Earlier this month, our readers submitted questions for Patch's Ask the Candidates forum.
Chris Perkins, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Virginia's 11th District, is first in this week's series. His responses can be found below, unedited.
You can read responses from other candidates who responded to the survey throughout the week here.
How will sequestration affect Northern Virginia? If elected, do you intend to fight it?
Sequestration will have a major impact on the Northern Virginia economy, and if elected fighting to overturn these cuts in favor of a more balanced deficit reduction plan will be my #1 priority. While a congressman may sometimes have to choose between the best interests of his constituents and those of the nation as a whole, these interests were one and the same in the case of sequestration. The additional $500 billion of cuts to our national security programs that my opponent voted in favor of will simultaneously gut our military and hit the local economy of Virginia's 11th District harder than any other congressional district in America in terms of lost jobs and revenue.
Do you support Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAC) (also called Obamacare, or the federal health care law)?
I do not support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Despite its title and best of intentions, it puts patients at risk and drives healthcare costs upward. It is the reason most often given by small businesses throughout the 11th District for their inability to grow and their reluctance to hire. I support replacing it with a plan that would be far more consumer-oriented, consumer-controlled and one that is based on choice and competition throughout the healthcare arena.
How do you differ from your opponents on defense issues?
As a career senior military officer, I bring a first-hand perspective to the table regarding our national defense that my opponent cannot. I believe, apparently unlike my opponent, that our nation's defense is the single most important function of the federal government. Federal spending on national security must be requirements driven, not simply budget driven, and validated national security requirements must be fully funded in order to give our men and women in the military and intelligence community everything they need and expect from us to accomplish their assigned missions.
Government spending has increased significantly in the last few years. Do you have plans to change that?
While Washington loves to spend our hard-earned money, I was raised to appreciate that you have to live within your means. Instead, the President's proposed budget for next year would borrow 26 cents out of every dollar to pay for programs we cannot afford. The future of our economy, government and security depend on reforming the budget process that will allow the federal government to spend and tax only as much as it needs. I support a Balanced Budget Amendment and budgeting process that puts every program 'on the table', to include so-called mandatory spending.
Many states, including Virginia, have received waivers of the No Child Left Behind Act and others have waivers pending. Are you willing to support a repeal of this law nationally?
I do support the repeal of No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, I believe the teachers’ union and the federal government have created a classic monopoly when it comes to education that has somehow evolved into providing a substandard product for the most cost. In addition to empowering states to determine their own education programs, I would encourage them to introduce the market principles of choice and competition.
What position do you have on requiring students with special needs and individualized education plans to take the same SOLs as their age-peers, regardless of how far behind academically they might be?
I believe the requirements pertaining to students with special education needs should appropriately remain the responsibility of state and local school authorities.
What will you personally do in 2013 to ensure our nation recovers from the decades of irresponsible politicians who have put our future at great risk?
The economic mess we are in is but a symptom of the disease: a lack of leadership and commitment on the part of many of our elected officials. Often more interested in holding office than they are in performing the job itself, they lack the commitment required to take on and solve our national level problems. Instead, they look at politics as a game of power in which their constituents are merely pawns to be used as necessary to enhance their own position. I spent most of my adult life in a community that extolled the virtues of 'duty, honor and country', and I have every intention of taking that same sense of moral courage and integrity to Washington when I am elected. Instead of simply calling myself a 'centrist', I will actually work with both sides to hammer out workable solutions to tough and politically inconvenient problems. Rather than wrap myself in bumper sticker type rhetoric such as "thank you for your service", I will be a staunch advocate on Capitol Hill for our veterans and national security professionals. And I will never, ever, put party allegiance ahead of the people that elected me to represent them.
The Republican-controlled House has twice voted for the Ryan budget, which would cut $5.7 trillion from federal programs, replace Medicare by establishing a voucher system to help seniors and the disabled pay part of the cost of buying private insurance, and privatize Social Security. Since congressmen only have the ability to vote up or down on the plan, would you vote Yes or No for the Ryan budget if, as expected, it comes before Congress next year?
The recommended budget was, and continues to be, the only serious plan put forth by Congress during the past several years that offers a path towards fiscal solvency for this country. Every congressman had the ability to recommend changes that would improve upon the committee's plan, and that remains the case for future budgets. That said, if forced to vote up or down on a budget similar to that proposed by the House, I would support such a plan as it represents a positive step forward towards fiscal responsibility.
Despite rhetoric to the contrary, do you agree that actions taken by President Bush, including two unfunded wars, Medicare Part D, and the Bush tax cuts, all of which were not paid for, were the primary causes of the collapse of the economy in October 2008? Do you support President Obama's proposal to end the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 per year?
I believe that we need to temporarily extend the Bush tax cuts. Our current economic situation is the result of a governmental mindset in existence for many decades that it did not have to live within its means. And we, the people, allowed it to happen by trusting without verifying. Wars should never be fought on credit. Like everything else, if it is worth doing, it is worth paying for. Raising taxes in our current economy would be catastrophic to everyone, however. The true solution lies in comprehensive tax reform that will lead to real growth in the private sector.
There is a serious lack of funds for Northern Virginia transportation projects, including for the Silver Line. Do you think there should be more federal funding for these projects? What’s the right balance between federal, state and local funding?
If the federal government is part of the problem, the federal government needs to be part of the solution. The average federal funding for 'mega' rail transit projects throughout the country is 39%. While I believe this national average is too high overall, I am aware that the original federal share of the Silver Line was envisaged to be 50% given the above average role that federal government operations play in the local traffic congestion problem here in the National Capitol Region. I therefore support the restoration of a federal government commitment to contributing at least the national average, and preferably, the full 50% share of the Silver Line.