Building a Stronger Economy

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.

Controlling and Reducing 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.

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 sponsored the legislation for 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.

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.

Protecting our Environment

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.

Supporting Clean and Renewable Energy

 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.

Keeping Our Homeland Safe

 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.

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.

Preserving Medicare

Seniors deserve a Medicare program that is solvent, sustainable and responsive. Medicare is a sacred trust that must be protected so that seniors who rely on this vital program receive the benefits that they have earned. The most pressing issue facing Medicare today is its long-term solvency. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Medicare will no longer be able to guarantee full benefits by 2030 unless we take concrete steps 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.

In these tough economic times, I have consistently worked to ensure that seniors in South Florida don’t suffer from Medicare payment cuts to hospitals. I also remain committed in protecting and preserving seniors’ choice through a stable Medicare Advantage Program, and to fulfilling the promise of affordable prescription drug coverage for all seniors through the Medicare Part D program.

My commitment to a robust Medicare program is evident in my consistent research and longstanding opposition to arbitrary spending cuts. I voted for the 21st Century Cures Act, bipartisan legislation that will lead to billions in additional savings for Medicare through innovative health research into diseases that will yield countless life-saving and life-improving cures and therapies. I also will continue to oppose the implementation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). A product of Obamacare’s enabling legislation, the IPAB is designed to turnover Medicare payment decisions to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats whose only job is to cut the Medicare budget. That is an outcome that will hurt our seniors – we need to preserve Medicare benefits, not cut them indiscriminately!

In 2015, I voted for a major bipartisan Medicare reform package that was signed into law with several key provisions to strengthen and secure the Medicare program, including the “doc fix” that ends automatic Medicare payment cuts to doctors and helps protect seniors’ access to quality healthcare, as well as their freedom to choose their own physicians.

Another way to make Medicare more effective is to do more to combat fraud and make sure that support goes to those who rightfully and truly need it. Medicare fraud and abuse costs taxpayers close to $60 billion dollars annually. That is why I authored the Medicare Fraud Enforcement and Prevention Act to update and double the criminal penalties for those convicted of Medicare fraud, while creating new penalties for illegally distributing Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary IDs.