How do you assess the Trump administration so far?
Vaughn: The Trump administration has had dangerous implications on our nation. In addition to ignoring the support for our society’s most vulnerable residents in housing, immigration, small business development, transportation/infrastructure, education, higher education, and the environment his foreign policies have a negative impact on US farming and agriculture. In the end, his existence as Commander-in-chief undermines our credibility as a leader in the world and our democracy.
Do you support or oppose the federal tax cuts passed in 2017? What effect do you believe they will have on the economy?
Vaughn: Federal tax cuts of 2017 were drastic. A cut from 35% to 21% was too steep of a cut for both corporations and government to unknowing implications. There was a consensus that federal corporate tax cuts were needed to compete with nations who had lower tax rates that were luring US businesses away. However, a tax cut of this magnitude was too risky for a leader of the US to make. It would have been a more responsible decision to wean in the tax cuts over time to reduce risk and uncertainty to American corporations and the US government. If US corporations don’t return from overseas in droves in year one of the tax cut our economy could take a major hit.
Is the level of national debt a concern? What, if anything, should be done to reduce it or constrain its increase?
Vaughn: The national debt is a major concern for the security of the US economy and for all future generations for our nation. There are several things we can do reduce our debt. The first thing we can do is do away with laws that restrict growth of US industry. The cannabis industry, for example, could produce billions of federal dollars if it is allowed to not be listed as a Schedule 1 substance. Two, after receiving billions more in tax revenue from cannabis sales the US government could spend the same amount of dollars on fixed expenses in healthcare and the military while having more dollars to reduce the debt.
Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and if so, what should the federal government do to address it?
Vaughn: Economic inequality is one of the principal factors that keeps the US from excelling and fulfilling its promise of being one nation for ALL. The federal government has a role to support local programs in neighborhoods that are working while also creating opportunities for groups to compete for grants to fund projects that will change lives. One example is education. Educational inequality is a major hurdle. The US government can give extra funding to programs that produce strong outcomes to expand them to quadruple outcomes. This can also be done in small business development, wealth management education, tech education, and higher education to use existing vehicles of education and higher education institutions to break the cycle of economic inequality by offering money from the US government to educate and train without requirement of cost on low income residents.
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how?
Vaughn: Federal laws on guns should be changed to allow more background checks on gun owners and gun purchases. I’d look for ways to license and register fire arms in similar ways as we license and register vehicles in the US. Through the license plate we know when vehicles are stolen and who owns the vehicle that may have fled the scene of an accident. Serial numbers of guns could be embedded within the gun to not be filed off if it is illegally sold. Also, a ban on the sales of automatic weapons and the equipment’s, like bump stock, that can make weapons automatic is needed. In the end, laws that both prevent mass shootings and illegal gun sales to urban cities need to be passed as soon as possible to save lives.
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?
Vaughn: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was never a perfect piece of legislation, however, it doesn’t need to be scrapped it needs to be strengthened. My belief is a single-payer ACA would be better for businesses and provide better services to tax-payers. A single-payer ACA would also ensure health insurance for all while providing more resources for local hospitals that are on the verge of closing because they’re receiving less revenue as a result of fewer people having health insurance. A single-payer ACA would give less pressure on businesses because they could spend less money on healthcare having an Employer Single-Payer ACA that could be almost a Gold Card health insurance that could have employers spend less money on health insurance and employees would get a premium network of medical care paid for by businesses and the ACA. How do we pay for this? Billions received from tax revenue received from cannabis sales could help these costs.
What role should the federal government play in helping cities like Baltimore?
Vaughn: Cities like Baltimore need support from the federal government in a myriad of ways. Financial support in existing areas of need in healthcare, economic development, housing, education, and higher education are all important. But, the federal government also needs the vision to funding to organizations that can produce the best outcomes via requests for proposals (RFP’s) that would yield strong results. For instance, the federal government could provide funding for low income residents in Baltimore to attend college tuition-free while also providing these colleges with funding to partner with corporations and high schools to provide education and job training to the next generation of leaders in Baltimore. In addition, the federal government could provide leadership in creating corporate/government partnerships to merge high school to college training and education to increase high school graduation rates and employment rates simultaneously. For criminal justice, the best crime prevention tool is a job. With a smart and realistic job readiness and education/higher education support plan, Baltimore residents will have the tools needed to compete in today’s global economy.
What can Congress do to address the opioid epidemic?
Vaughn: Cannabis has been proven to be a tool used to prevent the continued use and spread of opioid addictions nationwide. In states that have cannabis available for recreational use there are low levels of opioid deaths. Cannabis could be used as both a treatment for opioid users and a non-lethal replacement for residents who choose to responsibly inebriate themselves. Laws on the books similar to alcohol consumption should be available for those who impair themselves while driving vehicles, etc. However, reducing cannabis off the list of being a Schedule 1 substance could result in a national drop in opioid addition cases. In addition to cannabis, I’ll push to have funding to provide all law enforcement personnel to be trained and carry naloxone kits to prevent opioid deaths. With the combination of preventative and action-orientated methods we can address the opioid epidemic in a smart and effective way to overcome it.
What changes if any should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies?
Vaughn: Immigration laws in the US should be changed to: 1 allow children of immigrants who were born outside of the US, but raised in the US (Dreamers) should be allowed to stay in the US; 2 misdemeanors and small crimes by immigrants should not warrant deportation; 3 deportations should apply to those who commit violent crimes in the US and will be subject to imprisonments and punishments US courts would agree with; the notion of ending “chain migration” needs to be fought – we need to support law abiding immigrants who may need to sponsor their mothers, sisters, and cousins to help their family in the US; 4 open doors to asylum seekers – nations like Haiti, Cuba, and Honduras have histories of human rights abuses, poverty, and war in their nations, respectively. Asylum in the US is just and appropriate in those situations. 5 Change in US immigration policy based on fears of the changing demography of our nation is no way to run a nation. The current changes the GOP supports breaks up families, results in millions of dollars of lost revenue, and is not what leaders of a nation deemed “the land of the free” should do. There’s room in the US for our Dreamers, those who overstay their F1 Visa’s, and their families.
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?
Vaughn: There is consensus on the left and right that unfair trade practices should not be tolerated. However, instead of working to undermine a foreign nation to get better trade deals, negotiations to reduce global tariffs on US products and services be a better approach. For instance, the current climate of US/China relations is resulting in a trade war costing millions of reduced value on American companies in a wide variety of sectors. A global consensus of unfair trade could have resulted in other nations joining with the US in this trade war that would add more pressure on China to allow more international banking and tech institutions access the China. A global approach would have resulted in better trade to China with not only the US, but also with partnered nations which could’ve resulted in better US trade with those partnered nations as well.
Do you support the Iran nuclear deal?
Vaughn: The Iran nuclear deal was constructed to end the threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. There has been little evidence showing Iran is on the verge of attaining a nuclear weapon and so far the deal appears to be a success. When the deal was struck, sanctions were lifted from the European Union (EU) and other nations resulting in Iran receiving billions, having a stable economy again, and giving no reason for Iran to renege on the deal. I support the Obama lead Iran deal with one caveat, that Iran ends its proxy wars against our US allies in the region like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Conflicts in the region has resulted in thousands of people being killed from Syria to Yemen. I would support getting rid of the nuclear deal in favor of a more harsh deal on Iran if it continues with these proxy wars against our allies in the region.
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
Vaughn: Stronger sanctions and global pressure with allies against North Korea has forced North Korea to be more conciliatory towards South Korea and more willing to have a peaceful dialogue with the US. Continued pressure on North Korea to stay on the course to de-nuclearize while promising to lift sanctions and offer agricultural and infrastructural upgrades to North Korea, through South Korea, could all be on the table to push North Korea to give up their nuclear ambitions.