Brenda L. Cleary | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Brenda L. Cleary 

Candidate for U.S. House

Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Brenda L. Cleary

Full legal name, if different: Brenda Lewis Cleary

Date of Birth: 09/08/1951

Mailing address: Cleary for Congress, PO Box 28778, Raleigh NC 27601

Campaign Web Site: www.clearyforcongress.com

Occupation & Employer: RN, PhD Self Employed

Work Phone: 919-267-9648 Cell Phone: 919-946-8533

Email: brenda@clearyforcongress.com

Twitter handle, if applicable: @cleary4congress


1. If elected to the House, what is your highest priority for the next Congress? Please discuss what you would do to help it be achieved.

To get to work addressing the growing inequality in America which Robert Reich shows inevitably rises whenever political polarization peaks. Specifically, I would set about to influence my fellow policy makers to vote for a living wage for all hard working Americans. I will also support common core standards in public education so that all of our children have access to the knowledge and skills they need to pursue higher education and upward mobility along with the ability to compete in a global economy.

As an expert in health policy, I will serve as a very vocal advocate for incentives that bring all 50 states into Medicaid expansion. I have never wavered from being a fierce advocate for the Affordable Care Act as it addresses inequality in an essential human service: health care that empowers all of us to have a healthier future. ACA is already working to control runaway costs that could make Medicare unsustainable while increasing benefits such as no-cost preventive care and lower drug costs for Seniors.

With my background in aging, I will stand up for Social Security as being self-funded and off the table in terms of deficit reduction. This widely popular national program lifted whole generations out of poverty. The sheer numbers of us baby boomers are creating an imbalance between the funds going in versus funds going out. However, since it remains solvent for another generation, we should be about the business of common sense tweaking so that it will be there for generations to come. And it is way past time for immigration reform. Basically, I will always use principles of non-discrimination in policy analysis and in drafting legislation.

2. Some House candidates favor term limits and pledge, if elected, to limit the number of terms they will seek? Is that a good idea? Will you, if elected, impose terms limits on yourself?

I will limit myself to a maximum of 5 terms. At that point, I would turn my energy to mentoring and succession planning in order to assure that other progressives succeed and principled policy-making endures. I will otherwise put my personal energy into grand-mothering.

3. As a result of Citizens United and related factors, so-called “dark money” is pouring into American political campaigns without voters knowing where it came from. Do you favor or oppose measures to require that contributors be identified when their money is used to pay for political ads and other activities?

I am currently reeling from the McCutcheon decision which adds bigger money to the serious adverse consequences of the dark money of Citizens United. How can we fight inequality if our very democracy is at stake in terms of ability of Americans to have each vote count and evening the playing field so a diverse field of candidates can run.

4. The American economy is not producing enough jobs for everyone who wants one, especially not enough jobs that pay enough to support a family. Conservative critics say the reason is too much federal spending which crowds out private investment. Critics on the left say there’s not enough public investment in job-producing sectors, while private capital is flowing to other countries. Where do you come down on this issue?

We need to rescue and revisit the jobs bill that has been languishing in Congress, with its multi-pronged approach to public investment in jobs, in much needed areas such as clean energy and rebuilding our aging infrastructure.

5. Do you support increasing the federal minimum wage? If so, to what amount? And should it be indexed for inflation?

I support a growing consensus of a minimum of $10.10. Regardless of the amount, indexing it for inflation would be a more enduring step forward in addressing income inequality and raising working Americans out of poverty.

6. On the Affordable Care Act, what should the next Congress do? Repeal it? Change it? If so, how?

I would offer an alternative that is to call a moratorium on placing further barriers to ACA's implementation and setting a future date to review it. Then direct DHHS to continue to collect data points that would allow Congress to have an evidence base for assessing what is working well and what, if anything, could be improved. With my knowledge of what is actually in the law, as opposed to myths and outright mistruths that surround it, I could contribute a great deal to these deliberations.

7. Should undocumented immigrants be offered a path to citizenship? If so, what requirements would you impose? How should the law treat undocumented young adults and children who’ve grown up in the U.S. after being brought here by their parents?

Yes, a reasonable pathway to citizenship for law abiding adult immigrants currently residing in the US, and their children. It is the right thing to do in a nation of immigrants and will improve the nation's economy. Any immigration reform will need to include common sense border security measures as well.

8. Do you think climate change is a serious, even urgent problem? Do you think human beings are causing it? What environmental policies should the U.S. adopt to combat climate change, if any?

The scientific jury is in: climate change is a real and serious problem and our reluctance to acknowledge that it has anything to do with human choices and behaviors limits our power to turn radical climate change around before it is too late.

9. Is it time to pass a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to protect the rights of LGBTQ people in the workplace?

Absolutely. I wish more policymakers would see it as righting another inequality.

10. Should union organizing be facilitated by changes to labor laws, including the proposed Employee Free Choice Act (ECRA)?

While I am well-versed in workforce supply and demand, I do not consider myself an expert on labor unions. However, I learned a lot at a recent Organizing the South meeting at AFL-CIO headquarters. I share the belief that every American worker needs a voice.

11. Do you support or oppose increasing tax rates on the wealthy, either to reduce federal debt or as part of a package to raise money for public investments and/or cut taxes for the middle-class?

I would support a tax package which addresses the loopholes and tax advantages for the very wealthy that actually increase tax burdens of on the middle class.

12.What do you think of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s idea of expanding Social Security benefits as private pensions become less and less common?

I always pay attention to Senator Warren, a brilliant progressive woman and I think this concept could have legs. It is also consistent with my commitment to an aging population where many people are having to delay the retirement they planned for, owing to the fear they will outlive their money.

  • Candidate for U.S. House

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