The Democrats vying to replace U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin in the 2nd Congressional District agree on many issues. All support codifying the right to abortion in federal law, for instance, and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act.

We broke down where there’s a little more daylight between candidates Seth Magaziner, David Segal, Omar Bah, Sarah Morgenthau and Joy Fox. 

Medicare for All

David Segal and Omar Bah support Medicare for All.

Seth Magaziner said that Americans “are used to having choices and don’t like the government or anyone else restricting the choices they have,” so he prefers the idea of a public option, also sometimes termed “Medicare for all who want it.”

“I think there should be an affordable Medicare option for anyone who wants it, but we shouldn’t require people who want a different form of insurance to give that up,” he said.

Sarah Morgenthau said that there was a need to “revamp” the health care system and “make sure that it’s affordable for everybody.” However, she said, “I don’t know that now is the time to do Medicare for All. I think it’s too aggressive, and not likely that we’re going to be able to pass something like that.”

Joy Fox said that “affordable access to health care” was necessary, but that she needed to “get in there and do my homework” on the best way to make that a reality and ensure that “whatever program we have covers everyone, including kids.” 

Affordable housing

Asked what Congress could do to address the shortage of affordable housing, Magaziner pointed to expanding down payment assistance for homebuyers and expanding federal housing tax credits to make it more affordable to develop housing.

Segal said he’d like to see “more provision of public funds for the creation of housing,” and easier access to housing vouchers. He would also like to see Congress pass a bill introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would add $450 billion to the national Housing Trust Fund to create more housing for people at the bottom of the income scale. 

Fox said that programs for first-time homebuyers, rental assistance, and tackling homelessness should be well-funded. She also said that the affordable-housing crisis calls for “tactical constituent services” — making sure that the congressional delegation is working closely with community development agencies and other organizations to understand their needs and what streams of funding might be available. 

Morgenthau said that Congress could “work on federal legislation” but did not offer specific details. She said she would approach the issue by “making sure that we’re convening the right people, we’re putting everything on the table, and we’re coming up with the right solutions for folks here back in Rhode Island.”

Bah said that he would like to see Congress put aside more money for the construction of affordable housing, as well as laws passed to address gentrification and NIMBYism.

Green New Deal

Segal and Bah are in favor of a Green New Deal.

Magaziner said that the name “means different things to different people, but if, at the core, what it means is a transition to clean energy that supports workers and keeps costs low, then I’m for it.” He said that he agrees there needs to be a quick transition to 100% clean energy, facilitated in a way that creates jobs and is affordable for consumers.

“The Green New Deal is a goal, it’s an aspiration,” Morgenthau said. “It’s a good one, but we don’t have any legislation behind it. One thing that folks know when they meet me is that I want to know what it is that we’re trying to achieve and how we’re going to achieve it.”

Fox said that any climate policy should be based on understanding what the community needs and figuring out what funding streams are available, “regardless of what you call it.” It should also ensure that “the transition leaves no one behind, and is fair and just for everyone.” 

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