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 Ed Case, the Democratic candidate for the 1st Congressional District, which covers urban Oahu. There are four other candidates, including Green Party candidate Zachary Burd, Republican Cam Cavasso, nonpartisan candidate Calvin Griffin and Libertarian candidate Michelle Rose Tippens.
1. What would be your first priority if elected? How would that change if your party is in the majority? The minority?
My first priority would be to assemble a high-quality congressional staff to assist me in performing the duties of my office. Those duties include primarily national policymaking, committee work, representation of Hawaii-specific interests in the federal government and in particular the administration, assisting Hawaii residents with their individual concerns, and community outreach.
I know from my prior almost seven years on Capitol Hill that such a staff is critical to my ability to fulfill my responsibilities fully, especially as I was fortunate to have had such a staff throughout my prior service in Congress. This priority would not change generally depending on party majority or minority, though some specifics may change depending on my committee seniority and responsibilities.
2. Who would you support for Speaker of the House?
I don’t know as I don’t know who the candidates will be. In my prior service, which was during Republican House majorities, I supported Nancy Pelosi for Speaker and Democratic Leader and believe she was then the appropriate leader for Democrats in the House.
I do believe that this is a critical time for Democrats to step back and take serious stock at all levels of leadership, especially given that the mantle of national leadership for either party is won or lost (and for Democrats of late mostly lost) in the political and geographic middle of our country. It may well be that Leader Pelosi, should she desire to continue in party leadership, remains the appropriate national leader for that role. My own evaluation will be open as to all candidates and my focus will be on who can best lead in re-earning the support of middle America.
3. Under what circumstances should America go to war?
It is impossible to develop some checklist answer to these most critical questions of when to go to war and if so what kind of war. Each circumstance in an increasingly complex and interrelated world is different, with its own set of options and possible consequences, and those that would do us harm should not be provided the certainty of knowing when we might not respond and how.
In general, I believe President Obama accurately stated the overall parameters to the use of force as “when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger….” I would add, when international law is being clearly violated, such as genocide, and we do so as part of a clear international community commitment through the United Nations. In all such circumstances, I agree further with President Obama that “we still need to ask tough questions about whether our actions are proportional and effective and just.”
4. Should Facebook be regulated by the federal government? How?
Facebook is no different from any other business when it comes to appropriate federal regulation to ensure a level playing field and protect consumers. Facebook itself agrees that the question is more about the right regulation than whether it should be regulated. Appropriate regulation for Facebook would include clearly defined parameters for data ownership and privacy and data breach notification requirements without micro-regulation that stifles creativity and censors content.
5. What should the United States do to control carbon emissions and slow climate change?
First, adopt, enhance and project the scientific reality in every facet of our domestic and foreign policymaking. Second, accelerate research and development into alternative fuels, offer tax incentives for energy efficiency, and promote energy conservation and source diversification. Third, fully join the United Nations Framework on Climate Change including the Paris Agreement and other international efforts to address climate change as a whole world effort.
6. Is it time to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? How?
The basics of these critical safety net programs remain sound. But they are endangered by demographic change, fiscal unsustainability and antiquated and inefficient operations, and the time is long past for overall readjustment to reset them on a path to sustainable and efficient service for another set of generations.
• Lockboxing Social Security trust funds to be applied solely to Social Security payments
• Rurther resisting efforts to privatize Social Security
• Reforming outdated Medicare/Medicaid payment systems to eliminate billions in improper payments.
7. 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?
First, I would resume my prior service focus on fiscal and budgetary sustainability through my service on the House Budget Committee and work with any and all others who believe like me that our worsening budget is a crisis that threatens all of our other goals. While Congress, on a completely bipartisan basis, has failed to act responsibly on our budget, we can at least start stabilizing our budget by implementing PAYGO (meaning every fiscal action, whether tax cuts or spending increases, must be budget neutral as offset by spending cuts or tax increases or clearly demonstrated revenue enhancers), allowing unfair and unnecessary tax cuts especially to upper-income brackets to expire, reining in health care costs which are among the largest contributors to deficits, and focusing on government inefficiency.
8. 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 would follow the same model I practiced during my prior service on Capitol Hill, a model taught to me by U.S. Rep./Sen. Spark Matsunaga as a young legislative assistant in his office and then again by my delegation colleagues, Senators Inouye and Akaka and Congressman Abercrombie, all of whom served over time in Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses. That is that there is a place for partisan differences including strong advocacy, a place for finding common ground and forging consensus solutions, and a place for both helping the administration and colleagues and being helped by the administration and colleagues on issues of importance to one’s home state. Their lesson and my experience was that one could achieve all three as long as one pursued all three evenly and fairly.
9. What should be done to reform U. S. immigration policies, if anything?
As various recent heart-breaking real-life consequences both nationally and here at home attest, our immigration policy, while sound in principle, is broken in practice. Our last real reform is now 30 years old and the inability of national leadership to deliver for the last decade-plus on critically needed further reform is its own tragedy.
That reform should encompass at least the following: increased and accelerated legal immigration; increased deterrence of illegal immigration to include border security; humane detention and due process for immigrants and families claimed to have entered illegally; increased and accelerated asylum processing; and reinstitution of DACA. As to current illegal immigrants, neither universal amnesty nor universal deportation will work; different rules should apply to different categories, ranging from possible earned residence/naturalization for some to return for others.
10. 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?
Our military’s role in Hawaii is to defend our country and state and our interests including the common defense of our allies and the maintenance of international security in the Asia-Pacific-Indian Ocean region, to utilize the best possible training facilities in furtherance of that role, and to continue a full partnership with all sectors of our civilian population toward the mutual betterment of Hawaii. While I would take our military’s counsel seriously, I believe that role is at the proper level currently.
11. What specific reforms, if any, would you seek in gun control policies?
Among our failures of national leadership, none has been more tragic with heartbreaking real-life consequences. Among serious reforms we could at least start with are a broad assault weapons ban, strengthened buyer background checks, and required smart gun technology to address unauthorized firearm use.
12. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
My candidacy to return to Congress was sparked in large part by my participation in Issue One (www.issueone.org) and its ReFormers Caucus, a group of now almost 200 former members of Congress, governors and cabinet members. Our focus is on the excessive influence of money in politics, especially inside-the-Beltway, large donor and soft/dark money, the disenfranchisement of most Americans from the halls of government and the resultant dangerous subversive effect on our basic principle of consent of the governed.
We advocate for common-sense reforms in five overall categories: everyone participates (encouraging small donors); everyone knows (requiring immediate disclosure and full transparency); everyone plays by the rules (strengthening conflicts of interest and ethics rules); everyone is held accountable (strengthening enforcement); and everyone has a voice (confirming Congress’ authority to govern money in politics in response mainly to Citizens United). There are now growing Reformers Caucuses of current members of Congress in both the House and the Senate and I would join them to continue to advocate for these reforms from the inside.