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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
Questions & Answers
1. In this time of high unemployment, what are the most important steps that should be taken to improve our nationís economy?
The long-term key to economic growth in America is education. Too often, communities in our nation see declining percentages of high school and college graduates. As a result, many people are unqualified for the job market. The obvious answer is to improve the performance of public schools. That requires more than lip service. We need to make education a top fiscal priority. I would sponsor legislation providing tax incentives for private enterprise to invest in public education. I would vote to protect Pell Grant funding for college students as well as for universal national service programs to further reduce unemployment.
Although lowering taxes and cutting regulations are popular slogans, tax breaks and deregulation schemes do not create jobs. Our most urgent need is to put more money into the hands of consumers. More disposable income would mean more business revenue (stimulating even more hiring) and more tax revenue (leading to a smaller deficit). The best way to do all that is by passing a sensible, nonpartisan jobs bill.
Some of the best jobs would be in the area of infrastructure. These provide excellent compensation for workers and lasting benefits for everyone. This is not rocket science. It's not even complex economics. It's just plain common sense.
2. How should the federal budget deficit be addressed, now and into the future? How should budget priorities for defense and domestic programs be adjusted?
Reducing the federal budget deficit is a long-term process. It requires gradual, evolutionary change. Imposing severe austerity measures during a time of economic crisis would harm those who are most vulnerable. Such cuts always cause contractions in the economy. Historically, the United States has addressed financial challenges successfully through growth.
Specifically, we need to reverse course on the policies that created this problem. I would begin by repealing tax breaks for the wealthy and stop rewarding companies that export jobs. I would also require an accurate audit and a reduction in waste at the Pentagon, which has the largest discretionary budget in the federal government.
We need to maintain a strong national defense. Runaway defense spending does not accomplish that goal; on the contrary, it makes us weaker. Instead, we need to refocus our priorities on educating future generations. At the same time, we must support our armed forces - at home and abroad - but with prudent, clearly defined missions. And we must fulfill our obligation to veterans when their mission is completed with decent medical care, job opportunities and respect.
3. What are your priorities with respect to our nationís energy policy? Should there be an emphasis on clean energy and reducing carbon emissions, and/or on reducing our dependence on foreign sources?
America lacks a long-term, effective energy policy. Our dependence on the globalized oil market makes us vulnerable to conflict and instability around the world. At the same time, climate change threatens the very existence of our species.
We urgently need to develop clean, sustainable domestic energy sources. I would also encourage programs to increase the supply and lower the cost of fuel. That would help make us more self-reliant and protect our environment. We should also learn from proven models implemented elsewhere such as feed-in tariffs. These methods enable homeowners and entrepreneurs to profit from the renewable energy they produce. In the interim, we should increase our refinery capacity.
Above all, we need to plan for the future. Yesterday's thinking will not work tomorrow.
4. What, if any, changes should be made to federal health care policies or programs?
Fighting disease is as important as fighting crime. I favor universal access to basic medical services. I am absolutely committed to maintain the public funding of Medicare.
Promoting wellness is in our national interest and is essential to our quality of life. The skyrocketing cost of medical care is the greatest threat to our economy. It accounts for nearly 20% of GDP, a per capita cost of more than $7,500 - by far the highest of any nation on earth.
Implementing a single-payer system is the best way to control expenses. It is the most fair, efficient and affordable method to fund such services. But there should also be a private option. Those who wish to buy supplemental insurance and get more than basic services must have the right to do so.
We must also have the right to negotiate collectively and get the most favorable prices for prescription drugs as well as medical equipment and services.
5. What, if any, changes should be made to federal rules on campaign financing?
I advocate prohibiting private financial contributions to anyone holding or seeking public office. Any such payments should be categorized as attempted bribery. Instead, political campaigns must be publicly funded. That includes requiring all broadcasters to provide free air time for candidates.
I would also support legislation correcting the U.S. Supreme Court decisions (such as Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) that equated money with speech. In effect, they permitted unlimited campaign spending. The fact is that money is not speech; it merely facilitates speech. We must have serious campaign finance reform to end this institutionalized corruption.
Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League. Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: July 10, 2012 17:34
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