Candidate Q&A - U.S. Senate

Sunday, November 3, 2002

Jim Talent1. What steps do you propose to spur the national economy and create jobs in Missouri?

Missouri lost 55,000 jobs last year -- the most in the country. I've traveled to Missouri's 114 counties and everywhere I go plants are closing and people are laid off or they're afraid of losing work. In Mexico, 80 people lost their jobs at the A.P. Green plant -- a plant that produces fire bricks for the steel industry. In the St. Louis-area a major auto assembly plant will be shut down costing 3,000 jobs. And this week it was announced that 150 people will be laid off at the Rawlings plant in Licking and that 750 employees of VF Jeanswear in Lebanon will lose their jobs.

We need jobs in Missouri and we need a Senate that understands how to help get people back to work.

As chairman of the Small Business Committee in the House I worked with both Republicans and Democrats to create jobs and provide tax relief for America's small business. Tax relief is a time-honored way of stimulating the economy and creating jobs. My opponent is against making the Bush tax cuts permanent including the death tax and the marriage penalty.

We can also create jobs and security for our families by exploring for oil in the Arctic. Why should we send $4 billion dollars a year to Saddam Hussein when we can explore for oil in an environmentally-sensitive way in Alaska. That would create more than 14,000 jobs in Missouri according to the labor unions. Mrs. Carnahan voted against exploring for oil in Alaska.

Missouri is a heavy defense state and I've said defense spending means security for our families and jobs for our workers. The president's defense increases alone could create and sustain about 150,000 jobs in Missouri over the next five years and I strongly support his proposals.

The current Senate should act immediately and pass the president's plan to create jobs and economic prosperity in Missouri and around the country.2. What measures would you endorse to avoid future corporate scandals?

Anyone who defrauds workers, investors or shareholders should go to jail. I supported the corporate responsibility legislation passed by Congress, but I believe the bill didn't go far enough.

We should treat corporate executives who commit fraud as we do drug dealers. When a drug dealer gets caught dealing drugs we seize the ill-gotten gains they accumulated with the drug money. For example, if a drug dealer buys a boat with drug dollars, we seize the boat. The same should be true if corporate executives are found guilty of defrauding people. That means if a corporate executive buys a house in Boca Raton with the money stolen from an employee pension fund, we seize the house in Boca Raton.

In addition, there should be mandatory minimum prison sentences for those guilty of committing corporate crimes. Currently, there's no real assurance that if corporate executives are found guilty that they'll actually serve hard time.3. What is your position on possible war with Iraq?

The removal of Saddam Hussein should be a priority of American foreign policy. I strongly support the president and believe he's shown tremendous leadership in the war on terror. Saddam Hussein is a tyrant who has invaded his neighbors, gassed his own people, sponsored worldwide terrorism and for years he's been trying to get a nuclear weapon of his own.

I served eight years on the Armed Services Committee and my record shows I've been willing to stand up for military readiness and increased defense funding even when it wasn't politically popular.

My opponent twice voted against missile defense and she recently voted to kill the president's homeland security plan. I would look forward to the opportunity to work with the president, not against him, if elected to the Senate.4. Describe your preferred plan for providing a prescription drug benefit to the elderly under Medicare?

Prescription drug coverage should be a basic part of Medicare and I want to go to the U.S. Senate and get this done for seniors once and for all.

I've proposed a compromise Medicare prescription drug plan I'm calling the Prescription Medicine NOW Plan that incorporates the best provisions from the Republican, Democrat and "tripartisan" prescription drug plans in the Congress. My plan includes immediate and permanent Medicare prescription drug coverage, a reasonable deductible, low monthly premiums, strong catastrophic coverage, provisions for low income seniors, protections for rural areas and family pharmacies and choice and access for seniors.

The Senate has failed to pass a prescription drug plan. My opponent supports Ted Kennedy's plan, which is neither immediate or permanent. The Kennedy-Carnahan plan rations brand-name drugs and would cost nearly $1 trillion, which would jeopardize Medicare and put at risk essential services for seniors.

I'll help get a Medicare prescription drug benefit passed for seniors if the people send me to the Senate.5. Do you favor allowing American workers to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding in private investment accounts?

I don't support privatizing Social Security and I will not support replacing part of Social Security with individual accounts or anything else. Retirement security depends upon keeping the commitments of Social Security. This was a commitment that the government made to seniors who kept their promises to us and the government has to keep this promise to seniors. We must protect the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees. The first step in keeping this commitment is to make certain that all the money paid into Social Security is paid to current retirees or saved for future retirees, not spent on other programs.6. What is your position on farm subsidies?

First, we should recognize the incalculable value of family farms in America. Our farmers produce the safest, highest-quality and lowest-cost food supply in the world. In addition, the family farmers reflect the values of our nation, including respecting private property, holding confidence in the future and hard work. We must make the preservation and prosperity of family farms our top priority.

I am a strong supporter of increasing value-added opportunities for agricultural producers. The federal government must further the development of marketing cooperatives and the creation of networking opportunities for smaller producers, and invest in the new generation of cooperatives including plant construction and processing equipment costs. In addition, we must expand the tax incentives available to producers to invest in value-added enterprises.

I believe our farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of the land and I'm proud the Missouri Farm Bureau endorsed me. That's a big difference between me and Mrs. Carnahan, who has been endorsed by the Sierra Club.7. In one paragraph, why should someone vote for you rather than your opponents?

I've served 16 years in public life and I'm asking voters to compare my record with Mrs. Carnahan's, and I believe they will conclude that I'm the only one in the race with the experience to fight effectively on behalf of Missouri's jobs, health care, schools and national defense.

I'd appreciate the opportunity to continue working on these issues in the U.S. Senate if the voters send me there.

Jean Carnahan1. What steps do you propose to spur the national economy and create jobs in Missouri?

As a member of the Senate Small Business Committee, I will continue to work to create a positive environment for business and job growth. We must ensure that our citizens obtain the education and job training necessary to compete in the global economy and find high-paying jobs.

I support tax cuts for small businesses to help create new jobs. I voted for the $1.35 trillion tax cut for working families and small businesses. I also supported a stimulus package designed to get our economy moving again. I support immediate, permanent repeal of the estate tax for family farms and small businesses and permanent exemption of all other estates worth up to $4 million for individuals and up to $8 million for couples. I also support permanent elimination of the marriage penalty.

I am also fighting to reverse proposed job-training cuts of $686 million. These programs especially help workers that have been laid off to obtain the skills that they need to find new skilled employment.2. What measures would you endorse to avoid future corporate scandals?

We must restore investor confidence by improving corporate accountability. In the Senate, I voted for tough new measures to punish corporate crooks. I also sponsored and helped pass into law a provision that requires electronic disclosure of insider stock sales within two days. This new law will help prevent another Enron-type sell-off where the executives unloaded their company stock while they told their employees to keep buying.3. What is your position on possible war with Iraq?

I believe Saddam Hussein's refusal to give up his weapons of mass destruction presents a threat to the security of the United States and the world.

I commend the president for advocating the case against Iraq to our allies at the United Nations last month, and to the American people. I support the president's effort to work through the United Nations to insist that Iraq comply with its obligations to disclose and destroy all weapons of mass destruction and prohibited ballistic missile programs. I am hopeful that he will succeed in building a consensus for a firm policy that will force Saddam, either diplomatically or, if necessary, by force, to relinquish his weapons of mass destruction.4. Describe your preferred plan for providing a prescription drug benefit to the elderly under Medicare?

I support a comprehensive, affordable prescription drug benefit. My plan would provide a guaranteed benefit under Medicare, a program that works and that seniors can count on.

Under current projections, and including money set aside in last year's budget resolution, we can afford a significant Medicare prescription drug benefit. In fact, the preventative medical care provided by a prescription drug benefit will likely save money in the long run by cutting Medicare treatment costs. The cost of doing nothing is far higher than the cost of providing a meaningful prescription drug benefit under Medicare for all seniors.

This is another area where there is a significant difference between my opponent and myself. My opponent supports a program that gives large public subsidies to insurance companies and lets them decide who will be eligible for insurance, how much coverage they will get, and how much it will cost.

I don't think we should leave our seniors at the mercy of the insurance companies, which are more interested in making profits than in providing adequate drug coverage to seniors.

My opponent says that Medicare should only step in to provide coverage in a region if absolutely no insurance companies offer any coverage in that region. But that approach leaves seniors vulnerable to price gouging and other unscrupulous practices by insurers who are the sole provider of coverage in a region.5. Do you favor allowing American workers to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding in private investment accounts?

I oppose privatizing Social Security. I believe Social Security should be a guarantee, not a gamble. We should work together in a bipartisan manner to find ways to strengthen Social Security, not put it at risk by cutting the guaranteed benefit and putting retirement funds in the stock market or other private investments.

This is a significant area of difference between me and my opponent. Although he now says he would oppose privatization, he co-sponsored a bill while in Congress that diverted $3 trillion from the Social Security trust fund, cut the guaranteed benefit, and put those funds into private investments like the stock market. His bill was a good deal for the stock brokers and fund managers that would make commissions and fees off the investments, but it was a bad deal for the rest of us. Not surprisingly, the AARP and other watchdog groups opposed his bill.6. What is your position on farm subsidies?

I believe that we need to provide our farmers with a solid safety net to help them through tough times.

I voted for the new Farm Bill, signed into law by President Bush, which provides a strong counter-cyclical safety net for farmers while allowing farmers to make their own decisions about what and where to plant. The farm bill also makes new investments in conservation, and provides help for rural development.

During the Farm Bill debate, I lobbied the Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to ensure that unfair payment limitations that would devastate Missouri's cotton and rice farmers were not imposed. I recently wrote to the Senate leaders to urge them to discourage efforts to revisit the payment limits issue during this year's appropriations process.7. In one paragraph, why should someone vote for you rather than your opponents?

During my two years in the Senate, I have repeatedly demonstrated my commitment and ability to reach across party lines to do what is right for Missouri. As a member of the Senate's Centrist Coalition, I have worked to bring people together to find commonsense solutions to the challenges confronting us. I'm proud of the work I've done in the Senate, particularly in helping to pass legislation to improve our schools, improve corporate accountability, cut taxes for working families, reduce prescription drug prices, and strengthen our national defense. I will continue to be a voice and vote for the working families of Missouri.

Tamara Millay1. What steps do you propose to spur the national economy and create jobs in Missouri?

I propose immediate, deep cuts in taxes and spending, beginning with the repeal of the federal income tax and an end to all federal spending that cannot be justified under the powers delegated to the federal government in the Constitution.2. What measures would you endorse to avoid future corporate scandals?

I favor imposing the same penalties on white-collar theft, fraud and other crimes as on their blue-collar equivalents. A corporate CEO who defrauds or steals from his stockholders is not morally superior to the "Joe Sixpack" who goes on a multi-state robbery spree, yet the former goes to a relatively comfortable minimum security prison -- if he goes to prison at all -- while the latter does hard time. When corporate America starts facing the same penalties for crimes as ordinary Americans, corporate America will clean up its act.3. What is your position on possible war with Iraq?

I am inalterably opposed to an attack on Iraq by the United States. Iraq has not attacked the United States, nor has it ever done so, nor does it seem likely to ever do so. War is the last option, to be undertaken only in defense of the United States, not for the purpose of propping up a failed president's popularity or rewarding defense contractors with taxpayer money for their campaign contributions.4. Describe your preferred plan for providing a prescription drug benefit to the elderly under Medicare?

My health-care plan is very simple: Get the government out of it. Medicare and Medicaid, along with other government interventions in health care, have invariably caused prices to skyrocket and the quality and availability of care to plummet. The same will be true of any proposal to extend these interventions to the prescription drug market. If politicians really want to help the elderly -- and all Americans -- with health care, the proper solution is for them to get their hands off of it.5. Do you favor allowing American workers to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding in private investment accounts?

As an interim measure, yes, but only as an interim measure. Social Security is a typical fraud -- a "Ponzi" scheme, with payments predicated on the contributions of new investors -- that would have landed any private business offering it in jail.

Ultimately, Social Security has to go. And it will go -- the only question is whether it will be phased out with minimal harm to those it has victimized for nearly seven decades, or whether Congress will allow it to collapse of its own accord in the face of its trillions of dollars in unfunded liability, leaving those victims broke and without recourse.6. What is your position on farm subsidies?

Farm subsidies are a particularly pernicious form of market manipulation that harm both the consumer and honest, hard-working farmers. The majority of agriculture subsidies go to large corporate farms, not to family farms. They raise the price of food beyond market levels while not accomplishing their purported purposes. It's time for the federal government to get out of the business of farm subsidies.7. In one paragraph, why should someone vote for you rather than your opponents?

I'm the only candidate who stands up for the rights of Missourians. In a race where both "major party" candidates agree on all substantive issues, I am the only candidate offering a better way for the future.

Daniel Romano

1. What steps do you propose to spur the national economy and create jobs in Missouri?

Federal money should be shifted from the military economy, which has only a short-term reach, to community-based public works and public service jobs programs. We could expand Missouri's agricultural economy: Worldwide demand for organic foods is increasing exponentially while worldwide demand for genetically modified foods is shrinking. Instead of using federal funds to support the "dead end" (literally) biotech industry, we should support organic growers and family farms.2. What measures would you endorse to avoid future corporate scandals?

The root of the problem is the investor owned economy. We need economies of smaller scale, switching from an investor-owned economy to a stakeholder-owned economy: worker and community ownership and control.3. What is your position on possible war with Iraq?

The W. Bush administration is considering a plan that would kill thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians in the interest of raising dividends and stock prices for Boeing and Exxon-Mobil? This is wrong. Iraq poses less of a threat than it did 11 years ago. W is using this war to divert attention away from his own corporate crimes and his mishandling of the economy as president.

4. Describe your preferred plan for providing a prescription drug benefit to the elderly under Medicare?

A single payer, national health plan is the only way to go. Pharmaceuticals should be provided to all that need them free of charge.5. Do you favor allowing American workers to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding in private investment accounts?

I oppose privatizing Social Security in any way. We should also stop using funds from the system for covering the debt caused by military spending.6. What is your position on farm subsidies?

Large agribusinesses should receive none. Smaller, family-owned farms should get some assistance.7. In one paragraph, why should someone vote for you rather than your opponents?

The Democrats and Republicans are so similar, one can barely tell them apart any more. They are owned and controlled by their corporate sponsors, and so only represent these interests. They no longer represent the working people of this country. People should vote for the true alternative and vote for the Green Party.

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