David Price - United States Representative, NC 4th District | Candidate Questionnaires - Federal | Indy Week
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David Price - United States Representative, NC 4th District 

Name as it appears on the ballot: David E. Price

Campaign website: priceforcongress.co

Phone number: 919-854-4155

Email: lkluttz@pricecampaign.com

Years lived in the district/state: 43 year

1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues the United States faces? If elected, what will you do to address these issues, given the gridlock that seems to define Congress these days? 

My top priority in Washington has been and will remain improving economic opportunities  for all North Carolinians,  including those who have been left behind in the recovery. That means supporting all stages of education, from investing in early childhood programs to leveraging successful K-12 initiatives to expanding access to college. The federal government must also renew its investments in priorities that create well-paying jobs and lead to stable economic growth in the long run. As North Carolina’s only member of the Appropriations Committee, I am a champion for federal  research programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and other agencies, and of support for spinoff entrepreneurial ventures. As Ranking Democrat on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, I am focused particularly on increased support for affordable housing and transportation infrastructure

Back home in North Carolina, Governor McCrory and the Republican leadership in Raleigh have undone decades of progress while codifying discrimination against LGBT individuals and minorities into law.  While I don’t have direct influence over these state policy decisions, I have sought to ensure that the federal government is a counterweight against them, for example by cosponsoring legislation to reinstate Voting Rights Act protections for minorities and by urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reject the Governor’s misguided Medicaid privatization scheme.  I was also proud to join my Democratic colleagues in our state’s congressional delegation in calling unequivocally for a repeal of H.B. 2.

Finally, the recent tragic events in Charlotte have made clear once again that we must find a way to increase accountability in policing and confront the disproportionate incidence of police violence against African American men. I have strongly supported community policing, training, and transparency efforts, and I hope to facilitate dialogue between community leaders and law enforcement officials over the coming weeks. I have also been a leader in congressional efforts to address the related problem of gun violence. As Vice Chair of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I have fought for common-sense reforms that will help save lives, including keeping guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists and ensuring universal background checks. 

2. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your voting record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term?

My career in Congress has been deeply rooted in the place that I call home, and working on behalf of Fourth District constituents remains the most important part of my job. This also requires an understanding of the public policy underpinnings of the economic opportunity and quality of life that have made our region distinctive ― and that we must enhance going forward. This includes quality public education, first-rate community colleges and public universities, a modern multi-modal infrastructure, a robust research enterprise, support for innovation and entrepreneurship, and now, it must be added in light of H.B. 2, a hospitable and welcoming environment for all people.

3. Economic growth has been fairly mediocre in recent months. Things have improved since the Great Recession, but much of the growth has gone to top earners. What would you do to address rising income inequality? 

Addressing income inequality goes hand-in-hand with my main priorities in Congress. Raising the federal minimum wage and indexing the wage to inflation is one obvious place to start. We must give more Americans access to an affordable college education without the stifling burden of excessive student loan debt. We must make major investments in transportation infrastructure, research, and other priorities that will create millions of solid, good-paying jobs today while also widening the pathway to economic opportunity in the future. Finally, we have to come to agreement on comprehensive tax reform that requires the wealthiest individuals and corporations to pay their fair share.

4. In general, what changes do you believe should be made to U.S. tax policy? What about federal spending? Do you believe the government should, for example, increase its investments in infrastructure and other priorities, or do you believe the government should focus on cutting expenditures to alleviate the deficit? 

As North Carolina’s only member of the Appropriations Committee and the senior Democrat on the Transportation-Housing subcommittee, I am fighting for increased federal investments in priorities like transportation, housing, education, and research to support economic growth and broadened opportunity. I also strongly support comprehensive tax reform that closes corporate loopholes and asks the very wealthiest to pay their fair share, which will help fund these critical investments. Unfortunately, Republican leadership is focused on reducing the deficit through appropriations cuts alone, an approach that ― in addition to being wildly unrealistic and unsustainable ― shortchanges the programs that provide critical services to vulnerable populations and create well-paying new jobs. Ironically, it also fails to address the main drivers of the deficit: tax expenditures and mandatory spending.

5. In North Carolina this year, we’ve seen two major insurers pull out of the federal health care exchange, which seems to be a blow to the Affordable Care Act. What do you believe should be done about health care? Do you favor changes to Obamacare? Or would you rather see it repealed? If so, with what would you replace it? 

I believe that the Affordable Care Act, while far from perfect, is a major improvement over the broken health care system that we had before. Thanks to the ACA, millions of Americans have secured health coverage for the first time, and quality of care continues to improve for people facing major health crises. That said, major challenges remain as we work to implement the law, and I am open to any reasonable reforms that are designed to strengthen rather than undermine it. This most certainly would include a “public option” to ensure the availability of coverage and provide a benchmark for costs.

6. Mass shootingssome of which have at least tangential ties to terrorist organizationshave become an all-too-common occurrence. What more do you believe the government can do to disrupt so-called “lone wolf” attacks? Do you believe there should be limits on who can legally purchase high-caliber rifles? 

As Vice Chair of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I am a leading congressional advocate for reforms that will address the epidemic of gun violence and save lives. I strongly support common-sense provisions like preventing the sale of military-grade weapons and requiring a universal background check for gun purchases. I have also supported “no-fly, no-buy,” a proposal to keep firearms and explosives out of the hands of suspected terrorists

Confronting the threat posed by domestic terrorists more broadly calls for heightened vigilance and expanded outreach to vulnerable communities. Government agencies are actively engaging with faith and community leaders, and I believe that this outreach must be part of any comprehensive strategy for identifying and de-radicalizing Americans who are sympathetic to terrorist organizations. Donald Trump’s stigmatizing of the entire Muslim community is totally wrongheaded and extremely dangerous.

7. In terms of foreign policy, what do you believe are the Obama administration’s biggest successes? What do you believe are the administration’s biggest failures? What steps do you believe Congress should take with regard to these shortcomings?

I believe President Obama has done a remarkably good job of improving our country’s reputation abroad and protecting our national security under very difficult circumstances. I have fought to defend the historic Iran nuclear agreement, which I believe will make the world a safer place and our strongest allies in the region more secure. I also strongly support the new diplomatic ties President Obama has established with Cuba and Burma, two countries that now have the opportunity to join the international community. Finally, I believe the President has made great strides toward degrading the threat posed by terrorist organizations around the world, but that effort will continue for years to come.

During his first campaign, President Obama made a commitment to end the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Republicans have consistently blocked his efforts. The indefinite detention of foreign nationals does great harm to our reputation in the Middle East, and it has provided extremist organizations with recruitment propaganda. Congress must work with President Obama to close Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office.

8. One area where there seems to be an emerging bipartisan consensus relates to criminal-justice reform, specifically nonviolent drug offenses. How would you propose reforming drug policy? Do you believe marijuana should be either decriminalized or legalized under federal law? Do you believe the federal government should intervene where states have relaxed marijuana prohibitions contrary to federal law? Do you believe that marijuana should be removed from Schedule I classification? 

The United States incarcerates a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country in the world, and our prison system is underfunded, overpopulated, and has terrible rates of recidivism. The prison population grew significantly thanks to the anti-drug policies of the 1980s and 1990s, which did little to address illegal drug use while costing taxpayers billions. I have supported federal efforts to eliminate mandatory minimums for cocaine sentencing, and I am in favor of additional efforts to shift the focus of our drug policy from punishment to rehabilitation. I have supported the availability of marijuana for medicinal use and do not believe the federal government should intervene when states wish to relax marijuana prohibitions.

9. The recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership has been criticized by some corners of both the right and left, though Congress did vote last year to grant the president “fast-track” authority. In general, do you support or oppose the TPP? Why or why not? Do you believe that it does enough to protect American workers? 

As a longtime resident of North Carolina, I have seen firsthand both the great benefits and negative consequences of international trade. Trade has cost our state many jobs in traditional industries like manufacturing and textiles, but it also supports the innovation and economic growth that has allowed the Research Triangle to thrive. North Carolina agriculture has also been a big winner.

The right kind of trade agreement should mitigate, as opposed to making worse, the negative effects of globalization. In addition to opening markets for American products, it should help prevent the “race to the bottom” in labor and environmental standards that we have seen too often. On balance, I did not think the proposed bill granting “fast track” authority to the president for TPP and other agreements measured up, and I opposed it. The TPP does not look likely to receive a vote before the end of the Obama Administration, and I will continue working with the next president to ensure that any trade deal protects American workers and gives our economy a competitive advantage. 

10. What do you believe is driving the polarization of and rancor in American politics? Is there anything you believe Congress can do about it? In what areas do you believe you could reach a compromise with members of the opposite political party? 

In my thirty years in Congress and earlier career as a political scientist, I have never seen our politics as polarized as they are now. These divisions are driven by money in politics and rampant gerrymandering – politicians on both sides of the aisle find themselves in “safe” districts, so they play to their respective base voters and well-heeled interest groups in order to avoid a primary challenge from a more extreme candidate. This polarization and pandering to the base is especially pronounced on the Republican side: the Tea Party-backed populists who came to Congress in 2010 are unwilling to compromise their extreme ideology in order to do what’s best for the country.

That said, there is still hope for bipartisan cooperation. I am a member of the Appropriations Committee, which historically has been insulated from partisan rancor but now is in danger of being swamped by it. Still, I work closely with Republican colleagues to fund critical federal priorities each fiscal year. I have also worked across the aisle as a leader of the resolutely bipartisan House Democracy Partnership, a commission of the House of Representatives that supports parliament-strengthening efforts in the developing world.

11. One particularly galling example of congressional gridlock is Congress’s inability to pass funding to combat the Zika virus. The White House asked for $1.9 billion; congressional Republicans settled on $1.1 billion but attached a series of what Democrats call “poison pills”e.g., Planned Parenthood funding, flying Confederate flags over national cemeteriesthat have led to a filibuster and White House veto threat. As a member of Congress, what would you do to get past these impasses?  

This spring, I helped convene a Zika roundtable at Research Triangle Park, where we heard from university researchers, private firms, and federal agencies that Congress must pass emergency funding to combat the spread of the virus. Months have passed since that event, and Republican leadership still has not provided the level of funding that President Obama requested. Instead, they have held Zika research hostage to their radical agenda, refusing to provide funding without language to undermine the Affordable Care Act or attack women’s health. NIH has now been forced to cannibalize its research accounts. This is shameful and dangerous, and I have and will continue to urge my colleagues to put the politics aside and confront this public health threat before it gets worse.

12. Donald Trump’s campaign has been marked by bombast and incendiary remarksattacking Gold Star parents, for example, or calling Mexican immigrants rapists. Do you believe these remarks render Trump temperamentally unfit for the presidency? 

Yes. Donald Trump, whose main motivation for seeking the Presidency seems to be self-promotion, won the Republican nomination by manipulating the fears of the conservative base. In doing so, he has already done great harm to our reputation on the international stage, further divided our nation at a time of great unrest and uncertainty, and disregarded our core values of equal protection and mutual respect. To make him Commander in Chief would be tremendously damaging to our national identity, let alone our security and that of our allies.

13. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been dogged by an FBI investigation into her email use at the State Department. Do you believe that Clinton is trustworthy and honest? 

Yes. I have known Hillary Clinton for many years. She is a trustworthy public servant who has dedicated her career to protecting our country and expanding opportunities for all Americans to lead healthier, more prosperous lives. The controversy surrounding her use of a private email server is politically-motivated and designed to undercut her impressive record as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.

14. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters. 

I believe that we must take action to shore up the long-term financial solvency of Social Security and Medicare. Any reforms must be progressive rather than regressive and must protect existing benefits for seniors who have been paying into these programs for their entire lives, but we simply cannot continue to pretend that underlying structural funding problems don’t exist.

15. Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals issued an injunction against North Carolina’s voter ID law, which a deadlocked Supreme Court let stand. The Court of Appeals ruled that the law was conceived with discriminatory intent; recent reporting from The Washington Post has indicated that the law was drafted with the intention to discourage African Americans from voting. Do you believe the law passed by the legislature discriminates against black voters? 

Yes, the Voter ID law clearly discriminates against black voters and violates our most basic principles of equal rights and representative democracy. The three-judge panel convincingly documented not simply discriminatory effects but deliberate intent. I was pleased by the Court of Appeals injunction, and I am hopeful that the federal courts will ultimately declare the law unconstitutional. I am also fighting to restore critical protections of the Voting Rights Act which could have prevented the discriminatory Voter ID law from going into effect.

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