- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Milwaukee Democrat, faces Republican Dan Sebring, a Milwaukee auto repair shop owner, on the Nov. 4 ballot. The Associated Press asked them to answer the same 10 questions in 130 words or less. Their responses follow.

Independent candidate Robert Raymond, who also will appear on the ballot, did not return a questionnaire.


Question: The latest favorability rating for members of Congress is 13 percent. What would you do to improve the functioning of the body?

Moore: I concentrate on doing my job and looking for opportunities to work with my Republican colleagues. I have crossed the aisle on many occasions to work on and pass legislation in the House. I share the frustration of those who are sick of the partisan entrenchment. Unfortunately, I think some of the gridlock is structural and exasperated by redistricting and gerrymandering. It is too bad. We have a minority of the majority in the House and a few Senators that are able to stall the work of the people.

Sebring: I would not concern myself with opinion polls and would set about doing the job that I was sent to Washington, D.C., to do. Represent the best interests of the people of my district.


Question: Describe one area in which you differ from your party leadership.

Moore: Most recently, I did not support an amendment to authorize arming and training Syrian rebels, which President Obama supported. In general, however, none of us get everything that we want in a democracy, so compromise is inevitable if you want to get anything done. My record of bipartisanship is clear, as both a state senator and as a U.S. representative. The job is too important and the problems too unpredictable, complicated, and nuanced to take these rigid “all-or-nothing” positions.

Sebring: I am not a career politician.


Question: What role should the federal government take in creating jobs and stimulating the economy?

Moore: The federal government and Congress need to play an active role in job creation and growth. … I will continue to promote priorities that improve lasting and generational opportunity for all Americans. Prosperity cannot just be measured by the Dow Jones. We need to see gains in prosperity for all Americans; gains that can endure and end cycles of poverty. Building our economy and business base is vital, but investing in our community members is just as important. Milwaukee is still a strong manufacturing economy and in that spirit, I have been forcefully working to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, a significant component in supporting our district’s export jobs. I also recognize the need to invest in infrastructure and human resources, like job training and extending unemployment benefits.

Sebring: The federal government should reduce the regulatory and tax burden on businesses to create jobs and stimulate the economy.


Question: What do you see as the single biggest area of waste in the federal budget?

Moore: I proudly serve on the Budget Committee and a major budget question I continue to hear in DC and on the campaign trial is, “Why is our federal debt so massive?” The Congressional Budget Office tell us that drivers of the deficits that created the debt were tax cuts enacted in 2000 and 2001, expenses related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and lost revenue following the 2008 Great Recession. The good news is the Congressional Budget Office shows the projected budget deficits are the lowest since 2007, but there is plenty of room for improvement. Defense spending is two-thirds of discretionary federal spending. We have expensive weapon systems that our military doesn’t want or need. We also have a tax code with far too many loopholes.

Sebring: Duplication of services and their associated bureaucracies.


Question: Everyone says they pay too much in taxes. Aside from lowering taxes, what changes would you make to the federal tax code to improve its efficiency and fairness?

Moore: I think we need to come together and address the overwhelming fairness gap in our current system. We debate marginal income tax rates, but we need to look at effective rates. The effective rates are what people are actually paying. You hear about how billionaire Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. You also hear about huge Fortune 100 companies that pay very low or no taxes. It is blatantly inexcusable. I have long supported closing tax loopholes and tax havens everyone, including corporations and individuals. I support policies like the Buffett Rule and stopping corporate tax inversions. No one enjoys paying taxes and we should all pay our fair share, but it is tough to strike that balance.

Sebring: Abolish the IRS and institute a 15 percent flat tax.


Question: Under what circumstances would you support military intervention in another country?

Moore: I think the U.S. should define the success of our foreign policy by our wisdom and not how quickly we can dispatch our sons and daughters into combat. We have to use discretion and wisdom anytime the choice is made to engage in foreign conflicts. Every conflict is unique so there is no single policy or strategy that is appropriate in all cases. The U.S. needs to be judicious in its approach to use of force in foreign conflicts, as we have seen too many times when force has backfired in the long-term.

Sebring: When war has been declared or there is an imminent threat to national security or an attack on American citizens abroad.


Question: There’s general agreement that the U.S. needs some sort of immigration reform. What changes would you make to fix the system?

Moore: American immigration policy is broken and I strongly support comprehensive reform, which includes a tough, but fair pathway to citizenship. I continue to urge my Republican House colleagues to embrace sensible reform, like what was passed in the Senate. With reform, we can provide a tremendous boost to our economy, unite our families, and create a pathway towards citizenship for those 11 million immigrants who are currently living in the shadows.

Sebring: I would secure the border and enforce the immigration laws that are already on the books.


Question: What changes would you make to Social Security to ensure the program’s longevity?

Moore: I introduced a bill, the Social Security Enhancement and Protection Act, which would extend Social Security solvency 35 years to 2068 by raising the cap on the payroll tax. Payroll tax, which funds Social Security, is capped at $113,700 of income. My bill would phase out that cap.

Sebring: I would find a way to start putting the 9.5 million people who’ve left the workforce back to work so there are more people paying in to the system, then work on a long term solution after that.


Question: Barring repeal, what single change would you make to the health care overhaul law to improve care for Americans?

Moore: I have been a legislator for a long time and I don’t know that I have ever voted on a perfect bill. The Affordable Care Act is no different. It is not perfect. However, I am quite pleased by how successful the bill has been. The evidence for how well the bill is drafted is that, despite GOP calls for “repeal and replace,” the GOP has been unable to actually propose a viable alternative. I always tell opponents of the ACA to show me an alternative, because going back to the broken system the ACA replaced is not an option.

Sebring: Defund it.


Question: The states have a patchwork of laws when it comes to marijuana. Should Congress create uniformity by legalizing medical or recreational marijuana?

Moore: I have voted in favor of measures that prohibit the federal government from interfering with a state’s medical marijuana laws and have voted to permit the banking of the proceeds of legal marijuana sales in those states that permit the sale of marijuana. The federal government has a role to play in this issue, but the consensus is still evolving in Congress. In the meantime, valuable resources should not be wasted targeting lawful marijuana use in those states where it is legal. Too many of my young black and Latino constituents are behind bars because of marijuana-related offenses. I think that it is important for Congress to continue to watch and learn from the states that have passed decriminalization and medical marijuana laws.

Sebring: No.

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