin
Dan Cox names President Ronald Reagan as his political hero.
"One of my greatest honors was to volunteer for his campaign when I was a kid," he said.
Cox, 41, is a Republican seeking to represent Maryland's 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He lives in Cascade in Frederick County.
Cox pledged to restore conservative American principles embodied by the Reagan administration.
He pinned the solutions for modern economic development problems to Reaganomic principles for limited government, lower taxation and the "trickle-down" economic theory.
"If we increase opportunity for economic mobility and freedom, that will provide the opportunity for individuals to get out of economic struggle," Cox said.
He proposed a flat tax, in which all individuals pay the same rate regardless of income, as one way to provide economic opportunity.
As the founder and sole practitioner of Cox Law Center -- an Emmitsburg law firm specializing in accident and personal injury law, as well as constitutional law -- he said he has seen how taxation policies hurt small businesses.
Cox called for major cuts to "waste" in government spending. Specifically, he proposed reducing funding and programs for five "bloated" federal government agencies -- the Internal Revenue Service and the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.
He faulted these agencies for "picking winners and losers" instead of providing opportunities for businesses and programs to compete in a free market.
For example, he said, the Department of Energy has unfairly vilified the coal industry, while rewarding other energy sectors with subsidies and tax breaks.
"We need to have clean energy, but I don't believe in targeting certain industries to do it," he said.
He pointed to the Solyndra case as proof of the consequences of interfering with free-market competition.
Solyndra, a California solar panel manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after receiving significant loans and tax breaks from the Department of Energy under President Barack Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. The bankruptcy was followed by a federal fraud investigation. The government did not get its money back.
Money cut from bloated government agencies could be redirected to infrastructure projects and increased military and defense programs at no extra cost to taxpayers, Cox said.
Among the transportation projects he proposed was one to reduce congestion on I-270. He said he'd support increased spending and programs to military operations, calling current financial allocations "foolhardy" and "downright dangerous."
In Frederick County, Fort Detrick could serve the dual priorities of bolstering national security and expanding economic opportunity, he said.
Above all, he pledged to emulate his presidential role model by pushing for government transparency and accountability.
"He communicated truth to policy," Cox said of Reagan. "He kept his word."
Four other Republican candidates are competing for the 8th District seat in the April 26 primary -- Jeffrey W. Jones, Liz Matory, Aryeh Shudofsky and Shelly Skolnick.
The seat is currently held by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is running for U.S. Senate.
The general election will be held Nov. 8. Representatives serve a two-year term at an annual salary of $174,000.