Issues and Reforms
We must face the big challenges head on and not shirk from them. Americans are a can-do people and want our elected officials to be problem-solvers.
I promise to tackle the big tasks at hand with enthusiasm, compassion and courage.
For American democracy to function, we must restore trust in our government. We can accomplish that by promoting ethics, enforcing accountability, and striving for justice. We have strayed too far from these ideals. My views on the important issues that we are grappling with as a nation flow from the central belief that government must work equitably for all people rather than the few.
Renew Accountability and Fight Corruption
Trust in government will only be restored when Americans once again have faith that the law will be applied equally, to the rich and powerful and the poor and powerless alike.
We have to hold our elected officials to the ethics that we expect from our citizens.
Legislative oversight of the Executive Branch is a central ingredient to a functioning, successful polity. While it has never been particularly strong, it has been gutted the past four years. This has to change.
Defend Our Democracy
The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, but that right has been under attack. Republican led states, including Florida, have erected hurdle after hurdle to suppress the vote, especially among minorities and the poor.
These tactics include reducing the number of polling locations, voter roll purges and fighting mail-in-ballots.
When Democrats took over the House of Representatives in January, 2019, they passed a sweeping anti-corruption bill, a bill I whole-heartedly support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has refused to bring it to the Senate floor.
We must change.
No matter your race, creed, color, sex, identity, or financial status — the law must be applied equally and fairly.
Congress must represent all people, and it must legislate real solutions to ensure that law enforcement, public education, economic growth, healthcare, prison sentencing and so much more are carried out equitably, and with as much respect and consideration for each American as possible.
America is for all of us.
Black Lives Matter:
We must commit to speaking up for Americans of color, as complacency simply allows the injustice to cement itself deeper into our society. For needed changes, please refer to our Policing Statement here.
Full Rights for the LGBTQ+ Community:
The Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v Clayton County decision in June means that the Civil Rights Act does include sexual orientation and gender identity under the term ‘sex’. This has large ramifications in terms of workplace discrimination. There are other areas, however, like public education and housing where the LGBTQ+ community faces continued discrimination. Passage of the Equality Act is the next necessary step to truly provide our friends and neighbors equal protection under the law, one that I fully support.
As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Let's get back to the work of making an America for all of us.
Protect The Environment
It has become clear to even the most casual observer that climate change is not only real, but that its effects are happening all around us.
The way we have treated our environment has been a classic example of protecting the interests of the few over the many. And President Trump and the Republicans have made things worse by not only denying climate change, and even calling it a hoax, but by reversing basic policies that date all the way back to the Nixon administration, leaving our air and water dirtier and threatening the health of Americans everywhere.
Once in office, I will champion science and compassion in our environmental policies, and will see to it that laws and policies serve the American people, and not just those who funnel money to Trump’s campaign and business interests.
The dangers facing our environment are so enormous and varied that a list of the policies I believe should be restored, abandoned, or enacted could fill the rest of this page. I want to make it clear that I will aggressively seek to move our government toward investments in sustainable energy and away from fossil fuels. We have to marshal every resource at our disposal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. And we have to achieve those goals as soon as humanly possible. The stakes are too high. Our children’s future depends on correcting decades of inaction and denial.
Balance Humane Immigration While Enforcing Borders; Defend Dreamers
Immigration has proven to be one of our country’s most intractable problems. I believe a country should enforce its borders while treating immigrants humanely.
Simply putting up a wall does not address the many issues at play. Immigration is more than border policy. It touches upon many other issues, from minimum wage to foreign policy. We have to have an honest conversation as a nation about the consequences of our actions, with compassion as our guide. Statistics show that immigrants contribute far more to our economy than they get out of it, and as has become obvious, our country needs these workers.
I will work to support the Dreamers, who were brought here as children and have known no other country as their home. They are Americans by culture, and the law should allow them to be citizens so they can contribute to our nation.
Defend Social Security and Medicare
In 2017, Congressman Ted Yoho opened his few town halls with a presentation in which he claimed that Medicare, if not reformed, would command a greater share of our budget and increase our national debt. Later that year, however, he voted for a tax cut that reduced government revenue and added to our debt.
At last count, the Republican tax cuts of 2017 have added hundreds of billions to our national debt, and the deficit is increasing at a rate of over $1 TRILLION per year! Where was the concern for the debt then? Yet afterward, Republicans, including the President and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, started talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare. Why? You guessed it - because of the “deficit.”
Let me be clear: the commitment that we have made as a nation to our parents and grandparents is a high point in our experiment in self-governance, not something that should be attacked constantly. I will never reduce those protections. In fact, I will work to expand them. Republicans want to take away YOUR Social Security!
Help Small Business
Competition is the engine that drives our economy, producing innovations, reducing costs, and creating jobs. But large corporations do not want competition. They seek control of their markets. And many of our laws and regulations are written to help corporations achieve that goal.
We need to build an economy that works for everyone, not just corporations. We need a government that encourages small business. I will work to remove the obstacles that government has put in their path in order to protect large corporations by limiting competition.
We have to strengthen our antitrust laws. We need more oversight into our financial markets to insure that poor decisions made on Wall Street do not decimate Main Street like they did during the Great Recession.
Finally, we need a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to give consumers power over their own finances.
As your representative in Congress, I will work to make sure that you, your family’s money are more important than the donations made by banks and Wall Street. We need a strong, resilient capitalist economy that works for all Americans, not one beholden to a few well-heeled.
Invest in Rural America
Rural communities are a vital part of America, but you would not know it judging by Trump’s 2021 budget proposal. Had it been adopted, the budget that the Trump Administration sent to Congress in February of 2020 would have further decimated rural America. Deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, transportation, the US Postal Service, broadband and community development programs were demanded by the Trump Administration. Additionally, it hasn’t been Wall Street, but rural communities dependent on agriculture that have suffered financially as a result of Trump’s chaotic trade war with China.
New opportunities await Florida’s rural communities as we adopt green energy solutions and prioritize locally-sourced food. To prepare for the future, we need to allocate more resources to our rural communities, not less. Increased investments in broadband, water and transportation infrastructure are vital necessities that will help rural communities attract workers, medical professionals and companies so they can compete in our expanded economy.
In some important ways, though, when we talk about helping rural America, we are also talking about helping poor families. Poverty is a problem in our entire district, of course, but especially in Bradford and Union counties where poverty levels are considerably higher than the state average. We must preserve and expand our current safety net and entitlement programs to make sure that everyone who needs assistance can easily get it. We must expand federal funding of education in poor areas to make up for the inequities that result from our current method of paying for education via property taxes.
Too many politicians speak eloquently about the importance of rural America while they support cutting programs that help them. I will fight to make sure our government gives more than lip service to our rural neighbors.
Reduce Gun Deaths
Phil has been awarded the 2020 Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction.
Like immigration, the word “guns” brings up a lot of emotions among different people.
Our hyperbolic political discourse obscures an important truth - both "sides" see potential for and a need for common ground:
Most gun control groups, like Moms Demand Action, respect the right to keep and bear arms.
Most gun owners are concerned about both their right to bear arms AND would be in favor of reasonable approaches to reduce suicides, domestic violence, and mass shootings.
Our Constitution demands that we protect the right to own guns and to "promote the general welfare" of the United States.
There are no easy or simple answers, though we know they include better licensing, and closing the gun show loophole.
My first promise is to not make the problem worse, like Congressman Ted Yoho did when he sponsored a bill to deregulate noise suppressors (aka silencers). Imagine wanting silencers on our most powerful weapons. The loud report of a gun is a safety feature during an active shooter situation. By supporting this idea, Yoho was actively working to make it harder for Americans and law enforcement officers to protect themselves against mass murderers. This is legislation that is completely irresponsible and that I will oppose.
While we know that the answer is not to confiscate guns, we must do more to protect Americans from people who use guns to destroy lives and terrorize communities.
Common sense gun laws are overdue.
Defend Your Health
Just as we come together in our mutual defense from foreign invaders and natural disasters, we must also come together to ensure the health of our families and communities is protected.
The Constitution, at the top, says our union was formed to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. It is in that vein that we ought to work to reduce costs and simplify healthcare insurance so that we can all be protected.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or Obamacare) significantly reduced the number of uninsured Americans by over nineteen million. It also established a set of rules that make insurance cheaper for consumers while also making it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
Since the Affordable Care Act became law, Congressional Republicans have voted dozens of times to repeal it, and to replace it with . . . absolutely nothing. Even after they took complete control of Congress and the White House in 2017, they had no health care plan and done nothing to make healthcare more affordable or accessible to American consumers. In fact, the only thing Washington Republicans have done during the failed Trump administration is to sue to get pre-existing protections removed! If Congressional Republicans had spent a fraction of this energy working to actually deal with rising prescription costs for medicines like insulin, the price of which has tripled over the past decade, we might be on our way to a health care system that works for all Americans.
Instead, Republicans have gutted health care at all levels, and we have seen the results of that effort this year. Unprepared, and unwilling to expend effort or money to protect people in a pandemic, the Republican Party has left this country reeling with unnecessary deaths and economic losses.
COVID19 has shown us the shortcomings of our current system of tying health insurance to employment. In times of crisis -- be it personal or national -- Americans need to know that their health will be covered. COBRA is too expensive for people who just lost their income.
To make sure that Americans don’t go bankrupt because they get sick, I will call for automatic Medicaid enrollment for anyone in between jobs.
Our healthcare system also needs to be aware of the reality of the gig economy which is dominated by contract labor with few or no benefits. We need to make sure that these Americans get the health insurance they need at an affordable price.
Obamacare was a good start. The Republican alternative of turning back the clock to 2009 is completely unacceptable. We need healthcare that reflects modern society. I will fight to keep the costs to consumers low, not to increase the profit margins of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
Veterans Administration: Veterans tell me their main complaint is the wait times. We need to keep funding and improving the Veterans Administration so that our veterans' medical needs are met and privatization schemes like the MISSION Act are unnecessary.
Preventable disease and expense: Preventable diseases cost us billions and raise prices for everyone. Let’s end sugar subsidies. Instead, let’s invest in locally grown vegetables and the small businesses and farmers that would deliver them to schools and areas of need. Incentivize patients with preventable illness to enroll in healthy habit and accountability programs. Finally, we need federal programs to address food deserts and fund groceries for communities that the private sector are unable to serve.
Small towns and rural areas: Healthcare access can be difficult when you do not live near cities. Medical facilities have a harder time staying in business. Immediately, we can federal increase payments to rural health clinics. I will prioritize the success of rural healthcare facilities.
I will vote immediately to expand Medicare with a public option.
Once we see the power and efficiency of Medicare for more of us, we will convince the nation of the benefits of Medicare for all of us.
My dream solution-–what I think is best for doctors, best for patients, best for taxpayers, best for all--Medicare for All with optional secondary private insurance. Let’s automatically enroll every American in Medicare and then allow individuals, companies, labor unions to acquire additional private secondary insurance if they choose. In this way, every American will be covered and every American is free to seek additional options that fit their needs. We will lower costs for all, simplify the system for doctors, guarantee coverage for people in between jobs, free businesses from the burden of managing insurance, make companies more competitive, prevent medical bankruptcies, encourage treatment to reduce viral outbreaks ... Medicare for All with optional secondary private insurance is a great answer.
Medicare should negotiate better drug prices. I will fight to undo the disastrous “non-interference” clause of the Medicare Modernization Act, passed in 2003 by a Republican Congress and signed by George W Bush, which prevented Medicare, the single largest purchaser of prescription drugs, from negotiating prices to reduce taxpayer’s cost. Who benefited from this law? Large pharmaceuticals, of course. Who was left with higher medical costs? The American people.
Science and Problem-Solving
In all matters, policy and legislation should be guided by Ethical Values and Objective Facts.
Ethical Values help us paint a vision of what is important and what we want to accomplish. Science provides a framework for objectively approaching our challenges and finding real paths forward.
Holding to the truth-that-you-want rather than digging for the objective facts no matter where they lead, is a recipe for disaster -- in business, in life, and in running good government.
In a democracy by, of and for the People, the people are the government and the government serves the people.
We need to fix government, not dismantle it or feed it to the super-wealthy. We must demand constant improvement and renewal of government - to be efficient, compassionate, strategic, and for all.
We need to elect and hire competent people with a heart of service. We must remove the unethical hold special interests have over Washington.
If you like what you have heard, I am asking for your vote August 18th (or sooner!). These ideas only move forward with your help.