Economy

The number one issue for Americans 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 business alike and promote 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. While in office, I spearheaded finalizing trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements have created thousands of new jobs in South Florida and have facilitated the export of American products to key parts of the world.

I have also voted for key legislation to help our economy grow such as: The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) to help startups and entrepreneurs get off the ground, access capital and create jobs and spur economic activity; the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act; as well as to improve small businesses’ access to capital by expanding equity financing options and extend the current payroll tax rates.

Government Spending

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.

This Congress I have voted for a Federal budget that reduced annual spending by $7 billion; averted multiple government shutdowns while still managing to cut over $10 billion; and slash an additional $24 billion in wasteful government spending.

Repealing Obamacare would also have tremendous benefits on reducing government spending. I have voted to repeal this government takeover of healthcare and save trillions.

I am also proud to have voted to cut my own Congressional office budget and terminate taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns to reduce Federal spending and the deficit.

Education

As a former educator, I understand the value and positive impact that a quality education has on individuals and their lives. In order for us to help individuals succeed professionally, we must first help them succeed academically. Today, more so than any other time in our history, we see that armed with the tools of a quality education, our children have a better chance of succeeding professionally.

According to the Department of Education (DOE), in 2010, about 74 percent of young adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher were employed full time, compared with just 55 percent of those with just a high school diploma or its equivalent, while only 41 percent of those without a high school diploma or its equivalent had full-time employment.

Additionally, the DOE reports that the median earnings for young adults with a bachelor’s degree was $45,000, while the median was $21,000 for those without a high school diploma or its equivalent, and just $30,000 for those with a high school diploma or its equivalent. In other words, what we are seeing today is that for those young adults entering the workforce, they are much more likely to obtain a full-time job, and much more likely to have a higher earning power.

That is why I have always been in support of providing all of our children with the best possible education. From my time in the Florida Legislature – where I co-authored the Florida Prepaid College Program which has helped thousands of Floridians access higher education by allowing parents to lock in current tuition rates – to this Congress, I have continually worked to ensure that children have every opportunity to excel academically, so that they can excel professionally.

I have voted for legislation that encourages choice, innovation, and excellence in education, empowering parents to have more say in where their children receive their education. I have voted to increase the availability of Pell Grants and to raise the Stafford federal student loan limits – both of which are critical to helping our students continue their scholastic endeavors – and I have voted to repeal burdensome regulations on institutions of higher education that add unnecessary costs on institutions and students.

Housing Crisis

We continue to experience the negative impact of the instability in the housing market on our friends and neighbors here in South Florida, as well as throughout the nation. Miami-Dade County now has the third highest foreclosure rate for a large metropolitan area according to Realty Trac. (One in 264).

Home ownership is one of the most important goals of the American Dream. It is vitally important that we support efforts to ensure the markets’ future stability. During our economic recovery, we must work toward long-term and fiscally responsible housing policies that provide incentives for responsible homeowners.

I am a cosponsor of H.Res. 25, a bipartisan resolution that affirms the importance of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) towards maintaining the market for housing. The resolution expresses the sense of Congress that the MID should not be cut back, but rather that the present law should be retained.

To restrict it any way would undermine progress in the still-fragile housing recovery. The single most important contribution Congress can make to that recovery is to assure stability in the laws—particularly the tax rules—that directly impact the housing economy.

The nation cannot emerge from its current economic distress unless and until the housing crisis has abated. Congress must do everything in its power to shore up consumer confidence in housing by reaffirming its support for the tax benefits that support housing. Therefore, the worth and value of the MID must be preserved.

As your Member of Congress, I will continue to work hard with local, state, and federal officials to address our community’s housing needs. I remain committed to working at all levels to help restore opportunity to the housing market while avoiding the financial hyperinflation of the past.

Veterans

As a nation, we must honor our veterans for the sacrifices they have made for our freedom and security. As the wife of a Vietnam combat veteran and the step-mother of two Marine officers, I know firsthand the importance of ensuring that our troops have the tools and skills they need both while in combat and upon their return home. We must work tirelessly to make sure that upon their return, our brave service men and women are given every opportunity to help them be made whole again – both physically and mentally.

That is why I have been actively engaged in ensuring that bureaucrats were held accountable for the persistent problems the Miami VA Medical Center faced over the past few years. I have participated in Congressional hearings that sought to uncover the problems at the Miami VA, and I have often spoken out on the need for oversight and accountability at the institution. People have been held accountable for the mistakes in the past, and the Miami VA is now back on track to help provide all of our veterans with the outstanding medical care and treatment they have earned and deserved.

I have always 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 men and women receive the highest quality training and education they need in order to be competitive in today’s work environment.

I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that the men and women who have fought to protect the United States of America come back to a country that shows its appreciation for all that they have done.

Environment

I am committed to preserving our economic interests while equally protecting our cherished natural ecosystems. I will continue to make it my mission to protect South Florida so that future generations are able to enjoy our ecological treasures.

South Florida has many ecologically diverse environmental areas each that must be safeguarded. I have been active in implementing an effective long-term solution to comprehensive beach re-nourishment projects; I helped make possible dredging the contaminated sediment in the Miami River and help save its outlet in Biscayne Bay; and I remain a staunch opponent of offshore drilling close to our pristine shorelines, including proposed drilling off Cuba’s shores. The possibility of a spill directly threatens South Florida and our way of life.

Energy Policy

As technology continues to change the world around us, innovation should not stop when it comes to our dependence on oil. Investing in clean and renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar, and hydrogen fuel cells will reduce our dependence on foreign oil from volatile parts of the world.

In the fight against higher gas and energy prices, I have voted to prevent a backdoor, cap-and-trade-style national energy tax; voted for the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act that would increase the production of American-made energy; voted to develop enforceable electricity production standards; voted to give the US access to the    second largest oil reserves in the world in the Keystone XL pipeline project; and voted to development vast American oil shale resources.

I also 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 outweigh any benefits.

Most recently demonstrated by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oilrig, nearby offshore drilling could be responsible for a number of environmental dangers that pose a threat to our economy and livelihood. I am in support of legislation that holds oil companies responsible for their spills and for covering 100% of the cleanup costs and damages.

Homeland Security

The safety and security of every American is one 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 their technological capabilities. Drug and human trafficking plague our community and we must remain vigilant in the protection of our families, community, residents and visitors.

Social Security

The state of our sacred Social Security system is in disrepair. If we continue on our current course, without strengthening the Social Security program, it will soon be broke, leaving our nation’s seniors and disabled in jeopardy. In 2010, the United States government paid out more in benefits than it received in income for first time since 1983. There was a $49 billion deficit in 2010, a projected $46 billion for 2011 and deficits of over $20 billion for 2012-2014. After 2014, redeeming trust fund assets out of the General Trust Fund of the Treasury will pay these deficits. This Trust Fund is expected to be exhausted by 2036. After 2036, at the current tax income level, benefits will only be able to be paid out at .75 cents for every dollar owed.

In 2011, nearly 56 million Americans received over $727 billion in Social Security (SS) benefits. That is equal to 1/6th of the US population, for an average monthly benefit of $1,082.20. The Social Security share of the total 2010 US budget was 20%. In 2011, SS spending as a share of GDP was 5% – and projected to be 6.1% in 2035.

When Social Security benefits were first paid out on a monthly basis in 1940, there were nearly 160 workers paying into the system for every beneficiary. By 1960, this ratio dropped to 4.9, and in 2010, that number fell to 2.8. In 2014, the number of beneficiaries will grow substantially faster than the number of covered workers, and by 2035, the worker-to-beneficiary ratio is projected to drop to 1.9. At this rate, Social Security as we know it, will simply be unsustainable after 2035.

With so many people depending on Social Security, Supplemental Security Income and Survivor’s Benefits, I am making sure that I do everything I can to strengthen these programs in order to protect and preserve the safety net upon which over 56 million Americans are dependent.

Medicare

After a lifetime of hard work, seniors deserve a Medicare program that is solvent, sustainable and responsive. Medicare is a sacred trust on which America must never default. Sadly, Obamacare ends Medicare, as we know it. It contains more than 160 provisions for Medicare that increase the government’s control over the delivery of care. It also hits doctors with unsustainable payment cuts while leaving taxpayers with higher deficits.

Obamacare turns major Medicare payment decisions over to an unelected board, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB will control the Medicare budget. Unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats should not be in control of Medicare.

The most pressing issue facing Medicare is its long-term solvency. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Medicare will go bankrupt in 2021 unless we do something to save this much-needed program.

That is why I have always fought for strengthening and ensuring the fiscal solvency of Medicare. We must protect Medicare recipients from any disruptions in their coverage while offering future beneficiaries innovative and common sense solutions so as to ensure that this program will be there for them. Unfortunately, Obamacare takes $500 billion from Medicare’s coffers. This money will not go back into Medicare but, in fact, it will be used to fund and expand other Obamacare initiatives.

One of the ways to make Medicare more effective is to combat fraud. Medicare fraud and abuse costs taxpayers close to $60 billion dollars annually. That is why I have reintroduced the Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act. It would update and double the criminal penalties for those convicted of Medicare fraud. It will also create a new offense for illegally distributing Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary IDs.