1. What are your plans for sustaining Medicare and Social Security which are increasingly insolvent?
We must ensure that every American has a secure retirement without poverty and with affordable health care. To sustain Social Security for the foreseeable future I would remove the salary cap on contributions, and make the payroll tax progressive so the very rich are paying their fair share. I would replace our expensive Medicare system with a universal single-payer system of the type that is working in almost every developed nation in the world.
2. What would be your first executive order?
I would issue an order to suspend all approvals for new fossil fuel infrastructure and drilling leases because such expansions pose a clear danger to the livability of the planet and are inconsistent with the goal of moving rapidly to an economy based on renewable energy.
3. Describe your ideal Supreme Court candidate. Can you think of people who exemplify these characteristics?
I would look for an appointee who understands that the the illegitimate, court-created doctrines of “corporate constitutional rights” and “money equals speech” are undermining our democracy. I would want my nominee to confirm that political power in America is reserved for people and not corporations, and that we must protect the constitutional right to vote for every American – especially those whose votes are under assault from voter ID laws and other new forms of racial disenfranchisement. I would also want my nominee to understand that permitting continuing racial injustice in America is a denial of equal protection under the law and must be addressed.
4. What should be the U.S. role in providing foreign aid to countries in distress, ie. facing famine, drought, civil unrest? What are the parameters?
Providing such foreign aid is not just morally justified, it is in our own best interests because it creates the stable societies that can become part of a peaceful, productive community of nations. We need a foreign policy based on international law and human rights. For a tiny fraction of our dangerously bloated military budget, we could become a super-power of peace and human rights, eliminating hunger and building hospitals, schools and homes instead of destroying them. Importantly, we can lead the way on demilitarizing national budgets around the world, and redirecting those resources into greening all of our economies, thus eliminating the current major driver of conflict world over – the competition for fossil fuels and routes to transport them.
5. What should be the U.S. role in the U.N.?
The U.S. should support the use of international law and international cooperation to advance peace and security worldwide. We should stop impeding the efforts to enact a scientifically-sound, enforceable international treaty to stop climate change.
6. What are you looking for when choosing a Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense? Who would you consider for those positions?
I would look for Secretaries who understand the urgent need to demilitarize U.S. foreign policy and to avoid initiating destructive, expensive and unending wars. Foreign policy based on economic and military domination, which has cost us $6 trillion or $75,000 per household over the past 15 years, is making us less secure, not more secure, while bankrupting our budget and creating failed states, mass refugee migrations and worse terrorist threats. More of the same failed war on terror is not the answer. We can stop ISIS in its tracks and end the Mideast wars for oil with a Peace Offensive. This includes a weapons embargo to the Middle East, where we are currently the major supplier. The Peace Offensive also includes freezing the bank accounts of countries that are funding international jihadism, including the Saudis, who funded the 9/11 attacks, according to Senator Bob Graham, head of the 9/11 Commission. As part of this new principled foreign policy, we would also end the supply of arms and funding to governments that are massively violating human rights and international law. I will look for Secretaries of State and Defense who will effectively employ diplomacy and collaboration to create an international order in which U.S. military interventions are precluded. A just foreign policy is essential if we are to create an America and a world that works for all of us, a world that puts people, planet and peace over profit.
7. How would you address the racial unrest in this country tied to tragedies such as what we witnessed in Ferguson, Dallas and Baltimore?
As Martin Luther King said, peace is not just the absence of violence, it is the presence of justice. “Racial unrest” will continue until we address the very real injustices that motivate people to take to the streets or to lash out in frustration. Among the steps we must take are: 1) police review boards with subpoena power, and independent investigators, so every community controls its police, instead of having police control the communities; 2) changing the culture of policing, to prioritize de-escalation and problem-solving. Demilitarize police so they no longer deploy armored vehicles and SWAT teams against civilians. End the use of “broken windows” policing; 3) establish a truth and reconciliation commission to get past the hate, fear and systemic racism that is the living legacy of slavery. In the end, our governments and our police forces must dedicate themselves to treating every citizen with respect and to having a positive impact on every life they touch.
8. How would you address the opioid/heroin crisis gripping the nation? Thousands have died in Ohio and many in our area in recent years.
Several immediate short-term responses are underway to reduce opioid deaths and I support them. But a true solution requires us to address the underlying culture of hopelessness stemming from unemployment, underfunded public schools, and inadequate health care. I support a universal single-payer health care system that would provide health counseling and treatment on demand to any drug user that needed help. I would stop big pharmaceutical companies from overcharging for prescription drugs and pushing drug use beyond what is medically necessary. Four in five new heroin users started out by misusing prescription painkillers. In a recent survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction, 94% said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were “far more expensive and harder to obtain”. If we make health care in America universally accessible and affordable, and treat drug addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue, problems like the opioid/heroin crisis will be much easier to resolve.
9. What should the U.S. role be in manufacturing? How can the president help the U.S. regain manufacturing jobs?
We can regain a thriving manufacturing sector with a Green New Deal, which will create full employment by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems. A critical part of the Green New Deal will be a Just Transition that assists those communities and workers most in need of assistance in making the transition to renewable energy. As president, I would replace the rigged corporate trade agreements that have led to American jobs moving overseas. I would also eliminate tax breaks and offshore tax havens that encourage US manufacturers to move overseas.
10. How does Washington regain trust of U.S. public?
To regain trust, Washington must first deserve our trust. The American people are wise not to trust our current politicians whose careers are dependent on the campaign donations that they receive from special interest lobbyists and wealthy donors seeking influence on legislation and tax policies. I am the only candidate in the race not taking money from lobbyists, corporate interest and super pacs. And that is why I can be trusted not to sell out. 57% of the American people now say they want to see a new, independent alternative to the two big parties that dominate Washington. Providing that alternative is essential to restoring trust in government.
11. What are the 3 biggest challenges facing the U.S. and how would you solve them?
The 3 biggest challenges we face are climate change, expanding endless war, and a dead-end economy with a generation locked into crushing student loan debt. We can make major steps to solving all three with an emergency Green New Deal, a WWII-scale national mobilization to revive the economy, turn the tide on climate change and make wars for oil obsolete. By transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure and ecosystems, we can achieve full employment with jobs for every American who needs work while reducing the pollution that causes climate change to sustainable levels. This will also boost our moral authority to lead on a strong enforceable global climate treaty to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. As we transition away from fossil fuels, the reasons for endless wars to dominate the Middle East disappear, allowing us to redirect massive amounts from military spending into investment in sustainable jobs at home. Another important economic stimulus would come from canceling student loan debt for 43 million indebted Americans and making public higher education free. This would liberate an entire generation from indentured servitude to the Wall Street bankers who crashed our economy, and empower them to become full participants in the real economy. We have the resources to prevent climate meltdown, end US wars and revive our economy; the only obstacle is corporate-funded political parties that prioritize profits over people, planet and peace.
12. What should be done with the Affordable Care Act? What plans do you have tied to health care improvement?
The Affordable Care Act is falling apart because it is built on a for-profit model that permits sick people to be overcharged for prescription drugs and medical care. I would replace the ACA with a universal single-payer health insurance system, sometimes called “Medicare for All”. In nations all over the world this system has been shown to deliver health care for everyone at an affordable price. Systems like the Affordable Care Act have never worked anywhere.
13. What are the highlights of your education plan for K-12 schools?
We must make a commitment to provide a quality education for all our students from pre-kindergarten through university. I would protect our public school systems from privatization schemes that will inevitably undermine the American dream of quality public education for all. . This means ending incentives for privatization/charters built into No Child Left Behind and its legacy, the Every Child Achieves Act. We should evaluate student progress and needs through portfolio assessment, not through high stakes testing, and replace Common Core with curriculum developed by educators, not corporations, with input from parents and communities. Recognizing poverty as the key obstacle to learning, we must ensure that kids come to school ready to learn: healthy, nourished, secure and free from violence. We need world-class public education that teaches to the whole student for lifetime learning.
14. What are the highlights of your education plan for colleges? What will you do to deal with college debt issues?
I would cancel existing student debt to free a generation from a burden that was unfairly imposed upon them. To prevent future student debt, I would make higher education tuition-free as it already is in many developed nations. Studies have shown that supporting education pays for itself in the long run because an education allows people to stay employed and to earn higher incomes, thus contributing more to our tax base.
15. What are your ideas for America’s tax policies for individuals and businesses?
We must make our tax system fairer by reversing decades of special tax breaks and unwarranted tax cuts that have allowed the wealthy and well-connected to shift more and more of the tax burden onto ordinary citizens. An honest appraisal of taxes must consider not just income tax, but sales taxes, excise taxes, and fees charged for government services. Tax cuts for the wealthy often lead directly to increased fees imposed on less wealthy individuals. Our student debt crisis and the continuing large number of medical bankruptcies are symptoms of inadequate funding for public services. We must address the overreliance on property taxes to fund our schools and municipal services.
16. Why should the American people and Ohio voters support your candidacy?
People are tired of our rigged economy – tired of struggling with debt – and tired of politicians who serve insiders and big money instead of the people. By voting for the Green they are demanding a new kind of politics in which voters become more powerful than big money donors and our nation is freed from the grip of lobbyists and corrupt special interests. A Green vote is a vote for fair taxes, jobs for all, alternatives to expensive and failing wars, affordable universal health care, canceling student debt, ending racial disparities, and launching a clean energy initiative that can really save the planet from climate change. This is an opportunity to change the system that may not come again in our lifetimes. People do not have to waste their vote by voting to continue the failed two-party system. The can now invest their vote in the movement for real change that is represented by the Stein/Baraka campaign.
17. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Springfield Air National Guard Base are major employers in southwest Ohio. What would you do to keep them strong? What is your plan on military spending?
Although we can no longer afford the enormous expense of a military budget that is greater than the next seven nations in the world combined, my commitment to full employment means that the money saved in getting the military down to the right size would be injected into communities to ensure that every American has a secure living wage job and that anyone displaced in the transition can move to equivalent or better work. We have seen that the economic stimulus of converting unneeded military facilities to civilian use, when done properly, can more than compensate for any jobs lost on the military side.
18. Tell us about your running-mate and why you believe he is qualified. How will you use them in your administration?
Ajamu Baraka is a man of principle who has dedicated himself to furthering the cause of human rights and justice for all. He has served on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International and founded the US Human Rights Network. I would deploy his special talents in leading my effort to eliminate racial injustice in America and to make the United States a global champion for human rights.