Democratic candidate for U.S. House (12th 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?
The United States is in need of both revenue raising strategies as well as cuts in spending. We are currently at a 6 decade low for infrastructure spending and our infrastructure is at its worst. Thousands of bridges in need of repair, an aging public transportation system throughout most major cities, and a rail system that isn't prepared for the 21st century.
We also know that spending on infrastructure creates jobs. There needs to be a greater focus on an infrastructure spending bill that not only creates jobs but tackles our greatest infrastructural needs. As for cuts, its never popular to cut from some of our largest areas of spending, but there are glaring problems with where most of our annual budget is focused. The Pentagon's spending and budget is astronomically high.
By cutting down on foreign troop deployments and combat zone spending (Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan), we could save billions while putting some of that savings into other economy boosting plans as well as spending on the military at home to upgrade our aging nuclear missile system and provide increased spending on regional military bases that serve as important economic hubs for cities across the U.S.
Can you identify any major federal expenditures or programs that you would eliminate?
Discretionary spending at the Pentagon which spends 100s of billions of dollars on weapons programs dating back to the Cold War. We can still have the strongest and most ready military in the world without wasteful spending within the halls of the Pentagon.
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.
First, we could start allowing Medicare to negotiate rates on pharmaceuticals. This move could save Medicare and Medicaid about 20 billion a year, according to research. Next we need to roll Medicare into a single-payer Medicare for all program which would make sure that it doesn't fail and that is supported by a nationwide program providing coverage for everyone.
What if anything should be the federal government's role in helping Americans obtain health insurance coverage?
Its a basic human right to healthcare. And we are long overdue for a comprehensive single-payer program that covers absolutely every American. So, the federal government should have an incredible role in this process.
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?
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, while the middle class is being overtaken by an upper middle class. I'm not ok with this economy. With the next generation coming into our work forces with large student loans ans inability to purchase homes, we are in for a rough ride of the next decade.
To challenge this, we need to have an economy boosting focus. Infrastructure spending must be a priority. We also need to end the gender and racial wage gap. Accoriding to a study by Mckenzie, the gender wage gap is costing the US nearly 3.5 trillion dollars of the next decade. It is an absolute must for us to adopt wage game legislation that protect these workers while at the same time coming up with ways to improve their opportunity of success.
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?
DACA and the Dreamers program must be protected. We may have a problem with immigration, but our most glaring problem is our inability to quickly, thoroughly, and affordably get people either on the path to permanent residence or citizenship.
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?
The first option to any potential conflict should be diplomacy. We are seeing the state department gutted, both of human talent and financial resources. We need the best and the brightest working on relations with North Korea. With a mix of continued sanctions and a larger dose of diplomacy, I believe we can avoid major military conflict with North Korea.
ISIS is contained in Syria and Iraq but terrorism remains a threat. What are your priorities in keeping the country safe?
We should focus on our borders, our bases, and properly and effectively training our soldiers here at home - with the preparedness to go anywhere at anytime. Terrorism is real, it is a problem, but it's also amplified by our continued presence in the middle East.
Should the U.S. continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran?
Yes, and we should continue to hold Iran to their end of the bargain.
What is your position on the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?
It's time for them to come home. We attempted several troop surges and it worked relative to the size of the increase. We need to be committed to a sustainable exit path.
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.
Yes. Yes. As a Marine veteran, I fully understand the awesome power and responsibility of care a weapon. I believe that we have evolved our gun power, but have not logically evolved our gun ownership policies along with those changes. Guns are more powerful and more dangerous than ever and while upholding the 2nd Ammendment, we can also make sure to protect the millions of Americans who do not choose to have a gun. We are a long way ever away from removing guns completely. But we can certainly keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Should the U.S. government take steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas? If so, what steps? If not, why not?
Absolutely. This is a pretty simple topic. Science says so. Renewables are the easiest path and we already seeing, that solar is becoming one of the hottest and fastest growing industries in the US. Any new infrastructure package that we pass should also include renewable energy and the infrastructure needed for that to happen.
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I've traveled to nearly thirty countries around the globe and climbed Mount Ararat. Although I believe that it's probably more surprising that I have three beautiful kids and I really enjoy diaper changing duty!
If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your current term.