Editor’s Note: In June 2012, Civil Beat sent 10 questions to each of the candidates registered to run for the U.S. Senate in the Aug. 11 primary. Eight of the 11 responded, including Linda Lingle. The questions and answers are reproduced below in full. Read responses by Mazie Hirono and Ed Case to see how Lingle’s positions compare to those of her main competitors. Click on each topic listed below to read Civil Beat’s question and Lingle’s response.
1. President Obama has significantly increased the use of drones to assassinate terrorist targets. The policy has been criticized for denying due process rights for at least one American living abroad, and for the collateral killing of civilians. Do you support this policy — why or why not?
Providing for homeland security and national defense is the top responsibility of the U.S. government. I support the Administration’s efforts to fight terrorism, at home and abroad. I also support the President’s effort to make sure that our military is protected from harm as much as possible by deploying new technologies such as drones.
As with all new technologies, drones can be improved, both technologically and in their application. The result should be minimized civilian deaths and other unintended damage.
It is impossible in a short answer, to analyze all of the legal and moral issues involved in drone strikes that could kill a United States citizen living abroad. I believe, however, that if any terrorist, whether or not a United States citizen, poses an imminent threat to the lives of Americans and is fighting alongside the enemy, it is permissible to use drone strikes, especially if there is no feasible alternative to make an arrest or to prevent the threat. I believe the use of drone strikes in such circumstances is consistent with the United States Constitution, and the findings of the United States Department of Justice are in keeping with my belief.
I believe the drone strikes were justified against American citizen Anwar al- Awlaki, who left America in order to wage war against our country. Due process of law is one of the things that sets America apart from the terrorists who seek to destroy our country and our way of life. But due process does not strip America of the ability to effectively fight terrorists, including Americans who commit treason against their own country. ↩ back to top
2. A divided U.S. Congress has not been able to come to agreement on how to lower the federal debt, in spite of bipartisan recommendations from the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission and others. What is your evaluation of those recommendations, which include hard decisions regarding entitlement programs, defense spending and taxes?
In early 2010, the Bipartisan Policy Center – founded by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker (R-TN), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Bob Dole (R-KS), and George Mitchell (D-ME) – launched a Debt Reduction Task Force to develop a long-term plan to reduce the debt and place our nation on a sustainable fiscal path. I am honored to be a member of the Governors’ Council of the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), comprised of six Governors (three Democrats and three Republicans) including Former Governors Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, Jim Douglas of Vermont, Brad Henry of Oklahoma, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Ted Strickland of Ohio, and myself.
The BPC Debt Reduction Task Force was co-chaired by former Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and former Clinton Administration Office of Management & Budget Director Alice Rivlin (dubbed the “Domenici-Rivlin” commission) and was comprised of 19 bipartisan members. The task force produced its deficit and debt reduction recommendations, “Restoring America’s Future,” at the same time as Simpson-Bowles’ report. Not surprisingly, Domenici-Rivlin and Simpson-Bowles are almost identical in approach and in the areas and types of recommendations for cutting and controlling our nation’s unsustainable deficit and debt. Both Domenici-Rivlin and Simpson-Bowles were issued at the end of 2010, over one-and-a-half years ago. Since then, we have had one more year of additional deficit and increased national debt, structural issues with our national economy have intensified, as evidenced by the monthly jobs reports, the financial crisis in the Euro-zone has worsened and China’s economy has slowed.
The drivers underlying our nation’s current deficit and debt crisis are a lack of control over spending, including in the area of entitlements, a shrinking revenue base and a lack of economic growth. In my opinion, no issue can be entirely “off the table”. We cannot only cut spending, only increase tax revenue or only grow our way out of this crisis; the solution needs to include all three of these areas.
I was pleased to see the difficult but necessary recommendations made by both Domenici-Rivlin and Simpson-Bowles with regard to our national tax system, entitlement programs, and other spending, including defense spending. While I do not agree with all of Domenici-Rivlin’s and Simpson-Bowles’ recommendations, I believe both plans did a good job of laying out and examining the difficult decisions that lie ahead for America. My experience making difficult budget decisions as Governor after the 2008 global economic downturn has prepared me to make these kinds of difficult decisions, along with my colleagues who are willing to seek real solutions instead of partisan political gain. The most immediate decisions facing the next Congress will be what to do about the scheduled $7 trillion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to occur at the beginning of 2013. This is due to the automatic implementation in early 2013 of the $1.2 trillion across-the-board “sequester” left to us by the failure of the Congressional “Super-Committee,” expiration of the “Bush Tax Cuts,” the expiration of an extended payroll tax reduction, the reduction in Medicare physician payments and the end of alternative minimum tax (or AMT) fixes.
Economists and the Congressional Budget Office believe that allowing the “sequester” to take effect, the tax cuts to expire (and therefore raise taxes), and the other changes scheduled to take effect would lead to a fiscal shock which would take approximately 3.5% of GDP out of the economy for 2013 – 2014. Given current projections of GDP, this series of events would push our economy into negative growth and into another recession.
Clearly, difficult policy and budget decisions need to be made and made within a short time frame. If elected Senator, I would apply the broad bipartisan approaches of both Domenici-Rivlin and Simpson-Bowles to make those decisions. ↩ back to top
3. The major issue for most candidates is jobs and the economy. Can you identify a concrete example of how you as senator would go about stimulating growth both nationally and in Hawaii?
As I travel around the state, it is clear that jobs and a growing economy is the top concern of most residents. If elected as Hawaii’s next U.S. Senator, my first priority will be to reinvigorate our state and nation’s economic viability, both for immediate impact and to sustain our growth over the longer-term. Some of the long-term reforms that I would advocate for and work toward include simplifying the nation’s tax system, as well as comprehensive regulatory, lawsuit, and immigration reform which currently act as barriers to job creation and economic growth. I believe these reforms will help create the basis for a steadily growing economy with healthy job creation and a rising standard of living. This long-term approach is important, but it is important that we implement policies which can create immediate benefits for our residents. Two concrete examples of policies that will stimulate growth and job creation in Hawaii and nationally include focused and intensified facilitation of in-bound international tourism and growth of the clean energy sector. I have had hands-on experience with both policy areas, as they are extensions of what I accomplished as Governor.
In tourism, the federal government has a tremendous influence and impact on the difficulty or ease with which foreign leisure or business visitors can obtain a visa to travel to the U.S. Unfortunately, our current federal policies have swung too far toward making it difficult for those who are qualified, especially from Asia, to travel to the U.S. As a result, we are losing millions of high-spending foreign visitors and investors to other parts of the globe. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that if the U.S. restores foreign travel to pre-2001 levels, we could realize $860 billion in economic stimulus and employ 1.3 million more Americans.
I believe there are some very practical, secure and achievable policy changes that can move us toward a growing visitor industry. If elected, I believe I will be the only Senator who (as Governor) walked-through the visa issuance process in Korea, China and Taiwan. I not only saw first-hand the current visa application barriers, but spoke to those American consular officials on the “front lines” of the issuance process.
Besides putting more of the documentation and processes online and adopting other technologies that enable remote visa application, the opening of additional visa offices, hiring and training of additional visa officers, using licensed local travel industry intermediaries, pre-registration and processing for group visas, and setting interview times for targeted visitor segments (such as for honeymooners) are but a few simple and short-term fixes that will ease the visa process for foreign applicants and increase the number of visitors that come to Hawaii and the U.S. The result will be more in-flow of foreign dollars to Hawaii and the U.S. mainland, which will sustain and create jobs in this important sector. As Governor, my Administration was able to obtain some of these changes for Hawaii. As Senator, I will work closely with the U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security to further expand these initiatives while still protecting our national security.
I would also advocate and work toward visa waiver status for countries and regions in Asia, such as the Korea visa waiver that was accomplished while I was Governor. Taiwan is among those who have currently requested visa waiver status and I would work toward quick approval. All of the above can be accomplished in the short-term and can be done with no or minimal federal expenditures.
A second concrete area is energy policy that stimulates job growth in Hawaii and nationally. It is clear that the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), launched by my Administration in 2008, has significantly facilitated private sector job growth in Hawaii. Today there are currently over 11,000 positions in this fast-growing clean energy industry, including photovoltaic (PV) solar generation, which generated an estimated $619 million on Oahu alone in 2011, and is leading the charge in job growth. From electricians to engineers and designers to project managers, the solar industry accounts for 15 percent of all construction expenditures in the state.
Energy policy is primarily the function of state and local governments, which are on the front lines of where energy is generated, transmitted and used. However, based on my hands-on experience, there are several concrete short-term policies that the federal government can adopt to facilitate state and private sector actions that create and sustain jobs. Despite the national discussion about energy use for decades, we still do not have a comprehensive energy policy for our nation. This longer term goal will be another key area of focus for me if I have the honor to represent Hawaii in Washington, D.C.
In the immediate term, I will work toward federal policies that enable more private sector energy efficiency retrofits, installations and construction. For example, I will work to immediately resolve the pending federal housing agency issues that have prevented households and businesses from using “property-assessed” financing to fund energy efficiency retrofits. Not only will this unlock more commercial bank loans, but will facilitate increased private sector activity and job- creation in building renovation, retrofits and construction.
I will work toward public/private partnerships to invest in and develop inter-state electricity transmission infrastructure, a proper federal role between and among the states. Not only will this sustain and create engineering and construction jobs, but would facilitate larger-scale renewable energy projects in key parts of the country which are now stalled due to transmission bottlenecks.
Finally, I will work toward an “open fuel standard” for internal combustion engines, which enables new vehicles that run on gasoline to also be able to run on fuel mixes that include up to 100% ethanol or methanol. This will not only lead to greater energy security and self-sufficiency for Hawaii and our nation, but will facilitate job creation in agriculture, engineering, manufacturing and construction. Again, these concrete steps can be accomplished in the near-term, resulting in job- creation quickly, and with no or minimal federal expenditure. ↩ back to top
4. Sen. Dan Inouye has brought countless dollars to the state over his long career, not only for defense projects but to help with energy, agriculture, education, security and Native Hawaiian issues. Should you be elected to the Senate, Inouye could leave office during your time in office. How would you work to continue funding important projects in the islands, especially as a junior senator in a body that values seniority?
I believe that even as a first-term senator, my eight years as Hawaii’s chief executive will be an asset, as I have the advantage of knowing and having worked closely with other former Governors who are now serving Senators. These include Senators Jim Risch, John Hoeven, Joe Manchin, Mike Johanns, and Mark Warner.
I will find opportunities to work with Senators of both political parties to find common sense, bipartisan solutions to the issues facing our country including the federal budget, where policy and fiscal support for Hawaii will be my priority. During my eight years as Mayor of Maui and eight years as Governor of Hawaii, I demonstrated my ability to work with members and leaders of both parties to get things done.
I will look for areas of common interest that would benefit Hawaii and be of interest to other states, such as tourism, energy and international trade. For example, my proposal to establish a Subcommittee on Tourism, is not only long overdue, but is expected to gain the support of others states that have a significant tourism sector. Such a committee will enable us to deal in a timely and direct manner with the issues affecting Hawaii’s number one industry, including funding.
I also believe that given the budget circumstances our nation will be operating under for the foreseeable future, “earmarks” as we traditionally know them will be difficult to obtain. However, I believe that there are important projects in Hawaii that deserve federal funding on their merits in defense and military, energy and environment, housing, astronomy, ocean and coastal management and for native Hawaiian programs.
I will work toward ensuring that these worthwhile projects in Hawaii are advocated on their merits and on a transparent and accountable basis. In a period of limited budget resources, I believe together with the other members of Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, we can properly justify, position and advance funding for Hawaii projects. ↩ back to top
5. The Akaka Bill on federal recognition for Native Hawaiians has consistently stalled in the U.S. Senate because of GOP opposition. Do you support federal recognition, and if so, how would you go about securing it?
I have always supported federal recognition for native Hawaiians. As Governor, I personally traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify in favor of the bill on several occasions as well as to lobby Republican Senators for support. I convinced three Republican Senators to become co-sponsors of the Akaka Bill. This was the first time Republicans had signed on to the bill.
I also was successful in ensuring that Senator John McCain (then‐Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs) scheduled committee hearings, where I offered testimony in support of the bill. The hearings helped the bill pass out of committee.
In addition, I attracted bipartisan support from the House of Representatives by convincing Congressman Tom Cole to support the House version of the bill. Since 2005, Congressman Cole has been a Republican co-sponsor of every House version of the Akaka Bill.
I believe the Akaka Bill has not cleared both houses because many members of Congress as well as the broader public did not understand the history of Hawaii and its people, and did not understand the content of the legislation itself.
We know from history that it is not enough for Hawaii’s Congressional delegation alone to support the Akaka Bill. Its passage will require bipartisan support from a majority of members of both houses of Congress. I have a demonstrated track record of successfully convincing decision makers in Congress and the public that passage of the Akaka Bill is in the best interests of native Hawaiians, all the residents of Hawaii, and the American people as a whole.
If elected as the next U.S. Senator from Hawaii, I commit to working with Hawaii’s Congressional delegation and members of Congress in both parties to ensure the passage of legislation formally recognizing native Hawaiians. ↩ back to top
6. Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, what would your goals be in terms of health care policy as a senator? Would you support universal health care?
If I have the honor of being elected as Hawaii’s next U.S. Senator, I will work to improve the quality, access and affordability of health care for Americans. However, I do not believe that this should require the creation of a single payer system.
The people of Hawaii benefit from our own Prepaid Health Care Act, which contributes to over 90% of Hawaii residents having some form of health insurance coverage, the second best coverage percentage in the nation. However, we must still have a discussion of how best to approach the health care needs of our country. The recent Supreme Court decision addressing parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) helped revive the discussion on how best to solve our nation’s health care needs.
Beginning in January 2013, the next Congress must engage in a meaningful bipartisan discussion of what can and should be a healthy, productive and successful revamping of medical care access for the people of Hawaii and the nation, including important health care policy issues like the quality of health care Americans receive, the limited access to care for those in rural and remote areas, and the skyrocketing health care costs for the majority of Americans and small businesses.
At the same time, questionable policy judgments in the PPACA such as the decision to create unelected Independent Review Boards, the punitive tax on medical device manufacturers, and the elimination of Medicare Advantage programs deserve meaningful bipartisan discussion. We must continue to focus on these issues until all Americans have quality, accessible and affordable health care that we as a nation are willing to budget for.
First, we must focus on continuing to ensure that the highest quality health care is available to Americans by attracting the brightest and best medical professionals and by supporting our physicians and practitioners by enacting national medical liability reform legislation. Evidence suggests that physicians, including many specialists, are retiring or leaving their practice because of rising insurance costs and the fear of being sued. Enacting national medical liability reform legislation will help retain and recruit a strong physician workforce and expand access to care.
Second, access to health care should not be contingent upon a patient’s proximity to urban areas. In an emergency, patients in rural and remote areas often cannot afford long commutes to medical attention, nor should they be required to travel far for routine care.
Lastly, we must address the skyrocketing costs of health care. We cannot overburden Americans and their small businesses with increasingly prohibitive health care costs, especially in today’s uncertain economic climate.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 34 advanced and emerging countries, determined that in 2010 the United States spent 17.6% of its GDP on health care (3.6% on Medicare alone), far more per capita than the OECD average of 9.5%. This amounts to a cost of $8,233 per capita in 2010, over 2.5 times more than the OECD average, and these figures continue to rise. This year, the Medicare Trust Fund Trustees project that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be depleted in just 12 years. We must ensure that Medicare remains solvent. To do this, my Medicare proposal includes simplifying the billing and coding system to ensure health care providers continue to participate in Medicare; tackling the estimated $50-100 billion in Medicare fraud and abuse; and creating a long-term Medicare system that provides future beneficiaries with early and advance notice of changes.
Additionally, eliminating the exclusion of individuals with preexisting conditions by creating insurance pools for high risk patients and allowing individuals, families, and employers to purchase insurance policies across state lines, will create a truly competitive medical market place, allowing families to select policies that meet their own needs and budgets.
America has led the world in providing the best health care and most advanced medicines available, and we can continue this leadership role with the right public policies. I have demonstrated experience in dramatically improving health care for the state of Hawaii and can bring that same set of leadership skills to create quality, accessible and cost-efficient health care that the people of Hawaii and our nation deserve. ↩ back to top
7. The filibuster has been used by both parties to block legislation. Do you support this controversial parliamentary maneuver? Why or why not?
In recent years the filibuster has been used to stop debate and halt consideration of national policy issues in the U.S. Senate. I believe the people of America want their elected officials to fully discuss and debate the merits of proposed laws and to vote up or down on these proposals based on a healthy exchange of ideas. I would encourage sparse use of the filibuster in Congress. ↩ back to top
8. Global warming is real, and rising sea levels will certainly impact Hawaii. What steps would you take as a U.S. senator to mitigate the effects of global warming?
I will take my proven experience, leadership and record of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) to the federal level, as significant reduction of emissions is one of the results of implementing the HCEI policies.
In 2007 the Hawaii State Legislature passed a law requiring Hawaii to reduce its greenhouse gas emission by the year 2020 below 1990 levels of emissions. The Legislature also established a Greenhouse Gas Task Force and required it to come up with the specific work plan to achieve that 2020 reduction target. The task force and its independent experts analyzed and compared a carbon tax, cap-and- trade program and HCEI policies and concluded that implementing HCEI policies would reduce Hawaii’s projected year 2020 greenhouse gas emissions to or below Hawaii’s 1990 levels.
Hawaii’s energy system contains all the generation, transmission and distribution and usage elements of our larger national system. Based on my direct and hands-on experience with energy and environmental policies, if elected U.S. Senator, I will take to the national level the lessons of a comprehensive energy policy that deploys market-based regulations and incentives to reduce fossil fuel use and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions.
As indicated by my answer to question 3 above, in the immediate term I will advocate and work toward an open fuel standard. I believe that there is not enough focus on reducing the oil dependence of our nation’s ground transportation.
Enabling vehicles to burn a wide variety of fuel mixes with ethanol or methanol, even up to 100%, will reduce use of oil and the resulting emissions. This would not mandate the use of alternative fuels, but would enable cars to use such fuels.
As Governor, I have hands-on experience dealing with disaster planning, mitigation and response policies for an island economy with critical coastal areas, much of which involved disasters originating from the oceans. I will use this experience to work with federal and other national organizations to properly assess the risk of rising ocean levels and to support state and local efforts to mitigate its effects. ↩ back to top
9. The Citizens United decision has resulted in nearly unlimited amounts of money being spent on behalf of many candidates. Massachusetts candidates Scott Brown and Eilzabeth Warren have pledged to reject super-PAC money in their Senate contest. Would you be willing to do that in your race — why or why not?
I would not. I believe that individuals and groups have the right to support me or oppose me, and I would not presume to tell those who support me or who oppose me not to fully act on their views.
At the same time, I object to advertisements — whether they are from independent expenditure groups, PACs or candidates — which contain knowingly false claims and personal attacks against candidates. Political speech, whether it be in the form of advertisements or other types of advocacy, must be protected, but this speech should be both factual and civil. ↩ back to top
10.What is an issue you think is important to address as a U.S. Senate candidate — one that perhaps has not been given sufficient attention during the campaign?
This election is about the people of Hawaii and which candidate has the proven record of getting things done here at home for them. This is why Hawaii’s next U.S. Senator must have a proven record of working in a bipartisan fashion to make decisions that put the people of Hawaii first, above any political party. With this action-oriented leadership in mind, I believe an issue which has not been given sufficient attention by candidates and media is the historic and future impact on national security and Hawaii’s economy by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), which Hawaii narrowly escaped in 2005. We must help our military services through U.S. Pacific Command prepare for the next round of BRAC deliberations (scheduled for 2015).
I took a large role in writing and testifying in person to the previous BRAC Commission to save Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard from closing. It took a monumental combined effort between the private and public sectors to prepare the State’s testimony submitted to the BRAC Commission of 2005 which I signed. I have attached a copy of my testimony to this transmittal.
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is the largest industrial employer in the State, with a work force of nearly 5,000 highly skilled and highly paid professionals. Despite the U.S. Pacific Command’s recommendation to keep the shipyard open for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the BRAC Commission independently disregarded the impact to national security by considering the closure of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. This potentially disastrous threat could happen again and we need to be ready.
The next BRAC review will occur in 2015, so Hawaii’s next U.S. Senator must provide the leadership needed for a successful community response that ensures these important jobs are protected. ↩ back to top