Wednesday, April 2, 2014


1. THE ELECTION: What strategies will you use to defeat a Republican one-term incumbent

(1) I do not assume that Cook will make it out of his primary; he has opposition. ....In Cook's short time in office, he has voted with his party 93% of the time, per OpenCongress. Cook did vote for the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014 last month, which reopened the federal government and raised the debt ceiling [source:], but  not extend unemployment benefits and food stamps, which in a district with 16.5% unemployment (and that's just the people that the government has not dropped off the rolls) is a big issue (and constituency).
(2) Cook is part of the obstruction and waste culture that not only hurts working families (and those who lost their jobs, are trying to get back to work and need help until they can become gainfully re-employed)--a fact people know and which is causing many conservatives to look to democratic alternatives. In the New York Times piece by Charles Blow he wrote "Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers have made clear that they have no de­sire to work with him and that they have ev­ery in­ten­tion of op­pos­ing him, even if that means the leg­is­la­tive branch passes al­most no laws. And that’s ex­act­ly what they’ve done. In De­cem­ber, Po­lit­ico put it this way: us­ing “pub­lic laws passed” or “bills passed” as the mea­sure­ment, “the 113th Con­gress has passed just 58 laws so far, the low­est since 1947.” The fact that Boehner has scheduled only 97 legislative days for 2014 is a clue that little will change. There are people that want action on the jobs, jobless benefit and protection of social security and medicare front--we need to reach them with appropriate GOTV schemes.

Cook states:“Government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does. Too often, government gets in the way of job creation. We can get this economy moving again by simplifying the tax code; lowering taxes; encouraging investment; getting wasteful spending under control; developing energy resources in America; and reducing government red tape and bureaucracy.” – From Cook’s campaign website. Comment: What does he think the military and defense contractor jobs come from? Ah the government? When unemployment benefits & food stamps are put into the hand of the needy, a government funded benefit, does that create jobs? Ah yeah.
(4) PoliticsUSA says:" Odds of District Going Blue in 2014: Not bad. What we see with the demographics here is that the district has a very large Hispanic population. For the most part, the district is urban. Also, the median income is below the national average while unemployment is very high. This could indicate that voters are both unsatisfied with their current economic condition and that a number of them rely on social welfare programs and entitlements to get by. Having a Republican in office seems to counteract that".
(5) My chances of winning: .... I have been a part of the issue dialogue for nearly 20 years in the County by not just having run before, but having a blog on local issues, writing letters to the editor and op eds and being involved at varying levels in the party.. Many people know who I am. Some of the places you can find me:
.  [active blog on legal issues] [middle finger first amendment case article]  [article on charter school issue] [social media] [book I wrote about  the danger of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson & his axeman, Ralph Reed] › Local News? [class action brought vs red light camera enforcement]

2. SOCIAL SECURITY: How do you propose to keep Social Security solvent?
Answer (its a complex problem):

(1) Social Security ran a $55 billion deficit in 2012, closing out three years of consecutive cash-flow deficits as the program’s unfunded obligations continue to grow.U.S. Social Security Administration, The 2013 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, May 31, 2013, (accessed May 31, 2013).
(2) With that said , the combined Social Security and Disability programs are projected to remain solvent—that is, they are expected to have enough revenue from payroll taxes, interest on the trust fund balance, and repayment of borrowed trust fund dollars to pay out scheduled benefits—through 2033.
(3) With the above said we need [on a long terms basis], we need more people paying into the system with good paying jobs. People & businesses in the underground economy (e.g. tax breaks to corporations taking American production and manufacturing jobs offshore) might be other areas of revenue leakage to look at);
(4) Another long term strategy  involves special-issue government securities (basically IOU's) swapped out for $2.7 trillion in surplus funds grabbed by Congress to pay for the wars and programs Congress thought was more important.  Social Security use to run cash-flow surpluses & the federal government spent those surpluses on other federal spending, and in return, the Treasury credited Social Security’s trust fund with special-issue government securities. Although this $2.7 trillion in securities is not counted in the total amount of debt held by the public, it represents real debt that will have to be repaid. There needs to be legislation to prevent Congress & the Treasury borrow against social security trust fund  & accelerate the payback [the $2.7 trillion security debt is reportedly not counted in the total amount of the debt held by the public].   [yeah I know the Heritage folks, but I mention it to focus on the factual data in the report] 

3. AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ACT: What are the strengths, and what are weaknesses?
(a)Obamacare halts insurance companies from discriminating against citizens of the US based on disability, or because they were domestic violence victims. (Section 2705)
(b)Obamacare eliminated lifetime limits on coverage. For example if a baby has a serious illness and has 1 million dollars of healthcare, some insurance carriers have lifetime caps that would preclude that child from getting any healthcare services after the cap. (sec. 2711)
(c)-The ACA will require a limit on what type of insurance accounts can be used to pay for OTC meds without a prescription. (sec. 9003)
(d)Obamacare allows children to be covered by their parent’s health insurance until the ripe old age of 26 yrs. This is important as the daunting task of paying back student loans or having a low paying job really puts a strain on the ability to pay insurance premiums. (sec. 2714)
(e)The ACA creates a tax on tanning salons. This is good because we know exposure to tanning beds causes cancer. (sec. 5000B)
(f)Obamacare does away totally with “pre-existing condition for children less than 19 years of age No more "pre-existing conditions" for kids under the age of 19. (Citation: sec. 2704, sec. 1255)
(g)People in the "Medicare Part D Coverage Gap" (also referred to as the "Donut Hole") get a rebate to make up for the extra money they would otherwise have to spend. (Citation: sec. 3301)
(h)Employers will now need to list the benefits they provided to employees on their tax forms. (Citation: sec. 9002)
(i)Insurers need to have an appeals process for when they turn down a claim, so customers have some manner of recourse other than a lawsuit when they're turned down. (Citation: sec. 2719)
(j)People that make a good living according to US standards (Over 200k yearly) will have an increase in personal taxes which equate to roughly less than one percent of the population(Citation: sec. 9015)
(k)It allows the Food and Drug Administration to approve more generic drugs (making for more competition in the market to drive down prices and it also increases the rebates on drugs people get through Medicare. (Citation: sec. 2501)
(l)Medicare patients with chronic illnesses must be monitored more thoroughly.
(m)Reduces the costs for some companies that handle benefits for the elderly (Citation: sec. 4202)
(n)Insurance carriers will now be required to disclose the details of the benefits that they provided to their customer as opposed to being intentionally vague about the hidden fees.
(o)Insurers have less ability to change the dollar amount customers have to pay for their plans. (Citation: sec. 2794)
(p)A new website is made to give people insurance and health information. ( (Citation: sec. 1103)
(q)The ACA makes provisions so an insurance carrier can't just cancel a customer’s insurance once they get sick. (Citation: sec. 2712)
(r)A limit is placed on just how much of a percentage of the money an insurer makes can be profit, to make sure they're not price-gouging customers. (Citation: sec. 1101)
(s)The ACA attempts to stop waste and fraud which are rampant in the health care system, by increasing anti-fraud funding. (Citation: sec. 6402)
(t)The ACA requires all national chain restaurants to disclose, as well as display, the caloric content of their food. This should really make it better for consumers that are trying to lead healthier lifestyles. (sec. 4205)
(u)It creates the PCORI, which is a nonprofit entity to study best practices to see which treatment plans are meritorious and the most cost effective.(Citation: sec. 1181)
(v)Any new health plans must provide preventive care (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.) without requiring any sort of co-pay or charge. (Citation: sec. 2713)
January 2014 is when many changes that you hear most about go into effect. See below:
(w) No more "pre-existing conditions". Period. People will be charged the same regardless of their medical history. (Citation: sec. 2704, Page 65, sec. 2701 sec. 1255)
(x) If you can afford insurance but do not get it, you will be charged a fee. This is the "mandate" that people are talking about. Basically, it's a trade-off for the "pre-existing conditions" bit, saying that since insurers now have to cover you regardless of what you have, you can't just wait to buy insurance until you get sick. Otherwise no one would buy insurance until they needed it. You can opt not to get insurance, but you'll have to pay the fee instead, unless of course you're not buying insurance because you just can't afford it.
(y)Medicaid can now be used by everyone up to 133% of the poverty line (basically, many more poor people can get insurance) (Citation: sec. 2001) (Note: The recent court ruling says that states can opt out of this and that the Federal government cannot penalize them by withholding Medicaid funding. At this time, nothing stops the Federal government from simply just offering incentives to those who do opt to do it)
(z)Small businesses can get tax credits for two years. (Citation: sec. 1421)
(aa)It makes a "high-risk pool" for people with pre-existing conditions. Basically, this is a way to slowly ease into getting rid of "pre-existing conditions" altogether. For now, people who already have health issues that would be considered "pre-existing conditions" can still get insurance, but at different rates than people without them. (sec. 1101, sec. 2704, sec. 2702)
(bb)Businesses with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full-time employees, or pay a penalty. (Citation: sec. 4980H)
(cc) Question: Can't businesses just fire employees or make them work part-time to get around this requirement? Also, what about businesses with multiple locations?
Answer: Yes and no. Switching to part-time only won't help to get out of the requirement, as the Affordable Care Act counts the hours worked, not the number of full-time employees you have. If your employees worked an equivalent of 50 full-time employees' hours, the requirement kicks in. Really, the only plausible way a business could reasonably utilize this strategy is if they currently operate with just over the 50-employee number, and could still operate with fewer than 50 employees, and have no intention to expand. Also, regarding the questions about multiple locations, this legal website analyzed the law and claims that multiple locations in one chain all count as a part of the same business (meaning employers like Wal-Mart can't get around this by being under 50 employees in one store - they'd have to be under that for the entire chain, which just won’t happen). Independently-owned franchises are different, however, as they have a separate owner and as such aren't included under the same net as the parent company. However, any individual franchise with over 50 employees will have to meet the requirement.
Having said that, the ACA only requires employers to offer insurance to full-time employees, so theoretically they could get out of this by reducing all employees to 29 hours or fewer a week. However, if any employees' hours go above that, their employer will have to provide insurance or pay the penalty. And also, this is putting aside how an employer only offering part-time work with no insurance will affect how competitive they are on the job market, especially when small businesses with 25 or fewer employees actually get that aforementioned tax credit to help pay for insurance if they choose to get it (though they are not required to provide insurance).
(dd)Insurers now can't do annual spending caps. Their customers can get as much health care in a given year as they need. (Citation: sec. 2711)
(ee)Limits how expensive an annual deductible can be to customers. (Citation: sec. 1302)
(ff)Health insurance cannot discriminate against women on pricing or plan availability (Citation: sec. 1557)
(gg) Reduce costs for some Medicare spending, which in turn are put right back into Medicare to increase its solvency. Most notably, this bill reduces the amount that Medicare Advantage pays to be more in line with other areas of Medicare ( Citation: Sec. 3201 and Sec. 3202 ), and reduces the growth of Medicare payments in the future ( Citation: Sec. 3402 ). The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 2012 and 2022, this will amount to $716 Billion in reduced spending (Citation: CBO Estimate). Also $22 Billion is being cut from the Medicare Improvement Fund, most likely because the PPACA has many of the same duties/responsibilities, so that spending would be redundant ( Citation: Sec. 3112 ).
(hh) Place a $2500 limit on tax-free spending on FSAs (accounts for medical spending). Basically, people using these accounts now have to pay taxes on any money over $2500 they put into them. (Citation: sec. 9005)
(ii) Establishes health insurance exchanges and rebates for the lower and middle-class, basically making it so they have an easier time getting affordable medical coverage. (Citation: sec. 1311)
(jj) Congress and Congressional staff will only be offered the same insurance offered to people in the insurance exchanges, rather than Federal Insurance. Basically, we won't be footing their health care bills any more than any other American citizen. (Citation: Page sec. 1312)
(kk) A new tax on pharmaceutical companies.
(ll) A new tax on the purchase of medical devices.
(mm)A new tax on insurance companies based on their market share. Basically, the more of the market they control, the more they'll get taxed.
(nn) Raises the bar for how much personal medical expenses must cost before you can start deducting them from your taxes.
(oo) The following mandates will be implemented in 2015-2018
-Doctors' pay will be determined by the quality of their care, not how many people they treat. This is a very controversial issue as there are ways for doctors and patients to get around this one.
-If any state can come up with their own plan, one which gives citizens the same level of care at the same price as the PPACA, they can ask the Secretary of Health and Human Resources for permission to do their plan instead of the PPACA. So if they can get the same results without the mandate, they can be allowed to do so. Vermont, for example, has expressed a desire to just go straight to single-payer (in simple terms, everyone is covered, and medical expenses are paid by taxpayers). (Citation: sec. 1332)
-All health care plans must now cover preventive care (not just the new ones).
-A new tax on "Cadillac" health care plans (more expensive plans for rich people who want fancier coverage).
-The elimination of the "Medicare gap"
 (pp)See more at:
(a) It is not single payer [which I would push for transitioning to - HR 676]
(b) The ACA was not a direct promise that people would get the medical care they need; it has become more of a complex "drive-people-to-buy-coverage" program, that may or may not be affordable depending on how much of the claims are denied, paid in part or shaved down with co-pays and heavy deductibles.
(c) Driving people to insurance companies, who still will have claims people involved in the authorization and payment decision-making processes and does not put any caps on how fast premiums can go up, may not solve access to care problems; single payer would solve the problem.

4. ENERGY: What changes would you support in energy law?
(a) in areas with high energy renewability, allow (and maybe encourage) development of Tessla type DC systems for homes and businesses, so energy generated by wind and solar in peak production times, can be stored vs being lost by turning off the energy producing motors because of line capacity (grid) problems [why? we can't afford the expansion of the electrical transmission lines and related infrastructure];
(b) promote low energy lights and appliances to reduce energy demands (and related pollution) without losing quality of life;
(c) develop a comprehensive policy which recognized we are predominately a mix of coal, natural gas and nuclear fuel generated power today and if we are going to create a reliable renewable energy industry, we need to decide (i) if and how we deal with natural gas production & tertiary oil related fracking, (ii) coal mining and burning industries' impact on our air and water quality, (iii) if the opposition to solar and wind farms on public lands is in the nation's best interest & (iv) what do we do with the so-called nuclear alternative;
(d) oppose the Keystone project as a job and new domestic oil production killer & promote domestic fields (like the Bakken Reserve);
(e) give the renewables the same research and development tax breaks as oil and coal get;

5. LABOR: Should the Minimum Wage be raised to $10.10? Why, or why not?
Answer: Yes.

No matter how you calculate it, minimum wage has flat-lined over the past 50 years. That's the finding in a 2012 study from the Center for Economic Policy Research. The study reads, "By all of the most commonly used benchmarks - inflation, average wages, and productivity - the minimum wage is now far below its historical level." If wages had kept up with productivity gains since 1968, it would be nearly $22 dollars an hour.
Senator Elizabeth Warren cited the study in a Senate Committee Hearing last week, calling for the national minimum wage to be tripled. While questioning University of Massachusetts Amerherst Professor, Dr. Arindrajit Dube, who has studied the economic impact of minimum wage, Warren said, "with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what happened to the other $14.75? It sure didn't go to the worker."
Dube said if wages had kept pace with income going to the top 1%, today it would stand at $33 an hour. Productivity gains show Americans are working harder than ever, and profits have skyrocketed over the last half century. It's time businesses in our nation start rewarding that hard work, and start paying workers a living wage.
In an LA Times online article dated January 13, 2014, "[a] study by Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts concluded that the 39% increase in the federal minimum wage proposed by Harkin and Miller would immediately reduce the poverty rate among America's nonelderly population by 1.7 percentage points. Over time, the reduction would be 2.5 points. That's 4.6 million people lifted out of poverty immediately, and 6.8 million over time. That means that the minimum wage increase would play "a modest but important role in reducing poverty and raising family incomes at the bottom," Dube writes. Since the poverty rate among the non-elderly rose by about 3.8 percentage points during the great recession, he adds, the proposed increase would reverse at least half that loss. Other recent research underscores the value of raising the minimum wage now and deflates many conservative talking points. David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute shows that, contrary to the conservative notion that the typical minimum wage-earner is a kid supplementing his middle-class family's income, 52% are in households with income of less than $40,000 a year. One third are ages 30 to 55 -- in fact, more are older than 55 than are teenagers. The average share of family income that would be provided by a minimum wage earner at $10.10 is 50%".
The weak wage growth is contributing to investor jitter.  In an online LA Times article on 2/3/2014, it was stated: "A stream of negative economic reports has revived fear about the health of the U.S. economy, causing stocks to suffer their worst day in seven months and adding to a 7% decline since mid-January.Stocks were pounded by discouraging data released Monday on manufacturing, auto sales and construction spending".,0,5409439.story#ixzz2sQ7UnNn8.

In Obama's State of the Union earlier this year, President Obama called for bringing the minimum wage back up to the same value it had at the beginning of the Reagan Administration and for permanently indexing it to inflation, so it does not experience the same erosion in purchasing power that has happened over the past three decades. And he called for increasing the minimum wage received by workers who rely mostly on tips – which hasn’t been raised for over two decades. After all, the economic case for a minimum wage increase is clear. For workers and their families, it provides a boost to their income that both helps them make ends meet and increases spending in the broader economy. (And the impact is particularly significant for women, who make up over 60 percent of those who would benefit from a minimum wage increase – and two-thirds of workers making the tipped minimum wage.) For businesses, it can help reduce “churn,” increasing retention in ways that avoid the cost of hiring and training new workers. Combined with other policies – from job training initiatives to tax credits for working families to investing in early childhood education.

6. IMMIGRATION: What changes would you support in Immigration policy?


(1) provide a pathway for citizenship. I support the President's 4 point plan [strengthening border security, streamlining legal immigration, earned citizenship & cracking down on employers violating the law]; the republicans want to stonewall it to try and make it an election issue--let's make it one [in our district 35.9% are Hispanic]
(2) While the Dream Act makes sense [e.g. giving a people to study, achieve and pursue lawful businesses], funding is a problem for the benefit stream under the varying scenarios
Maybe if we enforced the sanction laws passed in 1981 again corporate employers that systematically bring illegals over to get cheap labor under substandard conditions, we'd have a fund to support the Dream Act better

7. EDUCATION: What changes would you support in Federal Education policy?
(1) in the State of the Union Obama only talked about expanding pre-K and job training programs--while necessary to get young parent(s) started in the job market and to improve the chances of success in elementary schools, we need to talk about teacher training and holding the teacher prep programs accountable and assuring an equitable distribution of high quality teachers []
(2) Not be afraid to look at and fund pilot programs modelled after successful educational models such as Finlands] where teachers pend 4 hours a day in the classroom and 2 hours in professional development every day [as opposed to our two to four times a year half day "in service trainings"]. Finland does not start formal education until age 7 and scorns homework and testing until well into the teenage years, yet scored at the top of a well-respected international test in 2001 in math, science and reading, it has been an object of fascination among American educators and policy makers. Finlandophilia only picked up when the nation placed close to the top again in 2009, while the United States ranked 15th in reading, 19th in math and 27th in science.
(3) Leave "No Child Left Behind" behind--we don't need it.

8. MILITARY & VETERANS: What changes would you support in Military and Veterans’ Policies?
(1) I disagree with the pension cut law for working vets [The plan to trim pension increases for working-age military retirees is by far the most controversial provision in a bipartisan budget deal approved by Congress and signed last week by President Obama, taking $6 billion taken from military pensions over the next decade]. All we had to do is order a few less F-35 fighters which had a 2011 $133 million unit price over than ten year period [roughly 45 fewer than the 2,443 the Pentagon is ordering].
(2) Overall, military compensation — including health benefits and salaries paid to active-duty personnel — eats up roughly half the defense budget, a proportion that is steadily rising. In a speech in November, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that “without serious attempts to achieve significant savings” in military compensation, “we risk becoming an unbalanced force.”
Various ways might include:
(i) Reduce reliance on private contractors who get paid many times more than trained military personnel for work & use that money to cover some of the compensation cost increases;
(ii) Use diplomatic initiatives and bilateral pacts to help shoulder some of the overseas expense;
(3) With Lockheed Martin having plants or major subcontractors in 37 of the 50 states, they have far too much power over the defense budget dialogue (and elections) even before Citizen United. Analysts in the Pentagon and government procurement should have a lifetime ban from being able to be hired by any defense contractor whose projects they oversaw.
(4) Look at bases' need utilizing updated and realistic threat assessments.
9. THE ECONOMY: What Federal Role in the Economy do you support? Oppose?
(1) Need federal laws, policies and appropriate budgets to try and stop corporate fraud in the banking and investments sector; we need regulations to prevent the theft of Americans' home investments, retirement plans, 401k's & IRA's;
(2) Need to aggressively protect American industry against foreign dumping of cheap industrial products (steel, tires, auto parts, etc) where the intent is to put out of business American heavy industries, not to just save American jobs, but protect industrial infrastructure for current and future strategic purposes;
(3)  The Federal Reserve Bank needs to be better & more often scrutinized [at minimum]. The Federal Reserve Bank should also not be allowed to purchase paper with money they print without regard to the ability of the nation to back the currency and create trillions in debt for the nation without the advise and consent of the US Senate.
(4) The federal government needs to set and or update realistic water and air quality standards and related protocols for clean-up;
(5) The federal government should continue to set safety standards for workers, workplaces and interstate transportation systems;
(6) Salt grants should be available (not predatory SBA loans) for small start-up businesses;

10. HOUSE COMMITTEES: Which committees would you like to serve on, and why?
Answer: House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure [deals with transportation, infrastructure, water resources, environment, railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials, emergency management & economic development]. This Committee and its related subcommittees deals with issues directly impacting our district and in a greater sense California because of its growth, the strain on and or threats to our natural resources. I could help the District being on the Committee. One of the subcommittee to the Homeland Security Committee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies would also be something I could have a positive impact on

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