These are my positions on the issues, and my plan should I have the privilege of representing Hawai’i’s First Congressional District:
Our economy needs a plan, but those in Congress seem more interested in scoring political points than addressing our community’s concerns. Small businesses, are responsible for almost 65% of all new jobs. Before small businesses can begin hiring new workers, they need economic certainty. Certainty doesn’t come from higher taxes. I have never voted for a tax increase, and will continue to make lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code my priority. Low taxes, fiscal responsibility in Washington, and tax relief for families and small businesses will stimulate the economy and fuel a more robust economy for Hawaii and America.
I strongly support expanding trade, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. That’s why I back granting fast-track authority to the President to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement between the U.S. and several Asia-Pacific nations. Free trade with Asia is good for America, but will especially benefit Hawaii and create jobs in our islands.
As a congressman, I supported the following efforts to get our economy back on track:
H.R. 5554 – Small Business Financing and Investing Act of 2010
This bill would provide tax relief to small businesses by easing the regulatory burden and expanding access to credit. Small businesses drive job creation in our economy, particularly in Hawai’i. Helping small businesses grow should be one of Congress’ priorities
H.R. 5141 – Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act
This bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to repeal a provision added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires small businesses to report payments of $600 or more. This addition to the tax code puts an unfair burden on businesses with a limited number of employees. Congress should reduce barriers to small business success.
H.R. 2189 – Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2009
This bill requires each executive agency, except the Department of Defense (DOD), to establish and maintain specified safeguards and internal controls for official purchase cards and convenience checks. Government credit cards should follow the same accounting standards as corporate businesses.
HR. 205 – Death Tax Repeal Act
This bill repeals the federal estate and gift taxes. The so-called “Death Tax” is no more than a double tax on Americans who want to leave something to the next generation. Using the death of a loved one as an excuse to tax is just another sign of how out-of-touch Washington really has become.
Budget and Spending
The working families and small businesses in our islands are struggling in this difficult economy. I have witnessed the effects of this struggle throughout our district. Among the top concerns that constituents share with me are the runaway federal spending and the growing national debt which together threaten our economy and hinder job growth. We cannot spend and borrow our way out of this economic downturn. It simply won’t work.
The federal government is spending too much money on programs that do too little for the American people. Washington’s intervention in our economy has spiraled out of control.
With our debt soaring past $17 trillion, our national debt now nears $60,000 per person. We must plan where we’re going and how much it will cost us to get there. We need bipartisan support to bring spending under control.
Here are some ways I fought to bring fiscal responsibility and accountability to Washington:
H. J. Res. 1- Balanced Budget Resolution (co-sponsored)
This resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget. Hard working Americans are required to live within their means, so should Congress. The State of Hawaii and City and County of Honolulu have balance budget requirements – the Federal government should too. It’s time to hold our leaders accountable for deficit spending.
H.R. 1294- Congressional Accountability and Line-Item Veto Act of 2009 (co-sponsored)
This bill authorizes the President to propose the repeal of any congressional earmarks or the cancellation (line item veto) of any limited tariff benefit or targeted tax benefit. If enacted, this bill would allow the President to cut out wasteful and fiscally irresponsible spending.
H.R. 5454- Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010 (co-sponsored)
This bill provides an optional fast-track procedure that the President may use when submitting rescission requests. The President should have the ability to expedite legislation that eliminates unnecessary federal spending. This legislation would streamline the process and allow a straight up-or-down vote on rescissions.
H.R. 5258- Earmark Transparency Act of 2010 (co-sponsored)
This bill requires Congress to establish a unified and searchable database on a public website for congressional earmarks. For too long, wasteful earmarks have been negotiated in closed door meetings. Providing a searchable database shines a light on the process. As a State Representative in Hawaii, I succeeded in opening the State’s budget worksheets to the public. The time has come to open the Washington earmark process to public scrutiny as well.
I also support legislation to gradually reduce the size of the Federal workforce. I support legislation to mandate hiring only one new government employee for every two who retires or leaves government employment until the Federal government workforce returns to 2008 levels.
I recognize that healthcare costs are increasing too fast in our country and that too many of our fellow citizens remain uninsured. I will consider any sensible idea for making healthcare work better in America. But any change to our healthcare system must address the spiraling costs and insure more Americans without limiting heath options or harming the doctor-patient relationship. For these reasons, I opposed the enactment of Obamacare and support market-based healthcare reforms that actually will work. In Hawaii, we appropriated over $200 million to set up Obamacare and signed up only 8,000 people. Per capita, Hawaii’s Obamacare program is the most expensive in America.
What is needed is tort reform. I have long supported a limit on non-economic damages for medical malpractice. Tort reform is long over-due and I will fight for a cap of $250,000 or three times economic damages for medical malpractice awards to help reduce the need for “defensive” medicine and bring down the cost of malpractice insurance. I also support allowing the sale of inter-state health insurance. Just two carriers provide over 90% of all health insurance in Hawai’i, which reduces competition. Finally, we need to rethink the way we tax health insurance. The current structure of health insurance in the U.S. is an anachronism dating back to WWII. Rather than have corporations as the sole providers of health insurance, we should instead allow for individual tax deduction of health insurance and make the health insurance market a more “normal” individual choice.
When people have trust in their elected officials, they have trust in their government. I believe that the personal integrity of elected officials is fundamental to our democracy. All major public policy goals start with an open and honest government. After the series of scandals that tarnished the Honolulu Liquor Commission, I called for the wholesale reform and improved oversight of the Commission. When several Liquor Commission inspectors were convicted of bribery charges, I successfully obtained an audit of the Liquor Commission and called for the firing of the Liquor Commission Administrator and Chief Investigator. After months of intense work, my efforts helped secure the Liquor Commission Administrator’s removal and the voluntary departure of the Chief Investigator. Today this agency is rebuilding the trust that it lost. I also successfully fought to give the Ethics Commission the power to issue civil fines for violations of the ethics code and championed stronger ethics rules that have reduced conflicts of interest in Honolulu. These reforms that I instituted led to the sanctioning and eventual prosecution of a councilmember for misconduct.
As a combat veteran, I believe our uniformed men and women make up the most capable fighting force in the world and Hawai’i, given its location, has a unique and critical role in our national security. Our island chain is home to key military bases and stations, thousands of military personnel and various strategic operations. To cope with the diverse and challenging threats facing our nation, America must maintain its strong military and Hawai’i must retain its central role in military preparedness. Having served in Afghanistan with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Infantry Division, I would never want an American soldier in harm’s way unless absolutely necessary. However, I understand that, to ensure the safety of Americans at home, we must often combat terrorism where it is found, whether in Iran, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions or in industrialized cities around the world. At home, I support a national plan to protect America’s infrastructure, and keep our communities safe.
Environment and Energy
Hawai’i’s beautiful natural environment is a treasure that must be preserved for future generations. I have been an outspoken advocate for recycling and energy conservation. I successfully fought to bring curbside recycling to Oahu and called for reductions in the City’s energy usage. I am committed to a long-term energy strategy for America and Hawai‘i that brings us independence from foreign oil resources. I will fight for federal support of Hawai‘i’s alternative energy projects and will only support environmentally-sound and responsible efforts to enlarge America’s domestic supply of oil, natural gas, and nuclear power.
We need a reformed education system that puts children first. I believe we must turn education right-side up by making principals and teachers accountable for our children’s education and empowering parental involvement in schools. Principals in turn must have the resources they need, including adequate funding and the ability to remove underperforming teachers. The cost of educational bureaucracy must be reduced to insure that education dollars are spent in the classroom and teachers have the tools they need to educate our children, including continuing teacher education and training. That’s how good school systems work. We cannot continue to limit our children’s potential in school systems that don’t teach.
The federal government has an obligation to honor the commitment it has made to our nation’s citizens who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and are nearing retirement age. I have never and will never support reneging on our commitment to our seniors.
Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs need to be protected, not abused and exploited. Frequent borrowing from social security to pay for today’s “priorities” has bankrupted the program. With continuing high unemployment rates and the cost of healthcare rising, the last thing our country needs is a tax hike or a cut to entitlements earned by senior citizens.
We must keep the promises that have been made to our seniors. We cannot let Social Security go bankrupt. In this decisive time, we need strong leadership that will promote fiscal responsibility so that we can ensure these programs will be viable for future generations of Americans.
Social Security is sound for today’s seniors and for those nearing retirement, but it needs to be fixed for our children and grandchildren. We must act soon, because every year that we wait to fix this problem we will burden future generations with billions of dollars in debt.
I support President Obama’s Bi-Partisan commission on deficit reduction’s suggested reforms for entitlements and believe this should be the basic foundation for fixing Social Security for the next generation.
Faith and Family
Strong families raise successful children and keep communities together. I am candid about my own faith and my belief that we need a deeper, more substantive appreciation of the role that faith plays in American life. We cannot legislate healthy families, good parenting skills or a sound moral environment and we should not try. But we can do more in the public square to help parents through the increased challenges they face today by giving them the tools they need to succeed. That’s why I am troubled that the Hawaii State Legislature reversed traditional marriage in a rushed special session instead of putting it to a vote of the people. As a husband and father of three, I know that strong families and a diverse community form the bedrock of a strong Hawai`i and strong America.
Like most Americans, I cherish the principles of limited government and individual liberty enshrined in our nation’s founding documents. I believe what makes this nation great is not the vastness of our government, or the intricacy of our laws, but rather the freedom of individual citizens. I believe that our country’s constitution very clearly gives individual citizens the right to bear and keep arms. Throughout my years in elected office, I have always supported and will continue to support safe, legal, and responsible gun ownership.