The new healthcare law prevents denial of insurance to people who have pre-existing conditions. It also prevents cancellation of insurance for certain health problems and placement of limitations on lifetime insurance coverage. This is a good start, but it still does not cover all our citizens. I would support measures that would encourage competition. These include initiation of a public option, introduction of a plan to buy in to Medicare, and modification of the antitrust exemptions enjoyed by some insurance companies. This competition would lower costs and improve quality of care for all Americans.
Our economy must be viewed from both the short-term and long-term perspective. We are now coming out of the most severe recession since the Great Depression. It is clear that this recession could have been prevented. Regulations put in place following the Great Depression were removed in the 1980s and 1990s by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. This resulted in a situation which allowed subprime loans to be given to many individuals who clearly could not be expected to continue to make payments. The mortgage brokers who were selling these mortgages were making their money up front and did not suffer when foreclosures resulted. The mortgages were packaged as derivatives and Wall Street made additional profits by betting that these would fail. I support tighter regulation to prevent similar problems in the future.
The bank bailouts and stimulus package were needed to prevent this Great Recession from turning into the second Great Depression. Once the economy has stabilized, it will be necessary to make long-term plans to eliminate the deficit and start paying off the national debt. I supported the legislation which would have forced an up or down vote by Congress on the recommendations of an independent commission. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives, but unfortunately it was defeated in the Senate. The commission which has since been appointed by the president can only make recommendations which may or may not be implemented by Congress. If elected, I will seriously consider any recommendations the commission might make to start the country toward deficit reduction. I will also work with the Obama administration and any willing Democrats or Republicans to reduce our national debt. It is critical to the future economic health of this country.
- Energy Independence/Environment/Global Climate Change
The United States produces less than 5% of the world’s oil supply but consumes about 20%. This will continue to result in a significant trade deficit and keep us dependent on foreign oil. No amount of drilling will make us independent. Drilling offshore is obviously fraught with serious problems and would increase the total supply of oil only minimally. In order to become energy independent we must change our focus to clean, renewable sources of energy.
Starting by developing a more energy efficient economy, we must quickly implement wind, solar, geothermal and biomass as clean, domestic power sources. The burning of fossil fuels continues to contribute to the increased levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The existence of global climate change and its relationship to the burning of fossil fuels is widely accepted in the scientific community. Those who deny this are generally not from the scientific community or are protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industries.
Our dependence on oil from countries that do not have our best interests in mind threaten our economy, our environment, and our national security. Unless steps are taken soon to promote energy effeciency and develop renewable energy, future generations will condemn us for our lack of insight into the problem. I favor tax breaks to businesses which invest in the many forms of clean renewable energy.
The state of public education has deteriorated over the last few decades. Too much emphasis is being placed on standardized tests that are too broad in their scope and encourage teachers to build their curricula around the tests rather than creating well-rounded lesson plans. The unrealistic methods for evaluating teachers and schools that were handed down from No Child Left Behind must be repealed.
There are many excellent dedicated teachers in our schools, but low teacher salaries prevent us from attracting and retaining the highest quality candidates. The recent decreases in the state budget have resulted in dramatic cuts to school systems around the state.
The stimulus package has allowed us to save some but not all teacher salaries. Further cuts are coming which will result in larger class sizes and further deterioration in public education. Education must become a much higher priority or our public schools will continue to spiral downward. We must find alternative means of funding our public education system other than placing the burden on the backs of property taxpayers.
There will always be a need for highly educated people in areas such as healthcare, clean energy, engineering, and information technologies. In order to ensure that all students are highly educated in a broad range of fields, we will need to have a first-class public education system. Tax incentives for small businesses are essential to help spur job growth. Because we live in a highly competitive global economy, well-paying jobs will depend on a well-educated population.