- Education: Baltimore City College High School, 1961; B.A., University of
- Pittsburgh, 1964; J.D, University of Maryland School of Law, 1967.
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime (not including minor traffic violations)? No
// As you know, the Bush-era income tax cuts will expire at the end of this year. Do you support extending the cuts for all income levels, only on individual income under $200,000 (under $250,000 for families), or not at all? If you support an extension of some kind, should it be paid for? //
I support extending the tax cuts for families making under $250,000. I am very concerned about the damage to the economy that could be caused by the multiple policy changes scheduled to occur in December - the end of the Bush-era income tax cuts, the end of the payroll tax holiday, and the consequences of the $1.2 trillion across-the-board sequestration. Therefore, I have continuously advocated for a comprehensive approach or so-called "grand bargain" that would include a plan to balance the budget and put our economy on the path to growth.
For a more long-term solution, I also am committed to using my position on the Senate Finance Committee to help enact comprehensive tax reform that removes tax loopholes and unfair benefits, and reduces tax rates. American families and businesses need the certainty and predictability of a more permanent tax code, rather than one that expires every year. As part of tax reform, I would like to put in place a permanent code that allows people and businesses to plan and make long-term decisions knowing the tax rules won't change on them at the end of the year.
// Is there any circumstance in which you would support extending a pay freeze on federal employees and/or requiring current federal employees to contribute more to their retirement plans? Please explain. //
Hard-working federal employees have already contributed to deficit reduction and stand ready to participate in a credible, balanced approach to deal with our budget deficit. They made a $60 billion contribution to deficit reduction through the current two-year pay freeze and they continue to be asked to do more for the American people with fewer resources. As a member of the conference committee that worked to extend the payroll tax holiday, I fought side-by-side with fellow Marylander Rep. Chris Van Hollen to remove provisions that were in the House bill that would have increased pension contributions for current federal workers, reduced a general reduction in pension benefits for federal workers, and added an additional year of a pay freeze. I voted against the final legislation because it chipped away at benefits for future federal workers, harming our ability to attract the best and brightest to public service and putting us on a slippery slope for future cuts to pay or benefits. There are some lawmakers who have decided to target federal workers as scapegoats for our fiscal mess and I will not support such actions.
// The Congressional Budget Office projects spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other government health programs will more than double as a share of the nation's economy by 2037. What specific changes would you propose to reduce Medicare costs? //
We need to reduce the projected cost of Medicare by reducing the growth rate of health care costs. We took an important step in this direction with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. The law invests in prevention, wellness, coordinated care, universal coverage and health technology - all of which will reduce the growth rate of health care costs - and it extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years.
Analyses of Medicare data have shown that the sickest 10 percent of beneficiaries account for 70 percent of program spending. To bring down these costs, we must address chronic diseases and reduce the fragmentation of our system through delivery system reforms. The ACA ensures free coverage of proven preventive services, such as colorectal cancer screening, for seniors and people in commercial health insurance plans so that patients can identify risk factors and prevent conditions from developing into more serious, more costly diseases. The law also increases the financial incentives that employers can use to encourage workers' participation in wellness programs. It also establishes the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to help the Administration test new approaches to cost savings, such as moving away from a reimbursement system that pays per procedure and toward one that pays for episodes of care and rewards quality.