How do you assess the Trump administration so far?
Miller: Trump has continued the same rhetoric disparaging individuals for their national origin, religion, and ethnicity while in office that he used used on the campaign trail. Instead of elevating discussions and promoting unity among the citizens of our nation his thoughtless language has sewn seeds of divisiveness. His attempts to dismantle critical federal programs not only negatively impacting our country but our planet as he rolls back environmental protection and regulations. Our withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord is an abdication of leadership in the development of clean energy solutions of the future. At a time when the international arena is facing an amount of diplomatic tension not seen in years, he is attempting to dismantle the state department. These actions are not acceptable, as they threaten the well-being and safety of the very Americans he is sworn to serve.
Do you support or oppose the federal tax cuts passed in 2017? What effect do you believe they will have on the economy?
Miller: President Trump’s tax cuts are fundamentally unfair and irresponsible. Corporations received a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut on the backs of American families. These cuts ballooned the deficit with no guarantee of economic growth. Trickle down economics have never worked and there’s no evidence to suggest they will here. These cuts are a giveaway to huge Republican donors who don’t need them. We should be using the revenue from these taxes to fund ambitious infrastructure projects, fund public education, or fund healthcare programs that help our society at large, not just President Trump’s wealthy donors.
Is the level of national debt a concern? What, if anything, should be done to reduce it or constrain its increase?
Miller: Yes national debt should be a concern. The massive tax cut legislation that President Trump and Congressional Republicans recently passed lowers taxes on top earners and explodes our national debt. That is irresponsible. If a country decides to spend more than it brings in, it should be investing in things that will help grow its economy, like infrastructure projects. To constrain the increase of national debt, we have to ensure a solid base of tax revenue, and carefully evaluate our spending. Military spending represents over 50% of discretionary spending (more than the next 8 nations combined). In Congress I will ensure American taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. I will support strengthening, and more importantly modernizing, our Armed Forces to defend our national security interests. Threats around the world have changed and we must adapt. Cyber warfare, unmanned aerial vehicles and small cell terrorism are some of the biggest challenges we face in the 21st Century, and what was the template for military spending in the 20th century should be reexamined.
Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and if so, what should the federal government do to address it?
Miller: The current level of economic inequality in the United States is a problem which must be addressed. I have co-sponsored bills to increase Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour and I would support similar legislation at the federal level. We cannot allow workers suffer through years of stagnant wage growth due to the political difficulties encountered each time increasing the minimum wage comes up for the debate. Ideally, the minimum wage could be tied to inflation to remove this obstacle. There are a multitude of additional steps that can be taken, and they include access to quality health care, breaking down barriers to get a college degree or vocational training and ensuring our international trade policies are focused on benefitting American workers not large multinational corporations. In addition, we should increase the Earned Income Tax Credit which would provide more economic support for the working poor. Finally, we need to support workers’ rights to unionize. It is not a coincidence that declining union membership in the US has coincided with a declining middle class and a larger wealth inequality.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how?
Miller: Yes, federal gun laws should be changed, and I have introduced a 5 point evidence based plan to reduce gun violence. First, we need to repeal the Dickey amendment and appropriate funds into gun violence research by the CDC so we can better tackle the problem. Second, we need to pass universal background check legislation. Background checks keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. Third, we need to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System because laws requiring background checks are only as good as the system that performs those background checks. Fourth, we need to ban military-style assault weapons. We know that such a ban works because we had one from 1994 to 2004. And fifth, we need to raise the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21. Increasing the minimum age to purchase any firearm will help prevent school shootings as well as thousands of suicides.
What should Congress do with respect to the Affordable Care Act? Should it be strengthened, and if so, how? Should it be scrapped? If so, what if anything should replace it?
Miller: Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is it written that the government must provide quality education to our children, but we do it because we know that providing a basic level of education to all citizens is a public good. A healthy population is as important as an educated population, which is why we should be moving toward a single payer system that covers every American. The ACA was a big leap forward on the road towards achieving universal healthcare for all Americans, however we still have a long way to go. We must not only defend the ACA against efforts to repeal it, but expand upon it to further improve access to healthcare for all Americans. Our next step towards achieving universal health care should be to build upon the successes of the ACA and move our country into a single-payer system. The first step in this process would be to introduce a public option into our individual health insurance exchanges. This step is crucial, especially in areas such as Western Maryland where there is only one insurance provider offering plans on the individual market, as it would reintroduce market competition and options to beneficiaries. The next step in this process would be to expand our existing Medicare program, by incrementally lowering the Medicare eligibility age until it encompasses all Americans.
What role should the federal government play in helping cities like Baltimore?
Miller: There are several roles the federal government can play in helping cities like Baltimore. By investing in transit, especially in a way that expands service in more economically depressed areas to increase easy accessibility to jobs is one option. In addition, the federal government can help create economically integrated neighborhoods, which integrate low income housing with middle-class housing, through building upon existing HUD programs. We must focus on growing a broad and resilient middle class through education investments and supporting workers rights to unionize.
What can Congress do to address the opioid epidemic?
Miller: In the Maryland General Assembly, I have actively fought for legislation and leadership to address our state’s opioid epidemic. I have supported bills that are saving lives in Maryland like the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act and the Heroin and Opioid Education and Community Action Act. These bills provide funding for treatment and public education, ensure the availability of naloxone and other overdose-reversing medication for those who need it, and place limits on amount of opioids that can be prescribed. We need to bring some of the legislation we passed in Annapolis to Washington. But in Congress we can go further. Through greater public awareness campaigns we need to destigmatize addiction and educate people how they can get treatment and finally ensure they have access to health care that can provide treatment. Much of the opioid epidemic has grown where income disparities have continued to grow and where the jobs that once provided a solid middle class life have disappeared. Government has failed to address the large scale displacement of workers due to changes in the global economy and technology. The government needs to be investing in infrastructure and education to ensure we are creating 21st century jobs in the United States. In addition, we need to push back on attacks on workers’ ability to unionize so we can finally see an increase in real wages and benefits.
What changes if any should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies?
Miller: I came to this country when I was 7 years old. I did not have a choice. My parents brought me here. America is my home. When I see the treatment of those who are protected under the DACA program, I believe my experience gives me a unique understanding and empathy for their plight. The United States is a country built on immigration, and our strength comes from the conglomeration of ideas and perspectives which immigration has created throughout our nation’s history. However, our current immigration system is broken and backlogged. I propose that we lift the arbitrary annual caps on H-1B visas and increase the annual limits on family-sponsored preference visa applications. There is no reason why prospective immigrants should be required to wait over 20 years just to be reunited with their family members. I also believe we need to protect immigrants already within this country, regardless of their status, by providing a pathway to citizenship for these individuals.
Should the United States continue with the free trade policies it pursued for the last several decades, or should it enact restrictions in an attempt to help domestic industries?
Miller: In order for our country to remain competitive in the highly competitive global market, the U.S. must enter trade agreements to create markets for American goods. However, whenever we enter such trade agreements, we need to promote fair trade that benefits American workers and ensure that all partners in the agreement protect the environment and workers’ rights.
Do you support the Iran nuclear deal?
Miller: I support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Now that this deal is in place, we must be steadfast and vigilant in enforcing it. The Iran Nuclear Deal not only establishes a standard for a relationship with a crucial country in the region, it also shows other countries that we can make deals with people other than our steadfast allies. It gives us leverage when negotiating with less-than-friendly countries in the future.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
Miller: I support initiating bilateral or multilateral negotiations with North Korea with the goal of negotiating a nuclear freeze and eventual disarmament of the Korean Peninsula. The increased weapons capabilities of North Korea is a global security threat to the United States and our Allies in the region. It is of utmost importance that we continue to work with our international partners to apply pressure to the North Korean regime as we closely monitor their actions.