Joe was born and raised in Pennsylvania. His father emigrated from Czechoslovakia as a young boy with his parents and served throughout World War II as an officer in the US Navy. He continued his naval career as he raised Joe and his seven siblings with his wife, who also served her country for 30 years as a high school math teacher. Through their example, Joe learned integrity’s values: service to country, to others … above self … with accountability, in answering for oneself.
Joe followed in his father’s footsteps, serving for over 31 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a 2-star Admiral. The Navy prepared Joe for increasing responsibility and command at sea, and readied him for national security and economic policy positions when ashore, when he earned a doctorate in both at Harvard University. Shore assignments included working for General Colin Powell when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for politico-military and economic assessments and for President Clinton at the National Security Council, coordinating the Administration’s national security strategy. After 9/11, Joe was told to establish the Navy’s strategic anti-terrorism unit, which took him for a very brief period to Afghanistan when the war began. Later, when Joe was in charge of the Navy’s Warfare Requirements, he proposed a controversial reduction in ship-levels from 375 to 260, challenging the assumption that numbers are the best measure of military capability. Instead, Joe believes that the future will be owned by whomever best harnesses cyberspace, at less cost. This thinking proved unnerving to the military-industrial-congressional complex, an experience that served him well later in politics when accountability for doing what’s needed would again mean going against ingrained norms — and, again, at a cost when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
At sea, Joe was appointed Commander of an aircraft carrier battle group, leading 10,000 sailors, SEALS and Marines in strikes over Afghanistan. The battle group was joined by an international armada, a demonstration that the U.S. had the world’s support, united against evil; America’s greatest power is its power to convene the peoples and nations of the world for a common cause. We helped build the liberal world order based upon the rules of individual and human rights, open and fair markets, fair and just governments. Through multilateral organizations and agreements, and U.S. leadership of them, we all became stronger, safer, healthier and more prosperous in our freedoms. That is what really makes “America First.” And that is why America’s retreat from the world today is so dangerous and damaging to the American Dream.
For example, there is nothing we can do by just ourselves alone to protect America from the most destructive threat to mankind: the irreversible consequences of climate change. Unless uprooted, they will eventually grow into wars and other forms of instability. But instead, America is withdrawing from the world behind walls, some wrongly believing that’s what’s needed to become great again.
Meanwhile, China is knocking down the barriers to its emerging global order of Sino-centric institutions and authoritarian values, using its Belt and Road Initiative to impose its illiberal values of “might makes right.” Simultaneously, China is exploiting the international commons of corporations who outsourced not just U.S. jobs but U.S. national security to China. China now has a virtual monopoly in manufacturing the supply chains that make these corporations’ hi-tech products, often embedded so data is surreptitiously sent to China. Chinese corporations are now connecting at least two-thirds of the world’s population to the transformational speed of the 5G network. This is arguably the greatest threat of all. It will revolutionize economies — and warfare — particularly for those who build the network and therefore own it – and the United States does not even make the wireless equipment to do it. China’s ownership will give it a police-state capability to surveil everything on the network, both for commercial and intelligence purposes.
It now is truly one world, where destruction by climate change; contraction of our way of life by China; and damage to our national security by corporations, will happen no matter what the United States does on its own.
The absence of U.S. leadership has also let dangers in the global neighborhood encroach upon us with the rise of populist leaders across the world, from China and Russia to Hungry, the Philippines, and Venezuela. There is no longer concern about consequences from a rules-based world order.
But we must be careful how U.S. leadership is restored in the world. There have been misjudgments that have cost America dearly; U.S. military’s power has been used unwisely, such as after 9/11 and the tragic misadventure in Iraq. At such times, our President, and Democrats and Republicans who voted for this reckless war, showed little understanding that while militaries can stop a problem, they can never fix a problem. Today, our country desperately needs a President with a depth of global experience and an understanding of all the elements of our nation’s power, from our economy and our diplomacy, to the power of our ideals and our military, including its limitations. If the American Dream is to be restored, America’s retreat from the world must be reversed for our collective good here at home. We can only preserve our American Dream together, with our allies.
Today, the United States needs a President who knows how to serve us abroad, but also at home. Joe has that experience, having served two terms as Congressman, representing a heavily Republican district outside Philadelphia. He was inspired to this service because the American people had provided the military healthcare coverage that saved Joe’s daughter’s life when she was diagnosed with brain cancer at 4 years old. Every family should have the right to such healthcare coverage.
Entering Congress just as the Great Recession began, Joe’s office was open seven days a week to deal with the devastation caused by the Recession. The office handled four times the constituency cases of the average congressional office. Legislatively, the House majority leader cited Joe’s first year efforts as “the most productive” of the freshman class.
The constant refrain in the thousands of constituency cases the office handled was: why isn’t a government of the people, more accountable to the people?
The official Commission on the cause of the Great Recession said that it was the “breakdown in ethics and accountability” by government officials who lacked the ‘”political will” to say “no” to the wealth and lobbying power of the financial industry.
The government’s capitulation to corporate power and moneyed influence, with its revolving door for corporate lobbying jobs, must be stopped. Government must reassert itself as the honest force of accountability for the people. Washington DC has become a restricted circle of entrenched political elite and corporate lobbyists who feel empowered to bypass the public good for their self-interests.
Take Iraq. It was justified as a preventive war but embroiled the U.S. in its expanding conflict by ISIS. Politicians of both parties who supported that decision did not understand either the complexities of the world or the limitations of military power. That tragic mistake led to a loss of faith in U.S. leadership. Then this trust was completely eradicated when Wall Street was left unfettered to shatter the U.S. economy and with it, millions of Americans’ lives, in the Great Recession.
Not one political leader has ever held themselves accountable for the carnage of either that great recession or that tragic war. It is this unaccountable leadership that is responsible for the lack of trust in America today that undermines our sense of national unity, of whom we are and what we stand for. What Americans most want and most need from their leaders today is accountability, not for one’s intentions, but for the deed. To heal America’s soul, we need a leader who is trusted by the people because he is willing to be accountable to them — above self, above party, above any special interest … no matter the cost to him.
That is why Joe originally ran for the U.S. Senate, despite the opposition of the Democratic Party’s Washington establishment. Joe believed it was important to stand up and demand accountability for the thirty years of Republican-turned-Democrat Senator Arlen Spector’s damaging votes and his humiliation of Ms. Anita Hill as she testified about her sexual harassment by now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In Joe’s second race for the Senate, he walked 422 miles across Pennsylvania, to walk in the shoes of the people. When told by the Democratic Senate leadership to “stop walking and just fundraise,” Joe felt it was more important to understand the needs of the people. So, the Senate leadership sought a primary opponent, funneling over $6 million into false opposition ads and others ads featuring the Democratic Party’s highest Washington leaders. Pennsylvania was then lost as the Republican ads pointed out that Washington’s chosen democratic candidate was one of its own, a revolving door lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.
The biggest deficit in America today is not the fiscal debt, but the trust deficit. Joe wants to fix that by bringing accountability back into government.
Joe’s agenda for all Americans includes:
First, ensure American working families succeed, to include paid family and medical leave benefits, support for Child Care, and tackling the lack of affordable housing. And establish a national commitment to “Training for a Life-time” of the workforce.
Second, revive America’s global economic leadership by investing $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure and engaging the world, smartly, on immigration reform similar to past bi-partisan efforts by Senators McCain and Kennedy, that protects our borders, but also protects our economy and immigrants.
Third, fix our health care system. It must provide affordable and comprehensive coverage, including for pre-existing conditions. Fixing the system means restoring the Affordable Care Act, while advancing it with a public option within its basket of choices.
Fourth, support the key to our economic success – small businesses, offering start-up funding through tax incentives for investors and sloping down their regulatory costs.
These proposals are paid for. They will not add to our nation’s deficit and debt. A common-sense Tax Reform for the $2 trillion required, will be by reducing by half the current Administration’s 40% corporate tax cut; returning the estate tax cut for America’s 400 wealthiest families back to what it was in 2009; taxing Wall Street hedge fund managers as ordinary income earners; and requiring those who make more than $250,000 to pay their fair share to keep Social Security solvent for our seniors. For middle and low-income families, change the Administration’s tax law so it doesn’t raise their taxes in seven years as planned, and also increase their standard tax deduction.
Finally, U.S. leadership must be restored.
We must return to a values-based liberal world order by revitalizing diplomatic engagement that convenes the world for two primary objectives: Putting a brake on climate change and putting an end to an illiberal world order’s injustices:
On climate change, the U.S must not just rejoin, but actually lead the Paris Agreement to collectively increase and enforce national commitments. The U.S. must: eliminate its dependency on carbon fuels by the efficient incentives of the marketplace; invest a portion of the carbon fees into research and development; ratify the Kigali Accord to stop the emissions of hydro fluorocarbon refrigerants; stop tax subsidies to fossil fuel corporations that create few jobs, and provide them to the growing green energy sector that will create millions of jobs.
Putting an end to an illiberal world order’s injustices means ensuring accountability for a rules-based global order. To do so, the U.S. must: regain respected U.S. leadership of international alliances and organizations; re-join the Iranian Nuclear Accord; work with the collective effort of our allies to deter the injustices of autocratic values. And finally, immediately transform our military from a more expensive platform-centric force structure to a more effective capabilities-based force posture centered upon cyber and sensors, among other emergent capabilities.
Most important, Joe knows that as President, he will need all Americans to help answer the call for America’s leadership to restore a just world order so it serves us by raising our collective good, here at home – done by Joe gaining the people’s trust that he will always remain accountable to them, alone.
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