Incumbent Kevin Brady, R-Texas, will face Democrat Steven David in Tuesday’s general election.
Early voting continues through Friday.
The 33-year-old native Texan from Harris County looks to bring his experience as a performance and financial auditor to bear to turn government into an efficient benefit for the citizens of this country.
David analyzes departments in Houston for effectiveness and usefulness, and lets the council know the findings.
“Governments sometimes create things they think are helpful and it turns out they are not,” he said. “In Congress, our job is to right-size an operation from being overbudgeted or to eliminate something.”
An example of this is four years ago, there was a backlog of 6,600 sexual assault kits in the city of Houston property room that were collected but never tested. David said his team was put in charge, and partnering with Sam Houston State University and law enforcement agencies, the backlog was reduced and new procedures were put in place.
David proudest efforts also includes being an emergency foster parent, which was his impetus for entering the race.
“There was a program funded by Medicaid and administered by the state of Texas called the Star Network, similar to CHIP but meant to help the foster parent system,” he said. “It pays medical costs for children in the foster care system. My foster child had a lot medical costs, and we could not pay for those alone.
“When Kevin Brady repealed the Affordable Care Act, and wrote half of the American Health Care Act, they cut Medicaid by $883 billion, and that particular program was reduced to 10 percent in the first draft and eliminated in the version that passed the House,” he said. “I feel that that kind of program, irrespective of how people feel about the Affordable Care Act, those types of programs have to be preserved. People in the foster system fall through the cracks almost always, and it became important to me to oppose that.”
David believes government can be a tool for good, but needs oversight, which is the purview of Congress.
“The government needs to run as efficiently as possible to provide good service to the citizens, and I have not seen the current Congress, and Brady with the power he wields, take those tools to the government,” he said.
David also said that education is a key issue for a variety of reasons.
“School districts have evolved to become more secure, but we’re seeing an increase in the need for safety,” he said. “We’re seeing more and more being required of our teachers, but we’re not seeing the types of pay raises they should receive for taking on more work.”
Additionally, retired teachers are not getting cost of living adjustments in retirement pay.
“We need to fund schools; any dollar we give to charter schools or vouchers takes money away from public schools,” he said. “They have to be built and funded as well as we possibly can. However, we need to scrutinize teachers better; teacher shouldn’t get a free pass for being bad teachers. They should be measured and held to account.”
Higher education costs also are a concern, and has long-term effects on the country.
“It is exorbitantly more expensive for someone to go to school now than it was years ago,” he said. “This has an enormous negative impact on graduates. Our debt-to-income ratio is so negative, and the high-paying job prospects are so few, it creates a moral and economic impact, because we’re delaying people stepping into the middle class.”
David also said that more emphasis should placed on vocational education.
Immigration also would be a focus.
“We have done a very poor job of speaking about immigration in an intelligent way,” David said. “True immigration needs to be reformed; I don’t want to get rid of ICE, but these operations need to operate more efficiently. We need to have a secure boarder, without a shadow of a doubt.”
While that is different from current Democratic thinking, David said he doesn’t care, and said that people who make that claim are ignorant of the threats the country faces that comes across the border.
“We don’t need to build a wall, it’s colossally expensive,” he said. “Let’s improve technology, such as drone technology and seismic detection.”
He also said there needs to be a fresh look at who we’re allowing into the United States and why we allow them here.
“We have very strange caps on Eastern Bloc countries, Cuba and Mexico that were politically motivated, and we need to reset that,” he said. “We need to immediately allow the DACA recipients to stay. We need to vet them properly, but we need to realize they are a benefit to society. There are 4,500 DACA eligible kids in Texas 8th, and they represent $154 million in GDP.”
Spending is an ongoing issue, and David said the recent tax cut legislation was a mistake, since the country has a bad spending problem and debt is a real problem, and will be for generations. “Brady when he passed the tax bill, it was supply-side economics justified, and it cut corporate taxes and place a large debt burden on people for decades,” he said. “There are better ways to give money back to the middle class. If we want to put money in people’s pockets, we should forgive all student debt.”
David said that the debt-to-GDP ratio is 109 percent, and the last time that happened was during the Great Depression.
“We’re swimming in debt payments,” he said.
The 11-term incumbent, the third Texan in history to lead the House Ways & Means Committee, hopes to continue his work for the Texas 8th District, particularly in the realm of tax cuts.
That work has been done, Brady said, even though he has never moved to Washington.
“I live in Texas with my family and commute,” he said. “It keeps me grounded and helps me work my way up to lead the oldest and most influential committee in Congress, and I’m asking for another two years to work for folks in Madison County.”
Brady said that he’s most proud of working with President Donald Trump to deliver the first tax reform for America in 30 years.
His other accomplishments include fighting for significant funding for America’s military.
“This which includes stronger forces, better technology and the largest pay increase in eight years,” he said.
Also, Hurricane Harvey had such an impact on Texas, and Brady said he worked with the Texas and Florida congressional delegations to deliver “the biggest disaster recovery package in U.S. history to help Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico rebuild.”
And as chairman of Ways & Means, Brady said he helped negotiate an end to the ban on exporting American crude oil, and lifting that ban has been a huge job creator for Texas.
But, Brady said, the work continues, particularly in the realm of taxes.
“We will work passing Tax Cut 2.0, which makes tax cuts permanent for families and small businesses, and help for families and small businesses to save more, and create more startup businesses in America,” he said. “It passed the House a month ago, and I want to make those permanent.”
Additionally, the House passed a measure to restructure and redesign the IRS, the first reform in two decades.
“That is now in the Senate, and we’re working to get it to the President’s desk,” he said. “It’s a bipartisan measure; it will make sure that Americans who are in a tax dispute are no longer considered guilty until proven innocent and reins in the abuses of the IRS. That came from my committee, and it passed the House 414-0.”
Along with tax relief, Brady said he has worked for more than a decade to improve Social Security for public servants.
“This bill repeals the Windfall Elimination Provision, a bill from the 1980s that docks teachers and firefighters, who earned a pension in their jobs but work a second job or are in a second career,” he said. “They earned a pension and Social Security benefit, like most Americans, but they’re docked by as much as $430 a month. That’s wrong. Washington needs to stop punishing our teachers, police and firefighters.”
Welfare reform is another issue Brady plans to tackle.
“As a country, in the past year and a half, our economy is booming because of the tax cuts and less regulation,” he said. “We’ve gone from a nation asking where are the jobs to asking where are the workers, because businesses up and down Main Street need more workers.”
Brady said his committee passed the first welfare reform in 22 years, which is heading to the House floor, and it’s designed to help people move from welfare to work.
Immigration also is a focus.
“I support Trump sending troops to the border,” Brady said. “The migrants are doing this to overwhelm the system and undermine our laws. We need to stop them before they enter the country, we need to end catch-and-release and asylum abuse, and return them to their home country.”
Brady said he has a belief on immigration that guides everything: you have to shut the back door of illegal immigration so you can keep open the front door of legal immigration.
“We will welcome those who want to come to America who want to do better for themselves, but I insist they come through the front door,” he said. “I support two bills that allocated money to rebuild the wall, to redesign the immigration system to change it from not who you know, but what skills you bring, ends catch-and-release abuse, and to reunite families at the border to go through the system together, and to find a legal status for DACA kids. That’s strong border enforcement and will help make America stronger.”