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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

Libertarian Presidential Hopeful Mike ter Maat Has a Gold New Deal For USA

The Libertarian Party presidential primary is well underway. Candidates are debating and traversing the country at a time when the United States seems ripe for an alternative voice.

One libertarian who got an early start on the campaign trail is Mike ter Maat.

Mr. ter Maat announced his run in April of 2022 during an interview on the The Sharpe Way. He stated that the early announcement was “for a couple of different reasons," including getting his name out and “I have what I believe to be the right story, the right background, I am going to be running a campaign of bold messaging with very, very credible solutions.”

Back home in Virginia for a breather, he took some time to discuss the specifics of what those credible solutions are.


Charles I Guarria   

What I would like to do is just start out with some background information. 


Mike ter Maat  

I got out of college, which is to say engineering school, and then Business School and MBA, went to work for a couple of banks in commercial finance in New York and New Jersey. Eventually went back to graduate school to study economics. Went to the George Washington University in Washington, where I took a master's degree and a PhD in economics. I worked for the White House for a couple years as an economist, I worked for a couple of other international and federal agencies, I went back to work in the banking industry, but as an as an advocate in Washington, DC for quite a few years. In those days, it was all about lobbying for, and otherwise pushing for, less regulation, more competition, opening markets, that sort of thing. And then, after that, a partner and I had our own business for quite a few years. We're in the business of providing educational services to bankers and other financial services professionals. And some strategic consulting along the way.

I taught economics at three different universities.

And then as a second career. I went into the Police Academy; I worked as a police officer for 11 ½ years. I worked for a municipality in Broward County, Florida between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. I was on the road for 11 and a half years. Good experience. And toward the end of that, before I left, which is to say a couple years ago, I ran for Congress as a Libertarian candidate and then launched this campaign early last year.


Charles I Guarria   

You were in the Office of Management and Budget, correct? For what administration?


Mike ter Maat  

I was a civil servant under the George Herbert Walker Bush administration. 


Charles I Guarria   

Before you found your way to the Libertarian Party, were you a part of any political party?


Mike ter Maat  

Yes. I was a member of the Republican Party for some years. I campaigned for George Herbert Walker Bush in ‘92. Participated a little bit in the campaign in ‘96. That was Bob Dole. And then I, I wasn't really very politically active after that. I joined the Libertarian Party in 2011 2010, something like that.


Charles I Guarria   

Many people have an aha moment where they realize that they're a libertarian. What was yours?


Mike ter Maat  

I guess I would say I had two different, possibly three different moments. The first of course, is when George Herbert Walker Bush famously said he would not agree to raise taxes. He said, read my lips, no new taxes is what he would say to Congress when they asked him for more money. And he eventually went back on that pledge. That was a moving experience for a young, fiscally conservative economist. As you might imagine. And that was the first time my cage got rattled. 


Later on in the 90s, a buddy of mine, who was actually an adviser to our campaign. Attorney at the time, my age, says to me at a birthday party in the backyard, you're a libertarian. And he said this, in the context of my own, expressing a disinterest in the Republican Party beginning to launch what blossomed into a culture war. And it wasn't really my thing.  I can remember my reaction to him was something along the lines of, you know, I don't say terrible things to you., why would you say such a mean thing to me? Of course, he was right I was a libertarian. 


Charles I Guarria   

Can you give an elevator pitch on what the Gold New Deal is? 


Mike ter Maat  

There's a couple things about the Gold New Deal that are worth mentioning. Obviously, what we're talking about here is our platform on which to run for the nomination of the Libertarian Party for president. But it's also our pledge, in essence, to the party, that we will run on a very principled platform on the other side of the nomination, during the general election. 


In other words, the reason we've branded the platform, give it its own URL and its own color scheme and its own ugly website, is that, this is our way of pledging that we won't be able to go back on it. 


(Mr. ter Maat and I dovetailed into a fascinitating discussion about the Libertarian Party in general which I will prepare for another blog. We then spoke of the Federal Reserve.)


Mike ter Maat  

The Fed is unable to live up to its mandate of leaning against the boom bust cycle, it's unable to live up to its mandate of controlling inflation and maintaining a strong currency. And for this reason, we need fundamental change. I believe that we need to replace the Federal Reserve System lock stock and barrel with a rules-based system.


Charles I Guarria   

What does rules based system actually mean?

Mike ter Maat  

That means that instead of locking up 12 people every six weeks and asking what mood they're in, we actually control the monetary base, how much money is in the system. We control the monetary base by a rule, by an algorithm that doesn't have feelings. Doesn't have mood swings, that is not subject to politics.


Charles I Guarria   

Who makes the algorithm?


Mike ter Maat  

We would agree on it in advance. And this is an interesting question, because it has two answers.

One is it almost doesn't matter. As long as you agree on a rule, and you don't waver from it.

And then the second answer is, you could go all the way back to a gold standard. I don't believe that that's necessary.

I think you could go back to Milton Friedman's idea, which is you expand the monetary base, you expand the amount of money in the system by a fixed amount, small-fixed amount annually, say 2% to sort of reflect the growth in the population or the growth and the real underlying economy. So that in fact, you would be targeting approximately 0% inflation. Because the stock of money would grow with the size of the of the economy. 


And if you got that number wrong, you picked 2% but the underlying economy is growing at might get a little bit of deflation. Or you pick 2% and the underlying economy grows at 1% you might get a little bit of inflation. But they wouldn't be self-correcting in the sense that those are the price signals you want inside of an economy . What you want is for the pricing process, the pricing mechanism to work so thatinvestors knew why there was a little bit of inflation or deflation. They wouldn't have to guess, is it because of the Fed being in some weird mood swing. 

Charles I Guarria   

Is this the gist of how you envision turning around the economy?


Mike ter Maat  

It is one piece of it. We do need to correct our monetary policy the other two big pieces are, we need to profoundly reduce the regulatory footprint of our federal government.

One way to do that is to make a lot of the regulations subject to the approval of the states. One way you do that is to push out power from the federal government to the states and that's really the flagship of the Gold New Deal. 


When there are disagreements between state statute and federal statute, we want states to be able to resolve those conflicts in state court. In other words, it would effectively give states a vehicle to unilaterally nullify the effects of federal legislation. And I would go so far as to say what we want is for states to have a way to opt out of federal supremacy altogether and to chart their own political course as each state sees fit. We want a world more in line with what the Founders intended by the 10th amendment. 


And part of the motivation behind that is not just a deregulatory thing. That's a big piece of it. But another big piece of it is, is the push we see politically in the United States, in in various pockets towards secession. I'm not a big fan of secession. I think most Americans are not big fans of secession.

The motivating force behind the flagship of the gold New Deal is to push power out to the states.


Charles I Guarria   

Sticking in the economy realm, one of my followers Joe Hannoush asked this question; should the federal government's budgets start from zero every year or from the previous year's budget?


Mike ter Maat  

Well, it depends on what you mean by should. Should is a real powerful and undefined term.

Yes, as a matter of principle and ethics, of course, it should start at zero. There is no counter argument to that.

If there were a counter argument, it would be that you want everyone in the economy to be able to form an expectation of what was going to happen in ensuing years. And so people naturally form an expectation based off of the previous year. 


If you were designing a government from the ground up, would you try to make fiscal decisions based off of the previous year or would you want every program to be justified on its own according to current conditions. Of course, you would choose everything decided on the merits and costs of any particular program at any particular moment in time. There is no counter arguments for that. 


Charles I Guarria   

I know the Fed is one, perhaps it's number one for you, (to get rid of) what would be your number two department that you'd want to get rid of day one of your presidency?


Mike ter Maat  

That's an interesting question, because I sort of put them in two different categories, right, one is things that we need to get rid of just so (things) can work better.

I believe our economy would work better if we got the Fed out of our lives. But there are other programs that we need to get rid of as a matter of money, in addition to the fact that in its absence, the world would work better. 


In the category of the world would work better. There's the security state and the FBI. You got to get rid of the CIA. You've got to split up and get rid of the FBI. You've got to get rid of the NSA and these are things that tiny pieces each of which can be spun into the Defense Department, but in large proportion, these things we should not be funding anymore.


The problem is not so much money, right? Because if they made the world safer, they'd be worth it, right? The problem is that they don't make the world safer. And I don't even believe that their biggest problem is the violation of privacy. I don't even believe that their biggest problem is how deadly they are. I think their biggest problem is the stranglehold that they represent over the US government's foreign policy.

These agencies, in no small part, influence foreign policy to a degree that we should find intolerable. I don't believe it's a coincidence that we have such a militaristic foreign policy, and the fact that we have these very, very large, very powerful, very influential agencies I think that that is part and parcel.


Charles I Guarria   

When it comes to eliminating departments. I think that scares a lot of people when they hear that at first because they think about the paper pushers who have the nine to five jobs. What's your plan to; you're gonna get rid of the FBI. What happens to that staff person? Is it tomorrow (that they leave) day two of your administration? Or is it something that attenuates over time?


Mike ter Maat  

In the case of the FBI, you can make real wholesale changes in days. It's not an example of something that would take a couple of years. Getting rid of the Federal Reserve system would take a couple of years. Getting rid of the FBI would take them couple of hours. 


The FBI has three different functions and you split up the personnel and you send them to various places based on which of the three functions they fall into.

If they are investigating things that are criminal in any state, then you can send them off to the state agencies. The state agencies can love it or shove it. They don't have to maintain that personnel level over time if they don't want to, but it's okay for those people to find jobs in the private sector too, if that doesn't work out with state agencies. 


If you're at the FBI, and you're in the business of fighting what many in Washington characterize as foreign espionage, then we can we can assign you to the Defense Department where it is more appropriate and slightly less politicized. As the Defense Department budget is ramped down, those positions will be naturally ramped down in similar proportion.


Then the third category of the FBI is the shit that they do of a political nature. They wouldn't call it a political nature. They would call it holding the government accountable or something. And the vast majority of that we shouldn't be doing at all. That's not to say that we shouldn't be holding the government accountable. I actually think the GAO is a better place to do that then the FBI because the GAO can always make references to the to the Justice Department.


Some of the other agencies take time. If you're just a run of the mill, cabinet level, departmental agency, the Department of Education, the Department Transportation, Department of Energy, you need to appoint libertarian minded secretaries that will winnow down the power over time. And then you can move legislation against those agencies. In Washington, it's very difficult to sunset a program much less an agency or department until you winnow down its political power and that comes from its money.


Charles I Guarria   

One of the things that I always envision (is) not filling the jobs...when somebody gets let go, they just ask other people to do (the work). Eventually the staff gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Would that be the way you would actually go about getting rid of let's say the Department of Education?


Mike ter Maat  

In many cases, yes.

There are a couple different things you need to do at the same time. One is to make the agency smaller, not because you're saving a significant amount of money by comparison to the overall economy or the size of the government. That's not the issue. But just to make it more difficult for it to exert political influence. Because what you're trying to do is to make it as politically inept as possible until you can move legislation against it. 


Now, the other thing that you need to do is to stop it from spending money. The Department of Education is the biggest example of an agency that spends money for political influence per se,. It spends money for political influence by block granting to states in order to get states, to get school boards to do its bidding.

Which if you tried to do this as a private citizen, you would go to jail for a felony, right? You'd be accused of illegally exerting political influence and probably bribery depending on how you execute it on your plan. But because the federal government does it, everyone seems to think that it's okay. I find it at least as disgusting either way. And just as inappropriate, just as unconstitutional. The Department of Education is (an) interesting example where you need to stop it from block granting and at the same time winnow down its population. 


You've got agencies like the Department of Energy, or the EPA, where the largest problems are their regulatory footprint, not just how they spend money. Not just the number of personnel on their books. And in those cases, you got to try to slow down the regulatory apparatus.

One of the ways you can do that is to say that these things are not going to be enforceable in any state in which the governor says no. You're going to dump it on the gubernatorial lap.

What we want is for at least one state to get on board of the program and start saying no. In order to demonstrate that you can attract investment you can attract capital you can develop a better environment, for capitalism for entrepreneurialism, and, and therefore demonstrate that you can give it a better go economically speaking, as a demonstration effect to the other states.


This is part one of a three-part discussion with Mr. ter Maat. Sign up here to find out when parts two and three will be released, as well as information on all my blogs.

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