But I thought I would weigh in on what transpires between my opponents, incumbent Republican Congressman Bobby Schilling and Democrat Cheri Bustos.I had intended to watch the debate, and tweet my responses live, as I did during the last candidate forum, but I've decided I have more important things to do this evening, namely, take my lovely fiance out for a date. So, without further ado, here is my take on the debate between the two sides of the corporate controlled party coin, before it even happens:Once again, it was wise of Bobby to get ahead of the inevitable attack on his mailing expenses by talking about how great his communication with his constituents has been, how he's spent less than 50 cents per constituent on the mailers, and how he's returned over $100,000 of his budget to the tax payers. Way to go Bobby. As expected, Cheri still pointed out that his mailing expenses exceed those of all his colleagues in Congress. I was glad Cheri decided to finally start talking about this a year after I first did,
I just wish she would make some guarantees regarding what her policies will be with the Franking Privilege as I have. After all, constituent communication is a good thing, and like Bobby says, it saved the life of someone in our district. What price CAN you put on a life, Cheri
?It was nice to hear Cheri once again refer to the "solemn promise" of Social Security and Medicare. I just wish after she promised that she would "work to strengthen them and preserve them without doing so on the backs of seniors and the middle class", that Bobby would have demanded she tell us how. I mean seriously, the election is less than a month away, and we're still accepting the answer of "reduce waste and fraud" and "the President's health care reform, as I call it, is a good start"? SERIOUSLY? How about someone demand that she share a specific proposal to strengthen Medicare and Social Security. Yes, Schilling signed off on Ryan's TERRIBLE PLAN that would fundamentally change Medicare for the worse. But what is Cheri offering as an alternative? Vague promises? How about a real plan to save and strengthen both?Here comes the magical manufacturing triangle. I really wish Bobby would call her out when she says "on day one of our campaign we announced our jobs plan." That's a blatant lie. She didn't announce any job plan. She didn't put forth any semblance of a job plan until immediately before the democratic primary when the Dispatch/Argus required all candidates to do so. Even then, her "plan" was a hodge-podge of other people's ideas and it mostly consisted of what she said tonight. First, she spends most of her time describing the geography and current situation of our district. Then, she quickly says that her plan is to ask other people for a plan once a year. That's not a plan. It's just not. Why doesn't Bobby ever call her out on this? Maybe it's because he is too busy talking about the supposed 30 jobs plans he's passed in the House, which ALSO aren't jobs plans. THIS is a jobs plan.I really wish both of them would stop talking about the Bring Jobs Home Act. Cheri obviously has never read the bill, and Bobby doesn't properly convey what a terrible bill it is.
First off, Bobby SHOULD ask Cheri to point out one single item in the tax code that rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas. Spoiler alert: She can't, because none exist
. Bobby needs to get better at concisely explaining that all businesses are allowed to deduct business expenses and that includes moving expenses (regardless of where they move). He should've pointed out that she'd understand this if she'd ever owned a business, like he has. As a business owner myself, this is painfully obvious. Then, there's the perverse incentive in the bill for companies to game the system. A company could choose to build a plant in another country just for the financial incentive of shutting it down and getting the tax break for bringing it here, even if the company was already going to build here anyway. Here's a quick example.
A company decides they wish to expand. After doing their market research, they determine that it is best for their bottom line to spend $10 million building a new factory in our district. The same factory would cost $1 million to build in a third world country. The horribly ineffective "Bring Jobs Home Act" gives a 20% tax credit for all expenses associated with transferring business to America. What makes financial sense to the company now? Here's what they'll do: first, they'll build the $1 million factory in the other country. Then, they'll shut it down and build the $10 million factory here and collect their $2 million tax credit. They just grabbed a quick and easy $1 million of OUR tax money
! The ONLY good thing about this bill, is it's name, but that's no reason to support it. How long did it take you to read this paragraph? It should've been included in the debate.
If Bobby would've just taken 10 seconds to talk about how businesses make decisions, and then pointed out that making our corporate tax rate competitive with other nations would lead to investment here instead of overseas without the need to further complicate the tax code, he'd be home free, but instead, he didn't. He left that for me to do in the tax portion
of my jobs plan.I really can't believe that the "$700 billion cut from Medicare" lie is still being used by republicans. It's dishonest and hypocritical. First, there is no cut, it's a a calculation of the savings in the program created by the Affordable Care Act. Second, the SAME savings is included in the Ryan Budget Plan that just about every republican voted for, INCLUDING SCHILLING.
Why isn't Cheri able to point that out in 10 seconds like I just did? I'm guessing she'll leave it up to the DCCC to say so in their post debate attempt to make up for her shortcomings.Just some pet peeves of mine that I really hoped both of these two would eliminate by now are: Cheri overly gesticulates. Get those hands under control! I wish Bobby would remove "lookit" from his vocabulary. Especially since he almost exclusively uses it defensively. I also wish Cheri would stop lying about the following: she claims Bobby walked out on a meeting with constituents (he didn't) she claims he refused to answer their questions (he'd already answered them) she claims he voted to incentivize shipping jobs overseas (nobody has ever done that ever) and she claims she announced a jobs plan on day one of her campaign (she still hasn't announced one). I hope you all enjoyed the debate as much as I did. Isn't it great when candidates stick to talking points and never say anything new... ever. You don't have to settle for either of the major party candidates. On November 6th, there will be a spot on your ballot titled "Write In". Mark that selection and then write Eric Reyes
To put it bluntly, I intend to do everything I can to legalize (not just decriminalize) cannabis. Aside from the fact that the so called war on drugs has been an abysmal failure and an affront to the concept of individual liberty, it makes absolutely no economic sense for our government to fail to access this huge source of revenue and economic stimulation. The most conservative estimates indicate that our Federal Government is missing out on at least $14 BILLION in annual revenue by failing to regulate and tax the sale of cannabis. Our local economies are missing out as well: Illinois to the tune of $31.6 Million and Iowa at $6.2 Million in annual revenue. Again, these are conservative estimates (meaning it is almost certain that the tax revenue would actually be higher).
Keep in mind, this is just the benefit provided by the taxation and regulation of the sale of cannabis. This doesn't even take into account the agricultural benefits of reauthorizing the growth of our founding fathers' crop of choice, HEMP. Hemp, which is several times more efficient a bio-fuel than ethanol, could replace the acres of subsidized corn fields with a crop that is actually self-sustaining. Not only that, but it has a multitude of other uses besides clean efficient fuel and consumption. Legalization of this crop would be not only a boost to already existing economies, but the start of a new one. Furthermore, thousands upon thousands of non-violent otherwise upstanding citizens would be able to become productive members of society again rather than having their college, professional, athletic, or any other dreams dashed by their choice of a recreational drug that is less harmful and less addictive than alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, or sugar.
[this post will be expanded with a multifaceted argument in favor of legalization]
Today is a great day for millions of Americans who have medical coverage that they would not otherwise have, were it not for The Affordable Care Act. As an attorney who works with the Constitution on a daily basis, I was not surprised by the ruling of the Supreme Court today. In fact, whenever asked how I thought the court would rule, I always responded that it was my belief that due to the conservative make-up of the Court, the so-called "individual mandate" would be upheld, but only under the taxation power granted to the federal government by The Constitution.
I had initially held out hope that the Court would correctly rule that The Commerce Clause also granted Congress the authority to enact the individual mandate; however, based on the Court's recent rulings that ignored both logic and precedent (such as Citizens United) I'd realized that simply wasn't very likely to happen.
I am committed to protecting and strengthening the Social Security and Medicare programs that seniors rely upon. Each of these programs promote the general welfare of our nation and its citizens, as commanded by our Constitution. Social Security is one of the most successful government programs in the history of this great country. For more than 75 years, Social Security has succeeded in keeping millions of senior citizens, widows, and the disabled out of poverty. Before Social Security, about half of America's senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, less than 10 percent live in poverty, and more than 53 million Americans receive Social Security benefits. Medicare is nothing less than a lifeline for 49 million older and disabled Americans. It helps pay for care in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices, hospices and at home, as well as for prescription drugs.We, as a nation, need to remind ourselves what the intent and purpose of these great programs was and is. When these programs were initiated, nobody had "paid into them." The first beneficiaries weren't being paid back for their investment into the programs. They were being supported by the current work force. They were beneficiaries of a social contract that says America doesn't let its seniors struggle to live without health care, food, or housing. We as Americans chose to live up to the promise of our Constitution and guarantee that our elders wouldn't have to live in poverty. That's still what these programs are. They are not retirement accounts. We don't put money into them in order to receive that money back later. We pay now for those that need the help now. The system has worked remarkably well, and can continue to do so if partisan politicians will stop trying to score political points and instead seek real world practical solutions.
The fact is, Social Security is not responsible for one cent of our deficit or our national debt. This social contract that benefits more than 50 million seniors and disabled has a $2.6 trillion surplus, and will be able to provide full benefits for every eligible American for the next 25 years. That's if we made NO changes. The reality is, there are simple changes that can be made which would guarantee the solvency of Social Security into perpetuity. First of all, we need to stop allowing the Social Security Trust Fund to be raided for other expenditures. We can't go back in time and change the mistakes of the past, but we can change our behavior in the future. Second, the amount of taxable annual wages for Social Security is currently capped at $110,100. This cap should be eliminated. If those with lower incomes have to pay Social Security tax on 100% of their wages, then everyone should. Remember, this isn't a retirement account, this is a social contract. For that same reason, benefits should be means based. Someone who retires with billions of dollars of personal wealth has no need for a social safety net. If tragedy should befall them, then obviously benefits would be available to them, but it seems rather common sensible that benefits should taper off the higher one's wealth. When it comes to strengthening Medicare,
cutting wasteful and duplicative spending is a good start. If we required Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry, we could save over $157 billion over 10 years. As a result of the Medicare Part D prescription drug legislation signed into law under President George W. Bush, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices for seniors. This is wrong. Requiring Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices could save the federal government and seniors over $15 billion a year.
Like Social Security, Medicare should be means based. Those that can afford to pay more for coverage, should. Experts across the political spectrum agree that Medicare’s system for paying health care providers is a big part of its spending problem. The traditional Medicare program pays doctors separate fees for each of 7,000 different services, such as a diagnostic tests, office visits and surgical procedures. This encourages excess use of medical tests and procedures because the doctors get more income as their services proliferate and the patient has little reason to question whether another M.R.I. so soon after the last one is really necessary.
The solution, most experts agree, is to have Medicare pay doctors and other health care providers fixed sums to manage a patient’s care and then let the doctors decide which services are truly necessary. Close monitoring would be needed to ensure that doctors don’t deny medically important services to improve their bottom lines.
The reform law aims to do some of this with pilot programs and modest changes in payment policies to encourage coordinated care management. More vigorous action is needed. This can be done by strengthening provisions in the reform law or by adding additional bipartisan measures.
If we enacted a robust public option or a Medicare-for-all health insurance program, we would be able to save more than $68 billion over the next decade and provide affordable health insurance coverage for millions of Americans.The most common-sense solution I've come up with to strengthen both of these programs is to combine them into one. Those that pay into the programs and those that benefit from the programs are the same. Each program faces similar obstacles in the future. If we combined them into a single agency it seems that would save billions in administrative costs and simplify the benefit process for those who need them. The bottom line is, we need to stop playing political games with these programs. Saying you want to strengthen these programs by privatizing them is disingenuous at best. Not only do such plans inevitably lead to a far greater financial and logistical burden being placed on those who need help the most, but they don't address the underlying causes of spiraling increases in costs. On the other hand, to simply say that these programs are a solemn promise and that we have to fight to protect them, and repeat those feel good phrases at every possible opportunity, without offering even a hint of a solution or original thought, is equally disingenuous and just as much a part of the problem. Our seniors can't afford for their representatives to act like ostriches with their heads in the sand, or like pirates making off with their loot. Serious problems call for serious consideration by serious people. That is what I offer. With your help, I will go to Washington and get the job done.
The President's Administration recently released new directives relating to the Affordable Care Act that require no cost coverage of contraception under the preventative care provision of the law. There has been a lot of dust-up over the issue and both sides have done their usual best to frame the issue in a way that appeals to emotion, as opposed to actually addressing the question at hand.
The question isn't whether Catholicism is right on the morality of contraception. It's also not whether women should have easier access to contraception.
The question is, does the federal government, a government of limited and specifically enumerated powers, have the power to FORCE a religious institution to pay for something it is opposed to based on faith?
Even IF you believe the power is implied in one of the clauses of the Constitution, does that authority trump the specific guarantee of religious freedom contained in the 1st Amendment, or the specific prohibition on government restriction thereof?
The clear answer is no. The federal government does NOT have the authority to FORCE religious institutions to PAY FOR that which they oppose as a core tenet of faith.
Contrary to what his partisan critics claim, President Obama, really is a Constitutional scholar. On this issue though, as evidenced by his proposed regulation, he is clearly wrong, and the there is no way his new promulgations will stand.
On a separate but related note, I find the provision used to apply this requirement to be morally reprehensible. "Preventive care" is applicable to medical treatment for disease. Yes, I have heard the arguments that birth control is sometimes prescribed for uses other than preventing pregnancy, but its primary use is the prevention of pregnancy, otherwise, it is clearly misnamed. The tacit implication here is that pregnancy is akin to a disease. Pregnancy is a blessing. The growth of a baby inside the womb is a miracle and an absolute blessing from God. The decision to use THAT portion of the law to try to force the regulation on religious institution is despicable.
It’s been quite a while since I updated this blog, and I want to apologize to my supporters and undecided voters for that. I’d like to give you all an update on how the campaign is going.
For quite some time now, I've been almost exclusively focused on campaign fundraising. This is because conventional wisdom tells us that the candidate who raises the most money is the one who will win. Why is that? It’s not because they’re the best candidate, or the smartest, and certainly not because they have the best ideas, but rather because they’re best able to bombard you non-stop, via every medium imaginable until election day. Conventional wisdom says voters aren’t intelligent enough to make an informed decision, and instead vote for the name they remember. Well, I’m not a conventional candidate, so I’ve decided to buck conventional wisdom. I've been told by some professionals that 999,999 times out of 1,000,000 the candidate with the most money wins the election. Well, in that case, I guess it's a good thing our campaign is one in a million.
I've recently decided to broaden the focus of my campaign to include more retail politics. Getting out and meeting the people. With your help, I will raise enough money to be competitive, but I think it's a bit of a pipe dream to think I can out-raise two wealthy opponents who have a host of wealthy friends and a political machine or two backing them. My strongest supporters have come from contact with me or the content of my public statements, which is why I restored all the content to my website that had been taken down. In that regard, I’d like to apologize again. I always intended for my campaign to be THE issues oriented campaign. In fact, when our local newspaper finally forced my opponents to offer any sort of concrete jobs plan, I was honored to see several pieces of my well known plan included in theirs. Don’t get me wrong, my plan is still the most comprehensive and the most likely to pass with bipartisan support, but since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I was quite flattered to see my opponents imitating me.
While it may be true that my personal story is the most representative of the average citizen in this district, that shouldn’t be the only reason someone chooses to vote for me. Yes, I’m the only candidate that grew up poor and had to fight their entire life to succeed. Yes, I’m the only one who knows what it’s like to face real consequences for failure. Yes, I’m fairly young compared to this field of candidates and yet I’ve accomplished as much if not more than my opponents in my lifetime. Yes, I’m the only candidate with a proven record of not just talking about doing things, but ACTUALLY DOING THEM. Yes, my life is most like yours, and I’m the candidate who can relate to what so many of you are going through during these tough economic times... But that’s not good enough for me. I want to be elected because I'm the best candidate for the job with the best ideas. Not because I tugged at heart-strings hard enough.
With that in mind, I make this pledge, I will never remove any campaign content from this site again (for the purpose of minor changes in verbiage, never core concepts) unless the corrected version is ready to be posted in it’s place.
I have been told recently that it’s “gut check time” for my campaign. Supposedly, I need to figure out if I have what it takes to raise more than my opponents because that’s the only way to win an election. Well, I agree that it’s gut check time, but it’s gut check time for the voters of this district! We need to check our guts and decide the following: Do we want more of the same, or do we want to go in a new direction led by someone who has repeatedly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in order to accomplish everything he’s ever set out to do? Do we want to send someone to Congress who tows an extremist party line, or do we want to replace him with someone who recognizes the value of working with others to reach real solutions to real problems? Do we choose to support a candidate who’s been trained to hide the worst mistakes and excuse the most blatant errors, or do we choose a candidate who’s a proven expert at convincing groups of people with differing backgrounds to come together and agree on a result that he asks them to? Do we choose a candidate that has had plenty of opportunity to show that they can achieve the goals we hold dear, but hasn’t done so, yet still promises the same things all their predecessors have, or do we choose a candidate who has shown time and time again that he is capable of accomplishing anything he sets his mind to, and getting others to join his cause? Do we choose a candidate who needs to be told what to think and do, or do we choose an independent thinker who wants to know what you think, and will use that knowledge to do what is right?
I know I can't personally meet enough voters to win the election, but I CAN inspire enough voters to do so, WITHOUT having more money than my competitors. It really is gut check time folks. Our district and all of America is at a crossroads and the road signs don’t read Republican or Democrat. They read “outdated philosophies” or “The NEW Generation of Leadership!" The time for choosing is now. You can’t wait to decide next November. You can’t even wait until next March. You need to decide now. What do you want the future of our district and our nation to look like? What opportunities do you want for your children and your children’s children? The time is now. It’s your time. It’s my time. It’s OUR time.
Our time is now.
I'd like to talk for a bit about what is known as the "Franking Privilege". This dates back to the colonial days and exists today as a perk of being in Congress. Basically, the privilege allows Congressmen to send mail to their constituents on the tax-payers' dime. There are numerous restrictions pertaining to the use of such mailings, including when they can be sent and what their content may be. All proposed "franked mail" must be approved by a bipartisan committee. With that in mind, I hope it is clear that I understand that Bobby Schilling has the right to send such mailings. I also understand that his mailings have been approved by a bipartisan committee that reviews all proposed franked mail. However, anyone who has seen these recent mailings (I believe four have been received at my house in the past couple months) can tell you that they tiptoe on the edge of acceptability and reveal Schilling's deep seeded hypocrisy.
Mr. Schilling isn't allowed to wish you a happy holiday, so he just mentions upcoming holidays in the introductory paragraphs of his mailings. He's supposed to inform you, the constituent, as to what important government projects he's currently working on, but instead he informs you, the voter, as to what he stands for and what he will "continue" to fight for. It's not what he's done, it's what he intends to do. Anyone who's seen a campaign mailing knows that he's using the same language used there.
I absolutely do not agree with this use of taxpayer funds for thinly veiled campaigning. To add insult to injury, the content is not only clearly geared toward campaigning, but the design is clearlyexpensive. He could have sent these same borderline acceptable mailings on a simple light paper with plain black text telling us what he supposedly stands for. Instead, he sent multi page brochures printed on heavy stock paper in multiple colors and filled with full color photographs and charts.
Basically, he chose to spend a lot of your tax money to convince you to vote for him. But why would you want to do that, when his hypocrisy isso blatant? Here's a man who tells us constantly how we need to reign in spending and cut this and that in order to get our fiscal house in order, yet he sends out hundreds of thousands of incredibly expensive mailings on the taxpayers' dime? Seriously? How bad does he think our memories are?
Here's something I can agree with Bobby Shilling on:
“Campaigns should be funded by donors and political parties, not the American taxpayer,” ... that's what Bobby Schilling told Eric Timmons of Galesburg's paper The Register Mail back in August 2010. Apparently a lot has changed in a year.
“We’re facing a massive budget deficit and one of the worst recessions in recent memory, yet [he] felt it was appropriate to send the 17th District pictures of himself on the taxpayers’ dime. Enough is enough. I believe that every taxpayer dollar should be used to the fullest. This type of extravagance has gone on far too long, and it’s time for a change. On November 2nd, we will return fiscal responsibility to Washington.” - Bobby Schilling 8/22/10
I couldn't agree more with that sentiment. It IS time for a change. On November 2, 2012, the voters of our District will have the opportunity to return fiscal responsibility to Washington by electing me as their Representative in the U.S. Congress.
If you're looking for context, here's a link to the article:http://www.galesburg.com/news/x1024317065/Hare-staffer-defends-franked-mail
You see, in the article, Candidate Schilling (who we've seen had much different priorities than Congressman Schilling does) was criticizing then Representative Hare for his use of the Franking Privilege. The article noted, "Hare used taxpayers’ money to fund the printing cost of the franked mail, which included a picture of Hare and news on some of the projects he’s working on. Members of Congress can send official correspondence by frank, or free of postage.
Hare’s Republican opponent for the fall congressional elections, Bobby Schilling, described the letters as 'campaign mailing,' which taxpayers’ money should not have been used to support." In case you missed it, Schilling was criticizing Hare for doing exactly what Schilling does now. Is that the sort of "leader" we want for our District?
I unequivocally make this pledge: As your Congressman, I will never abuse the Franking Privilege. I will only send out franked mail when it actually contains substantive content regarding bills I have authored, sponsored, voted on, or believe need public support prior to a vote. I will use standard paper and ink, and will limit any photographs or graphics to those that are absolutely necessary.
Before I can make this happen, I'll need your vote in the Democratic Primary on March 20, 2012. In the meantime, please volunteer, donate, or get others involved so that we can make these necessary changes a reality.
I was asked repeatedly what my thoughts were on the debt ceiling debacle as it was happening. I also participated in an interview for the Quad City Times. Of that approximately ten minute interview, one sentence of my thoughts were included. I would like to take this opportunity to expand on what I said.
I would have voted in favor of the debt ceiling compromise because it was the responsible thing to do. To fail to do so would have allowed our nation to default on its debts and could have had catastrophic effects on our economy. Nobody on either end of the political spectrum was “happy” about the bill, which is a tell-tale sign that it was a true compromise.
Compromise is necessary in almost all avenues of life. Compromise has avoided wars, built relationships, and established nations, including our own.
Do I believe it was responsible of those on the fringe of the right to hold our nation hostage with their partisan gamesmanship? Absolutely not. The debt ceiling vote should have been a routine procedural vote (just as it was when President Reagan raised it 18 times, and President George W. Bush raised it 7 times). The issues raised during the debate were clearly more appropriate for discussion during budget negotiations. I have no doubt the wise voters of our nation will remember who it was that threatened to not pay our debts, thus resulting in the first downgrade in our nation’s credit rating history.
However, there are those on the left who hypocritically criticize the right for bringing issues to the table that had no business there, yet they wished to do the same. Discussion of a job stimulus package, as part of a debt ceiling bill, is no less outrageous than discussion of entitlement cuts during the same.
I believe the super committee created by the compromise will likely be successful in its mission to propose a fast tracked plan that shares the burden of fiscal discipline across the spectrum.
The bottom line is, we canNOT continue to spend more than we take in, a balanced approach to solving our budget problems is the wisest, most fair path to prosperity.
My goal with this blog is to provide unprecedented insight into my thoughts and ideas on current issues and campaign events as they happen. I have been involved in campaigns for half my life, and during that time, one thing has become clear, the predominant wisdom is that the candidate must always be “on message”.
So be it: through this blog, I will deliver a candid message of reflection that is here for all voters to consider. Remember, anyone can talk about being “for jobs” or “for the middle class” or “electable” but those are empty concepts, not actual ideas.
As a result of this blog, you won’t have to wait for a press release, or for me to pretend to tell you what I think by providing you with a link to someone else’s thoughts. I’ve already established myself as the only candidate with ACTUAL plans for how to improve life in our district and nation. Concrete solutions, that have bipartisan support, are what make a candidate electable.
Please take this opportunity to learn about my candidacy and how I offer you, the voter, a new generation of leadership, and practical problem solving, not the same tired old rhetoric of the past.
All that I ask is that you stay on topic. No profanity, personal attacks, or campaigning for another candidate will be tolerated. Feel free to complain about this policy on another website.