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GOP runners for federal office get squirrely; Dems and independents share answers

Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge
By JEFF INGLIS  |  May 30, 2012

ElectionGrid_Cynthia

US SENATE — DEMOCRATS

Cynthia Dill

Age: 47

Occupation: state senator, lawyer, college instructor

Family status: married 22 years, two children. Harrison (17) and Isabel (15)

Do you believe the federal government has struck the proper balance between protecting civil liberties and providing physical security?

No. While members of law enforcement and the military under the Obama administration have done an incredible job keeping us safe, thwarting legitimate terror attacks and dismantling much of the al-Qaida network, we have taken a step back when it comes to domestic security.

I vociferously reject recent Supreme Court rulings that back indefinite detention without charge and strip searches for minor traffic offenses. I support sensible reform to the Patriot Act to restrict warantless wiretaps and end free government access to Americans' personal data.

We cannot trample civil liberties in the name of protecting freedom.

Do you support a cap-and-trade system of greenhouse-gas limitation?

Yes. Some Republicans in Maine have been attempting to get Maine out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, even while milking funds from it for general government use. Yet this program -- the only one of its kind in the U.S. -- is working. It's a common-sense, market-based approach to at least try to limit greenhouse emissions, while creating jobs and saving money.

RGGI has saved $113 million through energy efficiency. It's reduced fossil fuel imports to the state, and generated about 1,400 jobs. With $24 million in grants to the private sector, companies such as SAPPI, Twin Rivers Paper, Madison Paper and a dozen others have been able to invest in steam recovery units and more efficient boilers, providing significant benefits to energy consumers and people who want clean air.

By not spending as much on foreign oil, RGGI -- which aims to reduce carbon emissions from the region's power sector 10 percent by 2018 -- improves energy security and economic competitiveness, and frees up $4 to $6 in economic output for every $1 invested in energy efficiency programs in the 10 RGGI states. These market-driven investments create jobs in the clean tech sector -- one of the most dynamic segments of Maine's economy.

It's odd Maine officials would consider leaving a program in which Maine is considered on the cutting edge, one that's backed by CEOs of more than 200 businesses in the RGGI region. Maine is recognized around the world for being a leader in environmental protection and for its Yankee ingenuity. RGGI reflects both those values well.

Do you believe the federal government should do more to help students afford college?

Yes. The "don't double my rate" campaign, while one I support, is a sad outgrowth of a college finance system dominated by private loans originated from reckless banks.

If you liked the mortgage crisis, watch what might happen in a fragile job market among graduates with tens of thousands in loans from banks only interested in jacking up rates and flipping the notes to other servicers. We need to regulate private student lending with simpler terms and capped rates while expanding Pell Grants, work-study, cooperative and other creative funding mechanisms, especially at community colleges, which cost less and provide job-ready skills in practical trades without the huge debt load.

Public education should be available before kindergarten. Predatory lending to college students must cease. Institutions of higher education must be made a partner in reducing the cost of a college degree. And the government must start reining in fly-by-night for-profit colleges that saddle students with debt without granting them a marketable degree.

Do you believe health-insurance plans should cover contraception without co-pays?

Yes. I fought Attorney General Schneider when he opposed the federal requirement that insurance companies cover contraceptives for all women, no matter where they work. Thankfully, politicians -- especially Republicans, those champions of personal liberty -- aren't allowed to pick and choose what health care they think women should get through their health plans.

Schneider's move was wrong, inconsistent with Maine law and its electorate, and politically motivated by national tea party groups currently holding sway in the Legislature.

Contraception is basic health care. It's used by 99% of Maine women, and 98% of all U.S. Catholic women. Some 14% of users — 1.5 million women — rely on it for noncontraceptive uses such as treating endometriosis, preventing migraines and reducing cramps.

Maine is one of 28 states requiring all health insurance policies that provide prescription drug coverage to include contraceptives, with an exception for churches and religious schools. That's because contraception saves money and lives,just another common-sense law we've enjoyed for decades that's at risk in Maine's current Republican rollback. We won't go back when I am our next U.S. senator.

Will you vote to end the Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans?

Yes. The federal tax code needs to be simplified, and rates on certain transactions -- capital gains and "carried interest" on hedge funds, for example -- need to be increased. Loopholes and exemptions must be eliminated so the super-rich and corporations who hardly need the help stop offshoring our economy and turning our tax base into "swiss cheese."

This election represents the best chance in a generation to convert a Senate seat occupied by a "One Percenter" to one of average means who represents all Mainers. There have been two big chances to vote for fiscal sanity in Washington -- the Buffett Rule, which mandates tax equity; and the Volcker Rule, which curbs banks' ability to take risks. The result has been the same each time: a vote for the wealthiest at the expense of the middle class.

Millionaires' taxes should be increased, but it will never happen with a millionaire representing Maine. A surcharge on taxpayers earning more than $1 million in adjusted gross income, rejected this term in the Senate, would affect 0.1% of Maine taxpayers — about 375 people -- while creating 2 million new jobs and cutting taxes for virtually all Maine taxpayers.

Similar to what just occurred in the Maine Legislature, tax cuts for the wealthy will be made up elsewhere &ldots; either by cutting social programs or raising taxes on the working poor. Neither of those is acceptable to me, or to most Mainers. Accordingly, I will help tilt the balance of the U.S. Senate back toward fiscal sanity and economic justice by backing the Volcker Rule, the Buffett Rule and the vigorous enforcement of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

In 10 words or fewer, please express your view on Congressional compromise.

Move forward together, or fail as a nation, together.

As Maine's US Senator I will continue the tradition of working across the aisle. I will give working families a strong voice at the table, and stand up for values I believe we share: the dignity of employment, economic and social justice, protecting the environment, public education, access to healthcare and an equal opportunity to succeed.

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