The number one issue for individuals across our nation is jobs: either finding one or keeping one. Our families need the financial opportunities and stability that come from a growing economy. Washington must work to revitalize our stagnant economy while helping to relieve the financial stress faced by many families and small businesses.
I have worked hard to keep taxes low on individuals and businesses alike and promote the growth of the real job creators in our country: small businesses. South Floridians are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and we have great prospects for business development if we cut the red tape and the bureaucratic nightmare faced by mom and pop start-ups. Small businesses are responsible for creating two out of every three new jobs in the United States. We must ensure that overregulation does not hinder them from reaching success and helping our nation.
South Florida is our nation’s economic gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. While in office, I spearheaded finalizing trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements have successfully created new jobs in South Florida and have facilitated the export of American products to other parts of the world. I have also supported Miami Dade’s two largest economic engines, Port of Miami and Miami International Airport that have brought jobs, tourism, and regional development.
I have also voted for key legislation to help our economy grow, remove unfair burdens on small businesses and allowing them to use more of their resources to create jobs.
Just as families have tightened their belts and adjusted their spending habits, our government must follow suit. It is clear that we must reduce government spending while helping to alleviate the tax burdens on our families. Ending wasteful and duplicative government programs is key to reducing our spending. We cannot continue to uncontrollably expand our national debt, financed by foreign countries, in hopes of spending our way into recovery. Taxpayers should not be deceived into giving the federal government a blank check every year, which is why I support a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.
As a former Florida certified teacher, I understand the value and positive impact that a quality education has on individuals and their lives. Helping families flourish starts when we make sure students succeed academically.
Education is key for students of all backgrounds to be successful, contributing members of our society. More and more, however, we are seeing college become increasingly unaffordable and graduates being drowned in student debt. This is why in the Florida Legislature I spearheaded the Florida Prepaid College Program, the most successful savings plan in the nation, which has helped thousands of Floridians access higher education by allowing parents to lock in current tuition rates. As a Member of Congress, I have also voted to increase the availability of Pell Grants and to raise the Stafford federal student loan limits – both of which are critical to easing the financial burden on students as they pursue their scholastic endeavors.
Representing a diverse community, I have continually worked to develop and support programs that promote access to education for minority students, as well as expand access to dual enrollment or early college high school programs. I am also in favor of teachers having more influence over the material they teach and the need to highlight the importance of physical education, music and the arts. These crucial programs are vital to a child’s overall development and we must promote their inclusion as part of the curriculum. Today, more so than any other time in our history, we see that if afforded a quality education, our children will have the best opportunity to succeed.In Congress, I will work with state and local governments to encourage choice, innovation, and excellence in education, empower parents and teachers to have more say, and oppose burdensome regulations that add unnecessary costs on institutions, families, and our nation’s young adults.
As the wife of a combat wounded Vietnam veteran who volunteered for service and having my stepson and his wife serving as Marine Reserve officers, I know firsthand the importance of ensuring that our troops have the tools and resources they need as they serve our country, as well as upon their return home to civilian life. Military service is truly a higher calling and we are fortunate to have so many patriotic men and women willing to defend the land, people and liberty we all hold dear.
This country was forged through the will and sacrifice of patriots, and we continue to live in freedom through the vigilance of our men and women in uniform. As a nation, we must always honor the courage and resolve that have allowed these extraordinary individuals to defend the freedom and comforts we all enjoy as proud citizens of this grand democracy. The debt we all owe our service members and veterans is undeniable and I will always be committed to working to improve the lives of our heroes in uniform, as well as their families.
I have been a strong advocate of ensuring our veterans and service members have every opportunity to succeed once they transition back into civilian life. With unemployment numbers among veterans being much higher than the average unemployment rate, I have supported legislation that would encourage employers to hire veterans and get them back to work. I have also voted in favor of the Post 9/11 GI Bill – to make sure our brave service members receive the highest quality training and education they need in order to be competitive in today’s work environment.
As a Member of Congress, I have been actively engaged in ensuring that bureaucrats are held accountable for the persistent problems at VA Medical Centers. I have participated in Congressional hearings that sought to uncover these scandals, and I have often spoken out on the need for oversight and accountability at these institutions. Our veterans have made invaluable sacrifices for our freedom and security and deserve access to outstanding medical care and treatment that they have so rightfully earned. I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that the men and women who have served the United States come back to a country that shows its appreciation for all that they have done.
Growing our economy and protecting our environment are endeavors that must go hand in hand. I am committed to protecting our awe-inspiring natural resources, and by extension, the economic, as well as the health, lifestyle, and recreational benefits they provide for our entire community. We are blessed to live in a beautiful place, and it is imperative that future generations of South Floridians are able to see, appreciate, and grow to love the special natural ecosystems that make South Florida such a unique region of the United States.
The lifeblood of South Florida is clean water. So much of the health of our natural ecosystems is ultimately decided by whether or not enough clean water reaches the right places at the right times. That’s why it’s essential that the State of Florida and the federal government continue the important work to restore our Everglades. I will continue to push Congress to fund the important Everglades restoration projects that will improve freshwater delivery to the natural areas that desperately need it, while also protecting our drinking water supplies. One such project – the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands Project – has already had significant positive impacts on natural areas surrounding the Deering Estate, and is a sign of things to come across South Florida as we continue this important work. Knowing that improving the flow of clean freshwater entering Biscayne Bay is key to improving fisheries and coral reef habitats that sustain our community, I helped secure the resources necessary to dredge contaminated sediment out of the Miami River, revitalizing the River and protecting the Bay.
Climate change is a threat to both our natural environments and to our way of life in South Florida through sea-level rise and ocean acidification. I will continue my bipartisan work to raise awareness of these issues in Congress so that we can protect our environment with adaptation and mitigation strategies that add value to our economy. I support clean energy initiatives that reduce pollution and carbon emissions, as well as beach renourishment and coastal wetlands and coral reef restoration efforts that reduce the threat from storm surge flooding and rising seas.
I also remain adamantly opposed to offshore oil drilling anywhere off Florida’s coast, including proposed sites off of Cuba’s northern shore. The risk from oil spill to our environment and precious wildlife, our economy, and to human health in South Florida is simply too severe. I also oppose the use of potentially damaging seismic airgun blasting off our coasts for surveying offshore oil reserves.
Investing in clean and renewable energy, including wind, solar, and hydrogen fuel cell technology, is needed to continue reducing our dependence on foreign oil from volatile parts of the world and to reduce the long-term threat of climate change and sea-level rise impacts on our community.
As we continue the transition to a clean energy future, it is important to responsibly and safely develop America’s own domestic energy resources and protect our access to reliable and secure energy partners in the Western Hemisphere. Strong domestic energy production is necessary to shield American consumers and families from the high prices and limited supply that would result from the distorted energy markets that benefit only the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel and Russia. Americans also deserve more clean energy choices at the pump, so I will continue to support policies that improve the fuel flexibility of our nation’s vehicle fleet and at service stations along our roadways.
To ensure that domestic energy production does not come at the expense of the protection of our environment, I support greater transparency requirements for federal agencies that regulate gas and oil drilling. In South Florida, the substantial risks associated with offshore drilling so very close to our beaches and coral reefs will always outweigh any potential benefits. I will continue to support legislation that holds oil companies and polluters responsible for any accidental or intentional spills, including seeking full reimbursement for every dollar incurred on cleanup costs and economic and environmental damages.
The safety and security of every American are some of my top priorities. In Congress, I have tirelessly worked to ensure that our nation has all the necessary tools to ensure our safety.
Home to a number of vital military facilities, South Florida plays a key role to our national defense. I have voted in favor of legislation to modernize our Coast Guard fleet and increase its technological capabilities. Drug and human trafficking plague our community and we must remain vigilant in the protection of our residents and visitors, families and communities.
Protecting Social Security is one of my top priorities. Our Social Security system serves as a major source of retirement income for our seniors and for Americans who rely on survivor and disability benefits. It is crucial that we continue to provide this hard-earned economic security to those who need it the most.
Unfortunately, the state of our sacred Social Security system is in disrepair. In 2010, the United States government paid out more in benefits than it received in income for first time since 1983. This vital program’s costs continue to surpass its revenues.
If we continue on our current course, without strengthening the Social Security program, it will soon be unable to keep its obligations to our nation’s seniors and disabled, leaving them in jeopardy.
With so many people depending on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income and Survivor’s Benefits, I am making sure that I do everything I can to strengthen this federal program in order to protect and preserve the safety net upon which over 60 million Americans depend.