U.S. House District 4: Herb Robinson on the issues
The most immediate problems our economy faces are creating jobs and reducing oil consumption. We also need to start balancing the budget and the distribution of taxes needs to be fairer.
The most important part of any economy is the people who make it work. I believe our economy needs to be fair to everyone, not just rich white men.
I believe we still need to stimulate job growth in the economy. We should do this by lowering the capital gains tax and expanding alternative energy incentives. This leverages our money best by creating new jobs and reducing oil consumption.
It has become clear over that last two years that many business leaders have failed to properly evaluate the effects of their decisions on the country’s economic well being. The most recent example of this is the major banks that have returned the money they borrowed rather than lend it out to pump up the economy: They are rumored to have done that because of the bonus caps attached to the loans. While financial executives are the worst offenders, other industries have contributed to the stupidity. The problem is that executives have no accountability for the broader effects of their actions. In fact, nobody even tells them they are responsible for the broader effects of their actions, let alone holds them accountable.
We can and should establish new regulations for the financial system; however, this may well fail to anticipate the next crisis. Or putting that less politely, the crooks will always find ways to skirt the law and get into trouble.
In addition to new regulations to cover known problems, we should borrow a concept from private industry and adopt an incentive plan for the economy that holds executives accountable for their overall job performance. I call it Bottom Line Regulation.
I believe the federal budget should be balanced over the long term. It should be balanced by reducing unnecessary military spending and increasing the taxes paid by the highest income residents of the country.
I am opposed to privatizing Social Security.
Social security is an obligation, not an entitlement. We worked hard to pay into social security and the government is obliged to return our money to us when we retire. Social Security is supposed to be a separate account from the rest of the Federal budget and should stay that way.
Obviously, I support keeping social security solvent, but social security is not a piggy bank the Tea Party can steal from to give tax breaks to the wealthy.
The most important asset any company has are the people who work for it. That means that our economy is dependent on having a good education system.
I spent 13 years in a public school in rural New York State; so, I support public education.
I also think our public schools need to be a lot better than they are, now. I believe the road to improvement involves
- Merit pay for teachers.
- Standardized testing.
The formula for merit pay needs to be based on more than just raw test scores. It should also be based on improvement in test scores, supervisor evaluation, peer evaluation and possibly even student surveys.
We cannot manage an enterprise like public education without measuring the results. That would be standardized testing. I realize this is going to make me the villain of every teacher's union in the country, but let me tell you why I think that. When I was a freshman at Cornell, I was chatting with one of my biology classmates (who as it happens, graduated from the high school in one of the most affluent towns in Massachusetts). I noted what a gut class biology was because I had learned practically all the material in high school. Her horrified response was that she hadn't been taught ANY of the material by her high school. So why did I get a better education from a high school in a poor farming town? The answer is the New York State Regents Exam. The teachers (and students) all hated the Regents Exams, but it's hard to argue with the results.
That said, I think some other standardized tests could be better than they are. For example, a single, two day long, test is a bad idea. Splitting it up into multiple tests that aren't taken at the same time is a lot less stressful and will do a better job of measuring learning.
I am opposed to vouchers that take money out of the public school system.
I support alternative organizations like charter schools as long as they work.
I also support vocational education -- not every student needs college prep.
A college is the best way to improve ones career and the country needs more college graduates. I support the following programs to increase the number of students who get college degrees.
- Low interest student loans.
- Work study programs. Including subsidized internships in private industry.
- Pell grants.