Standing up for our soldiers and veterans – in particular, by ending the wasteful Afghanistan war and caring for our Middle East war vets - has always been a top priority of our campaign. For more than decade, our Senate has needlessly put our troops in harm's way without making us safer. Here are Senate candidate Levitt's answers to the April 4th questionnaire from the Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento County, printed here with permission.
Q: What is the most important issue affecting veterans you seek to represent and what will you accomplish for veterans during your tenure?
A: This answer is summed up in four of the points detailed below:
- leave Afghanistan in 2013, without leaving troops behind
- proper health care and suicide prevention
- the apology most veterans deserve
- enable veterans' families to live in vacant and stolen bank-owned homes
Before continuing the questionnaire below the fold, let's lay out that last proposal - which at first glance might seem radical or expensive. It's not - in fact, it can be achieved without cost to taxpayers, and may be the most cost effective and honorable way for big banks to protect the value of their real estate investments during the current housing crisis, with its glut of millions of foreclosed homes.
Ordinarily a foreclosed home's value is immediately slashed, often by half, the moment it becomes vacant. When this happens with more than one home, a neighborhood is blighted - neighboring homes slashed in value, theft of copper piping and other vandalism. The bank no longer receives mortgage premiums or a penny of revenue from it. It's bad for the banks that own the homes, bad for their stockholders, and terrible for the pension funds that bought their fraudulently "AAA-rated" securities with a promise of a 30 year revenue stream. But banks' long standing culture of greed and short-term thinking keeps foreclosure agents in charge, and prevents them from seeing smarter ways to protect their investment.
What if a deserving family was living there instead? A family that had already sacrificed beyond the call of duty for its country? A smarter bank - or a patriotic U.S. bank - would jump at the chance to keep the home they own properly inhabited, its neighborhood healthy, and the value of other homes it owns from falling further. The bank could charge an employed veteran's family an affordable rent and come out way ahead. It could pay an unemployed veteran's family to maintain the home and still come out ahead when the home's and neighborhood's value are factored in.
These are the same banks that we learned last fall secretly received $7 trillion dollars in "loans" at near-0% interest, with no strings attached, from our Federal Reserve. They can afford to spend some of it helping our veterans protect the bank's own real estate investments.
So this proposal won't even cost taxpayers. It's not even clear new legislation is required. It just requires leadership, imagination, and a sincere commitment to challenge banks and speak out for veterans. Amid millions of empty, foreclosed homes and millions of veterans - often un- and under-employed, some even victims of fraudulent foreclosure themselves - this approach to homes for veterans makes logical and moral sense.
Why haven't we heard such solutions? They elude politicians who routinely consider a bank that has stolen a home (as through robo-signing, a fraud on the court) to be above the law, so it is never convicted and keeps the property - while routinely treating veterans as third class citizens before, during and after combat.
Below: California Dem Vets questionnaire and answers:
Feinstein Challenger Levitt Proposes Bold Soldier, Veteran Protections
U.S. Senate candidate David Levitt, on the ballot to represent California in the June 5th primary, is advocating unprecedented protections for U.S. soldiers and veterans, including whistleblower protection, immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, and guaranteed housing in vacant bank-owned homes, in answers to questions from the Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento County.
The veterans’ questions show their concerns: about being asked to commit war crimes like waterboarding and torture; about the alarming rates of suicide and homelessness among veterans; and of course, about their repeated deployment to the unending Afghanistan war, the longest US war in history. Incumbent Senator Dianne Feinstein, an intelligence and military insider known for extreme secrecy, has declined to comment on Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis’s alarming February report, which documents that Americans are being lied to about our progress there. Lt. Colonel Davis concludes there is now no achievable mission in Afghanistan, and that continuing to deploy our soldiers there shows reckless disregard for their lives. But the Senator believes they must stay in Afghanistan through multiple ‘fighting seasons’ until at least 2014.
“Senator Feinstein’s approach to soldiers and veterans has repeatedly put them in harm’s way without actually making Americans any safer,” says Levitt. “In fact, our Senate consistently misled soldiers -- convincing more than two out of three volunteers that Iraq had illegal weapons or had something to do with the 9-11 attacks. Too many Senators failed to point out that no Iraqis or Afghanis participated in 9-11 attacks. Our troops need to face what really happened and hear our apologies before they can heal. We owe it to them.”
“Our soldiers and veterans desperately need an advocate in the U.S. Senate from California,” says Levitt.
Asked about veterans' priorities, Iraqi Freedom veteran and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commissioner Dottie Guy starts with three current articles:
‘Send Immediate Help’ to Oakland’s VA, Say Bay Area Reps - The Bay Citizen
Letter to veterans secretary cites "extreme disappointment" over decision not to overhaul troubled office, now with a backlog of 870,000 disability claims.
VA: Staff Errors Delay Veterans’ Benefits - The Bay Citizen
One in four disability decisions at Oakland office is wrong, official tells congressmen
Editorial: Backlog in VA benefit claims is shameful - The Sacramento Bee
Levitt is eager to debate the other candidates on Afghanistan, veterans, whistleblowers and other topics. For almost 12 years Senator Feinstein has declined to debate opponents.
Wealthy 20-year incumbent Feinstein and black ‘Rebuild the American Dream’ technologist Levitt are among 6 Democrats in a historic California Senate race, under new ‘top two’ primary rules that allow two Democrats to win the June primary, with no Republican on the November ballot.
Says Levitt 2012 campaign manager Sheila Harden, “As Senator Feinstein put it, ‘The Republicans decided not to run anyone in this race.' That also means that for the first time in 20 years, a win by the Senator needn't keep a progressive Democrat off California’s November ballot.”