Issues

It is disgusting and unacceptable that after decades of promises by disconnected politicians, the Veterans Affairs is still not giving our veterans the care they deserve.

It is many politicians’ view that the VA should be privatized or our soldiers should be dumped into the regular health care system.

I am opposed to both of these solutions. We MUST fix the Veteran’s Affairs. Our soldiers have special needs due to their service- — including health issues that span physical, emotional, and mental scars. Although everyone wraps themselves in the American flag and says to soldiers and their families, “Thanks for your service,” and wave banners that say, “We support our troops,” our politicians, and we as a nation, have done nothing to show we really mean it. It is appalling. Giving lip service to phrases like “thank you” and “we support you” does not relieve us of our promises as a nation. More importantly, it does not relieve us of our MORAL OBLIGATIONS to the brave men and women.

Twenty-two soldiers commit suicide every day. That’s more than 8,000 men and women in uniform who take their own lives every year. Our current representative has done very little, if anything, to stop it – despite being on the subcommittee for Veteran’s Affairs. There has been no meaningful legislation by him or his sub-committee for mental health support, medical care, or any of our soldiers’ other unmet needs.

Several easy changes will eliminate some of the backlog at the VA. First, for returning soldiers there should be a presumption that the injury is service-related, and the government should have the burden of proving it is not service-related in order to deny the claim. Second, disability payments should begin to flow to the veterans immediately, not after all the determinations and appeals are over. Finally, the Code Of Federal Regulation (CFR) must be simplified to make the process not so daunting for our soldiers returning who are making the difficult transition back into civilian life.

The same policies should apply to our retired and honorably discharged soldiers that are filing new claims.

We must also increase the capacity of the VA for veterans to be able to see doctors when they are ill. The facilities with the largest backlog must be the priority even if the government needs to rent extra space and place more doctors there in order to treat our vets. Additional space could also be rented in order to increase access for routine check ups and well visits. Businesses increase capacity when demand far outstrips supply, yet our government, and representative, refuses to do so. PRIVATIZATION is not an option as the care for our soldiers would not be better or cheaper than.

Our veterans have special needs that the private sector is unable to handle. Additionally, our service men and women deserve better than being thrown to the mercy of insurance companies by just handing them a voucher. It is an absurd alternative.

Lastly, any appropriations legislation for war authorization or use of force must consider the increase in wounded soldiers from combat operations and include a percentage of funding for the VA. This should be funded before a penny goes anywhere else.

There is no excuse for OUR failure to take care of our veterans as we promised them, and I will fight to show that our slogan, “we support our troops,” is more than merely lip service.

 

 

Job creation and job growth should begin and end right here at home – not halfway around the globe.

There are different strategies for creating jobs and job growth. These are some of the strategies I will fight for in an effort to bring federal money to areas within our district like downtown Tampa.

I will stand strong to rewrite or amend trade agreements, starting with NAFTA, to include language that the agreement applies only to products or services that are indigenous to the exporting country. Therefore, any items being imported into the United States that are not indigenous to the exporting country will have a tariff placed on it. This will remove the profit motive of exporting OUR jobs oversees, and will return a good paying manufacturing base back to America.
It is imperative that we fix the eroding infrastructure across the nation. Bridges are crumbling, dams are weakening, roads can’t support even normal traffic volumes, and our electrical grid is old, unreliable, and a security risk. These are just a few of the problems I will work tirelessly to fix. We are supposed to be the best nation on earth and yet our infrastructure is third world in its current condition. These infrastructure improvements will immediately create good paying jobs and strengthen our economy, further creating purchasing power and more new jobs.

Locally, Infrastructure jobs would include fixing the flooding problem due to neglect of ditches and drainage systems, and expanding capacity on our roadways to end gridlock.

Rejuvenation projects in communities can work to eliminate urban blight, renovate old buildings and warehouses, re-purpose spaces, and encourage new business to come back to our urban neighborhoods.

Together, we can improve and strengthen the national economy by raising the minimum wage, working towards a single payer health insurance company, and creating tax deductions that benefit the middle class and working poor.

RIGHT TO VOTE

It is not only unfair, but also unjust to deny people who have served their debt to society to be forever stripped of their right to vote.

I will fight for the immediate automatic restoration of the RIGHT to vote for people who are convicted felons immediately and automatically after completion of their probationary or incarceration sentence.

There are very few things that are more un-American than prohibiting a person from voting by placing obstacles in their way. These restrictions include shortened and inconvenient voting times, limiting early voting, and prohibiting a person from voting after they have served a prison sentence. These voter restrictions adversely affect the elderly, minorities, and the poor. Convicted felons work and pay taxes and are effected by the same laws passed by the state legislatures that we all must follow. It is repugnant to the very basis of our democracy to permit this continued “taxation without representation.”

I also support the elimination of closed primaries. Why should anyone be prohibited from voting for their choice of candidate simply because they choose to be identified as a Democrat or Republican? People who choose not to participate in any formal political party and choose to register as independents should be permitted to have their voices heard in primary elections.

The reversal of these types of policies that deny democracy will be one of my top priorities once I am elected.

Increasing Minimum Wage

It is a sad testament to our current leadership that many people who work 40 hours or more a week are still living below the poverty line.

It is past time for the minimum wage to be increased to one that people can actually live on. I will fight for a minimum wage of $15.00 an hour for hourly employees. I also support an increase of the minimum wage for service staff earning tips. These increases will be implemented over a five-year period for most business. Those businesses with over 100 employees will be phased in over three years.

It is pathetic that we have to fight for a minimum wage increase. After years of huge profits and a skyrocketing stock market, there is more than enough money to pay employees double the current unrealistic minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That amounts to a gross income of $1,160 a month and $13,920 a year, before taxes are withdrawn, leaving families with even less to survive on.

The refusal of businesses to pay a living wage forces hard-working people onto the roles for public assistance, including health insurance subsidies and food stamps, shifting the burden from private enterprises to the public. This is nothing less than welfare for businesses. Put a different way, if business paid a living wage, our state and federal government would not have to use tax payer money to keep these people from being homeless, hungry, or without health care.

The idea that the workers who make profits for the companies are paid below a rate that they can live on comfortably is outrageous. It reminds me of this old adage: The rich have all the money, the middle class do all the work, and the poor are there to scare the hell out of the middle class to keep them working.

This must change.

I support pay equality for women. With that being said, I have to ask how are we still dealing with this issue?

What will it take for Wall Street and Main Street to treat people equally? How hard is it to pay women the same as men for the same work?  Should we encourage pay discrimination lawsuits? Maybe use the justice department to impose civil fines? Maybe bringing back the ERA and create lawsuits for violating civil rights? DO we shame these companies into compliance? There is undeniable that white women are paid less then men for the same work and this discrepancy is greater with minority women. This is unfair to the worker, and detrimental to families and slows economic growth for the nation. It is much easier for companies to fix this internally, then the costs associated with new legislation.

I urge business to take a hard look on this social problem. If you have a suggestion on how to screen and enforce equal pay for equal rights please send me an email. Together, we can arrive at a workable solution.

Tax Reductions for Us

 It’s not fair that only those at the top, non-profit corporations and other big business entities enjoy tax advantages.

As your Congressman, I will work diligently to see that we all see relief on April 15th. Here’s how:

  1. Allow interest deductions on credit cards, revolving credit, and automobile loans up to $15,000.
  2. Premiums paid for health insurance under either and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) or commercial plans will be deductible. As a side note, I support Obamacare, however I think it should be tweaked and some things changed. The politicians, who keep saying they will “repeal and replace Obamacare” are misguided. For many years they have controlled both chambers of Congress and could have proposed any corrections or even a new plan. Obamacare does NOT need to be repealed before it is replaced or changed. All Congress has to do is write Legislation and change it. They obviously know how to do this because they pushed over 60 votes to repeal Obamacare or parts of it.
  3. Out-of-pocket expenses related to healthcare will also be deductible.
  4. Childcare expenses will be deductible without the need to have a cafeteria plan through the employer.

Although I have advocated medical expenses be deductible to provide financial relief, I will diligently pursue a single payer system, or “Medicare for all” as Senator Sanders refers to it. Healthcare is a human right and the determination of how a patient is treated should not be based on monetary policy, or pursuit of corporate profit or personal fortune.

I have many more tax “adjustments” in mind and will post them soon. These are not difficult or unique ideas or solutions. They would help everyone bring the ends they’re trying to meet a little closer together.

Social Security & Medicare

I vehemently oppose any attempt to privatize any part of social security and/or Medicare.

As your Congressman, will fight to strengthen Social Security and make it a continuing part of our countries safety net. I will fight to increase the income level caps to $175,000. I will also add to the source of taxable income dividends, capital gains, and interest carried forward, to ensure the persons whose income are not W-2 based, are unable to avoid their fair share of the expense of society’s safety net that we all share.

Privatization, no matter how well it is marketed to us, is a suckers bet. It is nothing more then a giant handout to wall street. Social security, as it is now is nothing more then insurance by the government that we will have some income when we retire. It only costs us the tax, there are no other expenses.

Under privatization, people would have to invest their money for retirement. Most of us, would not invest that money but we would rather spend it to pay for unnecessary things like food, housing, clothing, and utilities. The problem is not that the government takes too much for social security, the problem is that we are paid to little to have both social security taxes taken out AND to invest money. The rich do not care because they have their own nest eggs, and they want to feather their nest more with our social security money.

How?  We will be bled dry by wall street. We will be charged transaction fees, administrative fees, loads, accounting fees, and the list goes on if we have to invest our own social security money. Unlike the bailouts banks and insurance companies receive, there will be no bailouts for us, as there never are.  We will be at the mercy of the market and market manipulators that sell stocks short, sell against the box, call options, put options, straddles, struts, derivatives, and all the other controls professional speculators use to separate us from our investments.

Social Security must be Strengthened and Preserved.

I have been asked my position on Union vs Right to Work by both voters and the National Right To Work Committee. Here is my response.

I fully support the right of Employees to organize, unionize, and collectively bargain. Our stagnant wages, lower standard of living, lower savings, and job insecurity, is a direct result of the Union Killing legislation being enacted in the states and through our Congress.

My Position and Reasoning on Unions.

I am a supporter of medical marijuana and have been for years.
Fundamentally, one of the things that has bothered me is the governments prohibition against terminally ill patients using marijuana to fight their illness or improve the quality of their remaining life.

Once I am elected, I will work to remove marijuana as a schedule one drug. I will also work to permit the VA to prescribe marijuana in treating pain and PTSD in our Veterans. They deserve the alternative to the highly addictive and life ending opiates.

The war on drugs is a national disgrace and waste of both treasure and blood. It is time to rethink all of it.

I am Pro-Choice and Pro Reproductive Rights which include both the right to have children and the right not to be forced to. It is remarkable that this debate continues, in spite of the 1973 decision of Roe. I fully support a women’s right to choose her own future, including reproductive choices.

Here are some of my reasons why.

The conservative agenda is hypocritical. They preach that they want medical care to be between a patient and their doctor and for the government to stay out of it. At the same time they advocate for, and legislate obstacles to obtain legal procedures.  Many states have enacted roadblocks to abortions. These roadblocks include laws that require a women to have an ultrasound before an abortion and in many of these instances, a transvaginal ultrasound is required. (Transvaginal means “through the vagina” wherein a probe is inserted into the women for as long as 60 minutes). Where is the, “Keep the government out of our medical decisions” outrage from the conservative leadership. In the 2015/2016 congressional session, a bill was introduced to require all women in the Country to undergo these examinations before an abortion can be obtained. This bill is still pending.

It is wrong to tell a women that she must go to term and have a child she did not plan for or want. Many unwanted pregnancies are caused by  birth control failure, unavailability, or expense. (Before the ACA, many insurance policies did not pay for women’s birth control). It is interesting to note that the ACA required no co-pay birth control. As a result, the numbers of abortions fell to new lows. Despite this remarkable achievement of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, the republicans were hell bent on eliminating the ACA, the very reason unwanted pregnancies and abortions are down.

If abortions are outlawed, who will be punished? Will it be the Doctor that performs the procedure or the women that gets it? How will we treat the women that want an abortion, for what ever reason, and they ingest chemicals or use a coat hanger to attempt an abortion  themselves? (Our pre Roe history shows this was not uncommon). If abortions are outlawed, will women be responsible for the outcome of the pregnancy? Will she be charged with a crime if the pregnancy ends in a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion? Will she be accused and charged with the crime of performing her own abortion if she naturally miscarries? What if the birth produces a child with birth defects, will the women be charged with not having proper prenatal care or not taking extra precautions to protect the pregnancy? Will the doctor be charged with not properly caring for the pregnancy if it naturally aborts  or has birth defects? Will we go back to the days when women did not go for prenatal care because they were afraid of being prosecuted for having an unhealthy lifestyle? There is no end to the potential consequences.

I was raised by a single mother with three sisters and at least 1/2 of all the people I have ever spoken with, seen, heard, read, or met,  have been women. I can say, without a doubt, that women possess the sensibilities, intelligence, and ability to make healthcare decisions, including her own reproductive decisions,  just as a man possesses for his own decisions. The fight against abortions is a slippery slope that does not end well. There is a saying, “The path to hell is paved with good intentions”. While I do not agree with the antiabortion view point, I understand their position.  However, there are much better ways to deal with this issue of unwanted pregnancies, that will not lead us down the problem ridden path we have walked before.

In short, I am pro-choice.

 

 

 

 

Nothing is more important than the health and security of the people government serves. So why are we still debating on common-sense healthcare and insurance solutions?

The Healthcare Solution:
Amend the ACA to Guarantee healthcare for everyone, including mental health treatment.

1. Force down the cost of Prescription Drugs;
2. Reduce hospital rates and charges for hospitals;
3. Initiate a Public Option to allow people to buy into Medicare;
4. Prohibit separate pools between Employer sponsored insurance and private pay insurance.
5. Fund and utilize the “risk Corridor” of the ACA.
6. Require the disclosure of the contractual prices between the insurance companies and service providers.
7. Allow insurance companies to sell across state lines, as long as the policy is compliant with the ACA and the market state’s requirements.

( I have not addressed Universal Single Payer  because the infrastructure does not exist for it yet. If you want my views just  post the question on my facebook page. )

See Below for a more in depth explanation.

1. Bring down the cost of prescription drugs by either the Federal Government negotiating prices, imposing the pricing negotiated for the VA and/or medicare, capping profits, capping amount that can be charged for drugs, requiring that they can not charge more then they charge for the same drug in other Countries, or any combination thereof. Also permit the importation of prescription drugs. (This will spur competition. Using an argument form the right.) The drug companies must be reigned in and markups on drugs controlled. This will also spur innovation for new drugs which has been stagnant for some time. The five largest pharmaceutical companies spent about 5.2 billion dollars on advertising in 2015. That is an indication of the excess money we pay for prescription drugs. That is more then they spent on research and development. Drug prices contribute a large amount to the cost of health insurance and the cost of medicare.

2.  Cap hospital charges and rates according to Medicare rates in the Medicare region the facility is in. At the very least, non-profit hospitals that avoid paying income taxes due to their non0profit status, must charge no more then Medicare Pricing and treat Medicaid patients. If they want to charge more then Medicare rates or refuse Medicaid, they can hardly be called non-profit. That Tax revenue can be used to strengthen Medicare, Medicaid and aid in the pricing of a Public Option. Currently Hospitals charge multiples of Medicare rates sometimes as high as 10 times. CT Scans cost at some hospitals $8000 which is much more then local private CT companies. Hospitals and other facilities also charge a “facility fee” which needs to be evaluated. The current system allows non-profit hospitals to use their huge tax savings to buy up more hospitals and doctor practices, giving them more negotiating power over insurance companies and allowing them to demand such high multiples. This cost must be controlled or we will never get health insurance costs down.

3.  Initiate a public option to allow people to BUY into or PURCHASE medicare. The Government will subsidize the poor as is done through the ACA. This has several benefits to everyone. First it gives an opportunity for those older and with preexisting conditions to buy insurance without having to pay for the profit of the insurance companies, and will lower insurance costs. Secondly, it will remove many older and sicker people to Medicare, lessening the cost burden to the insurance market, it will also spur COMPETITION between the insurance industry and Medicare, and according to the Republican Leadership, Competition is good for insurance prices. Medicare competition is necessary to bring competition to the market place. Policies are priced based on a number of factors including actuarial tables in the specific market. I believe that even with 100 insurance companies pricing in the same market there will be no added competition. Thirdly, open the public option to employers which would allow them to save money on providing healthcare to their employees. This will save them money and the employees money.

Medicare is self sustaining through FICA, and with the decrease in drug prices, hospital costs, and the added people buying into Medicare, including healthy younger people, it can survive in perpetuity. I am also looking into ending Medicaid and rolling it into the Medicare option. The Feds already give the states money for the program and the states also contribute but the reimbursement rate for doctors is horrible which is why many Doctors do not take Medicaid. This model does not make sense to me and harms the very poor which is mostly women and children. Children should have the best possible healthcare possible. They are our future.

4.  Currently most insurance companies pool employer sponsored health insurance separately from private pay and ACA market place plan. The employer insurance pools generally contain the healthiest individuals. I believe eliminating the separate indemnity pools and combining them, will lower overall insurance costs because there will no longer be a pool with healthy workers and a pool of the rest. Combining them will allow proper risk sharing, which is after all, what health insurance is all about, risk spreading.

5.  Repeal Senator Rubio’s legislation that required the Risk Corridor be budget neutral. Fund and reimburse the insurance companies for their losses pursuant to the ACA Risk corridor provision. Rubio’s legislation prevented the insurance companies from being reimbursed for their looses because of market uncertainty. Here is a great article about the risk corridor, what it is, how the republicans screwed the insurance companies to force higher prices and place us all at risk for political gain. (It was timed perfectly to have the greatest effect during the 2016 election.

6.  Require the disclosure of the contractual prices between the insurance companies and service providers. The anti ACA folks claim that people need to have skin in the game and pay for some of their care, above insurance policy costs. They like deductibles and cost sharing (co-pays) of treatments. They quote again that this cost sharing brings competition to the marketplace. They believe that people will shop for the best price. This is nonsense. I have never heard of  a person suffering from a heart attack, stroke, car accident, or whatever asking to be taken to the least expensive hospital. I have never heard of anyone at the hospital refusing the $8000 CT scan before surgery because r*** radiology down the street is less expensive.

The competition argument from the anti ACA people does have some validity here. People with health insurance usually have a primary care provider and they shop for insurance, starting with which plan that primary care provider is in. However, there is no competition between plans or insurance carriers because we have no idea what anything will cost until after we buy the plan, first receive the service, and get the bill. If we know what the cost will be for a specific service, from the specific provider, consumers can then shop for the least expensive policy for that provider or service. For example, if I go to Dr. Smith and one policy has a 10% co-pay and and another policy has a 20% co-pay for the same procedure from Dr. Smith, I need to know what the negotiated price to me will be so I can figure out which one is a better deal. Mathematically, just because one co-pay is less then another, does not mean I will pay less at the payment window.We should have access to all negotiated prices so we know what our primary care provider will cost us under one plan vs under a different plan. The current system is the equivalent of Wal-Mart selling a  TV’s with 10% off and Target selling the exact same one at 20% off. How are we supposed to know which of the two stores is giving us the best price without knowing the cost of the TV before the discount.

7.  I do not believe the selling of insurance policies across state lines will increase competition or lower costs. Insurance prices are based on the market of where the policy is being sold. But, maybe with more companies competing with one another, AND the disclosure of all negotiated rates, will allow consumers to pick the one that is the least costly to them.

Please feel free to email me above, sign up for my newsletter, volunteer, or donate to our campaign. I have real plans and not talking points, and I have not even been elected yet. How hard do you think I will fight for you when I win?

 

 

I support the LGBTA community and their fight for equality. They have as much right to live their life and be happy as anyone else. It does not matter who they love, what matters is that they have the ability to love.

It is time to normalize our relations with Cuba. There is no benefit that I see to continue this cold war mentality. No benefit for us, and no benefit for the people.

If trade with China was a good strategy to bring about democratic reforms in China, the same logic should equally apply to the island 90 miles off  our southern shore, Cuba.

Since what we are doing is not working, why not try something new.  Lets try being a good neighbor.