The United States must have the best trained, best led, and best equipped military in the world. Weakness invites aggression. While our defense priorities must be fully funded, wasteful spending in the defense budget must be cut by reducing the bloated Pentagon bureaucracy, acquisition reform, and getting our allies to shoulder their share of the burden.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is mired in a culture of bureaucratic incompetence and corruption where no one responsible for wrongdoing is ever held accountable. The VA has failed to meet our nation’s obligations to the men and women, who have served our nation in uniform, and who have made tremendous sacrifices in defense of our freedom. VA whistleblowers must be protected and veterans who live 40 miles outside of a VA facility, or can’t get an appointment within 30 days, must be allowed to go a private health care provider, reimbursed by the VA.
Health Care Reform
Health care cost have not gone down under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, as promised. The consumer protections under the ACA, such as allowing dependents to stay on a parent’s policy until age 26, and prohibiting discrimination based on gender or pre-existing conditions should remain. Beyond that, states should be given discretion, within broad parameters, to devise their own solutions to bring down cost and to broaden access. For example, instead of requiring everyone to have the exact same coverage, allow states to maintain a “high risk” pool for those with pre-existing conditions that all the insured pay into. Other reforms such as making individual insurance premiums tax deductible and bringing down the high cost of the defensive practice of medicine through medical malpractice reform.
Saving Social Security
We can start with reforming the Social Security Disability program that is being abused due to poorly written laws, unscrupulous lawyers, and too many abled-bodied workers seeking an early retirement. The solvency problem of the Social Security Disability program is bleeding into the Social Security program for seniors who have earned their benefits from a lifetime of hard work. Congress must reform the disability program and restore the payroll taxes that it took from the Social Security Supplemental program for seniors to prop up the disability program.
Medical cost for seniors, under Medicare, can be dramatically reduced, stabilizing the long term health of the program, without cutting benefits by reforming the delivery system and focusing on research on innovations such as treatments using adult stem cells that ultimately could lead to procedures and treatments that are less invasive, less costly, and with better outcomes.
Small business is the engine that drives economic development but they are being strangled by regulatory red tape and high taxes preventing them from expanding and creating more jobs. We need to cut taxes to help small business start-ups and reduce the regulatory burdens that are hurting our small businesses.
I have supported temporary measures to help those with student debt. However, the focus and incentives also need to be on promoting skills-based education with an emphasis on the shorter certificate and vocational training programs that train for jobs that pay a living wage and provide a path into the middle class. An elitist bias against the trades is putting far too many young people on a path to poverty because they are graduating from four-year colleges & universities with non-technical degrees. As a result, their job prospects are little better than if they had never gone to college. The only difference is that they now are burdened with debt.
Balanced Budget Amendment
The greatest threat to the long-term stability of the United States is our rising and unsustainable national debt. A constitutional amendment, to strip the power away from the Congress to continually spend money that our country does not have, must be passed by Congress and referred to the states for ratification.
No doubt, it is the proper role of government to help those who cannot help themselves but, unfortunately, government often crosses the line to help those who can help themselves but have forgotten how. For individuals, this means that all able-bodied individuals should be required to participate in work, training or education, in exchange for receiving any form of public assistance. For corporations, corporate welfare programs are costly to taxpayers, hurt the competitiveness of American businesses, and ultimately, raise prices to consumers. Tax cuts and regulatory relief should always treat all businesses equally and not written to the exclusive benefit of a specific corporation or industry.
The United States should do everything that it reasonably can to protect the environment and to reduce our carbon footprint. We have made tremendous progress, and through innovation, will continue to do so. However, we need to put more pressure, through negotiating trade agreements, on our trading partners to do more so that the burden does not continue to fall disproportionately on the American worker.
I would support a legal status but not a special path to citizenship for the adults who knowingly violated our immigration laws and have not violated any criminal laws. I have been and will continue to be an outspoken proponent for reform. I have routinely and publicly stood up to my own my party to call for reform. Immigration reform is about securing our borders, growing our economy and keeping families together.
I introduced the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act (H.R. 3698) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill, if enacted, will permit DREAMers to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. Those who choose to do so would earn citizenship through their military service.
DREAMers are individuals who already have conditional immigration status and who consider this country their home. The bill extends to DREAMers the same life experiences that were afforded to me, my late father, and countless others – the opportunity to serve with other Americans from every corner of our nation as one team toward a common goal: our nation’s security.
Earlier this year, I also co-sponsored the Recognizing American Children Act which if enacted, will provide legal status and a path to Lawful Permanent Resident status for those currently eligible under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This program is for individuals who were brought here as children, grew up here, went to school here, and don’t know of any other country as home. If they can demonstrate their commitment to keeping a job or getting an education, or they enlist in the military, they can become Lawful Permanent Residents and from there they can apply for citizenship.