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Issues

On this page you will find where/how I stand on the most pressing issues we face, and on the issues that we are wasting time on when we need to focus on being a more fiscally responsible and compassionate nation. You will find links to the research I depend on (and if you want to fact check me, please do-I rely on statistics gathered from valid samples and the most highly regarded objective research firms, not one-sided groups promoting their own agenda). You will also find links to articles that inform my thinking, and suggestions for readings if you are interested in more information. In short, we all need to make well-informed decisions based on facts that are real if we want to get back to being the nation that all other nations aspire to be.

Below is a link to our Constitution. You will find I quote relevant pieces that I feel are being violated, therefore violating our rights, and you will also find that I agree with Jefferson and his words as transcribed on the Southeast Portico of the Jefferson Memorial: "I am not an advocate for changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the PROGRESS OF THE HUMAN MIND. As that becomes more developed, more ENLIGHTENED, as new discoveries are made, new thoughts discovered and manner and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must ADVANCE also to keep pace with the times."

As our country and world rapidly change, as we learn more and experience more and become more enlightened, so must our thoughts and governing policies and documents. It is human nature to be reluctant to change, but it was human nature to be skeptical of cars when we had horses, and computers when we had encyclopedias.

It is up to us to put people in place who will make the sound choices to sustain a thriving democracy as we continue to become more developed and advanced so that we continue to move ahead, just as Jefferson envisioned.

Debt Crisis

This is THE most critical issue we need to address and solve in the next two to five years, and is the umbrella under which all other issues reside, as do all Americans!

Did you know our national debt is currently $19,846,227,292,251.07, and this increases by close to $28,000 a second? Did you know our INTEREST rate on this debt is over $300 billion dollars annually? Did you know the new health plan is being touted as reducing our debt by $119 billion over the next 10 years? Can you imagine how little that means to this huge pile of debt, especially when the current proposed budget adds over $400 billion to that debt load-in ONE YEAR? Can you also imagine how much the 23 million people who will lose health care over that same time period could contribute to our revenue stream by being healthy and doing well in school, finding good jobs, and paying their taxes? On average, between all the taxes paid, the average working American pays a little over $21,000 a year. Healthy, working Americans raise the revenue side of the budget and decrease the expense side of the budget. THAT is simple math. I also encourage you to go to www.thebalance.com. This site breaks down EVERY question you have about how YOUR money is being spent, and shows what various solutions are available, and how they would impact the long term Debt Crisis and our national budget planning, as well as our individual taxes.

Read more about it:

http://www.usgovernmentdebt.us/

https://www.thebalance.com/current-federal-mandato...

https://www.nabber.org/projects/debtcounter/

https://www.fool.com/taxes/2017/03/14/how-much-doe...

Constitution

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript

Personal Freedoms: Religion, Speech, Press, and People to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances

It is not the government’s job, or even it’s purview, to comment on, create policy about, or even talk about, religion.

Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. For the last four months I have seen the First Amendment literally trampled upon, and the one thing we should be able to count on as Americans is our Personal Freedom.

Read more about the Bill of Rights:

https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rig...

Economics

Many Americans advocate for smaller government and a "free market" system. Unfortunately, as long as there are taxes, subsidies, trade agreements, etc., there is no such thing as a free market system, and those mentioned above are all brought about by government intervention. I agree we need smaller government, but we must be eyes wide open about how many things that impacts, and in how many ways. For example, right now we are enjoying low oil prices due to fracking and drilling, but those are actions that can have widespread repercussions without proper oversight, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under the threat of huge cutbacks and even eventual elimination. Additionally, many farmers rely on subsidies, which is anti-free market, but are we willing to hurt our farmers by cutting subsidies? These are questions that need to be asked, and the answers need to include HOW and WHY, and appropriate actions need to be taken to protect ALL of us and our tax dollars.

Read More about what Free Market and Capitalism mean, and an example of how your taxes are being spent on un-budgeted programs:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/capitalism.asp

http://time.com/4673233/epa-elimination-donald-trump-scott-pruitt/

Healthcare

On February 28th, Donald Trump was quoted as saying that "Nobody knew health care was so complicated" (http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/politics/trump-healt...). Actually, I bet you did, because you have been on the phone with your health insurance company arguing about coverage and being shocked at things that were not covered and/or how much health care costs and the ridiculous amounts insurance companies pay our health care providers, who in turn bill ridiculous amounts in order to get paid a fair sum.

What bothers me is this - if health care is so complicated, which was also pretty obvious when the Affordable Care Act was being crafted and hence took a long time to be brought to Congress, then why did this House of Representatives pass a bill in a little over 15 weeks to completely overhaul the system?

Additionally, the American people need to know that there are two groups that control how much you pay for health care, whether you get it from work or are on a national health care plan - your employer and the health insurance companies. Health insurance companies in America are for-profit, meaning the CEO's job is to maximize shareholder value. That means charge as much as they can get away with. Also, your company chooses your health care plan AND decides how much to subsidize of the premium - $0 to all of it. If your health care coverage went up after the Affordable Care Act came into play, that was not Obama, it was a choice made by the health insurance companies and your employer. This new Act puts MORE power into the hands of the insurance companies. We are a huge country and have bargaining power as a unit over what the insurance companies charge. If we rid ourselves of this power by putting decisions in the states' hands, and the insurance companies' hands...I do not see it boding well for any of us, regardless of our plans. Also, with this new plan an estimated 14 million people will lose coverage next year alone (http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/13/cbo-says-millions-l...) and 24 million by 2026. Now we are once again practically encouraging people to be sick and unhealthy, which takes them off the rolls as taxpayers. Who has run these numbers? Who is paying attention to the long term impact of this plan, or are we just happy we stuck it to the last guy who was President?

Finally, and on a personal note. I started my consulting business in 2000, working with utility companies to improve their call centers and reduce their uncollectible bills. I chose the best insurance I could, and it was $169 a month. The next year I bought an interior design retail and consulting business and we provided the same health care to our employees, but now it was over $350 a month, because it was after 9/11. A much watered down plan that is now considered the "premium" plan for the State of Virginia is over $550 a month. Much more money with fewer services, higher deductibles, and higher co-pays. The people we need to question and hold accountable for health care are not the people who cannot afford it, but the insurers, the employers, and absolutely the people in Congress who get life long coverage, with 78% of the premium paid (by us) despite the fact that many are millionaires. How many constituents in the 7th District, where the median income is a little over $66,000, could afford single coverage at $550, married coverage at over $1000, and family coverage at over $1500 if they lost a job or their employer decided to reduce benefits? Last summer, between teaching jobs, I needed COBRA Care for three months. I had a high deductible policy, $3000, and my COBRA payment was $349 a month. It is time to get serious about health care, 7th District, so that none of us need to fear the unknown!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/politics/trump-healt...

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/13/cbo-says-millions-l...

http://www.snopes.com/members-congress-health-care...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/opinion/health-insurance-american-medical-association.html?_r=0

Energy

We all enjoy low oil prices, unless you are a state that depends on higher oil prices to help your budget, and we need to prepare for the repercussions that things like fracking and drilling will have/are having in those areas. Did you know fracking is literally fracturing the earth’s shale? We depend on the EPA to protect many areas of our country, and keep us informed as to what is going on and where. The current plan is to cut 20% of the EPA staff. If you need a look at what NOT having a fully-functioning EPA looks like, Google some photos from Beijing, China on a normal day. In fact, for the meetings in China this week to tout their new infrastructure plan, Chinese officials ordered factory shutdowns and cars off the road to lessen the horrible smog problem they have.

Read more about it:

https://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environ...

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/10/china-is-about-to-h...

Poverty and Education: Did you know...

-Our veterans comprise 8% of our homeless population and 25% of service families need assistance to feed their families?

-Our children comprise 30% of the homeless population in the US and 13.1 million of OUR kids are food insecure (do not know when or where their next meal is coming from)?

-Our mentally ill citizens make up 20-25% of our homeless population?

-Our seniors now comprise 31% of our homeless population, and 8.3% of our seniors are food insecure?

So here's the thing - none of us like to be supporting able-minded and bodied adults who can work. But look at these numbers. Those are NOT the people we are helping with our social programs. If you serve our country you DESERVE a living wage so you can feed your family, and a safe place to sleep at night. If you are over the age of 65 you DESERVE not to be hungry (which if you read the links increases all kinds of health risks, i.e., costing us more in medical assistance). If you are mentally ill you DESERVE to have places that will take care of you. And, finally - IF YOU ARE A CHILD IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA YOU DESERVE FOOD AND A HOME.

The only way out of poverty is education. If we educate, and reduce poverty, we reduce long run tax burdens on us all. This begins with nutritious food so kids can learn (http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/being-po...), schools that have supplies and proper heating and cooling systems, and inspired teachers. We all (those of us reading this) have had that teacher that cared, that showed tough love, and they propelled us to achieve. We need a commitment to good nutrition and good schools so that people don’t need social programs to survive, but rather are able to get well-paying jobs so they can thrive. Additionally, we need training programs for adults so they can earn the skills and additional training they need to get jobs, and especially higher paying jobs. A link below from The Brookings Institute outlines how our unemployment numbers play out, and the need for adult training.

When people are working they are paying taxes, requiring less assistance, and that reduces our tax burden by impacting BOTH sides of the budget. Long term thinking and planning can create a system where all this works together and benefits EVERY American. I am not OK living in a country where 13.1 million CHILDREN, every day, do not know where their next meal is coming from-are YOU? I also not OK with a system that does not offer adults a chance to improve their living standards unless they go to college. We are a country crying for skilled labor, but lacking the infrastructure to train the people to perform those jobs.

Kennedy's famous observation: "For of those to whom much is given, much is required" is from Luke 12:48. While some Americans do not believe in helping others (and those are folks I will not be trying to win over), I believe we do have a large portion of the homeless and hungry in our country who do deserve our help (and I believe a lot of people agree with me), and for those folks, much IS required from those of us who can help.

Read more about it:

http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/in-plain-sight/hung...

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/being-po...

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Mental_...

http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/im...

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/31/us/americas-agi...

http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/im...

https://www.brookings.edu/research/meet-the-out-of...

Human Rights

America was founded, literally, on human rights and freedom of religion, yet at a great cost to our indigenous people. Just as troubling and short-sighted is the attitude that "My family is here, nobody else needs to come to America". What if your family had not come to America? Think about when the Germans immigrated in the early to mid-1900's - how many of you have German ancestry?

For a fantastic history of America and the way we have handled immigration, the book “A Different Mirror” outlines the way every immigrant group was treated when they came to this country, and most likely your ancestors are one of those groups who was denied employment, disparaged, ridiculed, detained, and bullied.

We need to learn from history and we need to be honest about where we are now with human rights when it comes to women, race, ethnicity, the formerly incarcerated, and immigrants. Are we still the country we claim to be on the Statue of Liberty, or are we shutting the doors to our country and freedoms, BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OUR BOUNDARIES, and wasting our time trying to pass laws to thwart the rights of the groups mentioned above while wildly spending our tax dollars and time cutting programs and restricting rights when we have SO many bigger problems to solve that literally impact ALL of us?

I am really asking you all - what America do we want to be? If you look back at Jefferson's quote, and consider yourself a Constitutionalist, is that what Jefferson envisioned? We need to STOP hurting our own citizens and people who want to be citizens and focus on getting our fiscal house in order - and quickly!

Freedom Caucus

“Unlike the plethora of caucuses and committees – which range from the Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs to the House GOP Study Group – the Freedom Caucus does not officially disclose who belongs to it (aside from its nine founding members), though various unofficial lists have circulated. Membership is by invitation only, and meetings are not public.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/20/ho...

How OK are you with a group of people who claim to advocate for freedom, but will not release the names of its members? Does this sound like other groups we have/have had in America? How does one group get to declare they represent “freedom” for us all when they will not even publicly release their names, and you only get to belong by invitation only? Isn’t this the Anti-Freedom Caucus? Read more about it:

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/10/20/ho...

Environment

Climate change is real. To paraphrase a member of the Consolidated Edison Electric Company during Hurricane Sandy - We can’t keep saying "the storm of the century" when we have one every year. Below is a link to Nasa’s climate change website, and I invite you to do some Googling for satellite photos showing that glaciers no longer melt glacially slow. We need to pay attention, and join every other developed nation in the world - all of whom recognize climate change - educate ourselves on the reality of the situation, and put into place standards for emissions and pollution for the long term safety of the planet for YOUR kids and grandkids! I don’t even have kids and grandkids and it matters to ME that we do these things.

Read more about it:

http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php

https://climate.nasa.gov/

That is it - For Now

In these issues above, you will find that I am often asking you, members of the 7th district, if you are OK with what is going on, the path we are headed down, and the way the government is spending YOUR money. Are you OK with us not being America anymore? Are you OK with having millions of children, veterans and seniors who do not know where their next meals are coming from? Are you OK with our school systems failing our students while our "representatives" in Congress spend our money on foolish programs that are not practical, sustainable, or thought through? I am not, and that is why I am running for the VA 7th District House of Representatives - so we are heard loudly and clearly, and have a vote in creating a fiscally smart plan that protects all of us, and that we go back to an America that is free, with liberty and justice FOR ALL!

#GowithGOWER

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