Marriage

Question
The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015. Has that had a positive or negative impact on America since then, and is there anything that Congress should do either in response or to further support gay rights?

Answer
The Supreme Court decision in 2015 recognized marriage equality for all of our citizens. It is an application of the principle of equal protection under the law, which is a hallmark of our Constitution. Marriage equality protects the privacy of all citizens in their most personal and basic relationships. As a country, we don’t intrude upon the relationships of other people unless they are causing harm to someone.

American civil law is to apply equally to all citizens.  When someone is in the hospital, they may be visited by their partner or have help with medical decisions.  In the event of their death, they may pass property to their spouse, as a partner would.  The Supreme Court decision honors privacy by preventing interjection into someone else’s relationship.

Protect Social Security

The Social Security fund that pays most retiree benefits will be insolvent within a generation. What steps should Congress take to protect Social Security?

The Social Security fund has been repeatedly borrowed against to sustain spending without hard decisions being made to take the responsibility of adjusting revenue.  The largest amount of money was borrowed to fund the tax cuts of the 1980s, which went to the wealthiest Americans.  Raising the ceiling on Social Security contributions brings the revenue back into the fund from those who received them as tax cuts.

Tax cuts rewarding the wealthy now, at the expense of further deepening our national debt, is irresponsible.  The ceiling on contributions should be raised or removed in 2018, to correspond with tax cuts to the wealthiest, to the level that will guarantee its solvency.

We cannot allow the debt crisis being artificially brought about by this tax reform package to be used to further invade the Social Security fund and to begin to dismantle it as a program.

Response by Congress to mass killings by the use of firearms

Responsible gun ownership is something many Texans take great pride in.  I grew up hunting with my dad.  I understand wanting to have a firearm for protection.  There are very reasonable measures that can be taken to insure background checks are completed before a gun sale is transacted.

John Ratcliffe has advocated removing any restrictions for mental health concerns for veterans who want to purchase a gun.  We saw the unfortunate result of a disturbed individual who was a veteran, being able to purchase assault weapons when our US Air Force did not report his mental state or the reason for his discharge from the military, with the deaths of 26 people and many more injured, while they worshipped together.

What Congress should spend more on, and what Congress should spend less on

Congress should be investing in the future by supporting public education and higher education.  A good public education is one of the foundation stones of our democracy.  An educated public was a value upheld by our founding fathers.  We need to bolster education at every level if we are to continue to be an innovative and productive society.  We should uphold this value of education by investing in resources to make it possible through financial support of public schools and through more affordable education at the vocational, college, university, and graduate levels.  We can and should place a renewed interest on more generous Pell grants, support tuition through tax deductions, have lower interest rates for higher education loans, and offer people incentives to go to school rather than step closer to making it more prohibitively expensive.

The principle behind a progressive income tax is to have relatively equal pain for all taxpayers.  Those who have the highest income feel much less pain with a flat tax or lowered tax brackets because lower income earners have a much higher percentage of their income go to living expenses than those who are wealthy.  Higher income earners have much more disposable income after living expenses are covered.  Equalizing the pain, rather than equalizing the percentage, is a way of making taxation more fair.

The tax cuts that have been adopted that so extravagantly reward the wealthiest, destabilizes that sense of shared pain.  It goes even further by giving fewer breaks and raising the costs of lower and middle income earners.  This is inherently unfair to those who have less.

We should be spending much less money on tax cuts for the wealthiest, especially when this will increase the national debt.  Large tax cuts for corporations when profits are high and unemployment is low will not create new jobs.  It will create windfalls for those corporations, which will likely spend it on stock buy backs, dividends for stock holders, and bonuses for executives.  We should not be going into further debt to provide expensive and lavish cuts to the wealthiest and to large corporations.  We need to reclaim a sense of shared responsibility for our country, recalling the wisdom that tells us, ”To those whom much is given, much is required.”

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act has given millions of people the opportunity to take responsibility for their health and well being by providing them an avenue to purchase health insurance that is within their means.  Not doing so puts our nation at greater risk of poorer health. The time has passed for repeal and replace,.  Now is the time to restore and repair the Affordable Care Act.  The more people whom we have covered with health insurance, the healthier we all are as a nation, and the lower our costs for medical care.

Congress writes the budget for the United States. What is one area that Congress should invest much more heavily in, and why? What should we be spending much less on?

Congress should be investing in the future by supporting public education and higher education.  A good public education is one of the foundation stones of our democracy.  An educated public was a value upheld by our founding fathers and should be upheld now.  We need to bolster education at every level if we are to continue to be an innovative and productive society.  We should uphold this value of education by investing in resources to make it possible through financial support of public schools and through more affordable education at the vocational, college, university, and graduate levels.  We can and should place a renewed interest on more generous Pell grants, support tuition through tax deductions, have lower interest rates for higher education loans, and offer people incentives to go to school rather than step closer to making it more prohibitively expensive.

We should be spending much less money on tax cuts for the wealthiest, especially when this will increase the national debt.  Large tax cuts for corporations when profits are high and unemployment is low will not create new jobs.  It will create windfalls for those corporations, which will likely spend it on stock buy backs, dividends for stock holders, and bonuses for executives.  We should not be going into further debt to provide expensive and lavish cuts to the wealthiest and to large corporations.  We need to reclaim a sense of shared responsibility for our country, recalling the wisdom that tells us, ”To those whom much is given, much is required.’’

How Congress should address illegal immigration

Illegal immigration is a complex problem that deserves a more careful set of answers than what we have been offering.  We may not like the idea of immigrants coming here without documents, and seek to punish them or put up walls in hopes of bringing illegal immigration to a halt.  But, at the same time that we want to say no to them with the force of law or prevent their entry with a physical barrier, we also rely upon their cheap labor for food production, for putting a new roof on our home, for construction of a new building, for the most basic healthcare for our elderly, or in restaurants or other service industry businesses.  We don’t want to see them, but we want to take advantage of their need and their willingness to work for less.

We need a realistic policy that provides opportunities for work that we want done, an adequate and reasonable vetting process that can provide them with documentation, and protections for both sides of this equation when it comes to remuneration, assurances of employment, and access to healthcare which protects us all.

We need to reestablish the safeguards of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  The young people whom I have met who would come under this program are some of the hardest working individuals I know.  They are dedicated patriots who long to become citizens of the United States, the only home that most of them have known.  We need their resourcefulness, their talent, and their commitment to this nation.

Why voters should choose me over my opponent

Why should voters choose me over my opponent?

The tax reform bill just passed by Congress is an attack upon middle and working class families, as well as programs that have been in place for generations that offer promise for a better future.  This Congress has acted irresponsibly by intentionally increasing the national debt in order to show favor to wealthy donors through tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals and large corporations.  They are scooping up large amounts of money and leaving little more than spare change for the people who actually make America work.

John Ratcliffe is fully behind this movement.  He does not believe that the federal government should be involved in Social Security.  He believes access to healthcare should be like retail shopping.  If you don’t have the money, you don’t receive the care.  He is unconcerned about the cost of higher education or about the effects of draining resources from our public schools.

I believe we have a responsibility to work together to uphold a brighter more promising future for our district, for our state, and for our country.  I don’t believe we will do that by robbing the poor and the middle class in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our nation.

I believe we are better people than to let elderly neighbors go hungry or for veterans to become more vulnerable.  We don’t hold out promise when we strip away the Children’s Health Insurance Program as too expensive, while lavishing those who are already wealthy with extravagant tax cuts.

I believe this tax measure is intentionally creating a deepening financial crisis, which my opponent and members of the majority delegation support, in order to frighten the public into giving up Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  These benefits that we have each paid into will then be given to those who already have the most.  It is unconscionable.  I will work to see that these protections are still in place so that young people have opportunities for greater promise, and the elderly have hope for a secure future.

Why I am running for this office

I entered this race in hopes of bringing people together with a new understanding of this office, listening to constituents, including those who may disagree with me.  Developing a position or forming a decision on a vote can and should be influenced by the conversations and the needs of people in the district.

The working and middle class families of the 4th District are under attack.  Social Security and Medicare are being threatened by tax cuts for the wealthy that increases the national debt  Support and funding for public schools are being eroded, higher education is becoming more expensive.  Access to healthcare is becoming more limited as small to medium size hospitals face growing financial pressures.  Hobbling the Affordable Care Act will place a heavier burden on the health care system as the cost of uninsured people is passed along to those of us with insurance.  I want to correct these problems as the Representative of the 4th Congressional District.