Issues Beyond the talking points…

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Women’s Rights

Aug 29, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

Women comprise more than half of our population and of our workforce, yet many continue to have second-class status. Despite gains made over the years, there is still a gender gap that needs to be closed. For example, women on average receive only about 80 cents for every dollar paid to male workers. In some sectors, the inequity is even greater. I would support legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act to guarantee equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender.

Domestic violence is still a widespread problem. An estimated one in four women are victims of battery at home. More than one million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year in the United States. Such crimes account for the single largest category of calls to police. I would support a more comprehensive version of the Violence Against Women Act than the one backed by my opponent, Rep. Kevin McCarthy. His caucus would limit the scope of protections in the original 1994 federal law.

Women’s privacy rights are also under attack. My opponent led his party to vote against federal funding for reproductive health care. This is not only an attack on women; it’s an attack on families. Government should not dictate what women (or men) can do with their own bodies. Legislators must not interfere with such matters of personal liberty.

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Medicare and Social Security

Aug 16, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

Medicare and Social Security are essential to protect older Americans at a time in their lives when they are least able to provide for themselves.  My opponent in this congressional race, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, used his leadership position and political capital to influence the majority of House members into passing budgets that fail to adequately support seniors. This amounts to a breach of trust and undermines two important elements of the nation’s safety net.

The proposal to transform Medicare from a defined-benefit program to a defined-contribution program (as detailed in the Ryan budget) would destabilize the personal budgets of millions of seniors on fixed incomes. That uncertainty would be a cruel burden, particularly with the rising cost of health care.

Simply put, it would do away with the integrity of Medicare as we know it. This plan would fail to protect the Medicare fund; it would impose a greater cost burden on taxpayers and it would cut benefits to seniors. Many beneficiaries would not be able to afford adequate health care at all. The House budgets take the cuts from social services across the board, including Medicare and Medicaid, to pay for further tax cuts on the wealthiest.

Rep. McCarthy also favors privatizing Social Security and transferring those funds into the hands of Wall Street bankers who would gamble with seniors’ savings. That is just the sort of risky policy which caused our economy to collapse!  At a minimum, it ties the solvency of Social Security to the ebb and flow of stock markets and private investment funds; with the financial collapses of the last five years, just imagine what a mess we would be in today if these politicians had been successful in their attempts to privatize the fund in 2005?

Those who advocate vouchers periodically raise the specter of the Social Security trust fund going broke. In fact, Congress created that problem by depleting the surplus and spending the interest generated from bonds on tax cuts, military expenditures, and other unfunded programs.

We cannot allow them to continue raiding the fund, and then using the rhetoric of an impending collapse to justify risky, uncertain moves that end the guaranteed benefit all workers have paid into. We must strengthen Social Security for now and for the future; it is a critically strategic program, not just for current seniors, but for future generations: for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I strongly advocate keeping our promise to seniors – and safeguarding Medicare and Social Security – both now and in the future.  Although some reform is in order, we must protect these vital benefits.  I pledge to make it a core mission to protect these programs.  I will sponsor legislation to plan for the future solvency of these programs in a responsible way, while dealing with the federal budget deficit reduction at the same time. Too often, our politicians see problems that arise as an opportunity to change programs radically for the worse rather than responsibly for the better.


The most recent version of the FY2013 House Budget authored by Congressman Paul Ryan

The official, final text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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May 6, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

Our number one concern is employment.

Although there have been some gains in the past three years, Congress is doing everything in its power to block serious progress. Despite assurances from the incumbent and his fellow politicians, we cannot cut our way out of this period of economic difficulties. Reducing taxes will not create jobs. Maintaining tax cuts for the wealthiest is also a bad idea. Contrary to popular belief, rich individuals are not “job creators.”

Businesses create jobs in order to serve customers. The wealthy invest in the stock market, but do not directly hire most workers. Cutting services is also a bad idea. Doing this will harm those who are most vulnerable. If anything, we must extend those services to prevent an even greater catastrophe. Unfortunately, we are led to believe that “entitlements” are the source of our economic troubles. That is flatly untrue.

This is a vicious circle. As businesses see a drop in the number of customers, they lay off workers and, in some cases, close stores. The ONLY way to solve these challenges is through growth. That means putting more money into the hands of middle class consumers. Doing so will lead to an increase in commerce, a growth in employment, and a rise in tax revenues.

As an experienced and successful entrepreneur, I have real world experience.  By contrast, the incumbent failed in business, gave up, and has been collecting a government paycheck ever since.  His only suggestions are to parrot party talking points and vote to support his wealthy corporate contributors while further burdening middle class workers and small business owners.

One area we can focus on is high technology.  The Central Valley has a relatively low rate of broadband connectivity.  That represents a great potential for growth.  We also have tremendous human resource potential.  This is the time to invest in our youth rather than further impeding their ability to get an education. We need to take full advantage of all our resources.

I would recommend establishing a high-technology and agricultural enterprise zone in the district.  Let’s allocate federal funds to bring together our academic and private business communities, coupled with zoning and tax incentives to grow our local economy.  We should also work to attract foreign investment.

We should NOT punish businesses by raising taxes.  We DO need a fair adjustment in the tax rate, and everyone should pay a fair share.  We should explore a value added tax — as long as it does not harm consumers.

None of these things should be done drastically.  Our economy is fragile. We need to take gradual steps to implement policies that are proven to work. In our current economic climate, the greatest danger is to do nothing.  But that’s exactly what this Congress has done.  The incumbent is a leader of the least productive lawmaking session in U.S. history, all in the name of partisanship.  I am running to end the gridlock.

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Foreign policy

May 6, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

The United States is the only nation on earth capable of defending itself and its allies against major military threats. Maintaining strong armed forces remains absolutely necessary in today’s dangerous world. Nevertheless, we must choose their missions carefully and define them clearly.

Our national security is always better served through international stability than through conflict. When potential armed conflicts arise, we should try to prevent them with diplomacy. Of course, it is even better to build better good relationships and create partners rather than adversaries. I covered civil wars in the former Soviet Union as well as in Bosnia, Somalia Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan as a network news correspondent. For the most part, they were futile and unnecessary.

Where we have invaded other countries, I feel we have some responsibility to repair the damage we caused. It is also in our long-term interest to do so. Wherever possible, I’d like to see combat missions end and troops withdrawn as quickly as possible. At the same time, we must be careful about leaving a power vacuum. This is the time for coalition building with our allies. I’d like to see a new Marshall Plan for reconstruction.

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Health care

May 5, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

I believe health care is a benefit we should all enjoy.  It is as essential to our quality of life as police and firefighting services.  Promoting wellness is in our national interest. The Affordable Care Act or ACA was a bad compromise.

The new law should probably be called the Health Insurance Reform Act since that is its focus.  Despite many myths, it is not a government takeover of the health care system nor does it cut Medicare payments and benefits.  There are no secret “death panels” and it will not raise taxes on houses.

The real problem is that Congress failed to make a commitment to the most important thing: universal access to basic health care.  I believe that’s because members care more about their big campaign contributors — insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, private hospitals, etc. — than the interests of their constituents.

I am in favor of a single-payer system that includes the right to choose any medical provider.  But I also support a private option.  That means we should all contribute to national health insurance AND we should all have the right to buy private supplemental insurance if we choose to do so.  The government’s role should be limited to funding, not dictating the details of health care.

I also think we should have the right of collective bargaining with pharmaceutical companies to negotiate drug prices.  The United States pays more for health care than any other nation on earth — roughly $7,500 per capita or nearly 20 percent of GDP.  That is unsustainable and we get worse results for it.  We need a comprehensive solution before this burden breaks our economy.

Kevin McCarthy misrepresents my position on ACA just as he misrepresented earlier proposed reform legislation. I do not support keeping the law in its present form. But just saying “No” is not a policy. The new law needs major improvements.

McCarthy’s solution — total repeal — would be a terrible waste of taxpayer money and would harm millions of Americans. Our health care challenges are not going to solve themselves.  We simply cannot afford to let uncontrolled market forces prevail.  We must fix this before it becomes a real catastrophe!

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May 5, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

Oil wells.We lack an effective, long-term energy policy. Energy is not only an important domestic concern, it is also central to America’s foreign policy. Being subject to the globalized oil market makes us vulnerable to price manipulations and political instabilities around the world. At the same time, climate change threatens the very existence of our species.

California’s new 23rd congressional district is one of the country’s leading oil producers. One in every ten barrels consumed in the United States comes from Kern County. Our regional economy depends heavily on this natural resource. Petroleum products will remain essential to industry and agriculture for the foreseeable future.

Wind power.

At the same time, we must accelerate the transition from imported fossil fuels to domestic renewable energy. This is the best way to stabilize domestic energy prices and ensure the future health of our planet.

In the short run, I would support programs to increase fuel supplies and lower their cost. In the long run, I would support programs to achieve total energy independence and protect our environment. We need to be innovative and plan for the future. Yesterday’s thinking will not work tomorrow.

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High-speed rail

May 5, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

California in general and the Central Valley in particular MUST find a way to improve our transportation infrastructure. High speed rail is one way. So far, the plans have been badly conceived and badly presented. But I am convinced that we can find a way to implement this idea.

Adding more freeway capacity in this district is a non-starter. Our air quality is so poor that we cannot legally permit more vehicle emissions. (We’ve already been fined for failing to meet federal air quality standards.) It’s also very expensive to build and maintain such roads. That money would be better spent on clean mass transit infrastructure.

One thing is certain: We can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing. Kevin McCarthy has only one answer: Just say “No.” I think that’s short-sighted. We must find a way to say “Yes” which will benefit everyone.

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May 5, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

As the son of an immigrant father and grandparents, I strongly respect the desire of people to come here. My folks sacrificed everything so that I could be born in the United States.

Following the rules is important. But we need to stop treating immigrants as criminals. We need to make it easier for all good people who want to become Americans, particularly those who want to make this country better.

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Internet liberty

May 5, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

I am an unabashed advocate for free expression. The federal government should not restrict Internet access. As a content producer, I don’t want my intellectual property stolen. However, existing laws already protect my rights. Once I publish, my goal is widespread distribution. There was no need to introduce such freedom-killing bills as SOPA and PIPA which I opposed.

We need courageous legislators who will not jump every time powerful media companies demand more laws to protect their wealth. This is a new era. Limiting access is no longer a good business model. I believe the greatest value of intellectual property today is in its widest distribution.

The government should also not invade the privacy of citizens without a warrant. This is another area of disagreement between me and the incumbent who voted for CISPA.

Declaration of Internet Freedom

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May 5, 2012 No Comments ›› Terry Phillips

Water for farming.We must stop the efforts by some (such as the incumbent) to federalize California’s water distribution. After 20 years of fighting, we finally came to an agreement. Kevin McCarthy wants to undo that and send everyone back to court. What a terrible idea. That’s why I opposed HR 1837.

Here is an editorial I wrote that was published in The Fresno Bee:

Central Valley Drowning in Water Politics
By Terry Phillips

There is no single resource more important to our quality of life than water.

The Kern County Water Agency recently commemorated its 50th anniversary with a day-long conference at Bakersfield College. Participants were interested in working together to plan for the Central Valley’s future water needs.

One popular proposal was the construction of a tunnel bypassing the Delta bottleneck to bring water into our region. Despite its estimated $13 billion price tag and a fifteen-year completion timeline, this idea has been gaining traction among various stakeholders. Other suggested ways to rehydrate our dry fields included desalination plants and more recycling.

Unfortunately, some political forces are attempting to drown our common interests – and our common sense.

One such measure floating through the U.S. House of Representatives is HR 1837, a controversial bill authored by Rep. Devin Nunes and cosponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Their law would impose more federal control over California’s water management. This is a shocking suggestion to anyone who has lived through the past decades of power struggles over this vital resource.

It is true that California and Washington have worked together on water management. But for more than a century, federal law has complied with state’s rights. That was reaffirmed in 1992 when Congress passed and President George H.W. Bush signed the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.

Now a few politicians are unwisely trying to surrender local control and allow even more federal intervention. Under the guise of protecting agriculture, they ignore the fundamental question: Who is better able to manage our water?

Among other things, this federal usurping of California’s jurisdiction would have long-term negative consequences for farmers. While the stated intent of the Nunes/McCarthy bill is to increase pumping from the Delta, a more likely outcome would be to drive a wedge between Northern and Southern California. It could also force regulators, consumers and environmentalists back to court where the only real winners would be the attorneys for all sides.

Pitting one region or interest group against another is an unnecessary distraction. Surely we can work together in everyone’s best interests rather than turn our state into a latter-day Civil War battlefield. Clearly, more than geography enters into this matter.

So, why are members of the San Joaquin Valley congressional delegation engaged in political posturing over such radical and futile legislation? We should be suspicious about the reasons behind this move.

As we have learned the hard way, nothing gets done in our nation’s capital these days due to endless bickering. Permitting East Coast bureaucrats to decide how the Central Valley gets its water is simply the wrong policy. Local administrators are far more capable of making those decisions. Why would our elected representatives want to go the other way? The obvious answer is that it serves their partisan purposes.

Pretending to alleviate the plight of farmers with a bill that will have the opposite effect is exactly the sort of devious political theater that has Americans seething. It’s another example of our dysfunctional government. No wonder, then, that legislators have their lowest approval ratings in history.

The time for “politics as usual” is over.

Perhaps the best solution is to send some independent voices to Washington who are capable of building consensus and stop this egotistical foolishness. Until then, we should make sure our part of the water distribution process is protected.

HR 1837 is bad legislation. Let’s not allow Congress to preempt state law and give away more control over our water rights to the federal government.

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