2014 Questions for Congressional Candidates and My Answers (Questions asked by a local newspaper)
1. What can be done to reduce the high level of political partisanship in Washington these days and to move legislation forward?
I have three comments. The first concerns an old adage that you should “be careful for what you wish for”. In this case it is “be careful who you vote for” – and I might add; be careful of the qualifications of the person you vote for. The American public is unhappy about the intense political bickering with each Political Party bashing and bad-mouthing the other. Because the public has been focused on the “two-party” system, the “importance” of the two parties has grown to the point where the focus has become party versus party, just like rooting for your hometown football team. In recent weeks, I have received a tremendous amount of emails from each party expressing the dire importance to raise more money to compete against the opposing part. Unfortunately, these pleas for donation are party oriented and “We The People” concerns are largely irrelevant. Contributing to this is that the other parties, particularly the Independents or No Party Affiliation (NPA) candidates, are largely ignored, and in many ways are discriminated against. Therefore, the first thing that should be done is to reduce the bias and discrimination against the other parties and the Independents. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the “equal-time rule” that “specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it” (Wikipedia). Please note that the candidate must be “legally qualified”. However, there are many qualifiers and exceptions that specify when this does not apply. Therefore, it is easy to avoid the implementation of the objective. Recently, I tried to respond to an opponent news release in the printed media and was ignored. Obviously, the printed media is not subject to the FCC broadcast rule. I recommend laws be implemented to remove impediments against non-major party candidates. This would help non-major party candidates become more competitive and lessen the power of the parties and I believe reduce the political-party partisanship.
My second comment concerns donations to candidates, whether from private individuals or Political Action Committees (PACs). In my case, I am facing opponents who have raised “big money”; in one case, in the Millions of dollars. The other opponent has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Big money buys a lot of advertising and a lot of that advertising extols the virtues of one Party, while bashing the other party, often with personal negative ads. In my case, my donations are in the hundreds, from family and friends – in essence, I am self-funded and don't “owe” anything to anyone.
My third comment is on the vetting of the candidates. This doesn't seem to be a matter of much concern in the vetting process. I think all candidates should be vetted based on skill, knowledge, experience, and integrity. While this seems logical, it apparently is not a priority. I believe that since the public does not do this, then the news media or other reputable organizations should do this and provide the information to the public. Instead of candidates being vetted by name recognition based on how many yard signs they have, they should be vetted based on the content of their political websites, to determine their qualifications. I invite any and all to vet me on my website; www.marko4congress.org.
2. What is your opinion of the discussions going on about impeaching or suing the president? If you believe either should happen, why? If not why and how could it be stopped?
I believe our President has by-passed Congress in many instances, repeatedly violating the law. I further believe that he has repeatedly acted in a manner which has placed our country in peril, both domestically and internationally. Our security as a nation is weakened and there will be more American lives lost within our boarders as a result of his actions or lack of actions. A poor decision is an inherent risk of leadership, but violating the law is another, especially when it is done with little regard to competent council. To remove a sitting President from office is nearly impossible. However, while an impeachment process is unlikely to remove our President from office, I believe it will be very persuasive and cause him to ameliorate his behavior and thereby lessen the damage to the United States. Therefore, I support impeachment.
3. What should Congress do about the growing problem of identity theft?
My family has suffered because my wife’s Social Security Card Number was stolen while she was in the hospital for a kidney transplant. I have complained about this to the hospital and they have ignored me. Identity thief is a real, everyday problem and it is continually growing worse.
I believe that penalties for identity thief should be made more tough. I think that some of our government technical resources should be directed at improving the detection of identity theft and fraud and the apprehension of the identity thieves. And, most importantly, industry should be challenged and federal money spent to develop new technical solutions to create new systems which are not as vulnerable as they are now in the United States.
Far too many agencies require the use of SSNs on one form or another because that’s the way it has always been done. This mind-set and culture should be addressed and standards for safe-handling of personal information should be established. Companies should be required to provide hard justification why they need personal information and they should be certified as meeting minimum standards for the safeguard of that information.
4. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been declared an international threat. Should we add more boots on the ground or just logistic support? Briefly, what would you do?
First and foremost, a national policy should be established, with the input and concurrence of Congress.
Second, the United States military, our warfighters, should establish the military plans to support the national policy, not by the inexperienced judgment of one person, our Commander in Chief. Next, the support of Congress should be obtained to execute the plan and provide the funding necessary. Then, the plan should be implemented. It would be egotistical of me to state what I would do when we have professional military personnel available to apply their expertise and wisdom. Whatever the decision, all Americans should support it. But, to be a little more responsive on a personal basis, I believe that a balance military approach is needed and this includes American Forces on the ground. I am not supportive of a full military campaign at the onset. Our response should be robust, but measured with appropriate reassessments to determine the effectiveness of our effects and a how the effectiveness might be improved. I believe that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is a strategic threat to the United States and further delays will only allow the Islamic State to grow and the negative consequences to the United States and all Americans will increase. This is not a near-term threat. I believe it will exist for decades.
5. A serious immigration problem has arisen from unaccompanied children, fleeing largely from gang-ravaged Central American countries and entering the United States by the thousands. What is your specific solution for these children?
I think it is important to first realize that the open-boarder issue is not just about the unaccompanied children, which actually comprise a relatively small percentage of the total number of adults and children entering the United States. Most children are entering with a close relative. Also, the emotionally charged term “gang-ravaged” is deceptive “marketing”. The gangs haven’t just suddenly appeared or become worse. This is a decades-long situation. What has changed is the lack of enforcement of United States laws. What has changed is that law-abiding immigrants face onerous U.S. immigration policies while illegal aliens are welcomed and given benefits. My wife, who is now a U.S. citizen, is foreign-born and we were subjected to significant deprivations while we obediently followed the law. I have fought the United States Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS) since 2008 over the status of my two adopted sons, who have a Florida State court order stating they are entitled to all the rights, privileges and obligations of any natural-born children to my wife and I. AND, the battle is still in progress. I am retired military and a Vietnam Veteran who has faithfully served my country. In spite of this and the false promises to help veterans and their families, we are still being denied benefits. And meanwhile our Southern border is open with aliens entering from many different countries, including from the Middle East. I also note that many gang members from Central America are entering and allowed to stay because they are under 18 years old, even though they may be confirmed gang members.
We have U.S. children who need assistance yet we are spending huge amount of money to provide for the children who enter the United States illegally. The Obama Administration has proposed $3.7 Billion in emergency funding for proposed solutions for unaccompanied children. Our children should come first. Also, while minors from Mexico or Canada, who are apprehended at the border, can be quickly processed and returned to their country of origin, children from other countries cannot. I propose changing the law so all are treated equally and all can be processed and quickly returned. To manage the children situation, our government has created a special office, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. More government to take care of the problem created by our government – not good.
I support processing the truly, bone fide, unaccompanied children who have a blood parent in the United States and allowing them to stay for further processing. All other children, regardless of age, and all other people must depart the United States after they have been processed and their appropriate identification on each is obtained and placed into a proper database.
The border should be closed – period. The open border is a significant threat to the security of the United States and its citizens. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports that illegal aliens entering the U.S. come from more than 75 countries, including those from the Middle East and countries suffering from the Ebola outbreak. In July 2014, a Los Angles Fox news reported that sources told her, “three people on terrorist watch list were detained crossing the border illegally into CA.”
My heart is saddened by the plight of unaccompanied children crossing the border, but we should not be seduced into lessening the welfare of our own children or placing the security of our citizens at mortal risk by the U.S. Open Border.
6. Congress did very little actual legislative work this year and polls show the voters believe that. What would you do to make the body more productive?
Two comments: The first is the need for accountability and better visibility of how our Congressmen vote. I don’t believe the home constituents of our Congressmen are properly informed or aware of how their Congressmen vote or what bills they originate or support. The news media provides an overwhelming amount of financial information on the stock market and investments. An up-to-date report card on all Congressmen should be printed in all the major newspapers and available on-line. If the Congressmen are not performing, the public needs to know this so they can vote the poor performers out of office.
The second recommendation/action I propose is to create a new type of bill in Congress. I would call it the “Bullet Bill”. Currently, bills become fat with riders covering a wide range of measures, much of which is “pork”. To secure the support of one Congressman, the originator of a bill might have to add the measure or rider (pork) desired by another Congressmen. To get needed support the original bill might become bloated with pork. Because other Congress object to some of the riders (pork), debate fosters debate and a stalemate is the outcome. Also, a bill may attempt a major reform and be a significant change. The bigger and more encompassing the bill, the more likely there will be parties who will find some portions objectionable. While in some cases a large bill may be required, in many cases it is not. The “Bullet Bill” will be a single-topic Bill with NO PORK. Thus the purpose and objective of the bill is clearly stated without any ambiguity. All Congressmen, by name, can identify if they are in favor of the single-topic, Bullet Bill, against it, or abstain from comment, perhaps because they haven’t done their home work. The “Report Card” for each Bullet Bill would be made public and printed in the Congressmen’s hometown newspaper, besides being available on-line. Commit or be voted out of office.