Voter guide: T. Dan Baker, Congress, District 7

T. Dan Baker

Democratic candidate for Congress, D7

Age 52

Residence Columbia

Occupation International Public Health Consultant

Education MPH - International Health (Emergency Disaster Preparedness) - Univ of Ariz '01, MA - International Affairs (Environment & Development) - Ohio University '95, BA - English (Critical Theory) - Virginia Military Institute '89


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Previous political experience

I am not a career politician but a very concerned District 7 voter regarding the state of local and national race relations, corruption in government, regime change wars, and the lack of leadership in government - particularly in responding to climate change.

Many of my fellow candidates will tell you that they already know all District 7’s concerns and thus what the district needs. I have lived in District 7 for 15 years, and while ‘I think’ most people of the district want: their income to stretch a little further each month; to feel safe and secure from violence; and to have equal access to health care, good education, adequate housing and food, ‘I also think’ that the approach, championed by many of my fellow candidates, lacks a team approach, as well as flexibility, and open mindedness. I mean, where is the opportunity for voters to have their say in government?

In the days prior to computers, high speed internet and smart phones, a district voted for a ‘representative’ who went away to Washington, D.C. to speak ‘for’ their district. Full stop.

The present-day approach I will take is to go a step further and to work directly ‘with’ District 7 voters to identify the majority (or at least plurality) position for how constituents want me to vote on any and all major legislation.

My hope (and pledge) is to vote ‘with’ – not just ‘for’ – District 7 100% of the time!

Why are you running for office?

I’ve been fortunate over my career as an International Community Development / Public Health Professional to have visited many countries of the world, and I have seen the NEGATIVE CHANGES which have befallen countries suffering from poor governance, corruption, and a lack of leadership.

I’ve spent 20 plus years in this capacity working across the globe from the national down to the community level to prevent - or respond to – such negative changes.

I am running because together we must fight to prevent this from happening in District 7 and the United States!

The US Congress is in need of leaders with fresh ideas who directly represent the will of their constituents and who understand the global realities of what we ALL will be facing in the coming decades … leaders who can make balanced, informed, and measured decisions for how best to respond to the Global Climate Crisis and to stand up for climate justice working on behalf of our Districts, our States, and our Country. I am one such leader!


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

It is difficult to separate the administration from the man and by what we've all seen on the news the man - AND THUS THE ADMINISTRATION - is socially offensive, a nationalist / populist, pathological liar, barely-closeted racist, misogynist, and with more in common with organized crime bosses than with previous Presidents.

Begrudgingly I'd give the administration a 2 out of 10 ...

On the positive side, Trump certainly has a lot of energy for his age.

On the negative side, multiple issues come to mind: Trump's own divisiveness in terms of domestic race relations in the US; his support of greater corporate influence in government, his lack of a coherent foreign policy strategy which helps America, and his out and out denial of climate change were (and remain) some of my strongest motivations to run for office.


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?

Republican tax cuts are designed to help wealthier Americans and businesses by stimulating growth and improving shorter term (<10 year) economic indicators. The 2017 tax cuts meet these criteria.

But the real question becomes, what if you're not a wealthy American? This in turn begets the issue of exactly how will the government pay for the 2017 tax cuts?

According to the Tax Policy Center (TPC), Americans who earn <$150,000 (80% of working Americans) would see roughly one-third of all benefits from the 2017 tax cuts - over the next decade - with those benefits stopping in 2027.

TPC goes a step further to explain that the above will only be the case if the government pays for the 2017 tax cuts without cutting from other domestic programs ... those not included in the 2017 tax cut legislation. If the government decides to pay for the 2017 tax cuts from these programs, upwards of 70% of mainly middle and lower class Americans will begin to feel the pinch via a reduction of social benefits while wealthier Americans keep their tax break.

For these reasons, I do not support the 2017 tax cuts as the burden of how they are paid will fall to those who can afford this burden the least.

Please join me in calling for the repeal of the 2017 tax cuts!


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?

Absolutely, this is a problem!

As such, in my platform, I propose that we begin to address the racial wealth gap immediately starting with :

• Universal Basic Income / Reparations – For Native, African, & Japanese Americans

….And when we talk about most US citizens being from immigrant families, we must acknowledge that many of us – some 40,000,000 (40 million) US citizens – come from families of unwilling immigrants brought to the Colonies and later The United States completely against their will. Such kidnapping, imprisonment without cause en masse, and enslavement of some 600,000 forced immigrants from Africa brought – to what eventually became the USA as “free labor” – today is unconscionable. Such activities being condoned by the US Government, has never effectively been answered for nor restitution ever provided. As a result of this flagrant abuse of universal human rights and the repeat taking of life, liberty, and property, I PROPOSE FROM NOW INTO PERPETUITY THAT UPON REACHING ADULTHOOD ALL US AFRICAN AMERICAN CITIZENS (descended from slaves) RECEIVE A UBI OF $2,000 / month.…”


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

With 100 people dying each day in the US from gun violence - combined with the numerous repeat mass shootings across the country - it is well past time for federal gun laws to be improved.

Gun violence in the US has become an epidemic and should be approached as such. In dealing with any disease epidemic, one must do several things simultaneously: investigate and identify the origin(s) of the disease; investigate and identify how the disease is transmitted; and identify and investigate any / all factors which may be enabling the spread. Based on this information, Public Health intervention can be designed to stop the disease at its origin while simultaneously eliminating its transmission.

As a Public Health professional in the United States, I support the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) taking the lead in stopping epidemics. I also understand that the House of Representatives has authorized funding for the CDC - to conduct the above type investigations and intervention development - but that this funding has been stopped in the Senate due to the influence and control of the gun industry / lobby and the NRA. Please refer to my platform where:

- I call for Reduced Corporate Influence in Government

- I voice my support for:

Gun Control: License and registration to own.

I support both Vice President Joe Biden's PLAN TO END OUR GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC (https://joebiden.com/gunsafety/) as well as the Gun Safety proposals of Mike Bloomberg.


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?

In seeking to raise awareness of how this is specifically impacting District 7, I’d like to first discuss the details of the issue with District 7 constituents to better understand WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT DONE? and WHAT CAN WE DO TOGETHER? Please refer to TDan’s platform where I voice my support for:

• Universal Health Care (Plus Public Option) : It is a Human Right! People should have the right to choose the kind of care they want.


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

My immediate considerations for District 7 are Education and Climate Justice.

Re. Education, first and foremost we need to level the playing field so that the quality of education is equal regardless of your zipcode throughout District 7. Further, we need to assure that Title I and other federal education funding - providing equal education opportunities to include subsidized meals across District 7 - is fully funded. District 7 needs all its schools properly staffed. And as a top priority for me personally, all teachers, educators, and school staff must be paid their full worth and certainly nothing less than a living wage.

Re. Climate Justice, we’re all going to end up on the front line of the Climate Crisis at some point if we (in the United States and around the world) continue our “business as usual” approach toward climate change. How soon and with “what kind of cushion” will individuals, households, and communities be affected raises the climate ethical justice issues of timeline and level of wealth. The less your wealth, the smaller your cushion, the shorter your impact timeline. Herein our work to effectively respond to Climate Change must include Mitigation – stopping what’s causing the change, as well as Adaptation – changing ourselves and our communities in preparation for what is coming.


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?

The United States has experienced opioid epidemics in its history going back to our country’s addiction to early medical “pain killers” which included laudanum, opium, heroin, cocaine, as well as other opiates and narcotics.

During this era (post-Civil War) the federal government recognized that the downside risks of doctors prescribing such opioids outweighed their palliative benefit at the patient and community / public health level.

The same should be applied to Oxycontin and Fentanyl today making them illegal and removing them from the market.

With District 7 majority/plurality support, I will back the Cummings' bill while further supporting medical cannabis as a viable alternative to opioid addiction.

Lastly, I support the ongoing legal action against irresponsible pharmaceutical purveyors, such as the Sackler Family, who clearly have put greed and profit ahead of the safety and well-being of their fellow Americans.


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?

Since my Peace Corps Paraguay days in the 90s, I have lived, worked, and traveled throughout most of Latin America. Having lived in Guatemala, El Salvador, northern Mexico and in Tucson, Arizona – where I taught and coached undocumented immigrant students - I’ve seen firsthand the realities of what’s “pushing” people to leave their homes in Latin America and likewise what it’s like to be an “illegal” in the US.

Much of illegal immigration has to do with so many people in the Global South suffering under poor governance, governmental corruption, and a lack of leadership. What these undocumented immigrants want is much of the same that most people in District 7 want: their income to stretch a little further; to feel safe and secure from violence; and to have equal access to health care, good education, and adequate food and housing.

If a majority/plurality of District 7 supports the right of DACA recipients to retain residency in the US, I will fully support this. And regarding the remaining undocumented immigrants in the US, I will support a pathway to legal residency for those with NO criminal record while phasing out ICE and bringing immigration control policy into a new Department of Domestic Race Relations & Cultural Affairs established under a new 21st Century Civil Rights Bill.


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

Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of Donald Trump's book The Art of the Deal, has been quoted of recent as saying that Donald Trump has been suffering enormous "impostor syndrome" in his day to day dealings at home and abroad as President.

Like with so many issues, Trump talks as if he knows best and even better than the global experts.

Former Secretary of Treasury, Larry Summers, recently summed up the administration's trade war, which is supposed to protect US workers, as ultimately hurting the US economy stating, "We are engaged in a stop or I'll shoot myself in the foot strategy!" (CNN Business)

Likewise, the 2008 Nobel Prize Winner for Economics, Paul Krugman, as well recently stated that, "...Trump wanted to slash the U.S. trade deficit ...(which) has risen, not fallen, on Trump's watch, from $544 billion in 2016 to $691 billion in the 12 months ending in October." (NY Times)

On trade, I rate the Trump administration a 1 out of 10 in that his actions have resulted in the exact opposite of his stated goal AND not only will the US economy suffer for this but the workers and farmers he claims to be helping will take the brunt of the impact.


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

As a civilian veteran (US Foreign Service) of the War in Afghanistan where I served two years (2010-2012) 80 miles from the border of Iran AND as the recently returned Country Director of an infectious disease prevention and treatment program covering southern Turkey and northern Syria, I have paid a whole lot of attention to the Middle East (and Central Asia) over the last decade.

People are people wherever you go. Some are good and some are bad and some are in between, no different than here in District 7. Iranians aren't bad people, in fact Persians are some of the most laid back, kind folks you'll ever meet. Likewise, Syrians aren't bad people, in fact the Syrians I know are some of the most generous, welcoming, and well-educated folks I've ever met.

Since the US overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in 1953 - who was replaced by the Shah who in turn was overthrown during the Iranian Revolution - US foreign relations with Iran have not been too good. This bad blood was started by us almost 70 years ago.

So on several levels I disagreed with President Trump's decision to pull us out of the Iranian Nuclear Deal - cosigned by P5+1 and the European Union - which not only protected the world from the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon for years to come but also looked to be the beginning of a peaceful "thawing" of the bad relations between our countries.


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

Modern day US Presidents are left with a difficult choice regarding how the US should deal with the continuing rise of North Korea's nuclear program. The choice is to maintain the "containment" strategy that the US has supported basically since the end of the Korean War OR to try a different approach.

President Trump has looked like he was attempting the latter and that somehow his approach - again acting as if he knows better than the global experts - was to bypass normal diplomatic channels and instead have a man to man with Kim believing they could somehow work out a deal.

This was doomed to fail for a number of reasons least of which is that the entire survival of the Kim family dynasty is predicated on maintaining a perpetual war footing against the US and the West using the North Korea nuclear program as the leverage to do so.

North Korea will never give up its nuclear arsenal, and as a result US and western sanctions will continue. The historical containment strategy of the US in addressing North Korea has worked to date. Until such time that it does not OR Chairman Kim crosses the line, the US should leave well enough alone and stick with this strategy.


How should the United States address climate change?

As a trained member of Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps, I’ve believed in the need for US leadership and an aggressive response to the Global Climate Crisis for many years now. Clearly much more needs to be done. To this end in my website platform I propose a district-wide “stretch goal” to start to Reverse Climate Change (while establishing new jobs and reducing crime) by:

• Establishing the first all renewable energy municipality in the United States in Columbia, Maryland &

• Training BALTIMORE CITY’s un/der-employed in BALTIMORE COUNTY based solar and wind turbine manufacturing, as well as HOWARD COUNTY based grid conversion, and systems installation.

In establishing the first all renewable energy municipality in District 7, what is required first and foremost is citizen and distributor incentives to convert from fossil fuel based electric supply to renewables only supply. Renewable energy costs per kw/h are typically 5 cents less than that of fossil fuel-based supply.

As Representative, I would work with District 7 communities and all levels of Maryland state and local government: first, to identify the economic and environmental benefits of conversion; second, to overcome key roadblocks to conversion; and third, to lobby Congress to support this cutting edge, first of its kind patriotic initiative.


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

Given that the US has been misdirected over the last three years by a climate denialist, we are now faced with the stark reality of unstoppable climate chaos UNLESS we reduce Green House Gas emissions by 7.6% each year over the next decade starting in 2020. (UNEP)

The cost of this massive intervention is now estimated @ +$2,500,000,000,000 ($2.5 trillion) – the same amount expended in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. So while the effort is absolutely necessary, the question then becomes

… where does the money come from?

One recommendation … the USG could begin to cut back redundant or outdated programming at the DOD. *FYI: the USG spends +50% of each year’s budget, some +$700,000,000,000 ($700 Billion), on defense, with one result being that the DOD has become the single greatest consumer of fossil fuels in the United States and the single largest institutional emitter of GHGs in the world. (Brown University)

As a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, I fully support maintaining a force more than capable of defending the borders and shores of the US but otherwise:

**IT'S TIME to retrofit and convert the DOD from the single largest institutional polluter on the planet, to the institution that is leading the charge to reverse climate change!

Join me in calling for a rationalizing of future DOD spending – presently greater than the defense budgets of the next seven countries combined – to align with the GREATEST NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES & THE WORLD ...climate change!

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