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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
San Diego County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
United States Representative; District 52

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 Scott Peters:

America faces challenging new realities in a changing world. The economy is faster, smarter, more competitive and more global. But our federal budget is upside down because too many in Congress are more focused on holding onto problems for political gain than solving them. Balancing the budget over time requires sensible tax policy and smart cuts. At the same time, our economic future depends on making smart investments. Below are four of my priorities to compete in the 21st Century:

Invest in Research San Diego knows the transformative economic power of scientific research. The wireless technologies invented here spawned QUALCOMM, our largest private employer, created thousands of high-wage jobs and changed the way the world communicates. Similarly, SPAWAR supports jobs and investment in basic research for military applications - the kind of research that led to the development of the internet and GPS. And every day on Torrey Pines Mesa, researchers at Salk, Scripps Research, Sanford Burnham, UCSD, and elsewhere use grants from the National Institutes of Health to find cures to Alzheimer's disease and cancer. These scientific investments have transformed our world and raised the quality of life for millions; equally important, they've also created good-paying jobs for San Diegans.

In fact, according to a recent study, San Diego's innovation technology sector accounted for more than 141,000 jobs last year - about 10% of the region's total workforce. Notably, the average wage in this sector is more than $100,000 (more than double the region's average salary), and each support an additional 1.6 local jobs. These industries are critical to our local economy, and San Diego deserves a representative who recognizes the importance of ensuring that they continue to thrive.

But Congress is wavering on these investments. Scientific research funding is not keeping pace with inflation, and is even being cut. Disappointingly, the funding budgeted for research is increasingly allocated to serve politics or bureaucracy, and not to support the most rigorous and promising scientific advances. Combined with draconian sequestration cuts, investment in San Diego's research and innovation economy has been in decline. We want the next Google or Qualcomm or the next medical breakthrough to happen in San Diego, but without serious commitment to maintain and aggressively increase investment, that next innovation could be created by a UCSD graduate ... in China or England rather than San Diego, or California.

In Congress, I'm fighting alongside other San Diego representatives for adequate and consistent funding for scientific research. Investing in research is one of the best ways we can drive American competitiveness and job creation while improving San Diego's international profile as a growing innovation hub.

Invest in our Green Economy As a member of Congress, I consider the development of a sustainable energy policy a top priority.

I serve as the Chair of the Climate Task Force for the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, working to create green collar jobs by advancing policies that promote clean energy, domestic manufacturing, and the development of renewable energy resources.

As a nation, we must work toward a long-term energy policy that: 1) creates new American jobs; 2) emphasizes greater energy independence; 3) invests in the development of alternative fuels; 4) promotes clean energy technology like wind and solar; and 5) ensures greater national security.

Invest in our Children The economy, especially in San Diego, runs on brainpower. If we don't educate our children, our nation won't be able to compete. We need to make sure our K-12 education system is preparing our kids for college and ensure that any student who qualifies and wants to go to college can afford to do so. For those who do not choose a four-year degree, we must work toward establishing our community colleges as centers for job training and placement.

Reform our Tax Code and Balance the Budget We saw the dangers presented by the partisan gridlock in Congress when we repeatedly went down to the last moment to raise the country's debt limit and even shut down the federal government because we couldn't reach a compromise. We can't continue to consider not paying our country's bills and risking the basic function of our nation's finances because extreme members of Congress can't play well with others. I introduced the Protect America's Credit Act to tie the debt limit increase to the nation's GDP growth, and the Pay Down Our Debt Act to require a negotiated budget compromise if the debt starts growing faster than the nation's economy. Combined, these reforms will help keep our credit safe around the world while still allowing for tough fiscal discipline at home.

We must also reform the nation's tax code so American companies are encouraged to create jobs in America. We should work to incentivize companies that build and expand here at home, rather than abroad. That's why I've supported measures to support and expand R&D tax incentives and to strengthen the competitiveness of American small businesses in our economy.

And we must immediately end subsidies to oil companies that are among the most profitable companies ever. The fact that oil companies are subsidized by the taxpayers while making record profits - and while middle-class Americans are struggling - makes absolutely no sense. Keeping the earnings and jobs created by American companies at home and ending subsidies will help get us back on the road toward a balanced budget.

We must balance the budget, but we've got to do it the right way. And it shouldn't be on the backs of seniors and the middle class. I only support a budget that simultaneously cuts wasteful spending, tackles our long-term debt, preserves a safety net, reforms the tax code to encourage competitiveness abroad and job creation at home, supports a strong military and makes the investments in infrastructure, education and basic scientific research that will support our country and our children into the next century.

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

Answer from Scott Peters:

Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act Healthcare in America needs to be accessible and affordable for everyone. I was not a member of Congress when it passed the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"), and while the law is an important step in fixing decades-old problems with our health care system, it remains a work in progress. Opponents of the law have made dozens of politically motivated and fruitless attempts to repeal the law which have gone and will continue to go nowhere. Repeal is not the answer. A more productive approach, and one that I am fully committed to, is to make constructive changes needed to make it work. That's why I have repeatedly supported changes proposed by both parties to fix the new law and make it better.

I've voted to keep the promise that if you like your plan you can keep it. I voted to make sure individuals and families are given the same extension on enrollment that the President gave businesses. I cosponsored the Protect Medical Innovation Act, a bipartisan bill to repeal the medical device excise tax in the ACA; here in San Diego we were acutely aware of the potential for this industry-specific tax to stifle innovation in the biotech industry that plays such a central role in our economy, while also driving up medical costs. In each case, that's meant voting against my own party to make sure that we end up with the best system possible for both individuals and employers. In addition, I personally, have refused to take taxpayer-subsidized health care, because I believe it's wrong for members of Congress to get subsidized health care while others are struggling to afford insurance.

While there is still a ways to go to make health care more accessible, and to get the ACA right, the new law offers some real benefits for San Diegans. For example, it prevents insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition. It also lets adult children stay on their parent's health care plan until they're 26 - a change that helps a lot of families with kids in college or who are starting out in their first job. These are the kind of improvements that we would lose if we heeded the mistaken calls just to "repeal Obamacare." And we can't go back to the days when too many people got their primary care in the emergency room or lost their homes and savings to medical bill bankruptcies.

As we continue to seek more cost-effective ways to deliver high-quality healthcare more widely and efficiently - outside of the political DC debates about the ACA - San Diego's technology industries are leading the way in innovation. I introduced the Health Savings Through Technology Act to integrate digital health into Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and military care while increasing the use of wireless health information technologies (including technologies related to digital health, mobile health (mHealth), telehealth, telemedicine, e-Care, remote patient monitoring, and the collection of patient-generated health data) by patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers. By taking advantage of the innovation coming out of San Diego, we can make health care cheaper to provide across the board.

It's important to remain invested in the front lines of medical treatment, safety, and research. I've also voted to increase research to accelerate development of clinical trials to treat pediatric diseases, and for funding for pediatric residency and training programs to address the physician shortage. I've supported legislation to make our prescription drug system safer for consumers by applying uniform standards and new safeguards against contaminated and counterfeit drugs, and to protect the National Institutes of Health from dangerous budget cuts through sequestration.

I will continue to be an active and strong advocate for healthcare reform - for patients, for our local hospitals, and for medical professionals. I know how vital reliable and affordable healthcare is, and how frustrating a system full of irrationalities and the wrong economic and health incentives can be. Everyone is eager to help find solutions to our ailing healthcare system, and they are equally eager for a representative who hears their concerns, understands the issues, and works to make sure doctors, patients, and healthcare institutions all have a say in how we address this national problem. That's always been my problem-solving approach, and that's the approach I will take as your representative in Congress.

Contraception and Reproductive Choice Unbelievably, in Congress we are still fighting battles over reproductive choice and access to contraception. Those wars were fought and won 30-40 years ago. I strongly favor reproductive freedom and a woman's right to make her own medical decisions in consultation with her doctor. My wife and I have a long history of supporting Planned Parenthood, and I will continue to stand up for the right of women to make their own health care decisions.

It is embarrassing and shameful that when so many families are hurting or are facing uncertainty about their jobs, children's education, parents' long-term care - when there are so many pressing issues for our nation and Congress - we are having a national discussion about who should have access to contraception.

In Congress I am a forceful advocate for women's access to contraception and a woman's right to choose, and I will continue to do so as long as these battles persist.

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

Answer from Scott Peters:

Nowhere is our commitment to future generations more tested than in how we treat the environment we give to them. Developing the models for true sustainability must happen now, before it's too late to sufficiently respond to climate change and rising sea levels, extreme weather, and prolonged drought.

America Needs a Sustainable Energy Policy As a member of Congress, I consider the development of a sustainable energy policy a top priority.

I serve as the Chair of the Democratic Caucus Climate Task Force. We are working to create green collar jobs by advancing policies that promote clean energy, domestic manufacturing, and the development of renewable energy resources.

As a nation, we must work toward a long-term energy policy that: 1) creates new American jobs; 2) emphasizes greater energy independence; 3) invests in the development of alternative fuels; 4) promotes clean energy technology like wind and solar; and 5) ensures greater national security.

San Diego is home to nearly 1,000 clean tech companies and has been recognized as one of the nation's leaders for green vehicles and expansion of solar adoption.

In Congress, I've focused on measures to promote and help fund science and technology education, plus developing new programs to help students prepare for green jobs that will grow along with our clean energy sector.

That isn't just good for our environment, it's good for our economy. Solar jobs are jobs anchored in the community, and they don't carry the same volatility as the prices of fossil fuels like oil. In fact, a nationwide study recently conducted by Environment California ranked San Diego as the second most "solar city" in America based on cumulative solar capacity. And we're just getting started.

It's also important that the federal government set a good example. That's why I cosponsored the Energy Efficiency Government Technology Act to require federal data centers be energy efficient. It saves money long term and provides important leadership.

Smarter Communities I am the co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, a national organization which helps city planners find ways to incorporate more bike paths, sidewalks, and pedestrian-friendly streets so that people can get around without their cars.

We did this in Bird Rock while I was a member of the San Diego City Council. We made the neighborhood safer, more walkable, and turned a strip of boulevard filled with shuttered storefronts into a thriving small business district that's now filled with boutiques, restaurants and night life. Doing more redevelopment like this, should be a part of our plan for a more sustainable energy policy and greater energy independence, too.

Climate Change It's also critical that we advance policies to sufficiently respond to climate change and protect our nation's clean air, water, and environment. Unfortunately, I'm being challenged by those who choose to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence collected by many of the world's best research institutions that makes clear that climate change is a real, immediate threat.

Maybe it's that sort of mentality that led The League of Conservation Voters to call the Congresses of 2011 and 2012 "the most anti-environmental U.S. House of Representatives in history." Now that I'm in Congress, I'm working to change that culture.

Congress should act to stop price-gouging at the pump by holding Wall Street commodities traders and speculators more accountable. Experts agree that speculation in energy markets drives up the price of oil, which raises the price of gas for consumers.

Over time, Congress must develop and support a long-term energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels altogether. I've voted against increases in oil drilling both onshore and offshore without sufficient safety protections in place, and pressed to hold coal producers accountable for their impact on the environment, their workers, and surrounding communities.

But while we work toward the right mix of sustainable energy and environmental protection, it's critical that we take the consequences of extreme weather seriously. I've helped lead calls for more resources to support drought victims and combat wildfires. I also introduced the bipartisan STRONG Act to provide resources at the state and local level to better prepare, plan for, and quickly recover from extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy. This is an area where we can find rare bipartisan support for addressing the harmful effects of climate change.

We also need to get better about the pollutants we pump into the air. I introduced the SUPER Act to combat so-called super pollutants, some of the worst drivers of climate change. Currently, multiple government agencies indirectly deal with these short lived climate pollutants like methane, HFCs, and black carbon, but with the SUPER Act we can make mitigation more efficient and effective. While scientists continue their hard work to address the long-term challenges of climate change, this is work we can begin doing now to not only cut climate change, but improve agriculture and save lives.

By protecting our air and water, preserving our forests and open spaces, and developing an infrastructure that allows us to consume less and recycle more, we can create the model for a healthier, safer, more sustainable world for the generations to come.

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

Answer from Scott Peters:

National security and San Diego's vital role in our nation's defense have been a prime focus of my first term in Congress. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), I have worked with colleagues of both parties to support our region's strong military presence and the thousands of military and civilian jobs it provides.

Though America's military might is second to none, there is certainly room for improvement in our national defense. As a member of the HASC Seapower & Projection Forces subcommittee, I have worked to strengthen our naval fleet, invest in research and development, streamline the military's acquisition process, and improve readiness by increasing energy efficiency and reducing fuel consumption.

To strengthen our defense against international terrorism, I believe we must attack and degrade the Islamic State group (ISIL) while remaining vigilant against other threats. As a member of the HASC Intelligence, Emerging Threats & Capabilities subcommittee, I voted to authorize the fight against ISIL, and I am co-sponsoring bills to contain Hezbollah and strengthen sanctions aimed at preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

I believe that politics stops at the water's edge, and national security should never be a partisan issue. On the House Armed Services Committee, I am proud of my strong working relationship with my fellow San Diegans, Republican Duncan Hunter and Democrat Susan Davis. Together we have worked to strengthen our military, support our brave men and women in uniform, and maintain San Diego's critical role as a cornerstone of our nation's defense.

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

Answer from Scott Peters:

We need an immigration policy that's tough, fair, and practical. It needs to be tough on border security to prevent people from trying to smuggle guns, drugs, or people. It needs to be fair to taxpayers, and it needs to be a practical solution that will finally address the problem. Last summer, the Senate passed a package of comprehensive reforms that, while not perfect, goes a long way toward making progress on all of these fronts. I'm a member of the New Democrat Coalition, and we have backed a series of principles which must be included in a new comprehensive package of reforms. There's currently a bipartisan House version of Immigration Reform that is ready to come to the House floor that I prefer and have backed.

Unfortunately, obstruction from current Congressional leadership has so far prevented a simple up-or-down vote in the House. While other candidates are running in this race to empower more of this obstruction masquerading as leadership, I've signed the discharge petition to finally hold a vote on an immigration reform package mirroring the reforms that the Senate passed in the summer of 2013.

We must also continue to improve border security and streamline the border crossings that facilitate billions of dollars in cross-border commerce. I worked with other members of San Diego's Congressional delegation -- both Democrats and Republicans -- to secure $221 million in funding for the border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana that regional business leaders called San Diego's top priority for job creation. The improved crossing will strengthen border security and create thousands of jobs by improving the flow of trade and commerce.

Immigration affects our entire region, but we've seen that the current leadership in the House is so beholden to far-right Tea Party forces that these leaders are unwilling to even let us vote on the issue. The last thing we need is to strengthen their hand by giving them more votes for still worse obstruction. We need to get real and provide the American people real solutions.

I'll continue to work with our entire San Diego delegation to tackle this head-on and work towards real, common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.

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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