- 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? //
As we work to regain our country's economic momentum, now is not the right time to raise taxes on hard-working middle class American families struggling to make ends meet.
At the same time, we must ensure that higher income levels do not pay a lower tax rate than lower ones. Nearly 25 percent of millionaires pay fewer taxes than those in the middle-income brackets. Even Ronald Reagan said it was "crazy" that certain tax laws make it possible for multi-millionaires to pay no taxes, while a bus driver pays 10 percent. The so-called "Buffett Rule," which nearly 75 percent of Americans support, could save up to $162 billion over the next decade.
We can pay to extend tax cuts for the middle class by ending unfair loopholes and credits for special interests, such as the $4 billion in subsidies paid every year to the five largest oil companies amid record profits.
Ultimately, we need a wholesale restructure of both our income and corporate tax codes. It needs to be simplified. The sheer complexity of the current tax code hurts small businesses - which support two of every three jobs here in Maryland - where owners must spend countless hours and dollars filing their taxes. It's been more than 25 years since we last tried corporate tax reform. Our current system wasn't designed for today's modern, global economy, and certainly won't work in the future.
// 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. //
Lawmakers not included, I do not support extending a pay freeze or requiring federal employees to contribute even more to their retirement plan. I do support reevaluating this on an annual basis.
About 300,000 civilian federal employees live in Maryland, comprising 10 percent of our state's workforce. We are home to many military agencies like Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground, as well as federal agencies like the new Cyber Command, National Security Agency, Social Security and the National Institutes of Health. Competitive salaries and benefits help recruit and retain the qualified workers we need to conduct the critical missions of these agencies - supporting everything from national security to our nation's seniors - and safeguard our state economy.
Throughout the recession, these valuable and dedicated workers have been Congress' punching bag. For example, the most recent extension of the payroll tax for most American workers was approved at the expense of federal workers. Federal employees already have contributed $75 billion toward deficit reduction through the pay freeze. It is unfair to ask these employees and their families to sacrifice even more for a problem they did not cause.
// 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? //
This requires a multi-strategy approach. We can start by eliminating fraud, waste, insurance overpayment and abuse. Studies show as much as 14 percent of certain Medicare payments were "improper," which includes both deceptive claims from insurers and miscoded, but legitimate, billings. Preventing these mistakes will save $575 billion over the next decade.
We can also reduce costs and improve patient health by expanding health information technology and increasing coordination among patients' various doctors to make care more efficient. Electronic medical records and patient-centered coordinated care ensure that health providers will have the most up-to-date and complete medical records possible. That means different doctors can see what tests, treatments, imaging, and prescriptions have been administered already, thus preventing duplicate efforts and costs.
Each of these steps must be accompanied by a continued emphasis on preventative medicine.
Simply put, it's cheaper to prevent you from getting sick - or catching an illness or injury early - than treating you after the fact.
I believe that the healthcare reform law will go a long way toward achieving many of these goals. I supported reform because, while far from perfect, it provides free preventive care and cheaper prescription drugs. It cracks down on overpayments due to waste, fraud and abuse and incentivizes physician productivity.