By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, June 29, 2017, The Alabama Political Reporter (APR) sat down with Senate candidate Michael Hansen (D) and discussed issues likely to face the Senate.
APR: If Syria attacks civilians with chemical weapons again, after both Presidents Trump and Obama have warned Assad not to do that, should the US mission in Syria change to removing Assad?
Hansen: I prefer coalition forces. I do not like the US unilaterally intervening and prefer to work with our allies, such as NATO; but yes if Assad uses chemical weapons there has to be consequences.
APR: Should Americans have a right to not buy healthcare insurance if they choose not to?
Hansen: I would prefer to fundamentally transform the system. We already have a single payer system in Alabama. And to your question, is a debate I am in favor of having…I would pay for Medicare and for an all-single-payer-system through taxes and premiums.
APR: Should the federal government be ordering the states to adopt national education standard, such as No child Left Behind, Common Core, or Every Student Succeeds Act or should the states be given the freedom to run their own education systems without Federal interference?
Hansen: No. the states and local school districts should have complete flexibility. When I talk to teachers all over the political spectrum they tell me that they do not like being told which teaching methods to use. They want to be able to teach the students and not the tests. Teachers do not like being told prescribed teaching methods. If favor giving as much control to schools themselves as possible.
APR: Do you favor block granting many Federal programs to the states?
Hansen: Yes and no. I don’t favor block grants when they are used to opt out of programs like Medicaid; but I do support community development programs and other block grants given to the communities they can utilize.
APR: If you are elected you will likely be the only statewide elected Democratic official. Can you work effectively with the Republican controlled Legislature and State government?
Hansen: Yes, I grew up in the South. I was born and raised in the South. I live here by choice despite the political differences. The best policies are reached when you can sit down and have an open and honest dialogue…We can certainly do a whole lot better than we are doing right now.
APR: If the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion modules successfully fulfill their testing goals would you support a manned mission to Mars by the early 2030s?
Hansen: Yes, absolutely. The space program has not only given us a lot of scientific knowledge; but also given us practical tools that we use in our every day lives.
APR: Agriculture and forestry are Alabama’s largest industries. During the Obama Administration many farmers and foresters complained that they were being hard hit by President Obama’s environmental regulations. Do you support President Trump’s effort to roll back many of those regulations?
Hansen: No. We need to shift to clean, renewable energy. We can radically shift away from fossil fuels to solar and renewables.
APR: How would you eliminate the $587 billion budget deficit?
Hansen: We are going to have to be a lot smarter about how we deliver services. Healthcare is one example. We need to fundamentally shift how we deliver healthcare in this country. We could save up to a $trillion by shifting to a single payer model. We should also get rid of tax loopholes and prevent people from being able to get out from paying their fair share. I also favor raising taxes on upper income earners. We are going to have to grow the economy so they can purchase things and stimulate their local economies. That is the most important thing.
APR: Most of Alabama’s counties are rural. What would you like to see done by the Federal government to help rural communities?
Hansen: A whole lot. Healthcare for example, rural hospitals have been closing for years and it is not going to get better if we start cutting Medicaid. We need to do a better job of bringing services to where they live. We need to also improve infrastructure, like building an interstate though the Black Belt, so they can get where they need to go. It would also help rural communities by shifting away from fossil fuels that pollute those communities.
APR: Do you support a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens?
Hansen: I support comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway for citizenship without a violent criminal record.
APR: Do you support strengthening and enlarging the American Armed Forces?
Hansen: I am a huge fan of the sacrifice of our veterans and our current armed forces; but budgets are moral documents and we spend more money than the next six countries most of whom are allies. That does not make sense to me. We need to take a chill pill when it comes to military spending.
APR: Do you support work requirements for those able bodied people receiving federal food assistance benefits?
Hansen: I hate the question. My experience is that most people want to work. Do I support mean-spirited requirements that make people go hungry if they do not meet some arbitrary standard? No I do not support that.
APR: Do you think you as a Democratic Senator should work with President Trump on confirming his judicial appointments on a case by case basis or do you think you should stand with the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate and resist many or most of Trump’s conservative appointees?
Hansen: If the judge is qualified, then they should be confirmed.
Hansen: I am running because I want Democrats to have a real choice. To me that means being unapologetic. That is why I have not hidden who I am. Everybody wants clean air, water, soil. I am asking that people reconsider what it means to be a conservative or a liberal a Democrat or a Republican.