Ashwin Madia, Democratic candidate for U.S. Rep., District 3

In light of the current economic crisis, what needs to happen to ensure American economic stability in the future? First, we need to restore oversight and transparency of our financial markets. Second, we need to balance our budget and pay down the debt. Third, we need to get a real energy strategy in this country to get off our dependence on foreign oil. Fourth, we need to invest in education so we have the most competitive work force on the face of the planet. Fifth, we need to stop spending 10 billion dollars a month every single month in Iraq. Can the United States achieve energy independence? If so, what steps do we need to take for that to happen and how long do you think it will take? The answer is yes, and the steps are that we need to get a real energy strategy in our country, get off this dependence on oil. That should include wind, solar and biofuels, fuel-efficient cars and energy efficient appliances, geothermal, everything âĦ I think that if we do this right and we push forward, we can have this done between 10 and 20 years. With tuition costs rising, what, if anything, would you do to make college more affordable? First, I would sit down with college administrators and the Legislature and find out why costs are rising so quickly. Second, IâÄôd restore some of the funding that has been cut for Pell Grants and Stafford loans and Perkins loans . Third, IâÄôd create new scholarships and grants for promising new students who choose to pursue studies in science, math or engineering. What is your stance on gay marriage? I support it. What is your stance on abortion? IâÄôm pro-choice, but my goal would be to help reduce the amount of unexpected pregnancies in the first place by working with people on both sides of the aisle for age-appropriate childhood sexual education and proper access to contraception for everybody. What, if anything, would you change about the health care system? IâÄôd try to contain costs. Right now costs are just going out of control, so IâÄôd let the government negotiate with pharmaceutical drug companies to save people money on drug prices. IâÄôd allow for the re-importation of drugs that are met with FDA approval. IâÄôd increase preventative care in our system to save money, invest in electronic medical records to help save money. So IâÄôd focus on trying to reduce costs so that we can improve access and affordability for people who donâÄôt have insurance. How should the United States address the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? We need to reduce our presence in Iraq in a responsible way and transfer more and more responsibilities to the Iraqis. And I think that we need to make a stronger commitment in Afghanistan to tracking down bin Laden and al-Qaida and the Taliban and eliminating them because theyâÄôre the ones who started this whole fight on Sept. 11 . What is the most important issue our country must deal with today and how do you plan to address it? I believe that the most important issue weâÄôre facing today is that we need to get our economy moving again, and the way that I would want to address it is to work with both sides to restore confidence and stability in our financial system through a combination of real fiscal responsibility in Washington, a comprehensive energy strategy, investments in our people, and a responsible end to the war in Iraq.