Correspondence On Student Loans and Public Higher Education

Here is an email I wrote to a constituent–organizer and shared with my Democratic primary opponent for Florida’s 6th Congressional district, Clint Curtis, Attorney-at-Law:

All 3 of us used to be computer programmers! I was never too good at it but I actually invented the phrase “tweet this” and used to have a rather popular (despite poorly coded) Twitter plugin for WordPress websites in 2008–2011. Twitter itself subsequently incorporated all of the features and advantages my plugin offered.

I haven’t supported blanket forgiveness of outstanding student loans, but removal of interest charges on federal loans and interest going forward, not reporting derogatory credit information, and stopping new loans from going toward higher education that is a poor value. I would expect this would apply only to federal loans for educational expenses at private institutions and require some picking and choosing… HBCUs would still get covered (Bethune–Cookman, FL A&M, etc.) and some programs at ERAU that are specialized, but not going to ERAU for their business programs (what a waste of money!). Florida has quite low tuitions at state colleges and universities for residents thanks to state funding. The gap of getting us to free college tuition nationwide will be bigger for some states and institutions than others, and I think UCF sets an excellent example as Bill Gates recently noted regarding our ability to build the tent wider and take in so many students (presently 70,000) without sacrificing quality. I don’t know if you have listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast episodes against the LSAT (he argues it favors quickness for no reason) and law school elitism, but I recommend them:

Puzzle Rush: interactive transcript | blog
Malcolm challenges his assistant Camille to the Law School Admissions Test. He gets halfway through, panics, runs out of time, and wonders: why does the legal world want him to rush?”

The Tortoise and the Hare: interactive transcript blog
A weird speech by Antonin Scalia, a visit with some serious legal tortoises, and a testy exchange with the experts at the Law School Admissions Council prompts Malcolm to formulate his Grand Unified Theory for fixing higher education.

Doing higher education from home or commuting from parents’ homes is helpful because living expenses are a big part of it. Of course, we should also focus on the fact that not everyone needs or wants a 2- or 4-year degree (let alone graduate school). Certificates and trade schools, now more commonly called technical colleges (“college” is a word held in high esteem), are also very important, and are offered at many state colleges such as Daytona State College as well.

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp, Ph.D.
Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress (FL-06)
Adjunct Faculty, University of Central Florida

New Thripp business card, 1/29/2020

On Budget Deficits and the U.S. National Debt, and Replacing Militarism and Giveaways to the Rich With Social Spending That Benefits All Americans

The United States of America has a tremendous advantage over other countries and much of her* populace—our money and debt are both incredibly popular, and so we actually are getting an incredible deal on our national debt. Overall, we pay negative real interest rates on our $23 trillion of debt—”real” meaning having adjusted for diminished purchasing power due to inflation, which is about 2% per year as of late. This means that our real debt would actually diminish, albeit slowly, if we had a balanced federal budget. Of course, that’s a big “if.”

A more optimistic estimation of the national debt deducts $6 trillion of U.S. Treasury instruments owned by other parts of the federal government—chiefly the Social Security Trust Fund—leaving only $17 trillion. China and Japan are high on the list of foreign owners of U.S. debt, with foreign governments and investors accounting for about 40% of the $17 trillion, with the remaining 60% being held by domestic private investors (39%), the Federal Reserve itself (15%), and state governments (6%). This should be somewhat reassuring. An example of state government ownership is the Florida Retirement System pension plan, which I examined as part of my Ph.D. dissertation—it has assets of $163 billion and 20% of this is in fixed-income and liquid investments, including corporate debt, mortgage-backed securities, municipal bonds, and U.S. Treasury debt.

The United States is distinct from her constituent state and local governments in her capacity for unrestrained deficit spending. The State of Florida has a $91 billion budget this year. If Florida decided to spend $116 billion instead, that would be a crisis. However, this is the same ratio of the U.S. budget deficit, which is revenue minus spending and adds on to the national debt each year. For the year of 10/01/2019–9/30/2020, the U.S. government is projected to take in $3.6 billion but spend 28% more at $4.6 trillion, which is another $1 trillion annual deficit like the prior year. With Federal Reserve interest rates already being around 1.5% per year, this leaves little wiggle room to cut rates or increase spending if a recession hits.

Ultimately, the deficit represents twin failures of the U.S. Congress and government (a) to capture an appropriate share of the engine of prosperity that is the U.S. economy and (b) foolish spending decisions that are not in the public’s interest. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was a robbery of epic proportions by Republicans on behalf of the wealthy and top corporations. The idea of trickle-down economics—already debunked—is that big giveaways to the top 1% will result in them throwing scraps to the pheasants. Instead, Jeff Bezos, founder/CEO of Amazon, is focusing on owning more mansions than anyone else, private jets, and getting him and his rich buddies off this planet while spewing out tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases on the little people in the process. His philanthropic operations have begun in earnest only recently, and shockingly involve large cash gifts to nonprofits with little vetting and no stipulations.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 lowered the federal corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21%. In reality, top profitable corporations are paying only 11.3%, and a large number of technically unprofitable corporations pay 0%—including Amazon, which perpetually expands in order to evade taxation. Compare this to the 15.3% payroll tax on typical American schmucks for Social Security and Medicare—plus federal income tax (if not offset by credits), state sales and income taxes, and myriad other taxes. The GOP—which is now a different party having been co-opted by Lyin’ Donald Trump—endorses the narrative that so-called “socialism” and welfare for the disadvantaged are what we should fear. Research shows, however, that welfare spending actually funnels back into economies resulting in little impact on national debt.

Massive corporate giveaways and tax breaks and lack of enforcement for the rich have resulted in grotesque wealth inequality in the United States, which is getting tacked right onto the national debt without the economic benefits one would see with welfare spending on Medicaid, education, food and housing subsidies, infrastructure, or even a universal basic income. A $700 billion war budget per year is outrageous with manifest destiny having been realized and few if any threats from our northern and southern neighbors. Lyin’ Donald Trump’s insane budgets increase only war spending while slashing education, diplomacy, labor and health funding. Americans who are most injured by this insanity are paradoxically Trump’s greatest cheerleaders.

I’m not a believer in modern monetary theory (MMT), but I will say this—if we pretend it is a sound theory, the only nation on earth it would apply to is the United States. The basic idea of MMT is that nations can take on more debt than generally believed by creating money. Nations that have experienced runaway inflation such as Brazil, Germany, and Zimbabwe are cautionary tales, but the United States is exceptional because of her linchpin status as a worldwide financial safe haven and economic juggernaut. Nonetheless, one can conceive of a much more sensible budget that helps 99% of Americans and has a much smaller deficit. We just have to get our priorities straight. It isn’t easy when you’re up against an enormous engine of propaganda, lobbying, bribes, and revolving doors among politicians and their puppet masters. We didn’t arrive at a plutocratic oligarchy by accident, but rather by relentless, deliberate, mendacious actions by its beneficiaries—at the expense of the United States of American and the bulk of her populace.

As a candidate for U.S. Congress, I am unusual for having endorsed a great expansion of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and its technological systems. We’re getting robbed blind. The IRS has fewer employees now than 10 years ago, despite more burdens with Obamacare, more Americans working, greater corporate trickery, countless share buybacks and mergers and acquisitions, and ever-larger armies of attorneys, accountants, and consultants employed by wealthy individuals and firms. Millionaires are now 80% less likely to be audited than they were in 2011, and Lyin’ Donald Trump’s insane 35-day 2018–2019 government shutdown compounded the issues and disenfranchised many taxpayers as enforcement actions continued unabated. Although it should be repealed and replaced, even while the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 stands, we could do a much better job of collecting taxes owed to the United States of America.

We can fund healthcare for more, abatement of student loan interest, excellent K–12 and higher education, remediation of the climate crisis, Social Security and Medicare, and more without increasing the deficit. We just need to raise enforcement and taxes on those who are benefitting from American opportunity while robbing us blind, and take a sledgehammer to War Dogs-level military graft and lunacy that President Eisenhower warned us of so long ago. Please donate and vote to send representatives such as I to Washington to end the insanity.

– Richard Thripp, Ph.D.
Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Florida’s 6th district
(Daytona Beach, Deltona, Palm Coast, & More)

* My use of “her” was deliberate to personify the USA, and I will not make a regular habit of it.

10 Reasons Why I’m Running for Congress

Richard Thripp logo

February 6, 2020

Here are 10 reasons why I, Richard Thripp, am running for Congress in Florida’s 6th Congressional district.

1. I have the skills and charisma to win!

2. The climate crisis endangers my son’s future. Even now, the human toll from fires, heat waves, hurricanes, droughts, flooding, and crop failures is huge. I support the Green New Deal and want to fight for legislation and policies that address the crisis.

3. Lyin’ Donald Trump must be stopped, and the Republican party is irretrievably corrupt and broken. I will support Democratic policies and candidates during and beyond this election as they are the only party of the two major parties who are moving in the right direction when it comes to equality and equity, the climate crisis, healthcare, and many other issues.

4. As a young person and young father I can connect with voters and represent their interests in a way that most candidates cannot.

5. Florida’s 6th district needs local representation in Congress. I was born at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach and have lived in Volusia County my entire life. I know this district and its issues. The incumbent lives in St. Augustine Beach, outside the district. Ambassador Soderberg came down from Jacksonville to run. Mr. Curtis is from up north. Enough is enough!

6. Florida’s 6th district is looked at as a lost cause for Democrats. Ambassador Soderberg outraised Rep. Waltz mightily but failed to translate this into votes. I think this can be a competitive district. Nancy is wonderful and superbly qualified, but I don’t think she makes for a good politician. Her speeches, TV commercials, and positions did not have the “oomph” or inspirational/motivational message one needs. She lacks vocal variety—something I learned well giving speeches and being a Club President in Toastmasters. In my opinion it wouldn’t have mattered if she raised $10 million. Rep. Waltz is a more animated speaker but he often says things that make no sense and really can be attacked quite effectively for it along with his promise to reform entitlement spending (instead of taxing high incomes which can easily fund Social Security forever), and on Medicaid expansion and Obamacare both of which are popular and poll well.

7. I am the best candidate to run and this is a golden opportunity due to the lack of other qualified or well-connected candidates. I can make a huge difference in Congress and just by running am bringing attention to important issues. This is not all about me, but also the Democratic political machine in Florida, the outrageous and unlawful conduct of Lyin’ Donald Trump, Butt-Dialin’ Rudy Giuliani, and the GOP that will drive away voters, and the many volunteers and efforts we are making to register and enfranchise voters as well as getting out the vote. The 2020 blue wave could be HUGE and could give us a unified Democratic government that really gives us the opportunity to reverse many of the terrible policies we are seeing now and implement legislation, policy, and leadership that can protect the future of Americans, earth, and humanity as well as addressing widespread issues of inequality, inequity, and social justice.

8. I just came off completing my Ph.D. dissertation which was a HUGE amount of work and put me behind a computer screen for far too long. I am not cut out for the tenure-track professor career route. Dissertations and academic journal articles do not get read by many people. By running for Congress I feel I can make a real difference. I am writing this response from Washington, DC with my wife and son. We visited the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, Mt. Vernon, and Holocaust Museum. We love the city and although the commitments of being a U.S. Representative are difficult, we can make it work.

9. We need innovative people with broad-spectrum competence in Congress. When I see our representatives going up there and comparing the Internet to a series of tubes, or asking Mark Zuckerberg to write legislation to regulate Facebook for them, it makes me cringe. I teach educational technology to future teachers. I can leverage this to get nearly all the teachers and other educators in FL CD6 to vote for me. We have too many lawyers and phonies in Congress and this needs to change!

10. Constituent services are very important to me. I’m the only candidate who has promised to open a district office in mid-town Daytona Beach (not a mobile office that visits for 2 hours a few times a year). As a U.S. Representative I will interview and hire a staff that will set a national example of leadership for constituent services. Nationwide, polls show 25% of Americans think Obamacare was killed by Lyin’ Donald Trump and the GOP—NOT true—it is still alive and 10 million Americans could be getting a huge health insurance subsidy but are not enrolled. Even if I cannot actually get much done in the U.S. House of Representatives as a freshman Congressman, I can have a huge impact wielding my title and annual budget in excess of $1 million that each U.S. Representative receives toward helping and advocating for constituents with federal agencies, as well as holding numerous town hall meetings to listen to and advocate for their concerns. The Republican incumbent rarely if ever holds a town hall meeting. Let’s go! We can do this!

Please pitch in if you can! Even a small contribution helps.

Donate to Richard Thripp's Campaign

Letter to Michael Waltz Regarding His Comments on the State of the Union Address

Letter to Michael Waltz Regarding His Comments on the State of the Union Address

February 4, 2020

Dear Rep. Waltz,

Limbaugh is pro-rape and the medal insults the legacy of MLK, Rosa Parks, and many others.

People are off welfare because they’re being booted off but they are still struggling.

You, Michael Waltz, said in 2016 that we need to stop Trump and look into his record.

We have corporate welfare, massive deficits and giveaways to the rich, and a corrupt and incompetent administration.

Mitch is blocking HUNDREDS of bills in the Senate.

Trump said the unemployment numbers were phony under Obama, failing to tell the real story of American carnage, but now somehow they are the gold standard?

Our planet is on fire. Republicans’ climate denialism and subsidies toward fossil fuels will kill more humans in the long run than died in the Holocaust.

Donald Trump is a New York former Democrat who was pro-choice and for strong gun regulations. He saw an opportunity, changed his tune, co-opted the Republican party, and radicalized the American people.

Mr. Waltz, I respectfully suggest you become a Democrat immediately. Jeff Van Drew switched parties recently (but went backwards).

Sincerely,
Richard Thripp, Ph.D.
Democratic Candidate for Florida’s 6th Congressional district


Addendum:

There is also Congressman Justin Amish who switched from being a Republican to an independent in July 2019. This would be more realistic for Mr. Waltz than becoming a Democrat. Mr. Waltz already is somewhat progressive on some issues, such as funding education in Afghanistan, adding Puerto Rico as a state, and other positions that upset Trump’s base.

Those who say the left is turning us into a “socialist” disaster can be easily trolled: As we all know, the real job of government is to provide unlimited amounts of privilege, giveaways, and welfare to the rich and to large corporations.

A favorite talking point of climate deniers is that the earth changes on its own so humans aren’t to blame. But, human emissions outstrip natural events by orders of magnitude. Going from ~ 300 to 414 ppm CO2 this quickly has never occurred in millions of years!

Many of Mr. Waltz’s PAC donors are airlines, sugar industry, military contractors, and others who love being able to emit greenhouse gases and other ecological damage without having to pay for it.

Wow, look at all that PAC money (click the screenshot below for a high-resolution version in a new browser tab or window). Michael Waltz must sure be sweet because big sugar loves him. These big companies are so charitable and generous and surely have nothing to gain. Nothing to see here!

Waltz PAC Money 2020 Q4

Vote Richard Thripp for #FL06 — A vote for my opponent is a vote for special interests.


Response to the PAWS Act to provide service animals to returning veterans:

This is nice but it’s like the human interest stories on the news. Our planet is on fire, wealth inequality is so big it’s like feudal times, we have an out-of-control dangerous and incompetent administration enabled by the GOP, we are running massive and unnecessary budget deficits, we have a Senate majority leader who stonewalls tons of legislation, and we have the PAWS act to distract us.

Campaign Social Media Links: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn

Here are my social media links! I post quite a bit on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that doesn’t get put on Thripp.com:

Twitter   Facebook   Instagram

I also post videos on YouTube and articles on LinkedIn occasionally:

YouTube   LinkedIn

Please follow, like, connect, or subscribe to my social media accounts, and also like, comment on, and re-tweet my individual posts. This is very helpful for spreading my message and awareness of my candidacy, so I can win in November 2020 and start working for you in the U.S. House of Representatives and within this district (Volusia and Flagler counties at-large, and parts of St. Johns and Lake counties).