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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Los Angeles County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Smart Voter

Adam B. Schiff
Answers Questions

Candidate for
United States Representative; District 28


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

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

Even though the economy has improved from the depths of 2008, growth has come far too slowly for most Americans. The unemployment rate still hovers at 8-plus percent and we are not creating the number of new jobs we need to get Americans back to work. Fixing the economy is my highest priority, and I believe it should be the highest priority of every Member of Congress.

Still, there's no simple fix for the economy, but there are some steps that virtually all economists agree would cushion us from the worst economic blows and get us situated to experience robust economic growth again. America's banks and businesses are sitting on trillions of dollars in assets, but they're not investing in new hires, new factories, new stores, and new capacity. We need to generate demand and invest in America in the form of lasting improvements to our nation's infrastructure, public services, and education system. And we need to help small businesses that are the engine of our economy, to hire new workers, and expand their businesses.

An economic recovery that leaves behind working families isn't an economic recovery at all. And I've also supported a one year extension of the payroll tax cut that benefits working families, putting a little extra in their pocket to help make ends meet while also stimulating spending and creating jobs. I think the President laid out a roadmap that includes several good ideas to kickstart the economy. The plan would temporarily cut payroll taxes on small businesses to give them an incentive to hire. It would create jobs for 400,000 teachers, fire fighters, and police officers who are facing layoffs due to local budget crunches. And it would invest in America's decaying infrastructure in the form of new schools, mass transit, and revitalized neighborhoods. Finally, the plan would be fully paid for, adding nothing to the national debt.

2. How should the federal budget deficit be addressed, now and into the future? How should budget priorities for defense and domestic programs be adjusted?

As Congress debates deficit reduction measures, I strongly believe we must protect the safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security that have served our nation well for decades. Social Security is the cornerstone of the New Deal and the most successful anti-poverty program in American history. We also have to preserve and protect Medicare beneficiaries, and to continually improve the Medicare delivery system, which has provided excellent health care for seniors for the last 45 years. While it's not perfect, I look to Medicare as an example of a successful program which has allowed millions of seniors to enjoy a dignified and healthy retirement.

It's important that we craft serious solutions for our nation's looming deficit and debt problems, which pose a serious threat to our economic future. I've long advocated for common sense solutions to the nation's growing budget problems, and as a member of the Committee on Appropriations, I am deeply engaged in efforts to implement a reasonable solution. Unfortunately, the budget plans recently offered by the House Majority would continue an unsustainable policy of upper-income tax cuts, while turning Medicare into a voucher program. These proposals are not new and do not meet a test of basic fairness. Instead, they reflect a policy that was evident in recent debates over funding the government, which would hold harmless multibillion dollar tax subsidies of the oil industry, while cutting home heating oil assistance to the poor. I've been supportive of proposals that take an even-handed approach to deficit reduction -- cutting spending while raising necessary revenues -- and protecting our safety net programs. I believe that we cannot exempt any part of the budget from possible cuts and that we must always re-evaluate our nation's security needs and how best to ensure them at the least cost to American taxpayers and to our priorities here at home, especially at a time when so many are still out of work and too many American children go to sleep hungry. At the same time, we cannot continue upper-income tax cuts we cannot afford, or extend them by going into further debt.

3. What are your priorities with respect to our nationís energy policy? Should there be an emphasis on clean energy and reducing carbon emissions, and/or on reducing our dependence on foreign sources?

I've been a big supporter of investment in clean energy and efforts to reduce carbon emissions. We absolutely must reduce our dependence on foreign oil and develop our own domestic sources of renewable and sustainable sources of energy. Last year, I fought hard to increase funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) program. At ARPA-E, they're working on potentially game-changing research in renewable energy, as well as projects that allow us to be much smarter, and more acutely focused on our utilization of resources. These are the kind of projects that this country should be at the forefront of investing in if we're to be a leader in innovation, technology, and sustainable resource allocation in the 21st century.

4. What, if any, changes should be made to federal health care policies or programs?

I supported the Affordable Care Act, a bill that I believe will make important strides over the next few years toward addressing the skyrocketing costs in both the public and private health care sectors and that will expand coverage to millions of Americans without healthcare. The Affordable Care Act also explores new ways of incentivizing "best practices" in medicine: treatment that is both smart and effective. For a long time now, we've paid our providers across the spectrum for the quantity of care measures they utilize, rather than for the effectiveness of that care. The Affordable Care Act looks to make sure we're doing better at coordinating that care and reducing unnecessary or duplicative measures. Additionally, the newly established State-based Health Insurance exchanges will allow small businesses and self-employed people to combine their purchasing power with millions of others to get more affordable coverage. By giving consumers greater choice and access to information that is often hard to come by, and by pooling the collective purchasing power of those in the exchanges, we should bring down costs in the private insurance market.

5. What, if any, changes should be made to federal rules on campaign financing?

I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case. The Court's decision freed corporations to spend unlimited funds to run advertisements directly appealing for the election, or against the election, of a candidate and cast aside decades of restrictions on campaign finance and corporate participation in elections. The influence of powerful special interests in our democracy was pernicious enough already before the ruling. Sadly, our fears about the effects of this decision have been realized, with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in anonymous donations polluting our elections.

Campaign finance reform is of great interest to me. In 2000, I was elected in what was then the most expensive Congressional race in history. The first bill I cosponsored was the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform and I worked hard for its passage. The Court's decision in Citizens United now repeals a part of that important reform.

I am an original cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 4010) which would rein in corporate spending to influence the outcome of elections by creating additional transparency requirements. In this election cycle, we have seen the emergence of powerful Super PACs that are able to raise and spend unlimited sums of money with weak or no disclosure requirements placed on them. The DISCLOSE Act imposes tough new disclosure requirements on Super PACs' and corporate spending, so that viewers of a television advertisement know who is funding it and can judge for themselves what interest the group may have in promoting or attacking a candidate or issue. Specifically, it would require that corporations, Super PACs and other outside groups report large donations to the FEC in a timely manner, include their leaders' endorsement of television and radio ads (just as we require of candidates themselves) and notify their shareholders when they make political campaign contributions. Citizens United allowed the flow of corporate money into our elections and now, at the very least, we have to ensure that there is enough transparency to show us exactly where this money is coming from.

Though the DISCLOSE Act will help mitigate the effects of the Citizens United decision, more needs to be done to take corporate money out of elections. We must ensure that elections are free and fair and that Americans can trust that their representatives are working for them, and not for wealthy special interests, and I am continuing to explore ways to reign in corporate spending and rebuild that trust.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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