Defense & Veterans
There has never been a greater force for peace and stability than the United States military, and we must ensure that our military strength remains unmatched. We cannot, however, be expected to police the world alone. Our allies have relied on us for too long, and they must begin to pull more of their own weight. In addition, our government must understand that the American people are not the enemy. We must ensure that the Federal Government does not continue spying on law abiding American citizens.
There’s nobody I respect more than the men and women who have answered the call to serve our country. We must keep our promises to our veterans, ensure that their needs are met, and not allow continued mismanagement and cuts to veterans services. This nation is forever in their debt and we must always ensure that our soldiers’ and our veterans’ needs are taken care of both abroad and here at home.
Growing up in a small business household, I know firsthand the impact that government policy can have on our economy and the ability of businesses to create plentiful and well-paying jobs. Excess regulation from the Federal Government and the paralysis in Congress over the past several years have contributed to an environment of uncertainty that has limited economic growth and slowed job creation.
A streamlined and simplified tax code, a more consistent and predictable regulatory climate, and a Congress that does not lurch from one manufactured crisis to another, will unleash private enterprise, helping our economy grow more quickly and create well-paying jobs faster.
There is nothing more important to the creation of a productive, prosperous society than education. All too often, bureaucracy, mandates, and tests get in the way of actual learning. We must allow state and local governments, with the input of parents and educators, to effectively spend education dollars and develop the educational systems that best fit the needs of their individual communities. I understand the importance of local control and school choice, which is why I’m endorsed by Oregon Moms Building Excellent Schools Together.
Today, we have access to amazing technology and more information than ever about how individuals learn. There is no reason we should not have the most educated citizens on the planet with each student, through the use of technology, learning from a lesson plan specifically tailored to his or her needs and learning style.
With regards to higher education, we all can see that college tuition rates are out of control. One factor that gets little attention, is the fact that states have been continually slashing budgets for higher education, contributing an ever smaller percentage of the total cost of education. This directly leads to higher tuition for students and their families. Congress must work to free the states from unfunded mandates so that the states may determine how to best allocate their dollars.
The United States is in the middle of an energy boom that was unimaginable just a few years ago. In fact, the United States is meeting more of its own energy needs than at any point since the 1980s. Oil imports are dropping, enhancing our security and reducing our reliance on energy from unstable parts of the world. Thanks to new technologies, inexpensive American natural gas and renewable sources of energy are rapidly decreasing our nation’s dependence on coal power plants, significantly reducing emissions.
While renewables make up an ever increasing percentage of our nation’s energy portfolio, we must acknowledge that oil and gas will be an important part of our nation’s energy needs for the foreseeable future, and that sourcing our energy from North American sources creates jobs and enhances our security. This is why the Federal Government must continue to approve infrastructure projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline and allow energy exploration on Federal lands.
Most of us can agree that Washington has a spending addiction and that mounting debt will lead to a severe crisis unless we face the challenge head on. Massive deficits have become routine in recent years, but even in good economic times, the Federal Government spends more money than it takes in. The problem is not a lack of revenue, the problem is a bloated Federal Government.
Trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities associated with mandatory spending programs threaten to bankrupt the country in the coming decades. This crisis will only get worse as baby boomers continue to retire and fewer workers are left to pay into the system. We must have meaningful reform that preserves these programs for future generations, while ensuring that the government keeps its promises to current and future retirees.
We cannot rein in government spending or even begin to think about reducing our debt in any meaningful manner, until we have the courage to tackle these difficult challenges head-on.
Forestry & Agriculture
Despite what folks in Washington probably think, our state is much more than “Portlandia.” Our rural communities make up much of our state, and many are struggling unnecessarily due to the federal government’s overreach. The Federal Government owns over half of the land in Oregon which cripples rural economies and destroys the tax base. We must reclaim control of these Federal lands and open them up to expanded timber harvesting that is both economically beneficial and environmentally responsible. This can create thousands of jobs and help revive the health of our rural communities.
In the agricultural sector, Congress must also not play political games with the Farm Bill and pass a bill that helps those truly in need and ensures our farmers, both small and large, can continue to provide Americans with a secure and reliable food supply.
When President Obama was pitching The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to the American people, he repeatedly said that premiums would go down and if we liked our insurance plans, we could keep them. Many of us have found out that this simply is not true. Others have also found that their monthly premiums have doubled, or worse. I support repealing Obamacare, but we must also be prepared for a scenario where we don’t have the votes to do so.
In these challenging economic times, Obamacare has saddled working families with hundreds of dollars in new monthly bills (even after federal subsidies) that many people simply cannot afford. With stagnant wages and rising prices of food, housing, etc., many people are finding themselves with a lot less money every month because of the new insurance mandate.
We need to make healthcare more affordable by adopting market-based approaches that rein in costs and expand consumer choice. Ideally this would include the following: being able to purchase insurance across state lines, the ability to purchase catastrophic plans, expanded availability of health savings accounts, allowing individuals to purchase insurance with pre-tax dollars, ensuring people with preexisting conditions can purchase insurance, and, finally, tort reform that discourages frivolous lawsuits. We must also develop policies to address the critical shortage of primary care physicians that threatens to cut off access to care and drive up costs.
The immigration debate is often depicted as having only two options: amnesty for all of the 12 million people in the country illegally, or rounding up and deporting all of them. I oppose amnesty, and there are many reasonable steps we can implement to fix the immigration system that enjoy widespread support.
We must first and foremost secure our borders and enforce the laws on the books. This is important in preventing not only illegal workers from coming to the U.S., but human traffickers and drug cartels as well. Any plan that addresses the status of those already in the country illegally cannot take place until this happens.
While the government cannot deport the millions people in this country illegally in any sort of timely or economical manner, it can make it less desirable to be in the country illegally. We ought to enact proven verification programs, such as the free to use E-Verify system, that will make it far more difficult to employ those in the country illegally.
To address future legal immigration, we need a modernized work visa system that matches the number of visas awarded in any given year to our nation’s actual labor needs. Finally, it is important to ensure that those in the country illegally do not have access to the taxpayer-funded entitlement programs available to American citizens.
I firmly support the right of American citizens to keep and bear arms. This right must not be infringed upon. We need to recognize that most of the gun-related tragedies that take place in this country are perpetrated by very disturbed individuals, and restrictions on gun ownership alone will not solve this problem. As a nation, we must take mental health seriously and direct more attention to how we can identify and help those individuals in need.
The Founding Fathers would never have wanted a government dominated by a class of professional politicians and unlimited special interest money. It’s clear that it’s time to seriously consider term limits as a way to ensure that Congress truly represents the people, not self-serving politicians or special interest groups.