Thomas J. Wilda, 5th Congressional District Green Party nominee profile
He says there is an immediate need for a universal basic income for every adult citizen in the country.
Thomas J Wilda
Running for: the 5th Congressional District seat in Illinois
Political party affiliation: Green Party
Occupation: Social Worker
Campaign website: Tomforthefifth.nationbuilder.com
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent nominees for the U.S. House of Representatives a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the state of Illinois and the country. Thomas J. Wilda submitted the following responses:
Are you satisfied with the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Why or why not? What grade would you give President Donald Trump for his handling of the pandemic, and why?
This pandemic was not taken seriously from the beginning. The failed response began before the pandemic hit with the reduction and near elimination of the CDC staff. Lack of equipment can be blamed on poor management and years of depending on labor camps in China to produce the equipment. President Trump failed to enact the Production Defense Act, failed to abide by CDC guidelines, failed to give help to the states in following CDC guidelines. We are left with the worse response to his crisis in the world, the most cases, the most deaths. Our country gets an F for our response.
What should the federal government do to stimulate economic recovery from the pandemic shutdowns?
There is an immediate need for a UBI (Universal Basic Income) for every adult citizen in the country. $3000 a month is needed. For those that do not need it, it can be taxed back. People need to pay rents and mortgages. Businesses that were doing well before the pandemic need to have payroll and expense support so that they will be viable after the pandemic. Medicare for all must be enacted to ensure medical coverage for citizens and payments to hospitals, medical facilities, and doctors.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, President Trump signed an executive order on police reform. It calls for the creation of a database to track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct, federal grants to encourage police departments to meet higher certification standards on use of force, and the greater involvement of social workers and mental health professionals when the police respond to calls dealing with homelessness, mental illness and addiction. The order also calls for police departments to ban the use of chokeholds except when an officer feels his or her life is endangered. Will this be enough to address concerns about police brutality? If not, what other steps should be taken?
These reforms are not enough. President Trump (and it occurred with President Obama also) proudly gave assault military equipment to police departments. Police departments have developed a culture of military presence with a siege mentality. This process has been many years in the making. Police departments should be defunded and then refunded. Police officers can reapply for their position. All new police officers will be required to train in non-violent processes. Military equipment must be returned to the federal government. Police officers must be licensed with a requirement of continuing education in order to maintain their license. Civilian police boards must be enacted with the power to review, suspend, and terminate officers.
Also in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the House passed the Justice in Policing Act, which would ban police departments from using chokeholds, develop a national standard for use of force, limit the transfer of military weapons to police departments, define lynching as a federal hate crime, establish a national police misconduct registry, and limit qualified immunity, which protects officers from lawsuits over alleged misconduct. Do you support this legislation? Why or why not? What other steps, if any, would you like to see the federal government take on police reform?
I do support this legislation. Please see my prior response for what other steps are needed for reform.
What’s your view on President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone?
There are many people in prison for long sentences for possessing a very small amount of marijuana. It is not right that those that commit white collar crimes are treated better than other citizens. The president needs to commute the sentences of many people who have committed small crimes.
Please tell us about your civic work in the last two years, whether it’s legislation you have sponsored or other paid or volunteer work to improve your community.
The last years I have had a private practice in psychotherapy. Many of my clients have an inability to pay due to immigration status and other reasons. I have treated a good number of people pro bono. In past years I have worked with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; helped establish a homeless center, and worked with various community groups. I am also a founding member of the Alliance for Just Money.
What are your views on the decision by the U.S. House to impeach President Donald Trump? Was the impeachment process fair or not? How so? If, in your view, the president should not have been impeached, would you have supported censure? Please explain.
The Democrats attempted to impeach the President on false premises. Evidence used was not genuine. The Steele dossier was a made-up document. The process was an attempt to avoid addressing the flaws in the Democratic platform as well as the support of a flawed candidate in a corrupt primary process. There are many things the President may be criminally liable for, but these were not investigated. I think mostly, because many politicians of both major parties are guilty of similar offenses. The process of impeachment was a sham and removed our attention from the wars we are in, the out of control military budget, the climate crisis and much more.
How would you reduce the federal budget deficit, which now stands at about $1 trillion for 2020? What changes, if any, to the U.S. tax code do you support and why?
Firstly, the budget deficit this year will be $3-4 trillion. It is this deficit that is often used as the reason we cannot have good things, like Medicare for All, forgiveness of student debt and free education. The deficit exists because the country relies on private banks purchasing Treasury Bonds for its money supply. There are few banks that are qualified to do this, so the process is in the hands of a small number of people. In buying Treasury Bonds, banks fund the government. They buy the bonds with money made from thin air but expect the money to be repaid with interest. So we have debt. When the government cannot cover its costs through taxation, they sell more bonds. This process was established by The Federal Reserve system in 1913. All banks must be part of it. As part of this act private banks can create money from nothing for other purposes, such as mortgages and student loans. Banks create money only through the establishment of debt. This debt, under the current system, can never be paid back.
It does not have to be this way. Article 1, section 8, clause 5 of the US Constitution gives the federal government the right to create money without debt. My proposal would be to eliminate the Federal Reserve and the right of banks to create money with debt and create a monetary authority under the Department of the Treasury. The authority would determine the amount of money needed in the economy to provide for the common welfare and common needs. The Treasury would establish this amount and it would be budgeted by Congress. This would be clean money without debt.
What about the debt that exists? It would be paid back to the banks by the Treasury over a period of years. Probably around 100. Banks would have money for their reserves and to lend for new investments and business ventures
Regarding the tax code: All should be paying their fair share. The wealthiest have the first access to created money, the average citizen has the last access. The last pay the most and the first pay the least. We need to change that so that the first are last and the last are first. That would be a fair tax system.
What changes would you like to see made to our nation’s healthcare system? Would you shore up the Affordable Care Act or work to repeal it in full? What’s your view on Medicare for All? And what should be done, if anything, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs?
This is so easy. Medicare at 100% for all is the least expensive and most fair way to fund a healthcare system. Look at the rest of the developed world. The government, through Medicare for all would be able to negotiate the price of drugs, but medications would be paid for by a Medicare for all program.
Do you support or oppose DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and why? Should a path to citizenship be created for the so-called DREAMers? Please explain.
This is just simple justice. Those who came here as children and have grown up here and contribute to society have a right to stay. Anything else would be inhuman. Of course they should be able to become citizens.
What are the three most important issues in your district on which the federal government can and should act?
In terms of the Federal Government, for this district and many districts, UBI with fair tax system is needed, Medicare for all, and a just distribution of federal dollars for human needs in the district.
What is the biggest difference between you and your opponent(s)?
I really don’t know where my Republican opponent stands on these issues. As far as my Democratic opponent and the incumbent, well, I would say look at his voting record.
What action should Congress take, if any, to reduce gun violence?
Military grade weaponry needs to be illegal. Other guns must be registered and owning a gun most be licensed with a requirement of yearly continuing education on gun safety. Police should be as focused on illegal gun sales as they are on drug sales.
Is climate change real? Is it significantly man-made? Is it a threat to humankind? What if anything should Congress and the federal government do about it?
The knowledge that burning fossil fuels creates climate change was researched and confirmed by the oil companies themselves in the 1950’s, 70 years ago. It is not a debate in the scientific community; only the business community wants there to be a debate. We already see the effects of climate change and it will get worse. What is needed is a Green New Deal. We need to get off fossil fuels, reduce consumption of energy and create jobs to protect water, forests, and animals, our ecosystem both micro and macro.
What should Congress do to ensure the solvency of Social Security and Medicare?
During the Reagan administration the Social Security fund was used to balance the budget. This money was taken from Social Security to make an economic policy appear better. There have been raids on Social Security ever since. There is no crisis of Social Security. Social Security is not part of the budget, so cutting it would not make a difference in the deficit. The effort to reduce Social Security is totally inhumane. Social Security will be solvent if the money owed to it is paid. I am for Medicare for all.
What should Congress do to address the student loan crisis? Would you use the word “crisis”?
Student debt is a crisis. It puts many from the younger generations in the position of being indentured servants. They are not able to participate fully in the economy because so much of their income goes to debt payment. Student loans should be assumed by the Federal Government and added to the deficit that will be paid overtime when we have a just, clean money system. Yes, this is a crisis for those who are burdened with this debt, but this is also a crisis for the economy as money that pays back debt is not money that goes into the development of the economy.
What should our nation’s relationship be with Russia?
We should have fair and just relationships with all nations. We should not have a belligerent, oppositional relationship with any country. It is not in the interests of the American people to have such relationships, only the interests of the military industrial complex.
What’s your view on the use of tariffs in international commerce? Has President Trump imposed tariffs properly and effectively? Please explain.
President Trump uses tariffs as punishments. The industrialists have been sending jobs to places without worker protection, and in the case of China, to foreign labor camps for awhile. Once there is a truly fair workplace in every country there would be little need for tariff protection. We should be ensuring that workers are treated fairly both here and everywhere else and that ecological protections are in place everywhere. Once we have accomplished this, tariffs will take care of themselves.
Does the United States have a responsibility to promote democracy in other countries? Please explain.
We need to have democracy in the United States first. We know that our intelligence agencies have been undermining democracy in the rest of the world. This is not in service of the American people but in the interests of big business. We should not send military anywhere with the excuse that we are doing it to protect democracy. We are in other countries to secure wealth for the richest.
What should Congress do to limit the proliferation of nuclear arms?
Demand that the President negotiate a nuclear arms reduction treaty with all nuclear powers with the end goal of eliminating all nuclear arms.
Please list all relatives on public or campaign payrolls and their jobs on those payrolls.
What historical figure from Illinois, other than Abraham Lincoln (because everybody’s big on Abe), do you most admire or draw inspiration from? Please explain.
I was inspired by Paul Simon’s moral and principled stances on issues.
What’s your favorite TV, streaming or web-based show of all time. Why?
I do not watch much TV, but 20 years ago my wife and I liked the X Files. The portrayal of the intersection of science and intuition was interesting.