#1 – Health Care
Affordable access to health care for everyone is a fundamental necessity for our society. It is an ugly smear on our nation, the richest country in the world with a morally bankrupt Congress that will not ensure all citizens have the health care they need. This is a crisis! The notion of “insurance” for our health needs is ridiculous. Insurance is for “in case” something happens; therefore, you will have financial coverage. There is no “in case of” with your health. Many of you had a doctor deliver you into this world and checked to make sure that you were healthy. You WILL need to see a health care provider at some point in your life. There is no “insured in case” you might have to see one. That is why it is important to change the conversation from Health Insurance to Health Care. Congressman John Carter supports a corrupt profit system where your health needs are a commodity on the stock exchange and your medical services are determined by profit margins. This is a serious ethical and moral issue. It degrades the dignity of people. This profit motive notion for health services is why we have a rationed based system based on what you can pay. This may be good for Carter’s big medical insurance donors, but it is bad for the citizens of District 31 and our nation. We can do far better.
The Affordable Care Act succeeded in getting millions of people health coverage, people who fell in the gap of not qualifying for Medicaid and not having the income to pay for medical care or not having an employer that could provide health insurance. The Affordable Care Act ensured you weren’t denied coverage for “pre-existing conditions” and made preventive care a required coverage. Many of us remember how bad the health insurance system was before the ACA became law, and no one except John Carter wants to go back to a bad system. Of course, Mr. Carter has full health coverage paid for by you the taxpayers.
The private health insurance industry has an average of 15% overhead in operations. Medicare only has a 2% overhead. It doesn’t take a CFO to figure out which is more cost effective. For a system to provide efficient coverage for a segment of our population with the highest medical needs, it should be a no brainer to ask why we can’t have the same coverage for everyone? There are certainly no technical, logistical, or financial reasons for that. The only reason is that Congressional leaders in the pockets of BIG MONEY insurance companies prevent us from moving away from profit-making health insurance to true health care coverage.
It is not just about the patients’ needs when we talk health care. It also means our doctors, nurses, and medical technicians are treated like the medical professionals they are. It means not pressuring them from private industry executives, who may have no medical background, into being money making machines.
The saying that prevention is worth a pound of cure is an understatement when it comes to health care. Many chronic conditions later in life (obesity, diabetes, and heart disease) can potentially be avoided by a healthy lifestyle. Increasing healthful eating programs, physical activity campaigns, and smoke free environments among just some of the positive steps that can be taken.
We certainly have other ongoing challenges in our society like limited access to physicians in rural areas, and limited resources for health education. We can do more by promoting preventive health awareness like healthy, tasty, and affordable eating. Educating everyone that exercise is the best medicine is a must!
Every modern industrialized nation except ours has affordable health care for its citizens. Why not our beloved USA? Everyone’s life depends on access to affordable health care. Our nation’s future depends on it. Let’s ensure that it is a right for all. Help me get elected to Congress so we can make this meaningful change finally happen!
#2 - Economic Growth
A sustainable and healthy economic base is vital to a growing community. Both Williamson and Bell counties have been experiencing these economic changes. We must ensure that no one is left out and that all can benefit from everyone’s hard work. Attracting businesses from other areas is certainly one aspect. Many of our residents are commuters to the Austin area. We can certainly entice engineering and technology firms to relocated to District 31 with cheaper office space and lower cost of living compared to Austin.
However, like a business, it’s the organic growth that attracts investments. Dell is one well-known local business in this area. Having businesses, large and small, starting up locally will create the sustainable economic foundation to help keep our counties vibrant. Green energy is one of the fastest growing industries of our economy. With cheaper land and repurposing older warehouses, this creates a unique opportunity for District 31 to be a hub for green manufacturing. Coupled with quality colleges, our community can graduate engineers and workers with the technical skills to help us succeed in this growing industry. Constructing self-sufficient buildings is big business in the south. The archaic rules and regulations hindering water reclamation and solar panel installation need to be adjusted. On the agricultural front, drought tolerant crops will be beneficial to sustaining local farming. The Texas wine industry has sky rocketed in the last few years and demand for Texas grapes is at an all-time high. Vineyards take up far less water than traditional crops and have proven to be a great cash crop for the 21st century. In addition, we must also transform our transportation system to support rail. This will further help to spur economic growth and development. This sustainable and smart way of growing our economy will help make Williamson and Bell county known as an ideal place for exporting goods and reliable services. This will also help create a stable tax base to support public transit systems, pay for military training and readiness at Fort Hood, health care, and tuition free college.
Congressman John Carter’s outdated approach of letting the few run our economy only stunts the full potential for our area. We MUST be forward thinking and have forward thinking representatives, like Mike Clark, who will help promote and foster an economy that benefits everyone.
We lose just over 20 veterans per day to suicide, with PTSD being the leading cause. We need to bring this to the forefront because PTSD IS a national crisis. It represents the true cost of war. This cannot be ignored. Taking care of our veterans should never be in question or in doubt. Our veterans have honorably served our nation and made considerable sacrifices for our freedom and liberties. Many of these fine men and women have endured things most of us could not comprehend. Our veterans should never have to worry about when or if they will receive the benefits and care they were promised. As a parent whose children, brother-in-law, grandfather, uncles and father-in-law have served, this issue is very close to my heart. It sickens me when our very own Congressman John Carter is more than happy to show up at Fort Hood for a photo opportunity, yet supports cutting disability payments, health care services, and limits the doctors that veterans can see.
I heard many heart wrenching stories from families and veterans during my 2016 campaign. Instead of writing more regarding where I stand, I think this personal note from an Iraq War veteran says it all:
“When vets are claiming PTSD/anxiety/depression the VA is doing nothing but looking at claims and making a decision without looking into anything. They don't run a screen or a therapist interview. Nothing. No wonder all these vets are committing suicide. When they claim they need help, the VA picks and chooses if they want to proceed further investigation of it. I have documentation of medications I had to have initially when I came back and continued to call for appointments to help me deal with some issues that still bother me to this day. I still wake up in night sweats, flail in my sleep when I do sleep (4hrs) and nothing is done.”
Our focus should be on quality and meaningful care for our veterans. We can NEVER quit on them because they NEVER quit on us!
#4 – Sustainable Resources
Sustainable farming and ranching has always been part of my family’s history. They knew how important it was to care for the land so that future generations could live off its natural resources. That was their livelihood. A sustainable land is part of my upbringing and ethics. It’s worked for small family farms for generations and it can work for us all. Our natural resources are not unlimited and should not be taken for granted. Sustainable practices are the future that will make our community and country self-sufficient.
Climate change is real and needs to be taken seriously because it poses a direct threat to our jobs, health, and security. Unlike Congressman John Carter’s stance, we can demonstrate what caring for our environment means. Trump trashed the Paris agreement, but that should not prevent us from stepping up to implement that agreement in our homes, businesses, communities and cities. John Muir, one of our early naturalists in America, knew how vitally connected we all are to this planet. He noted, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” True then, and still true today. So, let’s show the world that we do cherish our planet and will take care of it now and for the sake of future generations so life can continue among all species globally. I believe we all want to provide our future generations some of the same opportunities to experience the many splendors of this planet that we can see and experience today. Let’s all be good stewards of the land that we depend on.
#5 - Education
A solid education is one of the most fundamental services a society can support. This is one of our fundamental American values that we must take meaningful action on. Our own Texas Constitution is VERY clear on public education. A properly funded and supported public education system levels the playing field for everyone and benefits all of us in the long run. Developing good learning skills starts at an early age. Building these essential learning skills benefits our children for the rest of their lives. A funded and focused effort on Head Start and Early Head Start lays the foundation for them to pursue interests in science, math, art, and music. This contributes not only to increased literacy rates, but also to creative entrepreneurs, innovators, and business leaders who will help promote economic prosperity in our future. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are what makes us better as a society. Children learn from examples, so let's be a good example by getting them off to a bright start for the future!
Likewise, higher education and vocational schools are also important in our communities. The learning process does not stop at high school, but continues beyond. We can start having tuition free community college today. The immediate positive impact to our work workforce would be enormous. We can build on that by making college and technical trade schools tuition free, as well. This not only increases our competitiveness globally, but also ensures that the United States is the leader in education. We have some great community colleges, vocational programs, and universities already in District 31 that can help take the lead on this issue.
The business of forcing college students to go into debt must stop. Many graduates end up having debt that they may never be able to pay back in their lifetime. There is currently over 1.3 trillion in student loan debt alone. This is very harmful to our future. I was fortunate to go to college when our state and federal government knew the value of education and helped to make it affordable for all. I have certainly paid that cost back to society many times over and have helped others to succeed. Being a product of a publicly funded education system, I will have no problem showing our community how beneficial these services are and how productive our citizens can become because of it.
Congressman John Carter champions bills that cut early childhood programs, gut our higher education system, and promotes measures to burden colleges students with even more debt. We can send a clear message on Nov 6, 2018 that this does not reflect the values of the people of Williamson and Bell County!
#6 – Women’s Reproductive Rights
We’ve come a long way in this country on women’s rights. One of the most important has been women’s reproductive rights. Let’s be clear. The freedom to choose when to have a child, when not to, and what to do with a pregnancy is a personal matter. Yet, there is still a movement in America to oppress this freedom and make women less equal to men. There are still those with the archaic notion that men must control women and keep them subservient. That just makes my blood boil! Such archaic thinking is just backwards! The freedom of individually deciding whether to have children is a basic human fundamental right that our government does not need to be involved in making. Among those reproductive rights are: the right to legal and safe abortion; the right to birth control; freedom from forced sterilization; the right to contraception; the right to information on sexually transmitted infections; the right to access reproductive health services; and the right to education on reproductive choices. Women deserve to be able to make free and informed reproductive choices. Educating and informing society about women’s rights is one important step to take. Speaking loudly and making your voices heard is perhaps THE most important action to take. We cannot afford to go backwards on this issue ever again!
#7 - Prisons
We have prisons to lock away violent people of our society. Yet, our prison system has become a mechanism to lock up the poor, hide away the forgotten, and turn non-violent people into violent ones. Between our federal, state, local, territorial, and immigration prison systems, there are just over 2.3 million people locked up. Plus, there are 4.7 million on probation. The U.S. has the highest incarcerated population in the world. Is America really the land of criminals? Is it really that dangerous of a place to live? The disproportionate population of Blacks and Hispanics in our prison system compared to the general population only highlights a growing crisis in our society. This will continue to degrade the health and wellbeing of our culture. One in five prisoners are incarcerated for drug offences, most of which are minor possessions. Let's face reality. If you are rich and white and well connected, then you and your family will likely never go to prison for whatever you do. On top of that, private prisons have turned inmates into a commodity. A commodity to be used as profit margins. Our own Congressman, John Carter, has been a champion of private prisons. The system of prison workers at ridiculous low or no wages has resulted in a legalized form of slavery. Prisons have now become a system of dehumanizing and disempowering people. This dehumanizing system affects the prison administrators and guards, as well as, the inmates. Carter wants to continue the big business of prisons. Mike Clark wants to shutdown private prisons and thoroughly reform our mass incarceration system. Inmates are not a commodity and prisons are not to be tools for profit margins!
Maintaining a good military force is basic to any nation’s security. That means the people of that force need adequate funding for necessities like training and readiness. It’s ironic that a Republican Congress, who promote themselves as pro-military, has cut defense funding over the last several years for things like “just keeping the lights on”. Furthermore, our defense department is hindered by the inability of Congress to pass a real budget. These continuing resolutions cast doubt over any kind of funding and inhibit the long-term planning of our defense staff who are trying to adapt and plan for 21st century challenges. Stable funding is critical for planning and preparedness. It’s no different than any other department in the government. Congressman John Carter’s partners in Congress have sidelined their constitutional responsibilities on this issue. That has made us less safe and less secure.
Less than 30% of our navy's required maintenance is being funded. Our Air Force faces staffing shortages just to provide basic day-to-day maintenance on existing aircraft. The average age of our combat aircraft is almost 30 years old. A full 80% of the Marine Air Corp lack funding for basic training and operational needs. Less than a third of brigades have enough soldiers and functional equipment ready for deployment. For the Army, training has almost come to a screeching halt.
Basic maintenance on equipment, buildings, ships, planes, and many other military hardware continues to lag. These are just the very basic needs for our military forces. The lack of proficiency and safety training has led to more needless accidents. Like many of you, I’ve had firsthand accounts on this issue from my children, family members, and friends who serve. It doesn’t take another 1000 page, 6-month report to know what’s going on.
While Carter focuses on photo opportunities at Fort Hood, these training and maintenance delays make us less prepared for 21st century threats. Future Congressman Clark will not play politics or turn his back on our soldiers and their families at Fort Hood and abroad. That’s a solid commitment you can count on from your next representative from District 31.
#9 – Cannabis
It’s overdue that we finally get our heads out of the sand on this issue. Make no mistake, it is a class 1 drug because President Nixon ignored the Shafer Commission’s recommendation that it not be classified that way. A politician, with no medical or science background, made the decision. While many states are taking the 21st century lead on moving forward with various levels of legalization, Congress is still stuck in the 20th century mindset on this issue. Let’s be frank, alcohol and sexual assaults are very, very common. So common, that our society has become numb to that kind of drug induced violence. The same cannot be said for cannabis. In fact, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine are the most used recreational chemicals in the United States. It is a scientific fact that those legal drugs have serious long-term side effects with overuse and lead to some serious dependencies. Cannabis has the lowest risk of dependency. On the medical front, cannabis shows a positive potential in treating seizures, pain, cancer and other conditions. Modern and renewed research into this is warranted and the potential benefits should not be ignored. Decriminalizing the use of this drug is the first and easiest step Congress can take. Making it legal in all 50 states for medical use and research is the next sound step to take. Using science and the medical facts will help us make the right decision on its recreational use. With the increased opioid addictions and deaths in our nation, we need to get our priorities straight regarding which drugs are truly harming our society. It is a serious discussion we need to have. John Carter is stuck in the 20th century on this issue. Mike Clark has an open mind and level head to tackle this issue using 21st century science and facts.
#10 – Real Food
Yes, it IS true! You are what you eat. In today’s fast food environment, we often forgot the value that fresh food has on our health. I can remember the days of how hungry I was after eating fast or processed food. It was my bodies signal that I wasn’t getting enough nutrition. It may look like food, taste like food, but it’s not being digested like real food. “Artificial” ingredients and colors only taint what we think of as food. The high cost of health care can be directly related to what we eat. Your body knows what it needs to sustain you. Knowledge can help counter those cravings and desires to have something other than what you need. Full disclosure on what is our food is a must. As your next Congressman, I will support legislation that requires full disclosure of everything, and I mean everything, that is in the food you eat. You deserve to know and you have the right to choose what you put in your body. Ingredients must be easily readable and explained. If the CEO’s of big food companies don’t know what’s in that package of cereal, then why should you eat it?
Funding early childhood nutritional programs and education is crucial to getting them off on the right start for a healthy lifestyle. Chronic disease and issues like obesity and diabetes can be avoided or at least minimized simply by adopting good eating habits early in life. Why John Carter feels the need to cut these crucial nutritional programs for our children is beyond belief!
Let’s also encourage and make access to locally sourced food easier for consumers. It’s good for our local economy and it’s good for our health. My ranching and farming family members would have never grown or raised anything that they would not eat themselves. The same can be said for our local farmers. If we live and work in Williamson and Bell County, then there’s no reason why we can’t easily enjoy the same great foods grown here as well.
#11 – Living Wage
You deserve to afford to live a dignified life. A 40-hour work week job should not be one of poverty. The purchasing power of minimum wage workers has been decreasing over the last few decades. There was more purchasing power 20 years ago than today for someone on minimum wage. The free flow of money is fundamentally vital to a sustainable economy. Raising the minimum wage to $15 helps achieve the goal of living a dignified life, increasing your purchase power, and growing our economy. Our economy has always gotten a big boost whenever the minimum wage was increased. While the top 1% has had their wages increase 1000% over the last 30 years, those at the bottom have seen stagnant wage growth. Yet, those at the bottom are the ones that help make our economy work and they should also be the ones to benefit. Worker productivity has doubled over the last few decades, yet wage growth has not kept up with their hard work. John Carter’s stagnate wage policies only hurt the businesses and families of District 31. It’s high time we change that. Raising the minimum wage is good for business, good for our economy, and good for our hard-working Americans. Mike Clark has always been a champion for better wages and will gladly lead those efforts to have our business and local leaders support a living wage.
#12 – Reforming Government
If you want to blame everything that’s wrong with our government, look no further than your elected official, John Carter. It is Congress that funds the programs and Congress that makes the laws and Congress that makes the rules on how our government runs. It’s no great secret that many government programs are initiated and pushed by special interest groups. Many of these programs have no benefit or impact to our district. With special interest groups lobbying for these programs and the special interest funding the campaign account of Carter, it’s not hard to figure out who is pulling his strings. If you want a government that is focused on what it is supposed to be doing and reflects what the people expect and want, then reforming government starts no further than your representative. As your next Congressman, let me be clear: I work for you! You are the ones that will be putting my feet to the fire to get things done. I do not take money from special interest groups, so they will not be pulling my strings. You will have regular town halls and you will be able to contact me to get an appointment. Everyone deserves and everyone will get personal attention. I take ownership of the issues from day one. I am not the type that likes to play the blame game. I get the facts, think things through, get input from our communities, and come up with an informed and well thought out solution. If government is going to be working for you, you will need a Congressman that works for you and only you.
#13 – Paid Family Leave
Why on earth are we the only civilized, industrialized, and modernized nation that does not offer paid family leave? For a county whose major political parties have touted their family values for decades, there has been little to show for this at the national level. It is good that workers have legal protection with the Family Leave Act for 12 weeks, but it is unpaid leave. For the 99% of the Americans that make this country work, they cannot afford to be without pay for 12 weeks. Thankfully, many businesses and municipalities are taking the lead on this issue and offering paid family leave. However, no American worker should have to choose between taking care of a loved one or earning a pay check. Making paid family leave mandatory is fundamental to our culture and makes economic sense. It is the pro-business norm of the 21st century economy and workforce. While many businesses do offer paid vacation, there are still millions of Americans who do not have this benefit. Taking time off to enjoy the fruits of your labor is very important to your own health, wellbeing, and the business you work for. Congressman Carter’s outdated notions on this issue hurts our local economy and our families. Thankfully, your next Congressman, Mike Clark, grew up with these Texas values and knows that these benefits are very pro-business, pro-worker, and pro-family
#14 – Equality for All
Can we finally stop this ongoing nonsense with discrimination because of your skin color, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, marriage choices, economic status, and so forth, once and for all? These are artificial barriers put up by the few that make it seem like the early 19th century instead of the early 21st century. Congressman John Carter has consistently voted to make many Americans have less rights simply because he does not agree with their religion, culture, gender identity or marriage choices. We must clearly state in American civil rights law that no person will suffer discrimination because of sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or political affiliation. Our American LGBTQIA and immigrant neighbors must have the opportunities and freedoms we all cherish. Diversity is key to business and economic growth. Diversity is vital to American culture. Carter’s voting records on this issue makes us less American. Let’s make sure that marriage equality has a lawful meaning in our community and work-place. We must make it meaningful and tangible when we say Equality for ALL. Therefore, let us enshrine in our laws that every American is guaranteed the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I was happy to have earned the endorsement and support of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Texas in 2016 and look forward to their support as well as many others in 2018!
#15 - Foreign Policy
It’s the role of the President to set foreign policy. It’s the role of Congress to debate and fund those policies. Neither has occurred. With Trump, it is his tweet of the night. With Carter, it is his silence. Both inactions make us look weak and clueless to the world. Diplomacy is key to setting relations with other countries around the world, friend or foe. Effective diplomacy gives us beneficial trade that helps our economy and strong defenses to help keep us safe. It is the deputies of the State Department that coordinate the critical grunt work on foreign policy. Together with their counter parts in the Department of Defense, they play the critical role of getting things done behind the scenes. Neither department has those deputy roles filled. That makes us extremely vulnerable.
Trump had a unique opportunity with North Korea’s nuclear program when he took office by using the strategies and partners from the Iran nuclear deal. However, his ego has not only undermined those efforts, but his war rants and tweets have only added to the insecurity and threats that North Korea possesses. Meanwhile, Carter remains silent. Carter’s silence condones those actions by Trump. Having ZERO foreign policy goals on Syria has only exacerbated an ongoing human tragedy in that area. Our NATO allies, who once looked at us as rock solid, now question the long-term support from a reliable friend.
Trump blames Congress for making things worse in our country with the Russia inquires. Republicans and Democrats disagree on much, but fight to make our country better, even if they disagree on how. It’s no secret that Russia wants to divide Americans. Their purpose is quite clear: to reduce our influence around the world. Trump’s tweets and rants only seek to further divide Congress and the nation. Despite what Trump says, it’s not Congress to blame. Russia wants to divide the U.S. and 45 keeps promoting this divide like an ignorant child. Russia and Trump only win if they can divide us. Authoritarians only rule when citizens do not stand united and only when our representatives, like Carter, look the other way