My Action Priorities:

A Congressman cannot be expect to “champion” every cause or issue. While I will never vote on a bill that I have not read, my primary focus will be on (a) jobs and job training and (b) saving social security and medicare.

Priority Issues:

JOBS AND JOB TRAINING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE

Jobs and Job Training:

The nation’s Number One priority is clear — economic recovery and jobs creation. Until the economy has recovered, and all Americans are back to work — we cannot afford — either financially or as a matter of Congressional focus — to allow energy to be wasted in partisan and divisive politics.

Every candidate for federal office will say that “jobs” is their first priority.  But few of them will be able to identify specific actions (other than simply reducing taxes) that they will advocate.Even in today’ economy, millions of jobs go unfilled because workers lack the necessary skills to fill them.

We need a massive effort to expand our system of vocational, occupational and continuing education.

We should set a national goal of making comprehensive programs of vocational and occupational education available to every student in secondary school AND to every unemployed worker AND to every business in need of skilled workers.Both for now, and for the future, we need a system of vocational and occupational education that eliminates the typical distinctions between school based education and workforce training and that makes job training (and retraining) an integral component of national economic policy.We must integrate programs of assistance to the unemployed with training programs responsive to local needs.

We must remove the bureaucratic obstacles that prevent educational institutions, manpower training programs and economic development agencies from responding to local needs in the most efficient and effective manner.

Many of these goals can be achieved through a consolidation and modification of many existing programs — and I will work for this.  But such action will not be enough.The federal government has no business running local programs, or telling them how they have to be run.

But the federal government can, and should, help

In the Vocational Education Act of 1963, Congress made money available for the construction and equipping in vocational-technical schools. As a result of that act, there was a massive expansion of vocational education nationwide — in both secondary and post-secondary schools.  When federal funding ceased, and state and local budget problems began to grow, the expansion of facilities for vocational education virtually stopped.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the near-term [5-10 year] the need for replacement workers will be at least three times the need for workers skilled to meet the growing demand for workers with high tech skills. These are not the high-tech jobs for which on which the efforts of our educational system are being focused. These are the basic jobs in the trades—mechanics, construction workers, machine operators, health care technicians etc. Even as the high-tech segment of our economy expands, 40 percent of job openings will still require only a high school education.  As much as we need to act now to address the problems of unemployment, we also need to plan for the future and ensure that the next generation has the skills that will enable them to prosper.

Therefore,  my first priority will be to promote legislation that provides federal assistance for the renovation, expansion and equipping to facilities for vocational education and manpower training.

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Social Security and Medicare:

We must preserve Social Security and Medicare. But the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of the budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan. Ryan’s plan would have effectively ended Social Security and Medicare as we know them.

I oppose the Republican changes to Social Security and Medicare

Medicare:The Republicans want to change Medicare to give each senior citizen a fixed amount that can be used to purchase insurance from commercial insurance companies. This plan suffers from two major (and many minor) problems.

FIRST: The amount made available to each Medicare eligible senior is unlikely to be enough to buy insurance that covers what Medicare covers. Therefore, the Republican plan will require seniors to either (a) select a plan that does not give them all needed benefits or (b) spend their limited resources to supplement what they receive from Medicare.Furthermore, because the amount provided to seniors by Medicare will not increase as fact as health care costs, the burden that the Republican plan will impose on seniors will increase every year. Eventually, seniors will have to rely on their children for more and more help. Therefore, the Republican plan will eventually shift an increasing share of the cost of providing health care to the families of seniors.

SECOND: When seniors are forced to buy their insurance from insurance companies, seniors will become subject to all of the insurance companies’ practices relating to the denial of benefits. This will deprive many seniors or needed care.

Social Security:  For years, the Republicans have advocated privatizing Social Security – and letting workers invest their Social Security account in Wall Street.

The idea sounds good in principle. Workers get the benefit of stock market advances — which make it attractive to workers. And Wall Street money managers get trillions of dollars to invest – which is what the Republicans really want.

There is only one problem. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE, and the Republicans will never really let it happen:

For individual workers to be able to invest “their accounts,” there must be money in the so-called Social Security “Trust Fund” for them to invest.

The Social Security “Trust Fund” has no money – because the government has already borrowed it.

To replenish the “Trust Fund” — so that there is money to invest — the government would have to borrow trillions of dollars.

Borrowing money to replenish the Trust Fund” will dramatically increase the national debt – and the Republicans will not let this happen.

We do need to make reforms to the Social Security and Medicare system to ensure that they will be available for future seniors. But we must do so in ways that control the costs of these programs and increase revenues to these programs—not by cutting benefits to seniors or be imposing greater financial burdens on seniors and their families.

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