I am committed to listening to the residents of my district to make sure our campaign represents the concerns of our people. we will continue to add to this platform, based on these conversations, and present solutions to the challenges we face as a nation.
The American story as it is so often told is one of a strong middle class, a nation where hard work can earn a family a financially secure future. However, for several decades this narrative has lost almost all basis in fact. Today, over half of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings and nearly two thirds of us don’t have enough to cover an emergency. Even if we own a car or a home, most of us are living paycheck-to-paycheck. On the other hand, 20 individual Americans own more wealth than half us, more than 152 million people. Income inequality in the US is also compounded by racial inequality: The richest 100 households in the US own more than the entire African-American population of this country.
These numbers are dizzying. They point to a vast economic divide that is growing larger every day, with 99% of new wealth going to the 1% of Americans who already have the most. The facts show that the middle class is shrinking, and that even with hard work, “moving up” is significantly less likely than a generation ago. We must reverse these trends, and as a member of Congress I would fight hard to pass specific new policies that would help do that.
• Working people in this country should earn a living wage. Many in this country work full-time, even two or three jobs, while their families live under the poverty line. This is inexcusable for a nation like ours. We must start by fighting for a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, as outlined in the Raise the Wage Act.
• Corporations must pay their fair share. Our tax code favors corporations over people, in part because corporate interest groups spend billions of dollars lobbying the government, even writing the legislation in some cases. The current administration and Congress recently lowered the corporate tax rate drastically, even though many large corporations already use loopholes and tax havens to evade paying taxes. We must end these practices and implement a tax code that helps build a real middle class, as proposed in the Inclusive Prosperity Act.
• Women in the workplace should receive equal pay for equal work. Women lead over 40% of households but earn only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns in the same position. The wage gap for women of color is even larger. I would fight to end these disparities by finally passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
• Organized workers and their unions helped build the middle class in this country, along with so much of what we take for granted in the workplace, like 5-day workweek and 8-hour workday. Yet the right for workers to unionize and collectively bargain has been systematically dismantled. We must ensure that workers can organize without fear of retaliation and expect negotiations with employers in good faith. I will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act to guarantee these rights.
Healthcare for All
Our current profit-driven healthcare system is leaving working families behind. Too many of us live in fear of being one emergency away from medical bankruptcy. I’ve lived this struggle when my father fell ill and had to ultimately file for bankruptcy due to astronomical medical fees. Private health insurance companies put profits over people by inflating the cost of healthcare with administrative overhead and complicating patients’ access to care. We pay more than twice as much for our healthcare per person compared to most major industrialized countries, yet our health outcomes are worse. All the while, people live in fear of losing their insurance, while also worrying about exorbitant out-of-pocket costs if they do fall ill.
The ACA (Affordable Care Act) has improved elements of our healthcare system, insuring more than 17 million Americans, while Medicaid expansion has provided low-income people with the ability to see the doctor. Many patients no longer have to fear the denial of their coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Nevertheless, 29 million Americans still do not have health insurance, and large portions of our society are underinsured, without the ability to pay the high copayments and deductibles. We must build upon the gains of the ACA to ultimately achieve universal coverage for all.
I believe that healthcare is a human right, and that’s why I will fight for a Medicare-for-All single-payer plan that will cover all of our people, regardless of a person’s income. An expanded and improved Medicare-for-All plan will save a typical middle-class family over $5,000 per year. The freedom and security gained will unlock the entrepreneurial potential of countless Americans, while lessening the burden on small-businesses to provide insurance for their workers. People would no longer worry about losing their health insurance if they lose their jobs, and millions of Americans who cannot find full time employment will not have to worry about being uninsured. Seniors on fixed incomes and patients with chronic illnesses will no longer have to choose between their prescription drugs or paying rent. A Medicare-for-All single-payer healthcare system that cares for all Americans, regardless of income, age or socio-economic status will lead to a more healthy, fiscally responsible and equitable future for all of us.
Investing in our Future from Pre-K to College
Young people face too many obstacles to quality education at every stage of their lives. We must make high-quality education a universal right from pre-Kindergarten through adulthood, empowering our students to realize their full potential without the debilitating debt imposed on them by profit-driven financial institutions.
Early Childhood Education
Children with access to early childhood education are better prepared for kindergarten and are more likely to graduate high school and to go on to college. Funding child care and ensuring universal access for infants, toddlers, and 3-to-4 year-olds, regardless of parental income or work status, is mutually beneficial for families and communities. In fact, every dollar that we spend on early childhood education has been shown to return 17x.
States have significant freedom in designing their early childhood education systems, but they often face very limited funding, both locally and federally. As a member of Congress, I will push for a federal budget that provides more to states for this critical need. This would ensure that childcare subsidies are available to all children regardless of their parents’ income and that the professionals who care for and educate our children earn a living wage, which is too often not the case.
Providing affordable access to child care frees parents and enables caregivers to work. That is why childcare is such a critical component of our progressive vision: it brings us closer to full employment and it leaves our children better prepared to succeed.
There is no reason the US should not be a world leader in its public education system. We can afford to have the best in the world, and that should be our priority. But our educational outcomes do not keep up with those of other developed nations. All of our children have great potential, and our schools can make them all shine. We must align our policies with practices that are proven to work, and the experts in that are teachers above all, along with students and their parents.
For too long Congress has inserted itself into K-12 policy only in superficial and often harmful ways. It has made high-stakes testing the hallmark of American public schools, forcing a “teach to the test” mentality on teachers. This removes the freedom of teachers and schools to craft curricula, and it puts additional stress on children as young as eight, many of whom may already be struggling with poverty. Testing regimes that determine student performance only multiply the many other factors driving the achievement gap - race, parental income, gender, geography, and others.
As a member of Congress, I will seek to enact policy that addresses these root causes of poor educational performance, rather than applying a band-aid of standardized tests. Congress should continue to be involved in setting educational benchmarks so that children across the nation will be prepared for a global economy, but all-or-nothing tests do not empower teachers to bring all students along.
I would also ensure that our public tax-dollars allocated to public education in fact fund schools that are open to all. Diverting public funds into private schools through vouchers ultimately leaves our current public education system underfunded and only ensures that tomorrow’s children will inherit a further weakened one. Charter schools too, since they are funded by public tax dollars, have a significant role in our public education system and Congress must help to ensure they are managed transparently and in equity with all our schools.
Our higher educational system has long been one of the best in the world, even a half century ago when the average annual tuition was $243 at a public university. Now, a college education has become inaccessible to many because of incredible increases in tuition and the necessity to take on insurmountable debt. If we want to do right by our children in the middle and working class, and if we truly want to compete with other developed nations, the answer is simple. College must be affordable for all students, regardless of their parents’ income, and they should never have to take out large loans to do it. As a member of Congress, that means I will fight for legislation that drastically lowers or does away with tuition at public universities, offers substantial federal grants for students at private colleges based on need, puts limits on the debt load of any student, and ends the predatory practices of institutions lending money for education, all of which are addressed in the College for All Act of 2017.
Global Peace and Security
A great nation leads the world by solving problems and preventing conflict, not causing them. We can protect our citizens and our national interest while coming to the aid of those whose basic human rights have been infringed upon, without making military intervention our first reaction.
Protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the deaths of over 7,000 members of our armed services, along with unknown thousands of innocent civilians. These conflicts, which have also cost American taxpayers upwards of $5 trillion dollars, have not made the world a safer place, and yet our defense budget continues to skyrocket. The US currently spends more on its defense budget than the next 8 countries combined, and Congresspeople beholden to for-profit defense contractors continue to funnel our tax dollars into an arms race that escalates the potential for conflict internationally.
No one should pretend that the challenges facing our country are easy to solve, whether in the form of international terrorism or nations that threaten us, their neighbors and our allies. However, as a member of Congress, I would act to ensure that American armed intervention only comes as a last resort and with the authorization and oversight of Congress, which the executive branch has often disregarded. We must enact a diplomacy-first foreign policy, employing the power of multilateral negotiations that use economic incentives and regional pressure to promote global peace and security. High-ranking military officials agree that elevating and strengthening diplomacy is crucial to keeping Americans safe, and that national security is more than military power alone. While our military must be prepared to respond, we must also employ our economic, diplomatic, and humanitarian resources to uprooting violence where it begins and creating the conditions for a lasting peace.
Fair & Humane Immigration Reform
The current administrations xenophobic immigration policy does not align with our proud history as a nation of immigrants. Tearing families apart who have been here for decades and have raised children born in our country is an inhumane approach to policymaking. We must rise above the divisive rhetoric that seeks to stoke fear and scapegoat immigrants. In Congress, I would help to lead the push for comprehensive, fair, and humane immigration reform, by providing a permanent path towards citizenship for the millions of undocumented people who currently reside in the shadows.
Immediately, this means acting to defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and to reinstate President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). In Congress, I would advocate for expanded and permanent versions of these provisions, and I would protest any attempt to see them used as bargaining chips in a xenophobic campaign for a border wall. We have already seen increasing violence at our borders with little or no accountability. I would act to ensure that Customs and Border Protection acts only within their mandate, just as I believe local law enforcement agencies should be removed from any immigration action. No one should fear deportation and family separation when being stopped for a traffic violation.
The current administration’s attempts to ban entry of refugees from war-torn countries, where many risk persecution and violence on a daily basis, is absolutely unacceptable. The promotion of Islamophobia in these attempts is a disgrace to the principles of freedom of worship and equality. As the child of immigrants, I know the opportunities available when this country welcomes newcomers and respects their backgrounds. The number of refugees accepted by the US in the aftermath of the Syrian conflict, one of the most violent in modern history, has been negligible in comparison to many of our allies and countries in the region. The wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world can do so much more, and in Congress I would act to ensure we live up to the brightest moments in our welcoming history.
Combatting Climate Change & Creating Green Energy Jobs
Climate change is perhaps the single most urgent issue of our time, and it intersects with so many others. The costs related to the effects of climate change make it an economic issue. Keeping our air and water clean are public health issues. The disproportionate impacts that vulnerable front-line communities bear as a result of fossil-fuel industries and in places prone to natural disasters make it a social and racial justice issue. Drought and famine caused by climate change often lead to conflict and migration crises, making it a national security issue. Ultimately, the environmental conditions that our children and grandchildren may inherit make it an intergenerational issue.
It affects nearly all aspects of our lives, requiring us to take bold and timely action to stop its harmful effects. But today, the fossil fuel industry and their lobbyists are essentially buying politicians to do their bidding, creating confusion on the realities of climate change while continuing to allow the industry to pollute. All this while fossil fuel companies are making enormous profits, and getting away with $135 billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies and corporate welfare over the next decade. We must stop rewarding polluters that put profits above people and planet.
As your next Congressperson, I will fight against the fossil fuel lobby and protect the environment from harmful practices such as: Arctic oil drilling, offshore drilling, mountaintop removal coal mining, fracking, and dirty pipeline projects such as Keystone and Dakota Access that disproportionately affect and infringe on the rights of indigenous and rural communities.
The fight to curb the effects of climate change is already in motion, and the economics are on our side. Solar panels today cost less and are more efficient. In fact, wind and solar energy already account for ~20% of the world's electricity. We have the opportunity to radically transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy; we just need the political will. I will fight to close loopholes and make sure effective regulations keep big polluters in-check. I will support bills like the Keep It In The Ground Act that bans future fossil fuel leases on our public lands, and I will stand up to protect national monuments like Basin & Range and Gold Butte in Nevada from extractive industries.
We can solve the impending climate crisis while creating the jobs of the future, today. By investing in renewable technologies, we can fix our crumbling infrastructure and jumpstart our green energy economy. Instead of subsidizing an already bloated fossil fuel industry, we should invest in our people, training our workers on the new processes that will lead us to energy independence. This will not only reduce our environmental footprint, but also lead to safe jobs that provide a living wage for millions of workers both currently in and new to the energy industry.
End Big Money in Politics & Reclaim Our Democracy
Abraham Lincoln’s vision of a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” is not representative of our political system today, one that has been invaded by the corrupting influence of big money. The disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our political system. As a result, our democracy has come to resemble an oligarchy, where monied interests can effectively buy politicians.
We need to abolish the Citizens United ruling through a constitutional amendment and work towards the public financing of elections, which will return our government to the people. This is not a progressive issue, nor is it a conservative issue; it is an American issue.
We need to reclaim our democracy from the rich and powerful. Our political system should allow all people, regardless of income, to participate and run for political office without having to be independently wealthy or have to raise insurmountable sums of money from corporate donors. Our representatives should indeed be representative of our diverse working and middle-class backgrounds, yet the majority of Congress-people are millionaires. How can we expect candidates and representatives who walk with the 1% to stand up for the 99% of us? We need to fight for representation that doesn’t amplify the influence of the wealthy, but instead amplifies the voice of small donors.
Reclaiming our democracy means more than just removing the corrupting influence of big money in politics. It also means we must strengthen voting rights. In Congress, I would act to restore the Voting Rights Act, expand early voting and polling locations, implement automatic voter registration laws, and end gerrymandering.
The Democratic Party also needs to uphold its name and commit to operating truly in a democratic fashion by ending the superdelegate system, and opening up the party primaries by allowing the plurality of Americans, registered independents, to vote in primary elections.