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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
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RFK Jr.’s Campaign Isn’t So Sure About RFK Jr.’s Policy Ideas

Kennedy’s independent presidential run has the front-runners on edge. But his biggest ideas are a “first draft,” a senior aide said.

It’s not easy to know what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. would actually do if he is elected president, even as the independent candidate rattles both Republicans and Democrats with an iconoclastic campaign.

His top campaign advisers can’t explain the policy agenda, either, at least not in detail.

NOTUS reached out to the Kennedy campaign for a broad conversation about what the candidate would want to do as president and was connected with Charles Eisenstein — a public speaker and author on topics ranging from dieting to spiritual well-being, and now the campaign’s director of messaging. He offered NOTUS greater detail about the campaign’s eclectic group of formal policy proposals, including plans to possibly mothball the Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers and federally fund rehab centers on organic farms. It’s a sincere effort, he said, to find areas of agreement among different kinds of voters that can help them politically unite and take on entrenched corporate interests.

Many of the campaign’s plans, however, lack basic details about how they would work or whom they would affect — with Eisenstein acknowledging that at least one major idea touted by the campaign might not be feasible in the first place.

“It’s the kind of thing that we put out there; we see how people respond to it,” said Eisenstein, who is also a speechwriter and adviser to Kennedy. “We get feedback from experts. And then through that process, we hopefully come to a way that you can actually implement it.”

Kennedy’s campaign is unpredictable, and it’s been uncertain for months whether he’s more likely to pull voters from President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump come November. Both front-runners now clearly see him as a threat, sinking resources into telling voters to write him off. “A vote for Junior’ would essentially be a WASTED PROTEST VOTE, that could swing either way, but would only swing against the Democrats if Republicans knew the true story about him,” Trump posted on Truth Social last week.

The “true story,” and what type of voters it will most appeal to, is still being defined. The campaign’s current policy prescriptions are akin to a first draft, Eisenstein said, noting that Trump often eschews policy details in a way that rarely seems to harm him politically.

Here’s some of that first draft of a Kennedy administration, as the campaign sees it.

3% home mortgages

Kennedy wants to offer first-time homebuyers a 3% mortgage rate, funded by a tax-free, government-issued bond. The policy would give homebuyers a much lower rate than many people would receive on the market today (mortgages have risen above 7%).

But Eisenstein said that many of the proposed program’s basic details are unknown, so much so that he conceded it might be unfeasible.

“There’s a lot of regulations that we would need real experts to work out under the administration,” he said. “Right now, we’re just in a campaign, so we’re coming out with ideas like this. Some of them are gonna pan out. Some of them aren’t. And this one, I’m not really sure.”

Offering a 3% bond wouldn’t likely attract investors in the current market, he added, given that they can find better rates of return elsewhere.

“Why would a bank want to do that? They wouldn’t. It’s totally against their interest to do that,” he said.

Kennedy has regularly touted the idea of 3%-backed home loans on the campaign trail, promoting it on TikTok last week. In the video, the candidate mentioned funding the bonds but did not offer additional details about how they would attract investors.

Eisenstein defended the policy proposal as a way to communicate Kennedy’s values, saying that unconventional ideas often face resistance.

“We’re going to also have to change some of the regulatory framework and get popular will behind it,” the adviser said. “Otherwise, things are just going to stay within the boxes, the status quo.”

Childcare subsidies

The Kennedy campaign says it wants to provide free childcare for children under five living in poverty; for everyone else, it wants to cap childcare costs at 10% of a family’s income. The federal dollars would also benefit stay-at-home parents, per the campaign’s website, but be legally prohibited from funding any day care company with more than a single location.

According to the campaign adviser, the campaign made a “back-of-the-envelope calculation” that the program would cost about $100 billion.

But asked whether the campaign would really exclude all day care centers that have more than one location, including even ostensibly local childcare operations that have at most two or three locations, Eisenstein demurred. The campaign might need to switch to a different metric to determine eligibility, he said.

“This is a first draft of a policy,” Eisenstein said. “So I think maybe there’d be a limit on the number of locations, maybe total annual revenues, something like that. We just don’t want massive nationwide chains to gobble up all the small local businesses, which has happened across many industries.”

He also said the campaign needed to determine whether the benefit would be paid as a voucher, whether it would be sent monthly or when the beneficiary files their taxes, or if an entirely new agency would be needed to administer it.

“That’s the kind of detail that, you know, we’d have to work out,” he said.

Demilitarization

The Kennedy campaign says it will fund its childcare program and other domestic initiatives by drastically reducing the size of the military, both abroad and at home.

The spending reductions would be dramatic: Eisenstein said Kennedy would consider cutting military spending to what it was when Dwight D. Eisenhower was about to leave office in 1960, which, adjusted for inflation, would amount to about half the military budget today. The candidate would also consider reducing the military budget to one-third of its current appropriation, or roughly what the country spent on the military, as a share of the overall GDP before World War II.

“Everything hinges on demilitarization,” Eisenstein said. “OK, like massive cuts in the military budget.”

Asked what the candidate would cut from the military, Eisenstein named closing overseas military bases and decommissioning aircraft carriers, both of which he said contributed to an increasingly obsolete military unprepared to fight in future conflicts.

“We’ll be coming out with policies that are more specific,” he added, “but I’m just painting a general picture of an obsolete, massive military machine that has spent a trillion dollars in regime-change wars over the last 20 years. A trillion dollars. What have we achieved with that? Can you say that we were successful even in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, or Libya? I mean, these countries have descended into chaos.”

Eisenstein said the campaign would also consider closing military bases domestically. And many of the newly retired military personnel left without work after the budget cuts could retrain and reenter the workforce, he added, helping the country repair its infrastructure.

Regenerative farming

The campaign has made regenerative farming — generally described as a practice in which the soil and surrounding environment are less disturbed than they would be during industrial-scale farming — a central plank of its policy agenda. Officials say it could improve the quality of nutrition in the country, reduce disease and help fight climate change in a way that appeals to both Republicans and Democrats.

Eisenstein said the campaign has a detailed list of ideas for encouraging this, including using low-interest loans to refinance debt for farms willing to transition to regenerative farming and redesigning agricultural subsidies to encourage it.

“This is something that’s not that hard to implement,” he said. “You still need cooperation from Congress. And you’d be facing headwinds from Big Ag, the pesticide companies and so forth. But it’s not something that’s really far outside the existing governance system.”

One of the campaign’s more unconventional policy ideas also lists a plan to “establish healing addiction centers” on organic farms as a priority. It’s an example, Eisenstein said, of the campaign looking for ways the federal government can directly improve the lives of everyday people.

“This is the kind of thing that needs to be looked at and the idea of being on land, being in nature, doing something productive with your hands, that’s what appeals to the candidate,” the adviser said.

Plastics

The campaign says it wants to reduce plastic waste, citing the harm it thinks microplastics cause humans and the environment. To that end, it’s proposing an “ambitious” international plastics treaty, setting up a national program to encourage people to recycle bottles, and a plan that would “limit construction and expansion of plastic facilities.”

But Eisenstein said he couldn’t elaborate much more on the policies described in the campaign website, because the campaign had largely outsourced the policy to two plastics experts. And those experts, the campaign adviser said, would like to remain private.

“As you’re aware, there’s a certain amount of stigma associated with working with the Kennedy campaign because of the way that the candidate is portrayed in the media,” Eisenstein said.

Abortion Rights

Kennedy’s position on abortion rights has shifted throughout his campaign. He’s rarely talked about the issue, one of the most prominent in politics today, because “he does not want to add fuel to the fire,” his campaign recently told The Washington Post. To Eisenstein, however, there’s no confusion: The candidate supports abortion rights.

“The moral stance is that no, we’re not going to tell women what to do with their bodies,” he said.

Asked if Kennedy, as president, would sign legislation that restored abortion protections nationwide guaranteed before the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision revoking the constitutional right to an abortion, Eisenstein said he would.

“He’d sign that,” the adviser said.


Alex Roarty is a reporter at NOTUS.