Term: 2 Years
QUESTION: What change or reform would most improve the performance of Congress?
Sidney Altman (Independent)
Constance A. Morella (Republican)
James Walker Jr. (Democrat)
Sidney Altman (I)
4242 East West Hwy., Chevy Chase
Self-employed tax accountant since 1979; chairman, Eugene McCarthy Democrats in Long Island's 2nd Congressional District; elected alternate delegate, Democratic National Convention, 1968; executive board member, New York Teachers' Guild and New York state legislative representative, 1956-59; led successful campaign against luncheonette discrimination in Detroit as member of United Auto Workers, 1949; Army Air Force, 1943-45; history teacher, 1953-74; divorced; two daughters.
A. Party discipline! We need political parties, all of whose candidates are committed to the same position on major issues, and vote that way. Today there is no accountability or responsibility by either Democrats or Republicans. Individual members of Congress vote to secure reelection and please major contributors. Result: national problems remain unsolved and one scandal succeeds another. Nobody believes either party is blameless in the Housing and Urban Development and savings and loan scandals. Examples of irresponsibility: Most Democrats voted for the Brady Bill (gun control) but the then-majority leader, Foley, and the Democratic whip, Coelho, voted against it; most Democrats voted against the capital gains tax cut, but 60 Democrats voted for it. Where does the Democratic Party stand? The voters want disciplined and responsible political parties that give people a clear choice. Enough unprincipled politics!
Constance A. Morella (R)
6601 Millwood Rd., Bethesda
Congresswoman, 1987-present; Committee on Post Office and Civil Service; Subcommittee on the Civil Service, ranking minority member; Subcommittee on Compensation and Employee Benefits; Committee on Science, Space and Technology; Subcommittee on Natural Resources, Agriculture Research and Environment; Subcommittee on Science, Research and Technology; Select Committee on Aging; Maryland General Assembly, 1979-86; professor, Montgomery College, 1970-85; AB, Boston University; MA, American University; honorary doctorates, American University, Norwich University, Dickinson College; executive committee, Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues; and human rights, competitiveness and environmental and energy study conference congressional caucuses.
A. Reform of the budget process and campaign finance laws are vital. Truth in budgeting is a top priority; e.g., we must stop using the Social Security trust fund surplus to disguise the size of the deficit. I have co-sponsored legislation for a two-year budget cycle to provide a more realistic time frame, a greater opportunity for oversight, to avoid last minute stop-gap bills, and to prevent threats of government shutdowns. "Budget summits" should be a last resort; they are too isolated. We should restrict continuing resolutions that extend spending for unapproved appropriations bills that have not been completed by the beginning of the new fiscal year; the result is that Congress is deciding by one up or down vote a package costing billions of dollars. Political campaign costs have become excessive. I supported campaign finance reform legislation that included spending limits and restrictions on special interest funding.
James Walker Jr. (D)
4632 River Rd., Bethesda
Investment property specialist with Estate Brokers of Georgetown; summa cum laude graduate, National-Louis University, with 4.0 average; master's degree candidate, New York State University; member, MENSA (high IQ society), IQ 173 on Stanford-Binet scale; spearheaded first federal legislation for gifted and talented as a private activist, 1970-75; adviser to Maryland governor for gifted and talented, 1972-75; consultant, U.S. Office of Education for Gifted and Talented, 1970-80; adviser to U.S. Office of Education Presidential Scholars Program, 1976-80; published, New York Times, Harvard Educational Review, Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post; member, Montgomery County Board of Realtors legislative, political affairs and Realtor's PAC committees; founding member, Coalition to End the Permanent Congress (campaign reform group).
A. Congress is far less efficient because federal election laws favoring incumbents have made a seat in Congress a lifetime $125,000-a-year sinecure. During 1988, these laws made it possible for 99 percent of incumbents to be reelected regardless of their integrity or competency. Constance Morella exploits these laws to their absolute maximum to ensure her power. Ninety-six percent of her mail sent on the franking privilege is self-promoting junk mail. This and free staffing give Morella a $1 million taxpayer-financed campaign. Quid pro quo political action committee money provides Morella with hundreds of thousands of dollars more. In spite of all this, most voters cannot name a single thing that Morella has done in her four years in Congress. Yet, because of these laws and perks, she claims to be "invincible," and "certain" of reelection. One-hundred-twenty-five-thousand dollars a year is a lot to pay for nothing. If you want a hardworking, effective congressman, please give me a chance on Nov. 6. I promise you that you won't regret it.