The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent questions to the candidates about seven key issues. The questions were generated in part via input from AJC readers. Here are the candidates and their responses:
A veteran of the U.S. Marines, Hazel is the producer of the Podcast Radical.
An investigative journalist and small business owner, Ossoff lost the 2017 6th District special election.
Perdue is an incumbent U.S. Senator and former corporate CEO.
1. Democrats in Congress recently pushed for a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill while Republicans backed a scaled-down proposal of $500 billion to $700 billion. Which approach would you have preferred and why?
Hazel: Both parties are wrong. Per the Constitution the federal government has zero delegated authority to spend a dime on state matters. $26 trillion has bought us a collapsing empire that only serves the super rich. The last stimulus bill was the largest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the elite the world has ever seen and the complicit media said nothing.
Ossoff: The Senate should have passed a bipartisan compromise months ago. Small businesses are struggling. Millions are out of work. Speed matters.
But the Senate has failed to reach such any such compromise.
Instead they took an inexplicable month-long summer vacation — even though PPP small business loans expired, emergency unemployment insurance ran out, and schools were forced to re-open without critical federal help.
Fast additional relief must shore up our economy with stronger support for small businesses and tax relief for working families — instead of prioritizing big banks and major corporations, who already get massive support from the Federal Reserve.
And then leaders must turn to long-term economic recovery. In the Senate, I’ll support the most ambitious infrastructure program in history to jumpstart our economy and create millions of jobs. Upgraded infrastructure will help our economy recover from this crisis and serve as the foundation for decades of prosperity.
Perdue: When the COVID-19 crisis began, we took quick, bipartisan action to protect public health and support American workers and businesses. While we have more work to do, our efforts are clearly paying off. We have already brought back 10.6 million jobs. In Georgia, the $2.9 trillion CARES Act and other relief packages provided our state with $46 billion in relief and saved 1.5 million jobs. The focus of the Republicans’ targeted relief bill was to help people get back to work, back to school, and beat this virus. Despite this, liberal Democrats have opposed the bill because they’d rather make it a political issue than help the American people. Schumer and Pelosi are pushing a $3-4 trillion wish list that includes bailouts of fiscally irresponsible states. They are putting their politics ahead of what’s best for the American people. The contrast could not be more clear.
2. The severity of recent hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters has been tied to climate change. What, if anything, should Congress do to reverse the impact of human activity on the climate?
Hazel: The federal Government is one of the largest polluters on earth, so, per Art 1.8.17, states should claim their land, remove the federal government and have local conservation experts such as guides, hunters and outdoors men help local communities on how best to protect their land, animals and resources.
Ossoff: To create jobs, grow our economy, and protect our planet for future generations, I’ll champion a historic American infrastructure plan with an unprecedented investment in clean energy.
The scientific consensus is clear: uncontrolled greenhouse gas pollution is fast changing our climate, and if we don’t control this pollution there will be catastrophic implications for our health, prosperity, and security.
That’s the overwhelming consensus of peer-reviewed science, the military, our intelligence agencies, and NASA. Nevertheless many elected officials refuse to acknowledge this or act because the fossil fuel industry has purchased their loyalty.
Georgia’s agriculture, aquaculture, coastal settlements, and barrier islands are seriously threatened by inaction.
In the Senate I’ll make policy based on science — not lobbying by polluters. I’ll support re-entry into the Paris Climate Accords and restored U.S. leadership on the environment. I’ll push for fast advancements in sustainability and work to reverse Trump’s rollbacks of environmental standards.
Perdue: It’s critical that we maintain our environment and be good stewards of our planet for future generations. We can do this with responsible energy policies that encourage investment in power sources like nuclear energy. For this purpose, I’ve supported Plant Vogtle’s construction of units three and four, the first nuclear reactors to be built in the United States in decades. What we don’t need is the dangerous Green New Deal that Democrats have pushed. This plan would kill thousands of jobs, kill our economy, and raise taxes to unprecedented heights, and it would do nothing to accomplish its stated environmental goals. We can’t afford a radical left-wing agenda like that, and we have to make sure it is not imposed on Georgia families.
3. What legislation would you back to lower prescription drug costs for seniors and those with chronic diseases?
Hazel: First I will end the war on drugs and recognize the right of all people to use nature/cannabis as medication, which will destroy big pharma's monopoly on drug costs. Second, I will remove the federal government from the healthcare market where they have zero Constitutional delegated authority.
Lowering prescription drug prices is one of my top priorities. The drug companies are ripping us off every day, and they get away with it because they’ve bought political power in Washington.
The cost of prescription drugs in America is a scandal, and corruption is to blame. Many politicians are heavily funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and that’s why they let the price gouging continue.
I’ll back legislation to crack down on price gouging by the drug companies and expand access to safe generic medicine imported from Canada.
And one specific change in the law would make a huge difference: Medicare is America’s biggest buyer of prescriptions. But the drug companies bought off Congress, and they made it illegal for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.
It’s straight up corruption, and I’ll champion legislation to empower Medicare to negotiate lower prices and ensure every Georgia family can afford medicine.
Perdue: Prescription drug prices are one of the most significant drivers of health care costs today. I support the Phair Pricing Act and other proposals that aim to lower the costs of prescription drugs. This is a trade issue as well, since other countries that buy our pharmaceuticals do not have to pay as much for research and development costs. President Trump has worked to address this. We also have to crack down on surprise medical bills, and I’ve introduced legislation to guarantee coverage for those with pre-existing conditions at no additional cost. In contrast, Democrats support socialized healthcare that would lead to dozens of Georgia hospital closures, higher costs, and fewer doctors while paving the way for the elimination of private health insurance. The fact that they want to do all of this in the middle of a public health emergency is extremely dangerous for Georgians.
4. What is your biggest concern about ensuring elections are fair, secure and accurate, and what would you do to address it?
Hazel: Private dual blockchain voting is the only way to secure elections going forward. However, my biggest concern is that neither Republicans nor Democrats will accept the election results at this point. And as a Marine combat vet, I fear it will lead to violence where poor people will bear the greatest hardships.
Ossoff: Voting rights are under attack.
The Voting Rights Act has been eviscerated in the last ten years, allowing unethical politicians to abuse their power and disenfranchise their own citizens – especially in the South.
Black voters have been targeted, in the words of a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, “with almost surgical precision.” That’s disgusting. We need a new Voting Rights Act, in honor of Congressman John Lewis, to protect the sacred franchise.
A new Voting Rights Act should make it a federal crime for state or local elections officials to maliciously disenfranchise American citizens.
I’ll support automatic voter registration, expansion of voting by mail and early voting options, and stronger measures to ensure the fairness, accuracy, and security of U.S. elections
Perdue: Every legally eligible voter must have the right to freely cast their ballot and have their voice heard. In Georgia, there are ample opportunities to cast your ballot, including absentee voting for anyone who chooses to and three weeks of early voting. However, elections are run at the county level, and in recent years, we’ve seen unacceptable problems. The June 9 primaries this year were a complete debacle. Every year, it's these same Democrat-controlled elections boards in counties around Atlanta that have major issues. We have to root out this incompetence and malfeasance in our county elections boards. We have to regain the people’s trust in our institutions. This has to be done on the local level, not the federal level. It’s alarming to see Democrats like Stacey Abrams continue their dangerous and misleading efforts to spread disinformation to create distrust.
5. Do you believe the federal government has done enough to support unemployed workers and their families? What is your long-term strategy to keep these workers and their families from plunging into financial desperation?
Hazel: It is the states' reserved power to address social safety nets that fit the desires of their citizens per the 10th Amendment. I would kill the federal reserve and their fiat currency system that is inflating the money supply and destroying the value of the dollar and return the US to a gold/silver system and allow for competing mediums of exchange to return power to the people.
Ossoff: I’ll fight to lower taxes for working families and strengthen small businesses, rather than relying on subsidies for Wall Street as economic stimulus and hoping the benefits trickle down.
And to create millions of jobs, revitalize our economy, and alleviate poverty, I’ll support the most ambitious infrastructure program in history.
Similar to the 2007-2008 financial crisis, while working- and middle-class families and smaller businesses have been hit hardest during this pandemic, the fastest and biggest emergency relief went straight to the top.
Our government’s safety net for Wall Street banks is infinite and instantaneous. Help for ordinary people and small businesses is meager and slow.
And it’s because of corruption. Those who can afford to buy access in Washington get the most help.
Before COVID-19, we had the greatest economic turnaround in U.S. history. 6.6 million Americans pulled themselves out of poverty. They didn’t do that because of some federal program, they did that because we were able to grow the economy. Even in the midst of COVID-19, we’ve been able to bring back 10.6 million jobs that were lost. Contrast that to the unmitigated failure of the Great Society’s War on Poverty, which totally failed to achieve its objectives. Radical Democrats don’t understand economic growth. They have no plan to get us out of COVID-19. At times they’ve even attacked bipartisan programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that saved 1.5 million Georgia jobs just to try and score political points against me. That kind of dangerous partisanship has no place in the Senate.
6. COVID-19 looks like it will continue to be a part of our lives well into next year. How will you balance scientific guidance with the economic needs of Georgia?
Hazel: People have the rights per the 9th Amendment to conduct business, commerce, travel and associations on their terms without any government involvement whatsoever. The tyrannical one-size-fits-all government "solution" violates a plethora of rights reserved to the people and destroys economy. Everyone is essential. Everyone's job is essential. Production is essential. Service is essential. I will do everything in my power to remove government and their self-serving regulations and "laws" from the market and trust Americans and our guests to provide the economic horsepower that America so desperately needs. I trust the people, not the government.
Ossoff: It’s not a matter of “balancing” between health and the economy. They are inextricably linked.
Economic recovery requires a strong and effective public health response. Anyone saying different hasn’t been paying attention the last seven months.
President Trump and his enablers deliberately misled the public. They politicized the response. They contradicted and ignored doctors and scientists. They told us this virus posed a low risk and said we wouldn’t see a significant uptick in cases, even as scientists warned widespread disease was imminent.
Their dishonesty and foolishness have cost lives and compounded the economic damage.
In a public health emergency, I will level with the public about the threat. I will put public health above politics, and I will trust and empower the expertise of the best qualified doctors and scientists.
Perdue: Throughout COVID-19, I’ve urged Georgians to follow CDC guidelines and the advice of health experts. It’s vital that everybody follow the three W’s: wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear your mask. We took unprecedented action early on to slow the spread of the virus. We stopped travel, shut down the economy, and focused on protecting our most vulnerable. I also introduced the SCHOOL Act to provide local communities with the tools they need to safely reopen or virtually learn. I’m confident that if we support each other and follow the protocols, we can defeat this virus and eventually go back to normal. We can learn a lot from our essential workers and military personnel who have maintained operations throughout this crisis. They’ve proven that we can follow protocols and reopen the economy and schools safely.
7. Do you think the killing of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks were isolated incidents or a sign of broader problems in the treatment of Black Americans by police? If you believe the incidents reflect a broader problem, what should Congress do to address it ?
Hazel: Government at every level is compromised. Murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, vandalism, trespassing, fraud, coercion & treason are crimes. Everything else is a scheme for government revenue generation used against otherwise peaceful people. I will push for an end to all qualified immunity, police militarization, public sector unions, civil asset forfeiture and an end to the disastrous war on drugs just for starters. America is the most incarcerated nation on earth, and that means we are no longer the land of the free.
Ossoff: These cases of brutality targeting Black Americans are not “isolated incidents.”
In the United States today, the fact is deep race and class disparities persist in policing, prosecution, and sentencing. Racial profiling, arbitrary detention, brutality, and abuse in detention and incarceration are widespread.
We need leaders willing to acknowledge and address that head-on.
We must strengthen due process, civil rights and civil liberties, and enforce the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law for all — regardless of race or class.
That’s why I will champion a new Civil Rights Act in the U.S. Senate. The answer is reform, not defunding the police. There must be accountability for brutality, racial profiling, race or class bias.
That’s how we will rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement.
Perdue: I worked with Senator Tim Scott to introduce the JUSTICE Act, a bill that would rebuild trust in our communities and increase support for law enforcement. Democrats refused to even discuss these solutions, while enabling the radical, socialist Defund the Police movement. Our law enforcement needs more funding, not less, especially right now as we see violent crime, dangerous riots, and lawlessness spread across our country. Defunding the police would weaken public safety and lead to more anarchy on our streets.