Tom O'Donoghue (R)
HOMETOWN: Alexandria, Virginia
FAMILY: Wife: Kathy; Children: Addison, Aden, Savannah
EDUCATION: JD, Georgetown University; MBA, Yale University; MA, International Relations, Boston University; BS, History, U.S. Military Academy
OCCUPATION: Full Time Candidate
CAMPAIGN ADDRESS: 2525 Lee Highway, Arlington, Va. 22201
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 703-558-8282
BEST BOOK YOU READ THIS YEAR: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
FAVORITE MOVIE: Raiders of the Lost Ark
QUALIFICATIONS: After graduating from West Point, O'Donoghue served as a tank platoon leader on the frontier of freedom in Cold War Europe. He was there to see the Berlin Wall fall and Germany unified. While serving in Europe, O'Donoghue studied the changes sweeping the globe as the Cold War came to a close and earned a masters degree in International Relations. Following his tour of duty, O'Donoghue transferred to the Army Reserve and returned to the States to earn an MBA at Yale. While working as a telecommunications analyst for AT&T and starting a family, O'Donoghue continued his studies at Georgetown.
After completing his law studies at Georgetown, O'Donoghue worked as an attorney in Washington, D.C. and most recently as a consultant for LexisNexis. O'Donoghue has over 19 years of experience in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve.
Following the attacks of September 11th, O'Donoghue volunteered for service in Afghanistan and served a total of 20 months in combat in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. He was awarded the Combat Action Badge and Bronze Star.
1. Was the Iraq war a mistake? Why or why not?
In hindsight, there is no doubt we would have done things differently in Iraq. Going forward, we need a strategy based on realities on the ground.
I served 12 months in Baghdad with the U.S. Army and know first-hand that we face a determined and capable enemy and need a clear strategy for a timely handover. When elected, I will advance a plan to bring our troops home by: 1) engaging allies and reinvigorating diplomacy; 2) blocking outside agitators (e.g., Iran, Syria, outside money/arms); 3) setting realistic and measurable milestones for withdrawal; 4) finishing the training of the Iraqi Army.
2. Five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, what more could be done to protect America? What limits on civil liberties are acceptable?
It is hard to believe, 5 years after the attacks of September 11th, people can literally walk into this country without us knowing who they are and why they are here. It is even more incredible that Mr. Moran has a long track record of opposing a fence along the border and actually called it “immoral.” I support immediate measures to track, detect and intercept those who breach our borders and break our laws. We must invest in measures to secure our ports and improve our intelligence capabilities to ensure a safe and secure America.
3. What is the nation's best long-term strategy in combating terrorism?
I spent 20 months in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq fighting terrorism.
Whether you favored or opposed these wars, they are now central to the struggle against terrorism. A stable Iraq will strike a blow against extremism while a premature withdrawal will unleash instability across the Middle East and embolden terrorists, possibly forcing us to return to a larger war in the near future. When elected, I will advance a strategy to:
1) secure our borders at home; 2) stabilize and then withdraw our troops from Iraq; 3) improve our intelligence capabilities; and 4) end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
4. In light of recent corruption scandals in Congress, do you believe reforms are needed? What would you propose?
The dramatic increase in earmarks is indicative of the influence that money has over many members of Congress. In 2005, there were 14,000 earmarks costing taxpayers over $27 billion. Amazingly but not surprisingly, Mr. Moran recently voted against a bill to end secret earmarks. When elected, I will make all earmarks public and will advance reforms to eliminate earmarks used by some Congressmen to reward contributors. However, reforms are only part of the solution. The culture of corruption in Washington can only be cured by an infusion of new blood — independent thinkers who are not beholden to moneyed interests.
5. What should be done about the 45 million Americans who are living without health insurance?
The people of Massachusetts have taken a bold step in setting up a mandatory health insurance system akin to the requirement to carry auto insurance. Health insurance is mandatory and is priced to be accessible to everyone. The remaining 49 states can learn a great deal from Massachusetts’ experience and, if successful, it may become a model for other states to bring health insurance to the 45 million uninsured Americans.
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 requirements of the act are simple — every student is tested each year so parents can see how their children and schools are doing. Test scores, especially among minority students, have risen since the act was implemented. It is hard to argue with that kind of success but we can do better. For instance, if 65 percent of every school district’s budget went to classroom instruction (current national average is 61.3 percent) there would be an additional $15 billion for classrooms — enough to pay for 370,000 additional teachers, or a computer for every K-12 student in the country.
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?
Congress needs to exercise restraint when spending the taxpayers’ money. In particular, earmarks have been abused by congressmen to pay off campaign supporters and special interests using taxpayers’ money. Last year, there were 14,000 earmarks costing America over $27 billion. This is indicative of the lack of discipline and self-serving nature in Congress. This trend and attitude needs to be reversed. We need to elect independent thinkers, who are willing to take on the tough issues and are not beholden to special interests’ money. This will re-instill fiscal discipline and allow the economy to grow out of deficit.
8. What is the best way to deal with the record high oil prices of recent years?
Rallying the nation to end our dependence on foreign oil is a matter of national security. Oil prices will continue to fluctuate between $40 and $100+ per barrel as demand from China and India increase and stability in the Middle East ebbs and flows. We cannot allow our economy and national security to remain dependent upon events in unstable regions of the world. We spend nearly $1 billion each day to import oil and much of that money supports unfriendly regimes. When elected, I will advance legislation to ensure that money is invested at home to develop alternative sources of energy.
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?
The globalization of the economy has created great wealth and opportunity. However, the benefits have not been evenly distributed. As a first step, we need to ensure that trade agreements truly create a “level playing field” between the U.S. and our trading partners. If the field is level, U.S. workers can compete and win in any arena. Second, education is the key to individual and national success. In this rapidly changing economy, we must promote educational opportunities. Educational tax credits, loans and grants must be expanded, especially in high-paying fields facing critical shortages such as nursing, healthcare, engineering and science.
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?
Of course it matters. The United States must remain a beacon of hope and the leader of the free world. This has been the policy that guided our foreign policy through two World Wars and the Cold War. In the current war on terrorism, we must protect our homes while keeping our feet firmly planted on the moral high-ground. We should always remain true to our American values and ideals. It is imperative that we engage our allies, especially when there is disagreement. Such an approach has served us well in the past and should never be abandoned for short-term expediency or out of fear.
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?
No, but it should be reformed to help protect small family farms and
3. Is global warming real?
Yes, and it is one more reason to invest to end our dependence on oil.
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?
No, same-sex marriage is already banned in Virginia and the text of the amendment may have some unintended consequences for Virginians.
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?
Yes, although I advocate reforming the Federal Estate tax rather than eliminating it.
6. Should the United States have higher fuel economy standards for vehicles?
7. Do you believe in evolution?
Yes, it explains many things in nature but not everything.
8. Should electronic voting machines be required to have verified voting paper trails?
No, I have great faith in the local election boards.
9. Do you believe the sectarian violence in Iraq is a civil war?
No, But a small, dedicated minority is dragging that country into that abyss.
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?
No, the U.S. policy actually goes farther by ending the use of persistent anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines. The treaty only deals with anti-personnel 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?
No, because of the job losses that would result. We should focus on deploying alternative energy which would render the CO2 debate irrelevant.
13. Do you support "Net Neutrality," which would guarantee that every website on the Internet loads at an equal rate of speed?
No, I support policies that encourages companies to build world class networks through competition.
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?
Yes, especially if it is used by federal judges to overturn the federal ban on “Partial-Birth” and late-term abortions.
15. Would you support a guest worker program for illegal immigrants that would lead to citizenship?
No, not if such a scheme puts illegal immigrants ahead of people who have followed the law.