C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
  • Democrat
  • Age: 72
  • Residence: Cockeysville

About C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

Education

J.D., University of Baltimore

Background

A lawyer by trade, I worked as an assistant state’s attorney for Baltimore County before I ran for office.

Questionnaire

1
Trump record
How do you assess the Trump administration so far?
Ruppersberger: I pledged to work with the Trump Administration wherever and whenever I can. I attended his inauguration (and helped 200 of my constituents do the same) with hopes of working together on issues like infrastructure, national security and tax reform. “If Trump succeeds,” I said, “America succeeds.” Unfortunately, I have been very disappointed. The constant turnover and drama inside the Oval Office is hurting America’s credibility. Our country is not reality television. I am perhaps most concerned by President Trump’s attacks on his own federal agencies, particularly our law enforcement and intelligence agencies including the Department of Justice, FBI and National Security Agency. We must allow the special prosecutor to pursue justice based on facts and facts alone. Now more than ever, we need qualified and consistent leadership at the State Department. By all accounts, morale at the Department is at an all-time low – and for good reason. Its budget has been slashed. Veteran ambassadors are leaving. Key ambassadorships remain vacant. Meanwhile, we are living in some of the most dangerous times we have ever seen, facing threats from North Korea, Russia, Iran, China, extremists and cyber terrorists. As Defense Secretary Mattis once said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.” The President needs more advisors who speak truth to power, can manage and deftly navigate policy. And, if he wants the rest of the world to take the United States seriously, he must stop Tweeting and start leading.
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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?
Ruppersberger: I voted against this tax reform bill because it did not achieve my goal of a modern code that rebuilds the middle class. While I do support reducing the corporate tax rate, this bill did so at the expense of middle-class families. The Trump tax cuts were designed with permanent cuts for corporations and heirs of large estates, coupled with temporary, expiring tax cuts for the middle class. In fact, more than 80 percent of the tax cuts included in this bill will go to our country’s corporations and wealthiest 1 percent. Not only did the bill add $2 trillion to our debt, its offsets were not acceptable to me. The bill capped the state and local tax deduction and scaled back the mortgage interest deduction – both of which will hit Marylanders particularly hard. It ended the deductibility of student loans and medical expenses, the latter of which will hurt seniors. It altered incentives for charitable giving. It also repealed the requirement for all Americans to buy health insurance, which will increase premiums another 10 percent, according to economists. In the mid to late-1990s, our country saw strong economic growth, record job creation and even budget surpluses. It was achieved two ways: by structuring taxes to favor the middle class and by bringing both parties into the tent. Unfortunately, the tax reform bill did neither.
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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?
Ruppersberger: As a House Appropriator, I work overtime to eliminate as much waste, fraud and abuse within the federal government as possible. In fact, I recently ended support for a defense project in my district because reports revealed ongoing operational failures. Our national debt is one reason I opposed the Trump tax cuts of 2017, which will add $1.9 trillion to the deficit through 2028, according to a recent and troubling report from the Congressional Budget Office. Running red ink is necessary sometimes – during war, or recession, for example. But I fear the majority party is wracking up our national debt today so that it can justify massive reductions in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other indispensable programs tomorrow. Our debt cannot rise unchecked forever – policies must change. Budgeting is the science of priorities and balance. We need to make sure current deficit levels do not outpace our economic growth, while at the same time, be careful not to underinvest in job-generating efforts and our national security.
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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?
Ruppersberger: Yes. In the United States, income inequality – or the gap between the rich and everyone else – has been growing by every major statistical measure for the last three decades. Today, the top 1 percent of the population owns 35 percent of the country’s wealth. Raising the minimum wage could go a long way toward leveling inequality. When President Clinton increased the minimum wage in 1996, employment soared and incomes improved at every level. We also need to amend the tax structure to support the middle class, as opposed to the reform bill that passed Congress last year that favors the powerful and privileged. When the middle class does well, America does well. We also have to work harder to make sure all children have the opportunity to receive a quality education that actually leads to a job. As an Appropriator, I help fund educational programs to close inequities in education and champion full funding for formula grant programs like Title 1 and IDEA, which support schools for low income and disabled students, including Head Start.
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5
Gun laws
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how?
Ruppersberger: Yes. I believe in the Second Amendment, but we also have a Constitutional responsibility to protect American citizens from harm. Addressing the sale of firearms to the mentally ill is an important first step. I also support requiring background checks for all gun sales, including those purchased online and at gun shows. And while we can’t stop every mass shooting, we can reduce the carnage. In addition to banning bump stocks and high-capacity magazines, I support efforts to ban true assault weapons that are designed to inflict as much damage as possible as quickly as possible. When assault weapons or high-capacity magazines have been used in a shooting, the number of casualties has increased 63 percent. As Baltimore County Executive, I started the School Resource Officer program, which still serves as a national model. Today, in Congress, I support full funding for grant programs that can help put an SRO in every school in the country, which I strongly advocate.
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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?
Ruppersberger: The ACA got the camel’s nose in the tent and has produced positive results for many – seniors especially. The bill has helped reduce the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and guaranteed they can be insured even if they have pre-existing conditions. It capped out-of-pocket expenses so that illness does not bankrupt families. More than 430,000 previously uninsured Marylanders now have healthcare coverage, which reduces healthcare costs for all. This is why I would like to see the bill improved rather than repealed. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives has voted more than 60 times to repeal the bill, and not once to improve it. I think Congress should consider a “public option” to stimulate competition and allowing Americans to buy into Medicare at a younger age. I would also support expanding the exemption for small businesses to reduce costs for many American employers. During ACA negotiations, I lobbied my colleagues to include an exemption for small businesses who might not have the means to provide healthcare benefits to employees. Thanks in part to my efforts, the final bill included an exemption for companies that employ 25 or fewer workers. I would have like to see this threshold increased to 50 employees to exempt even more small businesses and provide greater flexibility.
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7
Urban policy
What role should the federal government play in helping cities like Baltimore?
Ruppersberger: The federal government can and must maintain a reliable funding stream to support Baltimore. Critical grants are available to help Baltimore rebuild its infrastructure, hire firefighters and police officers and revitalize vacant neighborhoods. There are grants to improve Baltimore City schools and provide workforce training. As an Appropriator, I am doing whatever I can to direct federal resources to the City and ensure our state and local lawmakers are taking advantage of these opportunities.
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8
Opioids
What can Congress do to address the opioid epidemic?
Ruppersberger: I was proud to support a bipartisan legislative package to address the national opioid abuse and overdose epidemic. In all, the House passed 17 bipartisan bills that will expand access to overdose reversal drugs, reevaluate best practices for pain management and examine over-prescription of opioids to student athletes and veterans, among other measures. But it will also take actual funding to attack this crisis. I was pleased that the recent omnibus funding bill included $3.3 billion to fight opioids in American communities. Congress must continue to allocate a steady funding stream to support treatment and recovery, as well as efforts to stop the flow of these drugs into our neighborhoods.
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9
Immigration
What changes if any should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies?
Ruppersberger: I believe in real solutions to challenges like immigration and a $20 billion wall is not one of them. Neither is trying to deport 11 million-plus people. I have long supported a bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform bill – S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act – that passed the Senate on a supermajority vote in 2013.The bill included strong border security measures, including a 21st century “wall” made of technology and manpower by funding new surveillance drones, 3,500 new customs agents and additional fencing. It required the Department of Homeland Security to achieve 100 percent surveillance of the southwestern border within five years of enactment. The bill mandated the e-Verify system to ensure employers are not knowingly hiring illegal immigrants at the expense of American workers. It created a merit-based visa system to recruit the best and brightest minds into our country and provided appropriate asylum accommodations for victims of gang violence and sex trafficking. It also provided a sensible pathway to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants with stipulations that they learn English, stay employed, pass a criminal background check, pay back-taxes and a fine. The bill was both pro-growth and pro-law and order. Most importantly, it represented our American values.
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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?
Ruppersberger: I have opposed the most recent free trade agreements considered by Congress because I believe they hurt the U.S. labor market and provide few benefits to the businesses in my district. We must recognize that we live in a global economy, but our first priority must be American jobs.
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11
Iran
Do you support the Iran nuclear deal?
Ruppersberger: Yes, I still support the bipartisan agreement. While the JCPOA remains imperfect, it is the best opportunity we have to reduce Iran’s nuclear threat and its ability to export terrorism. It removes the greatest weapon from one of our most dangerous adversaries and helps protect our ally, Israel. Before the agreement, Iran was only two to three months away from having enough fissile material to build a nuclear weapon. The U.S. no longer had the support of our allies to keep international sanctions in place. The JCPOA stopped Iran’s progress dead in its tracks, and crippled its ability to build a nuclear weapon for at least 10 years. Before I committed to supporting the agreement, I sought assurance from President Obama directly that the military option will be considered if Iran advances toward a nuclear weapon at any point during the deal’s lifetime. In addition to international sanctions, the United States can still enforce domestic sanctions on Iran’s non-nuclear activities and can still create new sanctions on the Iranian regime if needed. As Former Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee who has expertise in this area, I know that if this agreement breaks down, countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and others that do not currently have nuclear arms, will buy them. The Middle East will be far more dangerous than it is now.
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12
North Korea
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
Ruppersberger: Defending our country against the nuclear threat from North Korea is one of my highest priorities as a Defense Appropriator. Our President needs to end the inflammatory rhetoric against North Korea’s volatile dictator. That said, we have the technology to counter North Korea if they attack and to stop their missiles from reaching us. Support for military action among the American public remains low. For now, we have to continue exercising diplomacy and sanctions.
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