James H. "Jim" Webb (D)
HOMETOWN: Falls Church
FAMILY: Wife, Hong; Son, Jimmy, a 23-years-old Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps
CAMPAIGN ADDRESS: P.O. Box 17427, Arlington, Va. 22216
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 540-537-8247
EDUCATION: U.S. Naval Academy, 1968; Georgetown University Law School, 1975
QUALIFICATIONS: Following graduation from the Naval Academy, Webb joined the U.S. Marine Corps, ranking first in his class at Marine Corps Officer's Basic School. During the Vietnam War, he fought with the Fifth Marine Regiment, leading a rifle platoon. For his service during the war, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts.
Following the Vietnam War, Webb taught tactics and weapons at the Marine Corps Officer Training School.
While earning his law degree at Georgetown, Webb worked to clear the name of a Vietnam veteran convicted of war crimes, succeeding in 1978, three years after the soldier's suicide. For his work, Webb was awarded the Horan award for excellence in legal writing.
Webb has written six novels, including "Fields of Fire" (1978), "A Sense of Honor" (1981), "A Country Such as This" (1983), "Something to Die For" (1991), "The Emperor's General" (1999) and "Lost Soldiers" (2001). He taught literature at the Naval Academy. He has also worked as a journalist, notably filming an Emmy Award-winning documentary for PBS about U.S. Marines in Beirut. His non-fiction book "Born Fighting" (2004) chronicles the history and rise of Scots-Irish people in the United States.
From 1977 to 1981, Webb worked for Congress, as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. During the Reagan administration, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense of Reserve Affairs and as Secretary of the Navy.
1. Was the Iraq war a mistake? Why or why not?
I opposed the war in Iraq since before our invasion because I foresaw it as a double-strategic blunder. First, it was a diversion from, not a response to, the Global War on Terror. Second, it has tied down our military in a costly occupation, fighting an insurgency that has strengthened not only the Shia population of Iraq, but Iran itself. America needs — and deserves — a real debate about all of these issues and about our strategy in Iraq itself.
2. Five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, what more could be done to protect America? What limits on civil liberties are acceptable?
National security policy under the Bush-Cheney Administration is in total disarray. There is no end in sight to the conflict in Iraq, the Middle East is out of control, Al Qaeda is stronger today than it was five years ago, and homeland security is being neglected. These difficulties have come about, in large part, because those who are leading us lack the kind of strategic vision that has served our country so well in past eras. George Allen, by blindly following the Bush Administration and neglecting his constitutional duty as a senator, bears a great amount of responsibility for the state of American foreign policy.
As evidenced by the failed terror plot in London this summer we need to be able to fight terrorists wherever they may be. This requires our troops to be a mobile fighting force, something that cannot happen as long as we are bogged down in Iraq.
3. What is the nation's best long-term strategy in combating terrorism?
America has a unique place in the world. It also has unique obligations — and opposition — in the conduct of it’s foreign policy. Terrorism and Iraq were separate issues, until George Bush incorrectly and unwisely linked them; now we need to straighten out the mess in Iraq. The war in Lebanon was a direct result of the Bush Administration’s complete failure of policy in the Middle East. Issues in the Middle East are closely connected to matters across the globe to which we need strategic solutions. For instance, China has been developing closer ties with the exact Middle Eastern countries that pose challenges to the US. This is a dangerous and neglected alliance that we need to address.
4. In light of recent corruption scandals in Congress, do you believe reforms are needed? What would you propose?
One of the largest problems facing Congress is the undue influence of the 35,000 lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Too many elected officials today are beholden to special interests and their campaign money instead of to their constituents. My vote and allegiance cannot be bought. And, I believe strongly in working for those who Jackson called the humble members of society, the farmers, the mechanics and laborers. It is my greatest aspiration if I am elected to provide a voice to those who have no voice in the corridors of power.
5. What should be done about the 45 million Americans who are living without health insurance?
First, by growing up in a military family and then as a consequence of having been wounded in Vietnam I have had the privilege of using the military health care system my whole life. The care and service the military provides is top notch. I believe that all Americans deserve access to some form of quality health care. Health care legislation should focus on providing people access to health care, not simply on corporate profits.
America is the richest nation on Earth, and as such, all Americans should have access to affordable health care. I think we can implement programs that allow all Americans to participate in a pooling system based on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. This can reduce the cost of health care and ensure greater portability in the coverage people can afford. It is also important to help ensure access to insurance for many of the 46 million uninsured Americans. That is why I think the government should give assistance to people earning up to 300 percent of the poverty level.
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?
Education is the only way to level the playing field and provide all Americans with the opportunity to succeed. The testing and accountability included in No Child Left Behind are a good first step, though some reform is necessary. Most important is that teachers and school districts must have access to the resources that are needed to implement the mandates placed on states by the No Child Left Behind law. It is vital that Congress fully fund the mandates of No Child Left Behind.
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?
In the five years since George Allen and George Bush took office the $5.8 trillion surplus of the Clinton years has turned into a projected debt of $5.6 trillion. This failure of foresight will result in higher taxes for our children. I think we need to take a common sense approach to budgeting and require that new spending or tax cuts be offset by reductions in other areas, that’s why I support pay as you go rules. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars per day on an optional war in Iraq, much of it wasted on no-bid contracts and overpriced private security forces. That’s why I have proposed establishing a commission to investigate wasteful spending in Iraq. Our nation’s debt is growing by millions of dollars everyday and wasteful spending is unacceptable.
8. What is the best way to deal with the record high oil prices of recent years?
We need to make a commitment to developing and deploying alternative energy sources. Brazil has used a plan that includes a large amount of ethanol to become totally independent of oil imports. We need to make a strong financial commitment to these types of energy. I support a windfall-profit tax on oil companies which would then be used to invest in the development and deployment of renewable 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?
This country is splitting into three pieces. As a result of the internationalization of the economy, the people at the top have never had it so good. The middle class is continuing to get squeezed by stagnant wages and rising cost of living. And we are in danger of creating a permanent underclass. We must reexamine our tax and trade policies and reinstitute notions of fairness, and also enforce our existing trade laws so that free trade becomes fair trade.
We have a serious problem in America today in wage disparity. Corporate profits, as a percentage of gross domestic product, are at their highest level in history, while simultaneously wages, as a percentage of GDP are at their lowest level in history.
One step, which can be taken immediately, is to raise the minimum wage from its current level of $5.15 per hour. The federal minimum wage has not been increased since 1997. Yet, since 1997, Senators have voted for over $30,000 in pay increases for themselves. In fact, George Allen has voted to raise his own pay four times — the same number of times he has voted against raising the minimum wage.
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?
The Bush Administration has missed two grand opportunities to rally international support behind the United States to assist in the Global War on Terror. In the aftermath of 9/11 we had an historic opportunity to bring the nations of the world together and present a unified front against terrorism. Instead, we squandered that good will by occupying Iraq. There was a similar window after the Hezbollah attacks in Israel this summer. In the aftermath of these attacks there was universal condemnation of the attacks. The Bush Administration could have capitalized on this unity to help advance the war against terrorism, they did not.
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?
I support the compromise proposal raising the exemption to $5 million.
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?
I support the extension of many, but not all of these cuts.
6. Should the United States have higher fuel economy standards for vehicles?
7. Do you believe in evolution?
Candidate did not answer the question.
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?
It is more likely every day.
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?
Not without some exceptions.
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?
Steps to expand our use of renewable energy should be taken.
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?
I oppose guest worker programs.