Issues

Healthcare

Whatever its flaws, the Affordable Care Act was an improvement over the Wild West, “free market” healthcare system in place before. Thousands of people in the 5th Congressional district now have access to affordable health care due to the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion. Pennsylvania had the 5th largest share of Marketplace-eligible individuals obtain health insurance. Lifetime caps for care have been eliminated. Those suffering from pre-existing conditions are no longer priced out of the market for insurance. And preventative care such as yearly well-woman exams and mammograms is now covered, which means many more women can utilize their health insurance.

Representative Glenn Thompson voted to eliminate, overturn or defund the Affordable Care Act over 60 times. Thompson doesn’t quite grasp some of the benefits of the ACA for his constituents- during a candidate forum in Clarion County, he told the audience that mammograms were always free, so the ACA just added costs to the marketplace that were unnecessary!

The women in the room knew better, that mammograms were not covered as preventative services before the ACA. Women do not want that benefit taken away. But Representative Thompson doubled down insisting that mammograms have always been free and would continue to be so, even if the ACA is repealed.  Talk about out of touch.

Campaign Finance Reform

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” -1 Timothy 6:10

The American political process has been bought. Just 158 families controlling hundreds of billions in assets are funding the vast majority of this year’s presidential campaigns, with the total amount spent on the election expected to exceed $10 billion dollars. The .01% who are financing the elections are not doing so out of the the kindness of their hearts- investing in politicians has very real benefits to their wealth and investments.

Campaign finance law, as it exists today, is a form of legal bribery. Citizen’s United upped the ante, but the problem existed before the Supreme Court established that corporations are people, and money is speech. Until we turn off the magnet, and move toward public financing of campaigns, there will continue to be a quid pro quo in our politics.

Environment

Responsible environmental stewardship is always good policy. There is persuasive evidence that climate change is a potential global crisis, and if we have any hope of stemming the effects of the man-made impact on our world, every nation in the world has to do its part.

The 5th Congressional District is an important part of America’s history of domestic energy production. Titusville was the location for the first commercially successful oil well in 1859. Many of our citizens are descended from miners and oil workers who proudly supported their families with jobs in energy production, who were essential to power American homes, businesses, schools and factories.

What I won’t do is scold the people of the 5th district for the pollution problems created by all of mankind. With every investment in energy, we must be moving to cleaner technologies. We should be investing resources in becoming more energy independent; solar and wind. The people of the 5th C.D. will happily take on jobs created by investment in cleaner energy production, just as they have taken on the work of providing energy and power for the rest of America in the past.

But absent immediate, major investment, the transformation will continue as quickly and painlessly as possible. Even Penn State is still heating with coal; they are moving toward Natural Gas, which is still a fossil fuel, but their transition will not be complete until 2018. The rest of the district will soon follow, and indeed take the lead in the effort should we get the opportunity.

One-size fits all solutions are not practical as the immediate risks vary according to geography, demography and climate. Coastal regions are being threatened by rising sea levels. Temperate regions are being threatened by drought, excessive swings in climate, record-breaking snowfall, or abnormally warm temperatures.

Just as the risks differ by region, the contributors differ by degree- China’s CO2 emissions exceed that of the United States, Russia and Japan combined. To expect the United States to make equal strides as the worst offenders without serious investment in renewable energies in rural America is like expecting a Prius to outrun a 1967 427 Corvette; It just isn’t going to happen.

Jobs/Wages

Income inequality in America is the highest it has been since just before the Great Depression. An economy cannot sustain itself indefinitely at this measure of inequity. Income and wealth inequality weaken our economy and increase the burden on the social safety net.

Raise the minimum wage to a living wage: $10.10 for the 5th District, and tie it to inflation. Sheetz did it, and they employ hundreds of people in the 5th CD; for that they should be applauded. There is no reason that someone working full time in the United States of America should not be able to support themselves.

America’s Middle Class is under attack. The solution, as it has always been, is good jobs that reward hard work with a decent standard of living. We need significant investment in our crumbling infrastructure, projects built by American workers, energizing American industry, boosting American businesses.

We can rebuild America rather than spend trillions on foreign wars that make our world more dangerous. We can employ Americans, retrain Americans instead of watching American workers train their foreign replacements who work for less. America’s greatest resource is our Human Capital, so let’s make sure our workers and young people have access to the education, training and apprenticeships they need to compete fairly in the world economy. Just as wages should be tied to inflation, we should bring in foreign labor based on the needs of the American labor market and the effect on American wages and employment.