2022 Voter Guide: Eric Loeb, candidate for U.S. Congress District 4

U.S. Congress
District 4

Eric Loeb



Cheverly, Prince George's County

Data Scientist

Math BS Adaptive Signal Processing MS Cognitive Neuroscience PhD

Built '92 Clinton/Gore email campaign Built 1992 Clinton/Gore email campaign Built 1st Congressional website (Sen. Kennedy) Internet Consultant Kerry for Senate 1996 Chief Software Engineer Gore/Lieberman 2000 Internet Architect & Analytics lead Democratic National Committee 2001 — 2003 Founder and Executive Director, GoodWorks-PAC 2004-2006 Targeting and Modeling lead Obama 2008 Political Appointee, Department of Defense 2010 - 2014

Why are you running for office?

I am running because our political system is broken. There's no room for thoughtful discourse, and we've been reduced to low-information brawls for party control. In contrast, Americans of all stripes can discuss issues and find solutions when we are brought together as individuals. Our Representative's office necessarily has limited ability to step away from partisanship enough to bring us together in thoughtful, non-partisan discussion. I am running to propose an alternative structure for our Representative's office that will expand our capacity for constructive citizen engagement. I propose that our district needs a second institution that will curate our legislative agenda and help us achieve our ends. The second institution will work closely with the Representative's office, but will not be controlled by it, nor disappear in the event we elect somebody new.

What is the most pressing issue in your state or district?

The most pressing issue is the degraded state of our national dialogue. I could be persuaded that climate change is the most important issue, but we've been mostly paralyzed on this issue for two decades. Our country's slide into authoritarianism could be the most important issue, but what are we pointing to as the alternative? We must show the world that democracy can work. Congress is trapped in a dysfunctional state, so we have to make democracy succeed locally. We can't afford to wait for Congress to fix itself. That is why I am running to expand the MD04 district's capacity for constructive citizen engagement.

What does the U.S. need to do to combat climate change?

1. Maryland District 04 will hold at least one multi/non-partisan deliberative poll on environmental and energy policy issues. The result will be a set of policy recommendations that achieves consensus across party lines. 2. MD04 will fight for its consensus policies in Congress and in the public square. My goal is to use proven methods to find consensus locally within MD04, but I also want our recommendations to gain traction nationally. This is why I am seeking the Republican nomination. MD04 has an 80/20 split for the Democrats. For us to bring thoughtful, consensus policies to the national debate, and help lead our country out of the morass that it's in, our district must make space to listen to its absurdly outnumbered Republicans.

How do you assess the United States' response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

It will be my preference to consult the district on important votes. A few evenings of balanced discussion among interested citizens in MD04 will be more edifying than any recent Congressional debate I know of. Citizens can listen and change their minds; they are not constrained to support their party line; and they often have relevant expertise. MD04 has a particularly high concentration of people who have worked in and around our government. It will be useful for the country to know what the people of MD04 think. What I think: I'm glad we have not yet blundered into WWIII. Another $1.3B in economic and military aid was recently approved for Ukraine. We are doing what we can and should.

What should the U.S. do regarding the legal status and prospective citizenship for undocumented immigrants living here?

The US should enable a calm discussion of this issue. I've slowly become aware that some people feel strongly about immigration status. As a Democrat, it was easy to dismiss these concerns as ignorance. By picking up the Republican banner, I have felt what it is like to be on the receiving end of that rude and anti-democratic line of thought. Attention goes to those who make a spectacle. A majority of the 12M illegal immigrants are from Mexico. Any discussion of legal status for existing immigrants will necessarily entail policy statements with impact distributions disparate from the underlying distribution of race in the population of US citizens. Any discussion of legal status is vulnerable to cries of "Racism!", which attract eyeballs and profits and donations. We are paralyzed on immigration and many other issues. We must escape this trap. MD04 can lead the way.

How would you describe what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6?

On Jan 6 a capitol that had been steadily delegitimized over decades was stormed by a mob that had been stoked to anger by a demagogue. The parties are organized around winning, not public service. It is easy to be suspicious of narrow victories. President Trump was sure there was vote theft by the Democrats prior to the 2016 election and refused to commit to conceding if defeated. In 2020, President Trump refused to concede. He called on his supporters to come to DC to take back the country on the day of elector certification. His Jan 6 gathering was intentionally prepared to be violent in the event Pence did his job (and his patriotic duty) and certified the electors. God bless Mike Pence! I believe Trump knew about and aided the violence, but I doubt that will be proven.

What should the U.S. do now to prepare for the next pandemic?

The US should stimulate commercial investment in accessible, visual forecast maps for health and the economy. Weather maps are part of our common experience. Our access to weather maps and our weather literacy gives us strength and responsiveness we would not otherwise have. The National Weather Service began providing rough forecasts about 100 years ago. Forecast technology has improved since then, and there is now a growing $2B commercial market for weather forecasting systems. During this pandemic, state and local governments have had to make tradeoffs between health risks and economic risks. We the people responded with the kind of confusion we might have exhibited a century ago if asked to prepare for a storm we could not see any sign of. Government officials must make decisions from incomplete information no matter what. Still, they should have access to good forecasts. So should we all.

What's the right balance for U.S. transportation spending between roads and transit?

I don't know. Federal highway and public transit spending is $70.5B and $20.5B, respectively. This is a 4% shift toward public transit since 2010. It makes sense to me that we are moving toward more public transit in the future, and it is good to move slowly. Big swings would be harmful. More and steadier funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMETA) is clearly in the interests of the MD04 district. I would also like to give WMATA and federal agencies direction in applying artificial intelligence to reduce their operating costs. For example, by forecasting ridership WMATA could slightly speed and slow the "headway" (time between trains) adaptively instead of having fixed rush-hour and non-rush-hour periods. An average change of just 20 seconds more between trains would save 4M miles ($53M) per year.

What would you have the nation do to better address income inequality?

My office will support deliberative polls on important questions. A deliberative poll includes balanced information on an issue and breakout discussions among participants. Breakout sessions are interspersed with expert panels to help all participants understand the full range of opinions on the question at hand. Several key sub-issues will be interesting, such as raising the minimum wage nationally to $15/hour. I believe the wage increase is the right thing to do, and I expect that is also true of my 80/20 Democratic district. The outcomes of our calm discussions with our Republican neighbors will shed light on the national debate no matter what. Important sub-issues also include funding for adult education, childcare, and other services that help raise the bottom of the income distribution. These discussions will help our district to maintain a considered list of priorities for Congressional earmarks.

Describe your position on the Electoral Count Act, which would put “guardrails” around the certification of presidential elections?

The Electoral Count Act was written in the 1800s. It is also quite difficult to read. The process could perhaps be improved with a technical refresh (does Congress really need to be in session?), and the law could certainly be clearer. As always, it will be my preference to consult the district on important issues. I would trust a process designed during a few evenings of balanced discussion among interested citizens in MD04 far more than I would trust a process designed in a Congressional Committee. The former is an inexpensive, repeatable experiment. The latter would probably contain tricky loopholes. I would love to bring a bill to the floor that contained a reform to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 after the bill is developed by citizens of MD04 participating in zoom-based deliberative polls. That would represent a technical refresh at many levels.

Who's your top choice for president in 2024 and why?

If President Biden runs again and wins the nomination, I will support him over nearly any opponent, with the possible exception of Mitt Romney. However, I prefer Kamala Harris for President in 2024. Biden's age is a concern. I understand that Harris has been working diligently on the many parts of her large portfolio, which is admirable, and she has not been grabbing as much of the spotlight as she might for her achievements. I believe she is ready to step into the Presidency and I think she should.