Ending Net Neutrality

What does the end of Net Neutrality mean to you?

The claim by the administration is that it will lead to greater competition. I think we’ve all heard this mantra a bit too often to buy it so quickly.

Saying greater competition equals lower prices is cheap when regulations, fees, and other special loopholes squeeze out small businesses and allow big companies to gobble them all up, leaving less competition.

Under the Obama net neutrality protections there was a leveling of the playing field for consumers. We didn’t get screwed as much by providers. Also, municipalities like Chattanooga could make the best choice for their cities and create their own broadband access. So, this lack of competition argument rings hollow.

With the ending of net neutrality, providers can make consumers pay for faster speeds. They can limit what sites we have access to unless we pay more.

Many of us see the inherent problems this creates. 

It’s actually the same dilemma workers often face when negotiating with the boss, which is why collective bargaining is such a crucial right for workers. Individually, they have little power.

Together, we have much more influence and power

to negotiate a better deal for ourselves.

When we consider how this will impact schools, healthcare, ordering of supplies, applying for jobs online, the picture becomes even more complex.

There are reasons why consumers see rises in both their prices and the profits of these companies. We have few mechanisms afforded to us to protect us from the decisions of companies and government.

One of those mechanisms was just taken away.

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Say Never to Privatization of VA

Privatization of the VA means less accountability, less ability to do anything about problems, and less results for veterans.

Putting business in charge of veterans healthcare will result in less healthcare. In Indiana, privatization of Medicaid was a disaster for enrollees, and that was under Governor Daniels, not Mike Pence. They had to reverse course there, and we shouldn’t even consider doing this to veterans.

What we should do is the following:

  • continue repairing the damage of decades of denial and decay
  • have representatives show up and hold the VA accountable in hearings
  • have representatives show up in their districts by listening to veterans and the groups that serve them
  • increase assistance to hard hit areas like Danville and Vermilion County
  • open VA sites within community health providers where VAs hospitals don’t exist
  • make the pipeline bigger for people going into healthcare specialties
    • increase grants and scholarships for students
    • increase money to colleges and universities
    • increase faculty and staff that educate and train these specialties
  • actually stabilize funding for Medicaid, Medicare, and local healthcare providers instead of starving them of resources.

I’m talking neurology, psychiatry, LCSWs, etc. etc. There are so many communities that have no access to too many of these specialties or have waiting lists that are excruciatingly long.

The GOP healthcare and tax plans are in exactly the opposite direction of where we should be heading as a country on all of these issues.

The GOP healthcare plan cuts healthcare for veterans, Medicaid, and Medicare. 

The GOP tax plan raises taxes on students receiving tuition waivers. 

All of this to give the wealthiest, a massive tax break. To give corporations a massive tax cut when 1 out of 5 of them don’t even pay taxes currently. Lowering the corporate tax rate will allow even more corporate welfare in order to gut more services for veterans.

This is not how you run the healthcare of those who have served and defended our country.

You Serve. You Deserve.

I will stand up to this backward thinking, campaign donor giveaways that hurt our veterans.

(Photo Courtesy of Greg Nash, The Hill)

 

Allegations, Realities, and Standing Up

These allegations and realities from the past and present are as disturbing as they are common. We have to do better.

We have to stand up for others so more can stand up for themselves. It’s not easy, it’s not simple, but it is a necessity.

It’s vital for us all to learn and grow from this period of exposure so that we can move forward as a stronger society that respects one another.

Really listening to one another and really paying attention to others can really go a long way toward protecting and fostering a better community.

None of us are perfect people. We can’t go back in time and rewrite history.

What we can do is acknowledge past wrongs, learn from our mistakes, and strive to do better. 

There are legal lines that are too often crossed and nothing is reported. Statutes of limitations make it more difficult for many victims to ever hold their abusers accountable.

What we can do is to take the politics out of the equation, focus on the facts, and respect one another without ignoring the reality staring us in the face.

Some people are open to investigations being done to ascertain the veracity of claims and the extent of the damage done. That matters. 

Openness isn’t a blank check. Openness can be the beginning of a conversation that can lead to healing and greater understanding. I think we can at least start there.

Medicaid Work Reqs a Costly One

Anyone who has utilized the Illinois Medicaid program in recent years knows how difficult and broken the system is. Often, they make decisions without informing clients, sometimes leading to massive bills for low income workers, the disabled, the elderly, veterans, and parents. 

Enter the GOP plans to ‘overhaul’ the Medicaid program nationally by imposing work requirements on recipients.

I would call this effort an attempt to disrupt healthcare for millions of working Americans, veterans, the chronically ill, and many others. 

Waiting for Medicaid to respond to your application or submission of materials cannot only be extensive, it can lead to real damage to your health and bottomline. It also can leave you without healthcare coverage for the better part of a year which also leaves you with a whopping tax fine you have to pay. 

Now, imagine being disabled, chronically ill, a veteran, or elderly and adding another layer of red-tape to an already overstressed bureaucratic system that can’t handle the job it’s doing today.

It’s not just a terrible idea, it’s a deadly one.

Add to that the difficulties it would be to manage and oversee these new work requirements, these wait times for people who need healthcare extend from half a year to 9 months or longer.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick and in need of medical attention, I can’t wait around for someone to check to see if I’ve been looking for work. I also don’t want to be forced to go to the ER for a simple cold.

We have to do better. 

Under the current system, if you are disabled, you work, and you receive Medicaid, you have to meet a spend down every month. Sounds great, right? That would be the case if the system worked efficiently and effectively. It doesn’t. 

Too often, the burdens of meeting the spend down requirements are so high and time consuming that many don’t work in order to avoid losing the healthcare that keeps them alive and breathing.

People need more certainty when it comes to their healthcare,

not increased uncertainty.

That’s why cavalier and emotion-baiting proposals like this GOP proposal will only make it more difficult for the disabled, for veterans, and for the chronically ill. Also, these proposals will cost more money for states and the federal government to manage.

I want to make it easier for people to work

by getting the government red tape out of the way.

It shouldn’t be terrifying for these groups to get back to work, but it is. We can do better, and we must.

That’s what I will fight for when I’m your representative in D.C.

Fight to protect your healthcare, fight to get you back to work, and fight to stop cavalier actions that negatively impact the most vulnerable amongst us. 

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Picture Courtesy of Pete Marovich/Bloomberg, Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

2016 Primary Redux

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that President Trump and the GOP would take any opportunity to take the negative attention and focus off of their inability to govern and produce real results for the American people and turn the pundits and media on divisions within the left.

So, yet again, with information offered by someone who was accused of offering debate questions to one campaign, which she denied, is now offering another account about the primary in order to sell a book.

Is any of it true? Who knows? How could anyone know?

Donna Brazile has changed her story on so many issues throughout the last few years it’s difficult to know if she even knows the truth.

What is stunning is how some within the Democratic Party would use this opportunity to further discord and divisiveness within the Party, progressives, and independents.

All of this in a time where healthcare is on the line, tax cuts for the wealthy that will explode deficits and debt are being rushed through Congress, and threats at home and abroad are on the rise. 

We’re heading into the primary season where we will nominate those who will go against GOP incumbents across the country in gerrymandered districts that are exhausted by this style of politics.

I’m tired of some Democrats using President Trump’s own tweets and deflections for their own presidential ambitions. I’m tired of those obsessed about winning a fight that was over a year and a half ago about a primary involving two members of the Democratic Party and an independent.

Not only is the 2016 primary long over, we all have similar goals that we want to fight to achieve for the American people.

  • Better more affordable healthcare for all Americans.
  • Improved & affordable education providing opportunities for all Americans.
  • Sustained job and wage growth for all Americans.
  • An economic, judicial, and system of government that works for all Americans.

These old squabbles are as counterproductive as they are useful for Trump and the GOP to continue avoiding accountability and responsibility for any forward leaning vision for all Americans. 

Unless you have a time machine,

what good does this continued looking backward actually accomplish?

Terrorism, Immigration, & Precise Action

The terrorist attack in NYC is a tragedy. NYC officials are confident that this is an isolated incident by a lone wolf and there is no ongoing threat. And, yes, we must do more to protect people. How we do that is crucial to do with precision.

Enter the Trump Administration to take advantage of tragedy to sow further division regarding immigrants. He called for slashing immigration while blaming the Democratic Party for being obstructionist.

The contradictions are as ironic as the underlying fallacies behind it all.

First, it was the GOP that stood in the way of immigration reform just four years ago, not the Democratic Party. This reform package would have modernized our antiquated immigration systems, allowing for better tracking of those with expired green cards, opening up resources for more thorough screening, and creating a more safe environment for Americans.

Second, the extreme vetting and Muslim bans that President Trump and many within the GOP have been promoting have been found to be unconstitutional, ineffective, and used in online propaganda to recruit more terrorists like this lone wolf terrorist.

Finally, after the deadliest mass shooting in American history in Las Vegas, many people declared in the aftermath of the tragedy this was not the time to discuss doing something about terror, especially involving firearms. 

If you’ve not been paying attention, we’re still waiting for that debate and shouldn’t be holding our breath for one either. More than likely, the inability for Trump to face what happened in Las Vegas is due to a white man using firearms. He has no problem jumping to attack someone with a different color of skin. Both attackers terrorized Americans.

I’m tired of the double standards. Aren’t you?

  • I believe we should be talking about real immigration reform, not immigration deform. We need to be focused on real threats to our country, not some expensive unfunded Trump Wall that would be ineffective at stopping ladders and tunnels. 
  • I believe we should be debating how better to track visa overstays, not hyper focused on people who’ve been here for most of their lives, working, paying taxes, and living their lives for decades free from violent crime. 
  • I believe we should be talking about real policies that protect people instead of dividing the country on cultural and racial lines. 

That’s what we need in America today. Not more scapegoating, big talk designed to divide and deflect over a failed agenda and no results for the American people.

We need better wages for all Americans. We need more, better paying jobs. We need better schools and to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

We need policies that will actually benefit Americans, not further divisions.

That’s what I will stand up to support and fight for in Washington.

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Savings Drain, Wage Stagnation Major Concerns for Economy

Signs of strain emerge in the Trump-GOP economy, says Chandra and Golle of Bloomberg. When savings are drained, it limits consumer spending. This is especially troubling ahead of the holiday season and the all important 4th Quarter where many companies make it back into the black. 

The real problem here is stagnant wages in the era of record profits and record stock market numbers. It’s as confusing as it is wrong.

When the CEO and administrative class receive annual pay raises (sometimes in the millions) and laborers, union workers, and former union workers receive none, that’s a red flag for me. It should be for anyone who’s invested in their community and the broader economy. 

And, this elite group who has yet to pass on their record profits to their workers will receive the largest share of tax cuts from the Trump-GOP tax-cut plan. This is yet another already tried and failed approach that will bankrupt the Middle Class and Working Class, leaving the bill with our grandchildren. 

That’s unacceptable to me and will not lead to wage growth, will not rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, will not help our schools, workers, increase the number of good paying jobs, nor will it boost the economy. 

I will fight for better policies that will . . .

  • boost the earning potential for workers
  • create more opportunities for small businesses to thrive
  • remove barriers for small companies that are invested in their communities
  • rebuild our country’s infrastructure, creating jobs

As representatives, we have to fight for the People, not for big business and special interests. Tax cuts always feel good and make sense on a guttural level, especially for those of us in Illinois who pay too much in property taxes.

“If only they had more money, these CEOs and big companies could give you a raise and create more jobs.”

If this were the case, where were all the jobs and pay raises during the Bush tax cuts? Where are the jobs and bigger paychecks right now with record stock market closings?

Tax cuts for the wealthy have literally never helped the Middle and Working Classes.

Actual tax relief targeted and specific for workers and small businesses, that would be great! I can get behind that. But, for these massive companies and these multimillion dollar CEOs? No. 

I’m tired of waiting. Aren’t you?

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