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

Sometime in 2018 the Social Security Administration will begin printing this on every benefit statement: "By 2034, the pay roll taxes collected will be enough to pay only 77% of scheduled benefits." I don't know if this is a political thing or some good faith notice. But the situation is real. The tax base needs to be broadened and the growth of benefits slowed for the top tier of wage earners. Social Security needs to be sustainable.

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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 those in the recent tax bill, have never generated enough growth to pay for themselves. Republicans 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. Republicans should have stayed with revenue neutral tax reform.

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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 hombres". Now, hard working, business owning, family raising, church going undocumented immigrants are being swept up with those who truly do need to be deported. Dreamers are being held hostage by the only country they have ever really known. 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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Gun Violence

As we are jolted back to the reality of ongoing gun violence in our nation (especially in schools), there are calls for more attention to mental health and more school security. But responses that do not consider better gun controls are conspicuously not serious responses. We need to respond on every level. In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shootings, the sheriff of Broward, county immediately stepped forward to unambiguously demand more effective gun control.

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North Korea

Except for South Korea, North Korea is not a country that is a threat to invade its neighbors. It is not even clear that it wants to, or would be able to, invade South Korea. That was Kim Il-sung’s’s aim. This is not 1950. North Korea is an impoverished country. South Korea is the world’s 11th largest economy. The Kim regime is notoriously brutal and does intend to remain in power at all costs.

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Economic Inequality

There is no single thing that causes inequality. It flows from globalization, from educational opportunity, from the digital economy, public policies, even from family structures. But nothing is more predictive of upward mobility than someone’s zip code

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Reproductive Rights

There are only two consistent positions on public policy and abortion: 1) All abortions permitted prior to birth or 2) no abortions permitted after conception. All of us in between those positions (most Americans) have to accept the unavoidable inconsistencies, carve outs, and arbitrarily drawn lines.

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Steel Tariffs

There is certainly a problem with unfair worldwide trade of steel. China is the villain with this trade issue. The administration’s broad tariffs on imported steel has put the world’s focus on the U.S., making the U.S. the villain. It is China who needs to be seen as the villain rather than the U.S.

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Education

The Higher Education Act of 1965 needs to be reauthorized in 2018. The Republican proposal (Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform – PROSPER Act) is very disappointing. The proposal ends recently established oversight of predatory for-profit-colleges and eliminates some federal financing for students with need.

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