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A letter to Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), from a Gold Star Family

 A letter to Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), from a Gold Star Family

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, my wife Cindy, and I, were visiting Washington DC and the Senate office buildings as part of our vacation. We were sitting in the “Rotunda” in the Russell Building because I wanted my wife to meet some of the senators. We pulled up some chairs and took a bit of a rest from the miles we walked that morning touring.  A young woman and a young man with a video camera came and set up in front of us. She was Abigail Roberts of the Christian Broadcasting Network.  I introduced myself and asked who she was planning to interview. She stated, “Senator Thom Tillis.”  I thought, great, the senator from North Carolina. I had lived on Fort Bragg as a kid with my brother in the 82nd Airborne.  I mentioned to Abigail that she might ask the senator if he would “score” the GOP Tax Bill before they voted on it. She said that would be a good question. 

My wife and I sat there during the interview, and when it was completed I stood up and introduced myself to the senator’s assistant. I said, “Hello, my name is Fred Boenig.  I’m a Gold Star Dad, and my wife and I have three other kids that have served.  Would it be possible to get a photo with the senator?” On my shirt, I wear my Gold Star pin, and a pin with a red rectangle and three blue stars.  The young man said “Sure.”  So when the senator walked over, I introduced myself and my wife and congratulated him on his new “grandbabies.”  As we turned toward the camera I said, “Sir, you’re going to “score” that bill before you vote on it, right?”  He said, “Yes, the final draft before we vote.”  I said, “You know, nowhere in history has cutting taxes on corporations ever helped the middle class.”  He said, “Well it did in my state.  We cut the corporate tax and we went from one of the slowest economies to one of the fastest growing economies.” I replied, “Sir, what year was that?”  He said, “2011.”  I smiled and said, “Sir, everyone’s economy went up. It was after the recession.”  We got our photo and he left.

Fred Boenig Cindy Schwyter Senator Thom Tilis



















I decided to see exactly what happened in 2011 in North Carolina, so I pulled up the North Carolina GDP history and this is what I found:
















Well, I realized that he was “spinning numbers”; seems North Carolina in 2008 had a GDP percent change of 2.4%, and in 2011 had one of 1.2%.  He said they cut the corporate tax in 2011 and it made them one of the fastest?  In 2016 it was 1.6%.  So .4% is what they got for giving corporations more money? The current median family income for North Carolina is $60,074Real median family income peaked in 2007 at $62,904, and is now $2,830 (4.50%) lower. From a post peak low of $56,773 in 2012, real median family income for North Carolina has now grown by $3,301 (5.81%).


Median Income
















On Friday night, at 10 p.m., Republican senators were still “marking” up the Bill HR1.  On television I saw senators holding up pages that looked like this:

HR1 Bill Mark Up





































I looked at my wife and said, “If they vote on this tonight there is zero chance it could have been “scored.”  That means Senator Thom Tillis lied to my face.”

That, certainly, would be the most disrespectful thing I can think of.  It takes a “special kind of person” to look a Gold Star Dad in the eye and just bald face lie.

I’ve met many political people in my travels; most have been quite respectful to me and my family.  Many I vehemently disagree with politically, but none have looked me in the eye and told me they would do one thing and turn around and do exactly the opposite.  I’ve met ex-military politicians, and even though we were on exact opposite sides, I never felt disrespected by them. Even when they told me things I find distasteful and dangerous, I thanked them for their service and their honesty.

Fred Boenig Tom Cotton
















 So I decided to address the rest of this to you –Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Sir, I know in your heart you care deeply about military families.  Your wife works all the time with the families at Fort Bragg.  That’s why I find it so hurtful that you lied to my face. Clearly, you had no time to even read the “Bill” before you voted on it because they were still marking it up moments before the vote.

You see, Sir, if you had said to me, “Look, I need this bill to pass so I could please my donors.”  Or, told me whatever your reason, for voting yes on such an important bill.  A bill that will impact the lives of so many people, without it physically being possible for you to understand it’s content - I’d have more respect for you, then you just lying to my face. I’d really appreciate you explaining that to me, Sir.

Sir, I’ve had to stand behind the “Green Line” at Dover AFB and watch them take my son’s body off a plane in a flag-draped silver box, and not fall on my face under the weight of the gravity of the universe.  I believe I’m strong enough to be told the truth by a senator, that it appears he doesn’t care what’s in a bill as long as it helps him personally somehow. Because without knowing its content, how could you be sure it helped the people in your state?  You see my point, Sir?

A1C Austin Gates Angel Flight


















You still have time to do the right thing. I would hope you find the courage that I know you have deep down inside, to be honest about the actions you take going forward. To be honest about the numbers you cite. To look at the families like mine, that this bill will affect adversely and at least be straight with them and tell them exactly what’s in this bill. And how the positives and negatives of it will affect them for years to come, like raising their health insurance premiums and adding to the national debt.  In the not too distant future, you will be cutting social programs they depend on to pay for corporate tax cuts. That I have not found anywhere in history where cutting taxes on corporations or the rich raised wages for the middle class.  Clearly, not even in your own state by the numbers we’ve already seen above.

Hopefully, you’ll encourage your fellow senators to do the same.  And if they don’t, I urge you, Sir, to step forward and explain in fine detail what the “bill” you are voting for is all about.

Sir, I believe in you and believe you can do the right thing. Let’s hope you don’t let me and my family down.



Fred J. Boenig

Gold Star Dad

Emmaus, PA



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