Belleville News Democrat Questionnaire

ECONOMY
1. What are the biggest hurdles to improving the region’s economy and how would you work to overcome them?

First, we must recognize that the private sector alone will never create full employment at a living wage, because the profit motive drives corporations to minimize labor costs, so they eliminate jobs through technology or relocation to lower-wage countries. Corporate taxes provided 28% of federal revenues in the prosperous 50s, but average only 10% today. Clearly, cutting taxes, providing subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare has not worked to increase employment. We can only achieve full employment through the public sector. I advocate a major federal jobs program – a Green New Deal – to combat unemployment and poverty. Second, an economy that runs on money needs a constant money supply. Tight money leads to unemployment. I would work to restore the power to issue money to Congress, as provided in the Constitution, nationalize the Federal Reserve and create a non-debt based money supply that could be used to provide for the people’s needs.

2. What are your specific ideas for creating jobs in southern Illinois?

A Green New Deal would include programs to put people to work refurbishing housing to make it more energy efficient, building localized renewable energy sources, rebuilding light rail to connect our towns and high-speed rail connections to urban centers, roviding education and health care to all our citizens, providing social services to our disadvantaged citizens, and environmental restoration, including replanting an unbroken canopy of trees for flood control, bird migration and recreation. I also support promoting local agriculture, permaculture and local food processing and consumption. This would include helping young people who want to get into farming. I also favor legalizing hemp, which would boost the agrarian economy and has a number of industrial applications.

3. What do you think about U.S. companies re-incorporating overseas to lessen their tax burden and should Congress take action to reduce incentives for corporations that do so?

All corporations, foreign or domestic, should pay their fair share of taxes, on all of their income derived from sales inside the U.S. Beyond that, it becomes an issue of auditing and enforcement, not policy. If a corporation moves its headquarters overseas, or buys foreign subsidaries, it will still pay the same taxes on the same domestic sales. On a related matter, no U.S. corporation should be allowed to move its factories or other physical facilities overseas. Those facilities were built with American labor, American resources and American energy and the corporations received the benefits of American law and policy. The facilities must stay here to benefit our country and citizens. If a corporation wants to abandon or shutter a facility, communities should be empowered to use eminent domain to keep them open, operated as community-owned or worker-owned cooperatives. This is a national security issue.

4. Do you favor any change in the federal minimum wage?

Yes, I favor raising it to a living wage of at least $15/hour, indexed to inflation. As I pointed out in the answer to question 1, a vibrant market economy demands a circulating money supply and widespread prosperity among the people. Allowing large corporations to pay less than subsistence wages, while the top executives rake in exorbitant salaries is what has led to the disparity of wealth and inequality in this country. The problem is compounded when taxpayers are forced to subsidize the corporations by paying for basic needs such as food, shelter and medical care, for the underpaid workers. The argument that a higher minimum wage hurts job creation is belied by experience. When workers have more purchasing power, and less debt, they can afford to buy goods and services, that help local businesses and producers.

5. What changes, if any, should be made to the federal tax system?

We need to tax capital instead of labor, wealth instead of poverty. The current income tax needs to be made more progressive. We need a Wall Street Sales tax, i.e., a tax on speculative trading of futures, swaps and derivatives, so that the financial sector pays its fair share, especially considering the damage caused by speculative trading. We need a tax on primary resources, when extracted, but not when recycled. We should conduct a major review of tax incentives for economic activity that actually harms society, beginning with elimination of tax breaks for fossil fuel extraction. We should implement a fee and dividend system on generation of greenhouse gases, to incentivize reduction in emissions while also helping pay the costs of transition to clean energy and production.

6. What spending cuts would you support to lower the deficit and balance the budget?

I would cut the military budget in half, which would still leave U.S. military spending higher than any other country in the world. I would stop all corporate welfare, especially fossil fuel subsidies. That, combined with my alternative taxes, and monetary reform, would balance the budget.

7. What actions should Congress take to keep Social Security solvent?

The cap on Social Security payments should be lifted, immediately. That single step would ensure its solvency. As it is, this is a very regressive tax, as even the lowest income workers pays the same percentage, but anyone making over $117,000 year pays nothing on the income over that.
DOMESTIC
1. How do you see the Affordable Care Act affecting residents and medical providers in the district, and would you propose any specific changes to it?

As a medical provider, I can tell you that it has increased our computer time, forced us to document every little thing we do in order to get paid, and put us in fear of losing money from the cuts to Medicare. I would propose that we abolish the ACA, and simply abolish the age restrictions to Medicare, making it available to all ages. The private, for profit, health insurance system is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The ACA forces more people into that system. An improved Medicare for all system would eliminate the profiteering middleman, which makes money by denying care, and could provide quality care for all, while reducing overall costs.

2. Do you support efforts to stem the flow of illegal immigration? Do you think people who entered the country illegally but have violated no other laws should be offered a way to remain in the country legally?

Yes, I support the repeal of NAFTA, which impoverishes farmers and workers in Mexico, forces people from their homelands and drives them into the U.S. I oppose building a wall on the border, which is a ridiculous expense and ineffective, as well as a potent symbol of oppression, and a barrier to animal migration. I would support a path to citizenship, but not the proposed two-tier citizenship law now being offered. I would fine employers who break the law, instead of criminalizing workers. I oppose the imprisoning of workers, especially in private, for-profit prisons. All U.S. labor law should apply equally to all workers, so that there is not a two-tier system of labor. I would support making sure that every American has employment, before offering H1-B visas to workers from other countries.

3. How will you balance the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on the coal industry and coal-fired power plants, aimed at reducing carbon emissions, with potential effects to local industries and a rise in energy costs for taxpayers?

Protecting our enviroment should be top priority. The destructive effects of global warming, with droughts, floods, tornadoes and derechoes, cost far more in dollars than switching to renewable energy. And the destruction of people’s lives, homes and farms cannot be measured in dollars. The subsidies to fossil fuel corporations must stop immediately, and the federal government, as part of a federal works program, must retrain workers and offer new employment opportunities, including in the manufacture and installation of renewable energy.

4. How will you protect Scott Air Force Base from cuts and closure?

Focusing on protecting our country from attack includes supporting Scott Air Force Base. There is no need to shut down a local base. However, the hundreds of bases in other people’s countries around the world should be shut down. We can no longer afford an empire.

5. Should employers with religiously grounded beliefs on contraceptives be allowed not to provide such care to employees? Should employers be required to provide maternity and paternity leave?

I don’t believe that health insurance should be employer based. It is a public good, and contraception is an important part of women’s health, as well as the health of the body politic. That is another reason why we need Medicare For All. Yes, employers should be required to provide paid maternity and paternity leave of at least six months. The US is one of only three countries in the world that doesn’t do this. Maternity and paternity leaves are important for the health of young families, and, also, the betterment of our country.

6. What role should the federal government play to ensure America’s high school graduates are ready to succeed and should the federal government expand programs enabling access to college?

The federal government could help local schools provide quality education to our young people, including art, music and sports programs, to ensure that our children have access to all the culture, beauty and fun that life has to offer them. Every student should learn the basics of literacy, math and science, with focused teaching plans catering to different styles of learning. Mass testing should be limited. Higher education, including vocational education, should be made available tuition free to all interested and qualified students. Other nations manage to do this; we should do it here.

7. What policies need to be in place or altered to protect veterans’ access to healthcare?

All Americans should have access to healthcare. Medicare for All would provide such access.
FOREIGN
1. What should be the United States’ role in fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist groups?

It is more important for the U.S. to stop funding jihadist groups than it is to fight them. I would oppose all funding, arms and training going to support so-called “rebels” in the Middle East. And I would demand that the US pressure its allies from stopping such funding also, especially Saudi Arabia. Syria has shown itself to be capable of fighting the terrorists, even while they are being funded, trained and supported by U.S. allies in the region. If the funding and other backing stopped, Syria and Iraq could handle the problem.

2. What is the right military approach to terrorism and does it include the use of U.S. forces on the ground in any way?

There is no “right” military approach to a tactic. The military is supposed to protect us from foreign invasion, not from individuals who have bombs but no way to cross the oceans. Again, stop the funding and the arms supplies, and stop attacking other nations, and the terrorism would dry up. I oppose any involvement of U.S. forces in other nations, unless another nation actually attacks us. If the federal government is trying to tell us that the draconian dragnet of data collection, widespread spying of its own people, and intrusive airport security doesn’t “keep us safe,” then I say that is a good reason to stop it. For them to insist that they need to continue these unconstitutional acts, but then say they also need to bomb people overseas, creating more hostility toward us, is to defy common sense.

3. How should the United States maintain its focus on the rise and potential threat of China while managing other conflicts, such as between Russia and Ukraine?

The idea that we need to militarily confront China is a false premise. China has shown no aggression to the U.S. If the U.S. is worried about an economic threat from China, we should stop exporting our industrial capacity to China, as I advocated in the answer to question 3.

The conflict in Ukraine is between the U.S.-backed Kiev junta, which overthrew the elected government and immediately starting attacking ethnic Russians, and the anti-fascist fighters in eastern Ukraine, now being attacked with U.S. money and support. The U.S. spent $5 billion to overthrow the government, according to Victoria Nuland. How does this civil war, between fascists in western Ukraine, and anti-fascists in eastern Ukraine, get twisted into a “conflict” between Russia and Ukraine? The only thing that Russia did was to accept the results of the referendum in Crimea, in which 97% of the people voted to rejoin Russia.

4. What country poses the greatest threat to the United States’ national security and why?

Our own current foreign and domestic policies pose the greatest threat to our security. Attacking other countries, assassinating their citizens, interfering in their elections, and their economies, dictating who their leaders should be, is a great threat to our national security. We cannot expect that the rest of the world will continue to allow the U.S. to ride roughshod over international law and national sovereignty. Real security means providing gainful employment, education, a clean environment and civil liberties here at home.

5. In what circumstances do you support military action against another country?

I support international law, which states that the only legal war is in self-defense. That is, if another country attacks us, I would support a war to defend ourselves. The current state of affairs, in which the US is bombing eight countries (that we know of) must stop.

6. In response to threats abroad, have the National Security Agency and other government agencies gone too far in electronic surveillance of Americans on U.S. soil and would you support any restrictions?

Yes, I support the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which bars illegal search and seizures, and gives us the right to be secure in our homes and possessions. Of course the NSA has gone too far. I support the repeal of the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and any other overreach by the government into our actions and opinions.

7. What balance of U.S. aid should be given to address humanitarian crises on multiple fronts, such as the Ebola outbreak?

I would support sending food and water to the countries stricken with Ebola, so that they could enforce a quarantine on ill patients, without the family members going without the necessities. Moving ill people spreads the disease. To send people to an epidemic is asking to spread it, as they return to their home countries, and is irrational on the face of it. To send soldiers to fight a virus is taking absurdity to new heights.