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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
State of California (Butte, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra Counties) November 2, 2010 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
United States Representative; District 4


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Economy, Federal Budget, Energy, Health Care, Campaign Financing

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. In this time of high unemployment, what are the most important steps that should be taken to improve our nationís economy?

Answer from Benjamin A. "Ben" Emery:

We need to go back to the policies that balanced budgets and created the largest and strongest middle class in world history. To reverse our current monopoly capitalism model we need to move back to pre-supply side and free trade economics.


1. Enforcement of Sherman Anti-Trust laws and break up monopolies in every industry

2. Exit the WTO and GATT agreements

3. Selective import tariffs on manufacturing we want to promote in US

4. Restructure our tax policies back to Eisenhower through Carter ranges, to give incentive to reinvest capital back into American productive economy

5. Create a Green Industrial Revolution with existing and advancing technology to spark an economic recovery that includes well paying jobs that will put money in workers pockets, which will create demand for other goods

6. Create a movement to buy American made goods once again, support local economies keeping our money on Main St instead of Wall St.

7. Put incentives in place where it is more cost effective to do business practices in a safe sustainable way.

Another way to create jobs in CA and the 4th district is by supporting a State Owned Bank.

North Dakota is the only state in the Union to own its own bank, The Bank of North Dakota. It was established in 1919 to allow farmers and small business to be able to secure themselves from out of state banks and monopolistic industries such as the railroads.

How it can be done without changing federal laws or creating a federal agency. The state of California has huge amounts of assets that would easily meet the requirements of starting their own bank. With property, investments and a slush/ rainy day fund up equaling over $300 billion it could be done very easily.

California could begin to loosen up the lending crunch by funding municipalities and even state infrastructure projects with low interest loans, which the profit from interests would be inserted back into California coffers. Lets keep California's money in California.

An example of how it could work is;

A local government (LG) has a much needed infrastructure project and they receive a low interest loan (1% for easy calculations) for $1,000,000 million. The LG would hire local contractors, who would hire local laborers, who would then spend that money in local business, and at every step of the way the taxes would be going to the LG at the same time stimulating the local economy, creating demand. Creating a great multiplier effect. When the LG pays back the loan to the State Bank there will be $10,000 in interests on top of the original $1 million. A majority of that $10,000 then would go into the state coffers because profit isn't the mission of the bank and there are no shareholders to pay. California could fund their own recovery and pay down the state debt at the same time.

? 2. How should federal budget priorities be changed, now and into the future? How will you balance the costs of military action overseas and national security with the costs of domestic needs?

Answer from Benjamin A. "Ben" Emery:

We currently have roughly 800 military bases in over 135 countries around the planet. We need to start withdrawing our military bases from around the globe and start focusing on domestic issues.

As President Eisenhower mentioned in his "Chance of Peace" speech, the true cost of war is a loss of investment in human capital. The United States of America spends roughly half of all the money spent on military activities across the planet. In other words, U.S. military expenditures are equivalent to those of the rest of the industrialized world combined. Global military spending was $1.4 trillion in 2008, and the U.S. portion was $711 billion. And this represents over 50% of U.S. discretionary spending. Compare this percentage to that of education under the discretionary budget of 4%.

Where are our priorities?

President Eisenhower also warned us about the threats of a Military Industrial Complex, as did Thomas Jefferson in his vigilance against standing armies. I believe in a strong defense but not being the worlds police and nation building by military force.

? 3. What, if anything, should be done by the federal government to address our dependence on fossil fuels or spur the use of clean energy?

Answer from Benjamin A. "Ben" Emery:

We need to end subsides to big energy industry. Start paying the true cost of fossil fuels and the American people will demand alternative renewable energy. I do not support Cap and Trade; I believe this will be just another commodity to be traded for profit on Wall St.

Example In 2009 Exxon/ Mobil took home after expenses $19 billion, it was an off year, how much did they pay in US income tax? $0.00 but received $150 plus million in a US federal tax return.

A green WPA is needed to jump-start a green industrial revolution. This WPA must have a buy American clause within it for a real stimulus to the American economy and to build a new manufacturing industry.

? 4. What, if any, changes should be made to current federal policies or programs that promote or provide health coverage for Americans?

Answer from Benjamin A. "Ben" Emery:

The United States is the only industrialized nation on the planet that hasn't come together and made the commitment to health care as a human right. As Americans we have access to emergency care if needed, but at what cost? The more pressing issue is primary care for all Americans. We do have the best Health Care in the world, but we have one of the worst distribution systems.

Facts on the U.S. Health Care System

  • The only industrialized nation that hasn't outlawed FOR PROFIT primary care insurance.
  • It is estimated that 45,000 Americans die annually because they cannot afford access to health care. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE58G6W520090917
  • We pay twice as much as any other industrialized nation on earth ($7,129 per person) for our health care, while at the same time leaving 15%+20% of our nation's population without health insurance.
  • One million bankruptcies are filed annually because of medical bills. Of those filings, 700,000 are from people who have health insurance. This number is virtually 0% in any other industrialized nation.
  • 100 million Americans cannot access dental care.
  • Private health care providers spend $210 billion on administrative costs, mostly to process insurance paperwork. The number of administrative personnel has grown twenty-five times more than the number of physicians over the past 30 years.
  • Private health care providers spend approximately 30% of each health care dollar on overhead, compared to other developed nations and our own Medicare and Veterans Administration systems, which spend 3%+5% on overhead.

These are only a few of the unique facts about the U.S. Health Care System that people may not be aware of. Health care is a necessity of life, and profit should not be part of the equation when considering such necessities.

Instituting a Single Payer system, either at the state level (which I prefer) or at the federal level is the only way to ensure lower costs and to ensure that everyone has access to health care.

Proposed Legislation I Support Some legislation is currently under way to address some of these issues. I support the following bills:

  • HR 676 The United States Health Care Act
  • HR 3200 America's Affordable Health Choices Act 2009 (allows individual states to enacted single payer programs) Waiver of sec. 514 of ERISA Act of 1974

Solutions Beyond the current legislation, I would pursue the following solutions:
  • One quick fix is to change Medicare so that it covers all ages with a "buy in" to the program. In most nations with a similar program, a family of four pays between $50 to $150 a month. Call it Medicare Part E. The "E" is for everyone.
  • Allow private health insurance to be purchased as a secondary insurance program for those who want top-of-the-line care such as private rooms, voluntary surgery, extra coverage, and other features not covered by the basic program.
  • Repeal or amend Medicare Part D, to allow the Medicare program to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry for bulk prices, closing "doughnut hole."
  • Remove the $106,000 cap on Medicare and Social Security.
  • Consult with representatives of other nations that have successful health care systems, to find out what works best in their systems and what problems they have that we could avoid. Combine those factors with our current excellent practitioner's; technologies and facilities to create the best public health care system in the world.

? 5. What, if any, changes should be made to federal rules on campaign financing or disclosure of political expenditures?

Answer from Benjamin A. "Ben" Emery:

Until we control our elections for public office we have no control over the people who are supposed to be representing our best interests. Who controls the purse strings controls the government. Right now big business and wealthy businessmen and women control the purse strings of our elections, Republican and Democratic Party leadership, and the elected legislators through lobbying efforts and campaign donations.

I support the Fair Elections Now Act sponsored by Change Congress, a non-partisan advocacy organization whose sole purpose is to protect the independence of Congress by fighting the influence of money in politics. Learn more online at fixcongressfirst.org.

Public Financing My first order of business as a Congressman elect will be to author a bill would make all Federal and Presidential elections publicly funded. Some but not limited to these:

  • In 2008 155 million tax returns were filed
  • Insert an opt out box for $8.00 to go towards funding our campaigns
  • This would set aside 4,960,000,000 billion aside for funding of campaigns over a 4 year period
  • Progressive campaign caps for each office
  • Figure out dollar value per constituent in each district and apply them to figure out the progressive cap for each office
  • Set amount of given candidate free advertising for FCC licensing. Each candidate that meets signature and candidacy requirements receives x amount of advertising on prime time.

Results will be candidates have a set amount to convince a plurality of voters that they are the best candidates for the job. They can either choose to run on issues and ideas or smear. I have faith in Americans to overwhelmingly vote in favor of the candidate with the best idea's and issues over the mudslinging.

Fun Fact: Over$5.2 billon was spent during the 2008 Federal Election Cycle, the highest spending in an election cycle in US history almost double over what was spent in 2004.

Public Financing will also reduce the cost of elections and allow a diverse set of candidates and ideas to be heard instead of the two major parties who are funded through the same big money interests.

Instant Runoff Voting If we want to complete the resurrection of citizen controlled elections and assure our elected representatives are legislating in our best interests; Instant Runoff Voting, or IRV, would be the next step after public financing of campaigns.

How does it work? Voters rank candidates in order of choice: 1, 2, 3 and so on. It takes a majority to win. If a majority of voters rank a candidate first, that candidate is elected. If not, the last place candidate is defeated, just as in a runoff election, and all ballots are counted again, but this time each ballot cast for the defeated candidate counts for the next ranked candidate listed on the ballot. The process of eliminating the last place candidate and recounting the ballots continues until one candidate receives a majority of the vote. Many jurisdictions do this with a hand count, but with modern voting equipment, all of the counting and recounting can take place rapidly and automatically. More information about Instant Runoff Voting is available online at instantrunoff.com.

Current supporters to Instant Runoff Voting include:

League of Women Voters State Organizations Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, and Washington

State Political Parties Alaskan Republicans, Californian Democratic, Colorado Democratic, Maine Democratic, Minnesota Independence, Utah Republican,

US Cities San Francisco CA, Minneapolis MN, Memphis TN, Sante Fe NM, Burlington VT, Oakland CA, Berkeley CA, Sarasota FL, San Leandro CA, Aspen CO, Telluride CO, and more

Counting of the Vote We need the counting of the vote to never leave the control of the government. Counting the vote is controlled at the state level in non-partisan Secretary of State office. Blackbox and private electronic voting has proven time and time again to be very flawed and easily hacked into with virtually no paper trail to confirm vote count or discrepancies.

Learn more about privately owned voting machines and problems associated with their use at http://www.blackboxvoting.org.


Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League. No candidate may refer to another candidate in the response.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.


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Created: January 6, 2011 15:01 PST
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