Jobs, Taxes & the Economy
Across almost the entire political spectrum, Americans support reforming the tax code. Those who are employed by, operate, or own businesses in central Arkansas are at the center of our local economy, and when businesses suffer from the consequences of a broken tax code that limits growth, it affects all of us. I am committed to seeking solutions that lead to job creation and rising income and wages for hardworking Americans. For example, I am working to champion skilled and vocational job creation and expand good training and career opportunities to all Arkansans. I have co-sponsored the Keystone Pipeline XL Act, which creates jobs and lowers energy prices for Arkansans.
As a former local business owner, community banker and a taxpayer, I know the limitations that our current tax code places on our local economic growth. I am committed to finding solutions to our tax code, which is why I co-sponsored H.R. 27, the Tax Code Termination Act, which would repeal most of our current tax code by the year 2020 and require Congress to have a new federal tax system in place by July 4, 2019. Our families, businesses, and entrepreneurs all want—and deserve—a tax code that is not only fair and simple, but will also spur economic development and growth.
An example of a constructive approach to tax reform can be found at http://abetterway.speaker.gop. On this website, you can find the “Better Way” Tax package and plan designed by tax policy experts and Republican Members of Congress.
We must continue this important dialogue about taxes in Washington to turn these ideas into a reality. I remain committed to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to reform our broke tax code and grow the economy in central Arkansas.
Government Spending and Debt
Washington spending is out of control and bankrupting our country. The federal government needs to quit trying to fix everything with a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach and instead shift power back to state and local governments. Right now, the federal government is too big and spends too much. I have re-introduced the “Golden Fleece” award to expose the most outrageous wasteful government spending in Washington.
To get our spending under control, we must reform mandatory spending programs, cut low-priority spending, and stop performing functions best left to state and local governments or the private sector. We need a cultural change in which the federal government is a smaller, more efficient, effective, and a much less expensive and intrusive part of Americans’ lives.
During my time in Congress, I have co-sponsored two versions of balanced budget amendments to the Constitution of the United States to bring our spending in line. We must take the necessary steps to ensure that all taxpayer dollars are being used wisely, and we can no longer kick the can down the road on mandatory spending. Our children and grandchildren depend on us to solve our debt problem and give them a brighter future.
Social Security, Medicare and Financial Security
Social Security is a promise that the federal government has made to hardworking American taxpayers, who have paid into the program and have earned these benefits. I am committed to strengthening Social Security for today’s seniors and future beneficiaries. Further, I believe we must protect and strengthen Social Security while eliminating fraud and abuse in this program.
The 2016 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds estimated that the Social Security retirement trust fund will be exhausted by 2034. Congress must do more to effectively reform Social Security, prevent unprecedented cuts to benefits, and ensure that Social Security beneficiaries receive the benefits that have earned and paid in to.
In early 2016, I introduced H.R. 5409, the SSDI Return to Work Act, which would modernize the Social Security Administration’s classification of disability beneficiaries and incentivize returning to work for beneficiaries who have recovered from their disability. According to the Congressional Research Service, the employment rate among working-age individuals with work-limiting disabilities has fallen from 24.4 percent in 1981 to 14.4 percent in 2013. Further, many disability beneficiaries are unlikely to return to work; and, in 2013, only 0.4 percent of all beneficiaries were removed from disability rolls due to employment. Due to the low return to work rates, it is essential that Congress act to implement an efficient, consistent, and accurate disability determination in order to encourage return to work and save taxpayer dollars.
I am committed to looking for other long-term solutions, and I will work with my colleagues to institute common sense, bipartisan solutions to ensure the availability of essential Social Security benefits to seniors and disabled individuals both now and in the future.
Obamacare is more than just a malfunctioning website—it is a $2.2 trillion mistake. Big government, “one size fits all” solutions simply do not work in our large, complex country. This law is harming Americans with fewer choices, higher healthcare costs and countless tax increases. It is also chipping away at the physician/patient relationship. We need to repeal and replace it with reforms that lower healthcare costs for all Arkansans. We need to reject the ever-expanding culture of dependency and encourage our able-bodied citizens to pursue lives of virtue, hard work, and civic service.
Our healthcare system faces some serious problems; we need targeted, surgical, carefully considered reforms that acknowledge the complexity of our healthcare system. I have repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare and start over with reforms that lower healthcare costs and improve access for all Arkansas families.
Like our healthcare system, changes are needed in the American education system. I believe the lack of equal access to a quality education is the civil rights issue of our day and that we must demand success, accountability, and results in every classroom. Some of these key approaches were in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that the Congress passed in 2015, plus additional flexibility for state and local districts. I have taken a lead role in helping historically African-American colleges educate Arkansans released from prisons so they can become productive members of our society.
Our national security is one of the most important and serious issues facing the Congress and our nation. As a member of the House Financial Services Financial Terrorism Task Force, I have used my expertise to provide our national security personnel the resources they need to fight and defeat terror efforts at home and around the globe. The mission of ISIS is not only to terrorize third world and developing countries, but also to come to the U.S. and other Western nations—as we have seen in Paris and San Bernardino. The goal of ISIS is not only to take the lives of innocent people, but to destroy our way of life, faith, religious beliefs, and rights. I believe we need to keep all options on the table against ISIS and have a real strategy to defeat this evil enemy.
As a businessman with over 30 years of financial, management and banking experience, I have worked diligently with my colleagues to find solutions that will improve traditional interdiction of terror finance in the banking, trade, and business sectors. Further, I used my experience to design legislation.
In addition, I voted for H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House of Representatives and is an important measure that funds our national defense priorities at home and abroad, gives our troops the resources they need at home and abroad, and simplifies healthcare options to fit the healthcare needs of our active duty troops.
Importantly, I was pleased to assist in securing funding for the much needed modernization of the C-130 Hercules fleet, the backbone of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard airlifters at the Little Rock Air Force Base. As Congress continues to address the important issues facing American security and military, I will continue to do my job in Congress to meet the needs of our military to provide a strong national defense for the United States.
Today’s national security begins with our ability to defend our nation’s borders from the flow of illegal traffic. I am an outspoken and positive voice on the issue of border security in the Congress. We must use all tools that are available to us to reduce potential threats at our border. When I listen to those who are on the front lines of our borders and speak with our border security and immigration offices, I have learned about the challenges they face on the border. This is why I have made three trips to the U.S.-Mexico border during my first term in Congress. It is important to see and understand all sections of our southern border and it is why I will continue to participate in visits to the border.
People from all over the world are traveling to Mexico, discarding their travel documents, crossing the U.S. border, and taking advantage of American goodwill and regulations by using “credible fear” rights of persecution in their home country. I believe we must maintain our status as a beacon of hope for those who would like to flee a life of persecution in another country. However, we must be vigilant in carrying out this process that protects Americans here at home and prevents those who are coming to our nation to abuse our laws or cause harm to the American people. This is why I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 1153, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act, which tightens the “credible fear” standard asylum seekers must meet, so that we may reduce fraud and abuse of this standard. This is common sense legislation that would address critical security risks that exist because of the weak vetting process for those claiming credible fear. I understand that border security is tantamount to national security and that we must fix our broken border to keep Americans safe. As such, I sponsored the Security Verification for Refugees Act to keep Islamic terrorists from entering our country.
In Washington, I believe it is absolutely imperative that we insure that our veterans get the treatment they need in a timely and efficient manner. Those who have served our country deserve the best care and caretakers to return to or maintain their health. I co-sponsored the Veteran Suicide Prevention Act to address the great tragedy of at least 20 American veterans committing suicide per day on average.
I also co-sponsored legislation to hold Washington bureaucrats accountable for failing to adequately care for our veterans. Further, in Congress, I have cosponsored legislation to hold Washington bureaucrats accountable for failing our veterans for backlogs and wasteful spending.
Specifically, I ordered a report from the Office of the Inspector General to investigate cost overruns for the Little Rock VA Hospital construction project. The report found rampant and widespread mismanagement, delays, and VA financial mismanagement of taxpayer dollars—a $1.5 million dollar cost overrun for the implementation of $8 million of solar panels at the Little Rock VA. This financial mismanagement has been found around the county. If it is a project as complex as hospital construction in Denver or one as simple as the appropriate installation of solar panels, the VA continues to waste large swaths of taxpayer dollars as a result of its own mismanagement. These are dollars that could be better spent on much needed medical personnel for administrative talent to speed benefit analysis and claims processing. We must continue to monitor VA construction activities to make sure this avoidable financial mismanagement does not continue and are not subject to serious financial waste. Besides this need for an increased eye on VA overspending, we must make sure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve, great care, timely service, and decrease the massive backlog of care. It is my top priority to make sure the VA continues to be held accountable on all of these fronts.