On the Record: Congressional candidate Rishi Kumar

San José Spotlight asked readers what they want to know about the candidates running for Silicon Valley’s competitive Congressional District 16 race. We received more than 100 questions from readers for the candidates and narrowed it down to eight questions that capture a range of critical national issues — from immigration to foreign policy and partisan gridlock in Washington.

Read all the candidates’ answers.

Here are Rishi Kumar’s full, unedited answers:

How will you work “across the aisle” and overcome the challenges facing our political discourse?

I’m a uniter, not a divider and Californians are tired of partisan politics that ignores  fundamental, generational problems. People want a bipartisan approach to problem solving, they want to like their neighbors. They want friends not enemies, and fighting fire with fire only burns the house down.  https://rishikumar.com/bipartisanship

Too often Career politicians put party before country and everyone suffers. Laws should stand the test of time, not be undone whenever power shifts hands.

What will you do if Trump is re-elected fairly and then he violates the constitution again through his decisions and actions? 

Both parties must abide by the same set of rules, and protecting our democracy and maintaining the integrity of our Constitution will always be my utmost priority. The Constitution is the bedrock principle of our democracy, and I’ll advocate for and support all necessary legal and congressional measures to address violations promptly and effectively. This includes, but is not limited to, supporting investigations, endorsing appropriate legislative responses, and, if warranted, backing impeachment proceedings.

Do you believe in, and will you publicly support, a two nation resolution to Israel and Palestine?

Yes, I support a two nation resolution. I’m the only candidate in this race who has taken an explicit pro-Israel stance on the Israel/Hamas conflict of today.  Israel has a right to exist and defend itself, the threat of Hamas has not been neutralized, and neither Israeli nor US hostages in Gaza have been returned. Violence, rape as a weapon, and terrorism have no place in society , and I have a clear, long standing policy: RishiKumar.com/IsraelPalestinianPolicy.

I recognize Israel’s inalienable right to live in peace and support the two nation resolution and support peaceful Palestinian efforts to gain sovereignty. Israel must recognize the national aspirations of the Palestinian people.

What will you do to reduce the federal deficit?

Our national debt today is $38 trillion. Unfortunately neither party has been serious about the deficit. Until voters hold incumbents accountable for their decades-long failure to control the deficit it will be ignored. My plan is at RishiKumar.com/deficit.

Promote Economic Growth:

My plan is to grow Silicon Valley’s innovation economy. We cannot fall behind with emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Silicon Valley must lead the world in technological innovation! We have to seed Silicon Valley’s innovation success to other parts of California and America, so that our working-class families share in the economic prosperity. I will invest in education and mentoring of our youth, and launching Entrepreneurship Incubation Centers to nurture start-ups.

Pull back from American wars:

Since 2001, the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $10 trillion. We need to stop giving Iran money. It’s time to reevaluate our American policy and push for education and economic empowerment all over the globe.

Redo Trade Agreements:

Our country currently has free trade agreements with countries around the world, and many of these leave us economically disadvantaged. It’s time to renegotiate them.

Government Efficiency & Fraud Reduction:

I’m the only candidate in this race who has ever successfully opposed a tax. Streamlining government operations to reduce waste and targeting fraud can make government spending more efficient. Fraudsters stole more than $280 billion in COVID-19 relief funding that even the simplest checks and balances would have prevented.. We need technological checks and balances to prevent cases likeTransDigm Group Inc., a leading global designer and producer of engineered aerospace components, who exorbitantly overcharged taxpayers with spare part markups as high as 4,451%.

How do you plan to help our region, state, and country to kick the reliance on fossil fuels as we make our way to a carbon-free energy future?

Leveraging the extraordinary technical and financial resources of the richest, most innovative congressional district in America  can address climate change, create jobs and a vibrant economy: RishiKumar.com/climate

Congress plays a critical role in supporting clean energy research, reducing the risk of producing  renewable energy and ensuring that windmill manufacturers, solar panel makers, and biofuel producers have the support they need to grow. The United States must be weaned from fossil fuels and must act to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions across our planet. and in the workplace and support clean energy research.

We must promote and create jobs in a clean-tech economy. We need investments in policies and projects that would change the way we design buildings, travel and eat.

We must remove and replace carbon-based fuels with non-carbon-based fuels.

Our climate demands an urgent and immediate focus, along with an exponential investment. We should consider various options such as ocean photosynthesis in algae or seaweed – which is how nature removed CO2 before the ice ages. We have to transition to a clean energy economy. We need to invest  in smart grids for renewable energy distribution, encouraging energy-efficient manufacturing, and expanding low-emissions public transit. We need to help working class families slash their energy bills and reduce their transit costs by offering more energy-efficient homes, access to affordable wind and solar power, and more reliable options for affordable public transportation.

What would you do to remedy the root causes of homelessness, such as providing better mental health and addiction services?

In cities like San Jose, they have spent millions of taxpayer dollars on the homelessness crisis, only to exacerbate the problem. This represents a significant waste of taxpayer funds without achieving meaningful results.

Here is our approach to reduce homelessness — details at https://rishikumar.com/homelessness. The most important criteria for any social program is to strengthen vulnerable people’s ability to take care of themselves. Employment and education must be at the center of any strategy to reduce poverty and increase economic mobility. I support:

  • Therapy: Mental illness, alcohol and other drugs, domestic violence, individual, group and family counseling, case management along with career placement support
  • Education: Community college, parenting, healthy relationships, breaking habits, positive thinking, role modeling, exercise, and meditation
  • Preschool programs/school readiness: Early developmental screenings and early intervention services, literacy programs and phys-ed.
  • Productive and Sustained Support: Tap into peoples’ and organizations’ established skills to provide the kind of long-term support that shelters and unhoused people need.

One of the primary ways we can solve this drug and addiction crisis is by strengthening people’s ability to recover and applying a data-driven focused strategy. Employment opportunities and education for addicts are instrumental if we hope to deal with this issue. My detailed solutions include therapy, classes, and aiding career development.

Will you support fully funding BART to San Jose and the High Speed Rail projects?

No. We need the investment in mass transit here to address the traffic challenges. Investments for cutting-edge mass transportation projects should happen here and not be the “High Speed Rail to nowhere.” For far too long, we have duct taped systems that are not working and a travesty of a system called the Light Rail bleeds taxpayer dollars. It should be shut down. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which manages the county’s road and transit network, is one of the nation’s most inefficient organizations, losing about $9.30 per rider. The VTA rail system is currently used by fewer than 5% of area commuters. Any plan to fix Silicon Valley transportation must be part of a larger transportation plan for Northern and Central California. My approach involves developing public-private partnerships that can more quickly and efficiently develop our transportation infrastructure, and at lower risk to the taxpayer. My policy paper on this topic is at RishiKumar.com/traffic.

What are your solutions to the border crisis and do you believe we should have an open border for any and all to be allowed into the country?

President Biden’s reelection is in peril due to the immigration crisis. Nationally we see major ironclad Democratic cities like Chicago and New York saying enough is enough. We need a legal immigration framework that is transparent. I came to this country as an Immigrant  – student visa with 2 suitcases and I found my way through graduate school following a legal process. I am proud to call Saratoga a home today.  and believe Immigrants have been a strong asset to this country. But we can’t have an  unregulated border.  We do things legally and we should not be promoting anything illegal at all. It’s the White House imperative on hand and we need to have it fixed yesterday. The Senate much hyped $118 billion border bill, dead on arrival in the House. The border is a flashpoint in the 2024 presidential race and reelection hinges upon a fix. Nothing’s imminent though.

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