CONVERSATION STARTERS

I intend to be a representative for everyone in the 24th Congressional District, not just those who happen to agree with me or identify with my party. That means I am willing to listen and engage in conversations, especially when we don’t agree.  The issues below are my conversation starters, not the final word. That word can only come from the people of the 24th. If you’d like to know more about a specific issue or would like to keep the conversation going, please contact me here.

Our Veterans

They Deserve Our Best
  • Our veterans have given their service, their blood, and, in many cases, their health, to our nation's cause.  Yet, the Veteran's Administration is a bureaucratic train wreck and our veterans are often either turned away or have the life-saving care they need delayed by red-tape and inefficiency. Until this nation has reformed our Veteran Care system into the envy of the world, we should allow veterans to seek service from civilian providers, with the tab picked up by the VA. 
  • There is a push among many in our nation to spend billions of dollars on a border wall they say is needed for the protection of our citizens.  From 2010-2014, 121 homicides were committed by undocumented immigrants; in that same time span, 29,000 veterans committed suicide.  Wouldn't those billions of dollars be better spent on making sure that every VA Hospital has an attached "Mental Health ER" designed to identify and treat suicide risks among our veteran population?

kitchen table economics

Middle Class Tax Cuts and Deductions
  • The American middle class deserves a real tax break, and not the travesty represented by the GOP's "Tax Overhaul".  Our main concern with any tax legislation should be to lessen the load on the People rather than to cut deals for the wealthiest of us. Let’s put money back in working America's pockets. When working Americans have more money, they spend it in their communities, creating jobs. A prosperous and robust middle class means a healthy American economy. A 2-3% tax cut for middle class Americans can mean a few hundred dollars a month in a paycheck. 
  • We should reward Americans who take steps to achieve the American dream for themselves and their families.  For that mass of Americans, child care costs can be like having a second mortgage, and student loan debt can feel like quick sand. By increasing the tax deductions for child-care and student loans, we recognize the burden faced by American families and offer a deserved helping hand.

Education

A Child, Not a Product
  • For too long we’ve been sold standardized testing and vouchers as “solutions” for public education, but these solutions are really just band-aids for bullet-holes. Education isn’t about test scores or treating students as a defective cog in a testing machine, it’s about opportunity. It’s time we acknowledge that there is as much value in a student who has a genius for machinery as there is for one who can write an academic essay. Reduce the demand for standardized testing.  Allow school districts nationwide to utilize the money once spent on the massive testing industry on other innovations in their classrooms, innovations unique to each campus, each district. How many music programs would we see flourish?  How many vocational offerings?  How many apprenticeships?  All in exchange for a broken testing regime that serves only to enrich a corporate monopoly. 
  • We have an obligation to provide an opportunity for our children who have a skill or an interest beyond academia. We must invest in entrepreneurship, skilled labor, and innovation. By investing in a variety of educational programs designed to match the needs of our changing labor force, we offer our children the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families in the future.

Healthcare

Increasing Access for All Americans & Lowering Costs
  • 60,000.   In just the 24th District, that is the number of Americans who would lose healthcare coverage under the Republican House plan energetically supported by our current representative.  Most of us would agree that healthcare insurance premiums are too high and that the cost of coverage is hurting more American families than it heals.  A single-payer system is now a part of the national conversation and one many Americans are interested in exploring. As your representative, I will advocate for this approach and work to improve healthcare accessibility and cost for all Americans.
  • Drug costs are a huge contributing factor to the Healthcare quagmire in America.  Over 80% of the research-and-development costs for new drugs are paid-for via grants from the American government and borne by the American tax-payer.  Yet, drug companies are allowed to patent those drugs paid for through American tax dollars and set the price as high as they wish.  For almost forty years, legislation has existed that allows the government to step in to cap drug prices in cases where the R/D was paid for by the American tax-payer.  I say it is time to use it. 

Gun Violence

Time to Act
  • We need to start by talking about common sense legislation tied to specific killers, specific crimes. Rather than focusing our efforts and rhetoric on some overarching idea of “gun control”, we need a laser focus.  Take bump stocks off the market and prevent another Vegas.  Tighten up oversight and reform the database system and prevent another Sutherland Springs.  Reform the mental health system, especially when it comes to the young, and prevent a Columbine or a Newtown.
  • Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines have no place in our society. These weapons are not sporting weapons; no one "assaults" a deer.  These are weapons meant for one thing: killing human beings. It is time to recognize that basic fact, and to state that the allowance of these weapons is counter to the American character.
  • Finally, let us push for one thing immediately: asking the Associated Press, UPI, and Cable News Networks to adopt regulations on the coverage the perpetrators and their crimes receive on television and in print.  Unless law enforcement sees a need, a perpetrator's name need never be mentioned, nor their actions replayed and revisited endlessly on news networks.  There is a long history of media regulating themselves (for instance, with the ratings system utilized by the MPAA), and this is one area where I would be more than happy to utilize the bully pulpit of a Congressman to encourage them to do so when it comes to coverage of gun violence. 

Comprehensive Reproductive Healthcare

The Right of American Women
  • I struggle with the issue of abortion just like every American does. I do not believe it is my decision to make for other Americans.  I understand that access to safe, comprehensive reproductive care is a right guaranteed to women by the Constitution, and I will always be on the side of women’s liberty in that fight.
  • Like most Americans, I am 100% in favor of reducing the number of abortions in this country, and that takes a three-tiered approach. First, we must make motherhood affordable. Second, we must reform our adoption system so it works better for families. Third, we must prevent unintended pregnancies, and that requires access to health care and education that allows women – and men – to make responsible decisions that result in better outcomes for society.

Money in Politics

On This Issue, Voters are the Judge
  • If you want money out of politics, stop decrying the corrupting influence of money in politics while at the same time enthusiastically perusing the FEC filings of candidates. Stop talking about the dangers of political cash on social media while at the same time discounting candidates who haven’t raised gobs of it as “clown car candidates” not worth your time. Stop tacitly falling in line with the mindset that ideas are only as good as the money spent on them, and that a person is only worth the number on his or her bank account.
  • If you want money out of politics, stop supporting and electing candidates who no longer have to worry about money in their daily lives. Stop preferring your candidates be lawyers and CEO's; find a carpenter or a small business owner or even, if you’d like, a teacher, who holds your ideals and has the guts to give running a chance. Find someone who gets up in the morning, works a full day, and then goes out to run for office in the hours they have left. Find that person and support them because it isn’t easy for them, it has meant sacrifice, and they are doing it anyway.

Racism in America Today

Healing Through Unity
  • The first step in addressing any problem is admitting there is one. Racism exists. It lives in our schools, living rooms and office buildings. Every generation seems to take one more step toward unity, toward healing, but we can never allow ourselves to think that the work is done.  We can also never tire of the struggle: American history has taught us that the worst injustices are perpetrated after the energy of civil rights movements have ebbed. 
  • Conversations matter. Talking about the continued existence of racism is a conversation we must have in this country regardless of the difficulty. We heal through unity and unity requires sitting down and talking.

Marriage equality

Protecting Constitutional Rights
  • I support it.  I'll fight for it. It is a moral imperative.  The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law and that means for everyone.

LGBTQ RIGHTS

Fighting Against Discrimination
  • Like most Americans, I believe the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to legalize gay marriage was an appropriate, if long overdue, act.  The dangers arising from the current trend of “religious freedom” defenses of anti-LGBTQ behavior need to be addressed and reversed. Anti-LGBTQ bigots are using the First Amendment’s religious clause to shield their actions, couching their bigotry and discrimination as an expression of “deeply-held religious beliefs”. This tactic needs to be addressed and combated via the bully pulpit available to legislators, and vociferously.
  • In my classrooms, I have seen how early discrimination can start; I have seen how tragic the results of such discrimination can be. A teacher confronts on a daily basis the issues facing our youngest generations from bell to bell. We educate when we can; we shield and comfort when needed. All too often, all we can do is pick up the pieces of discrimination’s hate and let our students know that they have someone they can talk to.  As a Congressman, I can finally do more to help those students.  I’ll fight for them, and you’ll hear and see me fighting. That much I can promise.

Immigration

Protecting Family & Reforming the Law
  • Immigration into the United States of America can be a long, complicated, and tedious process. We must take a hard look at the immigration procedures in this country and create a more timely and less expensive pathway to citizenship.  I advocate for the creation of a congressional commission consisting of those who practice immigration law, those who enforce it, and those who have gone through the rigorous process and know it from the inside.  This is a way to reach some common sense, intelligent, informed, and compassionate immigration reform.
  • We must protect children brought to this country through no fault of their own. They are American, immersed in American culture, and they deserve a pathway to citizenship that makes sense. I will advocate for the passing of the DREAM Act today, tomorrow, and every day I’m in office.

Social Security

It is Simple: Fund It
  • To ensure Social Security is around for the next generation, we must address funding now. One simple fix would be raising the salary cap on contributions. That way, we correct the problem on the front end by bringing in more revenue and avoid reliance on complicated formulas to determine how benefits are paid out. 
  • Another obvious fix is growing the American work force so that more workers are paying into the system. This means investing more heavily in the next generation of American entrepreneurs and workers.

Jobs

Fix What is Broken
  • Potholes, freeway expansion, bullet trains, bridges, airports, levees – they all need repair and renovation, which requires workers. Let’s fund it and let’s start putting Americans back to work doing the things that keep our cities and economy rolling. 
  • Americans are innovators. We’ve always been innovators and we are on the cusp on an energy revolution. North Texas can be a part of that revolution. As we seek new technologies to address changing energy demands, we have an opportunity to invest in research and training that could bring thousands of new jobs to the 24th all while protecting our environment.