On the Issues

Taxes‍‍‍

‍‍‍Eight years into a bull market, our public debt continues to rise.  More frustrating still is the fact that we're running a deficit of roughly $1Trillion/year.  That's unconscionable.  It's immoral t‍‍‍o borrow a trillion dollars more that you collect in times of plenty.  In these times we should be paying down our debts, not expanding them.  The only reason the trend continues is that Washington has decided to overdraw the ledger so corporations can take windfall profits.  When elected, I promise to never vote to increase public debt except in the case of war or recession.  ‍‍I have an additional post on taxes HERE.

‍‍‍‍‍‍F‍‍‍unding H‍‍‍igher Ed.

Paying for higher education is one of the issues where it's clear that both parties have it wrong.  The current Democrat push seems to be to make higher education free.  What does that mean exactly?  There are thousands of colleges and universities in this country are we really saying that we want to commit to paying for them regardless of quality, coursework or outcomes?

On the other hand the republicans are lost in a world that disconnects the difficulty and onerous costs in time and money that higher education bring.  This is doubly true where we talk about retraining and mid-career shifts.

‍‍‍I want to adapt our best community colleges to the needs of the 21st century and they can't do that without being freed from their budgetary demands.  When elected I'll draft a program to fund an endowment for our best performing community colleges... places like Brookdale in Lincroft... that way they can operate without need for funding from the county.  These exemplary schools should be able to offer an education at a cost which is means-tested in good times and at no cost in times of a downturn.‍‍‍

Technology & Our Markets

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‍‍‍My Video on Technology‍‍‍ & Our Markets coming Soon

‍‍‍Elections‍‍‍

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My Video on Elections coming Soon‍‍‍

Getting things Done.

Laws that get passed on party-line votes don't hold up.  Look at what happened with Healthcare.  The same thing will happen with the tax cuts passed last year once the democrats take power.  The only way to pass meaningful, lasting laws in this country is to do it with members of both teams on board.

Like many of you, I've never joined a party.   I hate bad ideas and both parties require you to be a cheerleader for all of the bad ideas they come up with.  This is especially true for freshmen legislators.  Take money from the party and you're more-or-less obligated to support the bills your leadership wants to pass.

The Congress would work far, far more smoothly if there was a block of twenty independents that both parties needed support from in order to pass a law.   One reason I'm an independent and running is that it doesn't have to be like this.

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Foreign Policy‍‍‍

America's enemies are finding new ways tarnish our image and push us apart from our allies. That image and those relationships need to be strengthened now more than any time since the‍‍‍ end of WWII.

My Video on Foreign Policy coming Soon

  • Re-commit to NATO and to the common defense of our member nations.
  • Refocus on aligning our medical, environmental and labor practices with friendly western powers.
  • Expand funding for the State Department, for the encouragement of foreign capital projects, and for foreign student exchange.

‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍Immigration

There has never been a generation of Americans who were able to raise their children in the same America they grew up in.  The goal of an immigration policy shouldn't be to try and keep tomorrow's America like the one you and I grew up in.  It should be to make tomorrow's America a better place than any we or our parents could have imagined.

‍‍‍We fight about immigration because we're not asking the same questions about it and because no one is proposing a clear vision of what immigration is for.  Our goal must be to use immigration to help make the America of 2050 the best place on earth to live.  It should be to help make it a place where people want to come and join a m‍‍‍elting pot.

  • Expand immigration courts to be able to process cases within nine months.
  • Keep together all families who enter the country illegally.  Keep them monitored via ankle bracelet and keep them out of detention facilities.
  • Ankle bracelet any adult crossing the border at a place other than an established port of entry.
  • Expand funding for citizenship training classes.
  • Tie the number of green cards issued annually to the percentage of foreign born Americans.
  • Expand high school graduation requirements to include a detailed understanding of our immigration process.
  • ‍‍‍‍‍‍Require ICE and CBP to ‍‍‍set priorities for their enforcement behavior.  Law enforcement doesn't pay the same attention to murders and turnstile jump‍‍‍ing.  ICE and CBP need to rank their activities around high-value enforcement not keeping kids in cages.
  • Require Homeland Security, ICE, and CBP leadership to understand that their agencies are the public face of American hospitality and promptly terminate officials who can't comply with that need.

Social Securit‍‍‍y

Social Security is a sacred trust.  You get your paycheck docked every week with a FICA payment to protect yourself from destitution in old age. The problem is that the government collected that money, spent it, and now wants you to pay it back.  That's like saving money and then finding out you gave it to Bernie Madoff.

That's nutty.  Worse, it's immoral.

America should have an un-raidable sovereign wealth fund like many other rich nations. A place where the money that funds our social programs can be protected from greedy politicians and where we can be certain it will grow in an extremely modest and conservative way.

‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍You can't tell people who trusted you to protect their future that you spent their future.  It's not fair, a deal is a deal.

  • Establish an American sovereign wealth fund.
  • Make intra-governmental lending by social safety net programs illegal.
  • ‍‍‍‍‍‍Require Social Security to invest in a broad index of the market.

Guns and Self Defense

My wife is a little woman and no one can run from an attacker with any speed while carrying a four-year-old.  She has the right to a weapon for self defense if we decide to keep one in the house.  At the same time, I have someone I love who has a mental illness.  What scares me is that this person could pass a background check.

‍‍‍‍‍‍The responsibilities you carry as a person who wants to own a tool built to end life should be simple and obvious.‍‍‍‍‍‍

My Video on Guns and Self Defense coming Soon‍‍‍

  • Universal background check.
  • Government funding for technology sufficient to execute a background check within 48 hours anywhere in the country.
  • Expand the list of machines excluded from the benefits of the second amendment when they are not for sportsmen or defense but weapons of war.  This to include high capacity magazines, bump stocks, any conversion kits.
  • ‍‍‍C‍‍‍ompetency certification every 7 years to age 70 and every 2 years thereafter because if you can't use a weapon properly then you can't use it for self defense.
  • Require mental health counseling to be covered by health insurance.

‍‍‍Minimum Wage

I'm pro-business but more than that I'm pro-market.  There's a basic flaw in our system if full time workers can't pull themselves out of poverty.  We need to tie minimum wage to the poverty line.  I support raising the minimum wage by $0.50/year every year until it exceeds the poverty rate.  Part time work should exceed the poverty rate for a family of four.  Full time work, with its additional benefits needs to exceed the poverty rate for a family of three.

‍‍‍Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour.  I'm advocating adding another $20/week to a full time worker's paycheck every year until that rate exceeds the poverty rate.  That will give business time to adjust to the change and avoid shock‍‍‍s to economy.  This would mean that ten years from now the last poverty wage job would disappear from America.  That's a fair deal.  

‍‍‍My Video on Minimum‍‍‍ W‍‍‍age coming Soon

  • Raise minimum wage by $0.50/hour per year.
  • ‍‍‍Wage rises to halt for part time workers when the‍‍‍ir wages exceed poverty rate for a family of four.
  • Wage rises to halt for full time workers when their wages exceed poverty rate for a family of three.
  • ‍‍‍Minimum wage tied to poverty line thereafter.‍‍‍

Health Care

‍‍‍‍‍‍My family and I have had more than our fair share of unexpected health troubles.  Every time a health emergency arises it's a financial hardship.  There's no question that the hard work and careful savings we collected over years of playing by the rules h‍‍‍ave been damaged by a healthcare system that prizes profits over care.  To help remedy that we need to bring more sunlight into the process.  That means using government b‍‍‍uying power and being transparent with government healthcare costs to help bring down prices for the whole market. That would save the government huge sums of money and allow other market participants to do the same.  Healthcare providers would have to start competing on quality instead of relying on $400 aspirins and $600 bandages to pad their returns.

  • Require every government agency that purchases healthcare to us‍‍‍e their buying power to get the best pricing.
  • Pass a law that requires healthcare providers (and the providers of medical devices, therapies and emerging health technologies) to offer the United States pricing equal to any lower price offered anywhere.  Our government ensures the strength of the patents those technologies need.  Government buyers at the various agencies, as well as our social programs need to be given a fair deal on the products protected by those patents.
  • Require all pricing for all healthcare costs to be indexed and posted on healthcare.gov.
  • Expedite citizenship for physicians from abroad who practice medicine in the highest cost and least populated fields.

‍‍‍‍‍‍Debt / ‍‍‍Defi‍‍‍cits

‍‍‍Credit is possibly the most powerful capitalist tool to grow an enterprise.  I believe in the power of credit and it's necessity in lean times.  That's not we're using debt in Washington. We ow‍‍‍e somewhere between 19 and 20 trillion dollars.  That's a vulgar amount of money. There's absolutely no reason we should need to continue to borrow every year.  This year's interest payments alone are nearly half a trillion dollars.

It's fine to argue about how large the government should‍‍‍ be but eight years int‍‍‍o the recovery, the United States should be paying down what it owes, not adding to it.  More disturbing is the fact that in the United States we collect four times as much from individuals through income tax than we do from corporations.  

‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍ My Video on Debt / Deficits coming Soon

  • I pledge not to vote to add to the nation's debt except in times of war or recession.
  • I pledge not to risk the security of the nation's credit rating by threatening to not pay our debts.
  • I prioritize lowering income taxes over lowering corporate taxes because when choosing between the two,‍‍‍ we should be encouraging employment over corporate wealth.

‍‍‍The Supreme ‍‍‍Court & Confirmations

‍‍‍Selecting Supreme Court Justices is hugely consequential.  Choosing to not vote on an nominee to a position is not how you deal with those consequences.  Any President who makes a judicial appoinment should have his nominee voted on (and this rule should apply to all other appointees).  Finally, lifetime appointments don't mean the same thing today that they meant in 17‍‍‍87.  Supreme Court Justices should be replaced every 18 years.  That would mean making every two year congressional session responsible for installing one Justice.

‍‍‍My Video ‍‍‍on‍‍‍ The Su‍‍‍preme‍‍‍ Court coming Soon

  • I support a constitutional amendment to limit Justices to an 18-year term.
  • I support accepting a six month limit on delays for confirmation votes of individual Justices.
  • ‍‍‍‍‍‍I support accepting that a Congress which doesn't choose to advise on an nominee has given its consent for the nominee.
  • I support endowing our best community colleges with funding sufficient to offer an education at a means-tested cost.
  • I propose a pilot program for the best ranked 150 public, community colleges nationwide (schools which conform to the kinds of standards that Brookdale exemplifies) to create an endowment from which the schools can fund operations off the interest alone.
  • I do not support universal, free higher education because students that can have skin in the game should and because no one knows what a program like this would cost or if college will even remain the best educational vehicle for the balance of the 21st century.

‍‍‍Net Neut‍‍‍rality

Net Neutrality is a bedrock principle on which our capitalist system must be based.  It's the principle that the internet needs to be free, fair, and open to any and all participants.  Curtailing Net Neutrality protections means making fast lanes and slow lanes on the internet and preventing competition in the most vibrant portion of our economy.

But let's forget tech for a moment.  Think about all of the people that will ever buy the fast lanes.  What about healthcare and law enforcement and education when they get their act together and fully digitize?  I don't want my hospital to be tempted to save money by using the "slow internet" to transmit my medical records.  I don't want some second class system transmitting my aging father's hi-rez medical imaging by the equivalent of technological carrier pigion from the testing site to an analyst in China and back to hospital in Delaware just because those people didn't want to upgrade to the fast-internet to save money.  I don't want to have my local school wasting teaching time looking at loading screens.  Have you ever gone to your local police department or firehouse?  Have you seen their copying machine?  You think they're going to spring for the expensive internet?  Think again.

Web access must stay an equal playing field.

Climate C‍‍‍hange

According to Blackrock, the world's largest investor, a company with $6.3 Trillion‍‍‍ in assets (which equal 2.25% of the world's wealth) climate change is the largest risk faced by our market‍‍‍s today.

According to Swiss Re, the world's largest re-insurance company, a company that insures insurance companies, a massive hurricane could hit New York on the same day that a massive earthquake hits Los Angeles, on the same day that a massive flood hits Hong Kong and they would be fine... but climate change makes them lose sleep at night.

According to the Defense Quadrennial Review, the guiding document on threats to our national security and the stability of the modern world order, a document authored every four years in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, climate change represents a threat multiplier around the world and one of the greatest long term threats the United States has ever seen.  Not only because it will create heretofore never seen volumes of refugees, but because it will destabilize countries and substantially alter force-readiness as our soldiers will require different training and Navy require new and different ports as sea levels change.

Climate Change and technological disruption are the two great challenges of our lifetime.  They threaten every facet of our lives.  From our military to our investments and from our homes to our food.  Unlike technological disruption, we can find allies to fight climate change.  Indeed the entire world is in alliance on this issue.  The whole world... except us.

  • Place a fee on carbon at its point of entry into the US economy.
  • Have 100% of fees collected rebated to American citizens equally on a monthly basis.
  • Process all fees through the existing Social‍ Security distribution apparatus.
  • Raise the fee annually.
  • Support the bill currently under consideration, which directs the SEC to require company disclosures of their carbon liabilities.
  • Use the power of oversight to halt current directives which downplay or ignore the existence of Climate Change and its impacts.

Making Polluters Pay‍‍‍

‍‍‍Pollution has profound consequences on our h‍‍‍ealth, our markets, and our home values.  For a long time polluters have gotten an easy ride.  While this paragraph is being written rives and streams still brim with water from hurricane Florence.

‍‍‍Adjacent here you can see an image, captured by NASA, of the Atlantic coast where floodwaters are emptying nauseating levels of pollution into the sea.  That pollution comes from coal ash retaining ponds and open-air pools of livestock waste that overtopped or collapsed during the storm.  Whatever the cost of Florence today, we can be certain that the storm will have ongoing costs no less serious than those still faced by World Trade Center‍‍‍ site workers in the aftermath of the towers collapse.

The root cause of pollution like this is short sighted thinking.  There's no doubt that we have too much regulation on the small stuff in this country.  But we have way too little regulation on the big stuff.  I grew up in Sayreville, in Middlesex county.  At the time it had more superfund sites foot-per-foot than any town in New Je‍‍‍rsey.  I know a lot of people who got sick over the years with diseases that were too rare or hit them too young.  No one will ever be able to prove a link.   No one but common sense.

Companies that generate massive waste should be required to get pre-clearance from the EPA before executing a business process that asks the public to .  Those plans should be weighted against the 50-year consequences of polluting the public space and polluters should be given clear guidelines for what will constitute evidence of pollution in advance of the day of operations.

Term Limits

Too long.  They're all there too long.

Having said that, we've all had the experience of watching someone new at work do their job badly.  I'm a fan of expertise.  I want our elected officials to have an opportunity to get good at their work and to learn to do it well.  Let's make sure that term limits are both long enough to be an expert and short enough to not be generational.  Here are my suggestions. 

  • ‍‍‍ A limit of 5 terms and no more than 11 years in the House of Representatives‍‍‍
  • A limit of 2 terms and no more than 15 years in the Senate
  • A limit of 18 years on the Supreme Court.
  • Presidential Limits to remain.

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‍‍‍Public & Private Pe‍‍‍nsions

Pensions have become a vehicle to avoid paying your workers.  Be it in government or private industry, too often when an organization is mismanaged it's the pension fund which is the victim.  We can and should fix that problem because a deal is a deal.  I'll introduce legislation that makes:

  • Both government and private industry need to fund pensions on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • ‍‍‍Pension funds must assume a rate of return no higher that a point below the prior five years average for the whole of the market.‍‍‍
  • ‍‍‍‍‍‍Pension obligations must have first priority in a bankruptcy.‍‍‍