We Must Stand FOR the People

I continue to see so much animosity and outrage pouring out on social media and in public regarding the President. This is not all that helpful in the upcoming midterm elections. The Democratic Party becoming the anti-Trump party is not a good political move, nor is it a good move for the People. It doesn’t win elections and it’s not polling well either.

The vast majority of registered voters don’t believe Democrats support anything. That’s a huge red flag for me. If you recall in the Clinton era, Republicans ran aggressively against Bill Clinton in ’96, both in Congress and in political speech/ads. How did that turnout for them? The same can be said in ’04 with George W Bush.

Anti-the-other-candidate campaigns most often fail. The latest campaign that ran on that message was the Hillary campaign. She had great policies that would have made a difference, but how many voters actually connected with those policies? That campaign simply ran against Trump and thought that was good enough to win the election. It was ultimately a losing message in downstate Illinois, throughout much of the Midwest, and rural America.

I want to caution anyone that goes full tilt in anger-outrage mode against President Trump. It might make some feel better and that you’re in solidarity with one another, but it’s not going to change these House district races. We have to set out a real vision for the People and the country.

I’m dedicated to making policies that will make a difference to the People of the 15th District and throughout downstate Illinois, both in the short term and the long term. The People here haven’t had a real advocate or a fighter on their side in the House for far too long.

Most of the people I talk to on the campaign trail don’t care about the Russian investigation. Of course, those of us that have been linked into politics and history are deeply concerned about every detail, but it doesn’t mean anything to the daily lives of regular folks throughout the district.

That’s why I’m focusing on what will make a difference in the lives of real people in my campaign. I’ve never been one to be against someone but to be for others instead, regardless of their beliefs, their gender, their religion, their background, or anything else about them.

Everyone deserves a shot at the American Dream. They deserve better representation than they’ve received in decades.

Let’s change that together!

A Different Take on ‘Conservative’ Illinois

RoadSnacks just made a study that declared the 10 Most Conservative Cities in Illinois. This can be of great concern to those living in or around any of these cities.

I have a different take.

Most of this, in my experience, is due to Democrats not playing hard or at all in these areas for decades. Vacating has led to dominance, intimidation, and more by the GOP. 

I’m not dissuaded by those factors at all. I’m a natural fighter, though.

A cool head, applying respect (something the other side doesn’t do), and listening to voter concerns are the first steps. After I listen, I apply what I’ve learned and connect it directly to my message and vision for the 15th district. 

Believe it or not, all of us have the same basic concerns for our families and communities. We want better economies, higher wages, more jobs, more affordable healthcare, cheaper prescription drugs, safer communities, and better schools for our children. 

Most people haven’t heard from a state rep or state senate candidate in years. Rarely are these races challenged in the general election, either. They’ve never heard from a congressional candidate directly. 

If you come with all the answers, it’s often a lost cause. Each of these Americans deserves to be heard. And, they haven’t been heard in far too long.

They’ve not had someone fighting for their families and their communities in a long time. The Democratic Party is the party of the People. We must be their voice, on city councils, county boards, in Springfield, and in Washington.

We can do this!

The damage of the vacuum of the last few decades takes time to heal, and we all have a vital role to play in rebuilding the trust with working families and the most vulnerable.

I’ve never been more hopeful. Let’s get to work!

Reducing the Cost of Healthcare

The 15th District of Illinois is a rural district. Therefore, many kids rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. There are many structural problems with Medicaid that must be tackled. We must address these systemic issues as well as the other drivers that increase the cost of healthcare for individuals and families.

  • Reduce costs of prescription drugs by allowing foreign sourcing and competitive bidding.
  • In areas with one or no provider, offer a public option. This would be similar to Medicare, but with higher premiums but with more manageable deductibles.
  • In order to reduce costs in the marketplace, allow the chronically ill and the disabled to gain access to Medicare, regardless of ability to work. This will give stability and certainty to this population while simultaneously reducing costs of insurance for the broader population.
  • For those accessing insurance through either Medicaid or the marketplace, increase access to credits and subsidies for being healthy, exercising plans, and non-utilization of healthcare. This will decrease the cost of healthcare for those who may not need it but who might need it for catastrophic conditions.
  • We have to allow insurance companies to sell across state lines. Also, if an insurance company sells a policy to a business, that same policy should be available for sell to individuals or families, creating real competition in the marketplace.
  • And, we must provide more access and choices for women and families across the country, especially in rural areas that are underserved.

Together, we can make healthcare more affordable for all of our citizens. This is a difficult problem to address, but it is possible. If you have problems accessing healthcare, I want to hear about it. Please contact me with your specific issues.

Kevin Gaither, kevin@gaither4il.com

(217) 246-8281

Trump-Shimkus Care a Bad Deal for Americans

If our local medical professionals have such negative opinions about Trump-Shimkus Care, shouldn’t we be a bit concerned about the negative impacts it would have on the citizens of Illinois?
“I’m just gonna leave this right here
How about instead of doing away with a whole program, we re-evaluate it.”
– in response to Kellyanne Conway’s above comments about Medicaid recipients losing coverage
When Vice President Mike Pence was Governor of Indiana, he gutted healthcare for high risk groups. He also made decisions that directly led to an HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana.
 
This is the same approach that the GOP-led Congress, partnered with the Trump administration, are wanting to do to the national healthcare system.
 
Obamacare has serious issues that must be addressed. Making the situation much worse in order to give the wealthiest a massive tax cut, in order to give the pharmaceutical industry a massive tax cut, doesn’t make any sense.
 
There are simple proposals that members of both parties, medical professionals, and citizens agree that could be done today to address some of the most egregious problems in Obamacare. That would immediately begin lowering the cost of healthcare for individuals and families.
 
Why aren’t the Republicans bringing these bipartisan proposals up for a vote? Because they’re in the pocket of big pharma, the insurance industry, and most importantly, the wealthiest Americans that don’t need a massive tax break paid for by hardworking Americans.
 
Give regular folks a break for once.

First Q & A

Send Me Your Questions, Concerns, or Comments.
Email: kevin@gaither4il.com
Twitter: @gaither4il
gaither4il.com

I think we need less personality and more connecting with voters. Less personal and social issues and more economic messages that connect with workers.

“We need people to understand the conservatives and find common ground. Enough revolutions and verbal bomb throwing.”

When I discuss finding common ground, it’s with voters. Without more voters coming over to support our candidates in areas like the 15th District of Illinois, we have no chance of taking back the House for American workers and small business owners.

Number one, there are many people throughout rural and Mid America, the very areas that Dems and Progressives lost, that deserve better. Secondly, these areas have been grossly underserved by their representation in state legislatures and in Congress. Many only have had the “verbal bombs” thrown at them from both sides. The problem is that they’ve known the conservative mantras their whole lives. We have to begin to change that now.

Q: But how? It’s entrenched in their lives and culture.

A: By first listening to the people. Then, relating what you hear to a message that resonates with them. This won’t happen overnight.

Democrats have largely left these voters behind for decades. That vacuum and damage can’t be bridged and healed overnight, or over even one election cycle. What most don’t realize or never hear is how the GOP policies have harmed their lives and livelihoods.

Calling them stupid, deplorables, bigots, and fascists doesn’t really bode well for bringing them into the big tent that is the Democratic Party. It also happens to not be accurate.

Q: Many claim Bernie Sanders’ plans are financially not feasible without severely raising taxes. I have no problem paying higher taxes for single payer healthcare or free college, but still too many people claim this is socialism.

A: The real issue with paying for programs and services are the caps on taxes for the wealthiest. Nowhere is this more blatantly obvious than in the State of Illinois where we have a flat tax system. The highest income earners pay an effective tax rate of 3.75%. Compare that to your own tax rates. 

This is where education of voters is quite powerful. You can only do that one voter at a time. Most won’t believe an ad or something on the news. They naturally fear socialism and definitely higher taxes. They distrust the $15 minimum wage and free college.

I’ve talked to so many intelligent, hardworking Americans that believe if we did raise the minimum wage that new workers would be the only ones that receive that $15/hour but that they wouldn’t. It’s bizarre, but I hear this everywhere I go.

Q: Where are the moderate Republicans in Congress when it comes to a vote to help their constituents?

A: They’re not receiving enough calls from their own constituents. We’ll see how they respond to the Senate Trumpcare bill. We have to not give up the good fight and reaching out where we can actually make a difference. 

In House races here, in the upcoming gubernatorial race next year in Illinois, state legislative races, and in all Senate races everywhere, we have to challenge incumbents. We have to do this with more than just candidates but with messages and policies that resonate with regular folks.

We can’t control what others do, but we can make a good faith effort at reaching out to them. Relentlessness without exhaustion, attachment, and expectation is difficult to make a personal reality. It happens to be a survival strategy in political discourse, advocacy, and activism, in my experience.

Q: Conservatives are ideologues. Their relationship with and the part Christianity plays in their lives influences everything including their support for an authoritarian figure in charge. You cannot ignore that and simply focus on economic issues and think you will change their minds. It is so powerful that it has caused people to vote against their own economic interests for years.

A: I’ll never say to ignore any aspect of voters’ lives. However, ignoring these voters and these areas completely is repeating a mistake and expecting a different result. The idea that people are voting for the GOP and against their best economic interests is somehow due to Christianity is overly simplistic.

Democrats haven’t been running in most of these areas, locally, state, or in federal races, for a long time. Democrats abdicated these to the GOP long ago when manufacturers beat down Unions and jobs began to decline. That mistake must be rectified.

Believe it or not, most people aren’t mean-spirited Christians. They want to do good for others and their communities. Democrats just haven’t focused on messages that relate to these voters in a way that is meaningful.

Seeing these voters as monolithic is an error of judgment I won’t be making. If I saw them that way, I wouldn’t bother to run to make a difference here.

It’s also a mistake to believe you’re going to change people’s minds. Politics is about broadening your message so that it relates to voters and their communities, not the other way around. This is never more true than in these deeply entrenched districts that have been held by one party or another for decades.

These voters naturally distrust politicians of any stripe or creed. They trust what they know or what they’ve known. Breaking through is not a simple process. It takes time, diligence, and relentless perseverance. Repeated contacts, openness to questions and concerns, and always listening and relating back to core principles and messages that matter to people.

I look forward to more of your questions as I continue to put my campaign together. Pleased to so much energy and inspiration out in the district, state, and country.

Keep up the good fight!

Tackling Wage Stagnation

Working hard shouldn’t mean hardly eating, and the GOP has been targeting food stamps for decades. In recent years, they’ve been successful at cutting billions from the program, despite many workers needing this program to feed their families. They’re at it again, planning to cut another 25%.

The program pays for itself; for every dollar spent, SNAP generates roughly $1.75 in economic activity. Therefore, cutting these benefits makes no sense, and, these Americans deserve to put food on the table.

A relevant question to ask is why do hard working Americans need SNAP benefits to feed their families? Wage stagnation.

Since the massive failure of Reaganomics, wage stagnation has harmed not only working families but local economies for decades. It is about time we put an end to the continuing damage from this failed economic model. 

  • GOP-focused tax cuts are too often pocketed by the wealthiest. Tax cuts for the wealthiest and big businesses also have not produced sustained wage growth for workers. This has been the GOP failed strategy for decades. It’s a losing agenda for hardworking Americans.

We can do something about the wage stagnation problem now

while mitigating any short term risks for small businesses. 

  • Larger businesses should lose their massive tax cuts, and we need to eliminate loopholes. Then, these businesses can earn credits and breaks when the wage disparity within the company decreases. This means when the difference between the lowest and the highest income earners’ wages decreases significantly, the business receives a tax break.

This is what the tax code was designed to do in the first place . . . to incentivize good behavior that benefits American families and the economy. Wage growth benefits the economy. Wage stagnation benefits only the executive and administrative classes.

  • Everyone deserves a raise in a company when the company is doing well, not just those at the top. Currently, many large companies eliminate benefits, eliminate jobs, ship jobs overseas, and cut corners, all of which allows for annual raises and big bonuses at the top. Meanwhile, the workers get left behind.

This has to change.

I’ll stand with hard working Americans every day. They deserve more for their hard work. The more they take home, the more they spend where they live. Workers are the lifeblood of local economies.

  • Right now, we need an all-in strategy for American workers. Many are paying too much out-of-pocket for their healthcare, their utilities, and their expenses are too high. All of this occurs while their wages haven’t budged in years.

Let’s do something different for a change.

I’ll fight for innovative strategies.

Policies that directly impact the bottomline of households and small businesses. 

We can do better by demanding better.

Cancer Researcher Sent Back to Iran

Since the Trump administration has taken over the country and the Congress, there has been a consistent drumbeat to ostracize religious freedom in America and Make America Weak Again.

 

Recently, Trump received a reprieve on its Muslim ban by the Supreme Court, allowing the administration to keep many people out of the country without cause. Certainly, we have to keep terrorists out of the country, but this ban takes what was working prior to January 20th, cooperation with Muslim Americans and allies abroad, and destroys it.

 

 

Now, a cancer researcher has been sent back to Iran after being denied entry to America. This is in addition to grandparents and many others.

 

The reality is that anyone can be a risk to national security. The fact is that more homegrown white American terrorists have attacked our country and killed more Americans than refugees, cancer doctors, or grandmothers. These truths have been wholly ignored in order to score cheap political points at the expense of national security.

 

When policy is developed through emotion and designed to evoke fear instead of prevent actual violence, it’s counterproductive, actually does more harm to our national security, and alienates America to the very people we need as allies– Muslim Americans.

 

This may not be a popular position, but it’s the national security position we need as a nation.

 

Conducting foreign policy and national security from a fear-based position is what Makes America Weak Again.

 

Fear is not how we should govern, nor legislate. The American people deserve real leadership, not weak-in-the-knees leadership we’ve been receiving since January 20th.

 

Photo Courtesy of The Washington Post.

ACT NOW! Fracking Threat is Back!

FROM SAFE: Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment

IDNR Extends Comment Period on First Application to Frack

Due to significant deficiencies in the initial fracking permit application, IDNR has received supplemental information from Woolsey for their application and has extended the public comment period, indicating that comments they receive on or before 5:00pm on July 28, 2017, will be accepted.  SAFE encourages all of its members – and anyone else concerned about the dangers posed from fracking – to submit comments during this period.  To help facilitate the submission of public comments, the Illinois People’s Action (IPA) organization has produced a comprehensive list of 34 comments arguing for the rejection Woolsey’s application.  IPA’s comments  on the application indicate:

  • no Confinement Zone identified for the containment of high injection well pressures, (Comments 5, 6, 7, & 10)
  • concealment of hazardous fracking chemical information under the guise of Trade Secret protection, (Comment 13)
  • unusually large usages of local groundwater, (Comment 14, & 15)
  • woefully inadequate estimates of flowback waste water from the injection well, resulting in inadequate containment, (Comments 17, 19, 20, & 23)
  • unclear and uncertain methodologies for the protection against radiation contamination, (Comments 21, 32, & 33)
  • inadequate protection against earthquakes with respect to the Casing and Cementing Plan, (Comment 24)
  • 692 additional citations in the “Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating the Risks and Harms of Fracking, 4th Edition” since passage of the fracking law (HFRA) on June 17, 2013 – now totaling 924 specific fracking related risks and harms, (Talking Point 3.)

Please download IPA’s comment list through the above hyperlink or here.

Public comments submitted will need to reference Woolsey’s Review Number (HVHHF-000001) in the email subject line and within the text of the comment, and can be emailed to DNR.HFPublicComments@illinois.gov.  Comments may also be mailed to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Attention: Oil and Gas Regulatory Staff, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702.

IDNR may schedule a Public Hearing from 10:00am to 5:00pm at the Enfield United Methodist Church Family Life Center, Corner of West Main and South Jennette St., Enfield, IL.  Details will be emailed out when they become available.


 

Student Loans: My Ideas vs. GOP/Trump

The GOP-controlled Congress, led by President Trump, has already targeted student loans, loosening protections for students as well as discussing moving loan servicing from Department of Education to Treasury. Their new plans are far worse.

They want to eliminate the ability to defer or lower monthly payments due to inability to pay or hardship as well as eliminate protections against predatory for-profit colleges. These are the same colleges that have taken advantage of veterans after serving our country. Some of these ‘universities’ have defrauded students, taking their money and not providing an adequate education that can be used to land a good job. Universities like Trump U.

Student loan debt currently is over $1.3 trillion. When the government messes with that much money, those changes should not harm Americans trying to better their families, lives, and livelihoods. None of us should tolerate that.

Currently, our government charges students more interest on loans than they do banks. That doesn’t sound right or fair to me either. The government also doesn’t allow these student loans to be refinanced at lower rates.

When I was growing up, I saved a lot of money and actually made money from interest. I was punished for doing so by having zero access to financial aid. Families and individuals can’t save money and make reasonable levels of interest any longer. When interest for savings is less than interest accruing on student loans, there’s something drastically wrong with the equation.

We have to do better. We deserve better than this.

The representation we’re receiving is debilitating.

Our congressional reps should be working for us, not against us. 

Let’s fix student loans, not destroy them.

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