Voter guide: Harry Spikes, Congress, District 7

Harry Spikes

Democratic candidate for Congress, D7

Age 37

Residence Baltimore City

Occupation Self-Employed

Education University of Baltimore, Masters of Public Administration, Public Policy; Morgan State University, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science

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Previous political experience

United States House of Representatives, District Director for Congressman Elijah E. Cummings for 15 years

Why are you running for office?

The Congressman once said that “our children are the living messengers to a future we will never see.” I believe that I am the messenger and I want to use everything that he has taught me and the staff to be the best Congressman that I could be. I also want to utilize my 15 years of experience and share my skills and ideas with the American people.


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

One positive accomplishment in the Trump administration is the apprenticeship.gov initiative. Many people in our country want jobs and careers but do not know how to access apprenticeships and skills training. Under the US Department of Labor, I support the apprenticeship.gov initiative. This tool allows career seekers to find jobs and employers to find skilled staff and promote apprenticeships to do work in cities across the country. One negative is the exclusion of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We must first reverse the individual mandate. Because this exists, insurance companies have gone up on their premiums to compensate for not having the financial consequences for not enrolling in ACA. As a result, some health insurances are high and you have people that don’t enroll because they can’t afford it.


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?

The 2017 Tax Cuts hurt home owners domestically and businesses that participate in work overseas. Allow me to explain. Domestically, the tax cuts limited several key deductions such as mortgage interest deduction. Families and individuals were able to use the interest paid on their home to go towards their deductions, now they cannot. That is money that is lost that could’ve been used towards savings or emergencies for families and Individuals.

From a foreign perspective, the tax cuts hurt businesses that participate in work overseas. The corporate income tax rate was lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent. This means that a business that makes income in America and overseas can only use exceptions on the American income and not the overseas income. This is another example of money lost to Americans. I do not support the tax cuts. It leads to less economic growth, less stability for families, and in the arena of international business, the lack of economic diversity, which if corrected, could lead to positive international relationships.


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?

The level of economic inequality is a problem in the United States. We first have people in careers that have wage disparities, particularly women. Second, people are going to schools, receiving skills and degrees and cannot find work. Finally, there are communities in America that have had lack of infrastructure growth and maintenance for years. The name for this is disinvestment. The federal government should first maintain what they federally fund and what the local municipalities own such as HUD subsidized properties. The government should support better wage laws for men and women. The federal government should work with people who have federal student loans upon graduating from college but cannot find work. Interest and principle should not continue to pill up.


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

Federal gun laws should be changed. We have had too many senseless deaths for years due to gun violence. If there is a process for a person to get a driver’s license, rent a car, or board a plane, there should be a process to obtain a firearm.


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?

Affordable Health Care should not be scrapped. In order to reach the goal of affordable health care for all, we must increase our job base. What many working Americans do not know is that when SSA benefits are taken out of our check, those monies are used for the individuals that need it now. Individuals such as retirees, seniors, survivor benefits, and the disabled. I have worked on Social Security cases and issues for 15 years. Individuals with whom I have helped who received their SSA benefits had very few health care challenges upon receiving medical care. Many people had little next to no deductibles when managing their health. I have always said, from when I first started working in Congress, that we should use the Social Security model for all Americans to receive affordable health care. However, the key to health care for all is to have a major insertion of Jobs in our country for all people. More jobs, more health care for all Americans.


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

The Government should help cities with access to down payment and closing cost to families that want to purchase homes. As it relates to Baltimore, The Government should continue to invest in state, local and nonprofit programs whose mission it is build communities and keep them stable. The Government should also have a more proactive approach and have the US Attorney General review all states in America who have high crime and may need the intuition of a consent decree.


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?

I back Congressman Cummings bill. While working in Congress, I learned that 101 people die per day in the US of opioid deaths. The average funeral in America costs $5,000 times 100 equals $500,000 times 365 days equals $182,500,000 times 10 years equals $1,825,000,000 in funeral cost for 10 years. However, $10 billion per year divided by 50 states per year is only $200 million for each state per year. Most major hospitals that provide full health services have a spending budget of over $20,000,000 per year for various health services. Although each state may receive different funding based on opioid related deaths, I propose that the $200 million for each state per year could lead to helping organizations and hospitals that treat opioid addiction. Saving a life is worth more to me than burying a life.


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?

We need strong immigration policies and laws. DACA should be preserved. However, the one change I would make is to work with law makers to make a smooth transition to become a citizen through more policy changes as it relates to Dreamers.


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

The Trump administration trade stance with China has negative financial implications for our economy. Based on the Bloomberg Economist study, the economic damage in the future will have a lost GDP of more than 300 billion by the end of 2020. This is because of the tariffs that the Trump Administration has put in place.


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

I do not support the president’s decision to pull out of Iran. He once talked about the danger of Iran. The purpose of the deal in 2015 was to work with Iran to ease sanctions if they slowed their nuclear program that threatened the world. How do you protect the US and the world, when you pull out of a deal that was designed to protect us from nuclear warfare? We should continue to participate in deals that protect our nation and the world.


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

The United States should work with Russia and China to deal with North Korea. Historically, Russia is the reason why North Korea has the technology to design nuclear weapons and if China stops trade with North Korea, they would not have the resources to build nuclear weapons. The US must also continue to threaten to cut off cash flow to North Korea if they continue to build nuclear weapons.


How should the United States address climate change?

We must first look at how we, as consumers, treat our environment. The United States should address climate change through climate justice. Look around each state to see what best practices are being used to protect the earth and vulnerable Americans. Climate justice is important because it mostly affects the people who are not involved in the acts of destroying are environment. The best example that I can give you is the story of Erin Brockovich. The actual case was Anderson vs. Pacific Gas and Electric. The Hinkly Compressor Station discarded waste water into ponds at the site. The waste water affected the ground water which was almost a mile away from the station. As a result of the waste water, over 180 people in Hinkly, California had cancer and birth related illnesses. We need to make sure that all communities never endure something like this. I have learned from Ms. Brockovich how important it is to fight for climate justice and how it can lead to the eradication of climate change.


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

Yes. We need to secure clean air and water. We can achieve this goal by investing in infrastructure and industry related technology that reaches net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. This will also lead to high wage jobs for individuals and family.

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