September 8, 2006

Alliance for Retired Americans
815 16th St. NW, 4th Floor
Washington DC 20006-4104

RE: Federal Candidate Questionnaire


Thank you for sending us your Federal Candidates 2006 Questionnaire. A print-out with my answers and comments is enclosed.

We converted your paper copy to a digital format, which allowed more room for comments. It also will allow us to post the completed questionnaire on our web page,, where it will share space with numerous other questionnaires we have completed in this campaign season.

Also on our web page you will find extensive details about my positions on such things as national health care, the stabilization of Social Security, portability of pensions, the effort to do away with punitive Social Security "off-sets" for state employees here in Maine, and various labor issues that relate directly to retirement issues.

I understand your organization endorses candidates. I would be pleased to be considered for such an endorsement, and I would be honored if I were to receive one.

If you need any more information from me, or would like to talk with me before you make a decision, feel free to call. Our Washington DC phone number (which bounces to our campaign headquarters here in Maine) is 202-747-0426.

Jean Hay Bright

How do you plan to involve retirees and older Americans in your 2006 campaign?
As an older American myself (59 next month), I am finding that many of my campaign volunteers are of my generation or older.
Please list the contact information for your campaign's older Americans liaison.
David Bright, campaign manager      207-234-4224
Name                                             Phone number        e-mail

Medicare and Prescription Drugs
  1. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense currently have the authority to negotiate for the best prices on prescription drugs. Would you support giving the Medicare program similar authority to directly negotiate with drug companies for drug prices?
    YES      Comment: The "no price negotiations" part of Medicare Part D was a travesty. Olympia Snowe voted for that bill, and is now being praised for wanting to fix what she voted for.
  2. The Medicare Part D program imposes a minimum 7% lifetime penalty on monthly premiums for beneficiaries who missed the May 15, 2006 enrollment deadline. Do you favor waiving this penalty once enrolment begins again on November 15, 2006?
    YES      Comment: This should never have been part of this bill
  3. Would you support eliminating or shrinking the "doughnut hole," the gap in coverage inside which beneficiaries receive no insurance help?
    YES      Comment: If we had drug price negotiations, this gap could be greatly reduced or even eliminated. Also, the fact that it is one sized "hole," and not graduated based on income, is another failing of this provision.
  4. Would you support legalizing the safe re-importation of drugs from Canada or other nations, if the drugs and facilities where they are manufactured are approved by the Food and Drug Administration?
    YES      Comment: Of course, if we negotiated drug prices like Canada and other countries already do, this would not be an issue.
  5. Would you support a requirement that Medicare offer its own prescription drug benefit, one that reduces costs for enrollees and minimizes confusion?
    YES      Comment: The real solution is National Health Care
  6. Would you support efforts to repeal the means testing of Part B Medicare premiums as mandated by the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003?
    NO      Comment: I believe in progressive income taxes, and this follows along with that thinking. Maybe if the "premiums" were tied into income taxes, it would be viewed differently. As for seniors opting out of the program for cheaper private insurance, under a national health care program, everyone would be covered, and there would be no opting out.
    Social Security

  7. Do you support measures to privatize Social Security by diverting a portion of individual payroll taxes into private investment accounts.
    NO      Comment: Private accounts should be encouraged as retirement savings IN ADDITION to Social security, not in place of it. And funding for those private accounts should not come out of the FICA taxes.
  8. Do you support measures that would reduce the guaranteed benefits under current law?
  9. Do you favor allowing younger workers to invest some of their Social Security taxes in private accounts?
  10. Should Social Security benefits be "means tested," that is, benefits are reduced according to a beneficiary's other income?
    YES      Comment: Social Security is an income insurance plan, not a retirement savings plan. After a generous baseline, I think it is appropriate to think about means testing this income. On the other hand, I don't think Social Security checks should be cut back starting at such low levels as they are now when someone continues working after retiring.
    Long Term Care

  11. Would you support legislation that would require health care professionals to report quality and safety problems affecting patients and protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers?
  12. Would you support uniform, national standards assuring the quality of care and protection of rights for nursing home residents and recipients of community-based long term care services who are Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries?
    Pensions and Retirement Security

  13. Would you support measures to protect the retirement savings of workers who participate in 401(k)s by providing them with a broad right to sell company stock in their accounts?
  14. Would you support measures to assure worker and retiree participation in the administration of 401(k) and other retirement savings plans?
  15. Would you support measures to encourage the creation and expansion of defined benefit pension plans?
    NO      Comment: I am concerned about the number of such plans that disappear when a company goes bankrupt. Also, defined benefit plans assume longevity in one workplace, and that is not the current reality. I think portability of pensions is critical, as people go from job to job, and I will work to stabilize that situation for employees.
  16. Would you support proposals that give retiree health benefits a higher priority in bankruptcy proceedings in order to preserve those benefits?
    YES      Comment: Although, a national health care plan will solve this problem.
    Budget and Taxes

  17. Do you favor making permanent the 2001 and 2003 federal tax cuts, which disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans and threaten the financial stability of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds?
    NO      Comment: These tax cuts for the rich are a travesty, and need to be rescinded as soon as possible.
  18. Would you vote in favor of a federal budget that cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans while raising Medicare premiums for seniors?
    NO      Comment: Ridiculous idea.
  19. Do you favor tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans even if those cuts would require further raising the statutory national debt ceiling?
    NO      Comment: That's not only silly, it's dangerous. And yes, I know that's the current situation. It's silly, and dangerous.
  20. Do you support the repeal of the federal estate tax?
    NO      Comment: Money is taxed when it changes hands. Estate taxes work the same way, with the same concept as income taxes - a generous deduction/exemption limit, then taxes on everything above that.

Candidate's Name: Jean Hay Bright      Date: Sept. 8, 2006
Address: 4262 Kennebec Rd, Dixmont ME 04932
State: Maine                                         Party: Democrat
Office Sought: U.S. Senate                   Signature: Jean Hay Bright

Web Site:
Campaign contact: David Bright,