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Baltimore Sun omits Flowers, other Greens from voter guide

1baltsunmemeMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers was recently asked by The Baltimore Sun to complete a candidate survey — yet the Sun failed to post her replies or those from other Green candidates, even those competing in the three-way Baltimore Green Party mayoral primary. When asked why, the Sun said publishing the Green responses would require changing its webpage design.

Flowers posted her complete responses on her campaign website. They are reprinted below.

 

Recently Dr. Margaret Flowers was asked to complete a questionnaire by The Baltimore Sun. Here are her responses.

Q: Why are you running for office?

A: I am running for the U.S. Senate to bring my expertise, honesty and integrity to that office. I see through my work how the concerns of Marylanders are ignored by our two senators even when serious issues of public health and safety are raised. I do not accept any corporate donations and I will only accept the average Maryland income. My office will be open to constituents so that we can work together to rein in corruption, reduce the wealth divide, solve the health care crisis, move to clean and sustainable energy and end systemic racism.

Q: What is your view of the international agreement intended to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons?

A: I support the international agreement with Iran as a first step towards normalizing relations and I support increasing the use of diplomacy in our foreign policy in general. I also support prohibiting and eliminating all nuclear weapons throughout the world, including in the United States. The U. S. should not spend $1 trillion over the next ten years on upgrading nuclear weapons. Instead, we should use that money for pressing domestic needs and engage in multilateral negotiations with all nuclear weapon states to reach an agreement to ban nuclear weapons. I agree with my physician colleagues who understand the devastation that nuclear weapons can produce and the imperative that we end their threat everywhere.

Q: What strategy should the United States pursue to protect itself and its allies from ISIS?

A: ISIS is a symptom of the destruction of nations in the Middle East through the United States’ failed “War on Terror”. This has led to chaos in countries like Iraq and Libya that creates an opening for extremists and foments anti-American sentiment. Our first priority should be to cut off ISIS’ access to money and to weapons, which are coming from U. S. allies. And our second priority should be to provide basic support to stabilize countries in the Middle East. There is much that needs to be done to restore basic infrastructure and access to energy, food, clean water, education and more. As these states re-stabilize, they will regain the trust of their people and reduce extremism. United States’ militarism and intervention is the cause of this problem, not the solution.

Q: Do you support the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Have free trade deals generally been good for the U.S.?

A: I have been actively working for the past five years to stop international agreements like the TransPacific Partnership. Experience with similar treaties over the past twenty years shows that they drive a global race to the bottom in worker rights and wages and protection of the environment. They give greater rights to transnational corporations to sue our government if our new laws interfere with their ability to make profits in a trade tribunal that supersedes even our Supreme Court. Veolia, a French corporation that operates in Maryland, sued Egypt over a new law to raise its minimum wage. We cannot allow transnational corporations to exploit workers. Baltimore has been hurt enough by agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement that cost us our steel industry. We cannot trade away our rights. All of our trade agreements have worsened the trade deficit, rather than helping. They enrich those at the top and hurt smaller businesses and farms. Studies of the TPP show that it will have a negligible positive effect on our Gross Domestic Product over the next ten years and may actually reduce GDP. The TPP will worsen wealth inequality. It is time to end this failed model of trade and create a new model that lifts up workers and protects the health and safety of our communities and the planet.

Q: Name one thing you would do to improve the functioning of the Affordable Care Act.

A: The reality is that the Affordable Care Act continues to leave tens of millions of people without insurance and tens of millions more who have insurance but still can’t afford health care because of the out-of-pocket costs. I support improving and expanding traditional Medicare to cover everyone, eliminating out-of-pocket costs and broadening coverage to include mental health, dental, vision and long term care without requiring a spend down that drives seniors into poverty. An improved Medicare for all will reduce our health spending while covering everyone with comprehensive benefits. It will end bankruptcies due to medical costs. As a nation, we are already spending enough on health care to accomplish this. It’s time that we join the rest of the industrialized nations who treat health care as a public good, not as a commodity for profits.

Q: Are the steps Congress and the Obama administration took to increase regulation of Wall Street in the wake of the financial crisis appropriate? Does more need to be done?

A: As anyone who watched “The Big Short” knows, the fraudulent behavior that was responsible for the 2008 financial crisis continues unabated. Unlike the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1980’s in which there were 30,000 investigations and 1,000 felony convictions, no top level executive responsible for the last crash has been held accountable. I have already pledged to support the 19-step plan created by financial crime experts and whistleblowers that would mostly use existing laws to rein in corruption. It would also reduce the size of the too-big-to-fail banks. I would go further to promote financial institutions that serve the public good rather than Wall Street. Like the state of North Dakota, Maryland and other states could create public banks that would serve local needs for infrastructure and investment in businesses. And we can add banking services to the United States Postal Service to meet the needs of those without access to bank accounts. We are fortunate in Maryland to have The Democracy Collaborative which is providing concrete information about how to build and keep wealth in our communities and reduce the wealth divide. I will do what I can to raise awareness of these positive solutions and assist their implementation.

Q: How would you characterize President Barack Obama’s legacy? What are his greatest accomplishments and failures?

A: The Obama campaigns and presidency have demonstrated that there is a widespread desire in the United States for real change. During his presidency, significant movements to end the corruption of government by money, to raise the minimum wage, to end the fossil fuel and nuclear era and move to clean and sustainable energy sources, to end systemic racism and more have grown. Unfortunately, many of the problems driving these movements have not yet been solved. We need leadership in the White House and Congress that are willing to take on the wealthy interests and promote policies that meet the needs of the people and protect the planet. There is already super majority support for many of these policies, but the dysfunction in our political system has made it impossible to move forward on these solutions.

Q: Do you support an increase in the federal minimum wage, and to what level? Should the federal government require paid sick time or family leave?

A: Families and individuals in the United States should have enough income to be able to meet their basic necessities. There are a number of steps that can be taken to accomplish this. A first step would be to look at the reality of the cost of living and raise the federal poverty level to reflect this. There should be a federal minimum wage that is tied to the cost of living in each area and that rises with inflation. Workers should be able to earn a living wage and have paid sick and family leave as well as vacation time. Families have emergencies and workers should not have to fear losing their job when they need time to deal with those emergencies. When workers are sick, they should be able to stay home and recover, especially when they have contagious illnesses. Families need time for recreation in order to be healthy. I would go even farther than a minimum wage to work towards a guaranteed basic income for all people. Instead of public dollars being used to subsidize the profits of big industries, those dollars should be viewed as a public investment with a public return similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund. A universal basic income would eliminate poverty and the need for many poverty programs. This would begin to correct the inequality between workers and capital that has driven the growing wealth divide over the past 50 years.

Q: What steps should Congress take to reduce the toll of gun violence?

A: The high rate of gun deaths is an urgent public health problem that has been a long time in the making and will take some time to resolve. Changes will need to be made to reduce access to guns by people who would use them to kill others or themselves, either intentionally or by accident, and to reduce the socio-economic factors that lead to violent crimes. Congress should regulate the sales of all guns and require universal background checks. Assault weapons and magazines that can carry a large number of rounds should be banned in the US, and this should be combined with a program to buy these back. All gun owners should be licensed and required to take basic gun safety courses or to otherwise demonstrate competence. This should include how to store guns so that children do not have easy access to them. And there should be mandatory reporting of gun thefts to law enforcement. Additionally, Congress should promote policies that curtail the socio-economic factors such as poverty, the failed drug war and lack of access to mental health treatment that drive gun violence towards others and oneself.

Q: Does the process by which congressional district lines are drawn need to be reformed? Should the issue be handled on the federal or state level?

A: There are many reforms that are needed to create a functioning democracy in the United States. How districts are drawn is one of them, but we need to go beyond that to remove barriers to voting, remove barriers to third parties so they have equal access to ballots, primaries and the media and remove the influence of money over who gets elected. We need to hold elections in an open and transparent way so that results are reliable and can be verified. As far as determining districts, I support the drawing of districts by an impartial commission at the state level. There are steps that need to be taken at the federal level such as universal voter registration for everyone 18 and older and Constitutional changes such as ending the Electoral College.

Q: What role should Congress have in helping cities like Baltimore?

A: Members of Congress representing Maryland have a responsibility to constituents throughout the state, including Baltimore. Constituents and local and state government officials should partner with federal legislators to create policies to support necessary solutions that can be implemented at the national, state and local levels. This could include national policies that would benefit people in the city such as putting in place an improved Medicare for all health system, supporting worker rights such as the right to organize unions, creating a basic guaranteed income and protecting our US Postal Service and other public entities that provide high quality jobs and services. For support at the state level, policies can be put in place to promote the transition to a clean and sustainable energy economy including clean transportation, to use a public health approach to drug use, to end mass incarceration and to support a high quality public education system, to create affordable housing and more. The federal government is already investigating the Baltimore police. It should compel police retraining and practices that end police violence, especially those that are done in a racially-prejudiced way. And the federal government can partner to develop policies that promote community-wealth building institutions at the local level such as public banks, support for worker-owned cooperatives, community-owned renewable energy, local food production and community land trusts for permanently-affordable housing.

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Maryland Green House candidate Hoenig criticizes education reforms

hoenigMyles Hoenig, the Green Party candidate for U.S. House in Maryland’s Seventh District, said in a release that the education reform “that has been promoted for many years has clearly been a winner for the private education and the prison industries.”

Hoenig called Teach For America “a program designed to staff urban schools with teachers who have very little teacher preparation and virtually no commitment to remain teachers” that “is used as a steppingstone for someone’s career, not an inducement to improve education in hard to staff districts.”

He continued, “Educating children is not, and should not, be equated with being a business or utilizing business models and techniques. … Equating teacher evaluations on rubrics based on student performance is also just another example of the commodification of education and learning.”

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Maryland Green U.S. House candidate Hoenig looks forward to facing Cummings

HornerMyles Hoenig, the Green Party candidate for the Maryland Seventh District U.S. House seat, says he “looks forward” to facing Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who announced this week that he will seek re-election.

Hoenig said Cummings “has had a long and distinguished career in public service fighting for civil rights and human dignity. However, the mood in this country right now is finally saying no to the status quo, of which the Congressman dutifully represents.”

Hoenig faulted Cummings for accomplishing “little for this district” and said he “played politics and helped President Obama kill Single Payer and the public option” despite Cummings’s long-time support for a single-payer system.

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Flowers addresses Students for a National Health Program

flowersMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers spoke with Students for a National Health Program at Johns Hopkins University this week. The health professional students had gathered for the first meeting of a local chapter of the group.

Flowers said, “The most exciting part of the movement for healthcare justice is coming from students who understand we need a national health program that covers every person in the United States. … The students recognized that a single payer system, or Improved Medicare For All, is the solution needed to solve the U.S. healthcare crisis.”

Flowers and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who are both physicians, spoke with theREALnews about healthcare policy and the Democratic presidential race, the topic of a recent joint op-ed by the two.

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Maryland’s Flowers calls for congressional action on uranium mines

flowersMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers is calling for congressional action to address the impacts of the more than 15,000 abandoned and exposed hazardous uranium mines throughout the United States. Flowers works with Clean Up The Mines! and Popular Resistance, which are meeting this week in Washington to raise awareness of the continuing radioactive contamination affecting millions of people.

Flowers said in a statement, “In the Senate I will sponsor the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act. Because there are no laws on the books, corporations and the federal government are evading responsibility for cleaning up these toxic, hazardous sites. They are an invisible threat causing cancers, birth defects and diseases. We must introduce legislation to clean up the mines and affected areas, provide clean water and compensate individuals who are suffering adverse health effects from living near them.”

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Stein, Flowers call for Medicare For All

steinflowersGreen Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers, both physicians, write at Truthdig that the debate between Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders over healthcare illustrates the importance of backing a single-payer “Medicare For All” system.

They write in part that the Affordable Care Act and Medicare For All “cannot exist in the same system, because if the insurance industry continues to play a role, it will undermine any publicly funded system. The insurance industry is adept at attracting the healthiest people and leaving those who need health services to public systems or else uninsured. The industry is an impediment to health. It must be ended, not reformed.

“To achieve improved Medicare-for-all will require strong leadership, someone who is willing to tell the truth and not bow to industry pressure. People often believe that single-payer is not politically realistic. As physicians, we understand the difference between political reality, which is malleable, and the reality that many are suffering in the U.S. and dying of preventable causes.”

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Maryland Green Senate candidate Flowers: “The Real State of the Union”

flowers

 

For Immediate Release:
January 12, 2016

For Further Information:
Margaret Flowers, mdpnhp@gmail.com, 410-591-0892

The Real State of the Union: Fundamental Flaws in the US Economy, Climate Approach and Foreign Policy

In anticipation of President Obama’s State of the Union address this evening, Dr. Margaret Flowers, candidate for US Senate seeking the Green Party of Maryland nomination, presents her assessment of the state of the Union and directions that Congress needs to take to solve the major crises we face as a nation.

Dr. Flowers states:

“The President is expected to talk about domestic policy reforms that are gaining popular support such as his recent gun control measures and proposed criminal justice reform, but these are largely put forth at this time as an appeasement for his widely unpopular international agenda which includes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and expanded wars as well as to district from a dangerously flawed economy. President Obama is expected to sign the TPP on February 4 in New Zealand. See “The Facts on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Compared to the Obama Administrations’ Claims, by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese.”

Missing from the speech will be meaningful discussion of major crises that loom before the United States and the world such as the fundamentally broken global economy, the climate crisis and US Empire which is expanding wars and conflicts.”

Economic Collapse: The Fundamentals of the US Economy Are Flawed

“The President began his administration on the heels of a financial crisis and may leave office with an even worse crisis. This is largely due to his failure to address the roots of the crisis during his terms; corruption, too-big-to-fail banks, growing wealth inequality and a population largely in debt.

After the financial crisis of 2008, instead of holding those who were responsible for it accountable for widespread fraud and corruption, then candidate Obama rewarded them by leaving his campaign to push through the Bush administration’s bailout package. As President, he put the bankers in positions of power on his economic team where they continued to protect Wall Street at the expense of everyone else. The Obama Department of Justice did not prosecute a single bank head and the attorney general and top officials returned to law firms that work for the big banks when their tenures ended.

While the public was desperately calling for relief, Obama failed to use the power of his office to put in place changes that would protect the victims of predatory mortgages and the looting of pensions and make credit available to smaller businesses. Millions of people lost their jobs and homes. Now, suicide rates among the shrinking middle class are at an all-time high while wealth continues to skew to the wealthiest.

Over the past eight years, the ‘recovery’ has really only been for those in the top 1% where wealth continues to be consolidated. The twenty richest people in the US own as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. The 99% are experiencing flattened wages, chronic unemployment and under-employment and high debt burdens just to meet their basic necessities. Poverty rates have grown in more than 3,000 counties around the country and have stayed steady in most of the rest. Employment participation is at an all-time low; and of those who are working, more than 50% are earning less than $30,000 a year. The reported unemployment figures are artificially low in part because they don’t consider that record numbers of people are working multiple jobs in order to get by or that many have given up looking for work. The fact is US workers are in an economic crisis.

Households in the US are carrying almost $12 trillion in debt. Over $1 trillion is student loans. Student debt has ballooned making many young people question the value of a higher education in this service-economy reality.

The failure to address the fundamental flaws in the economy and demand accountability has again placed the economy in a precarious position. We are facing the third bubble in fifteen years, this time a massive ‘bond bubble’ while the Federal Reserve is over-leveraged at 78:1 and risky derivatives have grown to $555 trillion globally, almost eighty times the global Gross Domestic Product. Inflated stock values do not reflect the reality of a global stagnating economy and a surplus of goods that impoverished people cannot afford to buy. There are widespread predictions of an economic crash in 2016, that could be more severe than the 2008 crash.

None of these economic realities are expected to be discussed in the State of the Union, nor will there be discussion of steps that could be taken to protect people and the economy such as holding Wall Street accountable, establishing public banks, abolishing student debt, restructuring mortgages to make them more affordable, moving to a guaranteed basic income and creating a public jobs program to meet our needs for infrastructure repair, public education, health care and a rapid transition to a green energy economy.”

The Climate Crisis Remains Inadequately Addressed When Urged Action Is Needed

“The climate crisis is another crisis that demands immediate steps. According to researchers, the world will reach the limits of its carbon budget in 2018. The US continues to be a major contributor to the crisis with the highest per capita carbon footprint in the world. The federal government is more concerned with protecting the profits of the oil, gas and nuclear industries rather than the rapid energy and economic transitions that are needed.

In 2009, the Obama administration derailed the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen when negotiations between other nations were working towards binding carbon limits. The resultant 2015 Paris agreement is entirely voluntary with carbon commitments that are inadequate to mitigate climate change. The Paris Treaty amounts to ‘too little, too late’.

While sound academic studies show that the US can move rapidly to a carbon-free and nuclear-free energy economy, Obama’s Clean Power Plan incentivizes more gas and more nuclear power. These dirty energies are being widely protested by the public in locations where new projects are being proposed. From excavation, to building infrastructure and dealing with waste, these are dirty energies that not only add to climate gases but cause widespread environmental and health problems.

Now that oil and gas prices are falling and there are record bankruptcies by oil and gas companies, there is an opportunity for a just transition to a green energy economy. Instead of listening to the oil and gas companies which are pushing Congress for a bailout, the administration and Congress need to listen to the people. This is the time to end the fossil fuel era and invest in a public works program for jobs in green energy production and infrastructure which includes transportation, retrofitting current structures to be more efficient and enhancing local production of foods and necessary goods. Such a program will create much-needed jobs, more than similar investments in oil and gas would create, and returns from that investment can be applied to a universal basic guaranteed income as tax payers should be considered investors in the new energy economy.”

US Foreign Policy Based On Intervention, Domination and Militarism Hurts the US and World

“Finally, US Empire, the largest in human history, will not be discussed even though it is a driver of the climate and economic crises. The US military is the largest single user of oil in the world, most of it for aviation fuel which produces triple the amount of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) as oil and diesel. The military also uses large amounts of electricity to power its 1,100 bases and outposts around the world.

The Empire Economy, which consumes 55% of discretionary federal dollars, has expanded unreasonably under President Obama to the point where even projects that the Pentagon rejects are funded while domestic needs are left unmet. President Obama is even wasting a trillion dollars over ten years to upgrade the US nuclear weapons program. Under President Obama, the US is surrounding China with the Asian Pivot and militarizing the European border with Russia while continuing to be entrenched in wars in the Middle East. Rather than making the world a safer place, US foreign policy which is based on intervention into other nations, global hegemony and aggression, has created greater insecurity.

It is time for the US to end its global hegemony and become a cooperative partner in the world. According to “Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World,” the US spends up to $120 billion annually on foreign military bases, which cost as much as four times the amount spent on Social Security, Unemployment & Labor ($29 billion); nearly twice as much as Housing and Community ($63 billion); four times as much as Science ($30 billion); and 1.7 times as much as Education ($70 billion). Rather than building more bases, especially bases that are widely opposed such as the ones on Jeju Island in Korea and on Okinawa in Japan, the US needs to close bases and outposts as part of remaking a foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy, cooperation and nonintervention into the affairs of other nations. We can bring the skills of military personnel and the military dollars home to address the urgent crises we face domestically.”

The Obama Legacy: Corporate Power Grows, Democracy Shrinks

“These are the major crises that we face and they require serious public discussion and effective steps to solve them. President Obama could leave his final term with a reckoning of this reality, but that is unlikely. Instead, President Obama will sugarcoat his minimal steps on gun violence and criminal justice while he pushes the TransPacific Partnership, an agreement which will further devastate the US economy, prevent measures to address the climate crisis and further empower the US’ military pivot to the Asia Pacific by seeking to isolate China economically, the opposite of what the US should be doing.

The Obama legacy will be recognized for its failures to protect people and the planet.”

Dr. Flowers will be participating in the Green Party of the United States’ official response to the State of the Union Address. The party will be streaming the speech live on Tuesday evening followed by reactions from Green candidates for federal office, including Dr. Flowers. The party’s live stream and responses can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenPartyVideos/live

More information:

Livestream of Green Party State of the Union broadcast

Flowers for Senate statement on the TPP

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West drops Green Party affiliation to run for Baltimore council

westThe Baltimore Sun reports that Westley West, the Baltimore pastor “who led many of the protest marches following the death of Freddie Gray in April,” changed his party affiliation from Green to Democrat as he launched his campaign for city council this weekend. West had said in September that he would run as a Green.

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Monmouth County, New Jersey Green Party to host fundraiser for Maryland’s Flowers

12278759_10104149962763208_4031330150920358331_nThe Monmouth County, New Jersey Green Party will host a “funraiser” for Maryland Green U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers on December 11.

The event will include a concert “featuring the compelling, educational, and entertaining ‘Music with a Message’ from award winning and nationally touring singer/songwriter Tom Neilson.” The organizers said that though the Flowers campaign is in Maryland, “she truly speaks for all of us and having her powerful voice campaign for the U.S. Senate would be huge.”

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Maryland Green Senate candidate Flowers urges support for local economies

flowersMaryland Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Margaret Flowers is calling on supporters to “take the Flowers for Senate ‘Rebuild Our Local Economy’ Pledge”.

Flowers is asking backers to “pledge not to vote for candidates who support union-busting legislation like so-called ‘right-to-work’ bills and the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” and “pledge to only support local businesses during your holiday shopping this year.”