Chair, Maryland Democratic Party; Candidate for Governor of Maryland; Chief of Staff, Office of Congressman Charles Rangel; Professional Staff, US House of Representatives, Ways and Means Committee; Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow, Office of Congressman Melvin Watt
Why are you running for office?
Building on the legacy of my late husband Elijah Cummings, I am running to drive inclusive prosperity in the Baltimore region and across the nation. I seek to:1) promote quality education and training opportunities for our youth; 2) increase access to affordable health care and prescription drugs; and 3) spur equitable economic growth that revitalizes neighborhoods, connects people to transit and good, secure jobs. I am the best person to continue the progress being made to ensure our economy works for everyone, not just those at the top.
How do you assess the Trump administration so far? Name at least one positive and one negative.
The Trump Administration’s failures are too many to list, but locking children in cages and separating families as immigration policy, the Muslim ban, pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, using the power of the presidency to intimidate world leaders to perform political favors, defending racist violence in Charlottesville, and governing by tweet are stand outs. One positive has been the tremendous engagement and inspiring new energy in American politics over the past four years. From the Women’s March to the Parkland students, women and young people are getting involved, fighting for real change, running for office and winning, and I’m heartened about what that means for the 2020 election.
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 tax cuts of 2017, the majority of which went to wealthy individuals and corporations, did not pay for themselves, had little measurable impact on the economy, and have exploded federal deficits. The 2017 Trump tax cuts also placed a heavier burden on working people and allowed the rich to get richer. In Congress, I will advocate for progressive tax reform that relieves the burden on working people and demands the 1% pay their fair share. I believe we need to strengthen the middle class and provide the working poor a viable path to upward mobility. Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us compromise those goals and the deficits they produce tee up arguments to defund public services essential to low income and working families.
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?
In Congress, I’ll address record income inequality with a suite of policies that are fair to workers. Unions have been under assault for decades, and it’s time to reverse that. We must strengthen equal employment laws to address discrimination. Tax treatment of unearned income should be on par with earned income and unfair loopholes and subsidies in the tax code for the rich should be removed.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how and why?
Gun violence is a dangerous threat. In Congress, I will work to pass common sense gun safety laws, including banning automatic assault rifles, closing gun show loopholes, and passing universal background checks. Gun owners should be required to insure their firearms. I’ll take on the NRA and the politicians beholden to them, so we can address traumatic gun violence in our communities.
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?
Health care should be a human right. The Affordable Care Act was a big step in the right direction but it never achieved universal coverage and it has been undermined by Republicans legal and regulatory challenges. A federal, single-payer national healthcare system that provides every single person access to high quality health care should be the foundation of coverage in the U.S. I am open to how it is designed as long as it is universal, high-quality and affordable. Scaling Medicare to serve as the national system could very well be the answer, but I’m also open to other possible solutions that are affordable, high quality and universal.
What role should the federal government play in helping cities? What, if anything, would you do for Baltimore, specifically?
The federal government should fund inclusive growth investments for cities with deep poverty and inequality. I would seek to leverage federal dollars to upgrade our infrastructure, such as roads, transit, housing, and recreation, in economically depressed areas. I would prioritize approaches that promote the redevelopment, renovation, and repopulation of existing housing stock, and seek to dramatically improve transit-oriented development with transportation options that better move people around the city and region. Additionally, because we are losing a generation of our youth to crime, violence, and lack of opportunity, the inclusive growth strategy must include investments in our youth.
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. From Greenmount East to Cooksville, our friends and neighbors are overdosing, families are being ripped apart, entire communities are being destroyed by the opioid epidemic. It’s very clear that this is a major public health crisis, and it’s time we start treating it as such and fighting this epidemic with everything we have. My husband was keenly aware of what needed to be done to tackle this crisis head on and get families, communities, and states the resources they need, and in Congress I’ll keep fighting to ensure this bill becomes law.
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?
I stand for love, respect, diversity and inclusion. These values should drive our immigration policy. I’ll work to reunite families separated at the border, lift travel bans, and reverse cuts to the refugee program. I’ll support comprehensive immigration reform with a clear pathway to citizenship and a permanent citizenship solution for immigrants who arrived in the United States as children.
How would you rate the Trump administration’s trade stance with China and why?
I would give the Trump Administration an F+ on its ill-advised trade war which has been destructive, counterproductive, and has negatively impacted the industries that rely on a robust export economy. Trump started an unnecessary and costly trade war with China and it is American families and taxpayers that are paying the steep price. Not only are goods more expensive, Trump has allocated billions to fund a bailout for farmers and domestic manufacturers harmed by his actions. He does not deserve any credit for attempting to clean up the mess he recklessly started.
Do you support the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? Why or why not?
President Obama’s Administration worked for years to get to a deal that would cease Iran’s nuclear activity, and Trump walked away with absolutely no plan of what comes next. And since then we’ve seen Iran becomes increasingly hostile and take aggressive steps towards building their own nuclear arms. It appears that President Trump has absolutely no strategic plan in place, and even more concerning is his concerted efforts to escalate every international incident to make matters worse. The world is more dangerous because of President Trump’s haphazard foreign policy decisions.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
North Korea’s continual testing of long range missiles and weapons of mass destruction is a threat to the United States one of the most dangerous and complex issues of our time. Instead of working with international partners to stop this aggression, Trump has warmly embraced Kim Jong Un and his dictatorial and murderous rule. Our country needs to make foreign policy decisions based on American values and national security interests, not whether a brutal dictator strokes Trump’s ego.
How should the United States address climate change?
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to our country and our future. We need a robust and aggressive plan to mitigate the effects of climate change and while protecting this planet for the next generation. This requires a rapid transition to clean energy sources and green technology and infrastructure and decommissioning the use of fossil fuels and its associated technologies and infrastructure.
GREEN NEW DEAL
Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?
Scientists have said if we fail to address climate change in less than 20 years we could be faced with planetary extinction. This extremely sobering projection is why I stand for the Green New Deal and other aggressive proposals to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect this planet for the next generation.