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Billboards and ads on television and social media publicize candidates and their party affiliations. The positions of candidates on major issues are unclear, even on their campaign websites. In the absence of televised debates and news conferences how can we, the voters, determine where the candidates stand on these issues? Do candidates have a core set of political beliefs or do they see their role as relaying positions of their party to and from Congress? I pose these questions to candidates for the U.S. Congress:

 

Health care

In 2018, the U.S. spent $3.6 trillion on health care, or 17.7% of its gross domestic product. This translates into more than $11,000 per person. Although more than 20 million Americans gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 27 million remain uninsured. What is your position on the ACA? If you favor repealing the ACA, what do you propose in its place?

Insured individuals face steadily increasing co-payments for prescriptions and medical services. How would you address rising prices for medications and medical devices?

U.S. health care is marked by large disparities in outcomes based on race and ethnicity. How would you narrow this gap?

 

COVID-19 pandemic

The global, COVID-19 pandemic has been managed in the U.S. by deferring major decisions on prevention and treatment to individual states. States that have adopted stringent measures of prevention have managed to contain the epidemic within their borders. States have had to compete against each other to procure supplies for diagnosis and disease treatment.

Should a pandemic be managed nationally or on a state-by-state basis?

How can medical science and the scientific agencies of government be protected from political influence?

 

Immigration

The Trump administration has backed construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border as a major deterrent to illegal immigration. To date, the construction of 576 new miles of wall has cost $11 billion. Completion of the remaining 1,300 miles will cost an additional $26 billion. Do you favor completion of the wall?

In 2012, the Obama administration unveiled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program applies to 650,000 children brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. DACA grants renewable, two-year protections against deportation. President Trump announced in 2017 his intention to scrap the program. In June 2020, the Supreme Court upheld DACA.

Do you support DACA? Do you support a pathway to citizenship for "Dreamers?"

 

Foreign policy

Russia has been implicated in meddling in the 2016 and 2020 national political campaigns. In recent months U.S. intelligence reported that Russia offered bounties to the killers of U.S. military personnel serving in Afghanistan. Russia has been implicated in poisoning opponents of its regime. How should the U.S. response be to these acts?

In 1949, the U.S. led a coalition of North American and European nations to form the North American Treaty Organization as a deterrent to Russian aggression. Has NATO outlived its usefulness? Should the U.S. unilaterally withdraw from NATO?

President Trump also has announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), founded in 1946 to eradicate epidemic diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria. Should the U.S. withdraw from WHO?

 

Climate

Each year sees rising, global temperatures. A large body of evidence supports increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere as the basis for global warming, which is perceived as an imminent danger to mankind. Carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels is a major component of GHG. Do you accept the validity of these findings? If you do, how do you propose that the U.S. and the worldwide community limit and ultimately reduce GHG?

Other issues — racism, violence, poverty, joblessness — need urgent attention. Each generates its own set of questions, which need specific answers from candidates for congressional office.

Contact Clif Cleaveland at ccleaveland@timesfreepress.com.

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