Candidate Tobi Beck - Response to Greater Lafayette Progressives' Questionnaire

On Education

What is your position on affordable and/or free post-secondary public education for all?  (first 2 years; all 4 years? College only? vocational training? Retraining after job loss? benefits?)

Education is the keystone of a dynamic society and vital for progress and prosperity. There are a few programs out there that already boost free college such as 21st Century scholars, right here in Indiana. We must explore how we can expand already successful programs to help more Hoosier students, in addition to promoting and offering expanded access to vocational training. 

Should funding universal pre-K education be a priority?  How would you convince Congress to appropriate the funds?

We know that when pre-K education is available, our youngest students benefit. While funding is important, we must ensure that we’re taking advantage of current federal programs. For example, the majority of Early Head Start-eligible children in Indiana do not enroll in the program – we must explore how to get from funding to implementation to ensure we’re addressing every level of the issue.

Public schools & charter schools

  • How would you limit the use of taxpayer money to fund charter schools and religious schools?
    • Public money needs to stay in the public schools. Period. Private schools can be a great option, but not at the expense of public schools or the children that attend them. 
  • What would you do to ensure that charter schools are regulated to the same degree that public schools are?
    • Charter schools should adhere to the same teacher certification levels and testing standards as our public schools.

On Health Care

“Healthcare is a right for all Americans” is an important platform supported by the progressive movement.  What’s your position on legislation to institute a single payer healthcare system in the U.S.?  Do you have additional ideas about providing adequate healthcare for all Americans?

The goal is to deliver health care for all Americans. The route to that goal may be bumpy and have some twists and turns, but will be well worth traveling -  estimates suggest that 3.5% of each person’s income could provide care for all, while eliminating the much greater cost of insurance premiums. This would put money back in people’s pockets, while reducing the ballooning costs of uncovered emergency care.  We have the option to expand Medicare two years down every year, covering more and more people as a means of easing it into play, in addition to creating supplementary insurance for those that want more than what expanded Medicare may be able to provide at first. We also have the option to fix issues with the ACA until we can expand it to everyone, but it all starts with recognizing the goal is to provide a universal care for everyone.

On the Environment

In the current political climate what would you do to ensure that valid scientific evidence and the integrity of scientists is considered in the government’s decision-making process regarding the environment?

I believe in science. Political climates change, but the facts rarely do. We must move forward with the best information available and face each of these growing issues with integrity and bravery.  

How do the recent catastrophic weather-related events (Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria, Nate & wildfires in the West) inform your priorities related to global warming/ climate change in the world?

We are watching the results of a shift in our climate right before our eyes. We must explore and invest in energy and fuel alternatives to put our country on the right path. 

What would you do to protect the environment and the health of U.S. citizens?

Reversing the the EPA rollbacks, funding environmental enforcement agencies, pursuing alternate fuels, and sharing publicly funded research that produces alternative energy are all great first steps.   

 

On the Military

What do you think should be done to promote the use of diplomacy rather than military action in dealing with international conflicts involving the U.S.?

War is the failure of diplomacy and we would be wise to never forget those words. We need to rebuild our State Department, appoint expert ambassadors and work to restore our position in the world as leaders for peace.  

Would you support a resolution censuring the President for escalating conflicts with North Korea by making reckless military threats?

I think we need to focus on moving forward together to work on impactful legislation that will help Americans in their day-to-day lives, such as healthcare and rebuilding our infrastructure.  

Will you commit to the following?

  • Senate Bill #200 and the House Bill #669 (limit the authorization of the first use of nuclear arms without a declaration of war)

Absolutely. It has long been the US policy and promise to the UN that the US will not use a nuclear first strike. This is an extension of that global promise.  

  • Support the repeal of AFUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force) as described below? 

The House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee passed an amendment in June 2017 repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force that was passed in the days after the September 11, 2001, attacks. AFUMF has been used to justify military action abroad since 9/11. Paul Ryan stopped the repeal by stripping it from the defense budget in the middle of the night.

As a combat veteran, I know how this bill has led to an entire generation that has never see the US a peace. I would support its repeal. 

On Safety Concerns

What kind of legislation would you propose to curb gun violence in the U.S.?

I support Second Amendment rights, but also recognize that we must reduce violence with firearms. The first step is by supporting the CDC’s nonpartisan research. We must also explore legislative solutions that honor the 2nd Amendment, and make our communities safer.  Finally, we must increase access to mental health treatment and reduce the stigma associated with it.

What is the best action(s) to take to prevent domestic terrorism?

Address the underlying issues which create the motivation.  Hatred of particular groups or segments of society, Mental Illness are not natural traits in people, they are learned behaviors. 

On Immigration

Some aspects of immigration reform are cited below.  Which of these would you commit to?

 

  • Create a path for undocumented people to become lawful permanent residents & eventually citizens
    • Crossing a national border without permission is an act that a child can not knowingly commit.  Those children, now adults with clean records, who are going to school or serving in the military deserve to be able to become citizens.  
  • Eliminate the 3-year, 10-year, and permanent bars
    • Families need to be able to stay together. People working toward citizenship need to have a path to achieve that goal. The only permanent ban I support would be for violent felons. 
  • End family deportation sweeps & family detention
    • This practice that needs to stop. While we are picking up and deporting law-abiding and tax-paying people, we are not pursuing violent criminals. There is no benefit to our country to spend taxpayer funds on this inhumane practice. 
  • End for profit, privately run immigration detention facilities
    • Any place where life or civil liberty are at stake have no room for personal profit. 
  • Make sure all detained immigrants always have access to legal counsel before and during hearings
    • On Feb 27, the Supreme Court held that detained immigrants, even legal permanent residents have no right to a bail hearing.  When the government has the power to deny legal rights and due process to one vulnerable group, everyone's rights are at risk.
  • Focus on unscrupulous employers exploiting undocumented workers
    • Absolutely. 
  • Commit to accepting our fair share of refugees
    • Yes – in nearly any refugee crisis, you can find a point at which the US could have prevented or limited the impact.  

On Free and Fair Elections

What legislation would you introduce or support that limits voter suppression, improves campaign finance law, and protects the integrity of elections?

The decision of Citizen’s United needs to be overturned or curbed completely.  Our elections need to be in the hands of people not corporations.  

While states are responsible for the specific rules surrounding their elections, there are anti-discrimination and accessibility guidelines that are a national standard.  In addition, the national rules preventing voter intimidation must be maintained and aggressive voter suppression tactics used at the polls must carry significant federal penalty.

Progressives are all about supporting grassroots candidates - please explain where the funds will come from to support your campaign?

As of this morning, my average campaign contribution is around $27 a person. I am funded by people who want a government that represents them.  

 

On Wealth Inequality: 

What ideas do you have to address current wealth inequality in the U.S.?

Let’s start with removing the Social Security cap. Let’s ensure that millionaires and billionaires pay at least the same rate in taxes as you and I, and let’s have corporations pay their fair share of taxes for the services they are using.

What efforts would you take to ensure that people make a livable wage?

Several states have blazed the trail for better wages and it worked. It doesn’t happen overnight, but people who make more, spend more, and ultimately stimulate the economy. Let’s use programs that have worked as a roadmap for national success.  

 

On President Trump

Would you support the impeachment of Donald Trump?

As a Congressional representative, I would commit to judiciously hearing any evidence. It is Congress’ role to remand to any potential charges to the United States Senate. I would hear any evidence and decide based on what is presented.  

What other measures would you support to limit the powers of President Trump?

HR 699 is a good start, for any President.  

I would work to have the Legislative Branch pass legislation that serves the people and allow the Check and Balances system proceed as designed with the Executive branch instead of manipulating the legislation to lock step with the Executive branch.  There is legislation that would have a veto proof vote in the House and Senate that never reaches the Executive branch currently.   

I would seek legislation the returns the environmental and safety protections for the people.

On Access & Discrimination Issues

Given the recent progress women have made with regard to consequences for sexual harassment in the workplace how can this momentum be used to improve the status of women in the workplace including (not limited to) pay equity, the advancement of women into upper level positions, and family paid leave?

Equal pay is a great first step. I believe that women in many segments of the country are finding their voice to demand just and fair treatment under the law. I would support those measures as they arose.  

What is your position on reproductive freedom for women?   How does funding for Planned Parenthood and other low-income health programs align with your view of reproductive freedom?

Every person owns their body. No person or government is equipped to make individual medical decisions for another person. 

What is your position on the debate about the rights of the LGBT community to be free from discrimination vs. the right of business owners to exercise religious freedom by denying services to members of the LGBT community based on religious beliefs?  

This difficult case was recently heard by the Supreme Court and centered between selling what is offered to the public without discrimination and requiring an artist to produce art on demand. In short, if a product is offered to the public the seller cannot discriminate because of sexual orientation. We must root out discrimination in any form.

One of the biggest problems facing black America is the war on drugs which has led to the over-policing, over-prosecuting, and over-jailing of blacks at great cost to the country not only in terms of monetary expense but also in terms of lost potential within the black community. What positive steps can the government take to reverse this destructive pattern?

First, legalize medical marijuana, which would reduce the illegal use as many use it medicinally. Next, provide equitable sentencing guidelines in line with the severity of the drug. Most importantly, we must address the root causes of poverty that drive people to drug use and break the school-to-jail pipeline.