Our Military Women & Men Deserve a Raise

Congress always seems able to find money to fund wars, but seldom to pay for all the services our troops need when they return. With well over a decade of war, many more need VA services than for which the VA was intentioned, yet Congress doesn’t seem to find enough money to greatly increase the number of hospital beds and services for veterans. Neither does the GOP-led Congress seem to be able to find the money to give our troops a pay raise, even when many are having to rely on food stamps for their families. Many join the military for the benefits they’re promised- healthcare, college, a good retirement. We’ve all heard the stories of the long waits for VA care- when you have a system set up for a certain number of people, but then load in many times more people, it will get bogged down- guaranteed! When we promise college, then we need to pay for college, no ifs, ands or buts.

What we also need to do is to support these young women and men who go into the military now. Many are married and have families, and don’t make enough to support their families, so they have to turn to the government for food stamps. 

 It would be interesting to run the numbers, seeing how much food stamps cost us. Eliminating the need for food stamps could help to offset what I'm about to propose.

When members of military are deployed, be they active duty military, reservists or guard, their pay while deployed is income tax free, but the moment they get back home, it is taxed again. Not only is this difficult when it comes to filing income taxes, I think it short-changes the sacrifices they make in everyday life, even in America, serving in our military. Why not make all of their military pay income tax free, whether here or abroad? Given that the base pay for a new recruit is around $18,000, this makes sense. The lowest paid military are in the 10-15% tax bracket, so rather than a 1% pay raise as promised through 2017, we’d give them a 10-15% raise, all at once. Perhaps it needs to be phased out at the higher pay grades- someone making $65,000 a year could afford to pay taxes, and by the time we’re paying them that, they’re making about the same as they would in private industry. Like so many good ideas, this one didn’t originate with me, and it does need some more research, but it makes sense and needs to be considered. A retired military man contacted me recently, and suggested this as way to give our troops a pay raise. If we’re going to drive up our deficit fighting wars, then let’s either drive it up a little more to give our military folks this much-needed raise, or let’s cut some of those military weapons that the generals say are not needed or wanted, but that Congress continues to fund, (because the weapons-helicopters, tanks, etc.- are manufactured in their districts, and they don’t want to cause unemployment.) Let’s help those factories refit and start manufacturing solar panels, wind turbines and/or rainwater harvesting equipment. We can beat those “swords” into “plows”, freeing up money to offset the de facto raises for our military,  and it would help make our country more sustainable in terms of power and water. It may also help with troop retention and recruitment. What’s not to like about this?

Posted on 23 May 2016, 13:42 - Category: Military



Reasonable Gun Safety

If you want to buy more than 25 lbs of ammonium nitrate, there are regulations, because of the Oklahoma City bombing.

If you want to buy decongestant, even in allergy-prone Austin, you must not only show a photo ID, but also can only buy a limited amount, no matter how many people in your family need the medicine, because it can also be used to make meth.

There are safety regulations for cars (seat belts, anyone) and many other facets of our lives.

Yet, even though tens of thousands die each year from gun violence, and even though the majority of people, want reasonable gun safety laws, this GOP-led Congress refuses to do anything.

64% of gun deaths are suicides. I just read today about a man in the Houson area who apparently killed his wife, their two small children and then committed suicide, all with a gun. The children of Sandy Hook haunt me, and the thought that those parents who lost their babies to gun violence visited Congress people in their offices, and yet, NOTHING was done is unconscionable. Perhaps if we'd had a law that said you had to show a photo ID to buy ammunition, when mass murders started buying a lot of ammunition (think Sandy Hook and Califorinia terrorists),  they could be caught before they murdered innocents. Parents should not have to bury their babies because of gun violence.

I realize we don't have a Constitutional right to allergy relief, chemical fertilizers or even cars, but the 2nd amendment states " A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It doesn't say "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State; AND the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, which is how the gun industry wants it to read. We're no where near "well-regulated", and closing the gun-show/internet sales loophole so that people will still have background checks is a reasonable step, and is supported by the majority of Americans, including Republicans.

I believe in reasonable gun safety and it is past time we had a Congress that doesn't shake in their boots at the thought of getting a bad grade from the NRA.

 

Posted on 20 Apr 2016, 16:21 - Category: Reasonable Gun Safety



Climate Change response, Thomas vs Williams

 

Climate change- over 90% of scientists say it is real and that humans are contributing to it. The few who don’t are mostly financed by Big Oil.  

Think of it this way: if you were sick, and 9 doctors told you that you needed to quit doing X or you would die, but 1 disagreed (and that one happens to work for the company that makes X), on which would you be willing to bet your life?

My opponent doesn’t address climate change on his website, but given his votes, it is a safe bet that: 1. he doesn’t think that we can do anything differently that will make our earth safer for the future, 2.  doesn’t believe that climate change is affected by humans, or 3. he doesn’t care about the future. None are stances our elected leaders, those who CAN pass legislation to make changes, should have.

 A few examples of those votes:

1.    Rep. Williams voted for big oil subsidies for drilling on public lands (Roll Call vote 408)

2.   Rep. Williams voted to undermine the Clean Air Act (House Roll Call vote 384)

3.   Rep. Williams voted for H.R. 2028, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016, which moves us backward on energy policy by slashing funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency while boosting funding for dirty fossil fuels. 

Source:  League of Conservation Voters, http://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/roger-williams

 

We have been subsidizing big oil for generations. We need to change those subsidies to clean, renewable energy, and to thorium research (a promising form of safe nuclear energy) and we need to do it without delay.  We also need to do it in a way that creates jobs and strengthens our economy.  The longer we wait to act, the more it will cost. 

Every year we push it back is less time for our children and grandchildren to have a safe earth. It may not be a big problem while my generation is alive, but I care about what our daughter inherits from us, and with what those who come after will have to live. If predictions are correct, the land my family has owned since the 1830’s in SE Texas may become beachfront property in the next 100 years. While that would certainly improve its value, I don’t think my family’s personal future profit trumps the welfare of people in coastal areas, not only of our state and country, but of the entire world.

Most Americans understand the dangers of climate change and want Congress to take responsible action.  (“The poll found that 83 percent of Americans, including 61 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of independents, say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a very or somewhat serious problem in the future”)  As your Representative, I will work with Democrats and Republicans to implement solutions to climate change that reduce risks while strengthening our economy.  The responsible thing for our environment and our economy is to take action now to address climate change.  

 

Posted on 02 Apr 2016, 15:46 - Category: Climate Change



What I've Learned from the Campaign

As I am looking at this last week of campaigning, several things stand out to me.

The good:

1.       I’ve met some incredible people along the way- good, “salt of the earth” folks, who I believe will continue to be friends for the future, whether we win or lose this race.

2.       Most people want a better future for their children and beyond.

3.       CD25 is a beautiful district- from the Hill Country, lakes, rivers, cattle and sheep country, cities, suburban and rural. All have something positive to offer their residents.

4.       There are reasonable people on both sides, people who are willing to listen to reason, who understand science, and who won’t let ideology rule their lives.

The bad:

1.       I’m astounded at the names I’ve been called by people who never met me- the B-word, the C-word, and more. Really? That is how you were brought up, to attack someone personally because you disagree with her beliefs, when you don’t even know them?

2.       There are many “intentionally ignorant” folks- people who refuse to believe science, who refuse to believe that humankind is impacting climate change at all, when the science is truly irrefutable. They have attacked me far more about my climate change video that even my gun safety one!

3.       There are those who don’t care that our current congressperson has received over 75% of his donations from people outside of the district (equaling ~90% of his money), or that he has spent very little actually campaigning, mostly for entertainment & meals (expensive meals!), staff salaries and consultants. They also don’t care about his long-term ethics problems, dating back to the 1980s.

 

My takeaway is this:

Change is difficult, I get that. But if we want our descendants to thrive, we must change some of the ways we’re doing things. Right now, for example, we subsidize the fossil fuel industry, as well as industrial farming that produces many of the products used in junk food. (A Twinkie is made with 17% subsidized products, for example.) WHY are we subsidizing industries that harm us, drive our healthcare costs up, and then scream when folks want to make changes to move those subsidies to industries that will help drive our healthcare costs down? For example, our air is predicted to be so bad by 2025, Texas will lead the nation in illnesses such as asthma, and other illnesses caused by oil & gas production.

 

That will drive our healthcare costs up even more, not to mention harming our children! If, however, we changed our subsidies to wind, solar, thorium, and battery backup R&D, we could clean up our air tremendously.

 

We subsidize industrial farm interests, and they grow a large number of products that end up in junk food. Why are we subsidizing them, and not organic farmers, or at least those growing fruits and vegetables that are used to eat, not to make high fructose corn syrup? We need to look at the way we do farming in our country, and change that model, too. Large industrial farms use tons of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, all of which are bad for our earth and people. It is a HUGE industry with billions of dollars. It won’t be easy to change, but if VOTERS will insist to their Congress people and Senators, and stay on them, making it clear they will lose votes if they don’t vote for change, we CAN change the systems. I am not opposed to the government helping the industrial farms change their model, but I am very much opposed to continuing things as they are.

 

It is insanity (and short term greed) to continue to subsidize these industries that are killing us, yet, the fearful attack me for daring to ask “why”. It is like the old saying, “Feed the hungry, and you’re called a saint, ask WHY they’re hungry, and you’re called a communist.” I’m neither, just someone who wants better for my daughter’s future, and all our descendants. In the Cherokee Nation, we’re supposed to look at the results of decisions we make 7 generations into the future. Imagine if decisions were made like that! It wouldn’t be this greedy “IBG” (I don’t care what happens in the future because “I’ll be gone”) mindset.

 

PT Barnum said it best- “It is much easier to fool people than to convince them they’ve been fooled.” Just as science finally won out in the tobacco wars (yes, smoking DOES cause cancer in the majority of folks exposed to it), I believe science will win out in the energy and food sector. The question is, will it be too late? In parts of Florida, rising sea levels are already impacting them. We’ve got a pretty long coastline in Texas, it may not be in CD25, but I hope we are understand that what we do (or don’t) impacts other people, and that what we do to others matters.

Posted on 2 Nov 2016, 10:07 - Category: Responsible Governance



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