I was born in Baltimore and live in Elkridge for more than 15 years. I practice intensive care medicine in Baltimore city and see more patients admitted from overdose and poor access to medical care than ever before. There is gun violence in the city with 300 murders annually. The poverty and dilapidated houses has the country believing we are a failed city. This is maddening when you love this city and grew up here. I didn’t jump in this race for opportunity; I began my candidacy before Mr. Cumming’s passing because I don’t believe we’ve had enough forceful advocates in congress or city hall. The same politicians promise reform but are more focused on fundraising than they are willing to commit to changes that may disrupt political factions or special interests. I am not beholden to these relationships and instead have a plan for the problems this district faces. I will advance the debate on health care to reduce costs to the voters in our district and reform prescription drug prices. I have a specific plan to improve drug addiction in the city and will personally work to bring financial help to improve the infrastructure and the poor housing availability. I believe better education options for children and for adults is required as trade skills are in short supply but offer hope. I will be present in the district and be seen working with local city leadership and community activists to make sure their voices are heard. Why am I running for office? Because just as a career in medicine is a calling, my work as a representative will be my passion and obsession as I work for my constituents.
How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.
In my opinion, president Trump embarrasses himself and demeans the office he holds. His mockery and bullying is pathetic and he has no grasp of America’s place as a beacon of hope. He rolls over to corporate self-interests, never divested properly from financial gains from his office and abuses power for political gain or for spite. He has driven a wedge between American citizens and widened this divide larger than in any time other than the Civil War. The turnover in his cabinet is emblematic of the shifting whims of his agenda. There is no cohesiveness or coherence to his administration. The limited positive results from his term have been prison reform (which he can barely take credit for) and a ban on bump stocks. As you recall this had been promised - then reneged – then approved after he flipped repeatedly. A final positive is the rise in activism spurred on by this president’s behavior. As a democrat, I believe the future is brighter when we embrace inclusion and evolve to become a global leader in industry and humanity. America is greater still when a president works to unify the nation appealing to all its citizens.
2017 TAX CUTS
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 were heralded by the president and treasury secretary Mnuchin as a windfall for middle class Americans. Now that time has passed it doesn’t appear to have manifested quite that way and instead, as many predicted, became a vehicle for improved corporate earnings and tax savings for millionaires. The corporate tax rate dropped from 35 to 21 percent and stocks reaped the benefit. Economists understand that the health of our economy is more than share prices on the Dow and Nasdaq. Most Americans don’t own stock and aren’t reaping rewards of corporate profit taking. In addition, Mnuchin said that not only would the GOP’s tax plan “pay for itself, but it will pay for the debt.” He also claimed it would “cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.” The deficit has climbed another 1.2 trillion in 2020. This public debt is up to 23 trillion! I support cutting spending and reducing waste within the federal government. Balancing the budget and paying down the national debt. One area of cost savings is working to reduce discretionary military funding from endless war and build up. This small change alone could shore up the ACA and social security.
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 economic inequality in the U.S. is a problem because we aren’t talking about the difference between one citizen owning a car and another owning a bicycle, we are talking about one owning a space program and another suffering from malnutrition. I believe the federal government should reduce loop holes in tax codes that have favored billionaires and improve basic support for food and shelter with these savings. However, the extent of inequality requires more than a quick fix from taxation; we need re-education for a workforce that has no skillset to find the jobs available. I am in favor of improving availability of federal loans with low interest to students or adults seeking an advanced degree. My vision includes a two year ‘advanced’ degree that would be offered by public universities, not just community colleges. Not all careers should require a four year undergraduate degree. The degree for nursing, computer science and education, would focus specifically on course material for the degree and condense the credits within two years. Also, a sector of instructional trade schools would also be subsidized for a two year period of training in these fields (plumbing, electric, construction,...) The jobs in trade would be created, in part, from the promised improvements in infrastructure. I’d concentrate my efforts on bringing improved transit to Baltimore city and renovation of neighborhoods. I plan a bill to revise the definition of an FHA loan program to allow rental property investment in our city and drive up available jobs and quality rental/home ownership opportunities. In fact, one of my initiatives for college loan consolidation includes forgiveness of a percentage when the total education loan is consolidated into a first time home loan from a neighborhood in need of rejuvenation.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?
As long as I am in office I will work to improve the poorly written gun laws. The inaction on this issue is not just an indictment of ineffective government but is costing lives. A majority of gun owners favor background checks prior to purchases1 but representatives allow loop holes at gun shows to remain. We need an enforceable waiting period even for gun show purchases. There should be federal red flag laws. A person who threatens someone with death by firearm should not be allowed to own one and this is especially true when psychological illness is established. We should bring a ban on high capacity magazines to the Supreme Court and consider including ATF regulations that could regulate ammunition stockpiling. Law abiding citizens will still have access to firearms for hunting, target practice and security but competency should be demonstrated with licensing. Yes, illegal guns will remain a problem with these efforts but we will reduce access to weapons favored by mass shooters terrorizing our country. Specifically, for Illegal guns, they should be destroyed when confiscated and not resold as they are in some districts across the country. A pipeline of handguns from bordering states with poor controls fuels a Baltimore glut of weapons. Only with better federal control will we be able to get a handle locally. I am in favor of gun buyback programs but would consider whether there would be added incentive if the government not only offers cash for handguns/assault weapons but also would consider leniency on future sentencing if there is a history of gun donations. A judge often has discretion on jail time and a criminal may decide to gain favorable treatment by turning in a stockpile of weapons rather than leaving them behind.17 facts about guns in the U.S. By John Gramlich and Katherine Schaeffer, Pew Research center
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?
My strength as a candidate comes from more fully understanding how health care can be improved without sacrificing quality care, patient doctor satisfaction and cost containment. Other candidates may have health care or policy experience but haven’t been on the front lines for the underserved and destitute to gain perspective on this issue. I am not opposed to universal health care coverage but will want to go over the implementation, cost and infrastructure with my Democratic and Republican colleagues in both the house and senate. My initial plan would be to enact legislation to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage for people over age 55yo and expand admission to the ACA for a higher total income above the poverty line. This could be paid for by eliminating waste inherent already in the health care system. An article in Journal of American Medicine1 describes multiple functions of waste and cost savings upwards of 300 million annually. My initiative to provide citizens with a universal health card would be coordinated with computer cloud data that allows a doctor to review medical records from your primary care physician anywhere in the country. This immediately eliminates millions of unnecessary labs and tests performed simply because there is a void of data during a work up for sudden illness. My prescription drug approach is similar to legislation under Mr.Cummings name. However, the bill gives power to the secretary of health and human services. The current secretary is a former pharmaceutical company CEO and lobbyist. Also, there is too much emphasis on cost alone on the drugs selected for an annual price negotiation. Any drug required and proprietary should be reviewed based on not only cost, but lives saved. Finally, negotiation of lower cost should not be ‘gifted’ to all other insurance providers. If this negotiation is allowing lower cost, then the other insurance providers should be required to assure savings are passed on to policy holders or perhaps that CEO compensation packages are regulated.1Waste in the US Health Care System, Estimated Costs and Potential for Savings. William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS1; Teresa L. et al. JAMA. 2019;322(15):1501-1509. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.13978
What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?
This is misunderstood by many people who have called for investigations into Mr. Cummings and the money allocated to our district over the years. The narrative falsely accused him of mismanagement of government funds. The president misquoted the amount of money and implied corruption. The current federal expenditures include social security to citizens as well as to the social security administration located in Baltimore. There are also research dollars in the millions sent to the University of Maryland and John Hopkins University. I would ask for the University of Maryland and JHU to apply research more heavily into public health initiatives. I’d want to drive federal spending not only to the hospitals but also to the communities they serve so that real progress can be made in psychiatric care, homelessness and hunger. I will fight for federal government dollars to our city for subsidies to renovate dilapidated infrastructure. I believe the FHA loan program could be amended to include renovation of condemned real estate even if it is not the primary residence. The result will be an investment opportunity to individuals who now could use the low interest cash to renovate a home that is either flipped for sale or rented. The effect is at least three fold: First, improved jobs in the construction business, second a rise in quality rentals for city residents, third a renewed tax base for the city to use for improving security and promoting business in Baltimore.
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?
This is a question I’ve considered carefully as a doctor caring for these patients. The treatment of the opioid epidemic should include a multifaceted approach that addresses the illicit and prescription drug availability, the addiction symptoms and cravings, the lack of employment opportunities, and the poverty causing citizens to look for a quick fix from drugs. The bill introduced would be helpful but unsustainable and I believe impassable with today’s republican objections. Unfortunately there are those on the right that consider drug abuse ‘poor will power’ rather than a combination of societal ills plus physical needs. My approach would be to expand treatment paid for in part from settlements related to false safety promises from the narcotic producing drug companies. These multimillion dollar settlements from the makers of oxycodone, and probably fentanyl, should be directed to the epicenters of drug abuse. Baltimore city is one of the front lines in this war on addiction. I believe we can also subsidize medication given intramuscularly called buprenophrine which relieves cravings and reduces any illegal high for a month once injected. The data is sound and my approach already has evidence backed by research1. We can also fast track opioid and narcan (antidote) combinations2 to the U.S. market. They are available in Canada and have far less addiction potential. They cannot be crushed or injected. I am also confident that thoughtful legalization of marijuana with taxation could also be used to pay for these services to fight the epidemic sustainably. 1Haight, et al. Efficacy and safety of a monthly buprenorphine depot injection for opioid use disorder: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial. The Lancet.2Controlled-release oxycodone and naloxone in the treatment of chronic low back pain: A placebo-controlled, randomized study, Pain Res Manag. 2013 Mar-Apr; 18(2): 75–82.
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 DACA program should be preserved and reformed. A pathway to citizenship should not rely on income, ability to afford health insurance or country of origin. The immigration challenge is felt more strongly on Border States. I don’t reject border control but do expect better regulation of boundaries with smart technology. We should not approve a budget for broad expanses of barriers without functionality. The republican agenda has been to create panic among Border States and throughout the country about a pipeline for terrorists and also demonized a minority in our population that has emigrated for opportunity or to avoid persecution. I am in favor of providing this path to citizenship but make the paperwork initially easier and allow time for employment to be assisted. The Wall Street Journal makes a point that without more immigration the populations aging will lead to much lower ratio of young workers to old retired baby boomers1. Deportation should be enforced when there is criminal activity conviction and we should remember that most violations are from extended stays from expired visas not illegal crossings. Finally, ICE as an entity should be dissolved and re-imagined in a fully supportive role to assist in legal immigration and not act as the brute squad, profiling citizens on the streets of our city. 1Wall street journal, Boomers’ Good Life Tied To Better Life for Immigrants, by Miriam Jordan May 7, 2007
How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?
I do believe we had to change the approach with China. I would rate his approach a ‘C-incomplete’ and this is because our posture up until these tariffs has been ineffective. Chinese state sponsored industry and espionage has pilfered technology. There has been manipulation of their currency to prop up their economy at the expense of our trade deficit. Waiting longer to take a tough stance would erode our bargaining position as the Chinese economy may start divesting in the American bond market. Long term this relationship will change as we hope to rely less on the Chinese exports and more on other emerging economies.
Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?
This seems to be a decision based on the president’s mistrust of president Obama and the Iranians. I was not in favor of the 1.7 billion in cash included in this deal during the Obama administration’s negotiation but I do believe there was value in the deal that was worth preserving. There is always going to be mistrust and an expectation that Iran is not cooperating with the terms of an agreement, however Iran can now proceed without any chance for international atomic energy association ground inspection. I suspect this withdrawal increases the likelihood of an Israeli air strike if the Iranian program advances enrichment for weapons grade material.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
This requires more information from the intelligence community. Unfortunately our president doesn’t trust the United States intelligence community and may have already irreparably damaged our credibility across the globe. If the North Koreans continue to progress in guided missile technology then we must have Chinese support and pressure the government to allow negotiation without the typical rhetoric on both sides. This is a difficult question as there is already poor information about the North Korean infrastructure and ignorance typically leads to poor decisions made from fear. By resuming a dialogue with calm language alone, we can offer loosening trade restrictions. The more these low pressure meetings continue, the more the North Koreans can focus money on advancing the quality of life for their citizens. The citizens in turn will invariably learn more about the west and internal evolution rather than revolution may surprise us.
How should the United States address climate change?
We need to separate climate science from politics. There should be engagement in the global community with reentry into the Paris accord. We should work on improvements in reducing nationwide greenhouse gas emissions by regulating industry and insisting on CO2 scrubbers for the largest offending industrial polluters and reducing reliance on fossil fuels with federal subsidy of electric mass transit and improved battery technology. The solar industry’s new jobs were allowing the workforce to redistribute lost employment from manufacturing sent overseas. With the proper stimulus we can regain momentum in photovoltaic technology from the foreign market. Republicans will want to point to Solyndra’s failure but there was a lot of good in the industry that shouldn’t dissuade future investment with better due diligence. For example, with the investment by Bill Gates and others, there is now a system regulated by artificial intelligence and concentrates solar energy to reach temperatures high enough to melt steel.1 This technique opens up industrial use of solar power saving millions and potentially eliminating a very large carbon footprint.1Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough, By Matt Egan, CNN Business , Nov 19, 2019
GREEN NEW DEAL
Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?
I support a more focused Green New deal. The current bill included a call for universal health care and, in my opinion, this should be addressed separately with full review of the infrastructure and cost. The ‘new’ Green New deal should focus on renewable energy, job creation, and increasing the minimum wage. The history of the New Deal from president F.D.Roosevelt is from a time in our country when depression had created famine among many and the lack of jobs robbed citizens of a decent wage to support their family. Although we have a portion of our district that is hungry and lacking employment, this country in many ways is thriving with billionaires collecting revenue but not paying the proper tax compensation to the workforce making their good fortune possible. Some of these people hide their wealth and fail to disclose their taxable income or take advantage of elected positions to make profit. The pure support of renewable energy and battery power as an investment in our future could be covered by the billionaires contributing marginally more for this effort. The patriotic way for them to invest in saving our planet and creating jobs in industry should ultimately make them more profitable -- as the beneficiaries will have money to spend from their new employment.