Andy Schmookler's Political Positions

Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any campaign activity, including advertising, debates, and speeches.
Andy Schmookler has demonstrated Political Courage by telling citizens where he stands on the issues he may face if elected.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Virginia Congressional Election 2012 Political Courage Test

Pro-choiceInferred Answer Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation? View Citations
  • Andy Schmookler. Home. 2 February 2012. "No real conservative should ever countenance the use of state power to intimidate and hobble people whose participation in the marketplace of ideas runs contrary to the interests that certain office holders wish to serve. Nor should one's opinion about the right to abortion affect one's judgment on another abuse of state power." (
  • Andy Schmookler. Facebook: Timeline. 21 February 2012. "I join their efforts to defend the rights and dignity of women against such an onslaught...This focus of our attention on matters of sexual and reproductive choices is part of a larger pattern in which the right works continuously to turn groups of Americans against each other, preventing our making common cause on the basis of those values we share in order to achieve those purposes that could unite us." (
Other or expanded principles

My position: There's a lot that I agree with the pro-life side about, but in the name of a very important American value freedom of religion. I maintain that the issue of abortion is one on which the government should keep its hands off. On religious questions -- like when what's conceived becomes fully human and entitled to full human rights-- we Americans do not use the coercive power of the state to impose one group's beliefs upon another group that believes differently.

Unknown PositionInferred Answer Do you support United States' combat operations in Afghanistan? View Citations
  • Andy Schmookler. Issue Position: Spending Cuts. 1 January 2012. "It is true that the United States must protect itself from the threat of terrorism, but most of what this requires should not involve large-scale military forces and the expenditures that go with them. It is far from clear that either of the wars that the United States has engaged in --Iraq and Afghanistan--has contributed to our national security. Almost certainly, in neither have the benefits outweighed the costs. Winding down both these wars as quickly as prudence will allow seems wise even aside from the issue of expense." (
Do you support a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan?
Other or expanded principles

The Afghan war was handled badly by the Bush administration, and the Obama administration's attempts to rescue the situation have shown little good results to justify the costs. We should extricate ourselves from that conflict as quickly as possible, while trying not to leave chaos in our wake.

Indicate which proposals you support (if any) for balancing the federal budget.

In order to balance the budget,

YesCandidate Answerdo you support reducing defense spending?
YesCandidate Answerdo you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
do you support reducing Medicaid spending?
do you support reducing Medicare spending?
Is balancing the budget a legislative priority?
Other or expanded principles

On defense, we spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined. Clearly excessive. Expenditures on Medicare and Medicaid are a financial time bomb, but these costs are rising because of the escalating costs of American health care generally: that's what needs to be controlled. The budget should be in rough balance OVER THE COURSE OF THE BUSINESS CYCLE-- that is, surpluses in boom time, deficits in bust times. Charts show the rich and big corporations paying much less than in previous decades; the middle class should get relief, and the wealthiest should pay more.

YesCandidate AnswerDo you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
Other or expanded principles

I support the market system, which produces inequalities of wealth. But those inequalities cannot be allowed to destroy the democratic justice of "one person, one vote." Our founders declared that "all men are created equal," and they set up a government where each citizen is to have an equal say in deciding our collective destiny. The terrible Citizens United decision, opening up the floodgates for big money to buy our government, is perhaps the greatest threat to our democratic liberties. This is to be government for and by the people, not for and by the powerful few.

Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?
Other or expanded principles

I am disturbed by the evidence of how frequently people have been executed for crimes they did not commit. If there's clear evidence, from well-conducted studies, that capital punishment has a strong deterrent effect not possible with "life without parole," then I'd be willing to take the chance of having capital punishment, for some crimes, despite the danger of a miscarriage of justice that cannot be set right. But for me the test is this: does it result in a better society? I do not like for punishment to be a kind of revenge, or outlet for anger.

YesCandidate AnswerDo you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
YesCandidate AnswerDo you support providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation?
YesDo you support spending on infrastructure projects for the purpose of job creation?
YesDo you support the temporary extension of unemployment benefits?
Do you support the 2010 temporary extension of tax relief?
Other or expanded principles

The evidence is overwhelming that our economic problems today stem from a lack of aggregate demand in the economy. That's why there's not more hiring: why make more of your product when no one will buy them? Perhaps the central insight of 20th century economics is that the government should lean the opposite of the business cycle. With too little demand, government should become the spender of last resort. And with so many unmet needs in the nation --like repairing crumbling infrastructure-- and interest rates at historic lows, it's a great time for government to help put people to work.

Unknown PositionInferred Answer Do you support requiring states to implement education reforms in order to be eligible for competitive federal grants? View Citations
  • None
Other or expanded principles

Would need to know more about this. If the federal government has good insights into what kinds of reforms are worthwhile, then I have no objection to having strings attached to federal grants. As one who has been a teacher, I will say this: I've seen governments mandate a role for testing that leads to "teaching to the test," and that is terribly corrosive of genuine education.

NoCandidate AnswerDo you support reducing restrictions on offshore energy production?
Other or expanded principles

If people understood the truth about all the dimensions of our energy situation --regarding the long-term prospects for oil fuels, regarding the climatic consequences of changing the composition of earth's atmosphere, regarding the future economic benefits of innovations in alternative fuels, and regarding how the giant energy companies are warping our political process, people would see how corrupt and harmful to the country are the forces that tell us that "Drill, baby, drill" is what's good for us. We need an energy policy that's good for the country, not one that fattens short-term profits of the world's richest companies.

YesDo you believe that human activity is contributing to climate change?
YesCandidate AnswerDo you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
Other or expanded principles

A study published in one of our most prestigious scientific journals found that 97% of the top scientists in the field of climate are agreed on the crucial points regarding climate change. There is NO HONEST WAY for any non-expert to choose to side with the tiny minority --3%-- who have disagreement with this consensus. The only reason that this ONE scientific idea is under challenge, disbelieved by half of America, is that the most powerful companies in the world want people to believe what they themselves know is not true. And those companies dictate Republican policy on this issue.

Unknown PositionInferred Answer Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns? View Citations
  • None
Other or expanded principles

I respect the American tradition of hunting, and I respect the right of Americans to defend their homes and families. I've no desire for the law to deprive people of the right to bear such arms. I do not think that the right to bear "arms" is unlimited. After all, atomic bombs are "arms," too, and we would not want to live in a world where anyone who wanted one could obtain one and detonate it. Weapons that can be used to massacre many people in a short time lead not to our being freer, but rather less free.

NoCandidate AnswerDo you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act?
YesShould individuals be required to purchase health insurance, as mandated in the 2010 Affordable Care Act?
Other or expanded principles

The crucial facts are two: 1) we spend twice as much as other advanced nations for health care, and 2) our system ranks 37th in how well it delivers health care to our people. It's not the American way to pay more for less. This problem threatens our families, our businesses, and our government with bankruptcy. The AFA can be a start to getting these costs under control, and getting better health care to all our people. For twenty years, the Republican Party has done NOTHING to address this problem-- nothing but obstruct every attempt to make things better.

Unknown PositionInferred Answer Do you support requiring illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship? View Citations
  • None
YesDo you support allowing illegal immigrants, who were brought to the United States as minors, to pursue citizenship without returning to their country of origin?
Do you support the enforcement of federal immigration law by state and local police?
Other or expanded principles

I don't like that we don't have better control over our borders, but I also don't like the way this issue has been used to generate conflict between ethnic groups. President Bush actually proposed a good approach, which was supported also by John McCain. But for the Republican Party at this point, it seems, only a punitive, resentment-feeding approach is allowed. I have no magic solution to this problem, but I do think that the Golden Rule is worth including in one's approach.

YesCandidate AnswerDo you support same-sex marriage?
Other or expanded principles

Brought up in America in the 1950s and 1960s, I originally saw such relationships as something somehow wrong. But a lot has been learned since then, and I've adjusted my understanding accordingly. It now appears that people are gay or straight according to how they were born. I know that I didn't CHOOSE to be straight; I just always was. Likewise, the gay people I know report that they are as God made them. Going back again to the Golden Rule: why not let consenting adults enjoy the committed relationships they feel called to. It hurts no one.

Unknown PositionInferred Answer Do you support targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict? View Citations
  • None
Should the U.S use military force in order to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon?
Other or expanded principles

On targeting of terrorists: if there is no way to work through a legal/police system to bring them to justice, if reasonable precautions are made to prevent the killing of innocents, and if there are safeguards to prevent an American president from abusing such authority to attack his own, and not the nation's, enemies, then it's OK with me.
As for Iran and its nuclear program, I have yet to hear or read an analysis that indicates that a military approach would do more than slightly delay that program. The costs would be way bigger than the likely benefits.

NoCandidate AnswerDo you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?
Other or expanded principles

I'm for maintaining Social Security as the kind of program it has been for three generations. It's a way of expressing that part of the truth that is under assault from extremists: the truth that not only are we individuals with our own liberty and autonomy, but we are also ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. Therefore we create a program together that makes sure that our senior citizens are able to live out their years in dignity-- not in luxury, but with a reasonable degree of security.


Indicate what federal spending levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category; you can use a number more than once.

Maintain Statusa) Agriculture
Slightly Increaseb) Arts
Slightly Decreasec) Defense
Maintain Statusd) Education
Slightly Increasee) Environment
Maintain Statusf) Homeland Security
Maintain Statusg) International aid
Slightly Increaseh) Medical Research
Slightly Increasei) Scientific Research
Maintain Statusj) Space exploration
Maintain Statusk) United Nations
Maintain Statusl) Welfare
Maintain Statusm) Other or expanded categories

The issue is not only the "how much," but also the "how."

One thing more should be said. There's a falsehood that's been pushed in our public discourse, according to which there's been some sort of government spending binge the past three years. This is not true. Compared to every other post-WWII recession, the increase in government spending has been way, way lower this time around, even though the crisis has been more profound. The increase under President Obama has been a fraction of the increase there was under Ronald Reagan during the recession at the beginning of his presidency.


Indicate what federal tax levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category; you can use a number more than once.

Slightly Increasea) Capital gains taxes
Slightly Increaseb) Corporate taxes
Maintain Statusc) Excise taxes (alcohol)
Maintain Statusd) Excise taxes (cigarettes)
Slightly Increasee) Excise taxes (transportation fuel)
Maintain Statusf) Income taxes (low-income families)
Maintain Statusg) Income taxes (middle-income families)
Slightly Increaseh) Income taxes (high-income families)
Maintain Statusi) Inheritance taxes
Maintain Statusj) Payroll taxes
Maintain Statusk) Other or expanded categories

Let's also simplify the tax code. The formal "rate" is one thing, but studies show that the very richest Americans are EFFECTIVELY paying a lower rate than the merely "millionaires." That's why Warren Buffett complains that he pays a lower rate than his secretary. That's how Mitt Romney, who paid an effective tax rate of between 14 and 15 percent, is paying a lower rate than most middle income families. Today's Republicans complain about the deficit, but insist on reducing what already the lowest tax rates on the richest Americans we've had in sixty years.

Please explain in a total of 100 words or less, your top two or three priorities if elected. If they require additional funding for implementation, please explain how you would obtain this funding.

I favor an amendment to take the politics out of redistricting: use a computer and an algorithm to draw the lines. That will give power back to the people, away from incumbents and parties who now rig the system.
I favor an amendment to overturn Citizens United and to open the way for the use of vouchers to be issued to every registered voter --Election money-- as the means to fund our election process.
I favor a law to LET THE OWNERS (stockholders of publicly-traded corporations) DECIDE how their property is to be used, when there's a political/social impact.

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.