The Saudis, Arms and American Values

Any attack on the media is an attack on American values. Let’s be clear.

When someone resorts to bullying and killing their critics, you know there’s something wrong. America has a long history of standing up against such bully tactics. All of our American values and strategic interests are under threat.

Most information seems to point to Saudi Arabia killing an American journalist in their consulate in Turkey. We have strong strategic ties to the Saudis. What we do in response matters.

We should never condone the killing of any American, especially one that is working to report on actual news. The danger and threat to journalists abroad is real. Without them we would not know what’s happening inside war zones and brutal regimes.


What do we do?

We have a $110 billion arms deal on the table with Saudi Arabia. For the President to remove this deal from negotiations shows weakness and allows both allies and adversaries alike to move against our national security interests. That is simply unacceptable.

Oil per barrel is increasing. That hurts Americans who will also be hurt by the Trump Administration Trade War. OPEC currently wants to maintain their production level and most importantly will be meeting this December in Austria. That means we have leverage when we choose to use it for both our economic and national security objectives.

This arms deal is as crucial for American workers as it is for the Saudis. The proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is brutal for civilians. Our American values and our national security interests are on the line.

Both Russia and Iran are dependent on the price of oil. As prices decrease, they’re less capable of working against our strategic interests abroad. We should press every bit of advantage and leverage we have to achieve a safer world and a stronger, more robust national security.


We have to stand up for our American values and our national security interests, making certain our brothers and sisters overseas have an all-in strategy that ensures their sacrifice and effort is focused on our longterm strategic objectives. 

When we have a government that doesn’t have their strategic eye on the ball, we’re shortchanging our military, diplomatic, and economic efforts. It is critical we utilize every bit of leverage we have on the global stage, especially when we have a Congress that abdicates their responsibility daily.

As your representative, I will fight to end the abdication of the Legislative Branch. We need stronger and more independent oversight of the Executive Branch that challenges and holds the President and his administration accountable, regardless of party.



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Social Security Fairness Act

When we work in America, we make a contract with Social Security and Medicare that earns us benefits throughout our lives and into our retirement.

It is critical that we protect and strengthen these programs for all Americans. Some professions, public sector jobs, and the military in some states and throughout America are treated differently, leading to a breach of that contract.

If you or your spouse pay into Social Security and Medicare, you should be able to receive those spousal benefits regardless of where you’ve worked. Teachers and their spouses in Illinois, however, are getting screwed because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). 

Under the WEP and GPO, workers who have paid into Social Security and Medicare have their spousal benefits dramatically cut, sometimes eliminating their Medicare coverage late in life when their spouse passes away. We must protect these spousal benefits for all Americans because these are earned benefits. It’s the right thing to do.


I would support the Social Security Fairness Act of 2017, which has broad bipartisan support. It’s one of the areas where my opponent and I are in agreement.

Unfortunately for our teachers and spouses, this bill has been sitting in the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security since March of 2017. It is not even listed on the Subcommittee’s website as a bill introduced in the 115th Congress, so the GOP is not serious about solving this problem.

That is why we need a Congress that will move this legislation forward instead of letting it die in a subcommittee for over a year and a half.

I will push for this reform as your representative and voice in Washington.

Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education is the key for our nation’s economic future.

If we don’t create equity in the early education system in the 15th District, many of our communities will never catch up in the modern global economy. We all know that funding education through property taxes is a failing policy for businesses and families alike. Rural school districts suffer while booming communities are able to fund robust education programs. Our children deserve better. 


The reality is that our brain develops the most dramatically in the first years of life. Therefore, the federal focus must be directed where it can do the most good.

If we don’t give every child in America the same solid foundation, we’re shortchanging not only their future, but the future of their family, their community, and our country.


This year in yet another massive Omnibus Bill, more funding was secured for a few early education programs, but not nearly enough focused where the need is most. We need funding, teachers, support staff, and facilities for preschool through 2nd grade. This is where many of our rural communities are falling behind, forced to increase class sizes, layoff support staff, and rely on a ‘hope for the best’ mentality with the dedicated teachers that remain.

In Illinois, a day care provider can only care for 8 children on their own. Meanwhile, teachers care for 15, 20, 30 and more children at a time and are required to educate them in 50 minutes. How does this disparity make sense?


Through more consistent, dedicated funding sources for early education, local school districts will be able to reallocate these funds and resources toward curriculum focused on education and training for better paying jobs in their region.

Vocational programs, training programs, and increased dual credit courses from local community colleges and universities will give students more options. 

A greater percentage of federal education grants should go directly to local school districts instead of block grants to the states. This will help avoid waste and administrative costs while giving property tax relief locally. The goal is to give our local school districts more control, creating more of a role for the public to engage directly with their school boards, teachers, and administration.

We have to forge better community relationships that bring back accountability, trust, and results. 


Finally, food insecurity is an increasing problem throughout the 15th District and rural America. As wages continue to stagnate and bills increase, especially in the face of rising tariffs while Congress sits on the sidelines, working families putting food on the table is a serious concern. As a result, children come to school hungry, making it difficult to learn. Programs like the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) have been filling the gap.

We should increase funding to CACFP, offering more locally sourced meal programs through our schools for our children throughout the year. This can help offset SNAP program cuts that will likely be in the Farm Bill this year so that American’s children and their education and nutritional needs don’t suffer at the hands of Congress. It will also create jobs and boost family farms.


Early Education is the foundation on which a child’s future is built. With a renewed American investment in our children, we will better compete in a global economy, halt the brain drain, and bring better paying jobs back to the 15th District. This is what having a broad, generational vision can bring to America. It is long overdue.

9/11: Loss, Mourning, Solidarity

September 11th. A time of loss and mourning for our country. 

It was also one of the last times our country came together in solidarity. 

Shared pain and suffering has a way of bringing people together. How could we do anything but coalesce as a nation and a world after such an attack?

What has led us so far astray after that show of togetherness? 

So soon do too many forget our shared humanity, our common values, and what binds us as a nation. It’s far too easy to see our differences in the form of culture, race, policy, and political party. When an agenda is placed before progress for others, the nation falls behind.


When the first plane hit the World Trade Center, it was tragic. We knew people had died. When that second plane hit, that was something entirely different. This was no accident. Our nation’s capitol and the heart of our defense was next.

What stands as an American triumph on that tragic September day is Flight 93 where passengers thwarted the hijacking. Since then, an American on his way to Paris helped to thwart another terrorist attack on a train in 2015. 


Our nation and her people have a history of standing up to violence and injustice. Sometimes, we do lose our way. We always find our way back to those strong American values because that’s what our country was founded upon: standing up for others, especially those who are in harm’s way. 

To this day, our nation is at risk from threats, both foreign and domestic. We face many other challenges today, as well, and yet, we face them divided. As we do so, we have less of a chance of being successful over the short and long term. 

The opportunities for collaboration and coordination are endless.

When America decides to come together around common purpose, we shoot for the moon and succeed, we end world wars, and we end global pandemics.

Our American values are those that bring out the best in one another. We must focus on solving problems, not creating more. We stand up for our brothers and sisters, as well as our neighbors. These are the American values that make us stronger.

When we stand alone and divided, we’re not in solidarity. We’re definitely not as we were 17 years ago today, one nation with a common purpose.

I remember.

I take that memory and focus on what I can do to make our country and my community better.

That is the least I can do.

A Testament to Public Service

Senator John McCain will be missed.

As many of us have witnessed over the last few days since his passing, he has many loud critics on both sides of the aisle.

That’s what happens when you stand up to your own party and stand up for what you believe in, regardless of the political fallout.

His life was one of public service that is a testament to what it means to be an American. 

Throughout my life, I remember disagreeing with Sen. McCain many times. This did not strip away what we had in common, we put people over party.

We’re Americans striving to make a positive difference for others, our country, and to help pave the way for a better future for our children and our children’s children. 

None of us are perfect people, but all of us are capable of doing so much more for others than we usually put forth the effort to achieve.

That is the real lesson of the life of John McCain. He always wanted to be better, do better, and make this country a better place. That’s a path of public service we all should be encouraged by because we each can walk it as well.

My condolences go out to the McCain family and his many loved ones as they honor and remember him. He will be remembered.

Gaither Speaks Out on Ballot Referendum

I had the opportunity to speak out on the Coles County Board referendum on the Second Amendment. Thankfully, four of our elected officials decided to put county over party. That takes guts in a party that increasingly puts party over country. Seven that are or will be running for re-election decided to bow down.
 
My position on the Second Amendment has remained consistent.
I will never support legislation that bans firearms.
What we must do is hold people accountable.
 
This referendum was requested to be placed on the ballot by the Coles County Republican Party. They are the masters of most of our local county officials because those officials delivered tonight.
 
The Republicans need this ballot referendum because they have no positive agenda or results on which to run this November. 
  • Trillion dollar deficits for the next decade
  • Mounting national debt
  • Increasing out-of-pocket healthcare costs
  • Increasing prices
  • Decreasing wages
  • Crumbling infrastructure with no plan to fix it
  • Increasing conflict with allies and trade partners

The Illinois Constitution is clear. Any referendum by a county shall be adopted by the County Board.

Here is the language of this referendum.

”Should the Illinois General Assembly pass legislation protecting a citizen’s right to bear arms as defined by the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution?”

It is impossible to adopt this referendum because the question is about the General Assembly doing something, not the County Board.
Do we really want Cook County to make policy for Coles County?
I doubt that very much, but the current leadership of the Coles County Board is opening that door.
 

We need leaders, not lemmings.

Representation Not Abdication

Illinois is mentioned in the recent indictments of 12 Russian intelligence agents. Meanwhile, our Republican House delegation remains silent on Russian interference in our elections, even though Illinois’ voters were targeted.
Rep. Shimkus continues to abdicate his constitutional responsibilities to protect and defend our country from external and internal threats.
He, along with the rest of Congress, are also abdicating their constitutional responsibilities of regulating trade with foreign Nations. This is threatening our downstate and southern Illinois economy. 
We need a pro-active representative that listens and interacts with their constituents, that engages with both workers and business owners, and that tackles the big issues instead of leaving problems for the next generation.
I will be the representative that listens, interacts, engages, and tackles.
We can’t wait any longer.
In 21 years Rep. Shimkus has held ZERO Town Halls. In only two months I’ve held two while answering questions and engaging voters from every background across the 15th District.
It’s about time that downstate rediscovered what representation is supposed to be.
It’s about you and our communities, not about your party. It certainly should not be about filling up the campaign war chest so a representative doesn’t bother with answering tough questions from voters.
I will be the representative that will show up, stand up, and speak out for you.
Waiting two decades is way too long to wait for real representation.