Amy "Murri" Briel
Democratic candidate for U.S. House (16th district)
Responses to our questions
The U.S. government is now $20 trillion in debt. To address that historic level of public indebtedness, the country would need to raise revenue and/or decrease spending. What is your position on the budget and debt?
I believe that an expansion to universal healthcare, with an emphasis on preventing illness and disease, would be an effective cost-saving method. We currently spend nearly $3 trillion annually for healthcare, while other industrialized nations who offer universal care to their citizens pay, on average, a third less per capita.
Can you identify any major federal expenditures or programs that you would eliminate?
We should also eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels and other forms of "dirty" energy, reserving those incentives for clean energy technology which will also spur job growth in a growing sector of the economy.
Medicare and Medicaid costs continue to spiral. How can these programs be restructured to control costs and avoid collapse? Be specific about your willingness to change or reduce future benefits.
I reject your premise. As mentioned above, I support the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid.There are tangible economic benefits in providing access to quality healthcare for every American. Diabetes alone costs employers roughly $20 billion a year, as a result of nearly 57 million unplanned sick days. Without that access,entrepreneurs, small business, and the exploding gig economy will stagnate resulting in billions of dollars of tax loss, and more importantly innovation. Medicare should also be able to negotiate prescription drug costs.
What if anything should be the federal government's role in helping Americans obtain health insurance coverage?
I support a public option which would provide all Americans with access to quality, affordable healthcare. In the interim, we must reinstate the individual mandate to make sure there are more younger, healthier individuals in the risk pool. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it was a first, important step towards protecting patients with preexisting conditions and expanding coverage. In Congress, I will fight to preserve those critical protections to patients, expand coverage for those who can't afford it, while seeking to improve the system and lower the cost of care.
Economic growth has been steady but wage growth is slow. Are you content with the state of the economy? What is your recipe for enhancing American prosperity?
No. A rising stock market and GDP growth has little impact on the daily lives of most of the people I am running to serve. The recipe for prosperity is to close the wealth gap. Decades of reducing marginal rates on the wealthiest americans to serve the fantasy of trickle down economics have caused wealth inequality worse than anytime since the decade before the Great Depression. Raising the marginal rate on the highest earners, cutting taxes for low and middle income workers--the people who will actually immediately put that money back into the economy--and using the revenue to invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure to create quality jobs that cannot be outsourced.
If you could fix longstanding problems with this country's immigration system tomorrow, what would you do? What is your position on the future of DACA and the Dreamers?
We should have an immigration system that places evidence ahead of partisan political rhetoric. Immigration has and always will be critical to the growth of our economy and innovation. Since 2000, 35% of Nobel Laureates in chemistry, physics and medicine have been immigrants. The innovation provided by those given an opportunity to thrive in the United States improves all of our lives. Additionally, migrant farmworkers fill between 1 million and 2.7 million jobs domestic workers historically will not accept, and immigrants actually commit crimes at a lower rate than natural born citizens.
I support DACA and the Dreamers, these are law abiding individuals who have gone to school in this country, been productive members of society, identify as Americans, and have made great contributions, while also committing crimes at a lower rate than their native born peers.
North Korea's nuclear weapons program represents a direct threat to the security of the United States and its Pacific allies. How should the U.S. confront or contain Kim Jong Un's regime?
What won't work is schoolyard taunts delivered via social media. As former NATO Supreme Commander, retired Admiral James Stavridis said this week, "Diplomacy can work this thing out," provided we have a unified voice from the administration coupled with enforcement of the current sanctions, and continue working with our international partners who have a vested interest in peace on the Korean peninsula to continue to apply diplomatic pressure on North Korea.
ISIS is contained in Syria and Iraq but terrorism remains a threat. What are your priorities in keeping the country safe?
Our terrorism problem is one of (primarily) young (primarily) men, who have--regardless or their religious or racial affiliation-- become disaffected and radicalized. We need to get to the root of their disaffection both here and abroad and provide the opportunity that might make them less vulnerable to the organizations that prey on these young men to carry out their their ambitions. Beyond that difficult task of addressing the root cause, I believe that fighting terrorism is, as John Kerry said, is often better done through intelligence and law enforcement, rather than engaging in often undefined military actions
Should the U.S. continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran?
We should continue to abide by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. As the Trump administration was forced to concede, Iran has complied with the terms of the agreement, and to refuse to abide by the terms simply as a political jab at the preceding administration would be a dangerous precedent which would jeopardize all future diplomatic agreements.
What is your position on the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?
U.S. soldiers should remain in Afghanistan, without a surge in presence, until the Afghan government and its peace keeping forces are stable and sustainable. As Colin Powell said in Iraq "If you break it you buy it." So despite my reservations of a continued U.S. military presence, for the time being the status quo appears to be the best option.
Do you support a unified, federal background check system for gun sales? Do you support magazine limits or a ban on certain rifles? Describe, briefly, your position on how to balance safety with the Second Amendment.
I support unified federal background checks and magazine limits. I am a Democrat who fully supports the 2nd Amendment--and understands that there is no conflict between the 2nd Amendment and common sense regulations. I support the rights of sportsmen, hunters, and individuals who choose to own a firearm for self defense. I also support laws that prohibit convicted domestic violence abusers,stalkers, individuals with severe mental illness and individuals who are not permitted to board a plane to have access to firearms.
I also see no relationship between weapons used for sport and and modifications such as bump stocks which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly. We need to close loopholes and reduce incidents of gun violence, not allow the gun lobby to block common sense approaches to avoid future tragedies.
Should the U.S. government take steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas? If so, what steps? If not, why not?
Yes. The threat climate change poses to the environment is among the most critical issues we face here and globally, which is why the denial of science and rejection of evidence by this president and his enablers in Congress is a continuing embarrassment. We need to incentivize green technologies while eliminating subsidies for CO2 emitting fossil fuels, but the incentives need to be better focused and outcome based, while at the same time increase our commitment to the construction of new transmission lines to bring down the cost of getting renewable energy to market.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
In addition to running a not for profit that allows children who otherwise could not afford the experience of travel soccer to participate, I worked for several years with victims of domestic violence to help them rebuild their lives, and I am an avid target shooter.
If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your current term.