On the Issues
How would you balance the federal budget/reduce the federal deficit?
I support a Constitutional balanced budget amendment and in this Congress, I am a co-sponsor of both a Republican and a Democratic version. We need to make sure it is done in a fair way that looks at both spending and revenues. We need to cut waste, fraud and abuse in federal contracting and restructure federal programs that overlap such as a nursing home survey done by both the VA and DHHS which could save millions per year. We must also do a thorough analysis of our military footprint around the world so that we can have a more efficient Department of Defense. And finally, we must reform our tax code to end wasteful loopholes and end tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
What steps do you support to reform Social Security and Medicare?
I strongly oppose the Paul Ryan plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Instead, we should require the federal government to negotiate the costs of prescription drugs in the Medicare Part D program, an approach already used by the VA in providing affordable medications to our nation’s veterans. Additionally, the Affordable Health Care Act which I supported strengthened Medicare by eliminating billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse without cutting benefits to seniors.
When it comes to Social Security, I believe we must continue to strengthen the current system, and I oppose any measures, such as privatization, which would weaken it. We must also balance the federal budget to make sure the Social Security Trust Fund is protected from government raids.
Would you sign a pledge to never raise federal taxes? Why or why not?
The ability to compromise goes out the window as soon as a pledge like this is signed. This pledge has a lot to do with why Congress is broken. If I signed a pledge like this I wouldn’t be able to vote to eliminate tax incentives that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas or repeal unneeded tax giveaways to the oil industry. This pledge also prevents action on overall tax reform that most Americans regardless of political affiliation agree is necessary.
How should health care be reformed?
Passing the Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, but it wasn't perfect and more must be done. I have long advocated for the Department of Health and Human Service to move Maine to the Boston market rate for Medicare reimbursement which would help ensure provider access in rural areas and stabilize health care costs in Maine. Since the Affordable Care Act's passage, parents can now keep their children on their insurance longer and insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. It also provides valuable tax credits to individuals and small businesses to help them purchase health insurance, and it will set up insurance exchanges that will provide small businesses and families additional choices and the purchasing power that only big businesses currently enjoy.
Do you support a woman’s right to an abortion?
Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and as such, I have opposed efforts to restrict private health insurance options and to criminalize physicians. I also support the current ban on federal funding of abortion.
In Congress, would you support DOMA or legislation to allow civil unions or gay marriage?
I voted against the Constitutional Amendment that would have banned same sex marriage. Marriage is an issue best handled and managed by the individual states. This fall, the question of same sex marriage will be put to the Maine voters. Voters in Maine should be free to make this decision without interference from Congress.
Should the federal government have a role in K-12 education?
Maine has a long and proud tradition of locally controlled schools. Decisions regarding curriculum and education policies are best left to local communities and the state. The federal government should play a role when it comes to our education infrastructure and help fund things like buildings, laboratories, and buses.
In a globalized economy, a quality education is a matter of competitiveness for our country. I’ve supported efforts to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education so that America can lead the way in innovative solutions to our toughest challenges. I also believe the federal government must fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which was enacted to ensure that all children, including disabled students, have access to free and appropriate public education. At the time, the federal government promised to pay 40% of the costs, but they never even made it to 20%.
What are the benefits of school choice? Vouchers? Should they be available for private and religious schools?
The State of Maine recently passed a law to establish charter schools. This is a tough time for our nation’s education system due to tightening budgets, and I believe that the ultimate decision surrounding the question of school choice should continue to be made at the state and local level. The federal government meanwhile must do its part and renew its commitment to ensuring that all of our students and teachers have the resources to succeed in the classroom. We must also work to make sure that these resources are distributed in a way that doesn’t disadvantage schools that may be poorer or more rural.
Do you believe climate change is happening? Do humans contribute to it? What should Congress do to address the problem?
Yes, and the evidence is unfortunately all around us. We must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and cut down on our use of fossil. I have long supported and voted to pass extensions of the production tax credit and investment tax credit for renewable forms of power, including wind, tidal and biomass. These investments are already contributing to the strengthening of our economy. Congress also needs to look at the tax code and our current energy programs to promote and encourage energy conservation.
Maine is in a perfect position for developing green technologies and jobs. I’ve worked to secure funding for tidal research and for deepwater offshore wind development in Maine. Both hold tremendous potential for Maine and have already created jobs. But we must do more as a nation to build on these efforts and promote a coordinated approach.
What should the country’s energy policy look like?
I have long advocated a national energy policy and both sides of the aisle need to sit down and come together to achieve it. It must recognize that we need fossil fuels now and in the near future, but that we must find ways to cut down on their use in an affordable way. Promoting weatherization of homes and fuel efficient vehicles are common sense approaches. We also need to work to expand inexpensive natural gas opportunities for Maine consumers. Doing this will promote clean water and air, reduce our reliance of foreign sources of fuel, and lead to the creation of clean energy jobs for the future. But we have to get past the special interests that stand in the way of progress. Individuals, families, and businesses are all affected by this lack of action, and it’s long past time for a coherent and effective national energy policy.