Food & Water Action Congressional Candidate Questionnaire
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1) Factory Farming: Independent family farms are being replaced by large-scale industrial livestock operations, known as factory farms. Factory farms harm rural communities, put small family farms out of business, create more waste than the surrounding environment can adequately absorb and drive the public health threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that can make all of us sick. Concentrating animals into one factory farm, and certain types of factory farms into one part of the country, concentrates the effects of their waste on the environment. Would you support a ban on factory farms? *
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2) Food Safety Inspection: Most meat and poultry (as well as catfish and egg products) produced in the U.S. comes from plants where USDA employees perform inspections. This system of government inspection is a unique consumer protection established by laws that have served consumers well for many decades. For years, the meat industry has pursued privatized company self-inspection and faster line speeds that make inspection less effective. Do you commit to protecting the mandate that government employees perform inspections in meat and poultry plants, at line speeds that allow effective inspection, and to providing the resources necessary for the inspection program to be properly staffed and fully effective? *
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3) Federal Water Infrastructure: Since peaking in 1977, federal funding for water infrastructure has been cut by 74% in real dollars. As a result of these cuts, localities have faced growing costs of funding capital investments in our water systems. As a result, many have raised rates or turned to private companies. Congressman John Conyers has introduced the WATER Act in multiple Congresses to address this situation. The legislation would close a tax loophole that allows U.S. based multinational corporations to defer paying domestic taxes on their overseas income. The bill earmarks $35 billion annually from this new revenue stream to fund the State Revolving Funds which sends money to the states to loan at low interest to localities for the needed repairs and upgrades to our water systems. The bill also restricts these funds to publicly owned, operated, and managed water utilities. If elected, would you support the WATER Act? *
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4) Water Privatization: Research has shown that after privatization water utilities often see rate increases, work force reductions, and a backlog of maintenance issues. In addition, under some privatization contracts, upfront monies paid to the municipality are paid back to the water company through ratepayer bills. Given these concerns, do you oppose privatization of water and wastewater utilities, including through private-public partnerships? If not, can you explain what benefits you believe privatization has for ratepayers? *
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5) Climate Change: In 2015, the nations of the world met in Paris at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and agreed that preventing the planet from warming 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels “would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.” This will require aggressive action to reverse our dependence on fossil fuels and achieve 100% clean energy. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has introduced the Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act, HR 3671) which would require the United States to transition to 100% renewable energy in electricity generation, motor vehicles and train systems in the United States by 2035. If elected, will you co-sponsor the OFF Act? If not, can you explain what policies you do support to combat climate change? *
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6) Carbon Taxes: There is increasing discussion in the United States of addressing climate change through pricing schemes such as carbon taxes. However, pricing has not been shown to be an effective climate tool and in places where taxes have been implemented, like British Columbia, greenhouse gas emissions have not gone down, but have actually risen. Would you oppose efforts to enact a carbon tax in the United States and, if so, why? *
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7) NAFTA: Do you support or oppose replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a new agreement that ends the corporate trade “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” lawsuits, restores county of origin meat labels, removes the ban on Buy American/Buy Local procurement, requires food imports to meet U.S. safety rules and only permits commercial benefits to go into effect if countries enact and enforce strong labor, wage and environmental standards first? *
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8) Fast Track: Would you support or oppose strengthening Congress’ role in trade policy by replacing Fast Track with a new trade authority that determines appropriate negotiating partners, provides Congressional and public transparency, establishes binding obligations that cover the content of future trade pacts and requires Congress to vote on agreements before they are signed? *
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9) Citizens United: 2018 will mark the 8th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case. The case made it nearly impossible to keep corporate money out of politics. As a result, nearly unrestrained money has flooded into our elections. Do you support a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United? What other measures would you propose for drastically reducing the role of money in our electoral system? *
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10) Voting Rights: In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, ushering in a new era of legislation restricting the right to vote. From Texas to Wisconsin and Alabama to Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) state legislatures have moved to restrict the right to vote. The Voting Rights Advancement Act, introduced by Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Terri Sewell, would reinstate the central provisions of the VRA struck down by the Court and would also review state laws that require photo IDs to vote and that reduce multilingual voting materials. Would you support the Voting Rights Advancement Act? What other policies do you support for increasing participation in our elections? *
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11) Financial Transaction Tax: After the 2008 financial crisis grew out of rampant, unchecked Wall Street speculation, a campaign to institute a financial transaction tax was launched in the United States. The Inclusive Prosperity Act, introduced by Congressman Keith Ellison in the House and Senator Bernie Sanders in the Senate, would tax the sale of stocks, bonds and derivatives. The tax imposed will be 0.5 percent on stocks, 0.1 percent on bonds, and 0.005 percent on derivatives or other investments. The tax would raise an estimated $300 billion a year in new revenue. Do you support the institution of a financial transaction tax? *
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12) Taxing Overseas Corporate Income: Multinational corporations based in the United States are allowed to defer payment of their taxes on their overseas income as long as they do not “repatriate” the funds. As a result, these corporations have hoarded trillions of dollars overseas to avoid paying United States’ taxes. A simple fix to the problem of incentivizing this overseas hoarding of dollars is to eliminate the deferral. Do you support legislation that would eliminate the deferral of payment of taxes on multinational corporations’ overseas income? If not, how do you propose addressing the issue of U.S. based corporations hoarding trillions of dollars overseas? *
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I understand that these answers represent my beliefs, are part of the public record, and may be used by Food & Water Action to inform the public about these issues. *
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