In a wealthy industrialized nation such as ours it should be a moral imperative to ensure that anyone who is sick can see a Doctor and get the health care that they need to get well, without medical bills bankrupting them and causing them to lose everything that they’ve ever worked for. We still live in a country where folks have to put mason jars with their child’s picture taped to the side, up on the counter at the convenience store, asking us for a small donation to save their child’s life. Do they really have to ask? Poverty and low income should not be a death sentence.
While the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT is not perfect it has given medical insurance to millions of people who, otherwise, couldn’t afford it; including my family and myself. It is time for both the Republicans and the Democrats to stop playing politics and answering to the call of the health care industry lobbyists. We have to come together and find a way to give all Americans the quality healthcare that they deserve; not take it away and give billions of dollars in tax cuts to the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and top 500 billionaires in the country. That doesn’t work.
Huge health insurance corporations are making our healthcare system the most expensive in the world causing wages to stagnate, while employers struggle to pay employees’ premiums. Transferring health insurance from an employer based system to a public system creates a windfall of savings for employers. They should be required to use those saving to increase wages.
Like many small business owners in WNC, I get my health insurance through the ACA marketplace. While other candidates may have empathy for those of us on the ACA, I know what it is like to live with the constant threat of repeal. No candidate has more skin in the game or will fight harder to finally move America to a humane Medicare-for-all system than I!
The U.S. is among the very few developed nations of the world to lack universal healthcare. I support working together with all sides to find a way to end this healthcare problem so that we can move forward into the 21st century as a more healthy, health minded, people and nation; and I think that a single-payer Medicare-for-all system is the answer.
We must as a nation invest in our infrastructure. Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are in great need of repair and modernization. Our security is threatened by the digital vulnerabilities of our power and communication grids. Municipal water supply and waste water facilities are vital to safe and healthy communities. Our access to clean drinking water and clean air must never be threatened.
By hiring local companies while we invest in our infrastructure we will create secure, good paying, middle-class jobs at the local level while increasing the demand for American-made materials. Tourism is a large part of Western North Carolina’s economy. We are highly dependent upon safe roads and bridges to maintain a robust tourism industry now and in the future. It is critical that as we rebuild our roads and bridges we also bring high-speed Internet to everyone in WNC for our children’s education, for creating small business opportunities, and for attracting investment from the businesses of the future.
I support a nationwide effort to not only repair our ailing infrastructure but also to bring it into the 21st century. We need to use our advanced technology to incorporate our energy and communication grids into our transportation grid so that as we repair and rebuild our roadways, we also enhance the security of our power and communication grids.
Infrastructure has always been an investment in the future. Starting in the 1950’s our federal highway system was constructed as an investment that would not only pay for itself, but continue to generate wealth through commerce and mobility. It also provides security by allowing us to rapidly move our military and emergency responders anywhere in the country.
It is time for the American people to consider making an investment not only in the jobs that would be created now, but also in the necessary mobility and security enhancements of the 21st century. By combining our infrastructure improvements into one great project, we can be more efficient with our resources and less harmful to our environment, while providing for the needs of the 21st century in such a way that will not only pay for itself, but will continue to generate both wealth and security for many generations to come.
I believe, as do over 90% of scientist on this matter, that climate change is a real and urgent threat to our planet and will negatively affect our economy, our security, and our children’s health. I also believe that humans have had an effect on this change and that we can make a difference moving forward. I will commit to addressing climate change with policies that promote clean energy industry and discourage the use of fossil fuels to the point that we need them no more.
I will stand up for the protection of our forests, rivers, and oceans as well as the clean air that we count on to survive. I will stand especially strong for the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina and the clean flowing rivers and streams. We must not let the pristine wildernesses of the 11th district be re-classified from “Wild and scenic” to allow for logging. This will destroy the mountain sides and ruin the clear, clean rivers that make Western North Carolina so special as a destination for residents, trout fisherman and tourists from around the world.
Tourism is the foundation of WNC’s economy. Tourists come, fall in love with the area and build vacation homes or retirement homes, meaning home construction in the area is dependent on tourism and tourism is dependent on a clean, healthy environment.
Our children are our most valuable and precious asset. Educating our children should be one of the most important issues that we strive to get right. Having three children of my own and being a stay home father for my first, I know a thing or two about kids and how they learn. I know that they are learning before they are even born. The first three years of a child’s life are the most critical in preparing them to learn and should be addressed more seriously by investing in early childhood programs like Early Head Start and providing every family in America with access to high-quality childcare and high-quality preschool programs. I support efforts to raise wages for childcare workers, and to ensure that early childhood educators are experienced and properly trained.
Our teachers are our most important tool in the education toolbox so we need to make sure that they are compensated accordingly. North Carolina ranks 35th in the nation for teacher pay and 43rd for per-pupil spending. We need to do much better than this and we need to make sure they have all of the supplies and resources that they need to do their job. A teacher should be able to afford to live in the district that they teach, and they should be able to retire comfortably.
We need to return control of the classrooms to the teachers and the local school boards and take the federal control out. There needs to be less focus on preparing for standardized testing and more focus on teaching math, science, civics, the arts, and critical thinking skills. We should acknowledge that not all students aspire to go to a four year college, and begin preparing them with technical and trade type skills before high school graduation. Our schools need to be the most exciting place that our kids want to be as they are stimulated with new ideas every day.
For those that do wish to go on to college, we need to invest in tuition-free education. Typically the more education a person has, the more money they make and the higher taxes they pay. This is revenue that can be used to pay for more tuition-free education and healthcare for everyone. Tuition-free education does not cost taxpayers — it creates revenue. Burdening students with decades of crippling loan payments depresses the economy (not to mention the student), deters students from continuing their education, and lowers the tax base. Other countries have made this investment and recognized high returns.
I believe that we can improve our education system with some initial investments made in raising teacher salaries, improving run down facilities, after school programs, and providing the latest technologies, including high speed internet availability to all homes. This will lead to a better educated population that is ready to enter the workforce of the 21st century and better educated electorate ready for the challenges of maintaining our democracy.
“Democrats are the party that created Social Security, one of the nation’s most successful and effective programs. Without Social Security, nearly half of America’s seniors would be living in poverty. Social Security is more than just a retirement program; It also provides important life insurance to young survivors of deceased workers and provides disability insurance protection. I will fight every effort to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security. The Democratic Party recognizes that the way Social Security cost-of- living adjustments are calculated may not always reflect the spending patterns of seniors, particularly the disproportionate amount they spend on health care expenses. I will be committed to exploring alternatives that could better and more equitably serve seniors. I will make sure Social Security’s guaranteed benefits continue for generations to come by asking those at the top to pay more, and will achieve this goal by taxing some of the income of people above $250,000. The Democratic Party is also committed to providing all necessary financial support for the Social Security Administration so that it can provide timely benefits and high-quality service for those it serves. We will pay for this by closing loopholes that benefit millionaires and billionaires” – DNC Platform
The US Govt has borrowed twice as much money from Social Security than it has from China, but the Republicans in Congress do not want you to know this. They want to privatize your social security and eventually eliminate it all together. Social security does not contribute to our National deficit, as the Republicans would like for us to believe. It is paid for by contributions deducted from every American’s paycheck, and the hard working people expect to be able to use that money when the time comes. The Republicans not only need to keep their hands off of our Social Security, but they need to be paying it back. “George W. Bush borrowed heavily from the Social Security surplus to help obscure the fact that federal taxes were not bringing in enough revenue to pay for the wars and his tax cuts.”
Our Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal” I take this to mean all human beings are created equal and I will stand by that principle. I will never support or vote for any legislation that takes away or denies equal civil rights to anyone regardless of their religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, age, gender, or income. We must love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the rights of all Americans.
Women are currently paid approximately 80% of what men are paid. I believe that everyone should be given an equal pay for equal work regardless of their gender or ethnicity. I also believe that women should have control over their own reproductive health. As a congressman, I will never support or vote for any legislation that attempts to restrict a women’s reproductive rights. I will support legislation for paid maternity leave and I will stand for Medicare for all, especially pregnant women, new mothers, and their babies.
The only true natives to this land are the tribes of Indians that were here before the Europeans began to land their ships on the eastern shores of the Americas in the late 1400’s. So, technically, those of us who are not 100% Native American are all descendants of immigrants. Historically and currently immigrants have provided and continue to provide a very important part of our work force here in the US and are vital participants in our communities. We need to create a simple and fast track for the undocumented immigrants to become documented so that they can participate legally in our society and contribute to our tax base. We do not need to deport law abiding family oriented Men or Women with children just trying to make better lives for their families. As we improve the policies to deal with current undocumented residents we should continue to protect our borders and provide the border patrol with all of the resources needed to do their job.
In agreeance with the DNC platform I will be committed to continuing the policies and programs that have already done so much for our creative arts industry and economy. Investment in the arts strengthens our communities and contributes to our nation’s rich cultural heritage. I will continue to support public funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and for programs providing art and music education in primary and secondary schools. The entire nation prospers when we protect and promote the unique artistic and cultural contributions of the women and men who create and preserve our nation’s heritage. Having raised three children I can testify to the value of PBS programming, especially during the first three years. All three of my children are now honor students and I have to say that I think Big Bird had something to do with it.
The federal prison population has increased almost 790% since 1980 due to “The War on Drugs”. I will stand to end federal contracts with for-profit, private prisons and detention centers. It has been proven that these types of facilities only profit the corporations and the politicians that support them, not the communities in which they are located, as was promised. The private prison industry has supported the campaign of the current administration and they will be rewarded with customers filling their beds (inmates) by the new attorney general’s policy to crack down on marijuana offenders in states where it has been made legal. The “war on drugs” has resulted in millions of incarcerations of people of color disproportionately, without reducing drug usage. I believe that the federal government should remove marijuana from the list of “schedule 1” federally controlled substances so that it can be appropriately regulated and perhaps legalized. I will support policies that allow for and call for more research on the medicinal uses of this plant so that it may play a large part in the reform of the pharmaceutical industry. I agree with the DNC when they say “We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize it or provide access to medical marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact in terms of arrest rates for African Americans that far outstrip arrest rates for whites, despite similar usage rates.”
I believe that we need to give much attention to rebuilding the bonds of trust between our law enforcement and our communities. We should require all uniformed officers to wear body cameras at all times and we should have extensive training to reduce the use of deadly force and racial profiling. I also believe that improvements made to our public school system, including after school programs, will keep our children engaged, inspire them to succeed and make them less likely to end up in prison.
I am against the death penalty which has proven to be cruel and unusual punishment and has no place in the US.
I support the Democratic Party Platform on trade as it states:
“Trade deals often boosted the profits of large corporations, while at the same time failing to protect workers’ rights, labor standards, the environment, and public health. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies that support jobs in America. That is why Democrats believe we should review agreements negotiated years ago to update them to reflect these principles. Any future trade agreements must make sure our trading partners cannot undercut American workers by taking shortcuts on labor policy or the environment. They must not undermine democratic decision-making through special privileges and private courts for corporations, and trade negotiations must be transparent and inclusive.
Democrats’ priority is to significantly strengthen enforcement of existing trade rules and the tools we have, including by holding countries accountable on currency manipulation and significantly expanding enforcement resources. China and other countries are using unfair trade practices to tilt the playing field against American workers and businesses. When they dump cheap products into our markets, subsidize state-owned enterprises, devalue currencies, and discriminate against American companies, our middle class pays the price. That has to stop. Democrats will use all our trade enforcement tools to hold China and other trading partners accountable.”
“We believe any new trade agreements must include strong and enforceable labor and environmental standards in their core text with streamlined and effective enforcement mechanisms. Trade agreements should crack down on the unfair and illegal subsidies other countries grant their businesses at the expense of ours”
Our campaign finance system is broken and if we don’t fix it, we will lose our democracy as we know it and the American people will have no real representation in our government. We must implement the tools necessary to protect our political and electoral integrity that is threatened by special interest groups and individuals with big money. We need to have complete transparency in our political donation process as we repair and strengthen the Federal Election Commission to enable it to enforce campaign finance laws. This includes the elimination of super PACs. Super PACs raised approximately $1.8 billion and spent $1.1 billion during the 2016 election. This is a grotesque, greedy, and hypocritical reality! The very wealthy individuals and corporations would rather spend billions of dollars on candidates that will fight to keep their taxes low than to pay the taxes that will benefit the masses with health care, education, infrastructure, and paying down the Federal Deficit.