Meet The Candidate: Patrick Murphy
Party affiliation: Democrat
1. Why are you running for U.S. Senate?
Florida deserves a Senator who will show up to work, lead on the issues that matter, and will always put Floridians above their own political ambitions. I believe that my record and my values demonstrate that I will be a Senator who puts Florida first.
During my two terms in the House, I have been able to get things done by working with anyone if it’s right for Florida. I secured nearly $2 billion in funding for the Everglades, passed a bill to lower the cost of flood insurance, and led an effort to stop cuts to Medicare Advantage. I will continue making the best interests of Floridians my top priority in the U.S. Senate.
In the U.S. Senate, I will always fight for our shared progressive values, like defending a women’s right to choose, advocating for criminal justice reform, and fighting to protect our environment. I’m proud to have President Obama and Vice President Biden’s support as we fight for these values.
This election is critical for Florida families. The Supreme Court hangs in the balance, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow, and we must protect Social Security and Medicare for our seniors. Floridians deserve a leader in the Senate and if elected, I will show up and fight for Florida every day.
2. If facing a deficit, what parts of the budget would you cut and what would you promise not to cut?
There is no question we need to get our fiscal house in order. If elected to the Senate, I would be the second CPA in the history of our country to serve there. As an auditor at Deloitte, I worked to root out wasteful spending and that’s what we need to do with our federal budget.
In the House, I introduced the SAVE Act, which would cut $479 billion in wasteful and duplicative government spending. This is a bipartisan bill and an important step in the right direction.
We also need comprehensive tax reform. There is no justification for big corporations paying less in taxes than our small businesses. We need to eliminate the tax loopholes that allow this to happen and we need to make sure the folks at the top are paying their fair share.
Two programs I would absolutely never cut are Social Security and Medicare. These programs are vital to our seniors, and after decades of paying into them, they deserve their full benefits.
3. What would you do to strengthen Florida's economy and create more well-paid jobs?
To create jobs, Florida needs to adapt and grow its economy by becoming a center for green energy innovation. We also need to invest in infrastructure to shore up our bridges and roads, and provide the foundation for a high-tech economy of the future. Finally, we need to protect the industries that have always been vital to Florida’s economy.
In the U.S. Senate, I will promote small businesses, stand with Florida’s farmers, and fight for fair trade. I will also work to protect our environment. In Florida, our environment is inextricably linked to our economy. Local environmental issues like citrus greening and the toxic algae blooms impact our businesses and cost us jobs. I have been working to address these issues in Congress and I will continue to fight for solutions in the Senate.
In order to create well-paying jobs, we also need to invest in education. Access to high quality education is one of the best ways to give all Floridians access to the middle class and to prepare our state for the industries of the future. We need to make pre-k universal, increase teacher pay to retain top talent, and reduce student loan debt and work towards debt-free college.
4. Should the Second Amendment have limitations?
a. More or fewer than it has today?
b. Do you support prohibiting gun sales to people on an FBI terror watch list?
c. Banning certain types of weapons for civilians?
We need commonsense measures to prevent gun violence. Along with most Floridians, I support background checks for online, gun show, and private gun purchases. I am strongly in favor of closing the terrorist gun loophole and preventing people on an FBI terror watch list from purchasing guns.
When I was first elected to Congress, I attended new member orientation. There were 80 of us from both parties when one of the new members stood up, with tears in her eyes, and ran out of the room. All of a sudden we start getting news alerts on our phones. The shooting at Sandy Hook had just happened, and she was the new member of Congress from that district. We all looked at each other and promised then that we would get something done to prevent the next tragedy. But partisan dysfunction got in the way. These tragedies are unacceptable and we need to do more to prevent gun violence so this does not become the new normal.
Unfortunately, Florida experienced its own horrific tragedy. After the shooting in Orlando, it’s clear that Floridians are crying out for members of Congress to come together and find reasonable solutions to prevent gun violence. This goes to the fundamental responsibility of elected officials – to keep their constituents safe. This will be a top priority for me in the U.S. Senate.
5. Please explain your position on energy. Do you support drilling off the coast of Florida/the Eastern U.S.?
It is vital to Florida’s future that we protect our environment. I have been a vocal advocate for the environment and for fighting climate change in the House, and this will be a top priority for me in the Senate.
We should not allow offshore oil drilling along Florida's coast and I have fought against fracking in the Everglades and seismic testing in our waters. I was proud to be named Champion of the Everglades by the Florida Audubon Society, and will continue to fight to protect our environment.
What we should be doing is investing in green energy. This is the industry of the future and Florida should be at the forefront. Investing now in green energies will have positive impacts for our environment, adapt our economy to the 21st century, and create jobs for Floridians.
6. What should the federal government be doing to combat rising sea levels and other effects of climate change?
Floridians don't need to be told about climate change. They are seeing it firsthand with coastal erosion and harmful water discharges in my district, destruction of oyster farms in North Florida, coral bleaching in the Keys, and the high tide rising in Miami Beach.
In Florida, our environment is inextricably linked to our economy. Floridians will lose business, their livelihood, and their way of life if we don’t act immediately. We need to diversify our energy portfolio, invest in wind and solar, and move away from our addiction to fossil fuels.
President Obama’s Climate Action Plan was a major step in the right direction. I support the plan and regulating carbon pollution. I was also pleased to see 200 nations come together in Paris to begin working globally to address climate change.
7. Do you support Common Core education standards? Please explain.
High quality education for all American students is one of the best ways we can grow our middle class. But the best way we get there is not excessively “teaching to the test.”
We need to fully fund public education. I support universal pre-kindergarten, increasing teacher pay to retain top talent, and strengthening public schools with additional services including early childhood, youth development, and family engagement. I also support fully funding Head Start, Title I, and IDEA to improve equal access to high quality public education.
At the college level, we need to address the enormous burden of student loan debt and ultimately, we need to work towards debt-free college. Finally, we need to invest in our community colleges and technical schools, so our next generation is fully equipped to compete globally.
8. What is your position on the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act is a huge step forward for our country and one of the crowning achievements of President Obama’s time in office. I am proud to have his endorsement and I am proud to support the ACA, which I am opposed to repealing.
The ACA already provides healthcare to more than a million Floridians, makes prescription drugs more affordable for seniors, and prohibits insurance companies from charging women more just for being women. It also ensures Floridians with pre-existing conditions will receive the care they need. We can build on this progress by expanding Medicaid in Florida to cover nearly one million Floridians without health insurance.
While there are of course improvements we can make to the ACA, the law has had a hugely positive impact on Florida and the country. We should work to build off its success and I will always oppose Republican attempts to tear it down.
9. Florida's median income hasn't kept pace with inflation over the past decade. What policies do you advocate to change that in the decade ahead?
While the recovery since the recession has been positive, a lot of people have been left out and we need to make sure hardworking Floridians have a fair shot. We need to break down barriers, invest in people, and keep our diverse economy growing in Florida.
The minimum wage has not increased with inflation and it is time we change that. I support gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 so we can ensure that Floridians working full time can support themselves. I also support equal pay for equal work. This is the 21st century and it is absurd that women still make less than men.
Finally, we need tax reform to close loopholes and address the growing gap between the rich and the poor. The wealthy should pay their fair share so the burden does not fall on our middle class and our small businesses.
10. Should the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba be eliminated? With any conditions?
We need a policy towards Cuba that looks to the future and taps into the dreams of the Cuban people, especially the island’s young people. For fifty years, we tried a policy of isolation that only hurt our interests in the region and gave Castro an excuse for his failures. It's time to turn the page.
The Cuban people have suffered enough under an embargo that hasn’t worked for decades. We need to begin to open relations to help Cuban people make change and to expose the Castro regime. That said, human rights violations are absolutely unacceptable and we need to continue targeted sanctions on regime officials who commit these violations.
President Obama has taken positive steps to ease travel restrictions and I support lifting the travel ban. Allowing Americans to travel to Cuba will enable expanded engagement and diplomacy as well as spread American ideals and values like democracy, free press, and human rights.