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.

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:

Guarantee healthcare for everyone, including mental health treatment.

Medicare for all or the Public Option.

This would:

  1. Eliminate co-pays and deductibles.
  2. Allow veterans to use any doctor they want in ADDITION to the VA for second opinions, treatment, or mental health.
  3. Save states and local governments hundreds of millions of dollars each year in health care costs for current employees and retirees. States could use this windfall for education, job training for veterans and non veterans alike, lunch programs and other nourishment programs for the poor or in need, subsidized housing for poor, job creation, and enterprise expansion.       The list goes on and on.
  4. Save the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars each year in health care costs for current employees and retirees. This would free up money to pay for other necessities such as infrastructure improvements, jobs or even tax cuts.
  5. Save business hundreds of millions of dollars each year in health care costs for current employees and retirees. This would provide money to businesses to pay a living wage, hire new employees, expand capacity, update technology or equipment, expand, and remain globally competitive.
  6. Create larger profits for businesses both large and small because of the net effect of a healthier work force, less sick days being paid, and significantly reduced health care costs.
  7. Save each consumer thousands of dollars a year in health care related expenses, thereby giving them more money in their pocket to spend, save, invest, open a business, retire, travel, enjoy life, give to kids, pay off a mortgage early, or any of a thousand other choices. All alternatives are better for the economy and the well being of the consumer than paying an insurance company.
  8. Eliminate anyone from interfering with the medical decisions made between patient and his or her doctor. It would make sure the government stays out of the decision-making process. More importantly, it will REMOVE THE INSURANCE COMPANIES from the decision-making process by eliminating exclusions from coverage. The insurance companies will no longer be able to say, “I’m sorry. That is not covered” or “I’m sorry that doctor is not in your network”. We will no longer be restricted to doctors within a geographic boundary or provider network. Healthcare will be simpler and easier to navigate for everyone. The only choice we will have to make is which doctor to see for the best outcome possible.   After all, it is not the government that interferes with the patient-doctor relationship it is the insurance company. The insurance companies dictate who can treat us and what we can be treated for. It’s time to say “enough.”
  9. Eliminate coverage limitations to the “home market” and cover injuries and illnesses no matter where they occur.
  10. Eliminate the “out-of-network” or other dilemmas when a person’s choice of doctor is not in their plan.
  11. Increase practice profits as most doctors would actually get paid more.
  12. Eliminate the $150 aspirin and the disparity in costs for identical care based solely on the type of insurance carried. It is idiotic that the identical procedure costs the consumer differing amounts depending on the insurance coverage they carry.
  13. Eliminate the need to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) car insurance, thereby saving all of us on the road money.
  14. Eliminate the need to purchase Bodily Injury Protection car insurance, thereby saving us more money.
  15. Eliminate a very large part of medical negligence lawsuit awards, thereby reducing costs to businesses and persons, again saving money.
  16. Significantly increase patient options, patient satisfaction, better health care, better delivery of care, cheaper prescription drugs, and the best part; eliminate the profit incentive and the inherent conflict of interest in the private care model.
  17. Bring down the costs of hospital care and prescription drugs for the consumer through direct negotiations and caps with ALL hospitals and drug manufactures. No longer will there be a treatment for a disease that is cost- prohibitive to the average person. No one should have to cut their pills in half or die because they can’t afford the treatment prescribed.  A perfect example is the Hepatitis C treatment that costs in excess of $100,000 a year or the price gouging that occurred to AIDS medications last year. President Bush signed into law the prohibition against the government negotiating drug prices. Why do we pay the most for prescription drugs than any place else in the world when many pharmaceuticals are created and manufactured right here in our own country?
  18. Cost less then what we currently spend on healthcare.

Single payer, or as Senator Sanders calls it, “Medicare for all” is rationale, intelligent, and will work. This is something we can and must do.

Many politicians argue increasing competition and allowing insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines would reduce insurance costs. This is nonsense. Here are a few of the insurance companies in Florida selling health insurance; Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Humana, Humana One, Cigna, United Healthcare, Coventry, Celtic, and Health First. These nine are only a part of the health insurance companies offering insurance in Florida.  It is hard to see what difference the 10th large insurance carrier to the market will make in the price of coverage.

Most hospitals are moneymaking entities and yet they are classified as non-profit corporations paying no taxes. The same is true with many health insurance companies. Many are also privately owned, not publicly traded, and are very, very wealthy. Many are also funded through municipal bonds. Baycare is a perfect example of this. In 2013, Baycare had a net operating profit and revenue in excess over expenses of $631,838,000. This was on an overall revenue of $2.568 billion. Look at this document on page A-23. Here is a letter to the SEC from Baycare substantiating the non-profit status and private ownership. Consider the $631 million profits just for Baycare facilities. This $631 million profit is derived from insurance companies. This raises two important questions. How can this profit of $638 million not be taxed? Secondly, is it really the lack of competition causing the rising of health care costs, or the unmitigated greed of hospitals and insurance companies? Baycare also has assets of 5.6 billion. Baycare uses the laws to their benefit and there is unfortunately nothing illegal in what they do. It is unfortunate that there is no way to find out who the real owners of Baycare are. Wouldn’t it be something if it was owned by insurance companies? I am just using Baycare as an example because they control 50 percent of all beds within our congressional district. I can assure you that Baycare, as a non-profit health care provider, has a smaller operation and profits then many others throughout Florida and the nation.

As a Representative for the 12th Congressional District, I will fight to change the IRS code to make the owners of these non-profit health care providers public record. I will also work to end the loophole that allows profits of $658 million to be untaxed, allowing the non-profit companies to buy their competitors, eliminating competition.  Is it any wonder the top half of one percent is getting richer by the day?

If single payer is unobtainable, and the only option is modifying Obamacare, the following is what I would fight for.

The Problems With Obamacare and What Changes are Necessary

Obamacare, also called the Affordable Care Act, corrected many problems and made great efforts to reduce the costs of Health Insurance. It did this in several ways.

  1. Obamacare required 85 percent of all premiums paid by consumers to be used for consumer health care. This attempted to limit the ability of the insurance companies to exploit the necessity of health insurance.
  2. Obamacare required everyone to have health insurance or be fined by the IRS. This was an effort to increase the number of people enrolling in the plans, thereby spreading the risk to more people and bringing down the rates for everyone. This is how insurance is supposed to work, it spreads the risk to large “pools” or groups of people, thereby spreading the risk to everyone and lowering the price for everyone. Obamacare did not take into account the resistance by some insurance companies and their “pooling” of high-risk policies that would show a loss even though other policies were profitable. Republican leadership should have loved the “Individual Mandate” since they always talk about personal responsibility. For an interesting read on the Irony of the battle against Obamacare, read this story in Forbes Magazine about a Florida resident Mary Brown.
  3. Obamacare also did not deal with the excessive costs to consumers for prescription drugs. The unregulated costs of medications are a very large part of the costs involved in our health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays. It does not help that Congress, including my opponent,  has previously passed legislation prohibiting the government from negotiating prices with the pharmaceutical companies, even through Medicare, costing us all and protecting the profits of big pharmaceutical. (Corporate Welfare)
  4. Obamacare, did not deal with the structure of hospital medical costs. These unregulated costs are outrageous and contribute to a huge part of the high premiums of health insurance policies. Doctors are generally paid less than Medicare rates from private insurance companies, but for some reason, private insurance companies pay hospitals and surgical centers more than Medicare does. Uninsured people are charged even more.  Why should hospital care costs depend on which insurance the consumer is using? If hospitals were permitted to only charge Medicare rates for private insurance policy holders, the price of all our insurance policy premiums would go down significantly.

The solution is to bring down the two largest costs – hospitals and prescription drugs. Hospitals will be permitted to charge and collect no more than Medicare rates. Drug companies can only have a 15 percent markup above the cost to manufacture, ship, and deliver their products. They would not be able to use huge profits to run costly national ad campaigns, and would rather have to pay for those commercials from the 15 percent profit they are permitted. The sleepy feet, toe fungus, and the commercials offering a cure for bad breath that causes spontaneous combustion (joking, of course) would ultimately reduce in number or go away entirely. Drug reps will be prohibited from seducing doctors with free lunches and promises of kickbacks, rebates, or any money to the practice, hospitals, clinics, and the state.

Additionally, manufacturers of opiates and synthetic pain killers that are highly addictive and are killing our loved ones and neighbors will also have to pay for any drug treatment when their drugs cause an addiction. Perhaps they should spend some profits  finding a non-addictive treatment for pain management as they spend advertising their products.

Please contribute to my campaign so I can continue the fight on this issue for us.

 

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 begin studies into the use of marijuana in treating pain and PTSD in our Veterans. They deserve the alternative to the highly addictive and life ending opiates.

Please vote on November 8, 2016 YES on Amendment 2 – Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative.

Reproductive Rights 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).

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.