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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?
I strongly believe that job creation must be Congress' number one priority, and I believe that the best way to do so is by putting Americans back to work fixing our schools, roads, and bridges.
That's why I strongly support federal funding for critical infrastructure projects within the context of a balanced budget. Congress must immediately pass a long-term transportation authorization that will rebuild our roads while putting Americans back to work. Congress must also make new investments in our local ports, harbors and levees; all of which are critical to our communities and once started would immediately create well-paying jobs. According to some estimates, for every $1 billion we invest in transportation improvements, more than 30,000 jobs are created. I believe there is no better way for Congress to strengthen our recovering economy then by passing a long term transportation bill.
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?
It is important that the federal budget be managed in a fiscally responsible way, protecting vital programs like Social Security and Medicare and supporting job creation, while also tackling our national debt. That is why I have fought for pay-as-you-go budgeting (PAYGO). PAYGO ensures that the bills that Congress passes do not increase our debt. It requires that any spending increases or tax cuts be offset by cutting spending or increasing revenues. PAYGO was part of the reason we had a budget surplus in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, in 2002 Congress allowed PAYGO to expire. This, along with two wars, tax cuts and a new prescription drug program + all of which were unpaid for, coupled with the worst recession since the Great Depression, is part of the reason why our nation's debt is so large today.
We have to take a fair and balanced approach to reducing our debt. That means taking a hard look at everything and make sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck. We have to get rid of programs that aren't needed, and if a program is needed we must make sure it's running as efficiently as possible. Also, defense spending has to be on the table.
It is also important that everyone pays their fair share. There is a growing gap between the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans and the rest of us. The top 1 percent of Americans earn more than 20 percent of our total national income, and own a third of our country's entire wealth. And the gap has gotten worse. In 1980 the average CEO made 42 times what a blue-collar worker made. Today it's 443 times what workers' median pay. This isn't sustainable.
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?
We need an economy built to compete long-term. One of the best ways to build this type of economy is to invest in growing a renewable energy economy. This also means that we need to continue using existing energy resources more efficiently, and we must encourage the development of new alternative energy sources.
That's why I have worked to write bipartisan legislation allowing the implementation of Property-Assessed Clean Energy programs (PACE). These programs allow property owners to finance the purchase and installation of energy-efficient retrofits to their homes and businesses and then pay for them each year as part of their property tax. PACE is proven to contribute millions of dollars to local economies.
I was also successful in securing $2.3 billion in Recovery Act tax credits for clean energy manufacturing facilities. These tax credits help make sure we are building solar panels, wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies here in the United States.
Finally, I helped pass and extend a Treasury grant program through the Recovery Act which provides funds for clean energy projects. Nationwide, this program has created tens of thousands of jobs by leveraging more than $22.8 billion in private financing to support 22,000 renewable energy projects in all 50 states. More than half of these projects are in California.
This is the type of emphasis and investment that we must make to reduce our carbon emissions, lessen our dependence on foreign oil sources, and diversify our economy by focusing on renewable energy.
4. What, if any, changes should be made to federal health care policies or programs?
As the husband of a family nurse practitioner, and a senior member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, I know firsthand the challenges that exist in our current health care system. For more than two decades I have worked to make healthcare affordable and accessible for all Americans.
I am proud to have voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which is helping make sure the people of our district have access to quality, affordable health care. This landmark legislation is already holding insurance companies more accountable, lowering health care costs, and will soon guarantee more health care choices, and enhance the quality of health care for all Americans. The law expands the current private health insurance system by increasing choice and spurring competition.
Many people have already experienced the Affordable Care Act's immediate benefits. Insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick or deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Adults with pre-existing conditions now have access to affordable coverage. Young adults can now stay on their parents' insurance until their 26th birthday. New insurance plans are required to cover preventive services and immunizations with no co-payments. And, small businesses that provide coverage to their employees now get a tax credit on premiums.
Other parts of the law will go into effect in 2014, and will make even more improvements to our health care system. More than 32 million people who are currently uninsured will gain access to affordable coverage. The hidden taxes all insured individuals currently pay toward the cost of emergency room visits by people without insurance will be ended. And people will receive assistance affording their care through tax credits for low- and middle-income families.
While the new health care law is far from perfect, it is an important first step toward making quality, affordable health care a reality for all Americans. Reforming health care has and always will be an ongoing process that will not be completed with the passage of any one bill. But by passing the Affordable Care Act into law, millions of Americans will now be able to afford to go to the doctor. And that's what matters.
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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