Greens all over the world oppose nuclear power because we understand that it is emblematic of the problems with our society. To generate deadly radioactive wastes that will be killing, sickening and maiming our descendants for hundreds of thousands of years, just so that we can enjoy a moment's electricity is immoral. The tens of billions that the Obama administration has wasted on building nuclear power plants that are over budget and behind schedule could have been put to good use building wind turbines and putting up solar panels. The nuclear industry's lies have been disproven one after another. Nukes can and do melt down as we all saw at Fukushima. Nuclear power is massively expensive. After 50 years, there is still no solution to the waste, and despite the industry's denials, cancer, birth defect, and miscarriage rates soar near nuclear plants. This technology has got to die.
Climate change is real. If you are someone who doubts this, ask yourself, how could we put countless billions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere for two hundred years, literally changing the composition of the planet's atmosphere WITHOUT changing the way the atmosphere holds heat. It's literally impossible. Different gasses hold heat at different rates. We need to act against further climate change with the utmost urgency. We need to stop putting more carbon into the air, moving away from gasoline fueled cars, for example. We also need to begin a massive, federal program of reforestation, since forests are excellent carbon sinks. Finally, we need to stop drilling. Leave the oil and gas in the ground, where it belongs.
Genetically Modified Organisms
Genetic modification has great potential and we should continue scientific study. The genetically modified bacteria that produce human insulin have been helping people survive diabetes for decades. HOWEVER,Genetically modified organisms, released into the environment, have the potential to destroy our ecosystems. There was a genetically modified bacterium that was designed to break down cellulose into alcohol. It was released onto a test plot, where it killed a fungus that provided essential nutrients to other plants. The bacteria sterilzed the plot. Nothing could grow there. If it had escaped, North America could have been sterilized. In the rush to plant GM crops, we have forgotten the precautionary principle. The effects of eating Bt corn on humans have not been sufficiently studied. Predictably, caterpillars are now developing resistance to the actual Bt bacterium, robbing oranic farmers of a valuable pest control method. Life is one of the most powerful forces ever unleashed on this planet. GM technology is literally playing with fire. Given the current lack of safeguards and studies, I support a ban on GM foods at this time.
Fracking must be banned nationwide. In addition to the immediate environmental damage it causes, fracking is a short sighted strategy to keep us dependent upon and using fossil fuels at a time when truly clean energy sources are finally here. Recently, the federal government has admitted that the highly publicized EPA study which claimed no health or safety issues from fracking was deeply flawed. The conclusion that fracking was safe actually contradicted all the data that was collected. There is no way that injecting toxic chemicals in the ground can be done safely or cleanly and the side effects such as earthquakes and contaminated aquifers are not worth the momentary benefit of natural gas to burn.
Universal Health Care
Obamacare set the cause of universal health care back by ten years. We were ready, as a nation, to finally join the rest of the developed world in recognizing health care as a right, and to provide health care to everyone. Instead, we were given Obamacare, a bad copy of Romneycare. Thirty million people are still uninsured. Medical bankruptcies continue unabated. People are still losing their homes because they can't pay their medical bills. The insurance corporations profits have increased by the billions, and we now have a new class of poor--people who can't afford health insurance AND have to pay government fines because they are too poor to pay for their own insurance. We need a simple, inexpensive, universal, national health care system.
Black Lives Matter
The recent publicity surrounding police killings of black youths is casting a harsh light on what can happen when racial stereotyping is combined with bad policing. While the vast majority of police are responsible, law abiding citizens, the few that turn immediately and disastrously to deadly force must be weeded out. These killings are a symptom of a society divided along economic and racial lines. To cure the disease, we need to ensure economic opportunity for all our citizens and look at the process that drives a policeman to the point where he is willing to "shoot first and ask questions later." Many of our police are overworked, having had their staffing levels cut for decades. Crime has been increasing in the inner city, leading to more and more dangerous confrontations for police. But, it is not acceptable for these experiences to lead police to treat any black person as a potential criminal and threat. The vast majority of black people are responsible, law abiding citizens. Social Justice demands that all are treated the same by law enforcement. This is currently no the case. We need federal guidelines for local police to follow.
Political Courage Test
The people at Project Vote Smart asked me to take their "Political Courage Test" to see if I would commit to a definite position on many controversial issues. As a Green, this test was no challenge. We are very clear on our positions, because we believe in the Ten Key Principles. Here are my responses to their questionnaire.
Q: Are you pro-choice or pro-life? A: Pro-Choice.
I want a world without abortion. As a youth, I supported outlawing abortions. However, as an adult, I believe the way to end abortion is to fight the causes, such as rape and poverty. The unborn child does have a right to life. We see that right violated when nuclear or chemical pollutants cause miscarriages or birth defects. But, the woman's right to control her own body supersedes the child's right to life. The State does not have the authority to force a woman to either birth her child or end her pregnancy. I will protect women's right to choose.
Q: In order to balance the budget, do you support reducing defense spending? A: Yes
Q: In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket? A: Yes
Balancing the budget is not as important as ensuring the health, safety, and freedom of the American people. Sometimes deficit spending is necessary for government to function. We must, however, cease paying tremendous amounts of interest on our debt. That is bankrupting the country. The Federal Reserve's current policy of paying big banks "interest" on THEIR assets is insane. Banks can't survive without a stable government. We need to renegotiate the interest rates on our debt. Also, corporations need to be forced to pay their fair share of taxes. I support progressive taxation, the wealthy should pay a higher percentage.
Q: Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions? A: Yes
We must repeal Citizens United. Corporations are not people, and money is not speech. I support restricting corporations from participating in the political arena. However, unions should not be excluded. Corporations exist to make profits, not benefit the society as a whole. Unions are groups of people coming together for mutual benefit. Such groups should not be prevented from participating directly or indirectly in the political process.
Q: Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes? A: No
Q: Do you support alternatives to incarceration for certain non-violent offenders such as mandatory counseling or substance abuse treatment? A: Yes Q: Do you support mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders? A: No
Harsh sentences for possession of marijuana have been used as a tool of political repression in this country. Too many budding political activists have ended up in jail for decades because of a little pot. There are tremendous drug problems in America. Prescription drugs, over the counter painkillers, and illegal drugs are all being abused by Americans. Stress, lack of opportunity, and tremendous marketing efforts by big pharma and drug dealers are driving us towards societal collapse. The idea that the threat of long jail terms would prevent drug abuse has failed. The US needs rehab. Judges need flexibility.
Q: Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth? A: Yes
Q: Do you support lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth? A: No
Q: Do you support providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation? A: No
"Tax incentives" for the purpose of job creation have translated into deep cuts in government revenue. This is one reason so many states are losing money. It has also turned states and municipalities against each other, competing to offer businesses lower tax rates, or even direct subsidies to move to their area. We have now reached a point where businesses often take more out of a community than they contribute. Corporations must be made to pay their fair share of taxes, and these incentives have gone too far.
Q: Do you support requiring states to implement education reforms in order to be eligible for competitive federal grants? A: No.
I worked as an educational grant writer for five years. It is extremely difficult for any school to win competitive federal grants. Individual schools should not be penalized for their state's unwillingness to adopt educational reforms. Winning schools usually have to be very advanced in their practices in order to win a competitive grant. The opportunity to win a grant can be a powerful incentive for improving teaching practices. However, if entire states are barred from competing, then even the best schools in those states will decline in quality. Grants are incentives for improvement, not an opportunity for punishment.
Q: Do you support building the Keystone XL pipeline? A: No
Q: Do you support funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, thermal)? A: Yes
Q: Do you support increased regulations on the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") industry? A: Yes
Fracking needs to be banned, nationwide. We are doing permanent damage to ecosystems and watersheds pursuing a resource which is killing us. We must move to a carbon free society, immediately. That's why I support Jill Stein's Green New Deal. Tax incentives and government funding are a necessary tool, not for ordinary economic development, but to make necessary changes in our society when the "market" is leading us to economic or environmental ruin. I support incentives for renewables, and oppose them for oil, gas, nuclear, and other industries which need to be phased out for us to survive.
Q: Do you believe that human activity is contributing to climate change? A:Yes
Q: Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
Ecological restoration should be the number one priority for our nation. There are a thousand threats tearing the fabric of the ecosystems which support all of us. Pollution, invasive species, climate change, over fishing, mountain top removal, and many other human activities must be drastically changed in order for us all to survive. On the bright side, restoring our ecological wealth will provide employment for millions. We need to move to 100% recycling, clean energy, and a sustainable future. Most human societies have used up their resources and collapsed. We know how to avoid that. Let's do it. It's time. We need to have a carbon-free economy before 2030.
Q: Do you generally support gun-control legislation? A: Yes
As a Green, I believe in Non-Violence. So, I personally reject the use of guns. However, the government should NOT take away people's guns or ammunition. What the government should be doing is making our country safe enough that people don't feel they have to have guns for self protection. I do not support the dangerous fantasy that we can fight a repressive government with our shotguns. Much better to fight tyranny with the political tool our forefathers fought to give us, Grassroots Democracy. Most gun laws proposed today are common sense, closing loopholes for registration, etc. I support them, and I support a restoration of the assault weapons ban.
Q: Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")? A: Yes.
We need single-payer, universal health care, NOT Obamacare. The country is ready for socialized medicine. More than 70% of Americans at least wanted a public option. Instead, we got Obamacare, which is a bad copy of Romneycare. More than 30 million Americans are still uninsured. People continue to lose homes because of medical bankruptcies. Corporate insurance profits are through the roof, premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing, and the IRS has been turned into an enforcer for the big insurance companies. Obamacare is perhaps the best example of why we need to dump the two party system and elect Greens.
Q: Do you support requiring illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship? A: No
For decades, we environmentalists have been predicting floods of refugees as we make parts of our planet uninhabitable. Now that flood has begun, and people are suddenly asking what to do with all these immigrants. This is a long term problem. The solution is to ensure that people all over the planet are free from political repression, economic stagnation, and ecological collapse. In the short term, people who've made the perilous journey should not be sent back. We are often the cause of the instability that forced them to flee. We have a responsibility to help them.
Q: Do you support same-sex marriage? A: Yes
Committed, stable relationships are the bedrock upon which our society is built. Stable couples are more likely to give back to society through public service and support for friends and family. If that couple happens to be same sex, it should make no difference to the State. I do, however, oppose other definitions of marriage, including one man having multiple wives. This arrangement leads to repression of women. My wife and I have been married more that 30 years. I am dedicated to preserving the institution of marriage. The biggest threat to marriage today is economic repression leading to poverty.
Q: Do you support targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict? A: No
Q: Should the U.S use military force in order to prevent governments hostile to the United States from possessing a nuclear weapon? A: No
Bush and Obama's assertion that the US should be able to kill anyone, anywhere, anytime we feel a threat to our security has led directly to the rise of terrorist organizations such as ISIS. Most of the people we kill in drone strikes are not the intended target. As we destroy homes, schools, and hospitals we make implacable enemies of ordinary citizens in those countries. Non-violence should be a guiding principle in our foriegh policy. Nukes must be abandoned both as weapons and as a power source. Stop the mining and trade of uranium. That will prevent new nuclear weapons.
Q: Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?
Social security was created to stop our seniors from dying in abject poverty. It has performed wonderfully, and the Social Security Administration does a better job of watching our money at a lower cost than any private investment company. Some seniors would do better diverting money to private accounts, but many would do worse. The market makes both winners and losers. Bad investments, unscrupulous brokers and market fluctuations would again lead to seniors dying penniless. The only reform needed is lifting cap the wealthy pay. Millionaires should pay the same percentage of salary into social security as the working poor.
Government subsidies to industry:
All government support for unsustainable practices such as nuclear power, oil and gas exploitation, coal mining, etc. should be eliminated. Those billions should be used to fund increases in other areas such as scientific research and environmental protection. The amount we are spending on defense is bankrupting our nation. Money is not real. It is an imaginary commodity. When you start to look at everything our government can do only in terms of money, you are making a grave mistake. First we must set goals, such as sustainability. Then, as we pursue those goals, economic growth and money will follow.
I would decrease capital gains taxes for people who own one home and sell it to buy another. However, I would increase them for real estate speculators who buy many homes and create disastrous "bubbles." Although our official corporate tax rate is high, few large corporations pay any significant tax because of loopholes and offshore tax dodges. I would create a direct tax on overseas profits, such as Apple's billions. America right now has a regressive tax system, the poor pay a higher percentage. History shows we can tax the wealthiest up to 90% and they'll do fine. I want to literally tax multi-billionaires out of existence.
Top Three Priorities:
1) Save the Earth. Thousands of environmental threats are destroying our planet. Nuclear power, climate change, acidification of our oceans, deforestation, fracking, mining, and many other human activities are making our planet less habitable every day. It's time to stop.
2) Universal Single Payer Health Care. Thousands of Americans die every year because they can't afford health care. We need one, government run, health care system.
3) Fight Social Injustice and Income Inequality. The root of many of our societal problems is too much money and power in the hands of too few people. America needs Grassroots Democracy again.
Corrections and Clarifications
In any campaign where candidates are called upon to make statements on a variety of topics, there will be some errors. Look in this section to see corrections and clarifications.
Joe stated in his response to Obama's State of the Union address and at several forums that Obamacare was a bipartisan creation and that "Both Republicans and Democrats voted for it." This is technically incorrect. No Republicans voted for it. However, Joe stands by the statement that it was a bipartisan creation. In the months before the vote, Republicans demanded many changes in the bill. These were conceded by the Democrats with the stated goal of getting Republican votes. However, those provisions were not removed, even though Republicans didn't join in the vote. Also, no Republican joined Bernie Sanders's filibuster of Obamacare. It only takes two Senators to maintain a filibuster. By refusing to filibuster, the Republicans allowed the bill to pass. Finally, Obamacare is a copy of Romneycare, a Republican crafted program created by Mitt Romney. So, while no Republican voted for the bill, their fingerprints are all over Obamacare, and they share the responsibility for this disastrous policy.
Trans Pacific Partnership
This secret trade deal is a real threat to our sovereignty. The fact that the Senate Democrats folded yet again and gave the President Fast Track Authority demonstrates that it's time we had a Green in the Senate. Joe DeMare would have filibustered fast track until he dropped. If just one other Senator could have been convinced to support the filibuster, we, the people would have had a chance to have some input into this treaty. Instead, if the Senate Democrats and Republicans get their way, we would be forced to turn our laws over to multi-national corporations to do with what they please. Freedom and self-determination are more important than trade.
$15 Per Hour Minimum Wage
The federal minimum wage needs to be raised to $15 per hour, immediately. People who work full time should earn enough to survive. As our production becomes more and more automated, minimum wage jobs are frequently all that are available to people. Minimum wage should allow people to maintain a decent standard of living.
Green New Deal
Joe fully supports Jill Stein's plan for a Green New Deal. Putting people to work creating the infrastructure for a sustainable world is not just good public policy, it's absolutely essential if we are to survive on this planet. The Green New Deal would move the United States to a carbon-free economy, putting up wind turbines and solar panels and dismantling the old, nuclear and carbon based energy sources.
As a strict adherent to non-violence, Joe believes that there is ALWAYS a non-violent solution to any conflict, though we may not always be wise enough to see it. Joe was among the millions that protested the Iraq war, protests which were ignored by the mainstream media. Ruling out war as a recourse does not mean appeasement. In fact, vigorous opposition to those bent on military conquest is essential in preventing war. However, if we used the resources we've committed to war to making a more just world for everyone, we would all be better off.
Joe was presented with a questionnaire by the League of Women Voters. The LWV asked for his position on a number of isses. His responses were limited to 100 words for each question. Here is his response to their questions.
1) Explain why you do or do not think the U.S. Congress should address the influence of money in politics, especially in light of the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. Congress should pass the constitutional amendment proposed by Move to Amend. It says corporations are not people and money is not speech. Participating in government is the one area where all must be equal. The vote of a poor person counts the same as the vote of a wealthy person. Corporations have more money and power than individuals. Since the CU decision, they have used that money and power to effectively take over the Democrats and Republicans. We Greens do not accept donations from corporations or corporate PAC's. With our Key Principle of Grassroots Democracy we understand it is our job to represent people, not money. The only way to make ALL political parties understand this is to remove corporations' personhood and ban their money.
2) What should the federal government’s top three priorities be in setting a sound energy policy? 1) Sustainability. We live on a finite planet. Any energy that causes cumulative problems should be dropped. This includes: nuclear (making millions of tons of radioactive waste); fossil fuel (putting CO2 into the air causing climate change); and many biofuels (cutting forests for energy). 2) Promoting clean energy and conservation. Wind, solar, and geothermal power are starting to turn us towards a clean energy future, thanks to small but essential government subsidies. The Republicans in congress are eliminating subsidies for clean energy, while keeping them for dirty power. The Republicans need to be replaced by Greens. 3) Positive global impact. Chasing oil, we destroy other countries politically and ecologically. ISIS is oil powered.
3) What is your position on U.S. immigration policies, and how will you work to promote your position? For decades, we environmentalists have been predicting floods of refugees as we make parts of our planet uninhabitable. Now that flood has begun, and people are suddenly asking what to do with all these immigrants. This is a long term problem. The solution is to ensure that people all over the planet are free from political repression, economic stagnation, and ecological collapse. In the short term, people who've made the perilous journey should not be sent back. We are often the cause of the instability that forced them to flee. We have a responsibility to help them, but we must stop the exploitation of illegals earning sub-minimum wages. We need increased foreign aid, and must force employers to ensure all workers gain full citizenship.
4) Explain why you do or do not believe that the federal government should ensure that every American has health coverage. How will you work to promote your position? I believe health care is a human right. I will work to ensure that the US adopt a universal, single payer system, modeled on all the other industrialized nations which offer all their citizens cradle to grave health care. Obamacare must be repealed. Trying to force everyone to buy private insurance has led to: 30 million people still uninsured; continued medical bankruptcies; and soaring premiums, deductibles, and profits for insurance companies. There have been many plans, studies, and examples showing us how to change over to universal government healthcare. We need to apply those lessons. The key is to exclude health insurance corporations from the process. My Senate office will have a sign saying "Corporate Lobbyists Not Welcome."
5) Explain why you do or do not support the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to enforce strong clean air and clean water standards. I support strong EPA enforcement because a healthy ecosystem is literally the source of all wealth in any society. One of the reasons China's economy is faltering is that people are literally dropping dead in the streets from pollution. Historically, most human societies have grown, destroyed their local ecosystems, then collapsed. We have enough of an understanding of ecology to avoid this fate, but only if we make our human laws MORE strict than the laws of nature. We know putting phosphorous into Lake Erie will cause algeal blooms. So, the EPA must enforce law ensuring that we do not. "Wealth" is meaningless if you can't drink the water, breathe the air, or touch the soil. Laws, not just EPA rules, are essential tools for our survival.
Cox Media Group Questionnaire
The Cox media group sent Joe a questionnaire on a wide range of issues. Responses were limited to 2000 characters. See his answers below.
Why are you running for office?
I am running for Senate out of necessity. Our scientists tell us that we MUST stop putting CO2 and methane into the air or face catastrophic global warming and nine foot sea level rise. Our society could not survive that. None of the other parties are dealing with this crisis. The Democrats in the Paris accords call for less than half the carbon reduction necessary to save us, and they rely on dangerous “geoengineering” schemes which will not work. The Republicans actually deny climate science. I can't tell such cynical lies to get elected. I'm not a prosessional politican; I'm a machinist. It's time we sent someone directly from the shop floor to the Senate floor—someone who understands that some things must be done. As a Green Party candidate, I refuse to let our planet be destroyed in the pursuit of profit. We must also address problems like income inequality; providing universal single payer health care; and pursuing peace not war, internationally.
As someone who works for a living, I understand what everyday Ohioans are going through in a way that multi-millionaires like Rob Portman can't. I know what it's like to have to choose between a doctor visit and a car repair. I will block laws like the bankruptcy reform of 2005 which caused millions of Americans to lose their homes in 2008. Seventy percent of us are poorer or no better off than we were in 2008. That's because politicians like Portman and Strickland are passing laws that benefit their large donors and themselves, not most Ohioans. Greens refuse to take corporate money. Electing people who won't be bought is also something which must happen. Greens campaign and govern using Key Principles like Ecological Wisdom, Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice, and Non-Violence. We need to elect people who stand on principle, not positions which flip flop each election. I love this country and can't stand by and watch it be destroyed ecologically, economically or through social injustice. That's why I'm running.
What are the 3 biggest problems facing the nation and how will you fix them in the Senate?
The biggest problems facing the US today are ecological collapse; income inequality; and health care. Global warming is the biggest threat we face. Our society won't survive a nine foot sea level rise. Our presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, has proposed a Green New Deal that will put Americans to work installing solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heating systems to make the US carbon free by 2030. I will work to implement Dr. Stein's plan in the Senate. This must happen if we are to survive, but we need to go beyond just survival. North America's ecosystems face a host of threats, from invasive species to algael blooms. Most human societies have grown, destroyed their ecosystems, then collapsed. We have the ecological wisdom to avoid that fate, but only if we make restoring our ecosystems a priority for the government. We need to restore our environment until we have clean water in all our rivers, the skies darken with migrating birds again, every river has salmon runs, chestnuts return to our forests, and eagles are a common sight.
By providing good paying jobs, the Green New Deal will also help with the second problem, income inequality. We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 p/hr, but that's just a start. I propose a progressive income tax, taxing the wealthy at higher percentages until we tax multi-billionaires like Donald Trump and the Koch's out of existence. They are distorting our economic and political systems in ways that threaten Democracy itself. Obamacare is a failure. We've tried it, and we still have 30 million uninsured, soaring premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and health care costs. Life expectancy for some groups is actually going down. Many of us are not going to the doctor when we get sick because, even with insurance, we just can't afford it. Medical bankruptcy is still the number one reason Americans lose their homes. It's time to switch to a universal, single payer model, like all the other industrialized nations in the world.
Indiana is very vocal about how it has protected and grown its manufacturing job base since the recession. Are there lessons from there you think Ohio needs to adopt? What will you do to bring jobs to Ohio?
Indiana has benefited enormously from Barack Obama's economic stimulus package. It has also benefited from low gasoline prices, which spurred one of its main industries, RV manufacture. Indiana's politicians actually brag about “stealing” manufacturing jobs from nearby Illinois. But Indiana's mix of low taxes, low wages, and government subsidies to manufacturers is a demonstration of what is wrong with the relationship between government and industry, today. Corporations have been pitting states against each other for years. It has gotten to the point where, as in Indiana, “winning” the competition does not actually provide much benefit to the citizens who end up with low wage jobs with few benefits. Tax cuts and subsidies have reached the point where communities often end up with a net loss of tax dollars to the corporations. The “Right To Work” states, which essentially eliminate union organizing, are the best examples of this, with immediate drops in people's incomes and living standards.
But, even Indiana continues to lose manufacturing jobs to Mexico, where wages and taxes are even lower. In order to bring jobs to Ohio and the rest of the nation, we must first back out of these trade deals. Jobs are returning to Indiana a few thousand at a time, but when NAFTA and GATT were put in place, we lost those jobs by the millions. One of the Green Party's Ten Key Principles is Locally Based Economics. We should be making in the US, everything we need in the US.
The federal government also has a role in leveling the playing field between states by doing things like raising the federal minimum wage. Union organizing rights such as card check should be protected nation wide, and tax payer subsidies should be required to pass a net benefit test. Otherwise the government is simply collecting tax dollars and handing them to corporations.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a major employer in the Dayton region. What will you do to keep the base strong?
When I was a boy, living in Centerville, I remember doing a boy scout camporee at Wright-Pat. When I was attending the University of Dayton, I remember how the windows sometimes shook when the really big planes were heading to the Base to land. The Air Force Museum is a huge benefit to the community, bringing in millions of tourist dollars every year. As a Senator, I will do what is necessary to keep the base strong, in terms of fighting for it in hearings, etc. However, as a Green, I am committed to a policy of non-violence in our foreign relations. We need to de-escalate our dependence on military might, and take the trillions we are spending on our wars and overseas incursions and redirect them to social programs and fighting climate change. We have to diversify our local economy away from dependence on Wright-Pat. It is not healthy to rely on single, large employers. I believe that the Base's location and infrastructure make it essential to our country's defense, and will fight to keep it open, but I will also work to reduce military spending.
Who do you support for president of the United States and why? How will you work with with the next president?
I fully support my Green Party's candidate for President, Dr. Jill Stein. Like me, she understands the necessity of fighting global warming, and eliminating the fossil fuel industry. She is the only presidential candidate to stand with the native Americans fighting gas pipelines around the country. She is also the only candidate who has been arrested fighting for our freedom of speech. Jill has stood with Black Lives Matter protestors, because she truly believes in our Party's Principle of Social Justice. She refuses to take money from corporations or corporate PAC's, and in my opinion, this alone makes her the most qualified Presidential candidate. But she also graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard. Her positions are well thought out, and based on deep personal beliefs, not political opportunism. That's why she's pushing policies that need to happen, even if not all Americans agree with them. For example, she has a plan to eliminate all student debt. Millions of our young people, today, are burdened with debts so large that they can't even pay the interest on them, and may well carry that debt to their graves. This is unacceptable. She understands that its time for America to finally overthrow the “two” Party system and create a multi-party Democracy in the US. By getting on the ballot in 48 states, she has built the Green Party up to a real political force, and with only a tiny fraction of the money that the two ordinary parties have, she has changed the political debate in our nation. If she is elected, I will work with her closely to introduce her legislative priorities to the Senate. If another candidate is elected, I will fight them with every tool at my disposal when they try to take us to unnecessary wars, or pass laws that will impoverish Americans, or concentrate even more power in the hands of the wealthiest.
Give us your plan to address the Islamic State crisis. Would you support American boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq to fight the Islamic State?
I will NOT support boots on the ground in Syria or Iraq. It was our boots on the ground policies that created the conditions for ISIS to gain ground in the first place. With our drone strikes and bombings, we've been killing thousands of ISIS, Al Kaida, Taliban, and others for years now, and the number of terrorist attacks and the speed of recruitment has simply increased. ISIS is an ideological enemy. It can't be defeated militarily. Every time we kill innocent people or bomb a hospital or school in our fight against ISIS, we lose ground. What we need to do is cut off the group's access to US weapons and US dollars. Much of their occupation is financed by selling oil and the possesions of their victims on the black market internationally. We must stop this flow of money into and out of the area. Our Presidential candidate, Jill Stein, is calling for a weapons embargo on the middle east. Without easy access to high powered weaponry, ISIS will have trouble maintaining control of the people they are oppressing.
But mainly, we need to move away from a middle east policy based on military might. Using violence ALWAYS has unintended negative consequences. I am convinced that there is ALWAYS a non-violent solution to every problem, though we are not always wise enough to see it. I confess that I did not protest the US invasion of Afghanistan. At the time it seemed like our only course of self defense. But I might have, had I known that 15 years later, heroin from the poppies grown in “liberated” Afghanistan would be killing us.
I DID, along with millions of others, fight the invasion of Iraq. But the voices of peace were ignored, and we made a tremendous mistake as a nation, that we are still paying for today. Our voice of peace will NOT be ignored this time. I will do everything in my power as a Senator to block an invasion of Syria and Iraq.
Ohio has legalized marijuana for medical use. Do you support federal action to provide clear rules for legal marijuana businesses to gain access to banking? If so, please describe what you would support.
Yes, I support such rules. I support the full legalization of marijuana, and the pardoning of people in prison for marijuana offenses. But, I would support limits on the size of businesses that grow and distribute it. Big business and big pharma must not be allowed to simply absorb marijuana into their business plans, as they have with so many other crops and drugs. I don't want to see “Bud, the marijuana dog” passing out joints in front of Wal-Mart. Allowing those businesses to enter the banking system, where their size and activities can be monitored and regulated is an important step.
What will you look for in candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court when considering confirmation?
I will look for a record of decisions favoring people over corporations, freedom over economic or political servitude, and rights over restrictions. The Supreme Court is out of control. Ever since they appointed George W. Bush as President in the year 2000, even though Al Gore received almost 30,000 more votes than Bush did in Florida, they have run roughshod over the rights of Americans. Gore actually won the 2000 election, as the full, final recount showed. But the Court had already appointed Bush by then, and rather than stand up to the Court in that constitutional crisis, the Democrat controlled Senate meekly bowed to their will. Since then, the Court has relegated political protestors to tiny, fenced in “free speech zones,” and has made hundreds of decisions favoring corporations over people and profits over the planet. Chief Justice Roberts has used “his” court to help corporations squash the rights of workers time and time again. Just this past July, the Court ruled that the familes of workers killed and those that were injured in the Kleen Energy natural gas plant explosion that killed 6 people can not sue the negligent corporation for damages or medical care. But, this was entirely predictable based on his decisions before he was appointed to the Court. The Supreme Court's purpose is not to protect the already rich and powerful, it is to protect those who depend on the rule of law. Judge Roberts does not understand this. I would look for a candidate who has shown through their record of decisions that they do.
The U.S. national debt is now more than $19 trillion. Even if you could cut fraud and waste, you would still have most of that debt to deal with. What specific actions do you support to get a handle on our debt and reduce the annual deficit? And what significant spending cuts would you support to balance the budget?
The Republicans and Democrats have worked together over the past two decades to shift the burden of federal taxation away from corporations and onto the backs of middle income, individual tax payers. It has reached the point where 27 companies in Standard and Poor's list of the 500 wealthiest paid no taxes at all. The remaining companies on the list do not pay their fair share. Many of our largest, most profitable corporations receive huge government subsidies, so they are actually adding to our debt. Every profitable corporation in the US must be forced to pay their fair share of taxes. Corporations which move their headquarters overseas simply to avoid US taxes should be punished financially with fines and penalties. Corporations like Apple, which are holding overseas profits hostage in foreign banks to try to blackmail the government into lowering its tax rate must be punished. I support Jill Stein's call for a 50% reduction in military spending. That would still leave us with the highest level of military spending in the world.
I also want to create a progressive tax rate which will tax multi-billionaires like Donald Trump and the Koch's out of existence. Allowing them to accumulate that much wealth and power has hurt our economy and our Democracy. In this Senate race, the Koch's have spent tens of millions promoting my opponent, Rob Portman. Out of state billionaires have no business dictating to us here in Ohio whom we should choose for our Senator. During the Eisenhower administration, we had a 90% tax bracket. The multi-millionaires in the Senate, like Rob Portman, have reduced taxes on multi-millionaires to a top tax rate of less than 40%. This is one of the reasons we have a deficit.
Backing out of trade deals like NAFTA and GATT will also allow us to increase government revenues by imposing tariffs on countries that use slave labor or violate human rights or cause environmental destruction.
Which of the entitlement programs would you look at first to reform or make cuts? Do you support raising the retirement age to receive Social Security benefits, military base closures? Please elaborate.
The first program I would look to reform is Social Security. Right now, there is a cap on the amount of their income that the wealthiest Americans pay into social security. Multi-millionaires pay a tiny fraction of their income, compared to poorer Americans. Someone earning $12 million should pay the same percentage as someone earning $12 thousand. That's fair. However, the highest level of benefits paid out should stay capped at the current level. That's because the purpose of Social Security is to prevent poverty among the elderly. The wealthiest do not need it (though I've yet to meet a wealthy senior who has refused their social security benefits). I would not raise retirement age. We should look seriously at lowering it. As automation replaces more and more jobs, it makes no sense that we have to work longer and longer to earn our retirement.
I would eliminate Medicaid and replace it with universal, single payer health care. You should not have to be poor in order to receive health care benefits from the government. That should be made available to all Americans, regardless of income.
I may support military base closures, that needs to be decided on a case by case basis. I do support cutting military spending, but I would start with the extremely expensive weapons programs. We are spending trillions on weapons systems designed to fight high tech enemies that do not exist. Obama's planned multi-trillion dollar nuclear arsenal upgrade needs to be cancelled. Also, the Pentagon has “lost” literally trillions of dollars that it can't account for. That is another place we need to look to balance the budget. Military aid, which is used to buy American weapons systems which are then used to destroy and destabilize other parts of the world, also needs to be cut.
When it comes to the Second Amendment, what values would guide your approach to future federal gun legislation?
Greens are committed to Non-Violence. I reject the idea that owning guns can protect us from our government becoming an authoritarian dictatorship. That needs to be done using the ballot box, not the ammunition box. While many Americans were clutching their guns, congress has been passing laws like the bankruptcy reform act of 2005 which took their homes. Having said that, I do not want to take anyone's guns away. They do have a right to them. However, I support common sense restrictions such as assault weapons bans, closing registration loopholes, and preventing ownership by the mentally ill or those on the terror watch list. I do not own a gun, nor do I plan to.
Do you believe the Affordable Care Act has made health insurance more accessible and affordable? How would you change it?
I would eliminate the Affordable Care Act and replace it with single payer universal health care. The ACA has made health insurance more affordable for some. But health insurance is NOT health care. There are still 30 million Americans with no health insurance. Many of them are now paying fines to the IRS and receiving no benefit. For those that do have health insurance, rising premiums, deductibles, co-pays and costs are making a visit to the doctor unaffordable. Life expectancy for some groups has actually gone down with Obamacare, and stayed pretty much flat over all. Proponents point to those that have been helped, but ignore those that have been hurt. Medical bankruptcy is still the most common reason for losing a home. We have the most expensive and one of the least effective health care systems in the industrialized world. The reason is the health insurance industry. They make profits by NOT paying for benefits. The country was ready for single payer in 2008, after electing Obama. Instead we were given Obamacare which is a bad copy of the Republican program called Romneycare. We've tried that experiment twice, now. The results have not been good. It's time to switch to single payer.
Does the federal government have a responsibility to help with student debt, and what ideas do you think would make a difference?
Yes, the government has a responsibility to help with student debt. For many of these young people, the decision to take out a student loan was literally the first financial decision they ever made in their lives. Without ever having to pay monthly bills or manage debt, they were asked to commit to tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The promise was, that by allowing them to graduate from college, the debt would give them a way to earn a better income, pay back the loans and have a better life. For most, that has not happened. The jobs today pay very low wages, not enough to pay student loans AND have a life. The federal government made it so that student loans can't be discharged through bankruptcy. So, as it stands, millions of young people are looking at being in debt literally for the rest of their lives for the “crime” of wanting an education. This is unjust. Jill Stein has a plan to forgive all student loan debt. As president, she will instruct the Federal Reserve to buy the debt, and then forgive it. This will create a huge surge in the economy as young people whose income now goes to service debt, can instead spend it on things like (electric) cars and homes.
How should the U.S. deal with immigration?
First, as Jill Stein says, we need to stop making them. For decades, we environmentalists have been predicting floods of refugees as we make parts of our planet uninhabitable. Now that flood has begun, and people are suddenly asking what to do with all these immigrants. We must ensure that people all over the planet are free from political repression, economic stagnation, and ecological collapse. In the short term, people who've made the perilous journey here should not be sent back. We are often the cause of the instability that forced them to flee. We have a responsibility to help them, but we must stop the exploitation of immigrants earning sub-minimum wages. We need increased foreign aid, and must force employers to ensure all workers gain full citizenship. I will also work to reverse trade deals like NAFTA that put millions of Mexican farmers into poverty, forcing them to immigrate here. Finally, we need to stop fighting the proxy war in Syria and make peace with Russia. The decision to immgrate to another country should be one of joy and opportunity, not survival.
Do you support the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Have free trade deals generally been good for the U.S.?
I do not support the TPP. One of the Green Party's Ten Key Principles is Locally Based Economics. We can make everything we need in the US ourselves. All the bad things those of us who opposed NAFTA predicted have come true. The factories closed, and those jobs have not returned. The free flow of capital globally has concentrated wealth to the point where a few dozen families control half the world's wealth. These agreements directly threaten our environmental, labor, and consumer protection laws. TPP would allow foreign companies to overturn any law we pass that might threaten their future potential profits. Then there are the hidden costs of global trade, such as the loss of the ash tree in Ohio. The emerald ash borer came over in pallets carrying cheap Chinese goods into Michigan. NAFTA caused the impoverishment of millions of Mexican farmers. It's time to back out of trade deals like NAFTA and GATT and replace them with laws over trade that will protect our environment, health, and labor standards.
Do you support an increase in the federal minimum wage, and to what level? Should the federal government require paid sick time or family leave?
The federal minimum wage should be increased to $15 per hour. This has been the Green Party's position for many years. Jill Stein campaigned on this issue in her 2012 run for the presidency. It will have immediate benefits throughout the economy. Low wage employers, such as restaurants, will have the additional expense off set by additional business. Yes, the federal government should require paid sick time and family leave. The productivity of the American worker has been increasing steadily for decades. However our pay and benefits have stayed stagnant or gone down. Our hard work should make the future better for ourselves and our children. It should not mean that they have to work even harder. I am a machinist. I come home each day filthy and exhausted. I get two weeks paid vacation each year and no sick pay. If I lived in Europe, I would get a minimum of two MONTHS paid vacation each year, as well as sick pay and family leave. European companies are kicking our butts in a number of areas. This is not despite giving their workers better pay and benefits, it's BECAUSE they take better care of their workers. In this country, organized labor threw in with the Democratic party exclusively, a Party which has betrayed them again and again on issues like NAFTA, the TPP, Card Check, and a host of others. In Europe, labor has a strong political presence, and works with parties like the Greens to pass laws that actually favor the worker. We need to start doing that here.
What else do you want voters to know about you and how you will serve in the Senate?
It's time, Ohio. I'm a working man, like most of you. In fact, I had to take a day off of work in order to finish this questionnaire by the deadline. I don't have millions of dollars like Rob Portman, or a lifetime of political connections, like Ted Strickland. In fact, I couldn't be running this campaign at all if it weren't for the donations and volunteer hours that hundreds of Greens from all over Ohio have put into it. They understand that the problems facing this Country are so severe that it's time for a fundamental change. It's time to overthrow the “two” party system which got us into this mess in the first place. It's clear from the candidates the two ordinary parties are putting forward and the laws that they're passing that they no longer represent the American people. In fact, 70% of Americans typically do not participate in elections. That is who I would like to reach with this questionnaire and my campaign. Like me, you understand that nothing will change as long as we keep electing candidates from the same two parties. I'm asking you to invest your vote in a different kind of Party. One that does not take corporate money, and one which follows Ten Key Principles. Those Principles are: Grassroots Democracy; Ecological Wisdom; Non-Violence; Social Justice; Diversity; Feminism; Decentralization; Locally Based Economics; Personal and Global Responsibility; and Future Focus. You may not agree with all those Principles, but I make no apologies for them. I've been married 32 years and I don't take promises or commitments lightly. I've come to believe in our Principles after a lifetime of watching politics and trying to make our government do the right thing, only to be denied time after time. That's why I know that the only way we'll get change is if we break out of the two party trap and create a multi-party Democracy in the US. You can do that, this year, by voting for me for US Senate. Please do. "