The Issues

Where is there Common Ground?

It seems no one in Congress can find common ground between the parties.

Our nation’s healthcare, immigration, tax code, and debt problems cry out for bipartisan cooperation. Instead we get gridlock and maneuvering for political advantage. Economists have argued that the political uncertainty resulting from Congress’s failure to legislate is one of the factors slowing economic growth.

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Big Banks – Too Dangerous to Permit

Richard Fisher-former President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank declared, "I believe that too-big-to-fail banks are too-dangerous-to-permit." He is not the only one saying this. As a congressman I would work to limit the size our largest financial institutions and restore Glass-Steagall type rules that separate banking and proprietary investing activities.

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Social Security

Defenders of “Social Security as it is” cite the fact that the Social Security Trust Fund has $2.8 trillion that can pay promised benefits for perhaps the next 37 years. By statute, that Trust Fund is held in U.S. treasury bonds. The government, of course, has already used those earlier surpluses. So every dollar of benefits that is not covered by workers’ FICA payments has to be borrowed by the government. Those FICA payments are just now beginning to fall short of covering promised benefits. We need to make adjustments to solve this impending problem.

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Deficits

On Dec. 3, 2010 the president’s Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission failed to approve its own proposal. The proposal combined tax base broadening and rate reductions like the 1986 Reagan tax reform. It proposed entitlement reforms. There was plenty for both parties not to like in the proposal. Democrats and Senate Republicans agreed to a compromise, saying at some point "we need to govern". House Republicans killed the Simpson-Bowles proposal and have offered few alternatives since.

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US Healthcare

With the failure of Republicans to unite around a healthcare plan, there may be the seed of bipartisan measures to stabilize markets in the Senate healthcare committee. This doesn't fix healthcare, but neither does it accept the administration's threat of ending cost-share-reduction payments and helping the ACA fail. Senator Durbin is right when he says it's time for both parties to sit down and solve healthcare.

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Tax Reform

Tax cuts, like Republicans propose, have never generated enough growth to pay for themselves. They want to greatly increase spending for defense and infrastructure while our country is also dealing with several natural disasters. And their plan is to lower revenues? We all want and deserve a simpler, fairer tax code. The Republican plan, however, is a very big role of the dice.

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The Farm Bill

Every five years congress revisits and rewrites a Farm Bill. America's farmers are facing their biggest challenges since the 1980's. At present, the proposed Farm Bill appears to remain more or less the same. More "outside the box" thinking is called for in 2018.

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Minimum Wage

When international financiers last met in Davos, Switzerland, a panel was asked what they saw as some of the challenges, headwinds for the world’s economy. One headwind they identified was stagnant wages around the world. It is clear that Democrats and Republicans share common ground around their agreement that low wage earners need more income, and the world economy needs them to have more income. As a congressman, I would support a higher minimum wage……..but with targeted carve-outs. I would hope and work for higher income support with fewer negative side effects. But I would be committed to enacting some measures to get more income to low wage earners.

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“War on Poverty”

Too much of the discussion of the 50 years since LBJ’s “War on Poverty” has been fueled by our partisan divide instead of refocusing us around a common mission. Of course, it is healthy to reflect on what progress has or has not been made. But the issue is often framed as a false choice between fiscal responsibility and funding to help the poor. Our conversations should focus on what is working and what is not working.

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Immigration Reform

Soon after taking office, the President said we are only going to deport the bad "ombres". Now, after the deportation of hundreds of otherwise law abiding illegal immigrants, the head of ICE has announced that if you are a non-citizen without a good visa, you should be worried. People can rightly debate how we came to have 11 million undocumented immigrants, but this is not our country's finest hour.

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Climate Change

It would be entirely too arrogant for us to dismiss the possibility of what may be happening to our climate and think we can do nothing. Foremost, we should focus on measures that continue technical efforts in energy efficiency

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