Recently, I interviewed Courtney Rowe who is running for Congress in Iowa Congressional District 1.
Here are the questions I asked and her responses. Following them, I will give my thoughts on them.
Question 1: The average student-loan in 2014 was $28,950, representing a 56 percent increase from the 2004 average of $18,550. During that same decade, state funding for public colleges dropped from 62 percent to 51 percent. College is free in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, while in France, public universities are free for students from lower-income families, and those from higher-income families pay about $200 a year. What would you do or support to reduce the cost of going to college or make it tuition free as it is in many nations?
- Courtney’s answer: Increase Federal funding to make state and community college (including trade school) essentially free (no more than $50-100 per class).
Question 2: The Republican-controlled Congress appears to be fighting for corporations, insurance companies and for-profit hospitals in their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Repeal would mean that 57 million senior citizens and disabled Americans with Medicare would see higher premiums and deductibles. Repeal would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over the next ten years, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. Repeal would also take Medicaid away from nearly 17 million people. I am one of the Americans who benefits from the ACA because I live with a pre-existing condition, cystinosis. The disease is a rare orphan disease that causes the amino acid cystine to accumulate in the cells, and it slowly damages my organs including the kidneys, liver, thyroid, eyes, lungs muscles, and brain. Do you support keeping the ACA?
- Courntey’s answer: Yes, until we replace it with something better.
Question 3: The ACA is a significant step forward, and we must fight to protect it. However, even with it one of my medications, Procysbi costs over $75,000 for a 30-day supply. That is just one medication not including the 24 other medications I am taking. What do you propose which would correct the errors in the ACA?
- Courtney’s answer: I support universal single payer healthcare. This is the most cost effective way to cover everyone.
In 2017, many transgender and intersex individuals still do not have access to high-quality comprehensive health care. Even when transgender and intersex individuals do access health care they are often faced with harassment and discrimination. Some of the issues that transgender and intersex individuals face include but are not limited to the follow, physicians and medical staff refusing to identify the individual by their preferred name and pronouns (for many individuals it is difficult and sometimes even impossible for transgender and intersex individuals to correct their government documents to reflect their identities because of the cost and in some states a confusing process), insurance companies (including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and VA) refuse to cover gender conforming treatments including surgery, sometimes transgender and intersex individuals are even refused care by physicians and medical staff. What would you propose to correct these wrongs?
- Courtney’s answer: I’m excited about the new TransCare clinic at Planned Parenthood in Cedar Rapids. I talked with Planned Parenthood about the deployment of this clinic. Even a place as progressive as Planned Parenthood needed training for their staff. My wife works as a Chaplain at Unity Point, and is working with their staff on making it a more inclusive environment, including designating gender neutral bathrooms. I support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and would also support a Medical Non-Discrimination Act. As far as addressing people by the correct pronouns, we could set aside funds for medical facilities who want to get the training, and add a designation medical facilities could use to identify themselves.
Question 5: Over eight in 10 (85 percent) LGBTQIA students experienced verbal harassment based on a personal characteristic, and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) experienced LGBTQ-related discrimination at school (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). Most LGBTQ students report that they’ve heard homophobic remarks (56 percent) and negative remarks about gender expression (64 percent) from school staff (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization were twice as likely to report they do not plan to pursue post-secondary education. Also, LGBTQ students who experienced high levels of anti-LGBTQ victimization and discrimination had lower GPAs, lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression (GLSEN School Climate Survey 2015). What would you do to protect LGBTQIA students? Federal Anti-discrimination law?
- Courtney’s answer: Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college. Federal funding for anti-bullying training for school administrators and teachers. Also, by making college free/cheap, we help the LGBTQIA kids who leave their homes as teenagers. Right now to apply for FAFSA you must enter your parent’s tax information until you’re 25. This means kids running from abusive homes, can’t even get loans for college.
Question 6: In 20 states and DC prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 19 states and DC prohibit discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, they include sexual orientation but not gender identity. In 20 states and DC, they prohibit discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In two other states, the include sexual orientation but not gender identity. What will you do to ensure full federal civil rights for LGBTQIA individuals?
- Courtney’s answer: I support a fully inclusive ENDA Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We can’t leave out our trans brothers, sisters, and gender non conforming siblings when we pass this legislation.
Question 7: Since 2013, there have been over 200 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week (https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/). Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that on an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns. What gun laws and or reforms do you support?
- Courtney’s answer: I think most gun laws approach this problem incorrectly. They focus on banning a type of weapon, which isn’t the cause of most gun deaths. We have to look at the people who cause these deaths to correctly address this issue. I propose a ‘Responsible Gun Owner’ law which would focus on gun safety education to address accidental shootings, minimum gun storage standards (all guns should be stored in a safe), gun buy back programs in cities to help remove guns from high crime areas, temporary gun holds for people charged with domestic violence (to prevent the high rate of current/former husband/boyfriend killings/shootings of wives/girlfriends), increased access to mental health care to prevent the high rates of suicide and murder suicides by guns.
Question 8: Do you support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship?
- Courtney’s answer: Yes. When people are not documented, they no longer have access to law enforcement to report other crimes. This makes it easier for crime to persist, and it affects everyone. We need to document everyone who is here. If people are here, not criminals, and have established a productive life here, we should document them and get them in the tax system under their own SSN. There should be a path to citizenship for those who meet the above qualifications, but it should not be a direct amnesty program.
Question 9: Do you support the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), TVDL (Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License), and UAFA (Uniting American Families Act)?
- Courtney’s answer: I’m not familiar with the specifics of each of these acts to say I support them in their current form. I support the concepts behind these acts, which is documenting everyone, not punishing people who arrived in this country as children, and not breaking up families by deporting law abiding citizens who are productive members of society.
Question 10: Do you support replacing the minimum wage with a “living wage”?
- Courtney’s answer: I support a $15 per hour minimum wage.
Question 11: What is your stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
- Courtney’s answer: I oppose the TPP because it would prevent America from making it’s own laws if they negatively impacted any multi-national corporations profits. It also establishes free trade with not similarly situated nations (Mexico (already there under NAFTA), Malaysia, and the Philippines). Free trade with similarly situated nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan) is a good thing. It expands our economy. However trade with countries with drastically lower wages and few worker protections, creates slave labor countries. This reduces the value of labor in our own country, and allows multi-national corporations to oppress workers in poorer countries. We can trade with these countries, but we need to carefully craft the trade to ensure labor is valued.
Question 12: Do you support “too-big-to-fail” legislation?
- Courtney’s answer: I support creating a hard barrier between investment and consumer banking. I did support the bailout, because we had to do that to prevent the economy from crashing. Now we need to create the necessary regulations to prevent that situation from occurring in the future.
Question 13: Do you support a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act?
- Courtney’s answer: Yes.
Following her answers, I had a couple follow-up questions and here they are.
Question 3 you said, “I support universal single-payer health care. This is the most cost effective way to cover everyone.” I support Medicare for All as well. However, it is something that will take time to get to. Thus, in the meantime what do you propose to curb the cost of prescription drugs?
- Courtney’s answer: I support Sen Sanders effort to allow for the importing of prescription drugs from reliable countries, like Canda. I myself am on an autoimmune prescription that costs around $650 per month. In Canada it is only around $100. Furthermore, although I would like to see Medicare for All or Single Payer healthcare, and if elected would work tiresly toward that goal, I would support any legislation that would make healthcare more affordable and accessible to all Americans.
- Courtney’s answer: #5 There have been many versions of the ENDA, which is why it can be hard to offer support of a particular draft of legislation. I think we should be careful in offering religious protection beyond the 1st Amendment. The 1st Amendment already protects religious institutions and offers people the ability to practice their religion. It is important to ensure that the language of a law does not violate the 1st Amendment protections, but we should not attempt to provide additional protection. I personally helped the committee of my denomination, the United Church of Christ, in the wording for our 2015 resolution at Synod against ‘Religious Freedom’ laws that are used to legalize discrimination. This resolution was passed, and the text can be found here:
My responses to her answers.
Question 1: I support what she is saying here but I am unsure if she supports tuition-free debt free college and universities from her answer. It seems to me that she only supports increasing funding to higher education and making community college tuition-free. But again, I am not sure what she is saying.
Question 2: I support and agree with her.
Question 3: I agree with her answer, however, I would hope she also supports adding further regulations on prescription drugs and allowing the federal government (Medicare and Medicaid) to negotiate prescription drug prices.
Question 4: I understand what she is saying. Nonetheless, I would hope that she would require health care professionals to add individuals to be referred to as they prefer including recognising their gender however they identify.
Question 5: I would hope that she supports a fully inclusive federal anti-bullying and anti-harassment bill. Which by the way we do not have.
Question 6: Well, that is great that she supports employment protections and the first amendment allowing religious protections. However, does she support protections in public accommodations, housing, and credit? This all would be provided by the Equality Act which she has not stated whether she supports.
Question 7: I am sorry but guns are not the cause of most gun deaths!? What the hell!? I do support her idea as a ‘Responsible Gun Owner’ law but I still believe that some kinds of guns must be banned, like an assault rifle, and high capacity magazines.
Question 8: I do support an amnesty program, with some restricts for instance on persons who have committed serious crimes. Not drug convictions or traffic violations. I do not believe that having a drug conviction or traffic violation should result in losing your immigration status or citizenship.
Question 9: I am glad that she supports these laws and bills.
Question 10: Awesome! We need more people who support a living wage.
Question 11: I am glad she opposes TPP, but I also am opposed to free trade. It should only be fair trade ensuring equal protections for all workers no matter what country they live in.
Question 12: I was hoping she would be in favor of Sen. Sanders “Too-Big-To-Fail-Too-Big-To-Exist” Act.
Question 13: Awesome!
If you wish to learn more or ask her question please visit her page here: https://www.facebook.com/courtneyroweforcongress/