1. What are the two most important things that should be done to improve our nation's economy?
We should quickly pass the Transportation and Infrastructure Bill. Putting people to work repairing our roads and bridges, cleaning our air and making our water safe to drink. This will create construction and manufacturing jobs here at home that can never be outsourced.
Secondly, we should implement a comprehensive energy policy. Developing alternative sources of energy and a green economy will also create jobs that cannot be outsourced. That is why I sponsored the "Rural Star" legislation that just passed the House, and which the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina estimates will create 7,000 jobs in our state alone.
2. What should be done by the federal government to reduce our use of and dependence on fossil fuels and spur the use of clean energy?
In addition to #2 above, I continue to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act, already passed by the House, which will cut the use of oil and petroleum products by 1.4 million barrels a day by 2030. It also promotes all forms of American clean energy, including: wind, solar, geothermal, biomass; support for private investments in nuclear power; new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies; cleaner coal technology with carbon capture and sequestration; and efficient vehicles. Dollar for dollar, investments in a clean energy economy will create four times as many jobs as investments in the oil and gas industry, help clean up the environment, and enhance our national security by lessening our dependence on foreign oil.
Currently, U.S. consumers are exporting $400 billion a year to pay for foreign oil and America's energy bill will increase by $420 billion annually within the next 5 years if we do not reduce our dependence on foreign oil and use of fossil fuels. That amounts to $3,500 annually for every American family
3. What should the federal government do to create the world's best educational system for all children American children?
The advocacy of Robert Smalls, a former slave, and an 1860's, 70's and 80's legislator Congressman, and public official spurred the establishment of a free public education system for all S. C. children. This is, in my opinion, the greatest legacy South Carolina has given our country, although our level of commitment has often been suspect. As a former public school teacher, I don't believe in punishing public schools when students fail. I think that failing schools are usually more a reflection of how our nation has failed the communities in which they exist. Schools cannot be successful when adequate resources are not made available, and the students who attend them don't have homes with proper facilities and parents with stable jobs, where a meal may or may not be available, and a visit to a doctor or dentist is a luxury they cannot afford. We have a systemic problem, and real school reform should be in our method of funding public education.
4. Please explain why you do or do not believe that the federal government should ensure that every American has health coverage.
I believe that access to quality, affordable health care should be a fundamental right of all Americans, not just the wealthy or those who are fortunate enough to get health insurance through their employment.
I am very proud of the new health insurance law that I helped enact this year. This law eliminates lifetime caps on benefits, makes it illegal to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, or who may contract a chronic illness. And youg adults can stay on their parents' insurance plans until the age of 26.
The 6th Congressional district is plagued with health disparities due - in large part -to a lack of access to quality, affordable health care. The new law should help to reduce these disparities. It will also reduce long-term health care costs, and the national deficit by $143 billion over the next ten years, with $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction in the following 10 years.
5. What role do you see for the United States in fostering democracy around the world?
America has a role to play in protecting and fostering fledgling democracies. We should support democratic elections, and encourage the democratic process. Many of these efforts can be made by non-governmental organizations and through the United Nations. Democracy by force hasn't proven very effective, and I don't think nation building is not a proper role for our military.