A Lot of Work Left to Be Done

It is clear the voters will have the first woman Representative to Congress in Southern Illinois come 2021. I congratulate Erika Weaver on a hard fought campaign to win the Democratic nomination for the 15th Congressional District. As I’ve expressed to her personally, I will provide any advice, expertise or personal effort that I can to help to make this a Democratic Party victory in November. 

There is a lot of work to be done throughout the 15th District, and I am dedicated to push forward our efforts to reform government, programs and policies that promote our economy, our communities and our people. 

As we trudge through this ongoing and unfolding coronavirus pandemic and response, you can make certain that we will continue to provide leadership on our priorities of healthcare, education and an economy that works for everyone. 

Now, more than ever, we must rely on facts, science and each other, holding elected officials and candidates accountable for their actions, for their words and for the consequences from what they’ve both said and done. 

We’re in this together. However, we must not be silent when confronted with facts and bad faith. 

I certainly won’t be. 

Thank you for your vote, for your support and your strength that keeps our district, our communities and our country alive. 

Endorsed, Our Values

Last night, Dennis Austin, the county chair of the Hardin County Democratic Party, asked me to attend their county meeting in Cave-in-Rock. I jumped at the chance to visit with voters, and if anyone hasn’t been down to this part of the state, you definitely should make it a priority. 

As on nearly every drive I ever take in the 15th, something blessed happens. Right outside Norris City sat a glorious bald eagle in the middle of the brightest green grass you’ll ever see. Such a sight of strength, elegance and serenity.

I would have stopped to take a picture, but I had zero seconds to spare. 

Literally, I arrived at 6 in Cave-in-Rock. 

It stunned me when I walked into the room and Dennis shakes my hand and tells me they had endorsed our campaign for the 15th Congressional District. #Gaither15IL

I don’t take that lightly. It is a honor and with deep respect that I accept their endorsement. 

Hardin County is one of the toughest counties I’ve ever been through, and it has a special place in my heart. 

I’m thrilled that the Rosiclare Public Library will be receiving a contribution from Appellate Court Judge Judy Cates after hearing some of the stories I’ve told on the campaign trail. She’s running for Illinois Supreme Court. You’ll never find anyone more fair than her. 

The other night when I was up in Bond County at a Democratic BBQ, I sat down with some voters after we all got done speaking. They asked me if I was the only Democrat running in this race. I just might be. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in supporting American workers, that America prospers when American workers are paid more. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in reforming the American healthcare system, because America prospers when Americans are healthier and don’t go broke when they’re sick. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in rebuilding America, because when we invest in American infrastructure, those are union jobs that can’t be outsourced. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in educating and training Americans, because a highly educated and trained workforce promotes a strong Middle Class and more informed voters. #Gaither15IL

I believe strongly in supporting our American seniors, veterans and people living with disabilities, because living in poverty makes us more unhealthy which is more costly in the long run. #Gaither15IL

We’re not going to get to a better future for our children without funding our priorities and ignoring the tough realities staring us directly in the face.

That is why I continue to show up in community after community, listening and learning, and then doing something about it.

Call Dennis Austin and ask him why the Hardin County Democratic Party endorsed our campaign. We’re similar in how we answer questions. Directly. We’ve also been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune.

Oil & Gas, Coronavirus and the Joker’s Oval

President Obama paved the way for the resurgence and dominance of the American oil and gas industry.  President Trump has continued on that path.

I would have demanded changes in the way subsidies are managed regardless of who was President. Our small oil and gas companies throughout the 15th District deserve some relief. 

In 2020, the outlook in the industry as a whole went from great, to okay to rather miserable in two weeks. 

Oil prices are going to drop because of two reasons:

First, Saudi Arabia and Russia didn’t get a deal done at the OPEC meeting. Maybe, Trump is rubbing off on others. In retaliation, the Saudis are going to lower their oil prices by 10%. That is going to sting American oil and gas.

Second, the coronavirus is forecasted to lower GDP significantly. 

How? 

We already are seeing the canceling of many conferences, the cruise industry might as well start hoping for some sequels of the Poseidon Adventure, but more than that, tourism is going to take a big hit if this rolls into the summer. 

If people start fundamentally changing their behaviors, not going out for a night on the town, that’s going to hurt small businesses.

Then, there’s going to be some real hard choices for different parts of the health sector. Staffing across the nation will be a rolling situation, and if it does, as some predict, staffing will become a critical concern.

Businesses that adapt and respond quickly will likely weather this as it goes.

Background on the oil and gas industry:

Our oil and gas companies, under two administrations, have been drilling and ramping up production wherever they could. 

That has placed these companies in a tough position, a financial bind.

Let’s remind the American people about those Trump tax cuts. The oil and gas industry received massive tax cuts. 

That industry also finds all sorts of goodies elsewhere in the tax code. This makes their tax half of what it is for most any other sector of the economy. 

I do have to say, the oil and gas boom has created a lot of American jobs, good paying ones. Just none here. 

We really have needed a tighter focus on these companies and families who deserved to be a priority of federal tax and energy policy toward our 15th District oil and gas sector.

It doesn’t make any sense that these small companies often have to pay more of their income than big oil on regulations, equipment and time when they don’t get any more of a percentage of these subsidies. It’s not right, it doesn’t make sense, we’ve got to change it. #GaitherIL

One of the harsher realities I’ve come to understand is that the larger the corporation, the bigger the business, the easier it is for that company to just pay a fine as opposed to fixing the underlying problem. 

In the oil and gas industry, the problems they are glossing over actually undercut all of our other efforts to cut emissions.

What sets our small oil & gas companies apart is how their wells are pumping right in the middle of farmland. These families are dedicated to protecting that land. That’s why we should give them more of those subsidies in order to get that job done more quickly. #Gaither15IL

I trust these families more than I do big oil and big gas. And, we have to find a better way to address the violations. They won’t deal with it until it hurts the bottomline. 

And, that bottomline has serious issues because of what that industry decided to do. 

In some cases, companies have gone belly up overextending themselves. That problem is about to get a lot worse as the Saudis price war begins to play itself out in the market.

Anyone that has been paying attention knows what’s about to come down the pipeline, as they say. You can smell bailouts coming. Anything to keep more of these failed economic policies going forward.

What is most heartbreaking are the millions of American workers that have their families to think about because their livelihood just might be going on a forced vacation. This vacation is about oil and gas prices, not a quarantine demand because of the coronavirus. #Gaither15IL

And, that’s when I look up and I see some Tweet from the President of the United States from the Oval Office. Well, he’s obviously got a ton to deal with. 

We’ve been pretty lucky as a nation not having some crisis, some major malfunction that fundamentally altered our current path.

I really prayed that President Trump wouldn’t have to deal with anything so vital to get right. Every part of the policy is pivotal. And, here we are. 

I do hope that people heed these pubic health alerts and get to know what’s happening.

The phrases “Fake News’ and ‘science is a hoax’ are less than humorous right about now. And, people wondered why it was so offensive and concerning. 

As I’m writing this, they just declared the coronavirus is an official pandemic. 

When I link the coronavirus up with what President Trump is doing to Social Security disability, and how broken Medicare Part D is, I think we’re going to see some of the initial results of those broken polices. #Gaither15IL

This is the same crap Mike Pence and supermajority Republicans did in Indiana. They gutted essential programs and services because they thought they knew better.

Guess what? Sometimes, no, most times, everyone knows better than you about something. 

I do really hope that the stubbornness, that the unwillingness to believe science and medicine, that these attributes cannot survive only to continue the false belief that you know better. 

I know I don’t know everything. How could anyone?

When I don’t know, I seek out direct experiences. I have to know how it works, how it doesn’t work, and I always have a massive exploration ahead of me that truly never ends.

That’s how a small post about our oil and gas companies getting hit hard right now became a global view. 

These Congressional Republicans have said they’ve known better for my entire life.

I’ve not seen any of their policies focus on our workers. 

I’ve not seen any of their policies make certain these big corporations invest in their brick & mortar, invest in the community infrastructure, invest in their employees, and invest in our schools as well.

As far as the National Democratic Party, I don’t see any results for us either. If they cared, they would show up with resources for a different message than has been the prevailing and failing one my entire life.

Every day I think about what Glenn Poshard would do. He has passion, he has a vigor and an urgency that I share. #Gaither15IL

I’ve been blessed in my life to have met some good and great people. 

We can be doing so much better. And, we should be a hell of a lot more prepared for this.

I’m so glad our #IllinoisNationalGuard is on this. I know people that are in there, and I pray they all make it back. I wonder how this will impact some of our troops heading over to Ukraine this summer. #Gaither15IL

We have to be prepared for threats from some of these rogue countries that are looking to take advantage while President Trump is Tweeting about why this virus plan is perfect, just like his ridiculous call to Ukraine.

Who has ever heard of a perfect call? Someone who says this sounds like a child that has been caught red-handed. And, no, that’s not a reference to Russia collusion. I read the Mueller Report. It’s not good for the President. It certainly doesn’t make him look all that reputable. Did he sign some blood oath with Russia? No.

Here we sit, multiple crises hitting us directly in the nose.

We have to shake this off and get to work on it. 

The Joker’s Oval . . . I think the laughing is about to end. 

So, regardless of what happens in this election. I am going to work my butt off to make sure we do better as a nation and as a region. 

It’s about time we started taking care of this and taking care of us.

Unemployment is at a 50-year low and economic growth is steady. Assess the state of the economy and tell us how you would improve economic prospects for Americans.

Our unemployment might be low, but the 15th District is losing jobs everywhere. Honeywell in Metropolis shuttered and Rep. Shinkus did nothing. LSC in Mattoon is closing this summer and GSI is closing in Flora, neither of which had anything to do with the Illinois economy.

Wages are only increasing because of the minimum wage, which is welcomed by workers but the economic benefits for the economy won’t be felt for some time.

The Republicans only economic agenda remains the same, massive tax cuts for the donor class with no guarantees for workers, no guarantees for wages, no guarantees for benefits and no guarantees for investments in American brick and mortar and our communities’ infrastructure. #Gaither15IL

We have to connect any tax cuts to gains for our economy. Watching stockholders take home all the tax cuts every year while American workers work longer hours and more jobs is unacceptable and has drained the American Dream of hope and joy. #Gaither15IL

What security role should the U.S. play in world affairs?

Since World War II, America has played the preeminent role in international affairs. Our presence has stabilized regions, allowing for prosperity and democracy to flourish. 

In the age of terror, Western democracies are under threat as refugees flee regions rife with violence, terror and poverty, much of which arguably began with our mistaken invasion of Iraq on false pretenses.

American leadership, both from the Oval Office and Congress, has lurched from too much involvement with no strategy to win, to too much caution to a confused amalgamation of the two under President @realDonaldTrump. #Gaither15IL

America needs to return to a strategy focused on economic and global security with a light footprint. The pathway back to this approach after four years of retreat and Tweet will be difficult. 

There are no global leaders with our track record of bringing together coalitions to tackle disease, pandemics, terrorism and tyranny. The price tag of not taking on this vital role in the world and leaving it to others is much higher. The reciprocity that comes from American global leadership cannot be underestimated. 

Why should voters nominate you and not your opponents?

Consistently, I have shown up, stood up and spoken out on our rural issues. When I hear a problem, I don’t just give it lip service, I do something about it. 

As a primary candidate, I had visited the Rosiclare Public Library many times. It was the only place for children to come to after school. Sometimes, it was the last place they’ll have access to food before school the next day. When the librarian informed me their roof was leaking and they may have to close, I asked tougher questions. 

They had not received a vital check from the state. Immediately after leaving, I made a phone call. In a week, the librarian had a check in her hand because Comptroller Mendoza’s office acted so quickly. 

I bring that hands-on approach to every issue.

I have a hands-on approach to healthcare from years working on federal boards and in the field. I got involved in healthcare because people’s lives were on the line. Healthcare professionals and consumers elected me to leadership positions because I had led the charge against decisions the government was making that would have adversely affected Americans. That’s what you can continue to expect from me today.

Watching our small farms continue to die while big farms have cashed in on the largest portion of the Trump bailouts is unacceptable. I remember getting my own hands dirty weeding beans in the 80s on my grandfather’s farm. We must have a strategic vision for our agriculture sector that brings more trade and job-creating opportunities for our farmers instead of relying on bailouts. 

Our energy sector is as diverse as our district. Investing in all of our workers and green energy while protecting both our energy diversity and the environment are all crucial. 

I offer a hands-on approach, one where I will listen and work with our local communities, to connect resources with jobs to move our district forward. #Gaither15IL