Is reducing the deficit during your first term a priority of yours, and if so, how would you accomplish that? Absolutely. It is unconscionable to continue to incur unprecedented levels of debt for future generations. We need a combination of tax increases and expense reductions. I propose limiting all discretionary spending increase to one percent per year until we get our annual deficits to between 2% - 3.0% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). I also propose doing away with the preferential treatment on capital gains 90% of which go to the wealthiest 5%. The capital gains tax rate is significantly lower than the effective tax rate on salaries and wages. This results in the top 400 richest people paying an effective tax rate lower than those in the middle class. In fact, for those with taxable income of over $10 million, preferential capital gains represent approximately 50% of their income compared to less than 1% for those with taxable income under $100,000.
What if anything would you do to address high healthcare costs? The United States spends 17.8% of GDP for our confusing, complex and inconsistent healthcare system compared with an average of 8.8% of GDP the other 35 developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) pay. We need a healthcare system that provides high-quality outcomes at the lowest price. A good first step would be to address the crony capitalism that is rampant in our $3.6 trillion annual healthcare system which does not allow the US government the ability to negotiate drug prices and costs. As a result of this provision, according to the Congressional Budget Office, spending on specialty drugs by Medicare Part D rose from $8.7 billion dollars in 2010 to $32.8 billion in 2015. No other country has handicapped themselves in this way and unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Should we rely more on government-run healthcare? Our government already spends approximately 8% of GDP on healthcare and provides healthcare coverage for less than half of our citizens. The other 35 countries in the OECD (which have longer average life expectancies) provide healthcare for all of their citizens for 8.8% of GDP. These other 35 countries in the OECD have a variety of solutions ranging from government-provided single-payer to private payer for covering the cost of healthcare. Therefore, we should consider what they are doing. I believe we can construct a system that would be uniquely American, which would provide good value if we can work within a framework of political consensus and decrease the impact of special interests. However, to do so we need to quit electing politicians who take over $250 million in political donations from the healthcare industry each year.
Do you support expanding the border wall? We should decide how much we want to spend on border security and then let the experts at Homeland Security decide how to best use it. Additionally, we should do the same for national defense instead of building something the military does not need just because it is in some congressperson’s district.
Should DACA be reinstated? Yes, it is unconscionable not to provide some accommodation for children who were brought here through no fault of their own and know no other home.
Who should deportations focus on? I would focus on criminals who have committed crimes involving physical violence and theft.
Do you support the USMCA? Yes
Should we be using tariffs or the threat of tariffs as a negotiating tactic? Tariffs are appropriate if used wisely under the right circumstances.
Should President Trump have to win Congressional authorization before taking further military action against Iran? I think President Trump should be allowed to use limited military action consistent with past Presidents and the War Powers Act. However, we must never forget the framers of our Constitution gave Congress certain enumerated powers, including the right to declare war, to provide a check on the Executive Branch.
Did President Trump make the right decision by moving forward with a drone strike? He has so much more information that is not available to the general public that he deserves the benefit of the doubt. I believe he wants to keep us out of foreign entanglements and to do so sometimes you need to send a message that one is not afraid to act. Time and history will ultimately be the judge of whether the President used our military might wisely.
Should we be doing anything to halt climate change? Climate change is the existential issue of our time. I would be in favor of adopting the revenue-neutral Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends proposed by James Baker, Henry Paulson, Jr., George Shultz, and other prominent Republicans or similar legislation proposed by the bipartisan Citizens Climate Lobby. Renewable energy is now cheaper than coal and we should be striving to be a leader in renewable energy which created 110,000 new jobs last year as opposed to continuing to hitch our wagon to the coal industry which is more expensive and has experienced a reduction of 40% of its workforce in the last 10 years. We are at a pivotal point in the new energy revolution and we are missing a huge opportunity, as a country, if we choose not to become the world leader in clean energy technologies.
Are there any gun control policies you would support? For example, should there be universal background checks? Yes, I would support universal background checks and allowing the CDC to track gun deaths.
Should marijuana be legalized? If you are not going to enforce the law isn't it already legal? The real question is why we have people in Congress that don't have enough courage or common sense to decriminalize something that is already "legal" in 33 states and is more appropriately regulated at the state level.
Should anything be done to address college affordability? It should be left to the states to address as they see fit.
In what situations, if any, should abortions be permitted? Abortion is a deeply personal decision and may entail circumstances like rape, incest, severely deformed fetuses, and health risks to the mother. I would not be willing to significantly restrict a woman’s ability to make this heart wrenching decision. However, I am all in with respect to adoption, which has so blessed my life, trying to improve the lives of the 500,000 children in foster care and trying to save the 16,000 children who will die today of malnutrition, each of which could be saved for $160 per year.
Other topics you are concerned about
We must also act now to shore up the Medicare and Social Security programs which the government is projecting will be insolvent in seven and 15 years respectively. This will require some reasonable sacrifice by all of us now. However, if we do not act soon, the problem will be much bigger and harder to solve.