Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

US Senator (Iowa)

These candidates are running in the November 2020 General election for the Iowa United States Senator position.

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  • Joni Ernst

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    Theresa Greenfield

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    Suzanne Herzog

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    Rick Stewart

Biographical Information

1. Our country is experiencing new cases of Covid 19 daily. What do you propose we do to address this situation?

2. The economy in the US is struggling. What would you do to improve it?

3. The pandemic has highlighted the inequality between races in our country. How do you propose we address this issue?

4. We have a discrepancy in who has health care. This is extremely important to good health. What is your plan to provide healthcare for everyone?

5. Changes in voting rules make it more difficult for some to vote. Do you support the right to vote for all qualified citizens? If so, how will you ensure that all qualified citizens are able to vote? If not, why not?

6. What will you do to strengthen our public education system?

7. Some consider the climate to be a major global concern. What will you do to improve the environment? Where is the funding for your ideas?

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Campaign Phone (515) 346-8477
Twitter @GreenfieldIowa
It’s clear that we are living through unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic. While this pandemic couldn’t have been expected, it should have been prepared for and I’m frustrated. The failures in Washington have made this health and economic crisis worse. To address this crisis we need immediate action. In the U.S. Senate, I would fight to enact national testing and PPE strategies, while passing legislation to ensure more paid sick leave, more relief for small businesses, more accountability for taxpayers and urgent economic aid for state and local governments. While Senator Ernst has voted against paid sick leave and enhanced unemployment benefits, I’ve released two plans during this pandemic to put Iowa first.
Iowa is a state of small towns and small businesses. From growing up on my family farm to running a small family-owned business, I’m ready to use my experience to support all of our small businesses. My Small Towns, Bigger Paychecks plan to grow our economy calls for expanding access to capital for small businesses, making community college debt free and passing a robust infrastructure plan that includes high-speed rural broadband. In contrast, Senator Ernst focuses on supporting her big corporate donors, voting for a tax handout that benefits big corporations and the wealthiest of Americans, while adding two trillion dollars to our national debt, threatening Medicare and Social Security.
The pandemic has highlighted racial injustices in our country, but make no mistake, these inequalities are nothing new. We must call out the unfair racial disparities and take steps to end the systemic racism in policing, housing, health care, education, employment, infrastructure, economic development and so much more.
I believe health care is a right not a privilege. We need to strengthen our health care system by ensuring it is transparent, affordable and effective for all of us. While Senator Ernst refuses to support letting Medicare negotiate for lower prescription drug costs, I will cap out-of-pocket expenses and support allowing Medicare to negotiate with the big drug companies to lower costs, saving seniors and taxpayers nearly $500 billion. Senator Ernst also supports an ongoing anti-ACA lawsuit and voted repeatedly to repeal the ACA, gutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions, dismantling our Medicaid expansion and letting insurance companies deny coverage for prescription drugs. In contrast, I will strengthen the ACA with a public option, always protect Medicare and our rural hospitals.
Our right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. I strongly believe that all Americans should have the right to vote and will work tirelessly to ensure that right is protected. Even during this pandemic, we are seeing politicians in Washington try to make it more difficult for you to vote. No one should have to choose between protecting their health and their right to vote, which is one of the reasons I support sending a ballot to every active registered voter and ensuring that the U.S. Post Office is fully funded. I will also support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. When it comes to protecting the integrity of our elections, it shouldn’t be a partisan issue.
Public schools need our support so they can prepare our young people for the future. Especially at a time like this, we must be supporting our schools and teachers by increasing testing, PPE, paid sick leave and adequate public health protections for educators and staff. I’ve been a working mom and I know that many families won’t be able to get back to normal until their children are back at school, so we must ensure that our students and teachers have a safe and healthy educational environment. I’ll fight to make sure public dollars only go to public schools, to improve education by making early investments towards universal pre-K, and to invest in debt-free community college and skills training. While Senator Ernst wants to eliminate the Federal Department of Education, end federal student loans and voted to cut billions in pell grant funding, I will continue to listen to educators, students and families and support efforts that will help make their educational aspirations possible.
The bottom line is that climate change is real and we need to take urgent action. No matter what you call it, Iowans know that taking action to address climate change helps all of us. Senator Ernst continues to deny the science and refuses to act, costing us jobs. We must invest in renewable jobs, support international agreements and 2050 goals and promote incentives for conservation.
Addressing COVID-19 (or any similar crisis) effectively, means regular reassessments and evaluation of our actions. As Senator, I will not hesitate to communicate objective findings of any such analyses, and will hold myself accountable for any role I play- regardless of the outcome. Leadership means admitting mistakes, and quickly collaborating to redirect efforts. We lost a precious window of opportunity early-on in the pandemic when the U.S. CDC decided to "go-it-alone" and bungled the development and disbursement of testing- instead of immediately employing WHO-approved COVID tests developed by Germany in January. My experience working in Washington with federal agencies that are part of our National Disaster Recovery Framework, and my firsthand experience working with Iowa DPH on the front-line in meat-packing plants and long-term-care facilities here in Iowa as a Medical Reserve Corps responder- prepare me to effectively address ongoing COVID-19 challenges.
Realizing my healthcare reform proposals is projected to have a very positive effect on the U.S. economy: will relieve downward pressure on workers' wages, free business from the burden of administering health insurance for employees, and create the right economic incentives for individuals, healthcare service providers, insurers, and public health entities to work together. My student loan solutions include income-based repayment for all current and new borrowers with some loan forgiveness for lower income & elimination of federal loans for predatory, hi-cost/low-quality schools. We irresponsibly ran up the national debt in 2017(a time of relative stability & prosperity) with the "Tax Cuts & Jobs Act". Some of that legislation will need to be amended, but in the meantime Congress needs to act quickly to provide more overdue unemployment relief funds and support for municipal & state governments to maintain essential services. Increase minimum wage & invest in infrastructure as well.
My life's work is focused on socio-economic justice. I am running for U.S. Senate as a no-party candidate to promote another avenue for political inclusion. My goals as a healthcare provider, an economist, and potentially U.S. Senator include working for those who have been under-represented in the past. Social and economic justice will be advanced by ensuring that people have access to the information, resources, social connectivity, and legal protections they need to reach their full human potential. Helping people in situations of homelessness, substance abuse, domestic and street violence, and disabling health issues were all part of my daily work for nearly two decades as an emergency department nurse. I became an economist so that I could contribute to the most empowering solutions for all. I am prepared to listen, and collaborate with those most immersed in the struggle for racial justice. I have demonstrated an ability to hear, acknowledge, and address issues of inequality.
Healthcare reform is the focus of much of my life's work and realizing the kind of long overdue healthcare reform our nation needs is much of what inspired me to run for U.S. Senate. We have to completely dissociate access to health insurance from employment to make private health insurance work better for everyone. Employer tax-breaks to insure you- would go to you instead. This would distribute risk better and simplify complex, convoluted payment systems. Finally our choices as healthcare consumers will have more impact on developing a more efficient and effective healthcare system, and would leave more public funds available to keep people from falling through the cracks. We can also make Medicaid a better safety net for anyone, of any income level- with a simple income-based buy-in any year they may need it to prevent medical bankruptcy. This plan is far better than Medicare-for-all or simply adding a public option to a clearly broken market structure. Obamacare was only half-right
Voting should be easy, secure, and convenient for all qualified citizens. I would support automatic voter registration as people come of age and meet citizenship qualifications. I respect Iowa's Secretary of State Paul Pate as having demonstrated the right approach to keeping the voting process impartial. As the president of National Association of Secretaries of state, he has done a great deal of good work to improve cybersecurity- as I learned from the perspective of a candidate participating in those initiatives. Early voting, no-excuse-required mail-in or absentee voting should be promoted, and I would agree with observing election-day as a national holiday- though may be less essential. Not only voting, but having a better choice of candidates that are more representative of constituents is another important issue. I would advocate for nonpartisan primaries with ranked-choice-voting, and proportional allocation of presidential electoral votes (like Maine & Nebraska) for all states
My parents had 7 children in less than 10 years, and in addition took in foster children for Iowa DHS. Public school educators helped me take advantage of summer camp, exchange student, and summer-research scholarship opportunities. I also attended Iowa's two largest community colleges & public universities. I support granting public K-12 educators an occupation-specific lower income tax status. Teach for America programs should be improved with mentors and more generously funded. Federal grants that incentivize public education best practices for states may be part of the mix. I advocate for robust federal support for quality, universal pre-K programs- an investment in future socioeconomic equality. Teachers tell me some national educational standards are poorly defined, interfere with teaching, and should be scrapped. I will remain forever receptive to input from Iowa's public educators to collaborate for the best solutions moving forward. School-focused COVID-19 assistance funds.
I have practiced environmental conservation throughout my life. I installed a geothermal system in one home, bought among the most fuel-efficient vehicles, and have worked to reduce waste products beyond recycling alone. I made great efforts to learn about sustainable agriculture and actively promote the implementation of those practices with community groups such as Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Pesticide Action Network. I plan to co-sponsor and participate in crafting the "Growing Climate Solutions Act" that has been introduced in the Senate to establish a market with economic incentives for carbon sequestration for our farmers. I support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act- or similar legislation, that imposes taxes on carbon release. We need objective evaluation of the renewable fuel industry and continued economic incentive programs promoting wind & solar. Tax incentives for energy-efficient construction, heating & cooling, & electric cars should be continued for now
Campaign Phone (319) 333-4449
Twitter @RickStewart
The best solution based on current information is for everyone to voluntarily wear a facemask and maintain social distancing in public.

Wearing masks won’t eliminate Covid, but it will minimize it. It is only because of politicians’ pandering that mask wearing has become a political statement instead of a public health response.

Mandating masks to be worn has actually produced a divided citizenry, rather than a united one. Were they 100% voluntary there would actually be more people wearing masks than there are today, because people would not feel there was any political statement to be made by not wearing one.

Scientists and the media should be more honest in their Covid clickbait, however. Many people have had Covid (I have), only a small minority of them have died (I didn’t), and the vast majority of those who died had multiple comorbidities.

Here’s the inconvenient truth - Covid kills unhealthy old people.
Government can never improve the economy, it can only retard it. Political intervention always distorts market signals and incentivises people to do the wrong thing, resulting in suboptimal outcomes.

As a politician I would eliminate all the government rules and regulations that throttle the economy. Deregulate banks. No more bailouts. No more government backed housing loans or student loans. End occupational licensing. Let health insurance be sold across state lines (as the Constitution mandates). Adopt a free trade policy. Stop monopolizing the currency (let private banks issue private bank notes). No more laws longer than 5 pages. An income tax system that allows everyone to file their taxes on a postcard, because there are no deductions, credits, allowances, etc.

The list is endless, but the concept is simple.

Get the government out of the economy.
The Covid clickbait media has not told the truth here. Covid kills unhealthy old people. Poor people are more likely to be unhealthy. Black people are more likely to be poor. To eliminate inequality you must remove the barriers to moving out of poverty.

End the racist Drug War. It can be done instantaneously, results will arrive quickly. Instead of rotting in prisons at huge taxpayer expense, black fathers can be employed, with their families, raising their children.

Eliminate all means tested welfare programs and replace them with a Universal Basic Income (UBI). This progressive idea works because it benefits poor people by transferring money from less poor people, while removing disincentives to work. No one will fall below the poverty line, everyone who wants one will have a job.

Well intentioned people have utterly failed to understand the bankruptcy of means tested programs, because they do not know their economics. Let’s start doing things right.
This question is misleading. Everyone in America who wants it, has health care. What they do not necessarily have is the means to pay for it.

This is because of government meddling in healthcare & health insurance. Once the government gets out, the private sector will be able to slash prices, increase quality, and increase availability, just as they have in every other industry where the government does not meddle (think about who has iPhones). Everyone receiving the Universal Basic Income will have the money with which to buy inexpensive private health insurance that suits their preferences. Some suggest the premiums be withheld automatically from the monthly UBI checks, I tend to agree.

Employer sponsored health insurance was the original sin, it needs to end. Do employers sponsor auto insurance? House insurance? Are both of these universally available and priced competitively? No, no, and yes.

In short - get the government out, watch costs plummet and quality increase.
Of course I support the right to vote for all qualified citizens. We already have it. The only question is - what are the qualifications? I suggest the only requirement be that you are 18 years old. I find all other qualifications fatuous.

Able to vote is a different question. We have already more or less solved that problem with absentee ballots.

An even better solution is to simply build a secure electronic voting system. This is not technically difficult, nor is it beyond our means. Blockchain technology can easily provide the solution. It just requires political courage.
Get the Federal government out of it. Get State governments out of it. Local control of local schools produces far superior results.

One additional tweak should solve 98% of the remaining problem. Let the money follow the student. If the student and her parents want to take advantage of public schools, the public schools get the money. If they want to take advantage of private schools, the private schools get the money. Parents and children can decide for themselves where the best educational opportunities are, competition between will do the rest, just as it has done in every industry where it is allowed to operate.
There is only one feasible idea for a ‘government solution’ to the global warming problem - a carbon tax.

The trick is not letting the politicians get their hands on the tax money. I eliminate this possibility by issuing an annual Universal Basic Energy (UBE) check to every citizen of a country which imposes a carbon tax. One world wide tax rate will be set to bring carbon emissions under control, it can be adjusted annually as needed. The money will be distributed on a per capita basis, worldwide, thus it will be a progressive tax, and all the incentives will be pointing in the right direction.

You may have noticed I am not a fan of government trying to ‘solve problems,’ as the cure is routinely worse than the disease. Pollution is an exception. The costs of pollution must be internalized by polluters, a tax on pollution is the economically efficient way of doing so. Do it with a carbon tax.