PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

June 19, 2012

Ed Case Completes PDH Survey

What, in your view, are the reasons preventing the U.S. Senate from passing legislation that better serves the American people?

The main reason is that most of the American people are currently disenfranchised inside the Beltway. The inside crowd is dominated by political action committees and other special interests dedicated solely to the maintenance of their own interests at all costs to the exclusion of everyone else, and Congress is dominated additionally by the mindset that every debate and policy issue presents a stark choice between political extremes.

All of this results in hyperpartisan, my-way-or-the-highway, take-no-prisoners gridlock, and classic alamihi crab syndrome reactions to any attempt to find a better way forward. None of this is representative of the mainstream of the American people. No wonder that, in the most recent poll taken on the subject (Rasmussen, June 2012), only 7% of Americans, crossing all party and other lines, believe Congress is doing an excellent or good job. Please see my Issues Agenda: Fixing Washington.

Foreign Policy

1. What are your thoughts regarding a potential military conflict with Iran? Would you support military intervention against the regime there, why or why not?

First, our country can never categorically rule out military action anywhere under any circumstances. Iran is one country where the circumstances are not moving in the right direction, with the dangerous combination of a regime that considers us a mortal enemy clearly seeking nuclear weapons status. However, based on what we know (or have been told) now, there is no current necessity to intervene militarily. Instead, the correct approach is the President’s current approach to increase sanctions on Iran and work with the international community to isolate the Iranian regime so long as it seeks nuclear weapons status.

2. Would you support cutting military spending and redirect the funding to other budget items? If so, where would you suggest redirecting those funds?

It is inevitable that, considering our escalating budget crisis, which is ultimately about whether our government will be able to fund core government programs to help the American people into the next generation, our military budget cannot continue its growth rate. So yes, I support a leveling out in the growth of defense spending and a reduction in specific programs such as new weapons systems which will have the effect of reducing the portion of our oerall budget that goes to defense. But I believe that, with overall annual deficits still exceeding $1 trillion, with currently projected total deficits over the next year projected at $10 trillion, and with a total national debt now at $16 trillion and projected to exceed $20 trillion in just a few years, any savings should be applied first to reduce our annual deficits and to reduce the rate of growth in our total national debt over time. This is again because the rist over the long term to other core government functions from failing to tackle our budget crisis is far greater than from the necessity of leveling out the growth in spending for those programs. Please see my Issues Agenda: Balancing Out Budget.

Health Care for All

1. What can be done to make health care more affordable and accessible to the working and middle classes? Do you support Single Payer/enhanced Medicare for all? How do you propose to counteract to opposition of the corporate medical/insurance establishment in passing meaningful health care reform?

I believe that all Americans are entitled to affordable, accessible quality health care. Rather than provide a single insurance option, I support protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act, which extends insurance to tens of millions of Americans and ensures that people can visit the provider of their choice and select an insurance plan that works for them. I also support protecting and improving Medicare. I further believe we must break the stranglehold of a small number of powerful special interests on the health care industry. As two examples, I will continue my earlier efforts in Congress to authorize the federal government to negotiate bulk drug purchase prices with pharmaceutical companies, and I believe medical providers should be paid based on the quality of care then provide rather than a simple fee based on the number of procedures they perform.

2. Do you suppor the use of government funds to ensure all women have access to reproductive services?

Yes. Please see my Issues Agenda: Advancing Women’s Rights.

Accountability of Our Elected Officials / Publicly Financed Elections

1. What would you do to curb the undue influence of corporations on our political process and our society?

First, get elected and act in the Senate as an independent voice for the American people; especially as the candidate in this race who receives virtually no PAC contributions (in contrast to my current opponent, at about a third of total career contributions). Second, reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing virtually unlimited corporate/super PAC contributions to federal campaigns. Please see my Issues Agenda: Fixing Washington.

2. How would you best counteract the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC?

At a bare minimum, I will advocate for legislation that forces corporations and individuals to disclose the extent to which they are manipulating our political system through unlimited spending. Beyond that, of course, I don’t believe we’ve exhausted legislative remedies to reverse Citizens United, possibly because the inside-the-Beltway crowd, all protestations aside, benefits from it.

3. Do you support publicly financed elections? If so, given the current landscape, how would you propose to begin moving to implement them?

Yes, and have since I introduced and advocate for some of the earliest public financing proposals as a Hawaii state legislator (which, although they were defeated on the sate level by our own version of the inside-the-Beltway crowd and their legislative allies for whom publicly financed candidates are a threat, have at least been implemented somewhat at the county level), and proposed the same at the national level as a Congressman. Like most other proposals, a bill must be introduced, fellow believers located and signed on, and external support must be mobilized, and the hard work of guiding the proposal through the legislative maze must be undertaken. But, in terms of priorities in reforming campaign financing, the primary effort must be devoted first to reversing Citizens United.

4. How would you address forms of voter suppression and intimidation, such as voter ID challenges?

Primarily by fully advocating for and funding Department of Justice efforts to block states from violating basic civil rights laws under the guise of voter identification.

5. Please explain your position on the use of taxpayer money to finance political campaigns directly and equitably, with some of the expenditure being offset by taxing the profits derived by broadcast media from their free use of the publicly owned frequency spectrum.

I have supported and do support the principle of taxpayer-funded political campaigns. I’m open to that possible means of financing but have not reviewed the issue sufficiently.

Economic Justice

1. Please share your thoughts on the President’s budget proposal, versus Rep. Ryan’s proposal, versus the Progressive Caucus proposal. Which would you be likely to support?

Assuming that those are the only three choices, the President’s I start from the principle that we can neither solely tax nor solely cut our way out of our budget crisis and to economic stability. The Ryan budget relies way too much on both tax and spending cuts and represents a vision of America with which I do not agree. The Progressive Caucus budget raises too many taxes too high, cuts too few programs (mainly the military) too deep while doing too little to curb growth in other programs, doesn’t balance, and doesn’t represent a mainstream America (or even Democratic) budget solution. (This is probably why it was defeated on U.S. House vote, 78-346, with a majority of Democrats, 107, including Congressman Hanabusa, opposing.) The President’s proposal comes closest to the combination of approaches I believe will be both necessary and optimum to restore fiscal stability without destroying government and the programs that help the American people. Please see my Issues Agenda: Balancing Our Budget.

2. What is your opinion of a financial transaction tax, sometimes called the “Robin Hood Tax,” on Wall Street securities trades as a way to raise revenue, as well as potentially curb speculative trading?

I don’t rule it out, but don’t support such a tax solely and purely as a “way to raise revenue” and don’t believe that, unless it is set prohibitively high, it will in fact curb speculative trading. If the problem is speculative trading, then the answer is to consider and enforce laws and regulations that address too-big-to-fail bank trading practices that place taxpayer funds or our overall economy at risk, such as the Volcker Rule.

3. Please explain how you will work to preserve social security for future generations.

1) Bring honest with the American people about the true present unsustainable direction of Social Security, the practical options available, and the consequences of each.

2) Reassuring Americans now receiving or on track to receive benefits that their benefits must and will be maintained as earned and do not have to be and will not be reduced to rebalance Social Security for future generations.

3) Explaining primarily to the younger generation that without changes, their own benefits when they reach retirement age or require disability assistance will be slashed.

4) Pursuing some combination of remedies, especially as recommended by the President’s Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission, the Social Security and Medicare trustees, and others, and using the general model adopted in the early 1980s to rebalance Social Security then, including: (1) raising the salary cap from its current $110,000 to an aggregate 90% of all salary earning (around $200,000); (2) means-testing benefits for high retirement income seniors; (3) phasing in a further increase maximum out at one or two years beyond 67 for those retiring at some date to be set after the current 67 phasing date of 2027; and (4) assuring earlier retirement and/or disability options for those for who earlier retirement is necessary as a result of physical labor employment.

5) Countering denial or head-in-the-sand resistance from others who are either unable or afraid to tell the American people that there are no easy decisions to be made to truly preserve Social Security.

4. How will unions play a part in working with you to develop labor policy and legislation?

(No Response)

5. Do you support legislation that would allow states to bypass ERISA and other challenges?

(No Response)

Sustainable Environmental Policies

1. Do you support policies restricting use of the hydro-fracturing process in drilling for natural gas, development of the Canadian tar sands and the associated pipeline, mountain-top removal mining, and the building of new nuclear power plants?

First, our overall focus and resources must be devoted to development and implementation of renewable, clean energy sources. To that end, some policies favoring traditional energy sources such as gas, coal, and oil should not only be restricted but end, such as tax breaks for oil companies. To the extent that private industry continues to pursue the traditional energy sources, proper environmental and health restrictions and/or regulations must be in place. For example, hydro-fracturing should be regulated by the federal government to ensure that it does not lead to water contamination or other negative environmental consequences. Similarly, we should ensure that any pipeline across the U.S. does not have detrimental environmental impacts and that proper safeguards are in place to prevent spills or leaks. Nuclear power and the disposal of nuclear waste must continue to be heavily regulated, as it is and has been, although it is possible that a new generation of small-scale, lower impact nuclear generation technology could offer a different paradigm on nuclear energy.

2. What path do you propose to move the U.S. away from the use of fossil fuels and toward the use of more renewable energy?

To grow our economy, protect our environment, and ensure our energy security and independence, I will advocate for the following specific initiatives, among others:

  • Enact a national clean energy (aka renewable portfolio) standard to require specific percentages of electricity to be generated from green energy sources.
  • End taxpayer subsidies and other special interest treatment of large oil companies.
  • Strengthen antitrust, price fixing and other laws and enforcement on increasingly centralized energy production, distribution and sale and price speculation and assure open competition in research, development and sale of green energy.
  • Expand, extend and tailor the research and development and related tax credits to incentivize long-term green energy R&D and related job creation by U.S. companies at home.
  • Require both increased fuel efficiency and open (alternative) fuel standards for new vehicles.
  • Create a National Infrastructure Bank to coordinate development and financing of large-scale public-private green energy projects and smart power grid upgrades.
  • Fund Department of Defense development of USA-produced alternative energy such as biofuels.
  • Enact and fund federal efforts to accelerate research and development of renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, ocean and tropical agriculture biofuels.

Please see my Issues Agenda: Assuring Our Energy Needs.


1. What do you feel is the single most, or two most, important issue(s) we face as a nation, and how would you hope to address such issues as our Senator?

The two most important challenges facing our nation are fixing DC and growing our economy. This is because every other single challenge facing us, including all of the other issues addressed in this questionnaire, depends in large part on overcoming those two challenges. I will contribute to fixing DC by rejecting the current inside the Beltway status quo and gridlock, applying honest, independent and principled leadership to the specific challenges we face, and working with all other Senators and colleagues and others who have the same goals for all of the American people. On my specific goals to grow our economy, please see my Issues Agenda: Growing Our Economy.

In achieving the latter, I will apply my thirty years in Hawaii’s business world as both a lawyer advising individuals and businesses and as a Manager of both my law firms, as I believe that, in finding solutions that work for our private sector, it is best to know and have experience in our private sector.

2. What makes you the best qualified for the Democratic nomination?

  1. First, the fact that I have been an independent, reform, values-driven Democrat throughout my political career, which I believe is what is most needed in DC today and throughout the next generation.
  2. Second, the sum total of my knowledge of the issues, experience in both government and the private sector and proven ability to use various approaches – some up front and confrontational (eg, Broken Trust and reforming the Bishop Estate) and some collaborative and behind the scenes (eg, working with other Hawaii congressional delegation members to save Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard) – to get things done.
  3. Third, my ability to provide strong effective leadership for Hawaii and our country over a generation and to step up and assume the duties and responsibilities of senior Senator for Hawaii in time.
  4. Fourth, the fact that I will beat Linda Lingle, assuming that Hawaii continues to be represented by Democrats in the Senate and most possibly assuring that the Senate remains a Democratic majority come 20123 and beyond. (See Civil Beat June 2012 general election poll: Case 52% – Lingle 36%; Hirono 49% – Lingle 44%)

3. Can you think of a significant mistake you feel you’ve made during your political career, which you now regret?

I’ve made a fair number of mistakes over the course of my two decades in government and hope I’ve learned and improved from each. One that comes to mind is my drafting and introduction of the proposed Native Hawaiian Autonomy Act in 1998 as a then State Representative and Chair of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee. It attempted to provide an overall framework for the coordination of federal, state, county and community efforts to insure self-governance for Native Hawaiians, and contained several proposals that were in many ways ahead of their time, such as combining the resources of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, resolving OHA claims by the transfer to OHA of income-producing state lands (as just occurred in Kakaako), and transferring state assets of special historical and cultural significance such as Iolani Palace to OHA or a successor Hawaiian governing entity. Although some of the proposals have now become mainstream, my mistake was to conclude that it would be best to specify the proposals before introducing them for public discussion as opposed to consulting with the Native Hawaiian community in their preparation.

4. Why should progressives vote for you in the primary?

First, this begs the question of what is a progressive, since I believe and my record reflects that in many ways I share what are usually understood to be progressive values. This also begs the question of who gets to say whether anyone is or isn’t progressive. But all that aside, two basic reasons. First, all of the reasons described in Question 2 above as to what best qualifies me for the Democratic nomination, as those reasons apply to all Democrats, and Hawaii voters and all of the American people whether “progressive” or not. Second because as a practical matter the alternative is Lingle.

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