As a state legislator, I have been a proponent of fully funding education at all levels. As your US Senator, I will continue that commitment by supporting the full funding of No Child Left Behind. I also believe that NCLB should be amended so that there will be less unfunded mandates in the program and that the educational integrity of the special education program is protected. I support early childhood education programs, such as Head Start, because of their proven educational track record. I do not support school vouchers, but I do support tax credits for private school tuition, home schooling, and tutorial services. I believe that federal funds should be used to help in the modernization and repair of substandard school infrastructures. I am not opposed to charter schools, especially if there is true community input into their development. I am opposed to any cuts in Pell Grant funding. If elected, I will push for the inclusion of entrepreneurship and financial literacy classes in all school curriculums.
Health care is important to Mississippi, since hundreds of thousands of our citizens have either lost or never had health coverage at all. Medicaid funding to the states should not be cut at this time, but instead made a budgetary priority. The new Medicare program should be re-examined to determine how to successfully provide needed prescriptions and other medical services to recipients with cost-effective efficiency. There should be a concerted effort of the US Congress to evaluate all of the factors that contribute to the rising cost of health care, not just tort reform, and work with the health care industry to make cost reductions possible. If there is cooperation from the industry to scale back costs, there is no need to talk about universal health care programs, because the goods and services provided will be more affordable, and citizens will be easier to insure.  I believe we should look at all the various health plans devised by states to see if we can develop a national model that will help Mississippi. I believe we must continue to fully fund community health agencies to make sure that all citizens are provided with preventative programs and exceptional on-site health care. I am opposed to any cuts in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS funding. I will support legislation that will provide additional funding for obesity prevention programs. I support the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy.
Hopefully, if elected, I will be able to vote on legislation to repeal the overtime limitation and bankruptcy restriction laws that have recently been enacted. Both of those laws will, in the long-term, put more fiscal strain on working families trying to make ends meet. I will be working to continue the support and expansion of our agricultural industry in Mississippi. I would support legislation, called Cuno laws, to protect states' abilities to attract businesses through tax incentives. I would support legislation to improve the federal unemployment insurance program to provide more coverage, better benefits and offer more job training. I would support legislation to give tax breaks to companies that don't outsource needed jobs and open new factories in the United States. I will work to repeal tax breaks to companies that continue to locate jobs overseas. If elected to the Senate, I believe we ought to re-visit our current trade agreements to see if they are achieving what they set out to do or if they are causing a negative impact on the job market in this country. I will support legislation that will double the funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. I would support legislation that protects workers' rights to organize and promote enhanced safety in the workplace. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the Davis-Bacon Act that provides prevailing wages and benefits to federally funded construction projects. I will support legislation that will re-invest in our nation's infrastructure. I will oppose cuts to our federally funded job training programs. I am also opposed to cutting funding for the Rental Assistance Voucher program. I would support legislation that would create the living wage of $9.25 an hour, which will positively impact over 13 percent of Mississippi's workforce. I will introduce legislation that will allow taxpayers to invest part of their tax rebate or refund into U.S. Treasury securities, for this will help pay down the National Debt and keep home mortgage interest rates low. Further on housing, predatory lending practices have severely damaged our economy. We must look at creative ways to allow people to purchase housing through our conventional lending system, like expanding the Community Reinvestment Act to put monetary assistance toward purchasing a new home as well as programs to raise credit scores.
I will work to revitalize the COPS program, which when it was fully funded, put an additional 1,722 police officers on Mississippi streets. I will support legislation to fully fund the Homeland Security Department to meet all our security needs, including our ports and railways. I am also in favor of the re-structuring of Homeland Security, including making the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) a stand-alone agency again, so that both agencies will be able to adequately respond when needed.
I am opposed to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for natural gas or oil. It is my belief that the current international situation dictates that we should put our financial resources behind the development of alternative energy sources, such as bio-diesel, which has the potential to be a true shot in the arm for Mississippi's farmers and the economy in general. I oppose any cuts to our federal clean water programs and I believe that we should go back to the standards set forth in the original Clean Air Act enacted in the Clinton administration. I am opposed to cutting the funds for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance program. I support fully funding our National Forest program which has a major impact on Mississippi's economy. I am not opposed to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, as long as issues dealing with the natural habitat are not compromised.
I believe that America should do better towards its immigrant population. It was immigrants who shaped our culture with their beliefs and built our nation with their labor. I believe that immigrants should be protected from unscrupulous employers on issues concerning wages, organizing, health care and housing. I do not support English-only legislation. I support immigrants legally working in this country to be allowed to receive driver's licenses, for their own safety and ours. I do not support vigilante groups like the Minutemen interfering with the duties of the men and women that make up our Border Patrols. I believe we should not discriminate against immigrants from certain countries like Haiti, while allowing other immigrants to freely come into our country. I will support legislation that will allow children of immigrants to receive all the educational opportunities available from Kindergarten through Post-Secondary levels. I will also support legislation that would allow taxpaying immigrant workers, after five years, the opportunity for earning legal status. I will not support an expansion of the current Guest Worker program.
I am against any proposal to privatize Social Security with personal investment accounts. If you want to increase options for private investment, take away the tax penalty for investing more than 25 percent of your personal income, or least raise the level one can invest without a penalty. I would support raising the full retirement age to 67, with a scale for age 62 to receive 66 percent of benefits, and age 65 to receive 75 percent. I also believe that it should be optional, not mandatory, for people who are in a certain high tax bracket to receive Social Security benefits. Also, I believe that the Congress should consider diversifying investment options for the Social Security Trust Fund rather than just restricting it to Treasury Bills. I would support legislation that would further protect the pension plans of America's workers, and reverse the provision in the Pension Reform Act of 2006 that denies the opportunity for working Mississippians to even receive a pension.
I believe that the invasion of Iraq should be our last pre-emptive unilateral occupation. Although we have seen the toppling of a ruthless dictator and the emergence of democracy in the Middle East, we cannot continue to say, in our approach to foreign policy, the ends justified the means. It is my hope that as a US Senator I will never have to act on whether the United States should have to go to war, but if I have to, I will do so, remembering that the decision I make will impact the lives and security of this nation. The US Senate is the body that ratifies treaties with other nations. If given that responsibility, I will, with true due diligence, vote on accords that serve the best interest for our nation and global peace. I believe that the United Nations can continue to serve as a vital organization to work toward resolving conflicts in the world; therefore, I will support legislation to fully fund our financial obligation to the U.N. annually. Closer to home, I believe in a strong national defense, so I will oppose any base closings in Mississippi or any other state. I believe with our increased ability to deploy troops and weapons, we should consider closing overseas military operations bases instead and create new multilateral defense treaties that would allow American troops to be stationed at foreign bases to maintain a presence at a streamlined cost to the Department of Defense.
The only litmus test for judicial nominees should be how well they interpret the U.S. Constitution, period. The federal judicial bench is suppose to be considered the premier court in the land, therefore the best and brightest jurists should be appointed to those positions. However, since national politics unfortunately has tainted the selection process, I am not in favor of abolishing the filibuster rule in the Senate. I am also opposed to allowing candidates for judicial nomination being allowed to serve as recess appointments. I believe the President should be required to select a different individual for a recess appointment, while the nominee for the vacant position is awaiting confirmation and I would support legislation, if necessary, to make that change.