Fighting for the welfare of my fellow-Americans by holding the gov’t accountable because the future depends on what we do today.

Everyone’s talking about the climate crisis! What about the poverty crisis or debt crisis afflicting North Carolinians? The reality is that many individuals with full-time jobs and homes cannot make ends meet. Why? It’s important to discuss the root causes of these issues because money troubles are a leading cause of marital strife, family instability, and divorce in America.

Capitalism is good for society but when the free market economy is not working, Congress needs to fix it with regulation. We have to speak about controlling the rising cost of education, healthcare, cars, etc. as these costs have given rise to record levels of consumer debt and money management skills alone will not secure a financial future for Americans.

The threat of the National Debt and Increasing Costs

The U.S. National Debt is $23,158,165,000,000. and counting!

The World Bank says a country reaches a tipping point when the debt-to-GDP ratio approaches or exceeds 77%. In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio was 105%.

The national debt is a bipartisan problem that will kill the American dream and hurt all Americans regardless of race, gender, or political beliefs. We need to reverse course and avoid the potentially crippling consequences.

In December 2017, the President and Republicans in Congress passed a sweeping tax cut skewed toward big corporations. The decline in the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 caused overall tax revenues to decline. It’s not surprising, if you cut taxes, you get less in revenues. However, at the same time the government increased spending which caused the deficit to explode. The economy did not grow as expected. GDP in the most recent two quarters was around 2% instead of the 4 to 6% that the president predicted. Now to win the next election, the President is promising another tax cut, despite the $23 trillion debt and Americans demanding ‘Medicare for all’.

How else will America solve this problem?

  • If the national debt were divided among every person in the U.S. each of us would owe $70,113.
  • Default on its debt?

The Budget Control Act of 2011 capped discretionary spending from fiscal years 2012 to 2021. However, six times in eight years Congress has modified the caps, with the most recent deal increasing spending by nearly $300 billion. Congress has little incentive to reduce the deficit because politicians lose elections when they cut spending and increase taxes.

American families cannot indulge in this type of reckless spending. Why should the federal government? Call Senator Tillis and Senator Burr and ask - Besides voting to raise the debt ceiling, what are you doing to implement reforms to fix the debt problem?

We need a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility from lawmakers to dig the country out of this hole because at $23 trillion in debt and climbing, the consequences of not doing anything would be disastrous.

 Consumer Debt

While economists say the economy is strong and consumers are spending because they have jobs, Americans owe a huge amount of debt and according to a U.S. Government Accountability Office estimate for 2016, 48% of Americans 55 and older have nothing saved for retirement.

Americans have outstanding student loan debt of $1.6 trillion, the second largest form of consumer debt behind mortgages. In North Carolina 55% of 2018 graduates had an average student loan debt of $26,129. Not all debt is bad! Having student loans totaling $26,000 and a college degree at age 22 is a much better situation than forgoing college and deciding to enter the labor market at age 18.

Americans also owe $1.1 trillion in credit card debt ($6,815 per holder). According to the Federal Reserve, Americans owe about $1.2 trillion in auto loans. This increasing debt indicates consumer optimism about the economy but it could also indicate that families are under financial stress and need to borrow to pay for necessities.

The average price of a car today is $37,553. For new car buyers, the average loan payment is $554. A WSJ investigation found that some car dealers are fudging loan applications and putting people in cars they can't afford. To make them affordable dealers are offering loans with seven-year terms to lower the monthly payments. Such a long loan term can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest charges.

Getting back to student loans, you may have heard promises from some politicians to cancel all $1.6 trillion of U.S. student loan debt and to make college tuition-free and debt-free. Those proposals sound awesome and anyone would vote for that. The problem is: with the US Federal Debt already at $23 trillion, can the country afford this and can they deliver on that promise? So, I ask: -

Should the gov’t be accountable for consumer’s personal debt and financial instability?

People get college degrees so they can make more money and be better off, so why should taxpayers who don’t go to college subsidize those who do? According to the US Census Bureau Quick Facts, 30% of the North Carolina population has a Bachelor’s degree or higher so cancelling their debt would be unfair to the 70% of the population/families that do not benefit.

More than 27 million Americans age 25 or older don’t have a high school diploma or GED, the basic credential needed to qualify for nearly 80 percent of jobs in this country and the first step to the middle class. Why don’t we offer help to those people?

Besides common financial aid options like loans, grants and scholarships, there are many other ways to help minimize and even zero-out the cost of college. Students should explore part or full-time employment with companies who have Tuition Reimbursement Programs and paid training programs.

However, I seriously think Colleges have to start cutting costs and restructuring their curriculum to help students overcome these debt challenges. Also, Congress should consider some form of risk-sharing system to directly tie an institution’s finances to the outcomes of its students. The current federal accountability system should be re-designed to penalize schools for drop-outs and students who default on their loans. Government can’t be all things to all people which is why I applaud philanthropists like Kenneth Landone who recently donated $100 million to help make NYU's medical school tuition-free for all students and Robert F. Smith for paying off Morehouse grads' student debt.

Balancing Our Nation's Budget and Controlling Military Spending

In December 2017, the President and Republicans in Congress passed a sweeping tax cut skewed toward big corporations. The problem is it led to a shortfall of $275 billion or 7.6 percent of revenues that were expected before the tax cuts took place. Actual corporate income tax revenue in FY2018 was $135 billion lower than the Congressional Budget Office projection from 2017, a decline of nearly 40 percent. Our government should be investing in building opportunities for hardworking families, not shoveling more special breaks to the billionaires and corporations that have already made it big.

The federal budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2019 was $984 billion, an increase of $205 billion from 2018. At that pace, the National Debt will be $33 trillion in 10 years which will cripple the government in an economic downturn. To pay off that debt the federal gov’t would have to take 95% of every American’s wages for the whole year!

Federal spending isn't just about dollars and cents - it's also about our values. Our government should be investing in building opportunities for hardworking families, not fighting wars.

The Washington Post recently published that it had obtained confidential government documents revealing that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making false pronouncements and hiding evidence that the war was unwinnable. Imagine that: top officials over three administrations were lying to the American public about the state of the war in Afghanistan. More than 2,400 Americans have died in the nearly 18-year war and over 20,500 were wounded in action, according to the Defense Department. U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats kept assuring Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting when they had no clue what they were doing. It is indefensible that no one blew the whistle. Where was the oversight of Congress? The American people need to know the truth!

You can find the article online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/ -

THE AFGHANISTAN PAPERS A secret history of the war

AT WAR WITH THE TRUTH

U.S. officials constantly said they were making progress. They were not, and they knew it, an exclusive Post investigation found.

By Craig Whitlock Dec. 9, 2019

 

The U.S. government has not carried out a comprehensive accounting of how much it spent on the war in Afghanistan, but the costs are staggering. According to an inflation-adjusted estimate calculated by Neta Crawford, a political science professor and co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University, the Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have spent or appropriated between $934 billion and $978 billion since 2001. She also says conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan have cost the US $5.9 trillion since 2001.

The United States spends more than the next seven largest militaries in the world combined. Sen. Rand Paul stated in an op-ed he wrote, "we will be borrowing $2.75 billion every day next year, nearly $2 million every minute."  Spending has gotten so out of control that the Defense Department literally cannot keep track of it all. He also wrote that we don’t even have a great idea of how much exactly we’re wasting because our Defense Department is so large that we couldn’t audit the Army, the Navy, the Marines, or the Air Force.  The Pentagon’s budget is $738 billion for military spending this year, up $22 billion from last year. Over the past six years, military spending has risen over $120 billion. Sen. Rand Paul also said, “The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.”

I love and respect our military! While they have such a large presence here in North Carolina, Congress has to end these wars and stop supporting military spending at any cost. Americans are demanding ‘Free Medicare for all’ and sooner or later, the government will have to do the humane thing. It’s time to face the facts and get our priorities straight! It’s time to stop spending on wars and invest in securing the future prosperity and well-being of Americans!

Reforming our Healthcare System

Healthcare is a $3.5 trillion market in the United States, about 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The U.S. has the highest per capita health expenditures of any country yet has lower health care outcomes. While some people think Medicare for all should be a basic human right, the question is how will the government pay for it with a $23 trillion national debt already? Medicaid expansion was a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act to expand realistic access to healthcare to as many people as possible. At a state level, 37 states have adopted the Medicaid expansion and 14 states including North Carolina have not.

Senator Thom Tillis’ voted to repeal The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) - commonly known as "Obamacare" without any plan to replace it. Since President Trump took office, his administration and Republicans in Congress have made a series of changes causing an additional 1.9 million people, including nearly half a million children, to become uninsured last year, according to a Census Bureau report in September.

  • One out of every six Americans has an unpaid medical bill on their credit report, amounting to $81 billion in debt nationwide. The median medical debt in collections in North Carolina is $716.
  • About one in 12 Americans went without any medical insurance throughout 2018.
  • 60% of bankruptcies filed are in part because of medical bills. Most of them are insured so it’s clear that despite health insurance, there are many, many people incurring costs not being covered by their insurance.

One of the biggest hurdle’s patients face is the sheer confusion of the process with all the limitations the various medical plans have. Patients don’t have a choice to not go and get the care they need and when their authorization/claims get denied, they are billed sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars if their hospital is out of network. This also affects the care providers who are affected by the lower claims and tighter payer-negotiated reimbursement rates.

Meanwhile the health insurance companies are earning record profits and their CEOs are racking up huge compensation packages which is at odds with the goal of providing high-quality care at lower costs. IRS 990 data shows 13 of the largest non-profit hospitals paid their top earner between $5 million and $21.6 million for 2017. How can you rein in healthcare costs when CEO pay is rising sharply?

The rising cost of healthcare is undermining the American Dream. Most of the structural flaws in the system are well documented. This industry needs total disruption, and I don’t mean building on the Affordable Care Act. I mean reforming the system to make it efficient and effective for the 21st century. I can’t wait to see what The Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway venture comes up with. It will take a juggernaut like Jeff Bezos to overhaul the healthcare system because he will not have to worry about alienating voters and causing a ruckus from healthcare lobbyists who are lobbying the government to defend the status quo.

Six-in-ten Americans say it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage. According to the Pew Research Center 31% support a “single payer” approach to health insurance. This would disrupt the layers and layers of administrative staff in the health insurance industry but if the government truly wants better U.S. health care it has to fix the flaws and look at other countries for opportunities which include:

  • Charges/ Price of services should have something to do with the actual cost. Patients should know how much they have to pay before they get treatment. It’s time to revolutionize the industry with transparency. Eliminate the concept of out of network doctors, so patients get no surprise billing.
  • Medicaid reimbursement rates should be adequate to cover the cost of providing care.
  • Find and stop healthcare fraud and abuse - It is estimated that billions of dollars are lost annually due to health care fraud and abuse. It’s time for medical ID cards with block chain technology to secure healthcare data and process transactions.
  • Because patients, doctors and healthcare providers can share the same information quickly and safely, blockchain technology will help to alleviate some of the unspoken financial conflicts in the industry such as –
    • If a doctor has an MRI machine in his office, he is going to order more MRIs so he won’t lose money on it.
    • Administrators pressuring surgeons to book operating rooms because the hospitals have mortgages and loans to pay for this expensive equipment. Private hospitals pushing doctors to generate more money by doing more procedures.
    • According to a federally funded study released on Nov. 16, 2019, tens of thousands of costly stent procedures and bypass operations each year are unnecessary or premature for people with stable disease.
  • Innovating with Blockchain technology will inject competition in the industry while maintaining the integrity of health records and establishing a single point of truth so patients can price shop for the care they need especially with telemedicine platforms looming in the future. It could also be used to track drug prescriptions and help with the opioid epidemic.
  • And finally, the government should be able to negotiate drug prices - Current prices are not sustainable. The 10 biggest pharmaceutical companies spend more than twice as much on advertising, overhead and profit-taking than on research and development. Insulin was discovered almost a century ago, yet Americans pay more than 10 times as much for insulin as Canadians do. That is so wrong!”
Immigration Reform

The last major immigration reform enacted in the United States, was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which created a path to citizenship for people w The last major immigration reform enacted in the United States, was the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which created a path to citizenship for people who entered the United States without permission before 1982 and made it illegal for employers to knowingly hire undocumented workers.

Since then, immigration reform has eluded both republican and democratic presidents. Several measures have been introduced, and even passed one chamber with bipartisan support, but failed short of final passage. Hence, 11 million people have been living in the U.S. for an average of 15 years illegally. Do you see why we need more Independent members in congress? It’s time to break the gridlock and get things done!

If the government can’t resolve the impasse on this issue, how will our leaders deal with climate chaos, arms control to get rid of nuclear weapons, facial recognition technology, and personal information security and crypto currencies?”

Advocating for Women’s Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s right to choose abortion is protected by the Constitution and that abortion is legal throughout the United States. Roe v. Wade is the law!

I believe everyone has the basic human right to make their own choice as we all suffer the consequences of our sins. If women can’t make decisions about their own bodies, they will never have equality. To those who advocate for pro-life, I ask: - Do you take this moral high-ground with the rest of the 10 commandments?

How many unwanted children have you adopted?

How many children have you protected from sexual violence in the Catholic Church?

Just think, without this moral quandary we will have one less thing dividing us as a society. If we’re going to get along, Americans should be free to make their own choices for the pursuit of their own happiness. I respect the real-life decisions people and their families face every day and understand the misery and unhappiness that goes with the burden and expense of raising unwanted children. Instead of judging or imposing my values on them, I choose to focus on ways to alleviate poverty in this world.

Addressing Gun Violence

I get the 2nd Amendment and the ‘right to bear arms’ but my god, gun violence has become a public health issue and ‘sending thoughts and prayers’ is not enough to stop the violence. Please reason with me here: I am not saying to take your guns away. I’m saying that we no longer need to protect ourselves as our forebearers did in 1791. We now have a federal government with a regulated organized militia and we have the National Guard. We don’t have tyranny in our government, so why do citizens need military style firearms in a civilized society? People need to obtain a driver’s license and insurance to drive a car, why can’t we similarly enact sensible gun safety legislation?

Poll after poll shows overwhelming public support at above 90% for common sense solutions to gun violence. So why does the NRA and gun manufacturers have veto power over the rest of us? What about members of congress oath to defend our democracy and protect American citizens from violence?

  • According to the Federal Election Commission the NRA spent $54 million on the 2016 elections in total, with more than $30 million on behalf of the Trump campaign.
  • The NRA groups spent nearly $7 million on behalf of Senator Burr. That includes $5.6 million that NRA groups spent in 2016 against his Democratic opponent, Deborah Ross.
  • Senator Tillis has gotten $4.5 million in help, including independent expenditures against his 2014 opponent, then-incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), there were 15,457 gun violence deaths in the U.S. in 2019. 29,582 injuries and 448 mass shootings/mass murders. America’s rate of manslaughter by firearm is the highest in the developed world. Why? Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are examples of democracies that ‘love life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion” where citizens don’t have to fear being gunned down due to a lack of common-sense regulation of guns.

Concerts, theatres, schools, churches – No place is sacred! Have you been in a school where there is an active-shooter drill and the six-year old’s drag their iron chairs to barricade the door before huddling under their desks in the dark? Parents say that experience is upsetting and traumatizing to their kids. Teachers say getting the kids settled back into learning after lockdown drills is a nightmare and that mind-set has no place in a learning environment. Why
should fortifying our institutions be normal?

Gun violence is no act of god and we should not live with it! Don’t believe the fear mongering from Gun Manufacturers or the NRA that Gun legislation will take away your 2nd amendment right. We have second-graders with PTSD and survivors of mass shootings committing suicide because of survivor’s guilt and PTSD. Congress must finally address this public health crisis and enact sensible gun safety legislation, including banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and closing the gun show background check loophole (gun show buyers in NC are required to obtain a state-issued permit).

Expanding Economic Opportunities

The unemployment rate in the U.S. for November 2019 was 3.5 percent, the lowest level in 50 years. While the economy is strong and continues to grow, a lot of jobs are low wage, low hour with low quality job growth. In 2018, there were 38.1 million people living in poverty in America and 1.47 million people living in poverty in North Carolina. According to the US Census Bureau Quick Facts, 14% of the population of North Carolina live in Poverty.

It’s time to alleviate the challenges of poverty with a living wage. The minimum wage in North Carolina matches that of the federal minimum wage rate at $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage has been at $7.25 an hour — about $15,000 a year for someone working 40 hours a week since 2009. This is not a living wage! It takes over $14 per hour to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in North Carolina and $27 per hour to afford the average home.

In December the senate approved a 3.1% pay raise for Pentagon personnel and legislation to provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave in the annual defense policy bill. I have great respect and honor for our military service members but politicians have to stop fighting for raises and benefits for certain segments of society and fight for fairness and justice for all Americans! This is why Americans are so divided and so many people feel left behind. Hard work deserves a decent wage regardless of whether you are a federal worker, teacher, or fast food worker. It’s time to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. an hour.

If people can earn a living wage and experience the dignity of work – look how better society becomes. Maybe instead of doing two jobs, parents can spend more time parenting. Instead of teachers having to buy supplies for their students, maybe the parents will afford to buy their kids supplies. A living wage lifts all of society up. Housing becomes more affordable and the cycle of poverty is easier to break. Politicians complain about CEO salaries and do nothing about it. Well if they raise the minimum wage, more of the company’s profits would go to the employees instead of top management. What a novel idea: Redistribute wealth with a Living Wage!

Some Americans should not have better benefits than others. 1 in 4 women go back to work two weeks after having a child. Why only parental leave for federal employees? Why not enact a national universal paid leave program? It’s time for 12 weeks of statutory paid maternity leave in America!

While we must address entitlements, the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. The Trump administration proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that would affect 3.1 million people, including children and seniors currently receiving those benefits. According to the USDA’s website, 1,365,394 people per month get food stamps in North Carolina. A study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that the proposed rule would have a major impact on our state. North Carolina would lose 11 percent, or 79,260 of its current SNAP households. With those households losing $112 In monthly benefits.

As of January 2018, North Carolina had an estimated 9,268 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 14% of the population live in Poverty. Under the proposed rule, millions of vulnerable families will have an even harder time making ends meet and putting food on the table.

Reform Washington – Amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United!

While some North Carolinians find it harder than ever to find affordable housing, living-wage jobs, pay for higher education, deal with the effects of climate chaos and hang onto a middle-class life in America, the privileged and powerful get wealthier. It’s not an accident -- it’s the product of decades of people with money and access using it to corrupt our democracy and reinforce their own wealth and power. President Trump has raised $165 million to buy your vote in 2020! Senator Tillis has raised $7.7 million to buy your vote! Cal Cunningham, the candidate backed by the democratic party for U.S. Senate for North Carolina has raised $1.7 million to buy your votes!

The ‘We the People’ vision of our founding fathers in our constitution has been corrupted by gerrymandering, dark money, and voter suppression. We now have government by and for the powerful, not by and for the people. Corporations have bought our Gov’t. It’s time to take our power back.

Senator Tillis’ 2014 campaign against incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan was the most expensive race in U.S. Senate history at the time with campaign and outside funding of nearly $124 million spent on the election, according to the Center For Responsive Politics.

Senator Tillis has received $10,000 from the US Anesthesia Partners PAC and $5,600 from the PAC for Charlotte-based US Radiology Specialists. Both organizations were part of the lobbying coalition Physicians for Fair Coverage, which spent $4.1 million in the third quarter to lobby against legislation to cap the amount of money patients can be charged for out-of-network care — often known as surprise medical bills. Do you think he will objectively pass a comprehensive health care reform bill?

Tillis, between his campaign and his leadership PAC, took in more than $408,000 from the pharmaceutical industry, 78% of that from industry PACs. Do you seriously think he will do anything to curb the drug pricing greed?

It’s time to end the privilege of power and money in politics! As an Independent candidate, I promise to work on policies and legislation based on what’s right for our country, not party affiliation. I do not have the backing of a Political Party but I am fighting for your vote no matter how much money the democrats and republicans raise and spend because what we do today, will decide our tomorrow!

Climate Change
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Fighting climate change is a global effort, despite Present Trump’s consistent efforts to reverse American leadership and withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement.

For the areas in North Carolina that were hit multiple times by climate- related events, every time these Disaster happens, it seems they’re described as the worse ever. The 2018 National Climate Assessment, backed by 13 federal agencies, found that the rising sea level might reshape the country’s population distribution with 13.1 million people potentially at risk due to a sea level rise of 6 feet by 2100.

The National Flood Insurance Program is not sustainable so it’s time to have a realistic conversation about finding sustainable solutions. Towns like Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin and Valmeyer, Illinois have successfully relocated people form vulnerable areas to higher ground and can be used as examples to learn from.  Extreme weather events in coastal areas will lead to declining property values and buyer interest that will affect the mortgage, insurance and real estate industry.

Climate changes are caused by carbon emissions produced by all of us. In a study published in August 2018, researchers from the University of Hawaii discovered that many kinds of plastic — especially polyethylene, the material used in grocery bags — emitted methane when exposed to light, and continued to release it even in the dark. Hawaii was the first state to ban plastic bags at grocery checkouts in 2015. In June 2019, the Canadian government announced that it plans to “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021” in an effort to reduce the 3 million tons of plastic waste tossed out by the country every year.

Cattle are the No. 1 agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide. With the escalating effects of climate change, that fact has advocates urging the public to eat less beef. Nationally, the cattle industry is the largest segment of American agriculture, with over 1 million farmers and ranchers raising beef cattle. North Carolina has 33,000 cattle producers. Even if Americans restrict their consumption of beef and dairy, the demand for meat is rising in developing countries so shrinking livestock’s carbon hoofprint worldwide is the bigger challenge. Nevertheless, if we all start doing our part and making small changes in our daily habits, we can have a big impact on the planet.