Bill Shein, 1st Congressional District c...
 
11:33
Join us at about noon for a live chat with Congressional candidate Bill Shein. Submit your questions here, or email them to rrizzuto@repub.com.
Thursday July 26, 2012 11:33 
11:42
Hello everybody, Bill Shein will be logging on close to noon. In the meantime, feel free to send along any questions you have for the candidate.
Thursday July 26, 2012 11:42 
11:49
FYI: Following Bill Shein's chat today, we have one of his challengers, Andrea Nuciforo Jr., this coming Monday.
Thursday July 26, 2012 11:49 
11:57
Alright everybody, it's Robert Rizzuto here. Bil Shein is in the building and getting settled. We will be starting momentarily.
Thursday July 26, 2012 11:57 
11:59
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Hi everyone ... thanks for the opportunity today to chat about some of the issues we've been discussing this year across western and central Massachusetts. I'm looking forward to your thoughts and questions. So, let's get started!
Thursday July 26, 2012 11:59 Bill Shein
12:00
[Comment From Heather Heather : ] 
Every congressional election cycle it's amazing to read all of the negative comments about Congressman Neal. Even more amazing, he always seems to win re-election despite all the naysayers. Mr. Shein, what are you going to do differently, in terms of running and executing your election campaign, that others haven't done in order to actually knock Congressman Neal out of office??
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:00 Heather
12:04
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Thanks for your question, Heather. As I've said every day since January, our campaign is very different from others. We're focused on addressing the big questions and challenges facing people here in western Massachusetts: A democracy that doesn't work right and gives too much attention to those who fund our candidates; an economy that doesn't work for everyone and that needs real transformation; and an urgent environmental crisis called climate change. My strategy to win is simple: Present the big ideas we need to address these problems and make clear that I won't sit on the sidelines in Washington. We need leadership, not what I call "followership." And for the first time in a quarter century, the people of Springfield and many other cities and towns have a real choice on Sept. 6. On how my campaign is different ...
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:04 Bill Shein
12:07
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
First, we're not taking any big money. Only $99 and less from individuals. None of the corporate PAC and lobbyist money that funds other candidates and, I believe, stands in the way of real progress on economic and environmental issues. Next, we're volunteer-fueled. Without millions of dollars of status-quo money, we're engaging people neighbor by neighbor, town by town, conversation by conversation. And that's what a real grassroots campaign looks like. Third, we're speaking frankly and honestly about what needs to be done, and where I believe my own party has fallen short. Remember, a voting record in the Congress is just what you've had a chance to vote on. For too long, big money has drowned out the ideas we need and led to silence. I can promise you this -- and as is evident from my writing and activism over many years, and my outspokenness in this campaign -- I won't sit on the sidelines. And by not participating in the big-money corporate/lobbyist infrastructure, I'll be free say what needs to be said and champion what needs to be championed. For all of us, not just those who typically fund political candidates.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:07 Bill Shein
12:09
[Comment From Bob from Springfield Bob from Springfield : ] 
You once ran for President as a joke. How can the voters in Massachusetts' 1st District know, with all the economic uncertainty going on in Washington that this race for Congress is not just another attempt at humor?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:09 Bob from Springfield
12:12
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Thanks for the question, Bob. Yes, eight years ago I undertook a creative effort to highlight the need for substantial changes to how our democracy works. To vastly increase and broaden voter participation. To get big money out of politics. To encourage elected officials to champion real reform that will enable us to live up to our democratic ideals. And I did it using one of the methods I've used successfully over the years to popularize ideas, and that's humor. I've been a writer and humorist who has mixed satire with seriousness. It's a great way to engage people. And we succeeded: Lots of press coverage and conversation in 2004 about how to increase participation and make sure the voice of the people is heard. Those themes are central to my campaign and, if elected, will be the kinds of reforms I'll champion. Humor is a tool, and we need to use all the tools available to get Americans re-engaged in our democratic process.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:12 Bill Shein
12:14
[Comment From Doug Barnshaw Doug Barnshaw : ] 
Do you favor a "Medicare for All" health plan as a way to control costs and give comprehensive coverage to all legal residents of the US?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:14 Doug Barnshaw
12:18
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Yes, Doug, I do. Very strongly. I've made it a central part of my campaign. We did some very important things with the Affordable Care Act, such as ending denial because of pre-existing conditions, eliminating lifetime caps, allowing young people to stay on their parents' plan. But at the end of the day, it's reform built upon a broken, expensive, private health insurance system. The path to high quality, universal, health and dental care for all is Enhanced Medicare for All. It will cover everyone, save money, and provide us all with the freedom to pursue jobs, business ideas, careers, school, and our dreams without worrying about losing health coverage and possibly endangering our families' economic security should we get sick. This is the kind of reform I wish had been advanced, and I support the bill in Congress to move forward with it. As does progressive Rep. John Olver, who I hope to succeed in the Congress in January, and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which I will join my first day in the House of Representatives.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:18 Bill Shein
12:20
[Comment From spfldpaul spfldpaul : ] 
spfldpaul: In 2010, the organization Tax Justice Network analyzed tax havens used by the wealthiest people in 139 mostly low-middle income countries, and they concluded that the power elite have an estimated $21-$32 trillion in secret accounts, and the TJN says that its numbers are “conservative.” The planet’s top three banks/financial giants that conduits to tax havens are UBS and Credit Suisse (both headquartered in Switzerland) and Goldman Sachs (U.S.). Question: What would you do to prevent the loss of U.S. tax revenues because of foreign tax havens?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:20 spfldpaul
12:26
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Thanks Paul. Yes, there's been some recent news on that front. I believe we have two issues here: Individual tax avoidance through the use of tax havens, with the assistance of big banks. And several have gotten in some trouble for facilitating that avoidance. I opposed the Panama Free Trade Agreement for, among other reasons, the ease with which money can be, and has been, hidden there by individuals and corporations. The second matter has to do with corporate tax avoidance, which goes hand-in-hand with the shifting of factories and jobs overseas. There are, incredibly, tax incentives that encourage companies to do that. As well as use accounting gimmicks to "profit shift" and make it appear that money is earned overseas so they can "defer," which really means "avoid," U.S. taxation. Famously, General Electric uses something called the "active financing exception" to avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes each year. And it's also why GE has been moving operations and factories overseas to sell to foreign markets. Rep. Neal supports that special break and wants to make it permanent. I strongly oppose it. We need economic and tax policy that encourages human-scale enterprises, owned by people here in Springfield and across western Massachusetts, that are committed to our communities and our people. That means tax reform that makes sure large corporations pay their fair share and aren't encouraged to go elsewhere. That's a shift that must be addressed with some urgency.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:26 Bill Shein
12:28
[Comment From Eric BEric B: ] 
If you were in Congress in 2001, would you have voted for the Patriot Act following the terror attacks of September 11? Why?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:28 Eric B
12:32
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
No, I would have voted against it. While we needed to better coordinate what the FBI and CIA were doing on counterterrorism, the PATRIOT Act went too far. By a wide margin, in my view. I believe we can maintain our security while protecting the civil liberties and fundamental American ideals that are central to our society. I'm afraid that bit by bit, small change by small change, we are moving in a dangerous direction under the guise of anti-terrorism. From Guantanamo Bay, to torture, to warrant-less wiretapping, to access to library records, we have to have members of Congress who will stand up and boldly challenge this trend. I will do that. We can't allow threats or potential threats to undermine the values we hold dear.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:32 Bill Shein
12:32
Bill Shein answering your questions
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:32 
12:33
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
As you can see, I'm not even typing. I'm writing these words with the power of my mind ;)
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:33 Bill Shein
12:34
[Comment From Christopher Christopher : ] 
What do you think is the right course of action in regards to Iran? Can diplomacy still work?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:34 Christopher
12:38
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Yes, Christopher, I believe it can, will, and must work. I believe that a military strike on Iran, whether by Israel or the United States and our allies, would be catastrophic for our goal of peace across that troubled region. We need to also recognize that there are strong stirrings and movements in Iran for democracy and a different government, as we saw a few years ago. We need to encourage and nurture that however we can. We can and must continue to build diplomatic pressure, while also recognizing that our own government's assessment of Iran's nuclear program, at least for military purposes, is that much of it was abandoned a number of years ago. So, again, a rush to military action here would be catastrophic for Israel and others, derail a nascent movement for change in Iran, and set back the prospects for a broader peace. Rep. Neal was a co-sponsor of a resolution that endorsed a military strike on Iran by Israel. I believe there is a better way.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:38 Bill Shein
12:39
[Comment From Tracy Tracy : ] 
Unemployment is really high in Springfield. What can you do to put people here back to work?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:39 Tracy
12:44
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Thanks for that important question, Tracy. Unemployment in Springfield has been too high for too long. We're not creating jobs for the diverse population we have here. And certainly not enough jobs that pay a good wage, provide benefits, and so on. I'm a supporter of substantial direct investment in job creation, along the lines of what we did during the New Deal in response to the Great Depression. I believe we should have taken that path when my party took over the White House and had big majorities in the House and Senate in 2009. There have been several bills in Congress in recent years to do this: Create several different kinds of job corps to rebuild infrastructure, perform green retrofits to the many buildings and homes here that need it, keep teachers and firefighters and police employed, and more. We did some with the stimulus in 2009, but not enough. And too much emphasis is on tax cuts for big business. That's clearly not working. And, honestly, the suffering I've seen across western Massachusetts as a result of the Wall Street-fueled economic meltdown, and the effects on those who, through no fault of their own, lost jobs, homes, and retirement savings, has been terrible. We can and should put people to work right now. That we haven't is a sign of how public policy is skewed toward what Wall Street says will solve our problems. We need economic development for the 99%. Now.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:44 Bill Shein
12:45
[Comment From Ron Ron : ] 
Where do you stand on the" Bush Tax Cuts"?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:45 Ron
12:50
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
Ron, we urgently need to rebalance our tax code. We need to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire. They never should have been enacted, in either 2001 or 2003. We need to restore progressive taxation, including a higher rate on capital gains. We're starving our communities of the resources we need to invest in a decent society: Jobs, education, health care, and more. We also need corporate America to pay its fair share. Last year, corporate profits were as high as they've ever been. Yet corporate taxes collected were as low as they've been in half a century. And wages as a share of our economy are at all-time lows. Unlike my opponents, I don't support cutting the corporate tax rate in a "revenue neutral" manner. We need to increase revenue from big corporations so we can reduce the burden on small businesses. And until we break the stranglehold of corporate PAC and lobbyist money that has been so effective in distorting our tax code for 25 years, we're simply not going to get tax or economic fairness in America.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:50 Bill Shein
12:50
This is what a wired live chat looks like. Moderator Robert Rizzuto, left, and Congressional candidate Bill Shein.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:50 
12:51
[Comment From Randy Randy : ] 
How do you feel about the government using unmanned drones for military strikes abroad? What about police departments using them domestically to spy?
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:51 Randy
12:55
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
I'm deeply troubled by our use of drones. For many years, we didn't even acknowledge that we were using them. I believe that in Pakistan, for example, our use of drones as a tool of counter-terrorism is quite likely laying the groundwork for future conflict. The civilian casualties have been numerous, despite claims that drones make it easier to avoid them. I'm similarly troubled by the use of drones here by police forces. I don't think any of us are comfortable with the increasing amount of surveillance here, whether it be in closed-circuit cameras on street corners or drones flying overhead. Again, we have to maintain a commitment to our core values and ideals, and not buy into the idea that those must be sacrificed for security.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:55 Bill Shein
12:56
[Comment From Robert Rizzuto Robert Rizzuto : ] 
Thanks Bill. And thank you to all the readers who took the opportunity to engage today.
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:56 Robert Rizzuto
12:58
[Comment From Bill Shein Bill Shein : ] 
My pleasure, Rob. Thanks to everyone for participating and for the excellent questions. If you have questions we didn't get to, please e-mail 'em to info@billshein.com and I'll answer them. You can also visit my website at http://www.billshein.com, where you'll also find links to our Facebook page and Twitter feed. Hope to meet many of you during these last 42 days before the primary on Thursday, September 6!
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:58 Bill Shein
12:59
[Comment From Robert Rizzuto Robert Rizzuto : ] 
For everyone who didn't get a question answered, I'll forward them along to Bill and he will answer them in the comments section of this post later. Thanks to the MassLive.com community for participating!!! ~Rob Rizzuto
Thursday July 26, 2012 12:59 Robert Rizzuto
 
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