“I respectfully offer these issue statements to illustrate how I would represent you in Congress. I look forward to hearing your point of view on the campaign trail and learning more about the issues you hold dear. Even when we disagree, I believe you will recognize qualities in me that you expect in your representative.
Like you, I love and respect America more than any political party. I reject radical ideologies that work to divide us. I stand for American democratic values — such as liberty and justice for all — and will fight for our government to treat everyone fairly and with dignity.”
— Phil Ehr
(Click each subject to read more.)
Middle class families drive economic growth in America, and they’re struggling. Congress is focused on helping the wrong people. Phil believes cutting taxes for the top one percent does not promote job creation, improve the economy or reduce the enormous wealth gap seen so vividly in Northwest Florida. Most good-paying jobs are created by small business. While corporate taxes should be more competitive, Phil will fight for tax relief for middle class Americans and small business. Small businesses legitimately complain about regulatory burden. Phil supports a review of small business regulations without the blunt-axe approach employed by the current Administration.
America pioneered great ports, railroads, highways, airports, waterworks, reliable electricity and fast Internet. Much of this public infrastructure, however, needs to be repaired, replaced or upgraded. Northwest Florida needs more renewable energy sources, rural connections to high speed Internet and development of our deep-water port. Both political parties recognize that federal investment is needed to fund infrastructure projects that result in good-paying middle-class jobs that will grow the economy, but paying for it has been an obstacle. Phil sees a bipartisan opportunity to create a public-private infrastructure reinvestment bank to close the funding gap and put Americans back to work.
America does better when everyone succeeds. Good paying jobs often require a degree or certification. Forward-thinking and innovative businesses are struggling to find workers with the necessary skills. Let’s get American workers the skills they need to get to the next level through our trade schools and community colleges. Phil will advocate for low cost training and education for all Americans who want to learn new skills.
Hardworking Americans who work full-time should be able to afford the basics of living. People must often work two jobs to make ends meet. Living expenses in Northwest Florida are 20% to 40% higher than what a minimum wage job pays. Phil believes if you work full-time, you should be able to afford a place to live, transportation, food and health care by working just one job. That’s why he will fight to connect the federal minimum wage to the cost of living in local communities.
Americans should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick without fear of going bankrupt over an illness. Here in Northwest Florida, one out of nine people lacks health insurance, which places them at financial risk when they’re sick.
Health care is not to be kicked in one direction or another each time a political party takes control of Congress. Phil will work with both parties to repair the Affordable Care Act so that it works for all Americans. The national debate should recognize that good American health care requires both private and public providers, driven and regulated by a combination of market forces and state governments operating within a federal framework. Phil recognizes the need for national health care standards while encouraging states to innovate, such as providing health coverage waivers. At present, offering affordable health care requires closing the gap between those who qualify for health insurance subsidies and those who don’t because they live in a state that did not expand Medicaid, such as Florida.
Mental health is as important as physical health to our overall well-being. One out of five adults in the United States is dealing with a mental health issue, and another 14 million Americans suffer from severe mental health conditions. Additionally, post-trauma stress disorder or depression impacts one out of five veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Phil will work for adequate funding for veterans and community-based mental health treatment centers to keep Americans healthy and productive.
Keeping our children and families free from the ravages of drug abuse is a public health and economic imperative. Drug addiction and overdoses are growing at alarming rate in Northwest Florida and across our country. We need to address both drug and alcohol addiction by expanding access to prevention and treatment. Phil will work to ensure health care policies cover substance abuse treatment at the same level as other illnesses. It’s important that we support recovery and integration back into society, and that we remove barriers to employment, housing and education. Solving the epidemic will require prevention efforts in schools and after-school programs that deter drug usage.
Keeping our families healthy is important to all Americans. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) makes America the leader in biomedical and public health research, which produces cutting edge medicines and treatments. The Administration cut NIH funding by one-third, which will impact studies on cancer and deadly conditions. Phil will fight to restore funding at a level that allows us to continue discovering cures and keep Americans healthy.
The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the right to bear arms. This right comes with a responsibility. Every five minutes there is a gun-related death or injury. As a gun owner, Phil believes we need a modernized, timely and efficient system to conduct background checks on all commercial sales of guns.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to live up to his or her potential. The wealth gap and institutional racism form barriers to success. Median wealth for African Americans and Latinos is one-tenth of the wealth of white Americans. The 2008 housing crisis disproportionately impacted African Americans and Latinos resulting in half of their net worth being erased. Faster rates of unemployment for non-whites combined with predatory and subprime loans were driving factors. Phil would fight to restore regulations governing risk in the financial services industry. He is committed to reducing barriers to homeownership, improving educational opportunities, job training and access to retirement investment programs.
Americans should not fear losing their jobs because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or who they love. While many are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, others are not. LGBTQ Americans lack protection. They can lose their jobs not because of job performance, but because of who they love or how they express gender. They risk being evicted or denied service in restaurants and LGBTQ children continue to be bullied at school. Phil will work to expand federal sexual discrimination laws to include non-discrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans. We should guarantee equal rights in housing, health care, employment, public accommodations, credit, education, law enforcement and the military.
The sanctity of life and the exercise of free will are both American values. These values are also enshrined Phil’s Christian faith. He realizes that pregnancies can sometimes present difficult circumstances that require hard choices. The government should not legislate what happens inside a woman’s body. As the father of two daughters, Phil will work to ensure women have access to reproductive health care services. He supports the availability of important health services for all women. Additionally, Phil will defend the Affordable Care Act provision of no-cost contraception and preventative services.
America was built on the rule of law, protection for all, and reintegration of offenders who fully paid their debt to society. While the United States has just 5% of the world’s population; 25% of the world’s incarcerated population are in American jails. Phil supports exploring a change from mandatory minimum jail sentences for low level drug offender cases to more effective rehabilitation. Instead of investing in more jails, we should be investing more in jobs and education for at-risk families to break the school-to-prison pipeline. Let’s remove barriers to those who have served their time and completed their probation.
America is a country of immigrants seeking freedom and a better life. New immigrants are a stream of talent that fuels the American economy, a source of American achievements and a wonderful expression of our compassion. Our broken immigration laws present a risk to the economy and our security. They need to be reformed to reflect contemporary America. We need to bring the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants into the light. Congress needs to address the issue with legislation. Phil believes the United States should provide these immigrants with an opportunity to work toward permanent resident status or citizenship. They should have a pathway that includes penalties, payment of back taxes and the potential to become a citizen over time. This is not amnesty, nor is it a proposal for them to “jump the line.” It is an offer that will afford them the ability to obtain a driver’s license, buy health and car insurance, pay state and federal income tax and eliminate the fear of being picked up, deported and separated from their family.
Our legacy to future generations should be to leave our planet with clean air and water. From the extreme droughts in the West to the superstorms in the Northeast, Earth is experiencing an increase in climate-related extreme weather events. Human release of carbon emissions is a causal factor in more intense hurricanes battering the Gulf Coast and rising seas in Miami. Phil supports restoring federal sponsorship of climate science, and stopping the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. He supports incentives to significantly reduce and replace carbon energy with carbon-free energy. Developing renewable and sustainable energy offers good-paying job opportunities in manufacturing, installation and servicing well into the future. Phil supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s role working with local officials to ensure clean air and water supplies for ourselves and future generations.
Children and families deserve to live in communities that are free of environmental hazards and contaminants. People who live, work and play in America's most polluted environments are often minority communities. Escambia’s Wedgewood community is surrounded by 13 borrow pits and retention ponds. The health impacts are just beginning to be explored. The district is also home to many environmental superfund sites. While cleanup is underway, additional work and funding are required. Phil will fight for federal resources and remedies to provide families with a safe environment in which to live and grow.
Wide open beaches is a feature that contributes to the quality of life on Florida’s Emerald Coast. Currently, there is legislation to transfer land owned by the citizens of Escambia County to individuals and businesses currently leasing the property. Looking forward, this potential transfer of ownership would open up the island to high-rise multi-unit development, reduced parking and beach access. Phil supports the citizens of Escambia County retaining ownership of Santa Rosa Island, rather than conveying the land to leaseholders. Additionally, Phil encourages the Board of County Commissioners to resolve the issue of property taxes with the Santa Rosa Island leaseholders without conveying land titles.
Great public education systems are hallmarks of great societies and the foundation of our equal opportunity economy. We must have the best educated workforce in the world, and that starts with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math; without neglecting the humanities. Standardized tests should guide the direction of instruction rather than compel teachers to “teach to the test”. Phil supports good neighborhood public schools. He supports private funding for private schools and opposes diverting public tax dollars to private or for-profit schools.
America has a public interest in maintaining a skilled workforce. A certification or degree is often required for a good paying job. Every American should have the opportunity to attend a credentialed trade school, college or university to improve their chances of success in tomorrow’s economy. One’s ability to afford post-secondary education should not determine his or her future. Public colleges and universities should be available at a nominal cost.
Americans should be able to refinance debt to achieve more favorable terms. Millions of American are facing huge debts from education loans, and they are barred from refinancing their loans. Phil recognizes the need for payments to be income-based, and we need to allow for the consolidation or refinancing of student debt.
By honoring our commitment to the men and women of the United States military, we honor the sacrifice that they have made to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. As a military veteran, Phil is familiar with the concerns active duty families face and will work to ensure affordable health care, childcare and good schools that effectively serve the needs of military families.
It’s vital that we keep the commitment we’ve made to the men and women who have valiantly put their life on the line in service to our country. The availability of veteran services in our district needs to be expanded. Additional resources for mental health services and counseling, as well as a concerted effort to end the chronic homelessness of veterans are required. Phil will work to preserve veterans educational benefits, improve civilian job training, end chronic homelessness and combat suicide. Our Veterans Administration health care system needs keep improving to better provide prompt and compassionate care to those who have served our country
Keeping our country safe from foreign threats allows us to live in freedom. How we convey America’s intent and how our military is employed greatly impacts Northwest Florida, as our Congressional district hosts three major bases and leads the nation in the number of veterans. Phil’s national security views are grounded in classic American ideals, military and intelligence community experience. He believes more assertive Congressional oversight on the full range of foreign, defense and trade issues is needed to check the President’s misguided impulses.
American leadership of the free world since victory in World War II has served America well. That generation produced a world order blending Teddy Roosevelt’s pre-war “walk softly and carry a big stick” with Henry Morgenthau Jr.’s post-war international monetary system and Eleanor Roosevelt’s quest for international human rights. These three pillars combined with bipartisanship and military professionalism preserved America through the Cold War and carried us into the Information Age. Tragically, they are now under assault. Our military superiority is challenged by rapid technology, weaponized information and radical ideology in at least two seemingly endless wars. Our economic superiority is undermined by mismanaged multinational trade agreements, lack of budget discipline and financial corruption. Our moral authority is severely damaged by our political leaders’ flirtation with white supremacists, alignment with authoritarians and our chronic unwillingness to win the wars we chose to fight.
Phil is committed to supporting America’s military power by working to permanently end the Defense Department’s budget sequestration as a critical step toward improving military readiness, developing future capabilities and renewing our covenant with the entire military community. He will deliver more insightful and effective Congressional oversight of military organization and basing, acquisition and personnel policies; and more experienced advocacy for military activities in our district.
Phil would fortify America’s economic power by working to reduce our $20 trillion national debt with bipartisan infrastructure investments, bipartisan progress on health care and tax cuts that directly benefit small business and the middle class. To prevent another recession on the scale we experienced in 2008, Phil would work to restore regulations governing risk in the financial services industry. Phil will explore raising additional revenue for the Social Security System without reducing the benefit for the middle class. He supports renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with a greater emphasis on trade equity, adoption of similar arrangements with Pacific Rim countries, Europe and Africa, and preservation of American patents and intellectual property.
Phil would elevate America’s moral authority by advocating to resource the Departments of State, Treasury and Justice to prevent further proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, prosecute criminal exploitation of our financial system, promote democracy, combat anti-American propaganda and prevent foreign interference in our elections. Phil supports nurturing our traditional alliances on the basis of democratic values, which includes more equitable commitments to defense and security.
Government of the people requires the people to be involved in questions of war and peace. Our troops are committed in at least two wars without Congressional authorization for the use of force. Phil believes that Congress must review the President’s strategy and refresh its 2001 authorization for the use of military force.
Initiatives to realign American foreign policy with Russia’s current regime ignores their assaults on our elections, public information and financial system. Phil believes that Congress should take a more proactive role and ensure investigations of alleged wrongdoing are adequately resourced and proceed to their just conclusions.