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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
United States Representative; District 16

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 Daniel Sahagun:

We should cut taxes. History has proven that reducing the tax burden on business is an effective way to spur the economy. We should create tax incentives to reward innovation and job creation. Steps must be taken to return Silicon Valley to the innovation leadership that we once enjoyed in the world. Revitalizing Silicon Valley will lead to the creation of new businesses which creat jobs. Examples are HP, Ebay, Google, Apple and Intel to name a few. Among them, these companies have created literally, millions of jobs.

Answer from Edward M. Gonzalez:

The government needs to stop meddling and end intervention in our economy.

Problem: Our economy is in the midst of the greatest slowdown since the Great Depression. Total unemployment is almost 20%. Our government has created the current economic depression with its well intentioned policies of easy credit for housing. Forcing banks to loan to people with bad credit in the hopes of enriching our nation was always a flawed policy and no amount of good intentions will change that reality.

Goal: A thriving and growing economy with an unemployment rate of 5% or less.

Solution: The government needs to stop meddling and end intervention in our economy. No business is "too big to fail." When poorly run businesses fail, efficient businesses will pick up the slack, growing and providing jobs to the laid off workers. This process usually takes between six and eighteen months, but in the end products are made more efficiently and there are more jobs in the economy.

If a bank won't loan to a person because of bad credit, the government should not intercede. If a politician really thinks someone deserves a loan, let the politician lend their own money to that person. When politicians gamble with tax dollars, taxpayers almost always lose.

End all government stimulus now. Inventing fake jobs for people paid for with tax money is not productive. Politicians may as well order all people to burn down their own homes and spend money rebuilding them. This may provide many jobs to people, but it does not grow our economy. For jobs to grow the economy they must be productive and based in the private sector.

Once the government allows private businesses to adjust to the recession, our economy will be healthy again in twelve months. As long as the government continues to intercede, our economy will continue on in a state of perpetual recession and high unemployment.

? 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 Daniel Sahagun:

We must have a strong military. That does not mean that we must spend foolishly on military projects. We must examine every department in government to root out waste and fraud and eliminate duplicate efforts. We should implement zero base budgeting. Every department must justify every dollar allocated to its budget. Every department must start each year with a blank budget sheet. Each line item must be supported with needs justification. Those which are no longer needed must be eliminated.

Answer from Edward M. Gonzalez:

Edward Gonzalez advocates an amendment to The Constitution mandating a balanced budget.

Problem: The federal debt is out of control. Politicians who serve in office borrow massive amounts of money to fund their personal programs and are out of office by the time the debt is to be paid back. This distorts the economy by pulling scarce resources away from productive businesses and puts future tax payers in debt to the holders of U.S. Treasury Bills.[1]

Goal: The United States Federal Government to be debt free.

Solution: The solution is an amendment to The Constitution requiring a balanced budget. The government has only one means of attaining wealth to fund their services: taxes. Debt is another secret and deceptive tax that makes it impossible for individuals to understand exactly how much certain government programs cost in the moment.

Individuals bring the concern that in the case of an emergency, the government might need to go into debt. Again, the point is that this is still a tax. Borrowed money is still being spent in the moment and must be paid back by tax payers in the future. In an emergency situation, like a full scale invasion of our country, taxes will have to rise significantly. If the government needs more money to fund a war or deal with any other emergency the government will need to raise taxes. Not allowing debt will allow the American people to see firsthand how much a so-called "emergency" is costing them.

Currently the United States military has over 700 bases in 130 foreign countries that require billions of dollars a year to maintain. This is an inefficient use of resources and tax dollars. A large standing military in peace time, while certainly a point of great national pride for many Americans, is also an inefficient use of tax dollars. A military plan focused on defending our nation could be executed at a fraction of the current cost.

If we were to close 75% of our foreign bases, our military would still have 175 bases outside the United States. This would be a good first step. The next step would be to refocus our energy on protecting America from attack and invasion.

A large group of citizens, well-trained in the art of war, is the superior deterrent against attack and invasion. Therefore, the best and most effective way to accomplish this is a much smaller active duty military with focus on a much larger and decentralized reserve force. One of the main reasons Japan did not invade the Continental United States after the Pearl Harbor attack was the fact that the majority of American citizens were armed.

? 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 Daniel Sahagun:

We have some of the worlds largest natural gas reserves; but we are prevented from exploring these by onerous environmental regulations. We must enact prudent and reasonable regulations to protect the environment while at the same time taking advantage of the natural resources available to us.

We should revive our nuclear energy industry. This is the cleanest possible source of energy which is being used in other countries. We invented this technology. We should be taking advantage of its benefits. Spent fuel disposal can be solved by our technology if we give it a chance.

Answer from Edward M. Gonzalez:

Edward Gonzalez advocates the strict protection of life and property rights against all forms of hazardous pollution.

When discussing the environment, the largest issues are the conservation of natural resources, pollution, and global warming. Although all related to the environment, these are separate issues which merit their own discussions.

The conservation of natural resources is, in my estimation, the most straight-forward of the environmental problems. The fast depletion of natural resources is a direct result of government ignoring the principles of economics and not establishing the basic protection of private property that is essential for a free market to flourish. I will use water conservation as an example. In California, the water is government owned and regulated. They establish the quantity of reservoirs and the price of the water. Every summer there are water shortages that require the government to implement rationing. In a free market where the government protects private property, this would not be a problem.

If an individual or business owned a reservoir and there was not much rain that year, they would raise prices. The rise in price would encourage people to use less water in their everyday use and there would be no shortage of water. The government however, does not allow this natural free market process to take place. The government owns the sources of water and keeps prices artificially low because of political pressure. This encourages people to over consume thereby leading to shortages which then require rationing. The free market has the built in price mechanism which encourages conservation of scarce resources. This concept can be applied to water, forests, oil, and all other resources which people are concerned will run out one day. No one likes high water or gas prices, but allowing the price of water and gas to move to their free market price levels will naturally encourage conservation without government rationing being required in the future.

In addition, allowing private business to compete and make a profit will lead to better technology. California has a very large body of water located on its border, The Pacific Ocean. Currently, desalinization (the method of turning sea water into drinking water) is an expensive and energy intensive technology. As a result of government regulation and control, entrepreneurs have no incentive to enter that business and develop new, more efficient technology. If government removed their own regulations and protected property rights, progress in technology would all happen naturally.

The problem of pollution becomes more complicated. I define pollution as contamination of the surrounding environment. The industrial revolution has brought mankind incredible strides in quality of life, but I believe our legal system has lagged in providing logical protections based in the protection of natural rights. The foundation of a free society is based on the principle that all men have the equal rights to life, liberty, and property. Poisonous chemicals entering an individual's body or private property without consent is an encroachment on these rights and in contradiction to a free society. Our government must fight against this encroachment. However, a zero pollution policy would mean that any individual who released smoke from a fireplace or barbeque would be a criminal. I believe that is an extreme not desirable in society. So the question then becomes what is an acceptable level of pollution? This is a difficult question with no clear cut answer. As we pursue the answer our elected representatives, scientists, and judges must dig into the facts to make logical, sustainable, and healthy conclusions. All this is certainly in the realm of government.

I find the current mania that is sweeping the world concerning global warming troubling. The protection of our environment has become closely linked to "green" technologies and companies all clamoring for government tax money to subsidize their special projects. These politically minded companies stand to gain billions or trillions of dollars in tax funds, so they lobby politicians vigorously and employ their own scientists to draw certain conclusions. These conclusions are usually in the form of a grave emergency that needs immediate attention and massive amounts of government funding. Environmental protection has become more about obtaining subsidies than protecting the environment.

The solution is to make environmental protection a purely legal matter. Let us define what the acceptable level of pollution is and hold all accountable to that standard. Allow individuals and businesses to act accordingly. There certainly will be a great amount of wealth to be made in green technologies, but free market entrepreneurs should lead the way, not political entrepreneurs competing for tax money.

Allow legal scholars and scientist to investigate pollution without the political pressure; allow entrepreneurs to allocate their resources and develop businesses accordingly, and our country will be able to enter a new age of technological advancements.

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

Answer from Daniel Sahagun:

The federal government should not be the provider of health coverage. Rather we should enact legislation which allows the free market to work. Allow the purchase of health insurance accross state lines. Enact tort reform legislation to control malpractice awards and thereby reduce malpractice insurance premiums for all health care providers.

Answer from Edward M. Gonzalez:

Edward Gonzalez advocates a return to a free market in health care.
-Stream line new drug and medical technology approval process
-Allow insurance companies to compete across state lines
-Expand tax free health savings accounts

Problem: The cost of health care has risen dramatically in the past years. Although advancements in health technologies have increased, these services are prohibitively expensive and basic services are costing more each year. Many Americans find themselves unable to afford basic health care, health insurance, and bankrupt when emergencies occur. As with many problems, people tend to focus so much on the problem itself that they forget to look for the root cause.

The federal government has instituted many health regulations with the good intention of keeping the American people safe and healthy. The problem is that these regulations disregard basic economic logic and take from people the right to make their own decisions.

The Food and Drug Administration's budget request for 2009 was 2.4 billion dollars and it regulates over one trillion dollars worth of consumer products. New drugs require tests and FDA approval that in many cases take over ten years and over a hundred million dollars to fund.[1] It is impossible to say with any certainty exactly how many resources are devoted to complying with all the FDA's regulations, but one fact is evident: Without all these government regulations the cost of healthcare would be significantly lower. A regulatory agency is certainly a good service and one for which most people are willing to pay. However, when the government controls this regulatory agency, it institutes a coercive monopoly so no competing agency is allowed to enter the market and improve the service and push costs down.

In addition, there are a multitude of laws forced on employers and insurance companies that state what medical services they must provide. These laws were probably done with good intentions, but have inadvertently caused basic health costs to rise and made obtaining private insurance outside of a company provided plan very difficult for most people. An analogy would be if government law mandated that all auto insurance covered oil changes, new tires, replacement engines, and gas. Then further government regulations mandated that employers offer auto insurance. This would result in auto insurance premiums skyrocketing making it very difficult for individuals to afford auto insurance and older cars being denied insurance due to "pre-existing conditions."

The purpose of insurance is to assist individuals through an unforeseen accident or disaster. Its purpose is not to pay for every little luxury.

Goal: A society where basic health care costs are affordable to all Americans, healthcare insurance is available to those whom desire it, and advanced, expensive healthcare technologies become more accessible and less expensive every year.

Solution: The are two major reforms congress can enact inorder to push healthcare costs down while increasing quality of care.

The first is to privatize the Food and Drug Administration. The inspection of food and medications is a valuable service in a modern society and economy. If the FDA can provide this service at a good price it will do well as a private agency. There are many ways the FDA might accomplish this; they might sell a book directly to consumers, publish a free webpage and sell advertising, or sell a seal of approval to food and medical companies they have inspected. The service they provide would be funded by voluntary payment. This would also allow competitors to enter the business of certifying food and medications and push the cost of the service lower. The point is that in the absence of a government approval process, there will be multiple private agencies all competing against one another to provide the best service at the best price.

In addition to competition, repealing all federal health care regulations would give individuals the choice whether to use unregulated medications. For example, a terminally ill patient today is not allowed to use experimental treatments until the FDA has approved the treatment. The person must then apply to get approval to try the experimental treatment. In the absence of government regulation, the choice of whether a terminally ill patient uses an untested treatment is left to that individual and their loved ones.

By repealing mandates on what employers and insurance companies must provide would return health insurance to its natural role as accident and disaster protection. This will cause an immediate drop in health insurance premiums.

Limit government intervention in the health care industry to the investigation and prosecution of fraudulent activity. Government inspectors would still exist, however, like the police, proof would be required before shutting a company down or holding up their operations. By repealing federal health care regulations, companies would be free to operate within the confines of the law and government would only intervene when a company's products or practices were proven dangerous or fraudulent.

The Food and Drug Administration and government health care regulations have been pushing the cost of basic health care higher and higher every year. Privatize regulation and repeal the laws and the health care industry will respond like all other industries in a free market: Service will improve and costs will go down.

The second step Congress must take is to allow insurance companies to compete across state lines. Currently, a person living in California is prohibited from purchasing insurance from a company in Utah. This practice reduces competition and allows insurance companies to keep their premiums artificially high. Allowing individuals to purchase the insurance plan of their choice would immediately bring costs down.

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

Answer from Edward M. Gonzalez:

San Jose -- June 28, 2010 -- Congressional Candidate Edward Gonzalez Condemns DISCLOSE Act

"I condemn the passage of HR 5175, the DISCLOSE Act as an unconstitutional attack on our 1st Amendment right to free speech," says Edward Gonzalez, candidate for Congress in the 16th Congressional District.

Proponents of the bill say it adds transparency to political funding.

But according to Edward, the reporting requirements are essentially redundant and only make it much harder for smaller, newer organizations to comply.

For this reason the bill is tilted heavily in favor of long established labor unions and organizations.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 219 to 206 vote.

Answer from Daniel Sahagun:

The source of all donations should be competely transparent.

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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