Economic and tax policy is a hotly debated and researched issue. Sadly, legislating a stable economy is more complicated than single sound bites about tax cuts or stimulus spending.  The economy of the United States is in excellent shape after the recent great recession. Unemployment is currently around 4.1% (cite) after exceeding 9% (cite) in 2010. Deficit spending has been reduced to 600 billion in 2016 compared to 1.4 trillion in 2009 (cite). Clearly we can see that these crucial metrics show healthy changes.

The current promise is that these cuts will lower unemployment. However, unemployment is low enough that it looks like we may be near or at full labor force participation (cite), limiting the benefit of any job creation. Furthermore, a recent survey of corporate CEOs showed that cutting corporate taxes is unlikely to change capital investment (everyone should check out this link cite).

I do not currently support the current tax cuts. Supply side economics (trickle-down economics) is a hotly debated issue. Based on recent events, I do not find credible evidence for it as a public policy. It has failed the people of Kansas and Oklahoma (cite ,cite), with both states now dealing with large deficits as a result of these policies which have not yielded the economic growth that was promised.

I instead believe that we should leave personal income tax rates relatively unchanged at this time, continue to address deficit spending, and slowly raise corporate income tax rates since corporate profits at or near all time highs (cite) . We should also continue to raise interest rates. Our economy is still in post recession recovery, we need to reset the tools that were used as a safety value to stabilize the economy for future use. Once these things are done, then we can consider tax cuts.

I further suggest that more federal spending be allocated to programs like lead abatement where a conservative estimate shows that for every dollar spent, $17 is returned to the economy (cite). Programs such as these, where a permanent improvement to infrastructure is made, while simultaneously reducing cost we are facing for dealing with the problem in perpetuity, should be researched and implemented more often. These are the programs that we can fund to stimulate the economy.

Social Security and Student Loan are two issues that I think highlight my approach to policy perfectly. We have two different problems affecting two different demographics of people, both of which tend to favor opposite parties. Instead of working against each other on the problems separately, we can form policy that solves the problems together.

Younger generations can push back the retirement age in order to ease the fiscal burden on social security and in exchange student loan reform can greatly assist these generations who are currently struggling with debt.

Two steps to fix social security:

  1.  Slowly remove the cap on payroll taxes for social security.
  2.  The retirement age is currently fixed at 67 for persons born after 1960. We should begin increasing it 2 months per year starting with persons born in 1970 and ending with persons born in 2000 at 70 years of age.

This should greatly ease the strain on social security and extend the solvency of the program up to 70 years (note: the amount of solvency gain is hotly debated, but here is my source (cite)).

To ease the burden of student loans we should remove the 10 year lifespan of student loans and replace it with a flat 4% payment rate based on income over $40,000 until the debt is repaid (this might need to be a tiered rollout to avoid shocking the market). As the income of the individual increases, so does the payment amount, but always at a fixed percentage. We must also not repeal the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which grants public service employers a useful tool in recruiting college graduates into careers that provide valuable service to our country (cite).

This will greatly reduce the burden that many graduates face of overwhelming payments relative to their income in their early career. Young graduates are struggling to fund economically positive elements of their life such as retirement funds and home ownership (citecite) due to high loan payments.

So this is how we we can bring two somewhat opposing groups together for mutual benefit. The younger generation postpones retirement and will collectively contribute more to SS over the course of their lives. In exchange, they will have more working capital since the burden of student loan debt will be greatly eased on their personal finances.

When I hear that regulation is bad, I generally ask three questions.

  1. Which regulation?
  2. Why is it bad?
  3. Why was this regulation created in the first place?

As an example, food manufacturers have increased costs due to health inspection requirements. Is this a bad regulation? Of course not, it literally keeps people alive (see Blue Bell and the listeria outbreak).

Net Neutrality has been under attack by the current administration under the justification that it is making the internet unfair. This is the exact opposite of the truth. Several internet service providers were caught deliberately blocking or slowing internet traffic to further their own goals. One of the most important parts of net neutrality was that all internet traffic must be treated equally, and cannot be slowed. I do not support the idea that an internet service provider (ISP) can decide to slow your speeds because of the content you select. The internet is too important for anyone to have that much control over it. We have already seen instances of ISPs collaborating against google wallet because they were trying to launch their own apps (cite). This is one of many instances (cite)where ISPs were caught in such behavior.

Texas has benefited immensely from NAFTA (cite) with nearly 200,000 jobs created and most industries seeing double digit percentage increases in their exports. Agriculture exports of peaches and cattle increased significantly under NAFTA, greatly benefiting the economy of central Texas. Breaking up NAFTA would greatly reduce accessible markets in Canada and Mexico that give Texas economic strength. I will support legislation that will keep the United States in NAFTA.
I support the attempts by Senator Rand Paul (cite) and Representative Sensenbrenner (cite) to reform civil asset forfeiture. There is a clear inconsistency with the rights and processes afforded to a citizen accused of a crime compared to the rights of their personal property. Civil asset forfeiture has been abused by numerous police departments across the country including Texas (cite) with departments ”… have used these forfeiture funds on ridiculous purchases, including visiting casinos, a vacation to Hawaii and a margarita machine.” This appears to be a clear abuse of power to me, and I will work with other interested lawmakers to close the loopholes for this kind of abuse. Citizens AND their property should have strong rights recognized but the judicial process.
We need to establish a process by which new science can be used in the courtroom and by which erroneous science is discarded. We additionally need to establish double blind testing procedures, as we have seen instances where a crime lab’s integrity was compromised (cite). No innocent person should ever be jailed, and scientific methods should be held to the highest standards of practice.
I support the current proposal (cite) to increase the minimum salary of H1B Visas to $130,000 per year. Some companies (see Disney: cite) have abused the H1B system , which was designed to help employers find scarce specialized labor, by replacing their workforce with lower salaried foreign employees. This is a direct assault on highly desirable middle-class STEM jobs which should be protected.

The fix is simple. The current cost of an H1B visa is $60,000 and does not increase. By increasing it to $130,000 (per sponsored bill, this should be considered negotiable) employers will not be able to depress the wages of Americans doing skilled labor and making a solid middle class wage. Furthermore, the increase should be indexed against the CPI annually, and there should be a fixed increase in the minimum salary for each addition H1B visa obtained prevent large scale outsourcing. Under these provisions an international skilled laborer can be hired, if needed, but they won’t replace a highly desirable middle class job.

Some examples of H1B Visa abuse (cite):

  1. South California Edison laid off 400 IT professionals making an average of $115,000  a year, made them train their replacements to get severance, and replaced them with H1B visa workers making $65,000 to 75,000.
  2. Disney attempted to lay off 250 workers in a similar manner, but rescinded after public backlash.
  3. Pfizer estimates that 10% of their staff is H1B visa holders.
  4. Molina Healthcare laid off 40 employees for H1B visa holders. The average wage of the domestic staff was $75,000. These workers were cut for savings of $10,000-$15,000 each.
  5. Infosys and Tata hired over 12,000 IT workers through the H1B visa program in 2013. That is a staggering amount of wage depression on the industry.
We have now seen several states legalize marijuana for either medicinal or recreational purposes. While marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, enforcement has been left to states for the past several years. I believe that we should legalize marijuana for three very strong reasons:

  1. A taxable revenue source for both states and the federal government (cite)
  2. Reduces the burden on the judicial system for non-violent offenders, reducing government cost and freeing resources for prosecution of violent crimes (cite)
  3. While marijuana is not a miracle drug, an increasing body of research shows the possibility that marijuana may help with numerous physical and psychological problems such as PTSD. This should be further researched as a potential aid for our veterans along with the other possible medical uses (cite),
Logically, immigration is necessary, as without it we will experience negative population growth next decade(cite). Without population growth, there are very serious economic impacts as certain markets depend heavily on population growth. One need only look to Japan to see the present day effects of negative population growth and restrictive immigration policy on the economy. They are currently experiencing stagnation and crippling debt as their economy contracts due to a reduced and aging labor force. (cite).  By comparison, the growth of the United States economy is roughly 300% more over the past few years.

The traditional GOP platform is partially complete; immigration creates a cost burden at the local and state level, especially in education where language differences greatly impact public education resources. But the GOP platform often misses something, and this is the long-term ROI of immigration. Second generation Americans enjoy high social mobility. The return on economic activity in the next generation greatly exceeds the upfront costs observed initially. Immigration is a long-term investment in the economic health of the United States. (cite).

It is also worth noting that generally, we desire immigrants to be younger in age, given their longer productive economic lifespan. Since much of the world is getting older on average, one of the few places that we can look to for immigration is Africa. Sorry Trump, Norway like much of the rest of the world is dealing with the economic issues of an aging population that requires support from their younger population.

Let’s move on to border security. This topic is both related and quite different than the issue of immigration. Securing our borders is necessary to reduce cross-border crime, which often is difficult to prosecute, investigate, and frequently involves serious human rights violations.

The good news is that illegal border crossings have dropped more than 80% since the turn of the millennium (cite) and that 92% of all ice arrests were for people with criminal convictions. Furthermore, the current levels of undocumented individuals in our country have been level (or falling) for the past 5 years. (cite). Given the effectiveness of the programs and initiatives started over the past decade, I believe continue these programs in their current form should be maintained until we see a reduction in their effectiveness.

I am concerned that Republicans continue to push the issue of border security, not because it is an actual problem, but because they are engaging in fear-mongering to rally voters. I believe Republicans should be bragging that the policies started during George W. Bush’s administration have been successful. I further believe that they will never do this because if they acknowledge that this issue is fixed, they have to move onto the next logical issue, which is DACA and the Dreamers.

DACA affects a special subset of the illegal immigration population. It has also been studied thoroughly. At this time, all of the evidence I have reviewed clearly indicates that we should be offering a clear path to citizenship for these individuals and protecting their current status. These individuals pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.  Research shows that second-generation immigrants have a net positive fiscal impact of $173,000 to $259,000 per immigrant. Each person deported is a literal money burn for our economy (cite). There is no evidence that immigrants are more likely to commit a crime, and there is additional no evidence of this in sanctuary cities either:  (cite).  These findings were confirmed by the Trump administration but were buried, as it did not support their desired course of action. This is both fiscally irresponsible and unethical. (cite)

All of this suggests to me that there may have been a problem a long time ago, but it seems to have been very effectively addressed, and now the remaining question is what can we do go forward for those caught in the middle at this time. I suggest compassion and a path to citizenship or legal residency, it would be fiscally damaging to this nation to do anything else.