Dallas Morning News Questionnaire (Jan-2020)
1. Why are you running for this office?
The simple answer is "because I'm tired of it". Like so many of the people that I have talked to, I am tired of -- year after year, cycle after political cycle -- trying to get excited over the lesser of 'who cares?', especially in Congress. I'm tired of trying to find a congressional candidate who can speak intelligently on the issues in complete sentences rather than using poll-tested and cliched sound bites. And I'm tired of congressional office-holders who are more interested in striking poses and playing 'gotcha' than in serving the interests of the voters who elected them into their office. Is that naïve? Perhaps, but then I've never been accused of being worldly. I've been called a lot of things -- most of which are not printable -- but "worldly" is not among them.
I chose to run for Congress instead of a local office because most of my political ideas require Congress to take an action, which it hasn’t done nor does it seem to want to do. Also, the incumbent is retiring which opens the office to anyone with the courage to take it on. If, like me, you have long experienced the “battle fatigue” of the two political groups whose only apparent goal is to “beat the other guy by any means necessary”, then perhaps it’s time to look in a different place.
2. Why should voters choose you over your opponent?
In a word: compromise.
Libertarians refer to the Democratic and Republican parties as the "Old Parties". They are sedimentary behemoths who do not believe in compromise despite all their rhetoric to the contrary. That's an advantage that I bring to District 24; compromise.
Compromise allows us (you and I) to work together on our crumbling infrastructure to build and repair bridges, roads, and even schools; to have both tough border security AND a hard-working immigrant/citizen population; to lead the world in clean energy production AND protect our environment for future generations; to drive down healthcare costs, keep private insurance AND ensure that no one (regardless of citizenship status) goes without adequate healthcare; to protect our rights under the Second Amendment AND ensure that dangerous weapons are withheld from those who should not have them.
Also, of my opponents, I am the only one who has previously (and repeatedly) taken the oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. I am the only one of the four who has lived the oath under fire, and the only one who understands that the oath has no expiration date. The voters should choose me because I am not beholden to the limited loyalties of the Old Parties, but can take the best ideas from each and adapt them into something that works for everyone, not just special interests.
3. What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?
The company I work for associates with several large entities who have a great deal of influence. When I first started at this company, a project for one of these influential entities had already been approved and was being overseen by my immediate supervisor. I was not assigned to that project, but did help from time to time. Unfortunately, the project fell behind when the senior developer left for a better position at another company. My manager hired two others to continue the project (I was still not assigned to the project), and the project fell even farther behind after an important deadline was negotiated for a six-month delay. After the frustration of over 18 months on the project with no visible success, the company dismissed my manager and directed me to finish the project with a tight 8-week deadline. I took the team back to the original request, dropped much of the work that had been done that fell outside of the scope of the project, and successfully delivered a working product within 6 weeks. I was then promoted to manager of that group.
4. What political leader do you admire most?
My first choice is President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. Roosevelt was tough, disciplined, intelligent, and capable. Throughout his pre-political career, Roosevelt frequently achieved successful solutions by finding unseen avenues around problems, and he did the same when he became President. After leaving office, he realized that his replacement was fumbling as president and decided to run against him. During this campaign, Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt and immediately went on to give a 90-minute speech before being escorted to a hospital. He exemplified all the character traits that seem to be missing in America’s current political environment.
5. The U.S. appeals court ruled that the “individual mandate” of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, but said other aspects of the law require further review. What changes, if any, would you make to this law?
The Affordable Care Act was an ambitious project, but it’s execution fell far short of its proposal. There are several aspects of healthcare in general that should be addressed, but specific to this law should be the expansion of health savings accounts (HSAs) and plan portability. If an individual has their own healthcare plan, they should be able to carry it to and from any location, even across state jurisdictions. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for anything, but especially not for health insurance, and the people should have as many choices as a free market can bear.
6. What specific criminal justice reforms would you champion?
One of the reforms that I already champion is the repeal of qualified immunity. I personally believe that the policy enables an environment where those who are tasked with upholding the law are no longer subject to the law. I would also address topics such as civil asset forfeiture, no-knock warrants, and the de-militarization of the police. But along with repealing qualified immunity is ending the war on drugs. This policy has been a colossal failure for decades, and the government has only thrown more money at it attempting to make it successful. Instead, decriminalize drugs like cannabis making them subject to federal quality regulations.
7. Do you support President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on consumer goods American companies buy from China? If you disagree with these or other tariffs, what will you do if elected to address it?
This is a difficult question to answer, but I oppose the use of tariffs on imported products. In one respect, the use of tariffs on imported goods suggests a form of ‘protectionism’ where domestically produced goods are protected from possibly lower-quality foreign goods. This leads to the theory that consumers will more likely purchase lower-priced products that are locally made instead of foreign made which, in turn, boosts the general domestic economy. Alternatively, the use of tariffs on imported goods represents a form of governmental control over the free market (of which I am an advocate) and makes what might be a better-quality product more expensive and less available.
The problem with these ideas is that they are only theories and have no concrete validity in practice. If I were elected to Congress, I would work to repeal tariffs because I am not willing to instantiate any untried and unproven policy that could do further harm to both the consumer and the domestic economy.
8. What measures, if any, should Congress take to fix asylum laws?
Since 2016, domestic policy in general has presented a far more hostile and negative view of refugee and asylum actions than the nation has seen in recent history. In ways not witnessed by recent generations of Americans, the Trump administration has challenged both the U.S. tradition as a haven for immigrants and its traditional role in the international community as a beacon of freedom, liberty, and justice.
But to address the question, as a member of Congress, I would enable a wide-spread use of the temporary protected status (TPS) which has been proven to be a practical, low-budget way of handling large numbers of humanitarian cases that might otherwise clog our asylum and court systems. The vast majority of those granted TPS make positive contributions to our society, and many have U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) (or “green card”) family members. The relatively few TPS recipients who misbehave are arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), placed in detention, and usually promptly removed. Far from an evasion of law, TPS has proven to be one of the most successful, practical, and efficient U.S. immigration programs. It fills gaps in our legal immigration and asylum systems that otherwise would be problematic.
9. How should Congress address illegal immigration? Please be specific about the millions of people in this country illegally.
Libertarians like me believe that most American families came to the United States from somewhere else, whether long ago or relatively recently, and if they have no credible plan for, a history of, or perform acts of violence within our country, they should be welcome to immigrate to the United States. If Americans want immigrants to enter the United States through legal channels then the immigration laws and their reforms should address making those legal channels fair, reasonable, and more accessible to potential immigrants. One idea to accomplish this would be to split the current Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into two separate agencies; one to focus on service, and the other to focus on enforcement. It is thought that by doing this simple split, both processes would flow more smoothly, and get more of the attention that they need as national issues.
Regarding those already residing in the country, and as I addressed previously in the ‘asylum’ question, Congress should authorize the use of temporary protected status to these residents until their legalities can be worked through the immigration system. Additionally, anyone granted this status who has already resided in the country for a set period of time, perhaps ten years, and successfully completes a comprehensive screening process, or completes an enlistment of at least four years in the military of the United States, should be allowed to attain citizenship through an expedited process. This would especially apply to those brought to this country as children and who have grown up as Americans, commonly called “Dreamers”.
10. Congress writes the budget for the United States. What is one area the Congress should invest much more heavily in, and why? What should we spend much less on?
The first item for Congress to consider is balancing the federal budget. Over 70% of Americans believe that this is (or should be) a priority for Congress, so much so that a Constitutional amendment for it has repeatedly been proposed, and because it simply makes sense. On a federal level, Congress should invest more in domestic infrastructure (including cyber-security and cyber-crime prevention) and in domestic military defense, and much less on the military defense within foreign states. America should not be in the position of telling other sovereign nations how to run their countries, nor maintaining a military presence in their country without their consent. Bringing American troops home would reduce a large portion of the military budget, some of which could be used to bolster some of these more domestic projects.
11. What action, if any, should Congress take in response to mass killings involving firearms?
In my opinion, Congress (as a body) should do nothing about mass killings involving firearms. While we condemn these acts, and grieve for the losses, there are sufficient existing laws within the states and municipalities that address issues. Adding any Congressional action into the mix will only create a larger bureaucracy through which victims and their families must wade to achieve any sense of justice and personal closure.
12. What is the greatest threat to American security, and how should America respond? What, specifically, should Congress do to help?
As a statistician and analyst, I work with computer systems and computer security on a regular basis and, without any reservation, the most pernicious threat to American interests is cyber-warfare. The sheer volume of information available for anyone (especially foreign agents) with the skills to get to it makes this a paramount domestic policy issue. Congress should ensure that funds for cyber-security projects are not starved, and should encourage the expansion of more advanced cyber-security systems, including research into and development of quantum computing, and of artificial intelligence. The advancement of these projects will do more to address additional domestic threats, such as human slavery and sex trafficking, than any increase in enforcement could hope to accomplish.
13. The House has passed legislation to restore protections of the Voting Rights Act that were undone when the Supreme Court struck down federal oversight of election in states with a history of discrimination against minority communities. Do you support this measure? Why or why not?
Discrimination in any form is an anathema to the principles of liberty upon which this country was founded. I support such a measure, if only to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote has the ability to do so, without fear of discrimination.
14. What is your view on the science of man-made climate change? What solutions, if any, do you support to address climate change?
The fact that our global climate has been changing has become an undeniable fact. Nay-sayers who claim that the planet has continually warmed since the end of the last ice age (or even the “Little Ice Age” of the 14th to 19th centuries) seem to overlook the sharp increase in global temperatures that have occurred since the beginning of the industrial age.
Energy independence is certainly a worthy American goal, and the advancements in technology over the past 150 years have been nothing short of remarkable. My recommendation, should I be elected to Congress, would be to expand further development of smaller, safer nuclear reactors. Nuclear power has been repeatedly demonstrated to be clean, emission-free, and capable of generating more power than wind, solar, and geothermal power combined. I am particularly interested in the development of nuclear fusion technologies.
15. What should be done to address the hundreds of thousands of students in deep student loan debt? Should the responsibility of offering federal student loans be removed from the U.S. Department of Education?
Part of this issue is the continuing myth that someone needs to have a college education to be successful. There are too many people out there (myself included) who have become successful without having gone to college, as well as many others who have advanced degrees but are sorrowfully unsuccessful. Setting that concept aside, however, I would agree that someone who chooses to go to college should not be left with what has become commonly ascribed as "crippling debt".
I have two thoughts on how to address this issue. First, the simplest and most cost-effective tactic to address massive student loan debt is to reduce the interest rate for student loans to zero. This would have two effects: (1) those who currently have student loans would be able to repay them more quickly (thus maintaining personal responsibility for their actions), and (2) doing this would dis-incentivize government-associated institutions to underwrite student loans.
My second thought is a solution called an "income share agreement" or ISA. Under this program, the school underwrites the student's loan and, once the student secures post-education employment, they agree to repay a percentage of their salary to the school for a set period. For instance, if the student graduates with a law degree and secures a job as a lawyer, they will pay back 10% of their salary for 36 months. The terms of the agreement would vary in percentage and number of payments depending on the degree, but the school's finance department would make those variables to the terms of the agreement known to the student in advance of the student signing the agreement. Based on my understanding, this program (where it has been implemented) has been quite successful. It's just not well known.
To answer the second question, federal student loans should not be underwritten or guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education. This simple act is a necessary first step to reducing the cost of a college education for those that choose to seek one.