Paul Clements says he wasn’t sure if he would run for Congress again this year. But the Western Michigan University Political Science Professor says he brings the “strongest package” for winning in the 6th Congressional District, and pushing an agenda in Congress to improve well-being of people in the district.
Clements was the Democratic candidate who challenged Republican Fred Upton in 2014 and 2016. In both of those races, he was the only Democrat in the race. If he is to challenge Upton this year, Clements will have to win a Democratic primary that includes five other candidates. Clements calls this a “different political moment” compared to 2016. Clements says his top issues are a single payer health care system, an education system that prepares for students for 21st century jobs, reforming the criminal justice system to help move people from incarceration to employment, and a “forward looking economic policy” that invests in renewable energy and infrastructure.
Deficit and Debt
Clements says the government can invest in infrastructure and education while reducing the deficit. He says paying for students to attend public colleges and universities could be paid for with a small fee on stock transactions. Clements says health care costs could be cut by cutting administrative costs. Clements says he would work to repeal the recently approved tax cut to help pay for investments.
Clements says unfair trade is hurting workers. He says tax breaks are still given to companies when they move jobs overseas. But he calls President Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum “a bad move.” Clements says it will raise the costs for manufactured items and will hurt Michigan companies, and is likely to start a trade war.
Asked about guns, Clements says Congress is in the stranglehold of the National Rifle Association. He says the government has been blocked on doing research on gun safety. Clements says assault rifles should be banned, there should be comprehensive background checks, and the age for purchasing a firearm should be raised to 21.
Clements says the campaign finance system is the biggest reason that Congress and the federal government are not working to address the needs of people. He says contributions should be more transparent. Clements says even with the Supreme Court’s “Citizen’s United” decision, there is a lot Congress can do. He says one idea would give voters a $50 “ticket” that could be matched four or five to one, and given to the candidate of their choice. Clements says that would encourage candidates to reach a lot of voters in their district.
Asked how much the federal government should get involved in education, Clements says it traditionally has been a state and local issue. But he says the states are failing, and the federal government needs to play a stronger role. Clements says there should be an audit of the Pentagon. He says military spending could be cut without risking safety of the country, and that money could be spent on education.
Clements calls it “great” that more candidates are in the race for the Democratic nomination in the 6th Congressional District. He says it has led to more conversations across the district about holding Congressman Fred Upton accountable. Clements says like everything else, every time you run for office, you get a little better.
Discussion of other issues can be heard in the extended web version of the interview.
Clements says among the things that needs reform is the Democratic Party. He says it was disappointing that the national Democratic Party got behind Hillary Clinton before she won the nomination for President in 2016 over Bernie Sanders.
Clements says American leadership is needed on climate change. He says President Trump has moved the nation backward on the issue. Clements says the U.S. has to get back into the Paris climate agreement, and push to make it stronger.
Clements says the U.S. needs comprehensive immigration reform. He says while more refugees should be allowed in from Syria, the immediate priority should be “dreamers” who came to the U.S. as young children and are “living in limbo.” Clements says there should be a path to citizenship for them and the undocumented people have been working in the U.S. for many years and have not committed a crime.