Jobs & Economy
Jobs and prosperity come about when the government and the private sector are in balance. While too many government protections can stifle companies’ ability to create value, not enough government involvement can be equally damaging. Without government playing enough of a role, serious abuses happen. Companies like Wells Fargo steal from their clients, companies like Volkswagen develop software to help them pollute our environment, and companies like Enron defraud their investors. Only government can provide the checks and balances that keep good companies doing good things.
Likewise, government plays a critical role in ensuring that businesses have the basic infrastructure they need to grow. Our communities have thrived because government made some smart investments, providing access to power, transportation, communications, and an educated workforce. North Carolina shows that this can work with the success of Research Triangle Park. We need to return to these policies and reinvestment in America, upgrading our infrastructure by improving our roads, bridges, and rail systems to effectively and efficiently connect goods to markets and people to jobs. Small towns and rural areas need access to high-speed internet so they can compete with in the 21st century economy.
Too many middle-class people have been left behind in the global economy and others have still not recovered from the financial crash of 2008 and the Great Recession. Many are underemployed or working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. That’s not the not the way the American Dream is supposed to work. We need to make investments that spur economic growth and provide opportunity that builds and strengthens the middle class.
We need to raise the minimum wage to ensure that employers with minimum-wage workforces are not getting corporate welfare by having a government that effectively pays a significant portion of their worker’s salaries through social programs. People who work full time jobs should not need to be dependent on government programs to make ends meet.
Americans should not have to worry about paying exorbitant amounts of money for health insurance and should not feel the need to delay going to a doctor because of concerns about how to pay. It’s time to fix the Affordable Care Act and strengthen our health care system. The program has been successful in expanding health insurance coverage to millions of Americans, but it’s been hampered by sabotage from its opponents and flaws in its design. Congress needs to act to stabilize the individual market and entice more insurers into the market. Increased competition can help control prices and provide better, more efficient service. We also need to provide incentives for states to expand Medicaid to further reduce the number of uninsured Americans.
Social Security & Medicare
We need to keep our promise to seniors to protect Social Security and Medicare. They ensure that no ones retirement years are spent in dire poverty and are obligations we must meet. I will ensure they stay protected by opposing reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Access to Women’s Health Care
Women deserve to have comprehensive healthcare covered by insurance companies and available where they live. I’ll fight for women to have access to the full range of reproductive health services, including requiring insurance companies to cover both contraception and pregnancy. I believe we should trust women to make their own decisions about when to become a mother and we should stop the constant attacks on Planned Parenthood, a vital health care provider for millions of women and men.
Climate change is the most pressing environmental issue we face. It threatens everything from our weather to our food and water. North Carolina is in Hurricane Alley, so we should be especially concerned about the consequences of failing to address the changes that are clearly taking place. Today, our water and air is cleaner than it’s been in the past fifty years because of smart environmental legislation, so we should be cautious of loosening or erasing environmental protections that have worked.
Expanding Voting Access
It is time for Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act. Since the Supreme Court gutted the law in 2013, North Carolina has been ground zero for voter suppression that has targeted African Americans with surgical precision. I believe we have an obligation to protect and expand the right to vote for all Americans, not limit it.
Criminal Justice Reform
We are warehousing too many of our fellow citizens in expensive prisons that promote rather than diminish crime. It is time to stop overloading our prisons with non-violent offenders who would be better served with rehabilitation or drug treatment. We should also explore “banning the box” which would prevent employers from discriminating against people who have paid their dues for mistakes they’ve made. We should support, not penalize, people who are trying to turn their lives around.
Reducing Gun Violence
Over the past decade, we’ve had the most deadly mass shootings in recent history. In addition, too many young people across the country are dying as a result of gun violence. Congress should implement common sense reforms that have broad appeal and can keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. For starters, we need universal background checks and a limit on high-capacity clips. We also need better access to mental health care and to look for other ways to reduce gun violence in America.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
According to studies, women make about 79% as much as men do for the same work. We must end this practice. Women are major providers for their families. When they aren’t paid fairly, everyone suffers. We need to pursue policies that reward women equally for the same work. That’s not only fair, it’s good for middle class families and our economy.
Today, too many young people come out of college and graduate school with debilitating debt. Graduates should be focused on building careers and lives – and our economy – not struggling to service excessive student debt. One thing Congress can do to ease the burden is increase Pell Grants to cover more people and more costs of living.