Gwen Moore has held the 4th Congressional seat since 2004 and she expects to return to Washington in January. But she does face Republican Dan Sebring next week, who has accused the incumbent of being absent from the district and unresponsive to her constituents.
Moore welcomes the race against Sebring, but did express concern that someone who wishes to represent the 4th district would be against legislation she has supported to help one of the poorest cities in America, including Medicaid, health care reform and low-income school meal plans.
How do you plan to move our nation out of the current economic malaise?
“We need a strategy to deal with this, but I want a balanced approach,” she said. “I am concerned with the ideas to continue tax breaks to the wealthy and hoping it will trickle down. If we keep and expand (Bush-era) tax cuts, the deficit will expand by another $3.5 trillion.”
Moore said she is waiting to hear from the deficit commission before making specific policy decisions or suggestions.
What should the nation’s military role in the world be, and are we doing enough on the home front regarding terrorism?
“We are respected militarily worldwide, but we have lost some of that stature,” Moore said. “I think President Obama is bringing some of that back by being a fair broker.”
Moore wants to see further improvements in our diplomatic relations, as exemplified in our relationship with Russia and China, which have both assisted with sanctions against Iran.
On Afghanistan: “Afghanistan is a mess, but the administration has been bringing people together to work on it and I stand with [Obama]. I am looking forward to our efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan starting next year.”
Moore wants to increase our on-the-ground intelligence, so we have more up-to-date and accurate information on terror cells. But she believes an effective solution is tied to many necessary actions.
“We inspect less that 1% of all containers coming into our ports: that’s a vulnerability. We need a comprehensive immigration package, something more than building walls. We need to collaborate with Mexico to stop the drug and human trafficking. And we need to revise FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). We didn’t anticipate the Internet, and while we have to protect personal privacy, we need to upgrade the policy to give law enforcement the tools they need to keep us safe.”
She also wants to take a realistic look at the nation’s defense budget. “Even Gen. Gates say there are inappropriate expenses. We need a standing military, but we have to be smart about it.”
Education is a local issue with national implications. What can be done on the federal level to improve performance, teacher accountability and funding for Wisconsin and all schools?
Moore wants to see our nation move from a widget-making focus to a more research and information-based focus, and education is the key to that transition.
“We need to make that investment in education,” she said. “That is the key to becoming successful and our returning to being an economic power.”
She is pleased with Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s increased focus on education, but would like to see funding given to states that find unique ways to stretch their education dollars, not those who impose stricter standards.
“Funding school through property taxes is archaic and leads to inequitable opportunities,” Moore said. “Instead of new models of teaching, we need to get more dollars into classrooms. And no matter what people say – money does matter.”
She says the dollars are needed so schools can provide meals, collaborate with medical facilities to provide preventative care, to develop community learning centers for safe after-school programming and to support opportunities for parents to advance their own education. These are all programs Moore has championed during her first six years in Congress and she vows to continue them if re-elected.
The Health Care Reform Act. What’s good about it, what’s not so good and how do we make it work?
Moore is fully behind HCR, an issue she worked hard to pass in Congress. She said the bill does a great job in providing money for community health centers, something she has fought for in the 4th district, and for preventative care for women.
“This bill will disproportionately benefit women,” she said, emphasizing HCR requires free mammograms, drops the pre-existing conditions barrier and lifts lifetime benefit limits.
She does see areas for improvement in the bill – speeding up the establishment of healthcare exchanges, increasing funding for dental care and medical education and maintaining enforcement of the bill’s provisions on insurance companies.
“I’m watching that (insurers) are justifying increases in premiums, that they are meeting the requirement that insurance premiums are 85% toward the cost of care and only 15% for profit and administration,” she said. “This bill is necessary for cost containment. If this works, we will save $143 billion in the first ten years, with another $1.2 trillion in savings in the next 10 years.”
Would you be willing to work with a possible Gov. Scott Walker to redirect the high-speed train funds to bus transit or other transportation, or do you agree with Secretary Ray LaHood that the train is a done deal?
Moore agrees with the president and secretary that the $810 million set aside for the Madison-Milwaukee train is off the table for other uses, but she realizes that Milwaukee is the fourth poorest city in the nation and needs all the transportation dollars it can get.
“There are 40,000 jobs that are unreachable by the poorest people in this area that need to be on transit lines,” she said. That is why she promises to continue to forward transit initiatives that will increase funding for buses, trains and the development of I-94.
“I will support a comprehensive bus transit plan, and that plan needs to be integrated with the KRM and the high-speed train. All of these things will be connected.”