Restructure the nation’s tax system
I believe in a fair tax system
that ensures that there isn’t an undue financial tax burden placed on families and individuals. I will vote for tax overhauls that would close loopholes for businesses and the highest earners.
I believe in a federalism
that states should handle many more situations that have been relegated to the federal government – and so I will support turning those areas back to the states, reducing the federal tax burden accordingly, and then letting the states find the means to pay for the services – through direct or indirect taxation or other means – they choose.
Prioritize paying down the federal debt
We are in a severe fiscal crisis. Our national debt has topped $22 trillion and is barreling towards $23 trillion. This is completely unsustainable. Our future security as a nation depends upon our getting this under control. This will be my top priority when I enter Congress.
I support balanced budget laws and initiatives, short of a constitutional amendment. We need to eliminate the $136 billion of fraud and abuse as soon as possible. We also need to immediately budget only within our means, and also set a path towards debt elimination. This includes tax overhauls that would close loopholes for businesses and the highest earners. It also includes a realistic look at current expenditures in every federal department and tightening those individual budgets. Congress should not receive any pay raises until this occurs, and then they should only receive the same increase Social Security recipients receive until the debt is severely lowered. All proposed legislation should not only be priced by the OMB and GAO, but must also include a statement of fiscal responsibility, showing how this would be paid for while remaining within the balanced budget guidelines.
While I support semi-privatizing of social security for future generations, I recognize the responsibility to ensure the social security payments for the current generation. There absolutely must be a reformation of the social security system. Shoring up for the present while modernizing for the future is vital.
improve efficiency of entitlement programs
This would include using block grants to states and cities to ensure that the funds to help individuals are being used in the most productive way. Local governments are also more able to eliminate fraud than the federal government can.
Promote healthcare reforms
that reduces the costs for average citizens, while recognizing that healthy competition could help spur healthcare innovation.
As a legislator I would look at each of these elements and work on legislation that approaches the issues individually.
I will work for insurance reform and regulation; health care pricing transparency laws – allowing patients to see prices up front in order to make informed decisions; and working with insurance companies, health care providers, and others to help to make preventative medical care affordable.
I would also look at innovative ideas to encourage more students to pursue medical degrees, be it as physicians or physician assistants, such as the approach in California that has allowed physicians to get their student debt paid off by guaranteeing to see a high percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients, or by pushing for occupational license reform, allowing doctors and other medical professionals to move their licenses state-to-state and permitting qualified non-physicians to provide more care.
Medical malpractice costs have been reined in with the advent of tort reform legislation in many states, so while that would not be a priority of mine, oversight to ensure those costs don’t go back up would be important.
All of these reforms cannot, and should not, pass Congress in a single bill. The areas above are unique in their complexity and need to be treated as such. Separate bills covering the individual pieces is the best way to approach this multi-faceted problem and they will be a high priority the moment I arrive in Congress.
Empower states to improve their education systems
by removing many of the federal requirements imposed on local schools
I believe in minimum federal standards in education, but I also believe that each state should be sovereign in determining how to best educate its populace. I will vote for states to retake control of their own education establishment, decreasing the size of the federal education bureaucracy.
For that to work, states need to have control over most of its land. The western states lease their land from the federal government and thus have less control over its usage. I will vote to remedy that and give the states control over the use of its own lands so that they could have the tax base necessary to provide adequate education funding.
Tackle the student loan crisis
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has suggested that for every dollar of increased subsidized loans, college inflation responds with a $.60 increase. That is clearly unsustainable.
The problem needs to be addressed on two levels:
Those currently paying off debts (or taking out loans)
Those yet to enter the college system and accrue student debt
Going forward requires a holistic approach to education financing reform.
First, for those currently dealing with student loans I support allowing all borrowers of federal subsidized loans, no matter of prior repayment history or financial status, to enter the Income Driven Repayment Plan program. I also support allowing federal student loans to be more easily discharged through bankruptcy proceedings instead of utilizing the current secondary route of Adversary Proceeding. Going forward requires a holistic approach to education financing reform.
Second, encouraging schools to lower costs, as Purdue University, the University of Illinois system, and other colleges have done is a major first step. College costs are soaring for a variety of reasons, and schools accepting federal loan dollars need to show what they are doing to keep costs for students down.
Third, I support encouraging schools to adopt innovative learning opportunities. For those seeking trade certificates or skills, I will recommend those skills be available through high school classes and programs. For those seeking graduate degrees, I will encourage greater use of evening, weekend, and online classes so that students can be working while attaining the advanced degree. These cannot be legislated on the federal level, but economic incentives through the Department of Education could be utilized.
Fourth, we should cap the amount that can be borrowed through PLUS loans. This has bipartisan support and would be a start.
Fifth, I will vote to expand the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) for student loans, both federal and private, to require disclosing potential starting salary ranges for all degrees and careers. This could aid in borrowing and education decisions.
Sixth, I will encourage more schools to adopt non-traditional tracks for students, such as that set out by the BYU Pathways Worldwide program. In that program students earn “stackable certificates” from the first year, allowing them to have marketable skills and certificates after just one year, instead of the traditional general education for two full years before beginning the desired field of study, with no degree or certificate until the entire program is completed. This way students who decide, for whatever reason, that they cannot complete a four-year or more program will not have wasted money – borrowed or from their own coffers.
Seventh, encouraging schools to adopt innovative financing options, such as the Income Share Agreements some schools are already utilizing. The only caveat to this would be that these need to be regulated and monitored to prevent setting students up for the same financial trouble we are currently seeing.
Rebuild failing infrastructure
Many of our highways and bridges are in dire need of repair. I will support responsible spending to fix these problems and bring all bridges and roads up to high safety standards.
Support responsible climate change legislation
Our climate is in a crisis and I will vote for bills that will help protect our environment and reduce the effects of climate change. That includes the planting of more trees, increasing emissions standard for vehicles, encouraging the use of solar, nuclear, and wind power, giving incentives to states and the federal bureaucracy to enact responsible climate policies, helping with climate change issues in third world countries, and other climate initiatives.
responsibly protect the right to bear arms
The discussion on how to prevent mass shootings in this country is vital. However, we also need to recognize that mass shooters are fairly rare and far from being the main gun casualty. In fact, suicide accounts for about six out of every ten gun deaths and domestic violence assaults using guns means that on average 52 women are killed by an intimate partner using guns every month. Other assaults and deaths involving guns have staggering numbers.
The reality is that assault rifles are not the primary gun used in gun-related deaths. That dubious title goes to the handgun.
There is much talk about mental illness in gun violence episodes, particularly in mass shootings, even though diagnosable mental illness is actually rare in those cases (it is more likely to be an issue in suicides). It is important not to stigmatize those with mental illness and make it less likely that those who are receive the treatment that they need.
How to solve the problem. We cannot pretend the Second Amendment doesn’t exist, so all new laws need to fit within that framework. I support the following measures: Safe storage laws; Universal background checks; Red flag laws (primarily to prevent suicide); banning extended magazine purchases; and closing the boyfriend loophole.