ON THE ISSUES
Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. No one wants to get sick or hurt, but it happens to all of us. Before the ACA, people suffered needlessly because they couldn’t access or afford the healthcare they needed. The ACA changed that. There are currently approximately 49,500 people in District 15 enrolled in the ACA. For many of them, the ACA has literally saved them from bankruptcy or saved their life.
Rather than accept a costly, massive tax advantage for the rich that places a significant number of people at risk of losing coverage or their insurance altogether, I want leaders of the healthcare industries to come together to fix the problems with the ACA. We need to get drug and insurance companies’ pricing under control, expand Medicaid and restore full risk corridor protections. We need to create a stable operating environment for the insurance companies to accurately price coverage; not give them permission to choose who they cover and how much they charge.
Building consensus is hard work that takes time, patience, and compromise. Fixing the problems will provide the necessary protections for the poor and middle class families that were and continue to be saved by the ACA.
Every child and young adult deserves a quality education, whether that is from a public, private, vocational/trade, or university school system. Public schools need to be held accountable to standards, yet have the necessary freedom to design curriculum to meet those standards.
It is my belief that the Voucher System will drain public resources, lessen the public school’s ability to be competitive, and unnecessarily restrict those students whose parents cannot afford private schools. Meaningful discussion also needs to take place to address any differences between rural and urban schools, whether that be infrastructure issues or appropriate resources. Illinois needs to emphasize education, vocational/trade schools, higher education, and the public education system. One way to do that is to provide teachers with the resources they need (tools, supplies, and technology) to prepare students for the future.
Likewise, college needs to be easily accessible and affordable so that upon graduation, young adults can earn a living wage without being burdened by significant student loan debt. I will work hard to support the teachers, their Unions, and the school systems in District 15 to ensure we provide the quality of education all students deserve.
My number one goal as Congressman of the 15th will be to bring back good paying jobs. We have lost 1,000s of jobs over the last 20 years and nobody has remotely addressed this harmful trend. Children living and working in towns they grew up in, while spending time with their parents and grandparents, speaks to the essential fabric of downstate Illinois. Having good jobs with benefits provides for this essential fabric as well as increasing a person’s well-being and full participation in society.
Job training, job opportunities, and increasing job wages for the middle class are paramount to a successful economy. We need to invest in renewable energy and bring those jobs to our mining communities. I will work tirelessly to create Jobs Leadership Teams, consisting of local citizens, state officials, Unions, local businesses and federal employees, to have conversations, take action, and bring jobs back to the District communities.
People must be able to support themselves and their families. It is unconscionable that full time workers live in poverty and require further assistance in the forms of WIC, SNAP, and Medicaid. Categorizing them as lazy and unworthy of help is not justified. Corporations like Walmart and McDonalds (along with many others) underpay employees which forces the middle class to pay additional taxes to support these workers. Last year, Walmart employees alone required $6 billion in assistance programs to survive. Essentially, that added $6 Billion to WalMart’s bottom line. If you look at productivity increases over the last 30 years, the minimum wage should be $20.40 per hour; or $30.50 if based on increases in CEO pay.
The minimum wage should be raised up to $15 per hour systematically. Raising the minimum wage will greatly reduce the cost of social safety net programs. More money in the pockets of the middle class means they buy more goods and services; this in turn causes companies to increase production and hire more people, not less. I strongly support raising the minimum wage to decrease dependence on social programs and boost local economies.
We need to seize every opportunity to ensure Illinois moves forward to clean energy that protects our water and air. First, we need the jobs that moving toward renewable energy will bring to our economy. Weather you believe in global climate change being man made or not (I stand with the 97% of scientists) we all believe in clean air and clean water. These natural resources must be managed and protected today and into the future for all that inhabit the planet. Removing environmental protections that lower healthcare costs is not acceptable. These protections were put in place to keep people and wildlife safe and healthy.
It will take all of us acting together – workers and entrepreneurs, scientists and citizens, the public and private sector – to address both of these challenges. I will fight for the resources to to bring renewable energy to the District and to ensure protections to remain in place to keep people safe and healthy.
We are a nation of immigrants. The immigration laws today do not reflect our values. Law-abiding immigrants struggling for freedom, who work hard and pay their taxes, deserve a path toward citizenship that is efficient and timely (the current process takes approximately 2 years). Anyone who has had the good fortune to meet these families quickly gains compassion for and understanding of their plight.
I support the DREAM Act and reunification of families. I will fight to restore due process protections to ensure minor offenses, such as traffic violations, are not a cause for deportation and provide resources necessary for immigrants to become citizens.
We need to invest in infrastructure, renewable energy, and job training (for our District coal miners and other out-of-work constituents). Likewise, we need resources to attract new manufacturing, such as those in clean energy and high-tech products, which will provide many job opportunities for our constituents. We need resources to properly care for our Veterans. We need long-term agricultural investments and assistance for our rural farming communities.
I will fight to ensure our District receives these necessary resources.
Greatness is measured by how we take care of those in need. Social programs such as SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, and assistance to our Veterans need to be protected to assist people during hard times. More job opportunities, properly funding mental health services, mental health facilities, and drug addiction programs will help reduce homelessness. Poverty in the richest nation in the world is unacceptable. I will fight to ensure that increased resources are provided to combat poverty, addiction and homelessness in our District.
History has shown that providing the wealthy with tax advantages has led to high deficits, a stagnant economy, and income disparity. History has also shown that money saved by corporations due to repatriation of taxes from overseas (Tax Holiday) was not reinvested; they were used to pay dividends to shareholders instead of hiring and investing. Eliminating the alternative-minimum tax and estate tax provisions, which raise billions of dollars each year from the wealthiest people, will only cause higher taxes on the middle class. I believe corporations should pay a significant penalty to discourage them from hiding money overseas to avoid paying taxes. Taxes need to be progressive and without loopholes. Providing tax advantages to the wealthy and corporations do not cause economic growth. The consumer demand from goods and services that comes from the middle class causes corporations to increase production and hire more people.
Statistically, there is zero correlation between lowering taxes and economic growth. There is high correlation between lowering taxes on the wealthy and income disparity, as well as huge budget deficits. I support tax reform where all people, including corporations and billionaires, pay their fair share of taxes.
We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined. Putting our brave women and men in harms way must be a last resort. We ask them to put their lives on the line for our country, yet when they come back home we claim the cost of taking care of them is too high. That is completely unacceptable. The cost of military action must also fully include the cost of caring for our noble soldiers. If we can’t afford that cost then we shouldn’t put them in harm’s way, period. President Eisenhower stated, “The pursuit of absolute security is a vanity which will bankrupt a nation.” This is part of his warning about the aspirations of the military industrial complex. He was referring to those that profit from war, not our brave women and men. I support that notion. God Bless our Troops!
Unions are the backbone of the middle class. Attacks on union wages (The Davis-Bacon Act) and Project Labor Agreements must be fought back vigorously. The push for privatization and right to work must also be addressed with absolute intent to defeat them. Unions are the last best hope and in the best interest of the middle class. Creating an environment where Unions can thrive and grow will also transfer power back to the middle class thus helping us push back the attempt by the billionaire class to wipe us from the pages of history. I fully support Unions and will fight for them as our great Illinois Senator Paul Simon did.
MAXIMIZING OUR FREEDOMS
FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS
Freedom of the press insures a healthy and honest democracy. Any limitations on this limits our Freedom as a nation. We must also insure that all speech (excluding hate speech) is protected even if we strongly disagree with the conclusions of others. Recent attempts to limit the 1st Amendment protections must be curtailed and/or repealed. People with money and power looking to dictate the narrative through the use of lawsuits and legislative actions only seek to undermine our democracy for personal profit and accumulation of power.
SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS
The 2nd Amendment of the Constitution should be protected. I have a Conceal & Carry permit. Although I’m a Democrat, I do NOT want to take your gun away.
I believe background checks are necessary wherever guns are sold. We are aware that most often, offenders don’t buy guns legally. If we can stop 100 gun deaths each year because of background checks, it is worth the inconvenience. If a family member is still alive because an offender could not purchase a gun legally, it is again worth the inconvenience. However, background checks must be done quickly and at a very low cost.
We need to find a balance that addresses gun violence in our cities while protecting honest law abiding citizens’ rights to possess and use firearms. I support a common sense approach to gun laws which should guide any further gun legislation in Illinois. Let’s first enforce the laws already on the books rather than overhaul a system which has not obtained the results we want. Honest people should have clear simple access to firearms and criminals should have no access to them. Using that as a basic premise should allow for further discussion on this complicated issue.
One of Martin Luther King’s statements about civil rights has always been in the forefront of any civil rights discussion: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I passionately believe in those words. Civil rights and civil liberties within our Constitution guarantees that people are free from discrimination and treated equally. Although the country has moved forward significantly with civil rights, there is still work to be done. The strongest cure to allay the fear of people who do not look like us or do not pray like us, is to invite them into our home and have a meal with them. If we all had an opportunity to see the humanity in the law abiding people who are different from us, there would be no need for this discussion. I will work hard to protect the rights of every individual in the District.
Social Security is not an entitlement. We pay into the system our entire lives and employers match our payment. Congress has raided the Social Security funds several times. Now after that theft, they try to make the middle class feel guilty by slapping the social safety net with the unflattering term of entitlement. This shell game and word propaganda should be rejected by all. There is a simple solution that congress will not consider because it doesn’t please the wealthy donors. Remove the cap on wages that employers match. This year, they do not have to pay Social Security on any wages over $127,000. If we remove that cap so all wages pay the SS portion into the system, the program will be funded indefinitely. Any other necessary adjustment would come in the form of how much income someone can make in retirement and still qualify for benefits. For those that feel this is unfair my answer is: ‘What is unfair is a system set up where the rich get richer and the middle class are forced to make up the difference. Don’t force our seniors into a situation where that can’t eat or pay their living expenses’.
American must be fully engaged on the world stage. Therefore, I believe in a well staffed and robust State Department using highly skilled negotiations in diplomacy. The teeth of our foreign policy should be sanctions via world consensus with strong swift military action only as a last resort. We have traveled down roads away from that principle many times and the cost in treasure both in human capital and real dollars has been intolerable.
ISIS is an ideology. We must definitely address the murderous thugs with overwhelming military force in the form of military support for those on the front lines. That said we need to understand and address what makes the ground fertile for their existence. Foreign policy must be conducted in a manner which sterilizes said soil. Long term consistent actions in line with this objective should be well thought out and executed consistently. Reckless actions only insure that the ideology lives on. We should seek a deep understanding of each situation and act accordingly in partnership with the majority of peaceful Muslims in country.
Planned Parenthood provides essential preventative and reproductive health care services to millions of women, like cancer screenings, STD testing and low-cost birth control. Women in rural and low income communities use these facilities for their healthcare. The Hyde Amendment (1976) banned any federal funds from being used for abortions. Therefore the benefits provided to women in rural and low income areas outweigh the moral conflict that abortion takes place in those facilities.
I strongly believe in a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.
The system was not broken and did not need to be fixed. This latest change only benefits providers in the form of increased profits and possibly could lead to passive censorship.
The classification of marijuana should be lowered from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2. Research on the long term effects and usefulness of marijuana is impaired due to this classification. All known and proven medical uses for marijuana should immediately be made available to patients who need it. As far as recreational marijuana is concerned, the State of Illinois needs to decide if they want the marijuana revenue to go to drug dealers or to provide financial assistance to our bankrupt state. This is a complex decision which needs greater debate among constituents and others in the 15th district and state officials.