Jim on the Issues:
jobs and the local economy
Many in District 15 are struggling. The recovery from the Great Recession has not yet reached them, and they’re losing confidence that it ever will. Unemployment is still too high. Thousands are under-employed and most have seen their wages stagnate. So what do we do? I will advocate for working men and women, and once in Washington, I will work tirelessly to stop the GOP's ongoing attempts to dismantle the union system, so important to the working class.
Well-paying jobs can be created restoring our roads and bridges. I will support funding to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure in District 15. Another approach is to direct job-creating resources into institutions and industries that play a vital role in the economic health of our district. Ports, airports, and major research centers that are either within our district or provide jobs to District 15 constituents. I believe that additional jobs can be created through new investments in these centers of economic power. Investments such as these are a good value because every dollar spent provides three dollars in return. This is the type of policy that is in line with my fiscal values.
improving The Rural economy
Family farms and ranches are the backbone of rural Hillsborough, Polk, and Lake Counties as well as a vital component of our local economy. Farmers are also among the nation’s foremost stewards of our lands and water. Our district supplies a large part of our nation’s agriculture and has a local economic impact of over half a billion dollars.
Many farmers are small business owners who are not receiving their due from the federal government. It is unacceptable that the top 10% of farms collect 75% of farm subsidies, while the bottom 62% do not receive any subsidies leaving many of our local farmers out to dry. New policies must be adopted to turn this around.
I will fight for farm policies that will foster the entry of a new generation of owner-operators. I will not back away from land stewardship standards that include the commonwealth of clean water for all. I believe in family farms, and I will do my very best to help them survive and prosper.
A highly educated workforce is the best way we can compete in a global economy. Few would dispute the fact that a good primary and secondary education improves social mobility and is a requirement for a decent job. Public schools and public school teachers have been under attack as there have been widespread efforts to shift public school funding to private school voucher programs and privately-owned charter schools. Our children should not have to win a lottery to have access to a quality education. I will work tirelessly to ensure that federal funds are not siphoned off to the politically connected at the expense of American children.
Unfortunately, our children are attending under-funded schools and being bombarded with standardized tests. I will support and adopt education policies that put more time into allowing teachers to teach and reduce the number of standardized tests eating up instructional time.
Higher education plays a vital role for students transitioning from high school to vocational schools, colleges, and universities. Yet, students today often graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. This weighs down their economic power and hurts the economy overall. I support reforming the existing federal student loan system.
These reforms include policies that will:
• End the federal government from making a profit on student loans;
• Substantially cut loan interest rates;
• Allow Americans with existing student loans to refinance at today’s low interest rates.
The skyrocketing cost of healthcare is damaging to all Americans. While this is a complex issue, we all can agree that no one should have to risk life-long debt and bankruptcy because of a serious illness. I believe access to healthcare is an inalienable right and the Affordable Care Act was a good first step in providing this right. To date, ACA has already reduced the number of uninsured Americans by over 16 million. Genuine problems still exist, including escalating premium costs. Some in Congress have focused their energy on repeatedly attempting to repeal the act. If elected, I, instead, will focus on improvements and not political theater.
It is unconscionable that in the 21st century, women are still fighting for equal rights in America. Women's rights have been under attack and hard-fought gains are being eroded. Women still earn less than men in the workplace. As your Congressman, I will support equal pay legislation and work to close the pay gap. I believe that women have the fundamental right to control their own bodies and will protect women's health and reproductive rights. I will stand with women to combat the pervasiveness of acts of violence such as domestic violence and sexual assault. The U.S. currently lags behind nearly all other nations in not providing for paid family and sick leave. I will fight for legislation that supports this cause.
America has no shortage of heroes. There are 22 million veterans in this nation. Tragically, many are not receiving the respect and care they deserve. The Veterans Administration has long been underfunded and at times mismanaged. I support policies that put Veterans before bureaucracy. This includes additional funding and a call to action to stabilize this valuable institution. Contrary to initiatives being proposed in Congress today, I will not support the call for privatization of the VA Health system. Doing so will only risk the lives of the men and women it purports to serve. Veterans with service-connected disabilities, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), should receive priority care. And, there needs to be serious examination of the level of mental health and counseling services provided to our warriors. With more than 22 veteran suicides a day, the time for action is now! We cannot afford to leave our brave men and women behind.
Politicians in Washington continue to propose privatizing Medicare. They think turning it into a voucher program or cutting it altogether will somehow save money. These cuts won’t prevent seniors from getting sick and requiring care. Rather, these cuts are about shifting ever-growing health care costs onto seniors, many who are on a fixed income. This must stop. I will not support turning Medicare into a voucher program or cutting benefits for those who have worked their entire lives and now seek to enjoy the benefits that they have earned. As a seasoned business consultant, I have experience in cutting cost while preserving quality. The most obvious cost-cutting measure is related to prescription drug costs. In 2003, Washington politicians cut a deal to prevent Medicare from negotiating for lower prescription drug prices. This outcome was a direct result of the influence of lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry. Politicians cannot be allowed to operate on behalf of any industry, especially at the expense of American taxpayers and certainly not seniors.
The issues with Social Security funding are serious, yet fixable. Social Security is safe for at least the next 20 years. I am prepared to take action and make modest changes that will keep the system solvent without cutting back on benefits. One modest change that I would support is raising or even eliminating the Social Security cap on taxable earnings. Of course, any change to the program will require the political will and resolve of both parties. Social Security is a promise made to our seniors. It would be both a breach of trust and poor economic policy to jeopardize this program with unnecessary cuts or risky privatization schemes.
criminal justice reform
In the Land of the Free, we cannot continue to imprison more people than authoritarian regimes like China or Iran. The War on Drugs has caused criminal justice costs to skyrocket adding to our national debt and contributing to the rise of organized crime by foreign elements. More importantly, it’s caused the ethnic disparities in our criminal justice system that cannot be ignored. I support common sense reforms such as removing cannabis from the Controlled Substance act, thus ending a war against sick patients and eliminating an almost century old prohibition policy rooted in Jim Crow racism which has contributed to an over-populated prison system full of non-violent offenders.
It is the role of the Federal government to protect the inalienable rights endowed to each man and woman by their creator. These rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must be taken into account when developing any public policy. I stand strong against the forces that wish to take away our Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, and Right to Assembly. I stand with the American people in their 2nd Amendment rights to protect themselves without being subject to unnecessary invasions of privacy. I embrace commonsense gun legislation including strengthening background checks, and keeping guns out of the hands of those on watch lists, domestic abusers, and the mentally ill. I am steadfast against out of control government spying on our own citizens and believe that people’s personal records are their own business. This is the essence of the Fourth Amendment. I see our fundamental right to vote under attack by career politicians. This is why I support restoration of the Voting Rights Act and the restoration of voting rights for those who have served their debts to society. All Americans should be free to choose how they worship and whom they love. I support the LGBT community without reservation and will actively oppose all acts of intolerance and politicians who campaign and legislate against their interests. In a time where politicians have put fear before maintaining liberty, I hope to be a voice for tolerance and inclusion.
immigration and national security
America is the shining city on the hill and a beacon of hope for those seeking a better life or fleeing oppression and death. We are a nation of immigrants all striving to maintain and grow a society built on democracy and freedom. Immigrants play vital roles in producing our food, servicing our families, and protecting our nation. Their children attend our schools and excel academically. We cannot compete globally if we are going to deport individuals who have a genuine will to make America better. I support humane immigration policies that outline an earned path to citizenship for undocumented workers while generating revenue from tax penalties for those who immigrated without following proper procedures. In addition, I support ensuring our nation’s security by identifying and removing violent criminals from our immigration system.
Climate change is real. It is already causing measurable problems in the United States and around the globe. Supporting the scientific community's conclusions about climate change, there are a few key solutions that could reverse our dangerous trending. We should move away from our unhealthy reliance on fossil fuels and encourage investment in sustainable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal. As a member of Congress, I will support all legislation that promotes sustainable energy. More specifically, as a Floridian from the "Sunshine State," I will initiate legislation that captures this abundant supply of energy.
Taxes and Federal Spending
Our national debt is over 18 trillion dollars. This is not because of working families, seniors, or the most impoverished among us. This is due solely to the on-going, systemic failure of career politicians to adequately examine how they spend or collect our tax dollars. Fiscal conservatism has been an illusion cast upon the American people by Congressional leadership. I stand for accountability and a reduction in deficit spending while restructuring our tax code for working families and small businesses to have more in their pocket. We cannot continue a system of subsidies and blank checks for industries that rake in billions a year in profits. Such a system is un-American.
corruption & accountability
For years the American people have helplessly looked on as their tax dollars have been misspent and stolen through falsely inflated governmental contracts and kick-backs. This institutional theft brazenly committed in broad daylight and without any fear of reprisal, is one of the main reasons I decided to run for office. My platform regarding governmental corruption is simple: If you break the law, either here at home or abroad, you should go to jail. And if I am elected, I promise to hold these law-breakers accountable.