U.S. Congress 11Th District - Democrat
Andy Levin is currently the congressman for Michigan’s 9th District, a position he has held since 2019. He previously held positions as the acting director, State of Michigan Department of Labor, Energy and Economic Growth; state chief workforce officer, State of Michigan Department of Labor, Energy and Economic Growth; and deputy director, State of Michigan Department of Labor, Energy and Economic Growth. A resident of Bloomfield Township, he is a graduate of Williams College, received a master’s degree in Asian languages and cultures from University of Michigan and a law degree from Harvard Law School, and is a past president of Congregation T’Chiyah, founder of Detroit Jews for Justice, and has been involved with National Skills Coalition and Michigan AIDS Coalition.
Both political parties have consistently offered support for Israel, initially as it was the lone democratic state in the Middle East. However, in the last decade there has been a growing divide in that support, with the rise of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses, continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, and the lack of focus by this and the last administration to address the two-state solution. Where do you align on the issue of Israeli and Palestinian concerns and economic support of Israel? Is it a religious issue or a democracy issue?
I have always supported a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people and realizing the political and human rights of the Palestinian people. I’m pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, and pro-peace. These goals are intertwined, which is why U.S. policy has always (except during the Trump years) supported a two-state solution. I am the author of the Two-State Solution Act, which helps move things in that direction. My legislation supports our aid to Israel, and I have voted to replenish Iron Dome. I oppose BDS. While I respect the right of individuals and organizations to engage in boycotts, I don’t consider BDS a helpful vehicle to produce a two-state reality that assures the rights of both people. I speak out against violence and human rights violations all around, and continue to oppose house demolitions, evictions of families from their land, settlement expansions, and other moves that make a peaceful settlement more difficult.
Build Back Better Act
Is the $1.9 trillion spending plan known as the Build Back Better Act dead or is there a chance that it can be revived yet in 2022? What aspects of it do you feel are imperative for the Democrats to enact for voters?
As a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, I worked hard to ensure that the House passed the strongest possible version of the Build Back Better Act (BBBA). The BBBA is a life changing, once-in-a-generation investment in critical programs to make life better and lower costs in the face of inflation by providing affordable childcare to all families, universal pre-K for three- and four- year-olds, reducing prescription drug prices, increasing affordable housing, tackling climate change in a serious way at long last and more. I have called on the 50 Democrats in the Senate to pass as much of BBBA as they can agree on ASAP, and on President Biden to use his executive authority to enact key priorities in the package that would bring relief and lift Americans out of poverty, such as education and expanding health care coverage.
Title 42, which allowed the federal government to turn back immigrants at the border during a public health crisis such as COVID-19, was due to expire at the end of May. Estimates are that Title 42 allowed the U.S. to turn away some two million immigrants in the past couple of years. Southern states in particular are concerned, along with critics in general, that the current administration lacks a clear policy of how to deal with immigrants at our southern border. Further, several groups are calling for a complete overhaul of the immigration policy. What do you feel is needed in terms of an immigration policy at this time?
Title 42 prevents people from even making a claim for asylum, and thus is highly problematic under U.S. and international law. It is also discriminatory, since it impacts Black and Brown people seeking to enter our country the most. I’ve been active on this issue for decades, ever since I co-founded a group called Immigration Reform, Advocacy, Training and Education after Congress passed Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. We need comprehensive reform that allows the millions of undocumented immigrants who have lived, worked and paid taxes here for years to come out of the shadows. We need to increase legal immigration. And we need to take on the causes of illegal immigration by dealing with climate change, corruption, violence and poverty in our neighboring countries to our south.
National health care insurance
We often hear the concept that health care is a right for everyone. But it would appear that candidates have a slightly different approach for how to handle health insurance. Please explain in detail your health insurance policy position and the potential cost to the government/taxpayers for this.
One of the most deeply disturbing realities in our nation is the disparity in the access and delivery of health care. Big Pharma rakes in billions in profits while working people are forced to turn to crowdfunding websites to pay medical bills. We can close health care gaps and make quality, affordable health available to all who reside in our nation. That’s why I’m a proud original cosponsor of the Medicare for All Act to extend comprehensive health care coverage including mental health, dental, vision and long-term care that have remained inaccessible for too many Americans under our current system. Expanding and enhancing Medicare, a program that millions of American seniors have relied on since 1965, is one of the best ways to achieve universal health care in the United States. What’s more, the American public is behind us: 70 percent support Medicare for All.
Student debt issue
Payments on college student loans have been delayed during the pandemic but loan payments are expected to resume later this fall. At the same time, there has been a steady call for part or all of student debt to be forgiven. Do you favor forgiving student loans? If so, should this be accomplished through executive order or passage in Congress? Please explain.
I was proud to vote for the CARES Act and the HEROES Act that included suspension of student loan payments. I’ve also long championed the President canceling up to $50,000 in student loan debt, which disproportionately burdens Black and Brown communities. This step would help millions suffering from inflation and help young people buy homes and start families and businesses. We also must address how we got to the point of having over $1.5 T of student debt in the first place. President Biden embraced my America’s College Promise Act for precisely this reason. My bill would guarantee two years of free community college and similarly help with two years of study at HBCU’s. As higher education costs continue to soar, post-secondary education – a much needed ticket into the middle class – is increasingly out of reach for many students.
Congress during the last administration lowered the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent but the Biden administration wants to restore the top tax rate for 39.6 percent for joint filers making $450k and individuals making $400k. Do you support the increase in the top tax rate? Are there other tax reforms that you support? Please explain.
Yes, I am in favor of having the richest one percent pay their fair share of taxes. Wealth inequality in this country is more extreme than any time in the last 100 years. Billionaires at the top have 196 times more wealth than the bottom 90 percent of Americans combined. It’s unacceptable that Michigan nurses and police officers pay more in taxes than people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. I also favor tax incentives to buy electric vehicles (with a bump for those that are union made in the USA) and resuming and extending the expanded Child Tax Credit to support poor and middle-class families.
2020 presidential election results
Do you accept the presidential election results of 2020 in Michigan? Will you accept the results of the 2022 primary and general election? Explain why or why not.
Yes, 100 percent. President Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election and made history with Vice President Kamala Harris. And yes, I will accept the results of the 2022 primary and general elections because I have more than just faith in our election systems and democratic processes. I have seen Governor Whitmer, Secretary of State Benson, and Attorney General Nessel act to protect and defend Michigan’s elections. We should all be proud of their hard work and dedication. Trump’s Big Lie has caused voters to fear for and question their safety while carrying out their civic duty. That’s why I introduced legislation with Senator Jon Ossoff to protect election workers and polling places from threats of violence and intimidation.
Your top issues
What would you list as your top three-five issues that you hope to address in this next term of Congress?
I’ve been laser-focused on making sure that Michiganders have affordable health care, access to quality educational and training opportunities, clean water and more. I am also focused on fighting against climate change and defending our voting rights and the human rights of all. We have got to address our nation’s gun violence epidemic. We need common sense reform measures like universal background checks, gun violence restraining orders, and robust enforcement of the bump stock ban. I introduced a bill to protect our kids from gun violence after the Oxford High School shootings. Finally, I have been fighting to protect the abortion rights of every single American. Every person in this country should be able to make decisions about their own body and their own life.
Why voters should select you
Tell us why voters should select you over your opponent in this race. Please be specific in drawing your comparisons.
First, I am deeply rooted here. My great grandparents were the first Jewish family in Birmingham in the 1890s. My four kids are the fifth generation of my family to live in the new 11th District. Second, I will always lead based on my deepest values and never make decisions out of political expediency or advantage. Third, my efforts to make progress for working families fit this district like a glove, whether it’s fighting for universal healthcare, workers’ rights, human rights around the world, the free community college bill embraced by President Biden, or to transform our economy to reverse climate change. Finally, I’m a more effective pragmatist, I started a successful business here and know the struggle to make payroll. I work across the aisle more effectively, having passed legislation to prevent veteran suicides, help poor moms access nutrition for their newborns, and more.
Haley Stevens is currently in her second term as congresswoman for Michigan’s 11th District. She previously was chief of staff to the United States Auto Rescue in the Obama Administration, as special advisor to the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administrator. She is active with Women in Manufacturing and the Pontiac Farmers Market, and is a frequent speaker at her alma mater, Seaholm High School. A resident of Waterford Township, she earned both bachelor’s and masters degrees from American University.
I am proud of my commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and will continue working in Congress to support policies that strengthen our alliance. I will stand alongside Israel against the BDS movement, which seeks to undermine Israel’s economy and legitimacy. I believe in Israel’s fundamental right to self-defense. As the only democracy in the Middle East and our strongest ally in the region, Israel’s safety is paramount to American interests at home and abroad. I believe in the worth and value of every Palestinian and every Israeli and will work to support a negotiated solution resulting in two states – a democratic Jewish State of Israel, and a viable, democratic Palestinian state – living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition. In my re-election effort I am proud to have the endorsements of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Democratic Majority for Israel, and the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
Build Back Better Act
The top issue I hear about from my constituents is that costs for working families are too high. Build Back Better is a cost cutting package for hard working Americans. Lack of access to affordable childcare is one of the main reasons women have been unable to return to work post-pandemic. This plan would ensure that no family spends over 7 percent of their income on child care. Drug costs are forcing seniors to make impossible choices between things like heating their house, or paying for medications. This is a reality that we must refuse to accept. Americans are tired of partisanship and political games which is why I want to see stand alone votes on the elements of this bill that have been negotiated and have bipartisan support. The House passed a bill to cap insulin at $35 dollars per month. I urge the Senate to take it up immediately.
Unfortunately, our immigration system is broken and needs