We need to begin to think differently in America and find a better way to do things. During the past decade, our government lost its way and failed to listen to ordinary people.
We must restore faith in our government, for good government can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Let’s restore our faith in each other by enacting meaningful and effective election and lobbying reforms.
Abroad, we need to show our allies and our enemies that conversations, not confrontations, can solve even our greatest differences.
Let’s rediscover the American values that made us great. I believe we have chosen a positive change and a new direction.
By working together, we will build a better future for all of us.
Let me be perfectly clear – we do not need socialized medicine or government controls to develop a solution to our uniquely American health care crisis.
But, for many of my patients, it’s either skip a pill or skip a meal. As a physician, I see and feel this crisis everyday. The 110th Congress must enact legislation to guarantee access to affordable care for all of us by including these essential elements: (1) open disclosure of all prices, (2) securing the same discounts for all citizens so we all pay the same price for the same health service or product, and (3) form a single insurance risk pool nationwide 300 million strong to leverage down prices for insurance coverage and prescription drugs. We must also establish a standard health insurance policy to be sold by insurance companies nationwide – a basic policy that covers you from head-to-toe without any discrimination against anyone due to pre-existing conditions. In other words, if it’s in your body – it’s covered, and if you’re a citizen - you’re in – with No Patient Left Behind.
I believe we must become an energy independent nation. The 110th Congress must establish these essential energy goals: (1) emit less carbon dioxide and other pollutants to slow down global warming; (2) invest heavily in renewable energy sources; (3) enable existing utilities to become sources of renewable energy; and (4) begin to decrease the effects of human activities on our environment. Becoming energy independent will require sacrifices from everyone, but a well-conceived strategy can succeed when developed in the open - and especially if it is based on energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy resources.
We must do whatever it takes to protect America and keep hostilities off our shores. Today, we are all on the front lines, and by implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission on Homeland Security in January 2007, we’ve taken a wise first step in securing ourselves. We must also secure our borders and reduce threats from nuclear weapons. Terrorism is a tactic used by extremists, and there are extremists in every religion and in every political party. The real enemies of mankind are ignorance, fear, superstition and disease. And we won't be truly safe until we confront these real roots of the hatred.
Public confidence in our government was at an all time low until we passed new Rules for Congress in January 2007, legislation I was proud to cosponsor. We are doing our best to free our government from the influences of special interests and to remain accountable only to the will of the people. We are in public office, not corporate offices. I will continue to work hard to restore public integrity and will remain no one’s Congressman but yours.
Everyone knows that you can't get something for nothing. In this country, the wealthy own nearly all of the nation's assets and you'd think they would be willing to pay a little more in taxes to protect them. We must recognize that fair taxation is the real principle that should guide our tax policy, and take the necessary steps to ensure fairness. I am working hard to represent the best interests of all the people in the 8th District, not international corporations who have no rights under our Constitution.
And we need to simplify our tax code and make certain everyone pays their fair share.
STEM CELL PROGRESS
I know something about human diseases and the personal suffering of my patients and their families. I sponsored legislation for stem cell progress to fulfill the promise of finding a cure for many life-altering and painful disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, juvenile diabetes and spinal cord injuries. Saying no to stem cell progress is unkind to patients who will benefit from new treatments and potential cures. If one truly cares for life, and believes in improving the quality of our lives, then one should say yes to stem cell progress. Be not afraid to take this step forward. I am proudly Pro-Cure.
America has always been the land of hope and opportunity, and immigrants have often been our new leaders. But uncontrolled immigration has put great stress on our national security, on our health care and education costs, on our taxpayers and on our local economies.
There are three things we can do immediately to address this challenging and complicated problem: (1) obey and enforce all our laws - with no cutting in line; (2) secure our borders; and (3) enable employers of foreign workers to pay for their healthcare and educational expenses - not local taxpayers. Employers also need assistance in acquiring new technologies and methods of identifying who is, or is not, legally employable.
By working together during the 110th Congress, Republicans and Democrats have an opportunity to solve this very complex and critical issue in a caring and humane fashion.
CIVIL WAR IN IRAQ
In listening to you and our very best military generals, it is clear our invasion of Iraq was not necessary, and it is preventing us from solving other problems we face.
We now know the truth about the Iraq War: there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Al-Qaeda terrorists were not based there before our invasion, there has been an ongoing religious civil war between several groups of Muslims for a thousand years, and our own national security was not in imminent danger.
But our brave soldiers are in Iraq, and we must deal honestly with the realities on the ground.
Plainly stated, our troops do not belong in Iraq. For what Islamic clerics could not do in a thousand years, President Bush did in three: he united our enemies against us and divided us from our friends. Sadly, over 650,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed – and even after our forces deposed Saddam Hussein, we still cannot control the killing. If we are not in control, why are we still there?
President Bush has asked for more troops to be sent into the violent region, a “surge”, and while we all hope the region will not devolve into a lawless area, our continued presence there will only increase violence in the region.
The “surge” strategy suggested by President Bush failed the previous four times he tried it, and “staying the course” makes no sense – even to our military generals who understand it best. We have real enemies. They are extremists, and it will take great police work to win the battle against extremism – and it will also require shared sacrifices from everyone.
Let’s agree that all Americans have the same goal: a safer and more secure nation, and let’s also understand that -
- We have no real intelligence on the ground in Iraq - now or before we invaded;
- The Shia have waited 1,000 years to regain control of their lives, and they have no disposition to offer the Sunni any power sharing arrangement;
- There is no military solution, for we are being used by the Shiites to win their own civil war with the Sunnis;
- We must take our troops off the streets - now - period;
- A political solution is the ONLY way to resolve this conflict – and to do this we must involve every nation in the region;
- The roots of the Iraqi insurgency are based in hatred between two sects of the Muslim religion;
- We must admit our past failures and poor decisions, learn from our mistakes, and realize that Diplomacy will defeat Violence;
- We must inform the President that he does not have the authority to attack Iran - or any other nation – without the expressed written consent of Congress.
In summary, our involvement in the religious civil war in Iraq was unnecessary and it is preventing our nation from solving every other problem we face.
Agriculture and paper manufacturing have been the economic backbones of Wisconsin and best reflect who we are our. But in recent years, thousands of hard working people in our 8th District lost their manufacturing jobs, and when their jobs were shipped offshore, much of the wealth in our region also disappeared. We need a positive change and a new direction. Let’s start by shipping our Wisconsin values overseas, not our jobs. We need Fair Trade, not Free Trade.
Congress should also close tax loopholes that assist corporations in moving their operations overseas, and reward companies who create higher-wage jobs back here in Wisconsin. Let’s bring great manufacturing jobs back here to Wisconsin where they belong.
Wisconsin is fiscally responsible and socially progressive, and our values are reflected in our pay-as-you-go family, local and state budgets. It is time to get back to basics and eliminate as fast as possible our nation’s sky-high national debt – even as we establish trade deals that are fair and balanced.
ENVIRONMENT and PROTECTING OUR GREAT LAKES
We are the stewards of our environment and future generations will look back at the quality and the results of our conservation efforts. Wisconsin has a proud heritage of environmental activism, led in part by our Native American history and by former Senator Gaylord Nelson – the father of Earth Day. In the short term, we must protect our Great Lakes and all other waterways from further invasions from non-native aquatic species, toxic pollutants such as PCBs and make certain the quality of our surface water and underground aquifers remain pristine.
If we get public education right, everything else will follow. If we get it wrong, not much else will matter.
We need to move up – not down. A first-rate public education has made all the difference in my life, and one of my top priorities is to constantly improve our public schools, universities, and technical colleges so they will make a lasting difference in all our lives.
We need a Pledge of Allegiance for Better Schools - one that focuses on high standards, measurable outcomes, and affordable tuition for all our children. Great public schools are the best tool to guarantee good health, economic development, and equal opportunity. That means continuous improvement and higher expectations. It also means heading off schemes to divert tax dollars out of our public schools into voucher plans for private schools.
By Working Together, We Will …
- Put a Qualified Teacher in Every Public School Classroom – with fair pay and benefits, great training and technology, and career rewards and incentives to keep the best and the brightest within the profession.
- Create Early Learning Opportunities - for we invented Kindergarten here in Wisconsin. Let’s create access to top quality early learning programs for children three years and older and expand Head Start and full-day Kindergarten to guarantee our children a successful start in life.
- Cap Class Sizes – instead of increasing class size by eliminating classrooms, by working together with education professionals, we will identify ways to reduce student / teacher ratios, particularly in grades K-3. And we must get back to basics with more reasonably sized neighborhood school campuses.
- Maintain a Safe Environment for Our Children – as we spearhead a strong, accountable system to keep violence off of our school campuses, restore fair yet firm guidance, support alternative classrooms for disruptive students, and prepare all students to become active citizens in our in our community.
- Measure the Outcomes - to make certain all schools reach their maximum excellence, rather than minimum potential. We must utilize our current standards to measure student achievement. That means educators must have access to the newest technology, and necessary training and development, to help all students advance as they learn what they need to know to be successful.
- Make it Easier for Students to Attend Universities and Technical Colleges - Let's expand access to public universities and technical colleges by making them more accessible and more affordable. Higher wage jobs require post-secondary education, so let’s build the greatest research centers and expand the reach of universities and technical colleges.
These collective efforts will begin to solve the challenges facing public education. When we make a commitment for the long haul, with these goals as our starting point, we will re-energize our public schools.
History confirms this: Every economy that has ever been successful has invested heavily in education - after all, your education really never ends.