Issues and Legislation
- Creating fair trade agreements
- Too often our “Free Trade Agreements” are not “Fair Trade Agreements.” We would never exempt a state from environmental, labor, and workplace regulations, so why should we exempt foreign countries, while allowing them to export their products to the U.S.? While I do not believe that every trade partner should be subject to our specific regulations, I do believe that they should have basic protections for their workers and reasonable environmental safeguards. This would create a more level playing field for our businesses to compete.
- Reducing Regulatory Burdens
- The federal government does not create jobs, the private sector does. However, the government can be either a barrier or a partner in supporting the private sector to create and sustain jobs. Developing partnerships to grow the economy are a priority as is reducing onerous regulatory burdens so that Maine’s small businesses can thrive.
- Providing rural broadband
- Young people will not start businesses or even choose to live in the parts of Maine that do not have high-speed internet. High-speed internet is as necessary an infrastructure for success in today’s world as roads and bridges. With high-speed internet, a person living in Milo can sell their products to a buyer in South Korea. Lack of high-speed internet in rural areas is an economic death sentence. The Three-Ring Binder was the first step - we must now bring true high-speed connectivity to the doorstep of all households and businesses in Maine.
- Expanding markets for fishing, forestry, and agriculture
- I have met with stakeholders from our heritage industries to learn about their concerns and to work with them to find solutions to stabilize and expand these important industries. Maine is blessed with a diverse economy that has supported citizens for generations. Our challenge now is finding the nexus between technological advancements and the heritage industries like fishing, forestry, and agriculture - this, combined with rural broadband, can be important in moving all of Maine into the future.
CLEANING UP CAMPAIGN FINANCE
- Cleaning up campaign finance
- I firmly believe that campaign finance laws must be reformed - nameless, faceless, out-of-state money should not try to tell you how to vote. We must start with real-time, mandated disclosure of who is contributing money. Citizens United was perhaps one of the worst decisions in the Court’s history; unfortunately, it now frames the economic reality of campaigns. The first step toward electoral integrity is transparency in funding. How can we demand transparency in government if we cannot even get transparency in our elections?
MAKING CONGRESS WORK
- Reforming the Filibuster
- The Senate’s recent overuse of the filibuster has stalled progress on practically every issue of importance in America. The 60-vote requirement that it creates is not in the Constitution; the framers understood fractions, if they wanted 60 to form a majority, they would have said so. Further, Senators are no longer required to stand on the floor and speak to filibuster. The filibuster stops Congress dead in its tracks; it ought to take some organization and effort to completely derail such an important governing body. We must reform its use so that Congress again can function how the Founders intended.
- Reforming health care
- Health care reform must focus on access to services and a reduction of costs. I support the Affordable Care Act, but understand that it is not perfect. I also support the principle of individual responsibility and the conservative idea of the individual mandate. On average, 1 in 5 dollars every Mainer makes is spent on health care - that is too much. Solutions must be found to fix this failing system in order to keep it from breaking completely and leaving Americans unable to afford the health services they need. As a country, we must reduce the cost of healthcare in part by moving toward outcome-based models of compensation, rather than fee-for-service. Further, there needs to be a much greater focus on primary and preventative care.
ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT
- Climate Change
- There is no denying that human behavior is directly correlated to climate change. Carbon dioxide levels have increased dramatically since the Industrial Revolution. This trend is unsustainable and we must look to alternative sources of energy if we are to protect our environment. Natural gas, if procured safely, and renewables offer a clear path to a more sustainable future.
- Developing a national “Made-in-America” energy policy
- The people of Maine spend too much of their hard-earned income on energy costs. For too long the US has not had a comprehensive energy policy, energy conservation, energy efficiency, and domestic energy production will lead to a realistic American energy policy. A “Made-in-America” policy will create jobs and keep our energy dollars from going to places like the Middle East. In the near term, our “Made-in-America” energy policy will be a combination of increased efficiency, smarter use of fuels, and increased domestic production of oil, gas, and renewables. We need a comprehensive, forward-thinking policy that focuses on low-cost energy, that is made in America, keeps our dollars in America, and minimizes long-term adverse environmental consequences.
- Protecting our natural environment
- I am committed to protecting the integrity of Maine’s natural environment and that of the Nation - and to providing access to it. People love Maine because of its natural beauty and protecting our environment is not only the right thing to do, it's also smart business. I support strong enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, two laws crafted by Maine Senator Ed Muskie, and I also support carbon-reduction initiatives and increased vehicle fuel efficiency standards. I oppose drilling in ANWR - it has a relatively small supply of oil that would come at great environmental risk to extract. Further, any new developments in the energy industry - like fracking for natural gas, and running the Keystone Pipeline through the U.S., should be subject to all appropriate environmental safeguards to protect the American people and the American land.
ADDRESSING THE NATION’S FISCAL CRISIS
- Reducing the debt and deficit / implementing tax reform
- Our debt is a significant threat to national security and should not serve as a partisan football. But, it’s more than that - it is immoral to leave this debt to the next generation. We have no right to spend the money and leave them to pay the bills. There are two realistic bi-partisan proposals that I have been reviewing: the Simpson-Bowles report and the Domenici - Rivlin commission plan. I believe that the data and analysis in these plans can form the basis of a solution, but it won’t be easy. While I may not agree on all the details, I think the overall approach they take makes a great deal of sense: cut spending in an intelligent way, simplify the tax code, cut tax rates and eliminate most loopholes to generate additional revenue. Such a combination can put us on a trajectory toward serious and substantial deficit reduction.
IMPROVING AFFORDABLE ACCESS TO EDUCATION
- Providing various paths to higher education
- Affordable education, whether at a college or vocational school, is one of the keys to prosperity and a better quality of life, especially in a rural state like Maine. A trained, employed work force supports economic growth. Further, support for students who want to start a business should be a priority area for a variety of entrepreneurship programs.
- Reforming the student loan industry
- Where the federal government partners with schools to provide student loans, it should be done to benefit students, not to benefit large financial institutions and artificially inflate tuition rates. Mainers have the second highest student loan burden in the country - an average of nearly $30,000. For the first time in history, our college graduates are so burdened with student debt that they may not be able to start innovative businesses, or buy their first homes - this is slowing our economic recovery. College graduates make up a segment of our population that should be driving our economic recovery, and we need real solutions to this crisis.
RETHINKING U.S. ENGAGEMENT IN THE WORLD
- Reducing our presence in Afghanistan
- I support a gradual withdrawal of active on-the-ground troops while maintaining a commitment to rebuilding the future of the country. Suicide is currently claiming more active military lives than combat is - clearly, our policy is not working for Afghanistan or for the U.S. The war in Afghanistan will have many lasting impacts on Mainers and the nation - veterans are facing terrible effects that last long after the battlefield is quiet. Further, the injuries and loss of life, and the resulting impact on our military and their families and our communities, is staggering.
- Respecting our commitment to veterans
- Our veterans have earned the best access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities that our country can provide. The problems of war are legacy problems that veterans live with long after a high-profile conflict is over. Additionally, more Guard and Reserve members are seeing combat. Unfortunately, this is all during a time when access to veterans’ services is increasingly limited. I am committed to doing my part to ensure that our veterans, who have sacrificed so much, are not left behind.
- Providing for national security
- I know that in the face of a foreign threat every option must be on the table, beginning with diplomacy, and right through the use of military force. However, we cannot enter into unfunded, costly wars with undefined goals - particularly in the face of the budget crisis.