U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R)
HOMETOWN: Vienna, Va.
FAMILY: Happily married to State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis; and loving father to three children, Carlton, Pamela, and Shelley.
EDUCATION: B.A., Political Science, Amherst College, cum laude; JD, UVA School of Law
OCCUPATION: U.S. Representative (VA–11)
CAMPAIGN ADDRESS: 9878 Main St., Fairfax, VA 22031
CAMPAIGN PHONE: 703-277-9635
BEST BOOK YOU READ THIS YEAR: The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman
FAVORITE MOVIE: Ben-Hur
QUALIFICATIONS: 27 years of public service to the residents of Northern Virginia, as Mason District Supervisor, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and as your Representative in Congress.
1. Was the Iraq war a mistake? Why or why not?
The pertinent question regarding Iraq is not whether the war was a mistake, but rather what we should do now. That said, we know mistakes were made. Our intelligence was wrong — Saddam did not have WMD. The Bush administration also clearly underestimated the difficulties we would face once Saddam was out of power.
I do not support a public timetable for leaving. Strategically, this would send the message that the United States never sees anything through and we would lose all credibility in the Middle East. Tactically, it tells our enemies exactly what we are going to do.
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 have taken a number of important steps to better protect America. Perhaps the most pressing need is to regain operational control of our borders. I have supported legislation that would allow us to do so by making it more difficult to illegally enter our country. This bill would provide for improved physical barriers, surveillance technologies, additional border patrol agents, immigration enforcement officials and detention space.
We have to give law enforcement personnel adequate tools to stop terrorists — terrorists that are adept at manipulating the freedoms we hold dear to their advantage. I support measures such as the Patriot Act and NSA surveillance provided that adequate oversight mechanisms accompany them.
3. What is the nation's best long-term strategy in combating terrorism?
There must be a multi-pronged approach to combating terrorism. First, we must build strong intelligence and law enforcement networks both at home and abroad to identify and stop terrorists before they can strike.
Second, we must remove the popular base of support from terrorist organizations. Populations support or permit terrorist groups to operate because they fill a void left by a lack of economic opportunity or political freedom. We cannot negotiate or seek to appease radical groups. That would be perceived as a sign of weakness and would invite more attacks. We can, however, seek to export those values which have long characterized America — openness, democracy, reason and freedom, thereby offering a viable alternative to radicalism.
4. In light of recent corruption scandals in Congress, do you believe reforms are needed? What would you propose?
I think that public officials that break the law should pay a very heavy price. I sponsored legislation, H.R. 5112, that would deny retirement benefits to officials in the legislative and executive branches, including political employees and elected members of Congress, who are convicted of crimes in which they violate the public trust. I have supported bills to increase lobbying disclosure requirements and require lawmakers to identify earmarks they sponsor in spending bills.
5. What should be done about the 45 million Americans who are living without health insurance?
One step we can take to reduce the number of uninsured Americans right away is to pass legislation to allow what are known as association health plans. These would allow small businesses and individuals to pool together across state lines to purchase health insurance for their employees. Small businesses and individuals traditionally spend more for health care per employee than their larger counterparts; AHPs would give these businesses greater leverage in securing affordable health care for their workers.
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?
I have always supported the concept behind this legislation — that schools be held accountable for the progress of their students. However, No Child Left Behind is a big change for our schools, even with Virginia’s Standards of Learning already in place.
Any sweeping legislation is going to need to be modified over time. I have worked with our school systems to convey these concerns to the Department of Education. I am also a cosponsor of legislation (HR 1821) that would give school systems common sense flexibilities in their efforts to comply with the law.
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?
We cannot get the deficit under control without getting mandatory spending on entitlements under control. Mandatory spending currently accounts for 54 percent of all federal spending; it is expected to grow to 62 percent in just 10 years if we don’t do anything about it. This will squeeze our ability to spend on anything else – education, health research, transportation.
Entitlement reform won’t be easy, but it will be necessary. The only way to make it happen is for both sides to work together; all options and reforms need to be on the table.
8. What is the best way to deal with the record high oil prices of recent years?
Our best response is to reduce demand, increase supply and foster greater use of alternative fuels.
I have supported measures to increase domestic production of traditional oil and gas products. I have also supported incentives to develop alternative fuels such as ethanol.
I have introduced legislation to reduce demand for oil by increasing CAFE (miles-per-gallon) standards. On a regional level, we can reduce demand by keeping Metro a viable option for commuters. I am the leading advocate in Congress for the Metro system. My legislation to invest $1.5 billion in the system, largely for new rail cars and buses, has already passed the House.
I would add that I subpoenaed oil executives and got them to agree under oath to renegotiate leases under which they were not paying adequate royalties.
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 best policies to improve incomes are those that promote economic growth: lowering taxes, removing unnecessary regulation, and promoting trade. Past efforts to regulate executive income or redistribute wealth are ineffective and have unintended, adverse consequences.
The growth of the U.S. economy, not just over the last five years but over several decades, has been instrumental in facilitating broader individual ownership. This growth has enabled nearly six out of 10 households to own stock and two out of three to own their own homes. Through ownership, Americans are able to accumulate more wealth, become financially independent, and take a more active role in their and their children’s futures.
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 foreign countries view the United States does matter. Our strength as a moral, economic and cultural leader in world affairs is as important as our military strength; perhaps more so. Surveys show a negative opinion of U.S. policies with regard to the Middle East and the war on terrorism. That's the predictable and perhaps inevitable price of being the world's only superpower. We lead, we stand by our friends and it's easy to blame us while enjoying the benefits of our leadership. We can address those attitudes with efforts to educate opinion leaders that our policies are sound and our intentions honorable. Over time, consistency of purpose and strength will transform today's hostility into respect, if begrudged, and even admiration.
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?
Yes, if it is balanced with appropriate tax relief for small businesses that will have to pay for 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?
Yes, although a more appropriate solution may be to raise the exemption from $600,000 to $5 million.
3. Is global warming real?
Yes, and I have held two bipartisan hearings to further investigate its causes and effects.
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?
Yes. Unlike my opponent, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
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 a review will be in order to determine the economic and budgetary implications.
6. Should the United States have higher fuel economy standards for vehicles?
Yes. I have introduced my own legislation to increase mile-per-gallon standards and have consistently voted to raise standards.
7. Do you believe in evolution?
8. Should electronic voting machines be required to have verified voting paper trails?
Yes, I am a cosponsor of legislation mandating paper trails.
9. Do you believe the sectarian violence in Iraq is a civil war?
No — not today, but it has the potential to spread into one if the Iraqis cannot find a way to include all factions in their governing coalition.
10. Should the federal government fund stem cell research?
Yes. I cosponsored and voted for the legislation to expand federal funding of stem cell research -- I also voted to override the presidentís veto of this legislation.
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?
Yes, although this treaty goes to the Senate, not the House.
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. While I favor reducing carbon dioxide emissions, I would not support a federal law based on Californiaís until we can judge the effectiveness of their efforts.
13. Do you support "Net Neutrality," which would guarantee that every website on the Internet loads at an equal rate of speed?
Yes. I voted for this because of my concern that a two-tiered Internet controlled by monopolies could stifle innovation.
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?
This is a judicial decision, but I do not support amending the Constitution to overturn Roe; however, I do support a ban on partial birth abortions, late term abortions, and federal funding of abortions.
15. Would you support a guest worker program for illegal immigrants that would lead to citizenship?
No. If it were shown we could control our border, I would support a limited guest worker program in which workers could be admitted for citizenship under their own countriesí quota, not as a reward for having entered the country illegally.