David Lashar

David Lashar
  • Libertarian
  • Age: 55
  • Residence: Annapolis

About David Lashar

Education

B.A. from Dartmouth College with major in Russian Studies. M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon University.

Background

I am an accomplished technology executive and turnaround specialist who received opportunity in 2016 to help change Maryland for the better through service to Gov. Hogan in top posts at the Maryland Department of Health. After serving effectively and proudly for Gov. Hogan but losing faith in the national-level GOP during the 2016 elections, I decided to switch to the Libertarian Party and stand for U.S. Congress as the kind of candidate that I myself was seeking but not finding on the ballot. Please visit LinkedIn to see my professional history and accomplishments in full: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidlashar/.

Questionnaire

1
Trump record
How do you assess the Trump administration so far?
Lashar: Despite strong nominations to the federal judiciary, President Trump like President Obama before him has been too irresponsible on the budget and the economy, and he has been too divisive in politics and society. On the budget and economy, yes, we are enjoying low unemployment and robust growth, but as discussed below, the current strength is at hazard because it has been purchased at the cost of too much debt. It is also at hazard due to brinkmanship on international trade, again per below. In politics and society, Trump has failed to provide the conciliation and leadership that we always need as a diverse and vibrant nation but have especially needed ever since Obama abandoned the nuanced and hopeful message of his 2008 speech, A More Perfect Union, to embrace and promote the divisive message of identity politics that has overtaken and diminished the modern Democratic Party. So, let me state my alternative position clearly: All people need to be treated with respect and dignity, need to receive ample opportunity for advancement and happiness, and need to receive equal treatment before the law, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. We are a multi-ethnic, high-diversity nation that needs to check the resentments espoused on both the Left and the Right, so that we can come back together to create a better shared future for ourselves. Which is why I left the GOP and am standing as a tolerant, responsible, and civil candidate for voters to send to Washington in November.
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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?
Lashar: Fewer and lower taxes are almost always to the good, because a restrained and limited government is the only kind of government that reliably preserves and expands liberty, justice, and prosperity over the years, decades, and generations. The problem with the 2017 tax cuts is that 1) they should have been better calibrated for working families and the middle class, and 2) while they included reforms to promote the private-sector investment that boosts productivity and creates jobs, they did not come with any offsetting measures to address spending. As a result, we are now accumulating federal debt at the rate of $1 trillion per year on top of the $21 trillion already accumulated over the last 20 years, all of which debt stifles budget flexibility, suppresses productive investment, creates ever-growing risk of a debt crisis, leaves our social-insurance programs tracking toward insolvency, and creates unconscionable future financial burdens for those who are currently under age 50. None of which burdens, risks, and inequities needs to be borne, if only we take the one bold measure and the other modest adjustments proposed in the next question. All that it takes, besides keeping the economy fundamentally strong, is that which has been woefully missing from Washington for years from both the Democrats and the Republicans, which is a rejection of hysteria and fear-mongering, along with a willingness to cooperate and even make principled compromises to the long-term good of the country.
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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?
Lashar: The debt is, yes, a concern because it suppresses productive investment, job opportunities, and wage growth; reduces government flexibility; exacerbates the risk of a debt crisis; imperils social-insurance programs; and creates inter-generational inequity. And yet, because our economy is so large and productive, minor changes undertaken now for the budget can yield a major positive impact later. Thus, we need to implement modest adjustments that are gradually implemented for the growth rates of spending programs, including entitlements, while leaving current beneficiaries whole. This common-sense, low-disruption course will restore solvency for our most cherished social-insurance programs without affecting current beneficiaries. Whereas politicians in Washington are highly unlikely to muster and keep the necessary cooperation and resolve, we must adopt the bold measure of a balanced-budget amendment (BBA) to force them to debate and decide the inevitably hard decisions about national priorities and resources. The BBA must afford a degree of flexibility for Congress and the President to respond to extraordinary events. But without a BBA, the politicians will continue to evade their responsibilities, and we will continue to accumulate perilous debt. The State of Maryland uniquely possesses its Board of Public Works, which keeps it financially sound. So, too, the nation needs a BBA to keep it financially sound— and to stand as bulwark against clamor such as that now coming from the economically fanciful wing of the modern Democratic Party for a long list of “free” government programs that, besides being unaffordable, would stifle consumer choice and degrade service quality.
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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?
Lashar: Let’s start with clarity on what we mean by economic equality. Because while equality of opportunity to pursue economic advancement and personal happiness is always to be promoted, equality of income for all individuals is to be recognized and treated as a misguided, unattainable, and potentially tyrannical objective. So, the question is the distribution of income and the level of living standards, the latter of which is the proper object of policy, because it accounts for the falling costs of commodity goods and the rising levels of public assistance, especially for the poor, in modern society. If partisans and pundits nevertheless insist on looking at income in isolation, using a lens that exaggerates inequality, then we need to recognize that while, yes, the top earners in modern society bring home a disproportionate share of the income, they also pay out a disproportionate share of taxes. It’s a two-part story. So, while the top 10 percent of all Americans earn 90 percent of the income, they also pay that same share of income taxes, maybe more. Whether that’s right where we ought to be is up for debate amongst reasonable people. But it is not a horrible injustice, so we need for the radical voices in the Democratic party to quit declaring a crisis and stoking resentments. Instead, we need to promote economic vitality and growth while helping the disadvantaged to seize the opportunities thereby created. We should also safeguard the middle class and look at rates for the ultra rich.
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5
Gun laws
Should federal gun laws be changed, and if so, how?
Lashar: For reducing gun violence, we need to pursue a multi-prong approach that addresses gun sales, school safety, mental health, and urban homicide, seeking to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them while respecting those 100 millions who keep and bear their arms responsibly and peaceably. For gun sales, our laws for criminal background checks need to be honored and enforced. Due to the role of mental illness in gun rampages and mass shootings, we should pursue a system to enable background checks on mental illness as well, provided that any such system must duly protect individual privacy and civil liberties. For which, federal funds can help. We should promote the adoption of carefully constructed gun violence restraining orders (GVROs) to protect against those who have been evaluated to suffer mental illness or have been demonstrated to present a specific threat of physical violence to others, including those who credibly threaten the press. For schools, federal funds can help with installing devices and technology for safety, while local communities should consider, by their own decision, concealed-carry options for school personnel who are properly trained and personally willing. Finally, we need to recognize that suicide (~22,000 annually) and urban crime (~11,000) account for nearly all of the gun deaths in the U.S. each year (~33,000 total). For anyone who is serious about reducing gun violence, these complex and stubborn social problems require priority attention at all levels of government.
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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?
Lashar: ACA expanded access but has achieved none of its other stated objectives, notably improving quality and controlling costs. To attain these objectives and arrive at a system that is both sustainable and worthwhile, we must reject the government-first, innovation-killing, budget-busting models for universal care as promoted by Bernie Sanders and Ben Jealous with endorsement from my Democratic incumbent opponent, Rep. John Sarbanes, in his telephone town halls. But we should not just “scrap” ACA, as the disruption would be immense. Instead, we need to reform and replace ACA over multiple years with an innovative approach, the Maryland Model for Total Cost of Care, which has been pioneered and proven right here at home in the Free State as an approach for the rest of the nation to follow. The Maryland Model is patient-centered, outcome-oriented, and cost-controlled. In “Phase 1,” the model delivered better health outcomes at substantial cost savings within Maryland’s hospitals. “Phase 2” will commence in 2019, encompassing primary care providers and nursing homes as well as hospitals for coordinated care and holistic cost management. Credit goes to a succession of Secretaries at the Maryland Department of Health, the team at the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC), the sponsorship of Gov. Hogan, and the leadership of Maryland’s healthcare providers. All of whom have delivered a model, seemingly unbeknownst to Rep. Sarbanes, that I will take to Washington to break the partisan logjam on healthcare reform.
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7
Urban policy
What role should the federal government play in helping cities like Baltimore?
Lashar: The foremost problems in cities like Baltimore are too much violent crime and too little economic opportunity. For crime, the priority for Baltimore, even if it is not clear how the federal government can help, is for law enforcement and the community to restore their trust in one another. After the panicked indictments by State’s Attorney Mosby and the flawed DOJ report from the Obama Administration in response to the Freddie Gray incident and riots, the onus for restoring trust is on the community. But the police need to do their part, too, accepting reforms that might reasonably be expected to increase transparency, accountability, and internal discipline. If federal assistance can help, it should be extended. The federal government might also be able to help with assistance to improve the success with which prisoners re-enter the community after serving their terms. The problem today is that too many recently released prisoners fall into recidivism. Thus, while incarcerated, they need to receive education, develop skills, and obtain treatment for addictions and other behavioral-health problems. Most important, the federal government should revise aid and programs so that they more effectively address the worst of the problems afflicting cities like Baltimore, which is inter-generational poverty. This complex problem is a suffocating force that can be broken only over time with programs that respect individual dignity, encourage family (including church), strengthen education, provide work incentives, and promote private enterprise (for job creation). That’s the strategy for reducing violence, expanding opportunity, and restoring hope.
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8
Opioids
What can Congress do to address the opioid epidemic?
Lashar: As always for a complicated social problem, the strategy must be multi-pronged. Here in Maryland, we must continue to support the Governor’s Opioid Operation Command Center (OOCC), which coordinates programs and activities across state and local agencies and is a model for the nation. We also must continue to support capabilities for monitoring prescriptions, so as to catch illicit prescribers (those running “pill mills”) while also keeping patients from over-consuming (“doctor shopping”). Whereas too many doctors continue to prescribe a month’s worth of opioids when only a few days’ worth is needed, we should adopt 7-day or 10-day limits, making sure that those who suffer chronic conditions retain access to the medications that are effective for them. For even greater impact, we need to promote the use of anti-addiction medications, and we need to support multi-service addiction treatment centers, making any funding contingent on the centers 1) fulfilling certification and accreditation standards, and 2) being monitored for effectiveness and outcomes for their patients. Most important, perhaps, we need to de-stigmatize addiction culturally, so that those who suffer substance-use disorders are more likely to receive the treatment they need. The federal government can help by showcasing that which has worked here in Maryland, adopting prescription limits, and funding programs for locally-operated centers and services.
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9
Immigration
What changes if any should Congress make to our immigration and deportation laws and policies?
Lashar: For dynamism in our economy and our society, we must sustain our nation’s historical commitment to immigration, administering relevant laws faithfully and humanely. When discussing and debating immigration— whether its sources or its impact— whether its policy or its administration—. we need to abandon both the strident self-righteousness and the repugnant bigotry that has characterized too much of national politics and commentary. Meantime, we should pass legislation to provide a path to citizenship, with both its rights and duties, for the DREAMers who were brought to this country relatively recently as undocumented or illegal immigrants when they were young. For the DREAMers who are pursuing their educations, developing skills in the workplace, and serving in the military, and who have also remained on the right side of the law, they should not be punished for decisions and situations that were not of their making. Meantime, although we must insist on its lawful and humane operation, we cannot and should not abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Likewise, we cannot countenance so-called “sanctuary” cities and counties. These jurisdictions need to abide by the law; need to cooperate with law enforcement. If voters and officials in a jurisdiction do not like the law, then they need to work civilly to obtain changes. Finally, we need to promote both economic development and the rule of law in Mexico and Central America, which we can do by extending respect at the presidential level and convening a regional conference.
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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?
Lashar: For sustaining economic growth and expanding job opportunities… for giving consumers the widest selection of the best goods and services at lowest price… for diminishing crony capitalism and corporate welfare… we need to insist on open trade conducted with reciprocal opportunities and rights amongst trading partners. The tariffs and antics to which President Trump is devoted serve only to deny consumers the goods that they want and need for their daily lives; serve only to deny businesses the supplies that they need to produce and sell their goods and services both domestically and internationally. Predictably, the tit-for-tat tariffs have already begun to create collateral economic damage to vulnerable U.S. industries that are being targeted by overseas trading partners. In response to which, expensive taxpayer bailouts have commenced for politically favored and politically powerful industries in Washington. It is a mess at present. And it could very well get worse, if the current tit-for-tat intensifies, bringing global destabilization and downturn. So, yes, engage in hard-nosed negotiation of a type that President Obama failed to undertake with China or any other trading partner when he was in office. (A priority for me is protection of the intellectual property and the brand marks of U.S. companies.) But, no, do not engage in the kind of vain bravado and economic brinkmanship that President Trump is currently practicing.
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11
Iran
Do you support the Iran nuclear deal?
Lashar: We need to conduct foreign policy with realism and restraint. We need to recognize that a hostile world presents genuine dangers to our own liberty and safety, which obliges us to remain engaged in global affairs, but doing so without succumbing to the dangerous temptations of idealism, nation-building, and multi-lateralism. Moreover, we need for our imperial and imperious Presidents to answer to the Congress in foreign affairs. The Iran nuclear deal was struck in defiance of all of these principles. It was not within any discernible Obama strategy for the region or the world. It was not done with either transparency to, or proper engagement of, the Congress and the public. It appears merely to have been a naive and political gambit. With Trump, we now see pride in our country rather than apology for it on the global stage, but again without strategy, realism, and restraint, as is needed. As for the Middle East, we should be, instead of pursuing standalone agreements, seeking a regional balance of power that squelches state-sponsored terrorism while establishing a peaceful Palestinian state alongside an acknowledged Israeli state. We need to take a dispassionate view of all actors in the region who are engaged in the persistent cycle of provocation-and-retaliation; who are practicing identity politics relentlessly and ruthlessly to the suffering of all. We need to pursue arrangements that have potential to be acceptable and workable… i.e., stable… going forward rather than arrangements that seek redress of injuries and injustices from the past.
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12
North Korea
How should the United States address the rise of North Korea’s nuclear program?
Lashar: Again, with realism and restraint, engaging Congress and not sacrificing policy and interests… not putting blood and treasure at risk… for headlines and politics. North Korea will need a sense of security before it scales back its military and scuttles its nuclear program. Which means that China will surely need to be part of any lasting arrangements that preserve our long-term safety. Towards China, we need to launch a new Pacific Rim strategy, seeking both containment and engagement. Containment not by ourselves but rather through cultivation of a defensively oriented alliance amongst countries such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, and even India, all of whom need to bear their shares of the burden to protect their own trade and freedoms. If they are not willing, we should not remain involved and entangled. By fostering such an alliance, we will be able to incrementally reduce both the troops deployed and the money spent in the region without endangering our own liberties and interests. For the other prong of the strategy, we can and must continue to engage with China on issues such as trade, intellectual property, and cyber-predation, none of which need to be zero-sum contests in which one party’s gains are the other party’s loss. “Win / win” agreements are possible if we engage realistically and negotiate firmly, so we should pursue them. That’s the long-term and over-arching strategy for addressing the North Korea threat.
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