Scott Summers: Candidate Profile
U.S. Senate (Green)
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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How will you work to make Congress more productive and effective? What actions are needed to produce a healthy federal budget? Specifically, what changes do you advocate regarding how revenue is produced or what our spending priorities are? In particular, what effect does current policy have on your district and what changes, if any, are needed?
With respect to the Senate, I would work to phase out filibusters (i.e., the requirement of having 60 or more votes to cut off debate on a given topic). At present, it only takes 41 senators to stop a majority.
Concerning the federal budget, we can start by reconsidering how the debt ceiling is managed. Ideally, we should adopt a budget and raise the debt ceiling at the same time instead of passing a budget and then panicking to raise the debt ceiling later on, which is how the system currently functions. This decoupling is very insidious because it creates justifications for last minute spending cuts, often in social programs.
I believe the most effective action we can take to generate revenue would be progressive income tax reform that increases tax responsibilities for those of greater means. Right now, upper-level income tax brackets are extremely lenient compared to what they were 60 or 70 years ago. The highest level today is 39.6%. In 1951, it was 90%.
A recent Reuters report (source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-audit-army-idUSKCN10U1IG) found that the Army has failed to account for trillions of dollars in funding. We can be patriots and wear green eye shades at the same time. Until the military comes relatively close to balancing its books, I advocate for less spending on defense and more focus on infrastructure, renewable energy, education, and health care.
What immigration policies do you support? Where, if at all, do you see room for compromise to produce an effective policy on immigration? How will these policies affect your district?
We as a nation are predicated upon wave after wave of immigration; it's what made America the economic force that it is today. That being said, I strongly support thoughtful and constructive pathways to citizenship. Similarly, we need legislation such as the DREAM Act that will prevent the breakup of families.
I also advocate for major reforms in our immigration adjudications system. We need more personnel, especially administrative law judges, not only to speed up the rate at which cases are processed but also to maintain the quality and fairness of the proceedings themselves.
What should be the top priorities in Congress related to the Affordable Care Act? If you want changes, what specifically do you recommend? If you want the act entirely eliminated, please address these questions: Is that politically feasible? If it proves infeasible, where do you see the potential for compromise? If it is eliminated, what would you replace it with, if anything?
On the whole, I think that proposals to eliminate or replace the Affordable Care Act (particularly Speaker Paul Ryan's proposed legislation) have been vague on costs, sketchy on details, and not worthy of serious consideration. The old Republican bromides of tax credits, health savings accounts (HSAs) and block grants will neither reduce the complexity of the health care delivery system in the United States, nor make health care more affordable. If anything, the suggested strategies may actually increase the ranks of the uninsured and underinsured.
I think that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) should ultimately be seen as a stepping stone towards a universal health care solution, i.e., Medicare for All.
What military or diplomatic roles should the United States play to promote peace and stability in the Mideast? Under what circumstances should we have military forces actively operating?
On a long-term basis, we need to combat ISIS and other terrorist organizations by radically shifting our foreign policy. Instead of conducting perpetual warfare in the Middle East that results in horrendous civilian (and American) casualties and galvanizes local populations against us, we can extend foreign aid and re-purpose our military to achieve humanitarian goals (e.g., responses to natural disasters). We can also have military units that are ready to deploy at a moment's notice when major human rights violations are detected. As a matter of policy, my goal would be to minimize armed conflict and use our forces to keep the peace.
Will you uphold the international climate change treaty? If not, what alternative steps would you advocate? If so, what steps will you take to meet U.S. obligations under the accord?
I heartily support the international climate protocols. I suggest that we offer new tax and other incentives that are designed to encourage people to switch to electric and fuel cell vehicles. We also should curb long distance truck traffic and instead encourage "piggyback" rail service. Coal-fired electric plants are among the biggest sources of pollution; they should be phased out and replaced with solar, wind, and geothermal energy.
I support the Green New Deal program suggested by Jill Stein. It would create jobs in the fields of renewable energy infrastructure, sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Rather than continue with top-down approaches to economic development, I advocate a bottoms-up method: microcapitalism. Through the use of small grants and revolving loan funds, along with volunteer mentoring programs (accountants, attorneys, executives), a network of business incubators, and designation of micro-enterprise zones (where locally produced goods can be sold with reduced sales taxes,) I intend to empower people and help them develop businesses in their homes and communities. Let us not forget that Mom-and-Pop businesses (I say that affectionately) and organizations with fewer than fifty employees are the backbone of our economy. I also intend to advocate tirelessly for the voiceless and forgotten: the sick, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the veterans, the jobless, the elderly, and the children. And I will also stand up for the good hard-working people of Illinois who struggle every day to put food on the table and shoes on the kids.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Honesty is the best policy
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Getting into politics at an earlier age
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English literature. By turns, it inspired and shaped me.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Always be compassionate.