Connie Mack, the Republican Senate Candidate refused to respond to a questionnaire from the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Florida. The questions asked in this questionnaire were quite straightforward. There was no trickery, or attempt to trip up the candidates. These were questions for which all voters need to know the answers. Connie Mack’s refusal to respond demonstrates the contempt with which Conservatives treat their citizens. They want to be elected in order to act in an autocratic manner.
Bill Nelson, the current Democratic Senator, was quite willing to answer the questionnaire.
Question 1. The fiscal health of the country will be in your hands. What changes to current economic policies would you support to reduce deficits, stimulate job creation, protect the most vulnerable among us and provide a secure future for the next generation?
Nelson wants to make reforms across the entire budget and look at reducing preferences, using that revenue to lower rates, simplify the tax code and make government more efficient. He says if we make government more efficient we can provide a higher quality of service. To my mind, that sounds an awful lot like conservative thinking. Should we not be looking to raise rates instead on the wealthy? If we cut rates, we are quite likely to get less revenue, and people will lose jobs. Sometimes a little inefficiency goes a long way to providing people with jobs.
My Answer: Cutting the deficit is something that we should tackle once the economy is growing again, not now. Throwing middle class people out of work will only increase the pain for the Middle Class and prolong the recession. What we need more than cutting the deficit is getting people back to work. Government should be increasing the number of people that it is employing, not less.
Question 2. The United States spends more on defense than any other country in the world. With the changes in the nature of combat we have observed in Iraq and Afghanistan, what changes, if any, would you support in defense funding or procurement?
Nelson had an evasive answer, which included the old saw that closing tax loopholes, cutting tax rates and the deficit as long as it does not put national security at risk is the answer. He did say that there were areas that the Pentagon should save money. In addition, there are too many troops in Europe, and in many theaters we can rely on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. He wants a robust national defense.
My Answer: The vast sums of money that we spend on defense is entirely unwarranted. We are not at war with anyone, unless you count Al Qaeda, which is an intelligence issue. Any military intervention that is needed is easily carried out by drones, or by special forces. We do not need vast numbers of troops on the ground, aircraft, tanks, and warships. Al Qaeda has none of these. We can fight them far more effectively with Special Operations. We could save vast amounts for deficit reduction by reducing the amount of military hardware we produce. The troops would be better used improving the infrastructure right here in the United States.
Question 3: Experts predict that the 2012 election will be the most money-driven in our history. What steps would you support to protect the integrity of the elections process such that ordinary voters continue to have faith that democracy can work for them?
Nelson replied that he supports the Disclose Act that will stop a few Billionaires and Millionaires funneling money to Super PACS and “social organizations”. This money is used to produce negative, false TV adverts. Under the act, groups would be forced to disclose their funding sources.
My Answer: Not only should groups be forced to disclose their sponsors, but there should be limits on the amounts that any single person should be able to contribute to campaigns. The wealthy and corporations are buying speech, which detracts from the individuals speech rights. As an individual I cannot afford to purchase TV spots to exercise my right to free speech. Because the barrier to entry is so great, I have de facto no speech rights. The wealthy should not have greater speech rights by virtue of their wealth.
Question 4: Florida now has the second-highest percentage of uninsured citizens in the United States. What policy changes would you support to ensure access to quality health care for all citizens while managing costs?
Nelson: Implementing the Affordable Care Act which provides protection for people from insurance companies that want to drop coverage, lowers drug costs for seniors, lowers the deficit and saves Medicare.
My Answer: Every advanced democracy on the planet today has some form of universal health care. Health insurance is often the largest single expense outside of rent that the average person pays today. Government should have as its primary purpose the security, health and welfare of its citizens. That 43m Americans do not have health care and many more have inadequate health care is an indictment of conservative policies. We cannot justify having a huge military machine while our citizens are dying of preventable disease.
Question 5: Florida is repeatedly identified as the most vulnerable state in the country to the effects of sea-level rise and increased hurricane activity. What policies would you propose or support to address this urgent issue?
Nelson: The warming trend is evident. Nelson has sponsored bills seeking to address climate change and clean energy. He authored legislation to bolster research into large storms and to mitigate against loss of life and property.
My Answer: Human induced global warming is a fact. The overwhelming majority of scientists involved in climate science or associated disciplines agree that climate change is happening, that it is accelerating and that we need legislation to tackle the causes. Mankind and the future of life on this planet cannot afford to wait for conservative to catch up with reality. If we do not tackle climate change now, the future of our species is at risk.
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