U.S. CONGRESS - 9TH DISTRICT
Levin lives in Bloomfield Township, attended University of Michigan and received his law degree from Harvard. He was the acting director for the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Growth, and Chief Workforce Officer for the state of Michigan. He currently run an energy company.
When President Trump came to office, he began to roll back a number of environmental regulations enacted by the past administration and reversed a number of decisions dating back to the Clinton administration that were designed to promote a cleaner environment. Do you support the administration’s efforts to minimize environmental regulations?
We have a moral obligation to protect and preserve our land, air and water, starting with our Great Lakes. We have to tackle overtaxed and outdated sewer systems that threaten waterways like the Clinton River and add pollutants to Lake St. Clair. Indeed, we need to protect our water not just in the wilderness, but also in Flint and every other city. Above all, we must address climate change with tremendous urgency. Saving our planet and our people from global warming is a moral imperative, but it's also an economic opportunity. I created Lean & Green Michigan to help businesses and non-profits retrofit their buildings for energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy like solar. We have facilitated almost $13 million in clean energy projects, creating well-paying jobs, making our businesses more efficient and competitive, and reducing our carbon footprint. I know from experience that we can speed the deployment of electric vehicles, solar, wind, biomass, and other clean energy along with advanced batteries to store the new energy we create. In Congress, I will help make our state a leader in clean energy technology, which will create reliable, good-paying jobs, protect the environment and keep communities safe from pollutants.
Do you support the tax cuts enacted by Congress at the urging of the Trump administration? Explain your position.
No, I do not. The GOP tax plan gave corporations and the wealthiest Americans a huge, permanent windfall while working families got tiny cuts that expire after several years. This plan was not a reform; it was a shakedown. How unfair was it? The richest 1 percent of Americans will reap 83 percent of the benefit. Especially given that the distribution of income and wealth in this country is already the most unfair it’s been in a century, that’s a moral obscenity. Let’s implement a fair tax system where corporations and the wealthy pay their share to fix our roads, protect Social Security and Medicare, and provide quality education for every child.
In the most recent budget adopted by Congress, and in tax legislation approved by both the House and Senate, the national debt has continued to skyrocket. There has been talk of Congress now attempting to reduce the deficit by cutting back on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Do you support trimming these programs to reduce the budget? Are there other areas of the budget that should be targeted to bring the budget back under control and over time reduce the national debt?
No, we should not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid in order to balance the budget. These programs are the safety net for the middle class, and we must not only protect them but improve and expand them. The Trump tax giveaway adds $1 trillion to the national debt, so start by repealing that. Then let’s cut back on the massive $700 billion increase in defense spending approved in the omnibus budget Congress approved in March. We need to maintain a strong defense that maintains our military superiority over other countries, but we can trim military spending further without calling that into question. We should emphasize diplomacy and multilateralism rather than acting as the world’s policeman. And we need to turn back to nuclear disarmament, reducing our stockpiles along with those of Russia, China and others, further decreasing spending that way.
NATIONAL HEALTH CARE
Despite attempts by the current administration and Republican members of Congress, a substantial number of persons continue to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare. What is your position on the current Affordable Care Act and the issue of a national health care plan in general?
Health care is a basic human right. Period. Having access to quality health care and affordable prescription drugs shouldn't be contingent upon your zip code. As a cancer survivor and the father of two sons who live with Crohn's disease, I understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll of chronic illness and why it is so important that we pass Medicare for All and address the astronomical costs of prescription drugs. If elected, I will fight any efforts by the Trump administration to deprive Michigan families of medical care, I will work to fix problems with the ACA, and I will work to ensure access to health care for every American.
President Trump has eliminated the policy governing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that granted deportation relief for immigrants who came here as children (under the age of 16), which was created in 2012 by the Obama administration. Do you support continuation of the DACA program? Should Congress move to find a common ground that will provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants?
Yes, I support continuation of the DACA program. Trump should never have ended the program, and his legal reasoning has been rejected by the courts. Ending DACA would represent a humanitarian and economic disaster for our state. Michigan stands to lose $13 million in local and state taxes and $400 million in economic activity each year if our Dreamers are deported. We must provide these bright young people with a path to citizenship. I also support broader immigration reform. I’ve been active on this issue for decades, ever since I co-founded a group called Immigration Reform, Advocacy, Training and Education after the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed in 1986. There are approximately 11 million undocumented people in this country. The vast majority of them are working, contributing to the economy, living peacefully, and doing nothing more than my own ancestors did – seeking a better life in America. The 9th District is full of such families. We need a reasonable system where people who have spent “x” number of years living, working and paying taxes here, can become citizens of this country over time. Ripping families with clean records apart simply because they came to the U.S. illegally or overstayed a visa many years ago is immoral and counterproductive. With birth rates dropping, we need immigrants to help revitalize our cities and inner suburbs and fill out our workforce, which otherwise will face critical shortages in the years ahead.
What is your position on the need for added gun control legislation? Which, if any, of the following gun control measures could you support: Requiring expanded background checks? Background checks at gun shows? Banning bump stocks? Raising the age on the purchase of weapons? Banning military style weapons?
As the father of four kids educated in public schools, the bottom drops out of my stomach every time one of these tragedies strikes. As a person of faith, I’m sick of hearing the “thoughts and prayers” coming from the very people who are supposed to take action. Congress does nothing because the Republican party is beholden to the NRA. We need universal background checks, gun violence restraining orders, a new assault weapons ban, a bump stock ban, and more. It will likely take a movement like those for civil rights, women’s rights and the environment to tackle the epidemic of gun violence. We have to build this movement, and young people are leading the way. I will not accept money from the NRA. I will fight for sensible gun policies, which is why I’ve received the Gun Sense Candidate distinction from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
AUTHORIZING MILITARY ACTIONS
Should this or any President be required to consult with Congress before sending our military forces into foreign countries?
Absolutely, the President should be required to consult with Congress before sending our military forces into foreign countries. But that isn’t enough. We need to elect people to Congress who will work to shift our foreign policy, which is stuck in the imperialist mindset. I organized demonstrations against the Iraq War, and would have voted against it had I been in Congress at the time. It’s been a huge disaster and created a mess that spawned ISIS. Jimmy Carter’s saber rattling response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 helped give us Osama bin Laden – we literally funded his group back then. I believe we should shift our efforts towards peace, diplomacy, cultural exchange, and providing significant aid to developing countries (which costs a small fraction of military intervention) and try to prevent and solve some of these problems instead of taking sides by arming various parties.
The current administration has expressed its desire to withdraw from many of the international trade agreements entered into by past administrations. The President has also authorized import tariffs in recent months. Do you agree with the President on the trade agreements? What will the impact be of the import tariffs?
With Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs (like everything else), he acts or tweets without thinking or listening. But politicians are just as wrong when they overlook American workers' justifiable frustration over the series of bad trade deals and economic policies pursued by China and others that led to Trump’s tariff action. We need a fighter in Congress who will stand up for trade policies that protect workers’ rights and end the race to the economic bottom for workers around the world. It’s time for a new trade regime aimed not at freeing capital to move all the work where wages are lowest, worker safety regulations are the weakest and environmental protections lacking, but rather at raising the standard of living for workers in all countries involved and protecting our one, precious planet everywhere. We need to crack down on dumping, currency manipulation, theft of intellectual property and other violations by China and any others who do the same. Let’s change our tax policies to incentivize creating good jobs at home, and increase job training and apprenticeships.
Why should a voter choose you over an opponent on the ballot?
I created and ran Union Summer for the national AFL-CIO, putting over 1,000 young people on union organizing and bargaining campaigns across the country, garnering national press coverage. I helped hundreds of nursing home workers organize for a better life in the 1980s. I created and ran No Worker Left Behind, which helped 162,000 Michigan workers attend community colleges, universities and other approved training programs for free during the Great Recession. I founded and currently run Lean & Green Michigan, which is putting people to work, reducing our carbon footprint and making our businesses more competitive by helping companies and nonprofits finance energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy improvements. I’m the only candidate in my race with significant state government, federal government and private sector experience, but also decades of hell-raising experience to demand justice for working people in this country. I’m ready to go to Washington and help lead a new movement to restore the American middle class. I’m somebody who likes to work with everyone to solve people’s problems. I got Democrats and Republicans in Lansing to come together to appropriate funds for No Worker Left Behind, and my current Lean & Green Michigan program has been adopted by very “red” counties, very “blue” counties, and everything in between. But the bottom line is that I’m a local kid who has devoted my life to fighting for people over profits. I was born and raised in this district. I’m a product of Berkley public schools and all four of our kids are graduates of or still attending public schools in the 9th District. We’re putting them through college. I know what it’s like to try to raise a family in this era when the middle class is under attack every single day. If you send me to Washington, I will not be a backbencher, but a leader in the fight for broadly shared prosperity that used to define this country, and must once again.
Stearns, of Sterling Heights, received her associates degree from Macomb Community College. She owns her own health care benefits company, and has been treasurer of the 9th District Michigan Republican Party, and served as a Macomb County Republican Party Executive Committee Member.