Thank you for your interest in electing D. Vincent Thomas Jr. to the U.S. House of Representatives for IL 9th District.
Fire Arm Reform
As a product of Chicago’s south side, I know all too well that gun violence is a daily threat for many within our country. More needs to be done, at all levels of government. The federal government needs to do prioritize researching the causes and ramifications of gun violence. To begin this process, the federal government needs to put funding behind researching the issue. This non-partisan, science based research will allow elected officials the opportunity to make competent policy decisions based on relevant, non-partisan information. This is critical for two reasons, first, the limited gun violence research that does exist is largely funded by private sources and amounts to well under $5 million per year (Association of Pediatric Program Directors www.appd.org). Secondly, the Dickey Amendment prevents the Center for Decease Control and Prevention (CDC) from investigating gun violence in any capacity. The Dickey Amendment, passed by Congress in 1996, stipulates that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control (www.appd.org).” Another policy change that can, and should be implemented, pertains to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).Under current laws the bureau is prohibited from creating a federal registry of gun transactions. We must also digitize the National Tracing Center making the tracing of recovered firearms more expedient and efficient (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/us/legislative-handcuffs-limit-atfs-ability-to-fight-gun-crime.html).While these are by no means a panacea to the issue of gun violence, they are policy steps that can immediately be taken to begin the process of broader policy changes.
In the state of Illinois there are 764,203 Veterans. 567,002 are Wartime Vets, of them, 53,171 are Post 9/11 Vets. Of Illinois Vets, 696,913 are male, 67,290 are female. I am one of the 696,913 Illinois male veterans as a member of the United States Coast Guard currently a Reservist with 4 years Active Duty time. As a member of American Legion Post #758 and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard the issues related to both Veterans and the Military in general are of the utmost importance to me. I am dedicated to recognizing and supporting the men and women who serve and have served in all branches of our armed forces. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen/women, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen/women need all the assistance we as a society can provide. I am in favor of the positive bi-partisan changes made to the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill. These positive changes can be expanded upon by doing more to encourage traditional, brick and mortar, college’s and universities to accept the training our military personnel receive while on active duty. This can be accomplished by allowing military training to be used to fast track said service members matriculation within certain academic degree programs. I will seek bi-partisan support to encourage the Department of Education to promote policies that encourage academic institutions to adopt these Veteran centered education changes.
Common Ground and Bipartisanship
D. Vincent Thomas Jr. and The Thomas for IL9 campaign seeks to be a leader in inspiring a collaborative government representing the people instead of a confrontational government representing the party. I seek to encourage this change but I can’t do it without you the voter. Now more than ever new blood is needed to tear down the wall of partisan divide that has crippled our great nation for decades. My opponent seeks to maintain this partisan division blindly siding with her party. I will voice my disagreements with my party when necessary because my loyalty, first and foremost, is to my country and to the voters of the Illinois’ 9th Congressional District. I will represent the best interests of the people by intentionally and vigorously reaching across the aisle to craft the best possible policies for the betterment of IL 9 and the country. It is through bi-partisanship Congress can best represent all and craft policies that are thoughtfully balanced, necessary, and beneficial. I seek the support of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to be an instrument of this bi-partisan movement. We can start a new chapter in our political novel, but it can’t be written without you.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) addressed important goals including elimination of preexisting condition exclusions and lifetime caps on insurance payments. These are important and necessary changes to the overall health insurance system, however like all policies, the ACA is not without its flaws and complexities. Healthcare costs have dramatically increased for many and its complexity is producing harsh, unintended consequences to the overall market place. The ACA must be fixed, there is no questioning that. However, repealing the ACA wholesale will only create even more unrest within the health care market and replacing it is causing equally as much unrest within the Republican party.
Health care is an issue that affects all Americans irrespective of party, but, we will not begin to make real, positive changes to our overall health system until we begin to change our way of thinking about health care itself. It is important to understand that there is a significant distinction between changing our societal understanding of individual health care and changing the health insurance market. I will propose a national conversation about the importance of making health care an individual responsibility first, through healthy eating, exercising, and the like. I will also propose making healthy foods more affordable. It is very difficult for many within our society to eat healthy because they are unable to afford those foods that are critical to healthy eating habits. These changes, are not, nor will they ever be an all-encompassing solution, but they will have a positive effect on individual health which will, in turn, be reflected in the insurance market.
Two-thirds of students graduating from American colleges and universities are graduating with some level of debt. According to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) Project on Student Debt, the average borrower will graduate with $26,600 of student loan debt. One in 10 graduates accumulate more than $40,000 in college debt. This is a no win situation for students, parents, and the economy as a whole. If elected I will propose and push for legislation allowing students and their families to be able to treat student loan debt like any other form of debt, by being able to refinance and file for bankruptcy on their student loan debt. This will help to ensure college students enter in and graduate from college with some peace of mind regarding their long term financial prospects. If we as a society proclaim we want and need a well educated population to fill the jobs of the future, we need to do better at assisting in the financing of such education and the future we need and want.