From MIT Entrepreneur to Tea Party Leader: The Thomas Massie Story

5/17/12Follow @gthuang

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he was told they owed the IRS $40,000 in taxes, plus quarterly estimated taxes, off a profit of around $120,000. “Mind you, we’re still wearing the same sneakers we showed up as freshmen with. We probably didn’t have $5,000 of operating capital sitting in the bank account,” he says. “I was trying to grow the company by bootstrapping. But what I realized is the tax code punishes bootstrappers.”

So now Massie would support what he calls “quicker, if not instant, amortization of capital equipment investments. Instead of tying up all that capital in a company that’s trying to grow, let them take that depreciation right now.” He says he’d also support changes to the federal tax structure that encourage business owners to repatriate capital to the United States.

Another Massie target is the FDA’s long approval process, particularly for medical device innovators. “We need to reform the FDA,” Massie says. “You know it’s pretty bad when the people who have to deal with the FDA say, ‘Why can’t you be more like the Patent Office?’”

It’s hard to argue with that, but Massie is a conspicuous outsider to the political system. (He certainly comes across as down-to-earth and open, especially for a politician.) Not surprisingly, he and his supporters see that as a major strength as he goes up against establishment Republicans in the primary election. “Look at the 55 delegates who wrote our Constitution,” he says. “There were farmers, there were businesspeople, there were inventors. They had some contextual knowledge outside of government. I think what that gives you is common sense, and I think that’s what we’re lacking in Washington, DC.”

In his official endorsement, Republican Congressman Ron Paul wrote that Massie “has been part of our Revolution for years. His political beliefs and personal principles led him to a strong adherence to liberty, and he has worked to show his family, neighbors, and friends the path to freedom.” Paul continued: “Thomas Massie has the principles and guts to stand up to Big Government as I have.” And just this week his son, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, endorsed Massie as well.

So the stage is set for the Republican congressional primary in Kentucky next Tuesday, after which we’ll find out whether the MIT whiz and legendary entrepreneur and inventor can raise his political game to the next level.

Just one last comment from Massie, as he winds down his campaign with a Tea Party speech tonight in Dry Ridge, KY, to be followed by rallies over the weekend: “I don’t play things I can’t win.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • http://www.facebook.com/sdguero Ryan Bray

    I think I like this guy. :)

  • Sulfide Smolder

    can we drop romney for massie???? lets not waste the next four years

  • johnwerneken

    More power to him. Facts lend themselves to win-win solutions; ideology may be cheaper as a means of manipulating folks but the results are of a different quality. I’d rather be right than popular and I think such government as we need should be based on that principle.

  • Raymond Chuang

    I think Thomas Massie saw the following:

    1. Government has gotten TOO big with too much bureaucratic overlap, agency bloat and obsolete/unneeded regulations, all of which has resulted in record Federal deficit spending and regulations that are woefully anti-business for all the _wrong_ reasons.

    2. The American income tax system is a complicated, circa US$400 billion/year compliance cost mess that discourages savings and capital investment in the USA and is rife with corruption and serious issues with invasion of privacy (since IRS 1040 long form tax filings often require intimate details of your personal and business finances). Why do you think some economists estimate that over US$15 TRILLION in American-owned liquid assets are sitting in banks beyond US borders? (That explains why Apple has the majority of its circa US$100 billion in liquid assets sitting in foreign banks and the proliferation of “banks” in various Caribbean island nations.) Not to mention millions of jobs, thousands of factories and hundreds of corporate headquarters leaving the USA for tax avoidance reasons, too.

    This is the same problem that is plaguing most of the world’s national economies, especially Europe, where overly-generous government social services are on the verge of causing sovereign debt defaults in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy with dire consequences.

    The message of the Tea Party movement is totally correct: we need to “right size” government to be way more efficient so government budgets can be far smaller and massively overhaul the income tax system so it has way lower yearly compliance costs and encourages more savings and capital investment in the USA.

  • Bayesian Objectivity

    I’ve worked with his product.  I guarantee you 95% of his company’s revenue came from government spending.

  • alex

    He is an engineer who sees problems and fixes them–we need a LOT more engineers in Congress, because its clear politicians have had their chance and failed.

  • http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/mhenriday/ M Henri Day

    The reigning model for engineers in government is the People’s Republic of China….

    Henri

    • Peakview28

      It would be Germany. Pretty well run for the most part, yes?

      • http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/mhenriday/ M Henri Day

        Peakview28, you mean the place where government officials, up to and including the president, regularly have to resign when plagiarism in the PhD theses that others have written for them is uncovered ? But if you mean by «pretty well run» that Germany is better run than the United States, I quite agree – but please note that in Germany the percentage of union members in the labour market is about twice that of the United States, that regulations on the hiring and firing of workers there are far stricter, and government intervention in the economy far more frequent than in the US, while the amount of public moneys devoted to killing people abroad, aka «defense», much less, etc, etc. I believe this sort of thing is referred to as «socialism» in the United States. If, indeed, this is what Mr Massie has in mind, then by all means, the US Congress certainly needs more men and women like him, nicht wahr ?…

        Henri

  • anonymous coward

    I’m an engineer and I’m sorry to note that we’ve had 2 engineers as President.  Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

  • Albrecm

    He won!!

  • Suszlous

    this guy is overrated! he did not invent hapetic tech nor was he anywhere near genius! ky can keep him!

  • Suszlous

    the fact the company sold for a “FEW” accents on the word FEW million prove’s the point!

  • suzzs

    where’s me comment’s?

  • suzzy

    only from kentucky would you be considered a genius and god among politician’s just because your owned a small bit of a tech company that sold for only a FEW million !

  • suzzy

    kentucky set’s very low standard’s for it’s boy-wonder’s! haha the guy’s a fool ask any1 from mit that knew him