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We had a great time last night in a Q+A with John Waltz, a disabled veteran and Progressive who's running for Congress in Kentucky's 4th district. This answer cracked me up and at the same time made me yell out.. RIGHT ON!

Spandan Chakrabarti John, another question about the military, specifically defense contractors. I understand some are needed, but how do you view the Bush era explosion in defense contracting and contractors who operate outside the UCMJ, and is there a way to rein them in?

John Waltz  When you privatize military functions, you're creating an incentive, specifically a profit, to go to war and stay in war. Use of military contractors should be kept to an absolute minimum. Maybe cafeteria services and that's about it.

The full Q+A is below the fold

John Waltz (picture taken while he was answering questions with us)
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John was raised in a working class family. His dad worked for General Motors for over 30 years and his mom was a homemaker. The youngest of seven children, John grew up believing that through hard work, a person could provide for his or her family, even when times were tough. His father taught him the value of hard work, loyalty, and perseverance. John learned early to respect others, but he also learned not to shy away from a fight.

John enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to an aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington. His first day at sea was September 10, 2001, one day before the terrorist attacks. John’s group was immediately sent to New York to safeguard the city and the harbor.

After the attacks, John served in Afghanistan and later in Iraq. He went back to Iraq as a civilian vocational instructor teaching Iraqis to be electricians, and also worked to raise funds to build hospitals in Iraq. John realized success in the Middle East is about more than just military strength; it requires improving the daily lives of Afghans and Iraqis, and giving them the economic freedom to no longer be dependent on warlords.

During his military service, John was ordered to take an anthrax vaccine that had not been approved by the FDA. When he came home from the Middle East, John suffered severe health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, seizures and even strokes.

Needing help with the Veterans Administration, John went to his Congressman, Geoff Davis, who gave him the brush off. As he got more involved in veteran advocacy and learned about Davis’s record, he was appalled at how little Davis actually did for the people he represents.

Despite unemployment in the 4th District as high as 18%, Davis has been content to focus on antics, partisan rhetoric, and outright opposition to any bill moved by the Democratic Congress. The only bill Davis has passed (in Democratic and Republican controlled Congresses) is renaming a Post Office! John ultimately got the help he needed, but he had learned all he needed to know about Geoff Davis. John went back to school to get a degree in government and announced he would challenge Davis.

While John was battling the VA over his own health, his wife lost her job with a huge insurance company because of complications from being struck by a drunk driver. The health problems stemming from the accident are considered a "pre-existing" condition and she is still searching for health coverage.

Check out Bluewavenews for more on Mr. Waltz.

John doesn't have a PAC supporting him, it's just us. If you have a few dollars now is the time to join this fight, we can't wait until the last minute. We've raised $79.50 for John so far, I'd really like to see us get to $300 by the end of the day. I'll match $20 from each of the first 3 donations. Your donations will also go towards helping us reach our $30,000 goal for the 2010 cycle.

Thanks so much for your support so far! We wouldn't have great candidates visiting our group if you didn't help us so much already with fundraising.

This post will update with the live Questions and Answers as they come in.

Opening Statement

John Waltz  Good evening everyone. I'm really excited to answer your questions and I'd like to thank Progress For A More Perfect Union for putting this all together. I'll do my best to answer all the questions, but we will be dealing with my typing limitations. Ha!

Question #1: Meeting the needs of returning troops

Spandan Chakrabarti  Thank you for running. My name is Spandan, and I am the publisher of ThePeoplesView.net. My question to you is, as a veteran, what do you see as the greatest need of the troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and how do you believe Congress can best address those needs?

Answer #1

Thanks Spandan. One of the issues that doesn't get a lot of attention is the disparity in care for disabled vets from state to state. I had to fight hard here in Kentucky to get care that might have been easier in another state. One thing I want to see right away is for each county in every state to have a veterans commission so a vet knows where to get help.

John revisited this question

By the way, to go back to the first question. I don't think we ought to be going to war when the VA isn't ready to cope with the the soldiers and sailors coming home.

Question #2 Your passion

Candace Witte John what would be your first cause when in office i.e what is your passion?

Answer #2

Thanks Candy. Obviously I care a lot about veterans issues, but right now we need jobs and I want to reverse all the horrific free trade policies and breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Question #3 Quality Care for Veterans

Chris McGann  First, thanks for joining us in our little corner of the Internet, John. My question: It seems like the VA always gets the short shrift in Congressional appropriations. What would you do to make sure that veterans get the quality care that they have earned?

Answer

Chris. Mandatory and adequate funding for the Veteran's Administration. The VA is 40 years overdue for reform. We have to deal with this now.

Question #4 Healthcare Reform

Jeff Reed  John, I am in Chicago and am using the iPhone, so I am going to keep it short. Health Care Reform, what do you think of the bill and what are areas for improvement?

Thanks.

Answer

Jeff. HCR is better than the status quo, but I want a real public option. This issue has greatly affected my family and I bet it has affected yours too.


Question #5 Valuable lessons / military contractors

Curtis
My question is a two parter: What valuable lessons did you learn while serving our country and what do you think about military contractors?

Answer

The biggest lesson I learned by serving in Afghanistan and Iraq is to truly appreciate how fortunate we are in this United States. I also learned that the wars were poorly planned, poorly executed, and exit strategies are important.

Contractors are snakes. They robbed the tax payers blind. That's why I helped start a nonprofit to build hospitals in Iraq. By the way, it's hard to get funding for those kinds of projects when you are cutting into the military- industrial complex's bottom line.

Question #6 Jobs for Vets

Spandan Chakrabarti  Thank you for your answer, John, I really appreciate it. Along the veterans line, what do you think Congress or the President can do to re-integrate veterans in civic life - i.e. with opportunities for jobs, education, etc?

Answer

Spandan. One of the best ways we can reintegrate vets into society is to make sure we have educational opportunities like those provided by the GI Bill, which Geoff Davis voted against! I'm a big believer in education. It can solve a lot of our problems if we invest in it.

Question 7 Stop global warming without killing coal economy

Chris McGann Thanks, John. And on another topic. Kentucky is very dependent upon coal. How do we slow/stop global warming without ruining economies in states like Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania?

Answer

Wow Chris. I could answer that question all day. One thing is that both sides stop demonizing each other. Coal is going to be around for a while and renewable energy is the wave of the future. Both of those are true and we need all side...s at the table. We should start by focusing on retraining fossil fuel workers through a program like the GI Bill to make sure they aren't left behind. We need to make sure we are focusing on coal areas like Kentucky when we talk about building renewable energy research and manufacturing centers. That would go a long way.

#8 Evangelicals proselytizing in the Army

Curtis here: where you ever concerned that there was too much intermingling between religion and the military while you served?
There was a recent story where it sounded like soldiers were being punished for not attending a christian concert...

Answer

Curtis. I never personally had any problems with that. Religious activity was completely voluntary. It does concern me if people were punished for not attending anything other than trainings and missions.

#9 Growing up in a Union home/Comments on KY politicians

Curtis again: Could you talk about what it was like growing up in a Union home and more about when your father's plant was moved overseas?

Also could we get your comments on the other Kentucky politicians.. McConnell, Paul, Conway, Yarmuth.

Answer

About growing up in a union home: the best part is that families could depend on the basics. There were seven children in the house but we always had food and a roof over our head. I wish more people had the kinds of job protections that... labor provides. Labor makes families stronger. They certainly did mine.

When NAFTA passed GM started shifting plants to Mexico and my Dad's was one of them. He was forced to retire. Corporations benefit more from open-ended free trade than workers do. I work for workers.

Going back to an earlier question on other Kentucky politicians.

McConnell: Corporate puppet. King of No. I'm embarrassed of him.

Jack Conway: He's working his heart out. I've done several events with Jack the past few weeks and he's giving a fiery speech that I think will really get Dems excited.

Rand Paul: He appears to want to abolish the government entirely and his comments on the 14th amendment pretty much say more about him than I ever could.

John Yarmuth. His nickname in his district is Congressman Awesome. I think that's not inaccurate.

#10 Grade Obama Admin

Terry: How would you grade the Obama Administration so far?

Answer

John Waltz Terry. Grading Obama? I'd like to see more focus on policies that create jobs, like cracking down on companies that ship jobs overseas. I think we'd be doing better right now if President Obama were a little bit more like Candidate Obama. Like a lot of Democrats, I'd like to see more spine.

#11 Military Contractors

Spandan Chakrabarti John, another question about the military, specifically defense contractors. I understand some are needed, but how do you view the Bush era explosion in defense contracting and contractors who operate outside the UCMJ, and is there a way to rein them in?

Answer

John Waltz  When you privatize military functions, you're creating an incentive, specifically a profit, to go to war and stay in war. Use of military contractors should be kept to an absolute minimum. Maybe cafeteria services and that's about it.


#12 Ira Jinkins Rebuilding the Middle Class

Mr. Waltz thank you for your service to our nation. How will you help to rebuild our middle class, our nation and stop corporations from out sourcing our manufacturing base, sending 100's of billions to foreign countries to purchase oil, invest in our education systems, give support to our veterans/families(not just lip service) and stand up for what is right and just for all Americans? As an Army Veteran of Desert Storm, I have been in the muck of VA Regional Offices that deny benefits and then give themselves end of year bonuses! What will you do to make the VA Work for us veterans and our families?

Answer

Ira. We need to overhaul the disability/benefits system so vets don't feel like red-headed step children with their hands out. They fought for their country and it's despicable that they have to beg. Makes my blood boil.

I think while benefits are being adjudicated, vets should be getting something to live on.

Comment from another candidate for Congress Jeff Reed (MO-09)

Jeff Reed I love the "I work for workers" comment. That is the kind of leadership I want to see.

#13 Help for College Students

Katelin Lambert As a college student, I'm interested in your plans about pell grants. How do you plan to help college students?

Answer

Katelin, I applaud what we did recently to take the profit margins out of student loans, but we can never expand Pell Grants and assistance for higher education too much. I have four daughters and college tuition scares me to death. In th...e US, you are supposed to be able to get ahead through hard work. GI Bills, Pell Grants, Low-interest loans for college....that's the least we should do. Maybe one day we can actually let everyone go to any college they get into. Obviously right now we can't afford that since we owe so much interest to the Chinese, but I will work on it for you and for my own girls.

#14 Trade Policies

Chris Fannin  Hello John. Do you think we need to start adding mandates to our trade policies that require countries to protect their workers rights in ways that compare to our own labor laws? As it stands now, it is a very un-level playing field. Makes it very difficult for American companies to compete.


Answers

Chris: YES. FAIR TRADE NOW! I also support the United Steel Workers in their efforts to bring a lawsuit against China for violating WTO rules.

Really, I want everyone here to know that I will not support borrowing money from China and OPEC and Caribbean Countries that shelter tax-evaders. We send them money and pay them interest that they use to invest in manufacturing. We need ...those jobs here. Kentucky has lost 34,000 jobs to China since Geoff Davis has been in office and just recently he announced to a Chamber of Commerce gathering that he would be opposing a bill that ends tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. That is one bill I will run to the floor to vote for my friends.


#15 Curtis Opinion of Petraeus

Last ten minutes, get your questions in now. Thanks so much this has been great. I laughed pretty hard at the cafeteria services line. Right on!

My final question, what's your opinion of General Petraeus?

Good luck! Go get em let us know what... we can do to help!

BTW, I only support them doing cafeteria services if their workers are allowed to organize.

General Petraeus. I think he has served his civilian superiors well and done what's been asked of him. He is not responsible for bad decisions made in the White House. I don't envy him, but I do respect him.


#16 Paying off the debt

Chris McGann  Well, going along with that sentiment about foreign borrowing: What do we do about trillions of dollars we already owe? About 10 percent of the federal budget goes to interest on the debt (that's combined foreign and domestic holdings). How do we pay off the debt without creating a global economic depression?

Answer

Chris. Why don't we call Bill Clinton and ask him? Seriously though it will require very difficult decisions and real leadership on spending and tax policy. Here a a few things.

  1. Stop the borrowing.
  1. Congress and the President's salary... are tied to the budget. No balance, no raise.
  1. Reduce our middle east military presence.
  1. I like Feingold's bill to reduce spending. (Control Spending Now Act)
  1. Social Security is NOT on the table. Wasteful military spending, especially to contractors IS on the table.
  1. Tri-Care could use some reform. There is some waste there too.

Comment: Tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas

Chris Fannin  Thanks John...we've got to quit giving the farm away to get companies to set up shop in this country, as well. It's amazing to me that tax payers are fine with granting hundreds of millions to companies in subsidies to build here, but complain when we "loan" GM money to stay afloat. I can't see the difference...front end or back end...you're still giving away money. At least GM is expected to pay back. No response needed...just venting.

Comment: Mom and Pop shops

Curtis: Good one Chris Fannin, I think it's important that this is a two way conversation. We're getting answers but also giving our opinion of what we want from Congress and what we see in our communities.

Personally I'm deeply concerned about the... expansion of corporations into retail. The disappearance of mom and pop shops is devastating to the middle classes' ability to survive, especially in a boom and bust society.

Answer

Mom and pops: I agree completely. That why I support local businesses, not just with words but by actually shopping there. I hope you all do the same.

Question: Youtube videos

Curtis: final thought, do you have any youtube videos? They really help with promoting your candidacy.

Curtis, they are in production as we speak! We did a video shoot last week. I don't have an eta but I promise we'll let you know when they are out.

Final comment

This has been great. I'd love to do it again. Thanks to everyone for participating. If you didn't get to ask a question, send me an email: john@johnwaltz.com

Like Curtis said at the start, we always have to stay on top of the fundraising. Go to my website: www.johnwaltz.com to donate.

Thanks again everyone. I really enjoyed this. Hopefully we can do it again.

Previous events were
1/27/10 with Joe Sestak
8/19/10 with Alan Grayson
8/26/10 with Justin Coussoule (D taking on John Boehner)

Please if you can, no donation is too small, even $1 sends a message.. we need to leave it all on the road right now!

Originally posted to CornSyrupAwareness on Fri Sep 10, 2010 at 08:27 AM PDT.

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