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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 6 General Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Ron Curtis, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. There is one other candidate, Democrat Mazie Hirono.
1. What would be your first priority if elected?
My first priority is to focus on reducing the high cost of living in Hawaii by getting Hawaii out from under the Jones Act. The Jones Act is obsolete protectionist legislation that restricts cargo being transported between U.S. ports to being transported solely on U.S. built ships, owned by U.S. companies, and operated by U.S. crews. Some economists estimate that this adds as much as 30 percent to the cost of living in Hawaii due to the increased cost of goods and products brought into our island state. On my website, I have a comprehensive plan in getting Hawaii out from under the Jones Act, while at the same time, making the U.S. shipping industry a global player once again.
2. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
America should go to war as a last resort, but it should also be prepared for war at any given moment. I support the position of “peace through strength”.
Diplomacy is a complex carrot and stick process and for the carrot to work, there needs to be an effective stick. This Ronald Reagan quote has always resonated with me as a foundation for world peace, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
3. Should Facebook be regulated by the federal government? How?
I think all social media should be under some scrutiny to ensure that proper personal security measures are in place to protect the end-users from bad actors. I would support regulation in the form of high level security requirements levied against all social media providers.
4. What should the United States do to control carbon emissions and slow climate change?
I have a two-part approach. The first part is to implement dynamic, gradual, and more restrictive carbon emission legislation to drive the reduction in carbon emissions without causing significant economic harm or hardships to anyone. The second part is to support and encourage the continuing migration to renewable energy sources with government tax breaks until renewable energy sources are more cost competitive.
5. Is it time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? How?
We need to act to ensure that Social Security is sustainable and tamper-proof long into the future.
The Affordable Care Act is going to implode. Repealing it and replacing it is the best option. I have a comprehensive health care reform approach that takes incremental steps to gradually migrate the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, and eventually, the Veterans Health Administration into a unified nationally guided health care system of private healthcare and health insurance providers.
6. Congress has struggled in recent years to reach agreement on budget deficits, the national debt and spending in general. What would be your approach to fiscal matters?
This stems from the fact that our federal government is wasteful and inept because it has grown to the point that it is too big to be adequately managed or overseen.
Our federal government always takes the easy path of increasing taxes to cover increased spending.
Government is responsible to balance the budget by eliminating waste and reducing spending before raising taxes. Before any law or regulation is enacted, the economic impact should be calculated fairly and publicly disclosed. Government should not burden future generations with excessive debt. We need to pass the Federal Balanced Budget Act. I am an agent of change that worked for over 35 years for federal government contractors as a systems engineer in a wide variety of roles across multiple disciplines. All my roles involved managing change and innovation to deliver or improve efficiency and effectiveness on government contracts while significantly eliminating or preventing waste.
The first 29 years of that career was working on government contracts in the Washington, D.C., area for NASA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Agriculture.
7. Whatever happens in the midterm elections, Congress will remain deeply divided. What specifically would you do to help bridge the partisan divide in Washington?
I am not a career politician nor do I intend to become one. I am a systems engineer that will work with everyone in Congress on the merits of the issues and solutions, not on partisan politics. I am not legislating to appease a base to get myself re-elected. I will be legislating to provide the best possible solutions for the people of Hawaii and our country. I am running on solutions … we need better solutions, not more business as usual. I am running to bring respect and political decorum back to Congress. How we conduct ourselves matters. I am running on “koa pono kina’ole” — “courage and character to do the right thing.” We can’t do the wrong things for the right reasons, the ends don’t justify the means.
8. What should be done to reform U.S. immigration policies, if anything?
I am in favor of a “needs-based” Immigration Policy. We need a more dynamic immigration policy based on government known facts. We work with our junior and senior high students on their career paths based on projected needs in the job market. We also know the size of the workforce that the current jobs market can support based on unemployment numbers. I propose a dynamic needs-based immigration policy that allows for a higher immigration rate when unemployment is low and a lower immigration rate when unemployment is high.
I propose making the immigration process more like an application for those jobs where the market data indicates the need. I propose prioritizing the needs-based immigration in accepting immigrants from countries that are under-represented in America’s population diversity over those that are more highly represented. I propose capacity-based compassion for humanitarian immigration. This proposed needs-based immigration policy makes success more likely for the immigrants while filling needs in America’s job market. A win-win for America and the immigrants.
9. What is your view of the role of the U.S. military in the islands, and would you like to see that role increased or decreased?
Given the strategic location of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, I view the presence of the U.S. military in the islands as a vital role in our national defense. I think it makes a Hawaii more secure as a state as well. I welcome the members of our military and their families to our ohana during their tour of duty. The defense spending also contributes to the economy of our state. I think the role of the military in Hawaii is about right given the current state of world affairs.
10. What specific reforms, if any, would you seek in gun control policies?
I support gun-control legislation that is not overly intrusive or too broad in scope. I support mandatory background checks for all means of gun purchases. The age-related gun ownership laws are arbitrary when trying to assign maturity and responsibility to an age. We entrust our 18-year-olds with guns to defend our freedoms in our military, but many states ban them from owning a gun until they are 21. I don’t like that hypocrisy. The minimum requirement to serve in the military is being 18 years old and having a high school diploma or GED. Make that the same for gun ownership.
11. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
Campaign spending reform is a hot topic to me. As much as we can, we need to take money out of government politics. We need to take back control of our elections from lobbyists, special interests, and foreign entities. Our government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people, for the people” … not of the few, by the few, for the few, for the special interests, for the lobbyists. We also we need to repeal the Foreign Agents Registration Act. There is no reason for foreign entities to have any influence over our elections. We have ambassadors and embassies for interacting with foreign entities.
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