Given the poor public ratings and perception of Congress, why run for the Senate at this time?
Our system is broken because both parties have become focused on narrow ideologies instead of the needs of public, like creating jobs, controlling spending and taking responsibility for the challenges we face today. I am running because we need a new standard of accountability if Congress is going to do its job. That’s why I have made five concrete pledges and said I would not seek re-election if I fail to deliver on these. It’s time for a new approach, and that is what I am offering.
Who or what was responsible for the Great Recession?
There were a number of factors behind our current economic situation, and the reckless role of large banks has a lot to do with it. These same banks were bailed out with taxpayer funds after the 2008 crisis, yet they remain slow to lend to small businesses and other worthy borrowers. Lax regulation of these banks also played a significant role. The important question now is how to move forward and strengthen our economy while providing relief for those who have been left out in the cold. By getting a rein on spending, incentivizing growth in the private sector and doing a better job of ensuring fair rules in the marketplace are three ways we can move forward.
How active a role should Congress take in creating jobs? What should Congress do as a top priority to create jobs?
Our senator should be a tireless advocate for our state. Legislation on its own will not create jobs but it can help create a better environment for the private sector entities that do create jobs. As Maryland’s U.S. senator, and advocate, I will raise, from private not taxpayer sources, $3 billion to overhaul our transportation infrastructure, $1 billion to revitalize inner-city Baltimore by building affordable housing, $500 million to make Maryland the hub in the war on cancer and $150 million to support a large-scale pilot program of internships for disadvantaged youth. I have also committed myself, if elected, to boosting our state’s exports by $1 billion. Combined, I believe this will help stimulate the creation of over 100,000 jobs. Is this the job of a U.S. Senator? Given the crisis we face today, this is the kind of advocacy we need.
Maryland has many federal workers, both living and working here. There has been pressure over the past few years to cut the size of the federal work force. Is that a wise policy and what are the implications for Maryland?
I do not believe we should try to balance the budget on the backs of federal employees and do not support efforts to trim the federal workforce at this time. As a function of our overall debt, the expenditures on the salaries and benefits federal workers would not, if reduced, have a big impact. But it would have a disastrous impact, and one that we can ill afford, on our state.
Ron Paul gained some traction with what some are calling a “new isolationist” foreign policy approach. Is that practical? Why or why not?
I disagree that America should turn inward at this time. We have long been a force for good in the world, advancing prosperity and peace. An isolationist turn at this moment would be a dangerous move in the wrong direction. Moreover, our national security is tied to our engagement with the world and our allies. Withdrawing would weaken our allies and invite attacks from our enemies.
Much has been written and said about the 1 percent and the 99 percent of Americans and their incomes. Does it make sense as national policy to tax the wealthy? Why or why not?
I believe the fairest tax would be a flat rate in the lower twenty percent range. For those who make a lot more than others, it is reasonable to ask a little more. But at the same time, I do not believe that we will close the gap on our deficit or pay back our increasingly crippling debt simply by raising taxes on the top one percent. Instead, we need to simplify the tax code and make it fairer. This will ultimately lead to an increase in revenues.
What should we make of the tea party movement? The Occupy Wall Street movement?
Both of these movements sprang up in the last four years because the political parties became hostages to narrow ideologies and special interests. People felt they were not included in the political calculus of their nation and organized these grass-roots movements. We need to look at our system and why it is pushing ordinary people to the fringes. An honest independent movement might help get the political parties back on track, and if it doesn’t, it can be the beginning of a new alternative precisely the kind of alternative that the growing number of disenfranchised people in our country are seeking.
Why, of all the candidates, are you best suited to be a U.S. senator from Maryland?
First, I am truly independent. Because I have financed my own campaign, I am not beholden to any special interests. Second, my private sector experience sets me apart from my opponents who have spent their whole careers working for the government. Unlike me, they have not created jobs before and that is why they lack a plan for doing so. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I have made accountability the center-piece of my campaign. I have pledged to do five things I mentioned earlier. If more people seeking elected office held themselves to similar standards, I think Americans would rightfully hold a better view, and higher expectations, of our government. The system is broken, but we can fix it if we are bold enough to try.