U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D)
FAMILY: Wife, Luann Bennett; Two daughters, two sons
EDUCATION: BA in Economics, College of the Holy Cross (1967); MA in Public Administration, University of Pittsburgh (1970)
OCCUPATION: U.S. Congressman
EMPLOYMENT: U.S. House of Representatives
CAMPAIGN ADDRESS: 4260 Lee Highway, Suite 214, Arlington, Va. 22207
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 703-310-6756
BEST BOOK YOU READ THIS YEAR: Human Options: An Autobiographical Notebook by Norman Counsins
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Constant Gardener
QUALIFICATIONS: Moran was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 1979 and served as deputy mayor from 1982 to 1984. The following year, he was elected Alexandria's mayor. In 1991, Moran was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He currently sits on the House Appropriations Committee and the Defense and Interior subcomittees.
1. Was the Iraq war a mistake? Why or why not?
The Iraq War has been the worst American military fiasco in modern history.
I opposed this misguided mission from the beginning because we had insufficient cause to attack and occupy Iraq, and had no exit strategy. I believed Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks and, in fact, was a secular enemy of the religious extremists who did attack us.
The war has been a distraction from our efforts to capture Osama bin Laden, has cost almost $320 billion and, more importantly, had caused the loss of nearly 2,700 American lives. It has worked to the advantage of al-Qaeda by serving as a recruitment opportunity for young Muslims who hate us more than they love life itself, and it has strengthened the extremist Shia influence that now runs from Iraq through Iran to Lebanon.
In 2002, I authored the Democratic alternative to the Republicans’ open-ended military authorization. It would have limited President Bush’s authority to use our military only to destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) if and when found.
In 2005, I authored the “Strategy for Success” amendment which requires the Defense Secretary to give Congress, in quarterly reports, specific details on quantifiable objectives that measure our progress in the war. It has been these quarterly reports which have revealed that this is increasingly becoming a deadly sectarian civil war.
2. Five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, what more could be done to protect America? What limits on civil liberties are acceptable?
We are less safe today than we were before Sept. 11, 2001. After the attacks of that fateful day, 85 percent of the world was in supportive sympathy with us and loyal to our values. Today, two-thirds of the world feels we are a threat to their security and to world peace.
Our national security ultimately rests on the attitudes of people in other parts of the world towards the United States. and the cooperative alliances we are able to forge internationally.
Reasonable limitations on civil liberties would be accepted by most Americans, so long as they are authorized in a legal and constitutional process. In their wisdom, our founding fathers recognized that any single branch of government, especially the chief executive, would try to dominate the others. They therefore determined to check the rise of dictatorial power by creating three equal branches of government. Under this system, an intrusion on civil liberties is not the prerogative of the president, but requires an authorization by the legislative branch. Limitations that are reasonable in scope, necessary to advance a genuine national interest, and authorized through an open process in congress, I believe, would be agreeable to the vast majority of Americans.
3. What is the nation's best long-term strategy in combating terrorism?
In the long run, our best strategy to combat terrorism is to lead by example — an example that’s grounded in truth, tolerance, justice and opportunity. These values constitute America’s real strength. American behavior that reflects these values will eventually curtail the recruitment of anti-American radicals into the terrorists’ ranks.
Our counter-terrorism strategy must also utilize all the tools in our foreign policy tool kit, not just our military might. We must rely more upon, and utilize more effectively, the tools of diplomacy, economic development and the promotion of international human rights.
4. In light of recent corruption scandals in Congress, do you believe reforms are needed? What would you propose?
Most of the abuses we have recently seen would not have occurred if money did not play the role it plays in politics. With the law imposing only minor restrictions on campaign spending, and with campaigns occurring every 24 months for seats in the House, the need to raise funds is demanding and it is constant. For some individuals, this pressure can translate into corrupt and unethical behavior.
The role that money plays in the pursuit and retention of elected federal office must be significantly diminished. Since the courts have ruled that this may not be done through limitations on campaign spending, it needs to be accomplished through the provision of public funds to candidates who agree to meet specified requirements.
If all candidates for an elected office were on the same “funding” footing, and arrived there without the need to raise substantial sums of money, the pressures that today can lead to unseemly behavior would not exist, substantially diminishing reducing probability of that type of conduct occurring.
5. What should be done about the 45 million Americans who are living without health insurance?
Over 15 percent of the nation’s population is now without health insurance. This is a national disgrace; it is unacceptable.
In the near term, a federal-state partnership is needed that, at a minimum, will provide a base level of insurance coverage to all children, and catastrophic coverage to all adults, who otherwise are not insured. A potential model for this, which will be tested in the coming years, is the program recently adopted by the commonwealth of Massachusetts that requires all residents to maintain a base level of health insurance, provides a subsidy to those who cannot afford this insurance, and requires employers not offering insurance to employees to contribute to the cost of the subsidy.
In the long-term, unless the costs of health care are controlled far more effectively than today, I believe we will need to implement a program of national health insurance modeled on the current Medicare system.
6. President Bush's signature education law, No Child Left Behind, requires high-stakes testing in all public schools. What is your view of the law? Should it be reformed? Why or why not?
The concept behind NCLB is sound: schools must be held accountable, this is accomplished by requiring them to show success on different measures of performance, and student achievement is one valid measure of performance.
But what is sound in concept often becomes far less sound in implementation. And this is what has occurred with NCLB.
First, the additional funding that the administration promised would follow enactment of NCLB never materialized. This has left many school systems without the resources to meet the program’s tough performance measures.
Second, some of the sanctions that are imposed on “non-performing” schools are totally counterproductive, for they actually reduce the schools’ capacity to improve to a “performing” level.
These deficiencies need to be corrected for NCLB, in actual operation across the country, to begin to approach its potential.
7. The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the federal deficit will grow to $286 billion in 2007 and to $1.76 trillion over the next decade. How would you address this?
When the current administration entered office in 2001, the federal government was projected to have a $5.6 trillion surplus over the next decade. Today, that same decade is projected to experience a $3 trillion deficit — an astounding $8.7 trillion turnaround.
Three steps must be taken to begin the journey to restore fiscal sanity to the federal government.
* First, Congress must return to “pay-as-you-go” budget rules which require that any proposed spending increase or revenue reduction over a defined base be accompanied by a measure that offsets the proposal’s deficit-producing impact.
* Second, the administration’s tax cuts that have significantly reduced federal income tax revenue and disproportionally benefitted the most wealthy must be re-examined. Making the cuts more equitable will improve federal revenue.
* Third, a bipartisan commission of highly respected professionals should be established and charged with the responsibility of developing a comprehensive set of recommendations which would (a) establish a framework for annual balanced federal budgets, (b) reduce the public debt by at least 50% over the next decade, and (c) resolve the significant Social Security and Medicare funding shortfalls that will arise in the coming decades.
8. What is the best way to deal with the record high oil prices of recent years?
The true issue involving oil lies not with its cost but with its long- term availability, its impact on national security, and its effect on the environment.
The Department of Energy projects that the world will reach the point where global demand exceeds supply in 2037, a mere 30 years from now; many others predict this point will be reached sooner.
Already, we rely excessively on unstable regions for our imported oil. Two-thirds of the oil we use is imported, and almost 70 percent of imports come from OPEC nations and Venezuela. Because these countries contain a major portion of the world’s oil reserves, our dependence on them will only increase as we approach 2037.
And the relationship between the combustion of oil and global warming is no longer seriously in question.
What to do? There is much that can be done, but there is an immediate need for a sizable increase in the federal fuel economy standards for light duty motor vehicles (passenger cars and trucks less than 8,500 pounds). The nation’s transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of our consumption of oil, and light duty motor vehicles make up 60 percent of this sector’s oil usage, or 40 percent of our total daily oil consumption.
A 25 percent increase in the fuel economy standards, over the next five years, for these vehicles would mean a reduction of almost 10 percent of the country’s oil consumption. No measure we can take right now would have such a significant impact in such a short period.
9. While the economy has grown in the last five years, the wages of middle- and low-income Americans has stagnated. How would you address the income disparity between the very wealthy and the rest of the working America?
In the past six years, the federal government has ignored a very fundamental principle, one that goes to the heart of the reasons the government works hard to grow the economy. Historically, government’s purpose in fostering economic growth has been to improve the lot of all Americans, and especially those whose ships were riding low in the water.
The last six years of growth in the national economy has run counter to this historic principle. This is best demonstrated by two statistics: (1) the proportion of all income that is received by the top 20 percent of households has increased since 2001 to over 50 percent, the largest ever recorded; and (2) the income gap between the top 20 percent and bottom 20 percent of households has grown to the widest ever recorded, with the average income of the top 20 percent being 1,500 percent higher than that of the bottom 20 percent.
We need to return to the principle that historically has driven federal policy in the area of economic growth. This is done:
* First, by extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts but in a more equitable manner, shifting some of their benefits from high income to lower income households;
* Second, by attacking head on the shameful reality that over 46 million Americans (over 15 percent of the population) lack health insurance, a realty that cripples the ability of these individuals to earn and retain income; and
* Third, by increasing the availability of what is the most effective long-term vehicle we have to improve an individual’s economic prospects — education — and to achieve this by ensuring that no truly qualified student is unable to attend college due to a lack of financial resources.
10. Opinion polls suggest that the international community views the United States in a negative light. Does this matter? If so, what can the United States do to repair its standing with the rest of the world?
How the international community views the United States is of critical importance. Indeed, the threat we face from “global terrorism” arises from the way in which individuals around the world, particularly in Muslim countries, view the United States. It is imperative that we alter these attitudes if we are to alter our standing in these countries.
As experience in Iraq has demonstrated, we do not improve attitudes toward the U.S. by military force. In fact, military force can give rise to anti-American attitudes or make them more intense.
Attitudes that are hostile to the U.S. can be altered by replacing the ignorance, frustration and anger upon which they often rest with knowledge and hope — a knowledge of the world that is not distorted by hate and bias, and a genuine hope for a future that’s considerably brighter than the one which faces many of those who have come to profess a deep hatred of the United States.
This knowledge and hope can be spread by direct U.S. actions. These fall in many areas, but include: economic development assistance; cultural and educational aid; student, medical, scientific, and other exchanges; and a diplomacy that, absent compelling circumstances, is willing to sit, discuss and work with all nations to resolve problems.
For the following questions, please respond with a yes or no answer.
1. The minimum wage has been $5.15 since 1997. Is it time to increase it?
2. Congress is considering the elimination of the federal estate tax, which requires the wealthiest 2 percent of all Americans to pay taxes on inherited property. Do you believe the estate tax should be discontinued?
3. Is global warming real?
4. On Nov. 7, your name will appear on the same ballot as a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Considering the full text of the amendment, will you vote for it?
5. If President Bush's tax cuts are made permanent, $2.2 trillion would be added to the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Would you vote to extend the tax cuts past the 2010 expiration date?
6. Should the United States have higher fuel economy standards for vehicles?
7. Do you believe in evolution?
8. Should electronic voting machines be required to have verified voting paper trails?
9. Do you believe the sectarian violence in Iraq is a civil war?
10. Should the federal government fund stem cell research?
11. The United States is one of the few countries that has refused to sign a global ban on land mines. Would you vote to sign the treaty banning the use of land mines?
12. California has enacted the nation's toughest restrictions on air pollution, requiring a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide pollution. Should similar action be taken for the rest of the country?
13. Do you support "Net Neutrality," which would guarantee that every website on the Internet loads at an equal rate of speed?
14. Do you believe that Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 decision that overturned state laws banning abortion, should be overturned?
15. Would you support a guest worker program for illegal immigrants that would lead to citizenship?