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. On 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 He also believes that today’s outdated educational system is too focused on memorization and assessment rather than creative learning, critical thinking and building 21st Century skills.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
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.
Read Nick's detailed policy proposal here.
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.
Read Nick's detailed policy proposal about Social Security here.
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;
After over a decade at war, America emerges in a weakened position because our leaders were unrealistic in our mission and unprepared for its consequences. We must learn from this experience. At the same time, we now confront challenges on multiple fronts around the globe that threaten our national security, regional stability, and human rights. So we must also reevaluate our role in the world and reprioritize our engagement in international conflicts.
Nick believes in the following five foreign policy principles:
1. Achieve Stability through Strength
America must maintain a strong posture on the global stage in order to help achieve stability, peace, and security. That means remaining well engaged diplomatically and well prepared militarily –– not retreating from global affairs.
2. Influence Others by Example
The best way for America to promote free people and free markets is to lead by example –– to show how democratic self-government and capitalism can benefit society. This requires “nation-building” at home by, among other things, reinvesting in America’s economy, reducing our nation’s indebtedness, and reforming our political institutions to stem the tide of partisan gridlock.
3. Remain Committed but Realistic
America must remain totally committed to protecting our own national security, assisting our allies, and responding to humanitarian crises — especially those that threaten our interests at home and abroad. We must also be realistic to what we can achieve and how we can achieve it –– through both diplomacy and, if necessary, the use of force –– such that our country is always prepared for the consequences of our action or inaction.
4. Communicate Clearly and Act Consistently
Our country must articulate our foreign policy and support it with decisive action so that the world knows that we mean what we say and say what we mean. The world will be a safer and more stable place when international actors can anticipate the actions or reactions of our country. Other countries must know that acts of aggression will be met with American sanctions, economic or otherwise.
5. Intervene Strategically when Necessary
America should intervene militarily only when absolutely necessary and when all other options have been exhausted or eliminated. In these cases, we must forge multilateral commitments to the extent possible and proceed with clear goals, parameters, and outcomes. We must also leverage our superior intelligence, technology, and air power to minimize threats to American soldiers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has acted with blatant disregard to international law and norms in effectively annexing the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine, in part invited by America’s inconsistent and empty threats as well as our tepid responses. The United States must continue to work with our allies and leverage economic and diplomatic means to strongly resist and respond to this kind of aggression so that Russia understands the consequences of its Cold War behavior.
Facilitated by the removal of U.S. troops in Iraq and America’s disengagement from the civil war in Syria, the terrorist organization ISIS has been able to establish a stronghold in the Middle East with the aim of establishing an Islamic state. The United States must work to prevent the creation of a safe haven for radical Islamist terrorists in the region by supporting the Iraqi military through continued training and limited airstrikes and encouraging responsible and true democratic governance. The solution for a stable and secure Iraq lies in the country’s ability to effectively share power among its sectarian factions.
Israel is one of our closest and most important allies, and we must support them in their efforts to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity from terrorist groups that seek to destroy their country. In the short-term, we should work with countries in the region to establish a lasting cease-fire. Over the long-term, we must continue to support a two-state solution based on mutual recognition to prevent future conflicts.
The United States must expand and enforce sanctions aimed at limiting Iran’s influence in the region, such as its support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. We must also take all action necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
America’s influence and prosperity has always derived from our unparalleled ability to create and innovate. In the face of greater international competition, we must continue to lead the world in technological innovation. By reducing government intervention, streamlining existing regulation, and empowering entrepreneurs we can create new jobs that will increase growth and opportunity. Spurring innovation, rather than serving special interests, must be a top economic priority.
- Reforming certain legal and regulatory structures in a way that allows greater market access to new participants, rather than excluding new competition as our current environment does;
- Maintaining a free and open Internet worldwide, where small startups can turn big ideas into billion-dollar businesses;
- Protecting the Internet from government censorship and excessive regulation, such as new liability requirements on Internet Service Providers;
- Reforming our copyright system to allow greater power to free markets, permit consumers more personal freedom, and encourage innovation and content creation, such as by opposing legislation similar to SOPA/PIPA;
- Reforming our patent system to expedite the process, improve quality, curb excessive litigation, and prevent monopolies;
- Investing and prioritizing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
Nick is a strong supporter of equal rights and opportunities for women in all areas of our society, including politics.
In Congress, Nick will work to advance issues including ensuring equal pay for equal work, reducing sexual assault and domestic violence, and protecting women’s reproductive rights.
- Enforcing and enhancing the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to ensure employers are held accountable for gender discrimination and employees are protected from raising such concerns;
- Fact: In Pennsylvania, on average, full-time employed women earn 75 cents for every dollar that a man earns.
- Continuing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), holding higher education institutions accountable via federal funding for the proper recording and response of campus sexual assaults, and providing necessary oversight of the recent sexual violence prevention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act;
- Fact: Roughly 70% of sexual assaults go unreported and only 3% of rapes result in a conviction. One quarter of female college students experience rape or attempted rape, and nearly one quarter of females in the military have been sexually assaulted.
- Maintaining current federal laws regarding a woman’s reproductive rights, and maintaining current coverage requirements of contraceptives in health insurance, including religious exemptions
- Fact: Federal funding for family planning is 61% lower in constant dollars than in 1980.
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.
The federal government must be more fiscally responsible in the administration of justice. The Federal Bureau of Prisons budget has surpassed $6 billion and consumes over one quarter of the entire Department of Justice budget.
While many states are taking a proactive approach to reducing prison populations, the federal government’s prison population continues to grow and our nation’s federal prisons are approximately 38% over capacity.
The United States also has 5% of the world’s population, yet we incarcerate 25% of the world’s prison population. Our incarceration rate is the highest in the entire world and exceeds that of Russia and China. Despite these facts, our recidivism rate remains high, jeopardizing public safety.
- A data-driven approach to improving public safety, reducing corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvesting savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism.
- Fairer minimum terms for nonviolent drug offenders, in conjunction with evidence-based treatment programs, such as the Smarter Sentencing Act. While mandatory minimums are necessary for violent, repeat offenders they should not be imposed on first time, nonviolent offenders.
- Prevention of youth violence, gang affiliation, and crime through community health and school-based programs
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 to the area;
- Developing new capacities in agriculture, forestry and ecotourism;
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.
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.