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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Sonoma, Solano, Napa, Contra Costa, Lake Counties, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
United States Representative; District 5

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Economy and Jobs, Health Care, Energy Policy, National Security, Immigration Reform

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

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

Answer from James Ross "Jim" Hinton:

My "New Deal" has a one, two economic punch(Wall Street sales tax/Nationalize the Federal reserve) that will bring America back to full employment for the first time since 1945. My program will create millions of new productive jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. Fixing bridges, repaving hi-ways, building new schools and hospitals

Answer from Mike Thompson:

Jobs are my number one priority, and that's why I am fighting for a jobs plan in Congress that invests infrastructure, energy, education and research. My plan puts people to work now, puts our economy on solid ground for years to come.

One of the best ways to grow our economy is to put Americans to work fixing our roads, overpasses, ports and bridges. That's why part of the jobs plan I am fighting for in Congress puts people back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.

My plan would invest more than $300 billion in our roads and bridges by passing a long-term transportation bill. This is one of the best investments you can make to create good-paying jobs. For every $1 billion we invest in infrastructure improvements, more than 30,000 jobs are created. We shouldn't leave jobs on the table by failing to make these investments.

My plan would also fund dredging projects, creating jobs for the people who do the dredging and helping our local economy by making our marinas, ports and harbors more accessible for business.

In addition to creating jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, we have to plan for the future. That's why growing our new energy economy is a cornerstone of my jobs plan. New sources of clean and renewable energy can be to the 21st century what coal, oil and gas was to the 20th century.

Our district is already an energy leader. We need to build on that. By making the smart investments that my plan calls for, we can help make sure renewable energy and all the jobs that come with it + jobs in construction, design, development, engineering, maintenance, and manufacturing + are a foundation of our economy for generations to come.

Finally, my plan calls for investment in education, including K-12, higher education and career education. Education is the one essential element to our nation's long-term economic success. To compete in a global market, we must continue producing the world's best entrepreneurs and innovators. To continue producing the world's best entrepreneurs and innovators, everyone must have the opportunity to get a quality education.

We can do this all without adding a dime to the deficit. My plan is entirely paid for and decreases the national debt by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.

Infrastructure, a new economy rooted in new energy, and education + these are foundations of job creation, economic growth, and a strong and secure middle class for years to come.

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

Answer from James Ross "Jim" Hinton:

Medicare for all. Congressman John Conyers has a bill H.R.676 United States National Health Care Act.

Answer from Mike Thompson:

I am proud to have voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which is helping make sure the people of our district can get health insurance. This landmark legislation is holding insurance companies more accountable, increasing competition and guaranteeing more health insurance options.

Many people have already experienced the Affordable Care Act's benefits. Insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick or deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Adults with pre-existing conditions now have access to coverage. Being a woman can no longer be treated as a pre-existing condition and your coverage can't be dropped because you become pregnant. New insurance plans are required to cover preventive services and immunizations with no co-payments. Seniors are saving millions on prescription drugs. Small businesses that provide coverage to their employees now get a tax credit on insurance premiums. And, the hidden taxes all insured individuals currently pay toward the cost of emergency room visits by people without insurance have ended.

On October 1st, 2013 a major component of the law went into effect: the new, online health insurance marketplaces. In California, people can go online at, see what discounts they qualify for, compare plans, and pick one that's right for them, their budget, and their health care needs.

I have said from the beginning that the Affordable Care Act isn't perfect, and you have to look no further than the federal health exchange website that has been plagued by delays to see that is true. However, we should be spending our time working to build on and strengthen the reforms made in the law, not trying to undermine them at every turn.

To help solve the cancellation notices people have received, I supported legislation that would allow people who like their insurance to keep their insurance. This was a promise that was made when health care reform was passed and it is a promise that should be kept. The legislation I supported would also stop insurance companies from continuing to sell junk plans to new enrollees, ensuring insurance companies only sell plans that meet minimum standards.

I wrote legislation that would expand the eligibility for premium tax credits for people living in high-cost areas who purchase health insurance through the federal and state exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act. Currently the ACA allows those making between 138 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) to qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health insurance through the ACA's exchanges. At this level, an individual making up to $45,960 and a family of four making up to $94,200 qualify for premium tax credits. However, the income threshold used to determine eligibility for these tax credits doesn't take into account the cost of living for different geographic areas. A family living in New York City or the Bay Area is treated the same as a family living in a small town in South Carolina or Texas. The Fair Access to Health Care Act would allow the premium tax credits offered through the ACA to be increased proportionally based on an area's cost of living.

I passed legislation that repealed a portion of the ACA so that small businesses have the flexibility to provide more affordable plans for their employees, and that helps prevent unnecessary plan disruptions and premium hikes.

I voted to pass a bill that excludes the hours worked by volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders from being counted towards the ACA's 30-hour-a-week benchmark that determines whether an employee is classified as full-time.

I voted to pass a bill that would allow employers to exclude workers who receive health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs from its full time worker count. Under the ACA, companies with 50 or more full-time employees are considered large employers and are required to offer health coverage or potentially face penalties. This helps make sure small VA facilities do not face penalties.

I have also authored legislation to expand telehealth services. Telehealth saves money and helps save lives. By expanding telehealth services, we can make sure the best care and the best treatments are available to all Americans, no matter where they live.

Reforming health care has and always will be an ongoing process that will not be completed with the passage of any one bill. But by passing the Affordable Care Act into law, millions of Americans will now be able to get health insurance. And that's what matters.

? 3. What are your priorities with respect to our nationís energy policy?

Answer from Mike Thompson:

New sources of clean and renewable energy can be to the 21st century what coal, oil, and gas were to the 20th century. By making the smart investments we can help make sure renewable energy and all the jobs that come with it + jobs in construction, design, development, engineering, maintenance, and manufacturing + are a foundation of our economy for generations to come.

I introduced the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Jobs Act (H.R. 6182) to help spur development in America's solar industry as well as other renewable energy sources.

I have coauthored the bipartisan Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 596) that streamlines permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands.

I have introduced the bipartisan Master Limited Partnership Parity Act (H.R. 1696). This legislation would allow renewable energy projects to take advantage of the same business structure, the master limited partnership (MLP) that is currently only available to oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects.

I have introduced legislation that would help expand PACE programs like we have in Sonoma County to other places around the country. PACE has helped create more than 700 jobs in Sonoma County.

? 4. What, if any, changes should be made with respect to our nationís security, including our national defense or anti-terrorism measures?

Answer from Mike Thompson:

I believe it's long past time we brought our troops home from Afghanistan. The Afghanistan war is now the longest running war in United States history. Since 2001, we have lost more than 2,300 men and women in Afghanistan, nearly 20,000 have been wounded, and our national treasury has been reduced by close to $557 billion.

I support bringing our troops home from Afghanistan as quickly and safely as possible and changing our policy to a counterterrorism strategy that focuses on the threat posed by al Qaeda and its affiliates around the world, including here in the United States. Last Congress, I cosponsored a bill which would require the president to submit a plan to Congress for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan.

I have voted in favor of requiring President Obama to submit a plan to Congress outlining the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and have voted to invoke the War Powers Act requiring the President to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan within 30 days.

? 5. What is your position on the issue of immigration reform? What, if any, changes to legislation or policy would you support?

Answer from Mike Thompson:

Our current immigration system is broken. There are more than 11 million undocumented residents living within our borders.

We cannot fix our broken immigration system through more piecemeal steps. We need to take a comprehensive approach that solves the whole problem.

I have co-authored a bipartisan bill contains the same provisions from the bipartisan Senate-passed bill that protect workers, unite families, and offers immigrants an earned pathway to citizenship. It also contains the same provisions from the bipartisan Senate-passed bill that reform our visa programs and the enforcement of immigration laws.

We're a nation of laws. It's important that we enforce those laws. Immigration reform must strengthen our borders and be fair to U.S. taxpayers.

We're also a nation of immigrants. Reforms should allow immigrants to earn the right to join us as fully participating taxpayers. We should establish a streamlined program for temporary workers and address unauthorized immigrants who are currently in our country by creating an earned path to citizenship that requires steps like passing a background check, paying a reasonable fine and back taxes, and going to the back of the line behind those who are playing by the rules while continuing to live and work in the U.S. Immigration reform must also contain the DREAM Act.

We should also pass immigration reform is good for our economy and helps reduce the deficit. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), enactment of the bipartisan Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill would reduce the deficit by $850 billion.

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.

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: July 23, 2015 14:59 PDT
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