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Sargis Sangari

Republican candidate for U.S. House (9th district)

Sargis Sangari

Sargis Sangari

Republican candidate for U.S. House (9th district)

BA Political Science
CEO of the Near East Center for Strategic Engagement and the Founder and President of the United Assyrian Appeal
Past Political/Civic Experience

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?

Obviously it would be best if we can raise revenue and decrease spending at the same time. However, since no one can guarantee an increase in revenue, but can guarantee spending cuts, we need to begin with the latter. A dollar saved is a dollar earned.

I have assessed, evaluated, and executed projects for U.S. interests in Iraq, Kuwait, and have seen their use in Afghanistan that were intended for good but have achieved no return on investment. I have seen how multiple agencies have worked against each other on similar projects using title 10 and 22 dollars. There is obviously a lot of fat to be trimmed from every federal program and budget. As an example, the F-22 and F-35 should not have been funded because they were not manufactured for a specific operation. Feel good projects, which have no long-term support for our strategic needs, should not be funded blindly.

The starting point to reduce our debt would be looking at redundancies across multiple agencies, reducing the workforce for those agencies through attrition, eliminating programs that have outlived their usefulness, and ensuring that we do not fund committees and fact funding studies that simply placate to special interests.

Can you identify any major federal expenditures or programs that you would eliminate?

I have dealt with federal government build in bureaucratic redundancies for over twenty years. All of which have hindered and hampered our missions. As an example, there are multiple intelligence agencies in the bureaucracy whose boundaries don't just overlap, they lead to friction points within jurisdictions given most of them have dozens of people hired to do the same thing! When we're taking about reducing the budget I think we have to start by merging, simplifying, and eliminating.

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.

Baby Boomers have started enrolling in Medicare. Information and data are increasingly available and portable. Chronic disease incidence is reaching epidemic proportions. Health reform has set a new timeline for change. These forces are pushing providers past the point of incremental change toward a new business model centered on delivery of comprehensive care and management of total cost risk.

Over the next few years, the majority of the nation will be Medicare eligible which is why it is imperative we address these costs now. My own father has medical needs that can only be supported by these program. Without Medicare and Medicaid my family cannot afford to take care of my fathers medical needs. I would rather see an increase in these programs to include homecare options, which in my father's case would be less expensive.

The Federal government has the ability to negotiate prices and timetables with healthcare providers and insurance markets, and we should be doing that. These costs are rising because for too long Congress hasn't been demanding better prices from the market. I intend to change that. If Congress was mandated to have the same healthcare as the rest of the nation than they would be motivated to fix the problems they cause others.

What if anything should be the federal government's role in helping Americans obtain health insurance coverage?

It's not the federal government's job to provide insurance. It's our job to regulate and to ensure fairness and equal access, but not to provide single payer coverage.

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?

There are systematic issues that cause disparities in income among Americans. However, there is no opportunity gap in America. When children are provided the basic support requirements and safety, which fosters a positive environment for learning it, creates a strong foundation for them to succeed. Staying in school, studying hard, and not getting in trouble is still the best way to get ahead in life but it requires us to empower the children, their parents, and extended families to achieve this goal. If an immigrant kid from Iran can succeed, so can everyone else.

Strengthening this opportunity is the best way for us to improve wage growth. Our high schools should also be provided vocational education stipend from the federal government to ensure a soft economic transition for those who do not wish to continue in college predatory classes.

With that said, we must have 40-45 year outlook that takes into consideration changes in the labor market. With AI becoming much more useful in the work force we must be able to transition existing workers from the portions of the labor market which become obsolete. As an example when one portion of the market is no longer relevant and outdated by technology we must spend the money needed to transition the people within that work force to a new skill set.

I recommend we create a program similar to the 911 GI Bill for the civilian sector. It will be based on providing the needed monies for individuals to transition to a new technical skill set over a short period of time, ensuring that transition to a new work sector does not hinder the people financially. This will be approved only in case of labor sectors which become obsolete in the future.

Current payouts for Unemployment benefits last approximately 24 month. During the same time and using some of the same dollars, we can provide the monthly stipend, money for educational tools, and money to cover the school expenses at the community college levels to ensure people are not unemployed and are transitioning to a new work sector at a benefit to our district. These same individuals will become the productive workforce for our districts and will bring those needed skill sets to develop our business and maintain and expand our infrastructures at the local levels.

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?

The two political parties should not use the persons who are hoping to be DACA recipients as leverage for immigration reform negotiations. The issue of immigration needs to be divided into three separate, but mutually supporting parts.

There are the outside of the national borders issues and topics which fall under the State Department purview which looks at who comes into the country, the border security issue, and the decision on how to deal with illegals living within our borders.

As for the DACA topic, my recommendation is to not to use the word "amnesty". The concept of "immunity" is more effective. Amnesty does not address the problems America faces and continues the policy of mass or chain migration. Immigration should be based on merit. The way the immigration debate can move forward is by neutralizing the political friction points between the Democrats and the Republicans by giving contingent-based immunity to possible DACA recipients. Immunity is different from amnesty in that it acknowledges responsibility for committing a crime, in this case, coming into the United States of America illegally. If we are to be a nation of law and order, as President Trump has championed, we have to respect the existing laws in place. Immunity also factors into this, given it can be granted by the courts.

There should be a very thorough vetting process on a case-by-case basis, and once the appropriate agencies have signed off on allowing a person to enter the program, the courts can provide temporary immunity contingent upon a variety of different merit-based conditions. This can include a four-year mandatory military service which allows one to earn the GI bill, and the crime will remain on the individual's record until the agreement is fulfilled.

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 U.S. has a history of dealing with these problems going back to the Cuban missile crisis and the cold war stand-off with the Soviet Union. The U.S. has the world's strongest military and must keep all its options on the table as it has done historically in these cases. America's strongest alliance is with South Korea. We must stand with our allies to include Japan. I support negotiations as a way of avoiding war but we must retain our ability to strike if and when military action is warranted or needed.

ISIS is contained in Syria and Iraq but terrorism remains a threat. What are your priorities in keeping the country safe?

ISIS has been decimated in Iraq and Syria, but it will never be destroyed until its ideology is eradicated. ISIS is the burning embers of an ideology that has erupted in the region and now has reached global levels. That ideology continues to inspire and motivate many people in the region, and it is simply military fact that U.S. forces operating in the region cannot kill them all.

Nor should the U.S. be required to assume the leadership role in the war with ISIS. We must instead find true and enduring partners who are willing to work with us for their interests and turn over this fight to them. We should continue to provide them with the support, key financing that may be needed, and other equipment they need to eradicate this ideology. The U.S needs to retain its military structures and reserve financing to use for other global contingencies in the 21st century.

Should the U.S. continue to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran?

It is up to the current administration whether or not the United States should continue to abide by the Iranian nuclear deal. The previous administration put POTUS in a difficult position because if he chooses not to abide by the deal, Iran would be able to continue its nuclear program unchecked. If he abides by the deal as it stands, then there is no guarantee that Iran would be prevented from reaching its nuclear ambitions.

POTUS should keep, but renegotiate, the agreement given at least the U.S will be in a position to understand what Iran is doing. The issue for the U.S is that no other nation is able or willing to take the lead in enforcing the deal. Iran cannot be given free reign to pursue its nuclear ambitions in order to become a hegemonic power in the region. Within the current agreement, Iran is obligated not to enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years. Uranium (LEU) is limited to 300 kg of 3.67 percent LEU for 15 years. Finally, Iran cannot build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.

The U.S can mandate for these requirements to become permanent by providing the materials and technologies needed for Iran to meet their energy needs for which they are supposedly operating these facilities in Iran. Also the current POTUS has tied the Iran's ballistic missile development requirements to this deal. This is a mistake given if he pushes for two separate deals he will have more leverage on the Iran in negotiations. If Iran violates any of the two agreements, separate of each other, than the U.S can use either of the agreements against the other to keep Iran in check.

What is your position on the continued presence of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan?

The U.S. must retain a military presence in Afghanistan in order to deprive terror networks from reconstituting in Afghanistan and empower Afghanistan to become a functional democracy. More importantly, this will provide a counter to China's growing power in this geostrategically important region. Afghanistan is the historical crossroad and the bridge used to link Iran, Russia, China, and Pakistan to each other. This is also the means for China to expand the reach of the Shanghai Corporation Organization (SCO), which enables these nations to continue countering U.S global and regional interests. If we are no longer in Afghanistan, we will lose our ability to diplomatically influence Russia through the Southern Caucuses, Iran through its eastern corridors, Pakistan through its northern tribal boarder crossings, and we will lose our ability to control Chinas stated desire to counter our economic and military influence not only within the region but through Afghanistan into Europe and Asia. Afghanistan is key geopolitical terrain, which we must have a presence within if the United States is to be a global leader in the 21st century and beyond.

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.

What person in their right mind will not support the background checks for firearms which have been conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) since November 1998. Magazine limits and ban on certain rifles is not the problem. The problem is that we do not empower the courts to require jury trials for ALL felony prosecutions (no plea bargaining/trust the jury) and make the MAXIMUM sentences required on all convictions with NO possibility for parole. There must be consequences to committing gun crimes, as the victim of such crimes does not have or enjoy the luxury of a mitigated sentence. The question on safety with the Second Amendment is unclear given everyone has to be concerned with safety and if not, they can be held negligent IAW the existing laws.

Should the U.S. government take steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas? If so, what steps? If not, why not?

The U.S. government already takes steps to curb emissions of greenhouse gas. I advocate for following existing laws that strike a balance between curbing greenhouse gas and maintaining our economic well-being.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I am a very serious candidate. I have been told that Jan Schakowsky is so heavily entrenched in her position, and that the support provided her by the Democratic machine and the gerrymandering of the district has so ensured her re-election that any opponent would not have a chance against her. So I must not be serious. But, I want you to know that I am a retired United States Army Officer and I take all engagements very seriously, and that I don't lose.

If you are an incumbent, tell us the most significant accomplishment of your current term.

Working in the best interest of my constituency.

Candidates for U.S. House (9th district)