Middle class families still face huge financial challenges and declining wages after years of slow job growth. Government policies that increase the cost of doing business and get in the way of job creation have taken their toll on the people least able to afford it. Only by unleashing the private sector through smart tax incentives and rolling back expensive red-tape can we begin to restore America’s economic strength. Southern California has tremendous potential for new middle-class jobs particularly through the aerospace sector. While in the State Senate, I successfully championed a tax credit that will allow California to build the next generation Air Force Stealth Bomber and will bring thousands of new middle class jobs. We need to replicate this model for all industries because it’s clear that we are more competitive when taxes are reasonable. Our nation has produced one of the most robust and innovative economies in world history. However, until we reverse the policies that are holding it back through over-regulation and taxation, Americans will continue to see median incomes decrease and unemployment numbers increase.
Decisions about the best way to educate students should be made at the local level where parents have a voice for their children, which is why I have consistently fought for local control throughout my career. Every community has unique needs, which make one-size-fits-all policies ineffective. Instead, we need to empower local schools and hold them accountable for their results. We must also provide stable funding so class sizes remain small and educational support services remain intact. Public schools must also reflect the needs of our modern economy by offering more opportunities for career technical education or trades to serve students looking to join the workforce immediately. Finally, we must look at strategies for fixing higher education so it can remain an option for middle and working class families who have been squeezed by rising tuition costs.
Americans are rightly frustrated that our nation’s borders are still not secured after years of talk from Washington politicians and unelected bureaucrats. Reforming immigration laws is not possible until we are confident that all the points of entry into our country are no longer vulnerable to individuals entering illegally. The US has already seen previous attempts to deal with illegal immigration fail because the border has never truly been secured. While we should recognize that we are a nation of immigrants and modernize these laws to better meet the needs of our economy, we cannot continue to allow unchecked, illegal immigration to continue. I will fight to secure America’s borders first, and only after this is accomplished can we begin a broader overhaul of our immigration laws.
During the past ten years, the national debt has more than doubled and now stands at a staggering $18 trillion—more than $55,000 for every American. The unsustainable debt currently being passed on to our children is morally wrong and is a blatant act of generational theft. Making sure we right this wrong and stop spending ourselves down the road of bankruptcy must be a top priority in Washington. There is no excuse; we need a long-term plan to pay down our debt. It is time to balance the federal budget by providing real leadership and bringing common-sense back to government spending habits. This can be accomplished by prioritizing our programs that provide essential core services, and either eliminating or streamlining those that do not. While it may not be easy, we can longer afford to keep running up the bill on our nation’s youth.
The cause of our national debt is not a lack of tax revenue—instead it was created by a spending addiction in Washington. As unemployment remains stubbornly high in an economic recovery that is still fragile, now is not the time to increase taxes on Americans. Instead, we must pursue comprehensive tax reform by lowering tax rates and in turn eliminating deductions and credits. With the tax code now stretching over 70,000 pages long, the need to simplify our system so that it benefits a shrinking middle class has never been greater. Upward mobility should not be something that is unique to those who can afford the most expensive accountants. By having a fairer, simpler tax code with lower rates, we can start to once again increase the size of our middle class – enhancing economic growth and providing higher tax revenues over time.
The world is safest when America is a leader in international affairs. Unfortunately we have witnessed what happens when we abandon this leadership role as violence, instability and chaos have increased globally under the current administration—look no further than the rise of ISIS as a global terror organization. In order to restore our position as a global leader, we need to ensure we have a strong military, effective intelligence services and the courage to confront threats. While serving in the army, I saw first-hand how important our presence in the world was for maintaining peace and protecting national interests. In the face of growing, international threats, making smart investments into our national security apparatus is more critical than ever. Failing to do so only emboldens aggressive nations and the spread of terrorism, which will cost exponentially more if conflict arises. Strong national defense must continue to be a focus in Washington because we must give our men and women in uniform the resources they need to protect us.
Our nation’s founders enshrined the right to bear firearms in the Constitution, which means the government has no right to enact arbitrary restrictions. Undermining the 2nd Amendment by crafting gun control laws aimed to reduce violence rarely results in safer communities. Instead, it is responsible gun owners who pay the price as criminals rarely comply with the laws enacted to keep firearms out of their hands. There is no law Congress can pass to stop gun violence, however we must examine better policing strategies and mental health services in order to provide a more direct path to solving the problem of gun violence.
We must act to ensure that Social Security is preserved and protected for current and future retirees; there is no doubt about this. That means that everyone who is currently receiving Social Security payments must continue doing so, and we should also take steps to ensure that the program is available for future generations.
Unfortunately decades of inaction by both political parties has put our Social Security system directly in harm’s way. In 1945, there were approximately 42 workers paying into the system for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits. Currently, there are only about 3 workers for every retiree, and soon there will be only 2 workers for every beneficiary. The program is paying out far more than it is bringing in and its trust funds will be exhausted by 2035. This means that in two decades, Social Security will become insolvent because it will not be able to pay out one hundred percent of promised benefits to retirees. This is unacceptable.
Many believe that even the slightest mention of Social Security reform is politically unthinkable, and feel the best course of action is to ignore this problem or let future generations sort it out. This line of thinking is irresponsible and will endanger our children’s future. Instead, what we ought to do is set politics aside and work on a bipartisan solution that will preserve Social Security for current and future generations.
This will not be a simple process, and we will need to pursue several approaches to address this multi-faceted problem. For example, the House is currently working to eliminate costly Social Security fraud and abuse by closing a loophole in the disability insurance program that allows individuals to receive both unemployment insurance and disability payments.
Additionally, by addressing the current pay structure we can ensure public funding is appropriately dispersed among those living on a fixed income. Just because someone spent their career working 9-5, and earning 9.50 an hour, doesn’t mean they should be subjected to a poverty-stricken retirement at less than $950.00 per month.
Protecting and preserving Social Security for future generations is extremely important, and will require bipartisan cooperation. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House on ensuring our most reliable safety net is around for the retirees of today and tomorrow.