Stronger and more sustained economic growth must be our top national priority. On one hand, the federal government must minimize the harm it is already doing to the economy by avoiding brinksmanship over the federal budget, such as last fall’s shutdown, and by getting its fiscal house in order. One the other hand, government can help grow our economy by employing strategies to increase our national competitiveness and reducing barriers to innovation, investment and job creation.
- Eliminating unnecessary federal regulations in order to reduce the time and resources businesses expend to comply;
- Expanding free trade agreements with other countries;
- Reforming our patent system to expedite the process, improve quality and curb excessive litigation;
- Modernizing our immigration system, as part of comprehensive immigration reform, in order to attract and retain high-skilled labor and entrepreneurs;
- Increasing targeted federal investments in areas including early childhood and higher education, critical infrastructure and high-value research
While Nick supports indexing the minimum wage to inflation, he does not believe an absolute increase in the minimum wage is an effective way to reduce poverty, strengthen the middle class or grow the economy. Instead, Nick supports expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit as part of a comprehensive and cost-neutral effort to restructure and strengthen the social safety net.
A strong system of education is the backbone of opportunity and prosperity in our society. The United States is falling behind in educational outcomes and must focus on improving our education system and increasing high school and college graduation rates in order to increase economic mobility and grow our economy.
Nick believes that K-12 education should be oriented to prepare students for college, a career and meaningful involvement in civic life. He also believes that today’s outdated educational system is too focused on memorization and assessment rather than creative learning, critical thinking and building 21st Century skills.
- Setting robust national K-12 educational standards, especially in STEM fields, but leaving the development of curricula at the local and state level;
- Focusing on attracting and retaining good teachers through rigorous evaluation, and empowering schools to let go those who are ineffective;
- Protecting school choice and innovation in education through private schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and home schooling in a way that does not undermine public education;
- Expanding early childhood education through a competitive federal grant system that holds new programs accountable for educational outcomes;
- Promoting career and technical education for those seeking jobs that do not require a traditional four-year degree;
- Making higher education more affordable by further tying federal funding of college and universities to the value of the degrees they produce
Despite decades of talking and trying, the United States remains too dependent on foreign-sourced energy and fossil fuels. Our country must make a greater effort to develop and enact a 21st Century energy policy that enhances energy security, strengthens our national security, supports economic growth and promotes environmental sustainability.
Nick believes we should focus on exploring and developing all low-carbon or carbon-less sources of domestic energy, including natural gas and nuclear power, with an aim of transitioning to a clean and renewable energy based economy in the future. Nick wants to create and retain jobs in the United States and work towards energy independence.
- Expanding access to all energy sources on federal lands in a safe, sustainable and responsible manner;
- Facilitating the approval of new nuclear power reactors and offshore drilling wells;
- Improving federal investment in alternative energy through a reformed system of competitive deployment incentives and federal procurement
- Establishing a clean energy standard for electricity production;
- Supporting teacher training, scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships to motivate and educate future energy innovators and entrepreneurs
Nick believes we must uphold our commitment to care for those who have served our country. Nick will work to ensure that all active-duty military, veterans, and their families receive the support they rightly deserve.
- Reforming the Veterans Administration to reduce the backlog of disability claims;
- Strengthening programs to aid the reintegration of returning service members into society, including job training and placement;
- Offering annual passes to all national parks and recreation areas to veterans and their families, so they can enjoy at no cost the land they have protected
Nick believes in the vision, most recently articulated by retired General Stanley McChrystal, that one year of national service, whether civilian or military, should become a cultural expectation, a common opportunity and a civic rite of passage for every young American. National service is important because it can be part of the solution to many of our nation’s most pressing challenges, can help foster a common national experience during a time of social fragmentation and political polarization, and can provide new pathways to education and employment for all Americans, especially at-risk and disconnected youth.
- Fully funding, on a deficit-neutral basis, the Serve America Act in order to scale full-time national service positions to 250,000 by 2017;
- Expanding service corps to additional government agencies to help federal departments meet their missions through community volunteerism;
- Offering partial federal student loan forgiveness to young Americans who complete two or more years of national service.
Social Security is a vitally important program that millions of Americans have paid into and rely upon in their retirement. However, according to the program’s Trustees, Social Security is on a certain path toward insolvency.
If no reforms are enacted, all beneficiaries will receive a permanent 23% cut in their benefits in less than twenty years. Modest changes must be made now and phased in gradually, in such a way that protects those in and near retirement and offers additional protections for the most vulnerable.
Nick is opposed to any benefit cuts for those who are in or near retirement.
The United States pays above average prices for below average results in health care. Reforming our health care system is an imperative to reduce long-term deficits, improve our society’s health and grow our economy. This can only be achieved by shifting from a fragmented, volume-based delivery system to a value-driven, coordinated one.
Nick believes the Affordable Care Act was passed in a partisan manner and has been implemented in an incompetent way, which undermines its ultimate effectiveness. While Nick supports the ACA’s objectives to expand access to health care and improve the quality of health insurance, he believes the law spends too much, is too disruptive to those who already have insurance and is not focused enough on containing health care costs.
Nick supports repairing the law to:
- Allow greater flexibility in the variety of insurance plans available to consumers, especially those who like their current plan and doctor;
- Reduce the size and scope of federal subsidies available through the law;
- Replace the individual mandate with market-based incentives;
- Partially replace the financing mechanism of the law with a limit on the tax exclusion for employer-provided health care;
- Widen the age differential in insurance pricing;
Beyond repairing the ACA, more must be done to address overall national health care costs and reforming both Medicare and Medicaid to better serve beneficiaries and restrain spending. Stay tuned: Nick will be offering a more detailed policy proposal on the topic of health care soon.
The United States was built on immigration, but today’s immigration system is broken. Comprehensive reform that is tough, fair and practical can help grow our economy, reduce the deficit and strengthen our national security.
Reform can also end our current system of de facto amnesty for our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants by implementing a new system that would force them to take responsibility and earn a legal status, or that would deport those who remain here illegally.
- Securing our border, including by expanding funding for border agents and other security enhancements;
- Increasing enforcement of our current immigration laws, including by advancing the adoption of a strengthened employer-based e-verify system;
- Modernizing our immigration system to recruit and retain additional high-skilled labor and entrepreneurs, including by lifting the cap on H-1B visas;
- Upon achieving the above objectives, providing opportunities to undocumented immigrants to work toward a legal status by meeting various criteria, including clearing a background check, passing a civics test, paying a fine and waiting in line;
Protecting our national security is the top priority of the federal government to keep our country safe from threats at home and abroad. Nick believes all national security measures and military engagements must be weighed against the liberty, privacy, civil rights and the livelihood of all Americans.
- Securing our borders and further safeguarding lawful trade and travel;
- Providing our service men and women with the tools, training and protection they need;
- Limiting foreign intervention in international conflicts while never turning a blind eye to human rights violations;
- Establishing civilian oversight over all domestic surveillance programs and ensuring they are both constitutional and necessary to protect against foreign and domestic threats;
The influx of money in politics has a corrupting influence in our government. Too many elected leaders are beholden to their special interest campaign contributors rather than the citizens they are supposed to represent. We must reform our system of campaign finance, without restricting free speech, in order to ensure our government remains responsive to the people.
- Prohibiting candidates from rolling over contributions raised in one election cycle to the next, thereby allowing them to compile massive campaign war chests; instead, all contributions in a given cycle must be spent, returned or donated to charity;
- Passing the American Anti-Corruption Act to, among other things, prohibit politicians from accepting contributions from industries they regulate, further limiting lobbyist contributions to $500, requiring all organizations who spend more than $10,000 in an election to disclose their major donors, and further closing the “revolving-door” in Washington;
- Creating a voluntary system of partial public financing, whereby federal candidates could opt-in to receive federal matching funds if, and only if, they choose to limit contributions to their campaign from donors who are able to vote for them (i.e. no PAC money or out-of-state donations);
- Creating, on a deficit-neutral basis, a $100 biennial tax rebate or “Democracy Voucher” for voters to contribute to any candidate who qualifies for partial public financing as described above.
Nick believes the safe and sustainable development of natural gas resources in Pennsylvania is an important means of advancing domestic energy security, economic growth and environmental responsibility. He supports additional measures to increase transparency and safety of the hydraulic fracturing process from start to finish, including in the processing and transportation of natural gas.
Nick understands how harmful increasing flood insurance premiums and plummeting property values can be to households. While the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 will help lessen some of the devastating impacts of the poorly implemented Biggert-Waters law, more must be done to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. Nick believes additional measures should focus on supporting homeowners in need, restoring fiscal solvency to the program, and ensuring that FEMA will perform affordability studies on new flood maps.
Farmers are the lifeblood of America and historically, many parts of Pennsylvania’s 10th district has been built upon the farming industry. Nick supports our local farmers, recognizes the important role they play in food production, and will work to make sure our farmers receive the support they need to help improve our district’s agriculture industry.
Employment and median income within the 10th Congressional District falls below the state and national averages. While the natural gas industry has increased economic growth in the region, we must ensure our communities can sustain themselves beyond its presence. On a local and regional level, we must do more to support economic development.
- Improving the regulatory environment and offering direct support in startup and compliance activities for small businesses and entrepreneurs;
- Leveraging our relatively low-tax environment and, in some cases, our proximity to larger population centers, as a competitive advantage in attracting businesses and industry to move the area;
- Developing new capacities in agriculture, forestry and ecotourism;
Consistent with the Constitution, Nick strongly supports an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. He also supports common sense measures to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and to reduce the likelihood of mass casualty events.
Nick believes that, as a society, we should uphold the sanctity of human life. He is opposed to the death penalty and supports measures to reduce the number of abortions in our country, without restricting access to safe and legal procedures as guaranteed by the Supreme Court. For example, Nick supports expanding access to family planning, promoting adoption and strengthening social services for mothers.
Nick believes that two-parent households are a crucial part of a strong society. He supports marriage between loving couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. While the issue of gay marriage largely rests with the states, Nick is opposed to all discrimination in federal policy based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity.