12th Congressional District 1998
1998 VOTERS GUIDE
NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION
Vote Tuesday, November 3, 1998
CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS
12th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area is a nonpartisan, non-profit volunteer organization which works to promote active, informed participation of all citizens in their government. The League provides nonpartisan information on public issues, and takes action on issues after member study and consensus. In publishing this material, the League neither endorses nor rejects the views of any candidate quoted.
All candidate information in this guide was compiled from candidates' responses to questionnaires. Replies are printed in the candidates' own words, without editing or verification. Due to space limitation, the candidates were given a word limit for replies. Words in excess of the limit are deleted and indicated by an asterisk (*).
Reprinting of this guide in part or in whole is not permissible without written permission of the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area.
Copyright 1998 by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area.
The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area submitted the following three questions to all candidates for the 12th Congressional District:
1. An important part of the Brady Bill, passed in 1993, will expire this November. The waiting period allows state and local authorities time to conduct background checks. There is a move in Congress to extend the waiting period. Also, law enforcement officials have called for tougher gun laws nationwide, to stem the flow of weapons across state lines. What are your feelings concerning future legislation?
2. Despite legislative changes in health care, the number of uninsured has increased each year since 1987 and now exceeds 41 million, roughly one-sixth of the population. What can Congress do to address this problem?
3. "Soft money" contributions are unlimited donations to the political parties from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. Should these contributions be regulated? Please explain.
4. What solutions can you support to deal with the fact that Social Security and Medicare may run out of money before the "baby boomer" generation retires?
CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS
12th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Vote for One
Term: 2 years
MARY JO CHRISTIAN
Party: The Natural Law Party
No Response Received
MADELYN R. HOFFMAN
Party: The Green Party
Address: 27 Oakwood Village apt. 5 Flanders, 07836
Occupation: Professor of Political Science and Environmental Science; Director of the Grass Roots Environmental Organization
Education: B.A. cum laude from Wesleyan University, Middletown,Connecticut; M.P.A. from Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey
1. I believe that future legislation should make it more difficult to obtain guns. I would support an extension of the waiting period for obtaining a gun. I would support the production of child-proof guns. However, ideally, I would call for a give-back of handguns, to get guns off the streets as much as possible. One way to reduce violence in our society is to change the culture based on the use and availability of guns. Additionally, I would support legislation that creates more jobs and encourages construction of recreational facilities nationwide.
2. I would call for the elimination of HMO's and replacement of HMO's with a single payer health care system similar to that employed in Canada. It is criminal that the United States remains the only industrialized nation not to supply national health care and that more than 41 million people are uninsured. No one should have to choose between food on the table and a visit to the doctor. No one should have to worry about the hairsplitting that occurs over whether or not certain procedures will be covered by insurance. Health care is a right, not a privilege.
3. It is now apparent that, with the current system of campaign financing (let's call it legalized bribery), most political incumbents have become more concerned about chasing resources than they are about addressing real issues. Many incumbents within the Democratic and Republican parties have become bought and paid for with corporate Political Action Committee money. The Wellstone/Kerry Bill in the U.S. Senate advocates the Clean Money Campaign Reform (CMCR) recently passed in Maine. This program eliminates soft money and in Maine, requires a minimum number of people (2500) to contribute a minimal amount of money ($5) to qualify for a maximum amount ($100,000) of matching public funds. This ensures a level playing field. In addition to the maximum amount of public funds, all ballot-qualified candidates have equal access to free media, so that the message of all, including alternative parties, can be heard equally.
4. For over 40 years, the U.S. government has taken annual surpluses of the Social Security Trust Fund and used them to pay for current government operating expenses (so as to keep income taxes artificially low). The surpluses were invested in Treasury notes at approximately 7% interest. If the U.S. government pays that money back (principal and interest), it will amount to between 2 and 3 trillion dollars, enough to ensure that Social Security does not run out of money. In addition, I would make sure that Medicare remains fully funded and even expanded. In order to accomplish this, I would advocate for cuts in corporate welfare programs in the federal budget and also find ways to increase federal taxes on major U.S. corporations so that their contribution to the federal budget would approach the percentages of 40 years ago.
Party: The Democratic Party
Address: P.O. Box 782 Pennington, NJ 08534
Occupation: Physicist, Former Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab
Education: Carlton College, BA, Physics; New York University, MS, Ph.D., Physics
Significant Community Activities: Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, Board of Trustee; Family and Children's Services of Central New Jersey, Trustee; Planned Parenthood Association of Mercer Area, Trustee; School Science Advisor Program, Co-Found and Co-Chair; Federation of American Scientists Fund, Board of Directors Previous Government Experience: US State Department, Acting Chief, Nuclear and Scientific Division, Office of Strategic Forces Analysis (1987-1989); US House of Representatives, Office of Rep. Bob Edgar (D-PA) (1982-1983)
1. Every new horrific headline of gun violence-at a school, on the streets of a quiet, tree lined neighborhood and now even within our nation's capitol building-only reinforces the strong national resolve for rational, reasonable and responsible controls on the sale and use of deadly weapons. I strongly support responsible initiatives that can reduce gun violence. That is why I support the extension of the Brady Law to keep guns out of the hands of those who are criminals or mentally disturbed and require safety training for gun purchasers. I also support legislation that requires that all private handguns be "child proof." There are a number of technical features that can be put on a gun that would prevent anyone other than the licensed owner from firing it. I believe Congress should adopt a policy of "zero tolerance" for guns in schools and require gun-free zones around every school in the nation. Congress must also maintain the ban on assault weapons and attack the illicit firearms trade by limiting bulk purchases of guns by individuals who then sell them on the street.
2. I believe patients are entitled to health care that is flexible, accessible and accountable. That is why I support a Bill of Rights for HMO patients that:
a. Ensures that medical decisions are made by doctors and their patients, not by insurance companies.
b. Makes HMOs legally responsible for their actions
c. Ensures that patients have access to specialists when they need them.
d. Allows the right to a second medical opinion.
e. Allows patients the ability to appeal their HMO's decisions in a timely fashion.
f. Provides coverage for necessary emergency room care.
g. Allows doctors to discuss all treatment options with patients.
h. Ensures women have easy access to a gynecologist and the right to choose that doctor as their primary care providers.
i. Ensures that patients receive adequate coverage for mental health.
j. Ensures privacy of medical records.
3. I believe that soft money should be regulated. I would have supported the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill. This legislation would have put limits on "soft money" on the national and state level and increase disclosure requirements. I believe this measure is good for the political process because it helps take big money influence out and puts the voters back in charge.
4. I believe that one of our first priorities is to ensure that Social Security will never be taken away. That is why I support using the federal budget surplus first to restore faith in Social Security for today's seniors and the workers of today who will need it tomorrow.
Party: The Reform Party
Address: 549 The Great Road, Princeton, NJ 08540
Occupation: Self employed owner of consignment business
Education: B.S. University of Wisconsin
Community Activities: Chair of special Interest Groups-Princeton Newcomers Club 1991
1. Most gun laws are written to help law-abiding citizens sleep at night. Criminals do not obey the laws; that's why they are called criminals. I support the Brady Bill, but think that the government should spend more time keeping lists of those who should not own guns, rather than those who do.
2. Congress should give workers the same tax breaks that it gives large employers. Right now, corporations can deduct the full cost of health benefits as a tax deduction. People who are self employed can only deduct a portion. But an employee can't deduct anything. If the cost of health insurance were tax deductible to every one as an individual, it would encourage every worker - part time and seasonal--to join a plan. The tax deduction of the interest payments on home loans has increased home ownership. Therefore the tax deduction of health insurance costs will increase health care coverage and give the individual their own choice of health plans. When employees are free to shop in the open market with a tax deduction, HMO's and insurance companies will be forced to start serving the consumer rather than the bottom line of the corporation of their shareholders.
3. Since the advent of unlimited "soft money", politicians have been more concerned about donations than regulations. The Federal Election Commission doesn't enforce the existing laws of limitations. why pass more laws for them not to enforce! I think that if you can't vote, you can't contribute. Since corporations, labor unions, and political actions committees can't vote, why should they be able to contribute and effect elections.
4. The Republicans and Democrats have borrowed all the money in the Social Security Trust Fund and spent it to balance the budget. Don't believe me! Call Economic Security 2000 at 202-408-5556. We should pay back this 600 Billion dollar debt before we have any tax cuts or increased spending.
Party: The Republican Party
(no biographical information provided)
1. Our Constitution must be respected. Although advocates of gun control are well intentioned, they ignore the fact that criminals do not follow laws. We need stronger laws to punish those who commit crimes with guns. I Voted for H.R. 424 which provides for increased mandatory minimum sentences for criminals possessing firearms. I have also voted to make it easier to expel students who bring a firearm to school.
Neither this questionnaire nor my opponent talk about the important issues of taxes and government spending. I have consistently called for less government spending, more tax relief and tax simplification.
2. Any health insurance reform must ensure that costs do not increase and benefits are not decreased. Many of the Democrat proposals only make things worse as the costs of insurance would rise even more.
I voted for the Patient Protection Act which will make health insurance more affordable, accessible and increase accountability for patients. I have long opposed gag clauses between doctors and patients in HMO plans. I support Medical Savings Accounts as a way to give individual patients the most power over their health care choices and which lowers costs.
3. I have voted to ban soft money, increase the power of the Federal Election Commission and protect every American's First Amendment right to participate in the political process.
I have also voted to improve the disclosure of campaign finance activity and to prohibit non-citizens from participating in federal campaigns. Ending voter fraud and providing greater disclosure to the citizens are key to any campaign finance reform measure. There must be quicker and more effective measures to deal with those who violate the laws, and existing laws must also be enforced before new laws are made. As a member of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, I am seriously concerned about allegations that the Democrat National Committee has taken millions in illegal campaign contributions from foreign countries.
4. This Congress has passed the first balanced budget plan in a generation and provided the first tax relief in sixteen years. I am pleased to report that we have made tremendous strides in preserving Social Security and stabilizing Medicare.
Because of this Congress' action, the Medicare program will be solvent until at least the year 2007. Our reforms will save Medicare $115 billion over the next five years without affecting benefits or quality of care. We are working to spend each dollar smarter, giving citizens the right to chose their provider, and vigilantly attacking fraud, waste and abuse while at the same time increasing benefits.
I am also committed to preserving and protecting Social Security for current retirees and future generations. I will not allow any reduction in benefits for those receiving them. I am supporting the Social Security Preservation Act to ensure that the money in the Social Security Trust Fund only pays for Social Security.
Medicare and Social Security are issues that are critically important to so many people in New Jersey and throughout our nation. (*)
JOSEPH A. SIANO
Party: Libertarian Party
Address: K-6 East Garden Way, Dayton, 08810
Education: B.A. with honors-Michigan State Univeristy-1978
Significant Community Activities: Vice-chair, Somerset/Middlesex Libertarian Party; PAL Youth Soccer Coach
1. Libertarians deplore the initiation of coercive force by anyone including the government. At the same time, we refuse to abandon the 2nd Amendment's guarantee of the right to bear arms to protect our lives, liberty and property.
History repeatedly shows that tyrannical governments including Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as well as our former British rulers have employed gun control to suppress dissenters and unfavored minorities. This we must resist.
Peaceful, law-abiding citizens who own firearms are a threat to no one except criminals and despots.
2. Most Americans depend upon their employers to provide health insurance. This is because the current tax code rewards businesses with deductions for health insurance premiums while the individual citizen receives no such consideration. Our first goal is to provide a tax credit for health insurance directly to citizens so that can afford to purchase his own coverage. This will ensure portability of coverage when the individual changes employers or is between jobs. Secondly, we should empower citizens to create medical savings accounts from tax deferred dollars. These MSA's would be used to cover routine medical costs. Individuals could then purchase lower premium "catastrophic" illness policies at much lower premiums since the insurer will not have to pay for a host of small claims.
3. Money is indeed a corrupting influence in politics. Excessive campaign contributions are only a symptom of the malady and not the illness itself.
Government has grown so large, and controls such a enormous portion of our wealth that it makes good business sense to invest in parties and candidates. Many large contributors give to both parties to ensure favored treatment, patronage and government contracts no matter who is in office.
Libertarians believe that right to contribute one's own money to political campaigns is both a natural property right and is Constitutionally protected free speech. The solution lies in reducing the size and influence of government. Only then will it be bad business to invest in politicians.
4. The government needs to honor it's commitment to those retirees who are already dependent on their Social Security benefits yet at the same time, protect today's and tomorrow's workers from getting sucked into this money pit.
Libertarians advocate a two part solution. For the current recipients, we propose a one-time, lump sum buy out which they can invest privately. This would be funded by a sale of government assets such as mineral rights, grazing lands, hydroelectric plants etc. For current workers, allow them to invest up to 15% of their incomes in tax deferred accounts to save privately, and more effectively for their retirements.