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Voter Guide: James Langevin Profile (2nd District)

Monday, November 05, 2012


Voter Guide: Jim Langevin Profile (2nd District)

Birth date: April 22, 1964

Education: High School- Bishop Hendricken High School
Undergraduate- Rhode Island College
Masters in Public Administration- Harvard University


Jim Langevin was inspired to enter public service by the tremendous outpouring of support he received during the most challenging time of his life, after a gun accident paralyzed him at age 16 and left him as a quadriplegic. He is driven by a belief that everyone deserves a fair opportunity to make the most of their talents.

In 1994, Jim became the nation’s youngest Secretary of State. His leadership resulted in reforms to Rhode Island’s outdated election system and a landmark report documenting widespread violations of the state’s Open Meetings Law. He served in that role until winning election to Congress in 2000.

Jim serves as a senior member on the Intelligence Committee and Armed Services Committee, a position that has enabled him to support critical work being done by Rhode Island’s defense industry, which supports many Ocean State jobs.

As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, Langevin advocates for closing our skills gap by giving students and workers training opportunities in expanding industries.

A voice for those facing serious challenges, Jim drove passage of bipartisan laws to support families caring for an elderly parent or disabled child and to protect foster youth.

On the Issues

How can you create jobs in Rhode Island?
We can create quality jobs and an economy that works for everyone if we focus on giving the middle class a fair opportunity to succeed. For anyone out of work right now, the recovery isn’t here yet and we still have a lot of work to do, but I’m fighting every day to move us forward.

First, that means a simpler but fairer tax code, giving breaks to small businesses that create jobs here, not big corporations that send them overseas. I’m also leading a bipartisan effort in Congress and many efforts locally in Rhode Island to ensure businesses have a workforce with the skills to meet their needs by improving career and technical education and job training efforts.

We must also rebuild our roads and bridges and support the cornerstones of our state’s economy, like Electric Boat in Quonset, where they’re creating hundreds of new middle class jobs after I helped lead an effort to double their production of submarines..

The budget I support shows we can do this and reduce our debt faster than the Republican “Ryan Budget” if we get our priorities straight.

Social Security/Medicare:
Social Security and Medicare have been highly successful, keeping seniors out of poverty and providing access to quality health care. We can and must take steps to control these programs' costs to maintain the promise of a secure retirement for our current seniors as well as for future generations.

I disagree with my Republican colleagues, led by Congressman Ryan, who believe the solution is to cut health benefits to lower-income seniors by turning Medicare into a voucher program and to privatize Social Security, which would allow Wall Street to gamble away people’s hard earned savings. By phasing out the Social Security payroll tax cap that benefits wealthier individuals and building on the future health care savings in the Affordable Care Act, we can continue to ensure Social Security and Medicare work for everyone.

The Affordable Care Act reduced future Medicare costs by more than $700 billion through increased efficiencies. Republican claims that these savings would “gut” Medicare have been proven false. In fact, about five thousand Rhode Islanders saved an average of $526 on prescription drug costs in just the first seven months of this year because of the law’s provisions to close the Medicare Part D donut hole. Since the Act’s passage, seniors in the state have saved a total of more than $15 million in drug costs.

As for Social Security, we must remember that without it, nearly half of elderly Americans would live below the poverty level. Additionally, Social Security cannot and has not ever added to the deficit. Instead, the program currently has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Because the impending retirement of the baby boomer generation will strain the system, I have advocated ending the payroll tax cap that allows wealthier individuals to avoid paying into the Social Security on income above a certain level.

Affordable Care Act:
One of the driving motivations behind my running for Congress was the belief that everyone should have access to the same high quality care that has allowed me to overcome significant health challenges in my life. Not long after coming to Washington, I authored a bipartisan bill for universal coverage, and I’m pleased that the many parts of the current law are similar to my bill.

The health reform law is not perfect, but it takes a huge step forward. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage for preexisting conditions, or put lifetime caps on the amount of coverage you can receive. Young people can stay on their parent’s plan and seniors nationwide are already saving billions on prescription costs.

Most significantly, we address rising costs by ensuring near universal coverage, providing people access to doctors and free preventive health services so they don’t end up receiving primary care in our emergency rooms. We also make the delivery of health services more efficient, particularly in Medicare, by expanding the use of health information technology to reduce duplication and errors, and by rewarding providers for quality, not quantity of care.

I am influenced by my own experience of having my life nearly taken from me and my belief that I shouldn’t deny anyone their chance at life. I am pro-life, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, while recognizing that we should work to prevent unwanted pregnancies by providing access to contraception, sex education and basic, affordable health services for women. I have been dismayed by the constant attempts by Republicans to reduce access to health care for women, including attempts to completely defund Planned Parenthood, gut a fund that provides preventive services to low-income women and weaken the Violence Against Women Act.

Access to a quality and affordable education is vital to give everyone the chance to reach their full potential and build a strong middle class. We need to adjust our system to make sure it’s focused on preparing students for real world jobs, not just preparing them for tests.

I’m working to ensure there are training opportunities for students in fields that already have jobs to fill by leading a bipartisan effort to restore funding for career and technical education. I’ve also worked with New England Tech to launch a successful program that introduces students to the growing careers of IT and cybersecurity. Nothing is more important to a quality education than having quality teachers, and I’m proud to support an effort to train 10,000 math and science teachers.

In addition, as more jobs require education beyond high school, college tuition is taking up massive chunks of family budgets and workers are struggling to keep up with loan repayments after they graduate. We cannot allow students to see their dreams go unrealized because higher education is unaffordable.

I was proud to support cutting the interest rate on need-based student loans in half and increasing the amount of Pell Grants to improve access to college without adding to the debt, while holding colleges and universities accountable for unnecessary tuition increases. We must not only continue to support these efforts, but also stress loan repayment plans that help graduates manage their loans and encourage them to go into public service.

Same Sex Marriage:
I support marriage equality, recognizing that it is the only way to provide equal rights and does not infringe on practices of religious institutions.

We have reached a point of diminishing returns in Afghanistan, and our nation has grown war-weary. While I prefer a faster timeline than the current 2014 withdrawal strategy, I have supported the current plan to exit responsibly in a way that protects the brave Americans who are serving there and prevents terrorist groups from reestablishing a base when we leave. We must also be mindful that withdrawal is a dangerous operation and we cannot compromise either the safety of any of our military members or our ability to further transition responsibility to Afghan forces. As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am continuing to discuss the situation with our military leaders and support any effort that can speed the withdrawal of our troops, so we can focus more resources on rebuilding our economy at home.

Energy & the Environment:
We need a comprehensive energy policy that takes into account how we can best use all forms of energy. I want to ensure we find a safe way to utilize our abundant supply of natural gas, while also accelerating our transition to American-made alternative fuels that will create jobs, end our dependence on fossil fuels and protect our environment.

Here in Rhode Island, I’ve been a major proponent of the wind farm project off the coast of Block Island because these kinds of projects hold great promise for more stable and cleaner energy resources. It will also boost our economy by creating quality middle class jobs that can put Rhode Islanders to work building the turbines. We should be the international leader in growing renewable energy industries, not allowing countries like China to take the lead by investing in this technology.

We need to combine these types of investments with greater energy efficiency. I cosponsored legislation, now law, to increase fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, as well as energy efficiency standards for homes and businesses. I’ll continue to fight to end subsidies for profit-rich oil companies while protecting incentives for companies to develop energy resources that will help create jobs in Rhode Island.

What we cannot afford is a mentality that more drilling will solve our energy problems, no matter the cost to the environment. Domestic production has increased over the past three years, but we own a very small percentage of the world’s oil reserves and the Associated Press has shown that more drilling does not lead to lower gas prices. I am greatly concerned with the impact of gas prices on Rhode Island’s families and small businesses. As we reduce our dependence on foreign oil, there are ways we can act to prevent gas price increases from holding back our economy. For example, I’m pushing legislation to crack down on speculators who buy oil just to sell it at a profit.

Illegal Immigration:
We must address the issue of illegal immigration in a comprehensive and practical way. The federal government needs to step in and act so that states like Arizona have no reason to pass laws that encourage discrimination and racial profiling. We need to focus first on securing our borders. For those who are here illegally, I support giving them an opportunity to come out of the shadows and start on a path to citizenship, provided they pass background checks, pay back fines and taxes and don't displace anyone who is trying to enter the country the right way,

Supporting the DREAM Act is not only the moral thing to do, but also in our national interest to take advantage of the talents of these young immigrants instead of punishing them for family decisions over which they had no control.

Do you support right-to-work?
I oppose self-described "right-to-work" legislation that actually infringes on the rights of workers to participate in unions. I support the opportunity for workers to have a fair collective bargaining process.

Quick Hitters:

What is the single most important issue you want to tackle in 2013?
Improving the economy by working in every way possible to strengthen the middle class. This starts with creating quality jobs by making the tax code simpler and fairer for small businesses and giving workers the training they need for available positions.

Who is your favorite member of the opposite party?
Glen "GT" Thompson (R-PA), who co-chairs the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus with me. We are working together to restore funding to our vital career and technical education programs, which prepare students for jobs that are available in growing industries.

In one paragraph, why should voters support you?
Voters can count on me to focus on policies that strengthen our middle class and give everyone who works hard a fair opportunity to reach their full potential. I am proud of successes like doubling submarine production at Electric Boat to create hundreds of jobs and funding workforce training programs like those at CCRI, but there is much more to accomplish with so many Rhode Islanders still out of work. At a time when there is too much partisanship and gridlock in Congress, I also have a record of reaching across the aisle to get things done. This includes bipartisan efforts to improve career and technical education and pass a landmark law I authored to help families caring for an elderly parent or a loved one with special needs. I’m always committed to putting Rhode Island’s interests first and being a voice for a strong middle class.

Dan McGowan can be reached at dmcgowan[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.


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