Voter guide: Maxwell A. Bero, Congress, District 6

Maxwell Bero

Democratic candidate for Congress, D6

Age 30

Residence Clarksburg, Maryland

Occupation Public High School Teacher

Education B.A. from University of Maryland (Government and Politics) B.A. from University of Maryland (Secondary Education) M.S. from McDaniel College (Curriculum and Instruction)

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Previous political experience


Why are you running for office?

I’m frustrated at the lack of action from my representation on issues that I care deeply about. Specifically, addressing climate change, working towards single-payer health care, and ISP regulation. I want to do what I can to fight for solutions to these issues. As a teacher, I also want to bring a voice of experience and ideas for how the federal government can improve education throughout the entire country.

I will fight for the Green New Deal and for Medicare for all, as well as other progressive ideas in education, public transportation, and others. Our country needs representatives who truly understand how technology, computers, and the internet work, and aren't afraid to learn new technology and make it work for all people, not just the elite.


How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.

I have been very displeased and frustrated with the Trump administration so far. His immigration policy (especially the expansion of the family separation policy and his focus on travel bans and the wall) are destructive, regressive, and damaging to people’s rights and our relationships abroad. His attacks on the media are a direct violation of the first amendment, and his willingness to defy Congressional subpoenas is a violation of a core American value, the rule of law. He rhetoric has spawned a rise in hate crimes across the country and allowed white nationalism to maintain a hold over many in this country. It is imperative, for our citizens’ and our country’s safety and security, that we all do whatever we can to elect someone new to the presidency.

One element of his administration that I have been relatively pleased with is the economic expansion that has happened during his time in office. Though many working-class Americans have not seen the benefits of that expansion, many businesses have seen their profits and stocks increase wildly. The next step I would like to see is policy to ensure that Americans across the country can also benefit as well.


What effect do you believe the federal tax cuts of 2017 have had on the economy thus far or will have in the future and why? Do you support the cuts?

I think the tax cuts of 2017 led to a larger divide between class levels in America. The tax cuts benefited wealthy citizens and large corporations greatly, and while many businesses have seen growth, that growth has not been passed down to the working-class. If the tax cuts stay, this wealth gap will only widen, allowing wealthy citizens to become even wealthier.

I do not support the cuts; I would support an increased tax (up to 70%) on extremely wealthy citizens (income levels over $10 million). Government needs to make extremely wealthy citizens pay their fair share to support programs that would provide benefits to all of society, and not allow them to hoard more resources than anyone could ever possibly need.


Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and why or why not? What, if anything, should the federal government do to address it?

Yes, the level of economic inequality is a massive problem in society today. There is a large gap between the wealthiest citizens in our country and the poorest, and tax cuts that benefit the wealthy the most only exacerbate this gap. This is a problem because as businesses grow and the economy grows, benefits should be spread among all Americans, who should see their wages rise.

The federal government should implement both a wealth tax and a capital gains tax, among others, to make sure the wealthiest Americans aren’t hoarding resources that could be used to benefit ALL people. A higher tax bracket for those earning over $10 million a year (up to 70%) could be used to fund social programs that would help everyone.

I also support working to implement single-payer health care (colloquially known as Medicare-for-all). Such a program would provide comprehensive health care to all Americans, keeping all people healthier and separating health benefits from employment. Healthier people can work and earn more, and this would help to close the wealth gap in our country.

I also support programs to provide for our poorest Americans, including a UBI or a federal jobs guarantee. Such programs would allow citizens to have a reliable source of income, even in situations where they lose their primary job, and help to address the wealth gap in our country.


Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?

Gun violence is an epidemic in this country, from our schools to our cities, to our neighborhoods, and the saddest part is just how avoidable it is. An overwhelming majority of Americans favor common-sense reform, such as increased background checks, red flag laws, and closing loopholes in person-to-person sales, yet our leaders in Washington have been content to sit back and do nothing. Special interests like the NRA use their vast money and influence to control congressmen and bend the government to their will. I fully support the 2nd Amendment, but measures need to be taken to keep our citizens safe. I will fight for and support legislation that keeps these dangerous weapons out of the hands of violent criminals, and take measures to ensure that peaceful, law-abiding citizens do not have their rights infringed. I fully support all the measures I mentioned above, as well as increasing buy-back programs, because at the end of the day, protecting human lives is more important than protecting gun rights.


What should Congress do with respect to the Affordable Care Act, how and why? If you believe it should be scrapped, what, if anything, should replace it?

Though the Affordable Care Act was a great first step in providing access to health care for all Americans, I support replacing it with a true single-payer system (otherwise known as Medicare-for-all). I believe that healthcare is a human right, and the richest country in the world should not have citizens who go without and should have the political will to achieve true, universal health care. Creating a public option for health insurance, as the ACA does, is not enough to provide health care for all Americans, and many do not get the care they need. A single-payer system would give all Americans the care they need, when they need it, and all at no additional out-of-pocket cost.

Also, though a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system would progressively increase taxes across the board, it would significantly decrease costs because people would no longer be paying for healthcare plans out of their pocket or paycheck.


What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?

Not a large role. One of the key elements of the US Constitution, as written by the Founding Fathers, was the concept of Federalism, or different layers of Government. Congress addresses national issues, not issues specific to one state or locality. For problems that are specific to one city, the state or local government would have much more power to affect change.


Do you back Elijah Cummings’ bill -- which Republicans say is too expensive -- to provide $100 billion over 10 years to fight the opioid epidemic? Why or why not?

Yes, I would support Rep. Cummings’ bill to provide funds to combat the opioid epidemic in society. Too many Americans suffer, or have people close to them suffer, from the disease that is addiction. Congress needs to act, both to punish the large drug corporations who are responsible for flooding the market with dangerous, addictive substances, and to provide services to people and communities that are suffering.


What changes, if any, should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies? Should the DACA program be preserved? Why or why not?

The first thing that Congress needs to do to address immigration in the US is to simplify and streamline the path to citizenship. As it stands now, citizenship is an extremely complicated process that many natural-born citizens themselves couldn’t pass. Making that process easier will encourage immigrants that intend to stay in the US permanently to become citizens rather than stay here illegally.

I would also support policies that only deport undocumented immgrants when a felony is committed, and expand sanctuary policies nationwide. Petty offenses and single misdemeanors should not be grounds for deportation, rather similar punishment as a US citizen.

I would also support DACA and other policies that allow undocumented immigrants to benefit from some government services as long as they are paying their fair share of taxes.

I would also support disbanding ICE, which only functions as a scare tactic and terrorizes immigrant communities nationwide. As long as immigrants are following the law and paying their fair share of taxes, I see no reason to not allow them to live their lives and benefit from public services, such as public schools.


How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?

Not great. I understand that the president is concerned about the trade deficit between the US and China, but engaging in a trade war with one of the largest economies in the world is never a good idea. Many industries and companies suffered as a result of Trump’s unnecessary trade war with China.

I believe the president’s evaluation of the trade deficit with China is also flawed. Though the US has a trade deficit of imports and exports, we have a trade surplus of services (financial sector, information sector, technology services, etc.). When those services are taken into consideration, the trade deficit is not as problematic as many, including the president, believe. Any diplomatic or economic action taken in regards to China needs to take the balance of services into account, as well as potential effects on American industries.


Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?

Absolutely not. That deal was made to allow Iran to develop economically without having to deal with sanctions due to the nuclear activity, and leaving the deal only harms our relationship with Iran and other countries in the region. It also allowed other powerful countries, such as Russia, to gain a foothold in Iran by developing better relationships with them. The president should make developing positive relationships more of a focus.


How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?

The first action that the US should take is to continue economic and trade sanctions on North Korea. Lessening the sanctions or allowing them some relief while their regime continues to try and develop nuclear weapons is rewarding them for nothing. As long as they continue to develop nuclear weapons or deny UN investigators access to the country, the punishments should continue.

I would also encourage the president to work with other countries to also put pressure on North Korea, especially China. Many global issues, no matter what the US wants or decides to do, will not be completely solved until a majority of the powerful countries in the world come together and work together towards a solution. I would hope that many of the powerful countries of the world, who should also be disturbed and wary of the Kim regime, would pressure North Korea to drop its nuclear aspirations, and China to stop supporting a ruthless dictator.


How should the United States address climate change?

Aggressively. We must work to do whatever we can to stop climate change before the planet suffers irreversible damages.

Specific measures that I would like to see include an increased investment in public transportation. Cars are one of the great contributors to greenhouse gasses, and the more people we can get off the road and into public transportation, the better. However, current public transportation is not where it needs to be in order to be a viable alternative to cars for most people, especially in dense areas such as Montgomery County. All public transportation options need to be on the table and expanded, including busses, lite rail, MARC trains, subway/metro, and more.

I would also like to see all development, both public and private, be done with clean, green technology. Green roofs, geothermal heating, solar panels, wind power, and much more can be installed and used in buildings. The federal government should incentivize construction using these methods, using both tax breaks for green construction and subsidies for companies that develop green buildings.

I would also fight for and support passage of the Green New Deal, to adjust how we view economic development in the 21st century from an environmentally conscious point of view.


Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?

Yes. Climate change is the great existential crisis of our time. What we do now will set the tone for government action going forward dealing with climate change. If we do nothing, or take minor measures, climate change will continue to accelerate and become a larger problem. To truly stem the growth of climate change before the changes become irreversible, Congress must act and take drastic measures.

I have a 4-year-old daughter; I’m a career public school teacher. It’s important to me that the planet and economic structures in place today are still functional when they are entering into society, and that they can rely on getting and holding a job. Runaway climate change will lead to economic and civil unrest, increased global migration (putting strain on the countries where people migrate to), and more global conflict. To stop these issues before they become irreversible, we must pass the Green New Deal and commit to refocusing our economy on solving climate change, and creating an economy that can function for decades and centuries to come.

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