Jeremiah Pent was born in Arlington, Texas, and raised in Fort Worth. After graduating from high school and marriage, he and his family moved several times around the country, and currently reside in Pennsylvania. He briefly studied at Texas Christian University, but would eventually earn his Masters Degree (in Divinity) from the Westminster Theological Seminary. Professionally, he is an entrepreneur, having founded and run several businesses in a number of industries including agriculture and toy manufacturing.
Pent speaks in broad terms of the need to address the social and economic issues facing the US. He believes the biggest problem currently plaguing the nation is its own lack of unity, and that all other challenges can more easily be overcome if the divisions between religious and ethnic groups can be ameliorated. Other than admitting that this will be a difficult (but achievable) task, however, he offers few specifics on how it might be accomplished. Economically, he favors a balanced budget, advocating the maintenance of a federal government that operates within its means just as, he says, average American families must do. He believes this goal can be reached through middle class tax cuts and a careful restructuring and streamlining of the government's operations.
Pent is particularly preoccupied with the American educational system and its importance to the nation's children, and speaks at length of ensuring that schools are staffed by competent teachers able to properly guide and instruct their students. Once again, however, he is sparse on describing any specific changes which he feels should be made to or by the schools.
An independent candidate, Pent worries over the stark dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats, and claims that these two parties collectively represent only about a third of the American population. He points out the fact that George Washington, the nation's first President, was himself an independent, and that many Presidents immediately following him also did not formally belong to any political party. Concerned about the influence wielded over politicians by wealthy donors, Pent has pledged to accept campaign contributions only from individuals, not rich supporters who act through Political Action Committees and super PACs.
Due to Pent's reluctance to discuss his specific policy ideas, it is difficult to evaluate which voting demographics would be most likely to support and oppose him.
Scott Smith brings a history of financial work on Wall Street and experience running his own businesses to the presidential race. He has built an impressive number of companies from the ground up in a diverse range of industries, including agriculture, education, and technology, as well as his field of expertise, finance. He was extremely active in business during the 1990's, when he developed a model of conduit financing for real estate mortgages that was later adopted by many large corporations. Following this, he started a firm that worked with the Redevelopment Program of Nelson Mandela, helping to house around 11,000 families around Soweto. He also founded Kidz Magazine in 1995, a publication relying on user-generated content and which eventually saw consumption in 30 countries. Smith also enjoys art as a hobby, and is given to painting galaxies in his spare time.
With his finance and business background, Scott Smith's proposals focus almost exclusively on the economy, and many of his ideas are far-right to the point of dubiousness. He commits to completely eliminating income taxes, submitting that the economic position of income is miniscule in comparison to that of financial settlements, which he wishes to tax instead. By switching to this model, he optimistically proposes that it would be possible to balance the budget without reducing spending, while a private citizen earning $50,000 annually would pay only about $50 in tax.
Another of Smith's ambitious plans is to pay off the entire national debt within 5 years. He proposes to accomplish this through “coupon stripping”, or settling outstanding debt by issuing new money to cover the balances. While this would flood the economy with additional currency, Smith insists the results would not be inflationary, because the new money generates no interest while interest-bearing securities such as treasury bonds damage and devalue the dollar.
Smith's promises are extremely attractive, especially to people of a fiscally conservative bent. However, his nigh-outlandish economic claims risk inspiring incredulity in voters, which could cause people to simply not believe him despite his knowledge and experience on the subject. Ultimately, whether his proposals are rooted in solid economics or subscribe to the pie-in-the-sky level of dreaming of which many will undoubtedly accuse them, Scott Smith will sink or swim based on their perception, not their reality.