Eric Rothmuller | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Eric Rothmuller

Political party: 
Democrat
Incumbent: 
No
Question 1: 

What’s your vision for Kentucky? How will the lives of Kentuckians be improved as a result of your time in office?

My campaign isn't just about Kentucky, the vast majority of Americans are struggling. America is the wealthiest country in the world but we're also world leaders in income and wealth inequality. Over 500,000 Americans are homeless every night, nearly half of all workers make less than $30k a year, credit card debt is over $1 trillion, student loan debt is over $1.5 trillion, and while productivity and corporate profits are at record highs, most Americans still live paycheck to paycheck.

It's not just income and wealth inequality either, it's political inequality. The Supreme Court's decisions on Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and Citizens United (2010) have allowed big money to flow into the political process which has led to the literal buying of elections and a government that doesn't reflect the will of the people. Research clearly shows that today in America the bottom 90% of income earners have virtually zero impact on legislation passed.

All of my policy positions are aimed at reversing our current trajectory, restoring democracy, and transforming our system into one that works for all Americans. As one of the poorer and more disenfranchised states in the union, Kentucky will be positively affected more than others.

Question 2: 

How would you create a more equitable federal tax structure – where everyone pays their fair share – that raises adequate revenue, fights poverty,  and invests in under-resourced communities and the services we all need?

In order to ensure corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share, I will vote for and fight to:

- Pass an annual tax on the extreme wealth of the top 0.1% of U.S. Households (which will only affect roughly 200,000 families whom hold about 20% of the entire wealth in this country).

- Establish a progressive estate tax on multi-millionaire and billionaire inheritances.

- End special tax breaks on dividends and capital gains for the wealthy.

- Establish a Wall Street speculation tax. - Eliminate many tax loopholes that allow corporations and the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

- Eliminate all tax havens that allow corporations and the wealthy to hide money from taxation.

- Increase the top marginal tax rate on incomes above $10 million.

The revenue generated from ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share will help fund many programs that benefit normal Americans like guaranteeing tuition-free public college, universities, trade schools, and minority serving institutions; eliminating student loan debt; creating millions of good paying jobs by investing in green renewable energies and our infrastructure; eliminating medical debt; and providing universal healthcare for all Americans though Medicare For All.

Question 3: 

What would you do to make sure that every Kentuckian has quality, affordable health care? What are your top health policy priorities, and what approaches to health care coverage do you support? Do you support Medicare For All?

I fully support Medicare For All. Our current health care system leaves us paying the most in the world, 32,000 - 45,000 Americans dying because their either uninsured or underinsured, and over 500,000 Americans going bankrupt with medical bills being a contributing factor. Those advocating for simply expanding the Affordable Care Act are advocating for a system that still leaves millions of Americans uninsured, tens of thousands dying, hundreds of thousands going bankrupt, and Americans still paying the most in the world, all so that the Health Insurance Industry can rake in hundreds of billions in profit.

I believe it is beyond time that we join the rest of the industrialized world in providing healthcare to all Americans through a single payer health care system. For those whom don't know what single payer system is, it simply means that the government is the sole insurer. Every industrialized country in the world has one version or another of a single payer system, they cover all of their people, pay about half the price as us, and no one goes bankrupt or dies because they lack health insurance. Medicare For All is a single payer system and it's a damn good one.

Question 4: 

Do you support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for young people and adults? What are your plans to expand support and resources for immigrants and refugees, undocumented or otherwise?

I fully support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. We are a nation of immigrants. Outside of the native american people, all of our families came here from somewhere else. America has consistently been world leaders on the amount of legal immigrants and refugees we accept into our country. In believe this tradition is morally correct and extremely beneficial to us all. Here are some of the policies I support:

- Reinstate and expand DACA and DAPA.

- Provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

- Stop construction on the ineffective U.S.-Mexico border wall and invest in more innovative methods to counter the threats of drug importation and human trafficking. -

Overturn the Trump administration's Muslim Ban and pass legislation that'll limit the President's ability to target classes of people and restrict or suspend their entry.

- Protect sanctuary cities from being denied Federal funding.

- Eliminate ICE and CBP (both were created in 2003) and have their responsibilities go back to their previous departments.

- Establish a more humane and fair review process for asylum claims.

- Appoint more immigration judges to hear asylum and immigration cases quicker.

- End for-profit immigration detention facilities and ensure no families are separated at detention facilities.

Question 5: 

Is dealing with the climate crisis a high priority for you, and if so, do you support federal legislation for a Green New Deal? How would you ensure that solutions to the climate crisis benefit all Kentuckians – no matter the color of our skin, income, immigration status, or zip code?

The science is settled. Climate change is real and we must take immediate action. It's a global emergency and the United States should be leading the fight. It’s the right thing to do morally, logically, and economically. There are millions of jobs waiting for us in the renewable energy sector if we choose to be leaders in this fight. I will vote for and fight for the following:

- The Green New Deal.

- Rejoining The Paris Agreement.

- Investing in the research and development of green renewable technology which will lead to millions of new jobs here in America.

- Setting progressive limits on carbon emissions to get our companies and consumers to cut carbon pollution in half by 2030 and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

- Financial support to the Green Climate Fund.

- Ensure displaced fossil fuel and coal workers (not executives) get preferential treatment in the hiring process for new jobs created in the renewable energy sector.

We only have one planet Earth and we all call this home. All countries must come together and work together to solve this problem.

Question 6: 

What is the role of the U.S. Congress in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people, Latinx people, immigrants, those who are undocumented, and all people of color in our country? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose while in office to address racial and systemic inequalities.

The United States Congress plays a vital role in ensuring that the protections granted to people by the United States Constitution are upheld and in protecting people from discrimination in areas where the Constitution falls short. Here are just some of the initiatives I will fight for while in office that address racial and systemic inequalities:

- Restoration of voting rights for all Americans whom have had their voting rights taken away and ensuring the right to vote of every American citizen over 18 years of age shall never be taken away.

- Making Election Day a national holiday.

- Automatic voter registration.

- End voter suppression and gerrymandering.

- End redlining practices that still exist.

- Raise the Federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and tie it to inflation so we don't have to keep having this fight. Raising the minimum wage will increase the wages of over 30% of African-American and Latinx workers.

- Prioritize infrastructure spending on poverty stricken communities.

- Guarantee tuition and debt-free public colleges, universities, trade-schools, and minority serving institutions (HBCUs & Tribal Colleges) and eliminate student loan debt.

- Guarantee health care to all Americans through Medicare For All and eliminate medical debt.

- Refocusing police training on deescalation and community service.

Question 7: 

Kentucky has the ninth highest incarceration rate in the nation, is second in the nation for incarcerating women, and has the second-highest rate in the country of children separated from a parent due to incarceration. In addition, Black Kentuckians make up 8.3 percent of the state population but 21 percent of the state’s incarcerated population. Are you committed to ending mass incarceration in Kentucky and in the United States as a whole? Why or why not? If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration and reinvesting resources into the communities most impacted by this system?

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. We account for only 5% of the world’s population but we have nearly 20% of the world's prison population. Our system focuses more on punishing people and does very little in terms of focusing on rehabilitation and trying to reduce recidivism. There are many things we can do to address these issues and here are just some of the policies I support and will fight for:

- Legalize marijuana, expunge past marijuana convictions, and decriminalize all drugs with an emphasis on rehabilitation.

- Release all non-violent drug offenders.

- Institute a just transition program for prisoners upon release.

- End cash bail.

- Ban for-profit prisons.

- Abolish three strikes laws, mandatory minimum sentences, and the death penalty.

- Institute a housing for all program to address homelessness.

- Allow certain types of felony convictions to be expunged after the sentence is served and a decided amount of time has passed with no other convictions.

- Refocus our criminal justice system into one that focuses less on punitive measures and more on rehabilitation programs. This includes investing in rehabilitation programs for those incarcerated, on probation, or on parole.

Question 8: 

Do you support restoring voting rights to Kentuckians with felonies in their past? Specifically, do you support the Democracy Restoration Act to restore voting rights to people upon release from prison for purposes of voting in federal elections? Do you support restoring the Voting Rights Advancement Act to ensure strong federal oversight of state and local governments with a history of voter suppression aimed at communities of color? Please explain.

I do support restoring voting rights to all Americans with felonies convictions. In my view, the Democracy Restoration Act doesn't go far enough because it doesn't allow people currently serving felony convictions the right to vote. I would support the Democracy Restoration Act but would propose an amendment to ensure that the vote will never be taken away. I personally believe all American citizens 18 years of age and older should have an inalienable right to vote and that right should never be infringed.

I do support the Voting Rights Advancement Act. It's clear many states and local governments have been participating in gerrymandering and voter suppression. The Federal Government needs to step in and provide oversight to help curb these discriminatory and undemocratic practices.

Question 9: 

Do you support proposed Just Transition bills in Congress to take care of coal miners and communities by investing in abandoned mine land reclamation (H.R. 2156 and H.R. 4248) and extending current funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for another 10 years (H.R. 3876 and S.3171)? Why or why not?

I support all four bills. Coal country has been hit hard. Many don't see light at the end of the tunnel and I don't blame them. The coal industry is dying. Trump and other politicians can tell you they're going to save the coal industry but I won't lie to you. They can't, I can't, and you can't. The market has spoken and coal power is ever increasingly becoming a thing of the past. The people of coal country are the ones that suffer. They're left with economic troubles, environmental issues, and health issues. We must invest in these communities and take care of our people.

Beyond those four bills, I will also fight for amendments to be added to any bill that has to do with investing in renewable energies (which I support) so that a transition plan is laid out for displaced fossil fuel and coal workers (not executives) be implemented where those displaced workers get preferential treatment in the hiring process for new renewable energy jobs. I will also fight to get those jobs located in communities affected by job loss due to our divesting in the fossil fuel and coal industries.

Question 10: 

What will you do to support LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) Kentuckians? What will you do to protect people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

I am proud to have seen so much progress made in this country over the course of my lifetime in support of the LGBTQ+ community but there's still work to be done. The law still allows discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community in many areas of their lives and this needs to be changed. Here are some of the policies I support and will fight for:

- Support for any bill that protects against LGBTQ+ discrimination.

- Pass The Equality Act.

- Pass The Student Non-Discrimination Act and The Safe Schools Improvement Act

- Oppose any legislation aimed at protecting religious liberty at the expense of others' rights.

- Institute a ban conversion therapy.

- Expand affirmative civil rights testing for anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

- Expand the Fair Housing Act to make it illegal to deny housing to any LGBTQ+ person.

- Make it illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people by banks, and creditors.

- Institute anti-discrimination protections for workers by supporting the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act.

- Repeal the Trump Administration's ban on transgender people from serving in the military.