Mike Broihier | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Mike Broihier

Political party: 
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 vision is one where the nation acknowledges its centuries-old extractive relationship with Kentucky where first timber, then coal, were stripped out of the state and the residents were abandoned with ill-health, pollution, crumbling infrastructure and poverty. My vision includes a federal plan that addresses the wrongs done, not just to Kentucky, but all of Appalachia’s coal producing states, were the entire region’s infrastructure (roads, waterways, bridges, schools, hospitals) are rebuilt or improved in a comprehensive manner where the work is done by union workers or workers getting paid the prevailing wage. Instead of working underground, retrained workers would work in the solar and wind powered energy field on the grounds of reclaimed coal mines. In my vision of Kentucky, we are a commonwealth where our education system, infrastructure and skilled workers instead of tax breaks are a lure for businesses.

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?

I envision a tax structure where all profit is taxed in a graduated system, not just the income of those who work. Whether it’s an individual or corporation, if you’re net value is more on Dec. 31 than it was on Jan. 1, you’re going to be taxed. By removing exemptions and loopholes, like allowing the very rich to pay a lower Capital Gains tax vice income tax, I’d ensure that the very wealthy are paying their fair share. I also believe that the tax system can be used to reinforce positive behavior. For example, green energy improvements, climate change mitigation actions, savings for higher education are all areas that I’d feel comfortable in incentivizing.

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 support a single-payer health care system and I think the fastest way there is through expanding the ACA with a Medicare Option. My first priority would be to authorize HHS to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Second, I’d reauthorize all of our healthcare agencies (HHS, CDC, NIH, etc.) to return to science-based policy making, getting rid of ideological proscriptions against gathering data on gun violence, benefits of marijuana use, etc. Lastly, while I don’t specifically oppose Medicare For All, I can’t see a path forward without an intermediary step like enhanced ACA.

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?

Immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are all unique cases despite the Trump administrations attempt to paint them all as one evil mob. The first step is to rebuild and refund the Department of State which has been under attack for the last three years. Engaging with all four groups should start overseas with a fully functional State Department not at points of entry. The latter two are protected under international conventions to which we are signatories. We need to follow existing law on their protected status and stop contributing to conditions that cause them to flee their homes to start with. As America ages and we approach full employment there is a growing need for both migrants and immigrants to keep our economy afloat. I’d rather see labor organizations for both skilled and unskilled work helping to obtain migrant visas than individual companies. For immigrants, I’d open the door to anyone who is of good character and wants to contribute to our nation.

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?

Climate change, ultimately, will respect no boundary. Leading the world in transitioning to a green economy will be a great first step in mitigating climate change but also provide huge economic benefits for working Americans, raising wages and increasing awareness for the need for better education as we move into a post-industrialism era. The Green New Deal annunciates a vision where good jobs at good wages are a solution to our growing climate crisis and I support it.

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.

For decades, tracking the growth and behavior of White Supremacist groups has fallen solely on non-governmental groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Jewish Defense League and the NAACP when it should have been the portfolio of the FBI and national anti-terrorism agencies. Those selfless groups should continue to provide oversight, but the burden of tracking all hate groups and those who espouse violence should be done by the federal government. Congress needs to be wary of prior restraint, free-speech and privacy concerns but legislating against ideologies that espouse violence and discrimination is surely constitutional. If elected, I’d have two priorities in addition to environmental and voting issues discussed in this questionnaire. The first, readdress the status of our treaties with indigenous nations. I’d form an independent commission to examine all existing claims of tribal sovereignty and associated treaties with the United States to ensure that the promises made over a long period of time are collected, reconciled and reaffirmed by Congress. Secondly, I would support a commission to address reparations for the descendants of formerly enslaved persons.

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?

I envision a country where incarceration is the last resort, where the first time a person receives health care or dental care or treatment for mental illness or addiction isn’t behind bars. Mass incarceration gives lie to the those who claim to be fiscal conservatives because study after study prove that money spent on programs as diverse as universal pre-K education, school nutrition and drug use prevention pay huge dividends on the back end in preventing incarceration. I am, therefore, committed to ending mass incarceration and educating the nation, as best as possible, in the efficacy, moral and economic, of investing in people before they run afoul of the law.

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 fully support the restoration of voting rights for prior felons on both the state and federal level. In light of the previous question which highlights the disproportionate jailing of people of color, restoration of voting rights is as much about individual fairness as it is about equal representation. The Voting Rights Advancement Act would go far to codify rules regarding the supervision of states that have repeatedly and flagrantly acted in an unconstitutional manner and has my full support.

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?

Yes, and yes. Just Transition and the BLDTF aren’t just about mitigating past damage but acknowledging where responsibility for those damages lie. By blocking these bills, politicians, most notably Mitch McConnell, shift the cost of righting wrongs from corporations (and large donors) onto taxpayers. The inequity of this shift has grown starker as the current administration has rolled back environmental regulations that will only exacerbate poor living conditions in coal country. I will fight to reinstate environmental regulations that place the responsibility for clean operation and mitigation where it belongs, on those who seek to profit from an extractive economy. My wife and I are farmers. We run our operation on sustainable principles: no chemical pesticides or herbicides, no GMO seedstock and no prophylactic hormones or antibiotics. It is a more challenging path, but you can make a living while being good stewards of the land. There is no reason that everyone shouldn’t be held to the same high standard we set for ourselves.

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?

A decade ago, as editor of a weekly rural newspaper, I argued in an editorial titled, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Care,” that the only people who cared about LGBTQ people in the military were preachers and politicians and they only cared because they thought my readers cared. I said, in my wife’s and my combined 40-years in the military, we knew few people who cared about this issue. Those who go in harm’s way care only about dependability, integrity and intrepidity, not who someone loves. Shockingly, it was well received. What I learned was that even rural, conservative, religious people are open to progressive ideas presented with reason, patience and an appeal to fairness. While I believe that the 14th Amendment should be enough and acknowledge that it is unfair to urge patience on those whose rights are being denied, I’d point to the progress of the Fairness Campaign as they’ve won the passage of ordinances in over a dozen cities. I will argue on the basis of fairness and legislate on the basis of Equal Protection that discrimination because of sexual orientation or sexual identity, in any form and in any forum is morally wrong and legally unconstitutional.