Key Items from My Local Berniecrats Survey

For my candidacy as a progressive Democrat for Florida’s 6th Congressional district, I have applied to be listed as a Local Berniecrat political candidate.

Update: I have been listed! Click here.

Note that although I have included this article in my Endorsements category, Local Berniecrats has only listed me, but not endorsed me, at this time.

The positions I have put forth align well with what Bernie Sanders has been fighting for since well before I was born.

I did not see anything on their survey to disagree with. I do support “vote blue no matter who” for Joe Biden over Donald Trump, and I argue that we should continue influencing the Democratic party to be more progressive, as Bernie has and will do again at the Democratic National Convention on August 17, 2020.

THANK YOU to three Bernie supporters in my district who have re-allocated their monthly donations to my campaign, now that Bernie Sanders has suspended his presidential campaign. There are many more who will be joining me in the fight to flip Florida’s 6th Congressional district blue, and my candidacy is unprecedented because every viable candidate who has run before in this “safely” Republican R+7 district has been a centrist. I face only one Democratic primary challenger who is running for office for his 5th time. When I win the primary on August 18, 2020, it will be national news in and of itself, which will elevate public awareness of our platform.

Here are some key items I gave written responses to on the Local Berniecrats survey.

Did you support Bernie in the 2016 Primary?

No. I’m a former Republican and my parents are big Trump supporters. I’ve written about my journey to becoming a progressive Democrat here. I supported Bernie Sanders in the 2020 primary including donating $227.19 and canvassing for him. I will fight for Bernie’s agenda in Congress. Many local Bernie supporters are putting their money and volunteer efforts behind me (while staying safe from coronavirus).

Do you agree that today, we live in the richest country in the history of the world, but that reality means little because much of that wealth is controlled by a tiny handful of individuals and to address that, the wealthy and large corporations must pay their fair share in taxes?

Yes, wealth inequality is out of control and represents many decades of failure to capture an appropriate share of American innovation and progress. Our politicians are bought and paid for, and the price was very cheap (a tremendous investment for the wealthy).

Do you agree with reinstating Glass-Steagall Act and huge financial institutions must be broken up so they are no longer too big to fail?

Yes. It’s ridiculous that huge financial institutions receive massive corporate welfare, tax giveaways, privilege, and advantages.

Do agree that no one who works 40-hours a week should live in poverty and the minimum wage needs to be a livable wage of $15 an hour?

I do, and I actually support a universal basic income too. I think a UBI is better than a federal jobs guarantee because it’s impossible to provide meaningful, traditional jobs to everyone. We need a nationwide $15 per hour minimum wage, but this will have a side effect of eliminating many jobs, as seen in grocery stores in Europe which have far fewer staff and more automation and self-checkout than in the USA. This is why I think a $15 minimum wage should be coupled with a UBI.

Do you agree that it is critically important to create jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing in a youth jobs programs?

This is a great idea and I think we can do it in a way that doesn’t cost the taxpayer a whole lot. When I become a Congressman I will use my $1.4 million annual budget to create jobs in my district offices for local Bernie supporters and other Democrats to help our district’s constituents.

Do you agree that Social Security must be expanded by raising the cap on income available for payroll deduction and taxing investment income so that every American can retire with dignity?

Most certainly. The idea that Social Security is unsustainable, pushed by the incumbent Republican Michael Waltz, is simply untrue. Stop capping the tax at the first $137,700 of wages. Even if we just got rid of the cap on the EMPLOYER portion, that would probably be enough. If we get rid of the cap on the employee portion too, plus higher taxes on investment income (which are often 0% presently), we can fund Social Security forever and increase benefits to boot.

Do you agree with following: Citizens United, a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, resulted in enabling the wealthiest people and largest corporations in this country to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns. This decision must be overturned and corruption in politics must end. This means fighting to pass a constitutional amendment making it clear that Congress and the states have the power to regulate money in elections. We must also eliminate super PACs and other outside spending abuses and work to aggressively enforce campaign finance rules.

Citizens United is a complete disaster. Recently, Trump’s Super PAC bought the Trump campaign’s email list. The justices’ flawed position was that INDEPENDENT political expenditures are free speech and cannot be capped. This is false on its face, and even more ludicrous when the expenditures are clearly not independent. Trump only raised $1 billion for his 2016 campaign. The coronavirus CARES Act just gave away $170 billion in tax giveaways (over the next 10 years) to real estate moguls. Trump’s Super PAC is a TREMENDOUS investment for rich people. They are getting insane returns on their investment. It’s oligarchical, unfair, and un-American.

Do you agree with the following: Every American who studies hard in school should be able to go to college regardless of how much money their parents make and without going deeply into debt. For that, we need to work towards tax-paid public accredited college access for all who are accepted and free tuition at all public colleges, stopping the federal government from making a profit on student loans.

Yes, and I think Florida can be a trailblazer for free college. As a resident, one can already earn a Bachelor’s degree at Daytona State College and other state colleges for under $15,000 of tuition and fees, or completely free with some extra spending money if qualifying for the Pell grant for all 4 years. We need to emphasize this. When I was at Daytona State, I met several students who did not even bother to apply for the FAFSA even though they could have gotten loads of free money.

Do you agree with the following: Healthcare is a human right. Our healthcare system needs to work for all of us. We must guarantee healthcare as a right of citizenship by enacting a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system, as well as lowering the price for prescription drugs.

Yes, I support Bernie’s version of Medicare for All: Universal healthcare for all Americans. Our present patchwork is a mess and is wasting tons of money and human resources. Corporations merge and centralize all the time to consolidate resources and improve efficiency. Our healthcare system needs to be overhauled with a single-payer system that eliminates private health insurance and gets rid of premiums, deductibles, co-insurance, and co-pays (except perhaps a small co-pay on prescription drugs). This is a much-needed investment in the American people that will strengthen our populace and economy.

Do you agree that the U.S. must move away from a policy of unilateral military action, and toward a policy of emphasizing diplomacy, and ensuring the decision to go to war is a last resort?

Yes, our military spending is insane and senseless. We would get a MUCH better bang for our buck by focusing on diplomacy, yet our State Department is now in tatters. Some estimates put our annual military spending over $1 trillion when including debt service. This has been a bonanza for the military–industrial complex, and it cannot go on any longer.

Do you agree that the U.S. defense spending is larger than that of the next seven largest defense budgets and we must firmly reject any increase to defense spending at the cost of cuts to domestic social spending?

Yes, our war budget is out of control and should only go down from here, in both nominal and real terms. Our engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq have been unmitigated disasters and have cost us dearly.

Do you agree with the following: The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change if we are to make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards renewable energy sources.

I support and will co-sponsor a Green New Deal for America. The climate crisis is getting worse every year. The oceans are hotter resulting in explosive intensification of hurricanes that impact Florida, Puerto Rico, and many other areas. The costs are becoming extreme, and there is little time left to prevent a hellish future. This is not alarmism, but fact. You cannot deny that we have gone from 280 to 415 ppm of CO2 due to human activity. We must stop subsidizing fossil fuels.

I will also co-sponsor the Ban Fracking Act. We can innovative with lithium-ion batteries, hydro-electric power, solar, wind, and other green energy. If we level the playing field with fossil fuels, these technologies will take off, even without a carbon tax, and they will spread worldwide to China, India, and elsewhere. I also support appropriate taxes on tourism and unnecessary travel. The coronavirus pandemic is showing us that cruises, visits to Disney World from thousands of miles away, and a lot of business and work travel was never actually necessary.

I can tell you I am probably the only viable Congressional candidate in this district ever who is anti-NASCAR. NASCAR is completely ridiculous, and the France family knows this, which is why they fund Trump and my Republican opponent heavily. I know they are claiming they will have hybrid cars in 2022, but don’t hold your breath. We must curtail unnecessary carbon emissions, such as NASCAR, cruises, air travel, motor vehicles, cement, fracking and flaring, and so forth.

Do you agree with the following: Despite the central role immigrants play in our economy and in our daily lives, undocumented workers are reviled by some for political gain and shunted into the shadows. It is time for this disgraceful situation to end. We must pave the way for a swift legislative path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants an immediate citizenship for all DACA and DAPA participants.

Yes, Trump loves to call these Americans dangerous, illegal aliens, which is ridiculous. Dreamers have been here since childhood and had no say in where they were born. My mother fled China after Tiananmen Square, met and married my father, and gave birth to me in Daytona Beach in 1991. I would be the same person had I been born overseas and been relocated by my parents to the USA afterward.

Do you agree with the following: The inhumane deportation machine must be dismantled by ending deportation programs, closing down private detention centers, offering humane treatment and asylum to victims of violence and minors fleeing from dangerous circumstances.

Yes, deportation and punishing restrictions on asylum-seekers is an un-American humanitarian tragedy. We have drastically cut the number of people each year who can lawfully migrate to the USA, out of ideology rather than logic. Children are suffering and dying in CBP custody. “Remain in Mexico” is a death sentence for many asylum seekers.

Do you support a woman’s right to choose and will you work to repeal legislation like the Hyde Amendment that inhibits funding or access to care at Planned Parenthood or any other clinic? Do you support affordable women’s care and free birth control? Also will you support buffer zones at entrances to these clinics?

Yes, federal funding of Planned Parenthood is only about $500 million per year and is mainly Medicaid reimbursements. It’s a total red herring issue used to rile up part of the electorate. If you want fewer abortions, you will get there through education, free birth control, universal healthcare, and eliminating poverty and disadvantage for women. You won’t get there by criminalizing abortion and eliminating women’s access to care.

Around the time of Roe v. Wade, Republicans and Democrats were both pro-choice. The scheme to radicalize the Republican party on this issue was first targeted toward liberal Democrats who were anti-death penalty. That’s how upside-down today’s politics are on this issue.

Do you agree with the following: The United States must not just honor Native American treaty rights and tribal sovereignty, it must also move away from a relationship of colonization and control, and toward one of deference and support. That means supporting tribal sovereignty and tribal jurisdiction, honoring the treaties and federal statutes, improving housing and education, as well as by protecting sacred places and Native American cultures.

Yes, what we have done to the Native Americans, and continue to do, is abhorrent and is a national embarrassment. I support all of the listed items.

Do you support common sense gun control/improved background checks (e.g. ban on assault weapons), like Bernie does?

Yes, I support all items from the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America platform, including red flag laws, closing loopholes, stringent background checks, and bans on high-capacity magazines, assault weapons, and on gun ownership by those convicted of violent misdemeanors and felonies. It is my opinion that the NRA is completely misguided. If you want to defend law-abiding gun owners’ rights, you should be FOR these restrictions. It makes lawful gun owners look very bad when we are constantly having so many suicides, homicides, and mass murders due to gun violence. The USA has the most gun violence by far of any developed nation. We need to fight the gun lobby and end the madness.

Do you agree with the principle of separation of church and state?

Yes, and also, churches should not be political weapons. They should not be receiving bailouts for to pay the salaries of high-earning senior pastors under the CARES Act, which classified them as “businesses.” If they are businesses, they should pay property taxes, income taxes, and so forth.

Do you support transforming existing parties as well as working toward electoral change to make independents and third parties viable alternatives in order to get corporate ownership out of politics? Do you take exception to the concept of “vote blue no matter who?”

I think this is a unique moment where we must “vote blue no matter who” to get Trump out of office. I’ll take the accused rapist (Biden) over the confirmed rapist (Trump). Trump is killing countless Americans with his disastrous response to coronavirus. He’s killing foreigners and future humans with his denial of the climate crisis. He’s incompetent, ignorant, reckless, criminal, hateful, and embarrassing.

I was very surprised at Biden’s landslide victories in many states Sanders did much better in 4 years ago. I am not so arrogant as to argue that African Americans and other Biden voters’ votes should not be respected. Let’s continue working to transform and improve the Democratic party from the inside out, while we unite to boot Lyin’ Donald Trump out of office in November.

Do you refuse campaign donations from corporations and corporate PACs?

At first I thought I would adopt this position: I’ll take their money if they are so stupid as to give it to me, but they’ll never do it again once they see what I do as a Congressman. I ran this by certain Democratic party leaders who said saying this is a bad idea. Therefore, I have revised my position: I will refuse contributions from corporations and corporate PACs. Don’t worry—there’s no way in hell they would want to contribute to a candidate with my positions. However, I will seek money from certain PACs, such as the 314 Action PAC to elect scientists (I have a PhD in Education).

Update: I have been listed! Click here.

Note that although I have included this article in my Endorsements category, Local Berniecrats has only listed me, but not endorsed me, at this time.

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