G.K. Butterfield | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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G.K. Butterfield 

Candidate for U.S. House, District 1

Name as it appears on the ballot: George Kenneth Butterfield

Date of birth: April 27, 1947

Campaign website: www.gkbutterfield.com

Occupation & employer: U.S. Representative, U.S. Congress

1. What do you see as the most important issues facing North Carolina and the nation? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

Job creation is the most important issue facing North Carolina and the country. To sustain 23 months of job growth under the Obama Administration, I will continue to support providing tax relief to businesses who hire the long-term unemployed, extending payroll tax cuts, accelerating investment in innovation, and increasing access to capital to small businesses, among other initiatives. Building a better workforce for growth industries such as energy and telecommunications will place our state and nation on more competitive footing. Lastly, we must make an investment in our future by rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in education.

2. What issue or issues made you want to run for this office?

For the past eight years, the people of the First District have entrusted me to be a voice for the unheard and those who do not have powerful lobbyists in Washington. I have successfully advocated for affordable healthcare, job creation, and competitive public education. I have helped to stimulate economic development in communities in eastern North Carolina and the country. And, I continue to defend the right to have a fair shot at the American dream. All of these things demonstrate my vested interest in the success of NC-01, not only as an elected official, but also as a native. My record of commitment will continue and expand if reelected.

3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective in the U.S. House? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

Prior to being elected to represent North Carolina's First Congressional District in 2004, I enjoyed a distinguished legal career in private law practice before serving as a state Superior Court Judge and North Carolina Supreme Court Justice.

Currently, I serve on the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has the broadest jurisdiction of any House committee, and where I am the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

In the short years I have been elected to Congress, I have managed to secure such coveted leadership positions as Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus and Vice-Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

When you couple my experience with my deep commitment to public service, I am certain that I am the most qualified candidate to represent North Carolina's First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

4. As you've campaigned in NC-01, what are you hearing from voters? What's foremost on their minds?

Voters are deeply concerned about the sluggish economic and crawling job growth. Although the economy produced 4 million jobs in the past four years, and the state's unemployment rate has dropped to 9.9 percent, even those with jobs feel a level of uncertainty that makes it difficult for them to make long term investments. This creates negative feedback in the economy, and we have to work to boost certainty and jobs.

I am also keenly aware of the eastern North Carolina's concern over rising gas prices. Given the lack of public transportation in the east, most people are dependent on their cars for work, school, church, or any other part of life. They are very sensitive to changes in gas prices, and view the current rise as another issue for worry. We must continue to invest in new forms of energy not tied to the boom –bust cycles of the worldwide petroleum market.

Lastly, voters are concerned about our deficit and debt. We are running a $3.5 trillion government on just $2 trillion. This is an unsustainable long-term budget picture, and we must work to get our fiscal house in order. However, as we work to reinvigorate our economy, we would be wise not to cut programs vital to our recovery. Investing in infrastructure, education, and our social safety nets are crucial to maintaining the recovery and building a better tomorrow. We must work to eliminate duplication, excess federal property, fraud, unfair tax policies and abuse within the system.

5. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

As a nation of immigrants, we must treat all of those who come from other countries with respect. With more than 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., we must adopt policies that encourage pathways to citizenship and expand efforts to document immigrants currently living in this country. Undocumented immigrants with a history of violent crime must be deported, and existing border security mechanisms should be strengthened. It is most important that the federal government take action to solve this problem, rather than state-by-state immigration initiatives.

6. If these issues haven't been addressed above, would you please comment on:

a. What do you see as the primary sources of our current economic problems? What measures should Congress use to address them?

The total mismanagement of this country's finances under President Bush and Congressional Republicans laid the foundation for the economic collapse of 2008. Republicans' fiscal irresponsibility turned surpluses into deficits in order to finance tax cuts for the wealthy and two wars—all while the financial system remained unregulated and manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas. All of these policies combined to create an environment that eroded the middle class and ignored the poor.

I have joined Democrats in advocating for a balanced approach to reduce the deficit that includes lowering spending and increasing revenues. With the support of Democrats in Congress, President Obama has led the country to 23 months of consistent job growth. To address our fiscal challenges, we must continue to create jobs, eliminate misspent tax dollars across federal government, secure the middle class, and have everyone pay their fair share in taxes. That is why I joined Democrats in announcing our "Make It In America" agenda, which encourages businesses to make products here at home, sell those products here and abroad, and invest in areas like education and clean energy to keep our country competitive. Without taking such steps it will take longer for our country to recover, jeopardizing everyone's fair shot at achieving the American dream.

b. Evaluate the war in Afghanistan and the situation in Iran. What is our goal in each place, in your view?

America must learn from the difficult lessons of the Iraq War. If military action is necessary, it should only be taken as a last resort, and after careful planning and consideration of consequences to our troops and to our country. The U.S. must continue to exercise all forms of diplomacy with respect to both Afghanistan and Iran. The internal challenges of each country are unique and pose unique threats to the region. It is imperative that we carefully withdraw our military forces from Afghanistan, working to transition the responsibility for security to Afghan forces. Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons must be met by broad multilateral discouragement, including sanctions, inspections, and multi-party talks. Military action should always be the last resort; however, I support the President's position that all options must be considered to protect our troops and our country.

c. Would you support repeal of the Affordable Care Act? What reforms would you make to the health care system?

As a member of House Energy & Commerce Committee, I supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA) throughout its development, passage, and implementation. Our committee has broad jurisdiction, and is responsible for much of the law. The law will forever change health care access and delivery. It will insure 40 million Americans for the first time. It guarantees you cannot lose your insurance due to pre-existing conditions. It provides exchanges to compare and contrast the best insurance options for individuals, families, and businesses. The ACA provides unique subsidies for working families and individuals who may not otherwise be able to afford monthly premiums. I will continue to fight off Republican efforts to repeal or undermine the important consumer protections that are enacted in this law.

7. What is your position on capital punishment?

Decisions on capital punishment should be legislated at the state level. However, I am concerned that we currently exercise capital punishment capriciously, and that often it is applied to defendants who are unable to afford counsel. I welcome efforts by the state to review the system and recommend changes that emphasize fairness and justice.

8. What is your position on Amendment One?

I do not support the so-called "marriage amendment," and encourage the North Carolina State Legislature to take up a civil union measure.

9. Do you support women's reproductive rights, including the "right to choose" as set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade? Do you support the recently passed state requirements on ultrasounds and waiting periods for women seeking an abortion? Do you support attempts to eliminate funds for Planned Parenthood?

I am supportive of a woman's right to choose. I do not support efforts of state government to institute demeaning or degrading barriers to access reproductive health care services.

Planned Parenthood provides necessary preventive primary care services to millions of low- and moderate-income women across the country. The federal government provides grants for voluntary family planning services through the Family Planning Program, Title X of the Public Health Service Act. The program, enacted in 1970, is the only domestic federal program devoted solely to family planning and related preventive health services. I fully support appropriating Title X funds, and for Planned Parenthood to have access to those funds.

10. What changes, if any, do you support in federal entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans programs, etc.)

I will continue to be a strong supporter of federal entitlement programs. I do not support inhibiting, reducing services, or in any way limiting access to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans' programs. I am unequivocally opposed to the budget proposals of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI). His attempt to privatize Medicare undermines the commitment we made to our seniors and to other vulnerable populations.

I support increased access to coverage and the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse within our entitlement programs. We must also reform the system so that it places value on healthy outcomes and preventive care. The system can be more efficient and provide better outcomes without dismantling the promise we made to our seniors.

11. Do you approve of efforts by the Bush and Obama administrations to bailout major banks? How about the Obama administration's bailout of U.S. automakers?

I voted against the TARP and the Auto bailout. While I respect that each of these efforts were deemed as necessary by leadership to stem the spread of economic collapse, I opposed these bills because they failed to implement new rules on the banks to prevent future booms and busts, and offered no relief for struggling folks on Main Street.

12. Both parties have been criticized for overreaching during the redistricting process. Would you support an independent commission drawing the lines in the future?

I believe that the redistricting process should reflect the will of the people, and therefore continue to support the ability of a democratically-elected legislature to draw district lines. However, it is clear that there are those in the legislature who wish to use the process to not draw compact, practical districts that reflects its region, but rather to cravenly exploit every political advantage possible from the process. Lawmakers should approach this great responsibility with a greater emphasis on statesmanship, and less on political gain.

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