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One set of answers to my Ten Questions

Yesterday I received my first answers to my Ten Questions that I posted last month, having sent the questions to most of the First District Congressional participants [except the late-arriving E.J. Pipkin, who can answer them after he reads them here, just e-mail replies to ttownjotes (at) yahoo.com.] However, these particular answers aren’t from a participant in our local election.

Instead, they come from a gentleman who’s running in Maryland’s Fourth District race, a district currently represented by Rep. Albert Wynn. His name is Michael Starkman and he’s one of the four Republicans vying for that seat. Part of his campaign site tells about his interesting background, particularly his faith.

Some may ask why I’m printing his answers despite my base on the Eastern Shore, far from the Montgomery/PG County area District 4 lies in, and I have three reasons. First of all, Mr. Starkman found my website, introduced himself, and willingly answered the questions when the opportunity was extended to him.

Secondly I’ll crosspost this article as a contributor to Red Maryland, which is read by people all over the state, including his district.

Third and most importantly, it shows that someone is interested in having a campaign that’s based on the issues. Perhaps another aspirant from that district – or any other – will see that someone is willing to answer these questions that I think are tough but fair.

Here’s how Michael Moshe Starkman (which is how his name will appear on the ballot) answered the Ten Questions. As in past Ten Questions practice, I do not edit the remarks so any misspellings, poor grammar, and the like is reflected in the answers. They are in standard type with my questions in italics.

Right after the 9/11 attacks President Bush noted that the retaliatory fighting soon to ensue would be a long-term effort. Since then the focus has been on military targets in Iraq and Afghanistan. How do you best feel we can achieve victory in this effort?

I believe victory will be achieved through redoubling efforts to engage allied countries; strengthening our human intelligence network in the Middle East; and demonstrating early, decisive advances against known terrorist entities.

Last year Congress passed a measure intended to begin construction of a security fence along the Mexican border. More recently the immigration bill that some decried as amnesty failed to attain cloture in the Senate. If you’re elected do you feel we should pursue border security first or deal with those illegal immigrants already here?

Fence first, there is no question.

While an energy bill (HR 6) passed through Congress this year it did little to impact gasoline prices. Renewable energy is a sound long-term goal, but reality is that we’re decades away from those sources being the mainstay of our energy use. For the short- to medium-term, what steps do you feel we should undertake to cut our dependence on foreign oil sources?

Identifying domestic energy sources and encouraging citizens to utilize energy efficient tools will begin the path towards independence. Energy is an issue that I am currently researching and retain the right to substantially revise my opinion upon further consideration.

While the current Congressional majority had as part of their 2006 campaign the promise to eliminate the “culture of corruption”, the reality has been that members of both parties have been caught in illegal or at least dubious actions since the 110th Congress got underway back in January. What reforms would you like to see enacted in the 111th Congress to make it more accountable to the voters?

I would like to see greater transparency in spending and a drastic reduction, if not altogether elimination, of earmarked projects.

In 2006 then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed a bill into law mandating the state’s residents carry health insurance of some sort, whether through their employer, privately, or via the state. Would you support a similar program as a federal initiative, leave it up to the states, or come up with another system – and why?

I believe diversity is the single best friend of innovation and civil development. In this light I would leave the matter of health insurance to the states so as to determine what is best for their respective inhabitants.

As you know the 2001/2003 tax cuts enacted by President Bush face expiration in 2010. While the debate has gone on whether these cuts have helped the economy or simply fattened the wallets of “the rich,” another alternative has been suggested, one of a national sales tax popularly known as the “FairTax.” Another idea is to simplify the tax system by going to a flat tax with few deductions allowed. Where do you stand on how the government collects its revenue?

I believe our tax codes are convoluted and support reforming federal tax collection. I support the FairTax initiative but would consider moving to a flat tax as an improvement as well.

Every month the U.S. adds a little bit to its trade deficit, particularly with China. Further, a common complaint I have (and I’m sure many others echo) is that you can’t find things that are made in the U.S.A. anymore. How do you think the trade imbalance should be straightened out and what role do you see Congress having in restoring a manufacturing base to our shores?

Congress retains the right to establish tariffs and other means of creating an economic environment that is favorable to US manufacturing. More than economics, the US-China trade deficit subjects the United States to considerable national security risks. China, who has been a hostile state towards the US, is the not type of government we want to see rise to the level of world power.

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth among those in local and state government occurs when they have to deal with the dreaded “unfunded federal mandate.” Where do you see the line being between the rights of individual states and the federal government – would you seek to fairly fund the mandate or reduce the burden on the state by eliminating it?

I believe the current engagements of federal government have extended past the original intentions of the Constitution. I advocate for a significant reduction in federal government and would oppose most legislation that enforces uniform policy on a citizen’s county or state.

The recent Minnesota bridge collapse has placed our nation’s infrastructure front and center as a political issue. Some say higher gasoline taxes are the answer, but critics of that argument charge that reallocating the federal share toward highways and away from mass transit and bikeways would eliminate the need for an increase. What would be your order of priority for transportation and infrastructure spending?

The safety and welfare of the US citizen is the premier concern for US government at every level. I believe that through better discretion, a reduction of wasteful spending, and prioritizing projects, the federal government is capable of meeting the needs of the country without further raising taxes.

Easiest question with the shortest answer. If you were to choose three Presidential candidates you’d prefer to work with in the 111th Congress who would they be?

It would be “the most conservative one”, “the one strongest on defense”, and “the one with strong faith and integrity”.

So this is how the game is played, politicians. Who has the guts to be the next to answer these questions? I’ve had a couple people promise me to do so but no takers until Michael became the guinea pig. For that I thank him and encourage people to look into his campaign further through his website.

It’s a good post for a milestone one, this is item number 750 on monoblogue. By the way, for Red Maryland readers, it’s likely tomorrow will feature post number 1000 on this fine website.

Crossposted on monoblogue.






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