Posted: May 31, 2012 8:45 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Democrat Sam Rankin is a Billings, Montana native. He has a bachelor's degree in liberal arts and biology from Montana State University Billings. Rankin served in the U.S. Army, and Peace Corps. He is a real estate broker in Billings.
How do you propose to balance the federal budget? What areas would you look at first when cutting spending? What programs are most important to preserve?
By trimming government spending and raising taxes.
I would trim: defense, Medicare, Congressional earmarks, consolidate duplicative federal programs and reduce White House and Congressional budgets by 15%. See my web site for many more specifics.
I would increase revenue by: taxing capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income, phase in the gasoline tax, index user fees to the CPI or market rates and require power marketing administrations (under Department of Energy) to charge market rates. I have more specifics on my web site.
Programs to preserve would be those that help the neediest of the needy.
I won't be obligated to special interests because I will not take their money for my campaign. Consequently I won't feel obligated to favor any special group. Therefore I plan on asking ALL Americans to pitch in and help with the deficit. Those of us who are best off will need to contribute the most, plus I will eliminate tax loopholes favoring those who need help the least.
Do you support the Affordable Care Act? If yes, why? If not what alternative health care reforms do you support?
Yes. Because it is the beginning of changing our health care system from rewarding providers for more tests to rewarding providers for better outcomes; from allowing only people with money access to health care to allowing many more Americans access to health care.
I will support constructive changes as the bill matures and requires modification.
Do you support the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline? Why or why not?
Yes, reluctantly. Although shale oil burns very dirty, it will be refined somewhere in the world. Therefore I favor the U.S. refining it since our pollution regulations on refineries are stricter than abroad and we can control that part of the equation. I support common sense environmental concerns but do not support obstructionist environmental tactics.
What ideas do you have to promote job growth and reduce the unemployment rate?
Tax cuts and speculation do not create jobs. In a slow economy, short term, jobs come from investing in America's education system, innovation in the energy field and updating infrastructure. I support $350 billion for job spending; $476 billion for a six year transportation/infrastructure program and $60 billion to refurbish approximately 35, 000 substandard schools. I support growing versus harsh austerity. If government doesn't provide an economic floor, the downward spiral of our economy would be disastrous.
Long term: a solid honest plan to reduce our nation's deficit, including a tax overhaul, will give consumers, businesses and investors the confidence needed to fuel a steady growth and create jobs long term.
Do you support the Citizens United decision? Why or why not? Do you believe corporations have a right to free speech?
No. I believe the number one reason for our country's dysfunctional Congress is excessive campaign money. Although Citizens United doesn't directly involve candidates, it allows candidates to hold rigid uncompromising positions and get away with it because outside groups carpet bombing their opponents with negative ads, mostly untrue. All Americans know excessive campaign money is a threat to our way of governing.
Corporation's right to free speech: No. Only when Texas executes a corporation will I believe corporations have a right to free speech. A corporation will never be able to do anything in America's best interest. It will always act in its own interest. Give the money a corporation would spend on political campaigns to the shareholders and let them decide which candidates get it.
What role would you like to see the United States take in Afghanistan in the upcoming years?
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer (India 44) I believe because of its tribal society, lack of governmental infrastructure as well as lack of physical infrastructure, we should help Afghanistan by supporting non-governmental organizations to help build a more modern civil society i.e. Doctors without Borders, Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N. etc. The help, over a generation or two, would enable them build a civil society for the future.
Where do you stand on social issues including abortion and homosexual marriage?
Every human being has unique worth and must be given a fair and equal opportunity to fulfill his or her potential. I support the right to hold one's personal beliefs without interference from those with different beliefs. I oppose restrictive legislation or governmental intervention into the private decisions of all citizens.
I am pro-choice and support gay marriage and repeal of DOMA.
Where do you stand on energy development including wind, oil, gas and coal?
Carbon based energy suppliers have large government subsidies that are no longer justified and I will work toward phasing them out over time. This would bring renewable energy costs in line with the true cost of energy and would encourage rapid, economically feasible, development of carbon sequestration, bio-fuels, energy conservation, solar and wind power. The ultimate impact would be the deficit would be reduced and the problem of climate change would be addressed. With a shared sacrifice, as a resourceful people, Americans would quickly learn to conserve energy so that there would be no negative impact in the end to the individual.
Are you proposing any changes to the federal tax structure? If so, explain.
Yes. I support three new individual tax brackets: 12%, 22%, 28% with elimination of nearly all deductions but keeping: child credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, mortgage interest on personal residence, employer provided health insurance, charitable giving, and retirement plan contributions.
Corporations should have one rate of 29% (from 35%) and I would eliminate nearly all subsidies they now enjoy. I do not support a tax break on money currently held overseas when it's repatriated, however in return I would support a more international competitive corporate tax system going forward, but not a complete abolition of taxes on foreign profits.
Do you support Senator Max Baucus' Heritage Act? Why or why not?
Yes. It has a good blend for the different users of the land i.e. public access for hunting and fishing, grazing, noxious weed control, motorized use and wilderness. It wasn't Washington based but came from the ground up in Montana.
How can you make sure the voices of 1 million Montanans are heard on Capitol Hill?
First, if I win by 500 votes I won't legislate like I received a landslide! Montanans who agree with my votes will know I've listened to them. It's the ones who don't agree with my votes whom I will have to work hard on to make sure they know I listened to their points of view fully and sincerely. Montana has a frontier spirit and if those who don't agree with me feel I gave them a fair shake even if I didn't for their way, they will not feel left out. As a political moderate I will probably disappoint some voters occasionally. However if they feel I'm fair and not promoting any special interest and listening to them, they will know their voices were heard.