U.S. House Questionnaire: Jane Watson | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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U.S. House Questionnaire: Jane Watson 

Name as it appears on the ballot: Jane Watson
Campaign website: http://WatsonforCongress.us
Phone number: 419-287-6685
Email: jane@watsonforcongress.us
Years lived in the district: Wake-13 y+- [out of dist.- yet in middle of it]

1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues the United States faces? If elected, what would you do to address these issues?

1- Stamping "BIG (and 'Dark') -Money" out of politics. 
First and foremost, to save our “American way of life”, our economy, and in fact, our very democracy, we must sever the often obfuscated ties between “big-money” and elections, speech, and lobbyists who essentially write congressional legislation.  See DARK MONEY, J. Mayer (especially Ch.13).   Therefore, I will co-sponsor and promote a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and legislation requiring full and open disclosures, limited campaign contributions, access to certain public communications, and public financing for candidates for federal office.

See also, my website re: “We the People Amendment”:
“Watson puts her stamp of approval on 'An across-the-aisle Constitutional Amendment to end the era of Citizens United.'   She will join the Congressional effort with Walter Jones (NC) AND Rick Nolan (MN) in ‘their joint bipartisan effort to overturn Citizens United through the We the People Amendment.’" StampStampede.org

2- Reversing the virtually unprecedented disparity of wealth and income that makes a healthy, robust American economy unsustainable.

With good reason, voters continue to rank the economy as their top priority. When the top 1% holds about 40% of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 80% holds only about 7-14%+- [see Wealth Inequality in America, Perception vs Reality at youtube.com] people are hurting, suffering, angry, and feeling the reality that they are living in what could be described as a neo-feudalist society – on the precipice of revolt.  See also, the urgings and warnings of .01-percenter, Nick Hanauer, in 2 TED talks at youtube.com, using somewhat different figures, describing the same reality, and offering solutions to save capitalism; and, Robert Reich's 12 ideas to save the economy - The Big Picture, also at youtube.com. 

3- Restoring and enhancing infrastructure means creating non-exportable employment and preventing even greater decay and decline in job growth.  

Building infrastructure means building job opportunity by making investments that work for all, now and in the future .   As Senator Warren points out, job creation, the nature of income growth, and infrastructure decay in the US are inextricably related.  That 100% of income growth from 1980 to 2012 went to the top 10% while 0% went to the 90% meant the hollowing-out of the middle-class and under-investing in infrastructure.  Congress has chosen to spend America's money on tax- loopholes and other means of distributing wealth to the richest Americans, rather than finding and creating a sustainable way to fund infrastructure for future prosperity.  I will, in all ways conceivable, act for and support congressional actions that promote rising up rather than trickling down.
[See Elizabeth Warren on American Job Creation and Infrastructure  at youtube.com]
 
Furthermore, I believe that this corrosive, congressional neglect rises to the level of jeopardizing our national security.

2. Name three members of Congress, past or present, who you look up to as role models. Explain why you have picked these three.

Jeannette Rankin - Republican from Montana, who, in 1916, became the first woman to hold national office in the House and who held the office for a second term in 1940.  

She was instrumental in the initiation of legislation that became the 19th Amendment and championed gender equality and civil rights throughout her career.  Hence, she was the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.  She was the sole dissent in the declaration of war in 1917, saying 'As a woman, I can't go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else."  She abstained in 1941.  Kansas Emporia Gazette:  "Probably a hundred men in Congress would have liked to do what she did.  Not one of them had the courage to do it.  The Gazette entirely disagrees with the wisdom of her position.  But Lord, it was a brave thing!  . . . When in a hundred years from now, courage, sheer courage based upon moral indignation is celebrated in this country, the name of Jeannette Rankin, who stood firm in folly for her faith, will be written in monumental bronze, not for what she did, but for the way she did it."

Shirley Chisholm - Democrat from Bedford-Stuyvesant/Brooklyn NY, a woman of firsts:   African American woman elected to Congress - 1968;  African American woman to seek major party nomination for President;  woman to have her name placed in nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.  

A court-ordered redistricting that carved a new Brooklyn district convinced her to run for Congress.  She beat her nearest competitor in a primary election characterized by light voter turnout.  While her competitor in the general election claimed that the district needed a man's voice in Washington, not that of a little schoolteacher, she won on a motto that she was "unbought and unbossed."  She was given an assignment to sit on the House Agriculture Committee, rebelled, and was assigned to the Veterans Committee to which she quipped "There are a lot more veterans in my district than trees.'  She was an out-spoken critic of the Vietnam War.

George Henry White(R-NC) and Lee H. Hamilton(D-IN) - for different reasons.   

On the same day a federal trial began over NC's restrictive new voting law, Congressman Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, introduced a bill to issue a commemorative stamp honoring White who was driven out of office in 1901 by violent imposition of laws disenfranchising African Americans.  In his single term, he shepherded legislation which created more schools to train more African American school-teachers and became a principal of one such school. Later, he moved north, practiced law,  and established both a bank and, with others, a planned community named "Whitesboro", in NJ. 

From Florida, Hamilton moved to Indiana to be schooled and practiced law 10 years in Columbus, before being elected to the House in a Democratic landslide in 1964 (1965-1999).  His focus was Foreign Affairs and Intelligence and, since, has served in many related capacities, notably vice chair of the 9/11 Commission.  As chair of the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran (1987), he chose not to investigate President Reagan or President George H.W. Bush, as he didn't think it "good for the country" to put it through another impeachment trial.  Authored "How Congress Works and Why You Should Care" Indiana University Press, 2004

These are role models, representing why I would be a Republican, as my beloved grandparents were, if I had lived in the early 20th century. Straddling the 20th and 21st, I'm a Democrat.

3. 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? For both challengers and incumbents: In what ways would your election benefit the citizens of North Carolina?

Shirley Chisholm said: I'm "Unbought and Unbossed" !
People who want themselves, their concerns, their families and their communities represented in the US Congress by a conflict-free congresswoman having no duty or obligation to the donor-class or PAC or special-interest group and having commitments and obligations only to the ("real")people and communities of people whom she was elected to represent would want to vote for me.

The metamorphosis of rural to small-town and suburban to urban living in an area surrounding a big city and the study and participation in the metropolitan affairs of a capital city of about one million people in the heart of an agricultural, commercial and educational mecca gave me the grounding, the knowledge, and the know-how to be an effective representative for this newly-drawn Congressional District 2. In short, “my heart“ is in the perfect place.

My entire career-life and considerable education have been devoted and committed to making our government, our democracy, and our citizens realize the blessings of liberty and justice. Please see my background, training, and list of highlighted “Associations“ which demonstrate my commitment to my communities in private-sector roles, legislative roles, judicial roles and executive roles at local, state and federal levels under “About Jane“ at my website.

4. Candidates running for president this year have proposed wildly divergent tax plans. The Democrats have proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, whereas some Republicans have argued that we should do away with the graduated income tax altogether. What do you believe should be done about taxes? Are there any current proposals that you would support in Congress? 

As should be apparent from my responses, above, I'm going to be opposed to forms of regressive taxation.   Beware of legislative titles meaning the reverse of the content!  In general, the "Fair Tax", "Flat Tax", "Consumption Tax" and others tend to continue to feed the same negative distribution of benefits that we've seen since 1980 — often in the name of deficit-reduction.   What can be discussed on the surface is like the head of a pin with a grenade sitting under it.  Conflict-free "counsel" must be engaged by like-minded congressional delegates and their caucuses to mine the loopholes and legal constructions that undermine what is really fair for the citizens of this richest country on earth and their progeny.  

Generally speaking, I think we should move to a more nuanced, graduated income tax (looking more like pre-"trickle-down" than post-"trickle-down" taxation) mine for the loopholes, and make adjustments (given today's financial structures) that really do favor wage and job-growth and break the cycle of "killing off our best consumers" while increasing the profits of the top 1% and increasing "corporate welfare". 

To maintain sufficient Social-Security for the long-term, the cap on the social-security tax must be scrapped, and in addition, the estate tax must be increased to 1990's levels, (again, see Robert Reich's short-version videos).  

I also favor incentives for home-ownership, affordable and innovative housing-developments of all kinds, and generally, sustainable development of all kinds.  Likewise, I support incentives for efficient and clean energy, water. air and soil as well as waste-disposal.  Moreover, my support of such incentives will always be married to comparable incentives for wage-supports, education and re-training for displaced workers, including those affected by disruptive technologies. 

5. Since its inception, the Affordable Care Act has been polarizing. Republicans have called for it to be repealed “root and branch,” but have not reached consensus on what a replacement would look like. Democrats, meanwhile, have been supportive of the ACA, and some, especially Senator Bernie Sanders, have proposed moving to a Medicare-for-all system. What do you think should be done about health care in the United States? If you support repealing Obamacare, how would you propose structuring and funding its replacement? Do you support or oppose moving toward a single-payer system? Why or why not?

I agree with Senator Sanders, Robert Reich and others who propose moving to a Medicare-for-all system.  Medicare is not a part of the problem but is the solution to spreading risk and cutting the increasing costs of healthcare. Including preventative care, primary care, mental health and health education will pay dividends over time by reducing early deaths and the costs of acute and emergency care.

We've looked to many other countries for models that work.  We don't have to copy other models.  We have a model that has been working in this country for years.  I believe that the ACA can be amended to incorporate planned changes that accomplish coverage for all under a Medicare-type system.   

Plans also must account for the increased demand for appropriately educated and re-educated professionals and other relevant workers. And, for those who are concerned:  No question that a well-staffed, well-funded, and at least somewhat independent arm is required to audit, prevent fraud and over-charges, etc.  

6. Concerns about terrorism and related unrest in the Middle East have been at the forefront lately. Do you believe the United States is doing enough to counter the threat posed by ISIS and other militant groups? Why or why not?

I believe that the US could do much more to counter threats posed by militant groups, if its present members of Congress would focus on building a united and integrated front rather than delegitimizing its Commander-in-Chief and other related military and diplomatic leaders.  [see Federalist comments at my website re: Common Defence].   

Implicated in the question is the appropriate and lawful reach of Congressional War Powers.  Declaring war and paying for war are squarely among the most crucial powers of Congress.  In exercising the “Power of the Purse”, of course, it is necessary and appropriate for your congressional representative to rigorously investigate, inquire and question the strategies and manner in which military actions are conducted.  A combination of open and closed, necessary and proper, discussions must occur regarding the prosecution of US military actions.  As a candidate, the power or authority to access needed information to give a truly responsible and adequate answer to this question is unavailable. 

What I can say:  Beyond apparent are the enormous costs (costs well beyond the monetary) of 1) congressional action/voting on the basis of faulty intelligence, 2) failure to account for and comprehend, as fully as possible, the consequences of probable destabilizations in target regions and to arm the military with realistic counter-measures and antidotes, and/or 3)  “pulling the trigger“ without a clear, but flexible, strategy to achieve a well-defined success.  

Moreover, to “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” (Sun Tzu).  It’s necessary that both the Executive and Legislative be informed by multi-disciplinary, cultural, technical, and military panels having expertise in the most ancient and the newest of knowledges.  In no place, and at no time, do I think this more crucial than in the present!   

7. In terms of foreign policy, what do you believe are the best three things the Obama administration has done over the past seven-and-a-half years? What do you believe are the administration’s three biggest shortcomings or failures? What steps do you believe Congress should take with regard to these shortcomings or failures?

Let me first say that any adjudged foreign-policy failures or successes must be viewed in light of the colossal foreign-policy and domestic mistakes of the previous administration that took shape in the war in Iraq and the economic melt-down at home.  Both led to destabilizations with which the current administration has had to grapple, mightily.

There are at least three circumstances which occasioned unfortunate failures of communication by the President and/or his administration which may be faulted. My assessment is that all were related to the extreme difficulty of prosecuting a war and military actions growing out of the previous insurgencies in which the country already was embroiled.  While attempting to calm the citizenry and, at the same time, girding them for more warfare, announcements of withdrawals and draw-downs with hard dates drew negative assessments.  Failures in the handling of communications concerning the Benghazi matter remain cud, still, for  "the opposition".  And,  the failure of both this and the previous administrations and Congresses to plan and account for the arduous task of back-filling the void left upon deposing a dictatorship with the consequent destabilization that results are the subject of suggested deliberations I've made above.

Nonetheless, dogged determination has been shown in the actions which have resulted in the deaths of Osama Bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and about 20 other terrorist leaders.  Encouraging also is the stated policy to maintain a significant counter-terrorism capability of drones and Special-Operations forces to strike al-Qaeda, forces of the Islamic State, and other militants who may be plotting attacks against us.

Overall, multilateralism, with emphasis on diplomacy and cooperation with allies, has been a prominent and welcome change from the previous administration's foreign-policy conduct.  Likewise, promoting discussions that led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on global climate change should have world-wide benefits.  

[See other Q&A regarding engagement with Cuba and the Iranian deal]

8. Do you consider the Iran nuclear deal a success or failure? Explain why. Do you support engagement with the Iranian regime?

I think that it is too early to determine whether it is a success or failure.  Its success is dependent on our continued vigilance, flexibility of action, and diligence in executing verification procedures.  I think the fact of its existence and its having been negotiated, at all, is a success.  

I hope that, as dealings proceed pursuant to the deal, opportunities will arise for genuine diplomatic engagement, and perhaps other types of engagement.  Handling this particular process is a critical piece of hope for peaceful resolutions in the Mid-east and containing the spread of militarism, tribal hatreds, and outrageous atrocities.

For these reasons, I hope that we will have continuity of tenor and representation as to our diplomatic teams, our experts, and our leaders.

9. Similarly, do you believe the Obama administration’s engagement with Cuba is prudent? Why or why not?

I do.  Besides China, our biggest trade partners are our closest neighbors to the south and the north.  That doesn't mean that we condone the conduct of our neighbors.  It means we live in a relatively peaceful neighborhood.  Given the awful struggles that beset the continents on the other side of the world, I think it especially important to be engaged diplomatically and economically with our American neighbors [within and without OAS].  

To do otherwise is wildly inconsistent foreign policy.  Do we believe that Cuban conduct is worse than China's or Saudi Arabia's — or some of the NAFTA or TPP nations?  We are quite capable of conducting economic engagements without condoning human rights violations and without jeopardizing our stability.  If we were not, there would be few countries in the world with which we maintained economic or diplomatic relations.  [

History has shown that where we engage economically, socially and culturally, we find that countries move closer to our economic models of free and open trade.  These relationships can (and must) be managed in ways that do not compromise our economy's stability or our nation's safety and well-being. 

I would also note, that "ancient tribal thinking" drives much of the warfare on the other side of the world.  We need to put old hostilities to rest, here, in the "New World" — if I can travel to Japan and engage culturally and economically, tell me why I should not be able to engage 90 miles off my border.

10. One area where there seems to be an emerging bipartisan consensus related to criminal-justice reform, specifically as it relates to 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?

Criminal justice reform requires integrative, multi-dimensional changes , even when limited solely to non-violent drug offenses.  To this attorney who has committed over 30 years advocating for just results within the systems of several states, space doesn't permit an adequate response.   Speaking broadly, let me say that, by styling, at the outset, a national response to the problems of drug abuse as the "War on Drugs", it was lost in the wrong paradigm.  

Many tax dollars have been squandered fighting this "'war" in largely poor, minority and immigrant neighborhoods, where reasonable-suspicion for search and probable-cause for arrest and prosecution are thread-bare, and, where tax dollars for social services and community resources might have been better spent for public-health and public-safety officials/features, rather than for punitive engagements.  My guess is that the expense, across the board, of dealing with unrelated state-level crimes, would be about half were it not for this "war."  

Now, we are faced with problems of epic proportion which stem, perhaps, as much from the administration of treatments for various painful maladies [including mental health] and ill—advised, immature experimentation, as from real, criminal behavior.  Law enforcement alone, or more law-enforcement on top of law-enforcement, is inadequate to deal with these public-health issues.  We should attack these issues in the manner that we deal with other, serious, public-health epidemics.

Many tax dollars also drive the "relaxed marijuana prohibitions contrary to federal law."  I do think that marijuana "use" should be decriminalized, first.  If marijuana is to be legalized, yes, it should be taxed and regulated.  How it is regulated needs thoughtful consideration and a thorough review of what has worked well in CA, WA and CO, as well as other states and nation-states.

11. 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. Congress is expected to vote on the TPP sometime this year. In general, do you support or oppose the TPP? Why or why not? Do you believe that it does enough to protect American workers?

To this, I'm giving short answers.  No, I don't think it does enough to protect American workers.  Yes, I think that it and the 'Fast-Track' may be subject to legal challenge on the basis that these agreements are treaties and require different process under certain constitutional provisions.  These are matters requiring much more in-depth consideration on my part and ones about which I'd like to engage with my constituents, if elected.  

12. 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?

My belief is that it's related primarily to the issue of GREAT disparity in the distribution of wealth and income which has gutted the middle class and driven divisions regarding reasonable access to all those things we rely on for survival, e.g., public services, access to the fundamentals ("our daily bread"), let alone access to justice, education, employment, healthcare, etc. 

Added to this is the skillful use by the "Dark Money" types to "language" social and economic issues so as to inflame passions in a way that will prop up their already-in-place control over the politicians they've bought.  

What I think can be done about it:  Call it out — as has been done in this election cycle.  And then, accomplish, one by one, those things to which I've referred or listed in response to Question 1, above.  

But, the people have to vote for those who are "not bought."  

Underlying all the darkness, there really does exist ground for agreement.  I know.  I have robust arguments with some of my Republican family and friends — and darned if we don't end up agreeing on some very essential things.  Note that there already is significant agreement on overturning Citizens United. 

13. Over the past year, the GOP campaign has been almost defined by Donald Trump’s bombast—from calling Mexican immigrants rapists to proposing a ban on Muslim immigration to demeaning John McCain’s military service—and yet he’s nonetheless likely to be the Republican nominee for president. To what to you attribute Trump’s success? Do you believe his rhetoric is appropriate? If you are a Republican, do you plan to support Trump as your party’s nominee in the fall? If you are a Democrat, are there any areas in which you believe you could find common ground with a President Trump?

North-Carolinian, Maya Angelou, told us how to regard Mr. Trump:
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

In order to determine if common ground might exist, it is necessary to know what ground you're on.  I am unable to determine what he would really propose.  I have a better idea of who he is — a great marketeer and brander, the party to many distasteful lawsuits, and, as he called himself, "greedy" while promising to be "greedy for the United States."   

The people of this country better be very careful who they choose to send to DC to protect their interests in Congress!  It is Congress alone that could safeguard them from a truly "Imperial Presidency" — which the Founders feared and sought to check.  

The Republicans have made complaints about President Obama — but, hold onto your hats - and everything else you hold dear!  If there is a "President Trump", and if the Republicans continue to hold Congress, our goose is cooked!  

And, by the way, the goose's Golden Egg?  Well, it will be sitting on his wall  —  and all his "Great" horses and all the great men won't be able to put it back together again!  (Not even with his favorite go-to remedy - bankruptcy - which he so glibly suggests!)  

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.

Given that the district has been drawn to favor Republican candidates, I can imagine that my stand on women's rights, including the right to control their own procreation, health, and medical decision-making might cost me popularity points with voters.  

My belief in liberty and justice for all, really is for ALL.  Golden rule, you know.  Consider walking a mile in the others' shoes — or lack thereof — and making judgments granting to "all" the most fundamentally fair treatment.

15. The Citizens United decision has been criticized by some on the left for opening up the floodgates for special interests to influence political leaders. What changes do you believe Congress can or should make to campaign-finance regulations? Do you believe that Citizens United has had a positive or negative effect on American politics?

A negative effect, without question.  If the proof is in the pudding, we're seeing it play out in all of the exorbitantly expensive, recent campaigns. Please see my number one priority discussed at Question 1, above.  To that, I'll add:

The DISCLOSE ACT is certainly a move in the right direction, lending transparency to the electoral process and campaign contributions, and I support it.  Moreover, I agree with Bernie Sanders: "Real campaign finance reform must happen as soon as possible. That is why we must overturn, through a constitutional amendment, the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision as well as the Buckley v. Valeo decision. That is why we need to pass legislation to require wealthy individuals and corporations who make large campaign contributions to disclose where their money is going.  More importantly, it is why we need to move toward the public funding of elections".

I'll repeat "See DARK MONEY, J. Mayer (especially Ch.13)! "

16. Finally, these congressional primaries were moved from March to June after a federal court invalidated the state’s districts, calling them an unconstitutional gerrymander. What are your thoughts on the new district map? Would you support an independent redistricting commission to draw these maps in the future—as is the case in Arizona—or do you believe the legislature can handle the task fairly?

By open admission of the drawers, the districts were drawn without relation to race and for the sole purpose of maintaining a 3-D-to-10-R incumbency — this, in a truly "purple" state, where registered Democrats out-number registered Republicans by a whopping margin and Unaffiliated voters out-number both parties.  

In addition to scheduling an election designed to keep voter turn-out low, (with virtually no state-action to inform the public about this election), and urging the courts having jurisdiction over this matter to put off decision-making until another off-year election (when voter turn-out is likely to be low), the Republican-led General Assembly has enacted several other laws designed to limit voter turn-out which favors their Republican incumbencies.  Historically, both parties have engaged in gerrymandering.  

Can there be doubt?  Yes, commission supported, but not necessarily the Arizona model.

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