Michael Pullen

Michael Pullen
  • Democrat
  • Age: 67
  • Residence: Easton

About Michael Pullen

Education

Graduated with honors with BA in History from Boston College in 1973. Graduated with honors from Suffolk Law School in 1977.

Background

Recently retired after nearly 25 years as Talbot County Attorney. Prior to that I worked in private practice, in public defense, and as a taxi driver.

Questionnaire

1
Trump record
How do you assess the Trump administration so far?
Pullen: This administration is bad for our Country and bad for Democracy. It’s poisoning our environment, harming workers, families, women, minorities, immigrants, seniors, students and children. It’s undermining education, healthcare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It’s undermining faith in our public institutions. It’s attacking reporters, the free press and squandering America’s credibility and moral standing among other nations and world leaders. It’s abandoning allies, befriending those who seek to harm us, and undoing strategic alliances. It has no direction. This administration lacks respect for the rule of law, the Constitution, international law, the United Nations, and the American people. The lack of empathy, knowledge, understanding, or a shared moral vision eliminates the possibility for constructive change. Corruption is rampant, unchecked, and overlooked as if it doesn’t matter. Lies, deceit, disloyalty, and dysfunction pervade this administration. The only protection we have in the face of a House without a backbone is this administration’s incompetence. America’s strength, resilience, and determination to hold this administration to account, to protect our democracy and uphold the rule of law, however, will be made very clear in the 2018 elections.
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2
2017 Tax cuts
Do you support or oppose the federal tax cuts passed in 2017? What effect do you believe they will have on the economy?
Pullen: I oppose the tax law because it takes from American working families and gives to the rich, looting the American Treasury for the benefit of the top 1%. Here’s how the plan falls out: out of every $1,000 in tax giveaways, the top 1% get $830. The rest of us get roughly 17¢ each. Even that tiny fraction is subtly gobbled up by the increased costs of medical insurance that Republicans have baked into the law. After 10 years, most middle class workers will be paying more in taxes for less public services. Greed and unfairness won, plain and simple. The top 1% already have more wealth than at any time since the Gilded Age, and certainly did not need a corporate bailout that will explode the deficit by $1,500,000,000 and make our social safety net even harder to fund. The American people were told that this law would “help working families,” but helping working families was never the true aim of this bill. Destabilizing our federal budget and rewarding political donors was the aim. Looting the American treasury, stealing from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid was the aim. Allowing the Republicans to come back to Congress in five or ten years and claim that they must cut benefits because the government is surprisingly underfunded, is the aim. In those regards, the Republicans were right on target.
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3
National debt
Is the level of national debt a concern? What, if anything, should be done to reduce it or constrain its increase?
Pullen: Yes, the national debt is a serious concern. High debt limits our ability to increase spending in an economic downturn, which increases the risks of a longer, deeper economic crisis. High debt limits our opportunities to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, limiting the creation of good paying jobs rebuilding America. Like a business, a government cannot be run on IOU’s alone. To get the debt under control, we must prioritize the funding of essentials, our military, schools, roads, and our healthcare, while seeking ways to expand our tax base to make new projects possible. Where we can cut spending, such as in the bloated and inefficient military budget (the highest in the world by far) we must. We can invest those savings in health, education, and social programs, allowing us to fund early childhood education programs, better health care, tuition-free public education for college, technical training, and skilled trade apprenticeships. We need a progressive tax code that evenly balances the costs and shares the rewards of our economy among all Americans. We must raise the minimum wage, which will increase buying power, place upward pressure on mid-level wages, and increase consumer spending in our economy, generating more tax revenue. At the core of the debt debate is the question of whether we want to burden our children with our spending today. I believe that is the wrong course of action to take, and future generations will resent us if we cannot not get our own reckless spending under control.
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4
Income inequality
Is the level of economic inequality in the United States a problem, and if so, what should the federal government do to address it?
Pullen: Economic inequality is a serious problem. The top 1% own nearly 40% of the wealth, more than the bottom 95% combined. Nearly half of all Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense without borrowing or selling assets. The middle class is shrinking, while the costs of housing, health-care, child care, education and job training are rising. Young Americans are working two, three, or even four jobs just to keep a roof over their heads. Wages have been mostly stagnant for decades, while corporate profits are at an all time high. American working families need better pay, working conditions, and benefits. They deserve the right to organize for their mutual protection and benefit, while protected by a NLRB that has their interests at heart. They deserve to be able to make a living wage working a single full-time job. They deserve the right to be protected from unscrupulous employers who fail to protect their physical well-being, and who actively practice harassment. We can begin to address these issues today by raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, updating the NRLA for the modern economy, ensuring that today’s bad actors are punished, and by extending protections against discrimination by employers for the future. We need a progressive tax system so the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share. We need to eliminate unfair tax loopholes, the “carried-interest” loophole, and reinstate the Estate Tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax, so those with extreme wealth pay their fair share.
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5
Gun laws
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how?
Pullen: Yes, we should re-enact the federal assault weapons ban that worked successfully between 1994-2004. This law reduced random massacres in which semi-automatic weapons were to kill innocent children and other Americans. Nobody is against the 2nd Amendment, it’s part of our Constitution. Hunting, sport competitions, collecting, are a big part of our heritage here on the Eastern Shore. They help our economy and are part of the many pastimes we enjoy. But there is a clear distinction between handguns, rifles, and shotguns for sport, competition, or collecting, and weapons designed for a battlefield. Bullets from an assault weapon rip through the body “like a grenade went off inside,” bursting arteries and organs from the intense shock wave spreading along their path. They destroy tissue, arteries and organs without even hitting them, like a cigarette boat in a narrow canal. They leave exit wounds the size of oranges, with nothing left to repair. Assault weapons are the weapon of choice for domestic terrorists intent on mass killings, and it is our duty to make it as difficult as possible to carry out these horrendous acts. To do so we should: -Ban the sale of new civilian assault weapons, bump stocks, and high capacity magazines. -Implement a mandatory background check for new firearm purchasers. -Close the “gun show loophole” by extending background checks to gun show purchases and limiting out-of-state purchasers. -Institute a minimum age to buy firearms.
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6
ACA
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?
Pullen: We should move to a universal health care model like every other major country on earth. It’s less expensive, simpler, and more efficient. The ACA was a good first step as it was originally enacted, but elimination of the Medicare expansion, elimination of the mandate, and the repeated Republican attacks to undermine and sabotage the ACA have hobbled it. America needs to join the rest of the industrialized world and provide universal healthcare to all citizens as a right. Universal healthcare will cost less than we’re already paying. Americans pay more for healthcare than any other country in the world, but we don’t use more, and our outcomes are less positive. Overall, we, the most powerful nation in the history of the world, is only 11th overall in national overall health. We’re not just paying more money, we are paying in avoidable deaths, unnecessary suffering, lost income, and lost productivity. Profits and overhead for insurance companies and the cost of prescription drugs now gobble up 42¢ of every dollar we spend on healthcare. Medicare’s overhead, on the other hand, is far lower, costing only 3¢ out of every dollar spent to administer. This plan will also provide patients freedom of choice by allowing doctors to decide treatments instead of insurance companies. A medicare-for-all model lets your doctor and you decide what’s best for you, and that is the proposal I will champion as your Representative.
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7
Urban policy
What role should the federal government play in helping cities like Baltimore?
Pullen: The federal government can provide necessary funding for public transit, neighborhood redevelopment and revitalization, public schools, housing, job-training, and infrastructure. Economic aid to assist the redevelopment of the Tradepoint Atlantic site and others can boost economic opportunities and jobs. Federal grant funding is key to continued health, safety, and well-being of the people of Baltimore and those who work, visit, and shop there. Community policing can help reconnect law enforcement with the citizens they serve. Federal pilot programs, training facilities, and research into best practices can help law enforcement throughout the US, but particularly in our cities and metropolitan areas. like Baltimore. Federal agencies can help by treating drug abuse as a public health problem, not a criminal justice problem. Removing marijuana from a Schedule I classification, the schedule reserved for the most dangerous drugs with no known medical purpose, would reduce criminalization of marijuana use, give patients welcome relief, and lighten the load for police, courts, and detention centers. We must also allow and direct the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence as a public health issue. In 1996, Congress prohibited this. Since then there’s been more than 600,000 gunshot victims in the US. In 2016, the American Medical Association adopted a resolution declaring gun violence a public health crisis. Getting the data, analyzing the cause, and coming up with answers to why people shoot others, or themselves, and what can be done to prevent gun violence, would help America and Baltimore.
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8
Opioids
What can Congress do to address the opioid epidemic?
Pullen: Seven Americans die every hour from opioid overdose. Children lose parents, parents lose children, families are broken, and communities are left to struggle with the long term ramifications of this public health crisis. America needs prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation. Congress can help with all three. Congress should enact legislation: -that treats drug addiction as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue, -to halt the over-prescription of opioids and specifically target opioid mills –For example, over the past 10 years, drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people. Congress curtailed the DEA’s authority to work these cases in 2016. Congress can reauthorize the DEA’s authority to monitor and intercept suspicious flooding of opioids into communities, -to authorize and fund research into the use of medical marijuana to treat pain, and -to establish best practices and provide funding to educate first responders about coordination and follow-up after treating an addict to improve the hand-off to rehabilitation, increase the number and availability of methadone clinics, and identify, coordinate, and duplicate rehabilitation programs that work. Until we realize that we cannot jail our way out of this public health crisis, I fear our response will continue to not be as effective as necessary to get this problem within control.
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9
Immigration
What changes if any should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies?
Pullen: We have a duty to support immigrant families in our communities. Our nation was built on the hard work of immigrants from around the world. By trying to prevent further immigration, this Administration fails to realize they are changing the nature of America, not protecting it. Without immigration over the last two centuries America would not have become the nation we are today. Immigration has always been a key to our national growth, and to undermine our potential based on xenophobia or fear is bad policy. We must address DACA in the short term, and the long-term issue of undocumented migration. The DACA crisis has been self-created by the Trump Administration and Congress must honor our promise to these dreamers. Our nation is stronger and better because they are here. They need a path to citizenship. Congress must also create a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers who didn’t qualify for DACA. Immigrants and the diversity they bring are a great strength, and they make the US what it is. We are all immigrants. To begin mass arrests and deportations is not only inhumane, it also harms our economy. Instead, we should create a pathway to citizenship to allow these individuals to come out of the shadows and pursue the American dream. From among our immigrants and their children, we’ll see the next great inventor, or poet, or entrepreneur, but we’ll never know until we welcome them into our civic life with open arms.
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10
Free trade
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?
Pullen: I support a trade policy that helps American workers and America’s working families. Our trade policies should focus on them and their interests, not international corporations. This means supporting trade policies that foster opportunities to sell American products on the international market and to invite foreign investment in American-made products. This means opposing trade deals that drive down American wages by allowing foreign corporations to sell products manufactured by exploiting workers, paying starvation wages, and suppressing the labor market to keep their prices low. We must defend the intellectual property of our entrepreneurs so that American workers producing innovative goods can be rewarded for the hard work that goes into developing and manufacturing a new product.
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11
Iran
Do you support the Iran nuclear deal?
Pullen: I support the Iran nuclear deal. This agreement has broad international support and represents a joint effort to maintain the peace and protect international security. There is no reason to reject this Agreement. The international community, with experts from around the world, agrees that it is being honored by the Iranians. The Trump administration has offered no evidence of any violation. It’s unacceptable to simply disavow a working Agreement because a new administration assumes power. The Agreement is working and effectively prevents the Iranians from gaining nuclear weapons. If there’s real evidence to show otherwise, we can de-certify the Agreement at that point. Until then, if ever, we should uphold our end of the deal and continue to certify compliance. This agreement has widespread international support, and any withdrawal must be done based on an international consensus, after consultation with our allies, and in conjunction with similar actions by our allies. We should learn from the coordinated international response to the recent assassination attempt in the UK by Russian operatives. In a matter of days, the international community rallied to eject over 150 Russian intelligence operatives, dealing a blow to the Kremlin that will take years to repair. That is how international diplomacy can be used to deter and punish bad actors.
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12
North Korea
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
Pullen: The US should continue to work with the international community to sanction the Kim regime, forcing them into negotiations, and should then rely on international collaboration, as well as our own experts, to fashion a workable agreement. We’ve already done something similar with Iran and we can do the same with North Korea. Military action against North Korea in the name of eliminating its nuclear weapons program would result in another war with catastrophic loss of live and destruction. The people of South Korea would be hit with millions of artillery shells and our allies in Japan would face a barrage of missiles. We could expect huge American casualties even without the destruction inflicted if North Korea actually used the nuclear weapons it has been developing. The predictable losses, and the risks of any military conflict spiraling out of control, are simply too great to justify military action at this point. Sanctions, however, require Chinese participation to be successful, and the Trump administration’s short-sighted trade feud with China threatens our ability to gain their support. Instead, our countries should focus on the issues we can all agree on, that a Korean war would be an unmitigated disaster. A conflict on the Korean Peninsula would send millions of North Korean refugees into China, destabilizing the Chinese labor market and creating a humanitarian disaster in China, a situation the Chinese fear. International cooperation is the only way out of this predicament.
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