Eastern Washington is a jewel! It has long been said that there is no better place to live… if you can find a good job. It is frustrating to watch so many students leave the region as soon as they graduate high school or college, packing up their cars and head towards opportunities in the likes of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Boise. We need to have a strong, thriving local economy in Eastern Washington, full of quality high-paying jobs with good benefits! Job’s that will not just retain our local talent, but will also encourage new business to come plant roots and grow in our region. We need need to develop an ecosystem where families and entrepreneurs can take the brave step to start a small business, and to support them on the way to success.
Healthcare is too important of an issue for partisan politics. While our politicians are playing a game of ideological tug-o-war with our healthcare system, people need access to care and relief from rising costs today. We cannot waste more time talking about this without taking meaningful action! Sweeping reforms will not get support with a strong two-party system that is divided on the issue, and only a bipartisan solution will last long-term. Fortunately, there are many reasonable improvements that can be made to our current laws which will combat both rising costs and declining options in the marketplace, as well as expand public options that can be made to further decrease our uninsured population.. Read more about my healthcare plan here...
A strong K-12 education system is key to a strong country, a necessary investment that must be made. A K-12 education that prepares students for advanced training at a Trade, Technical, 2-year or 4-year school must instill in them the core competencies and skills that will allow them to be productive citizens. Teachers need to be allowed to work with their students as they see fit, develop individual lesson plans to work with students to make sure they reach their full potential and that no student gets lost in an overcrowded system. Reducing student-to-teacher ratios is key to making that possible. As schools are preparing students to get ready to enter an increasingly complex workforce, emphasis on both STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning problem solving skills are critical. Students will be more engaged and in their education when elements of project based learning at woven into their school experience.
Across the political spectrum, we all agree that our nation’s tax code is broken and must be reformed. But what we need is tax reform, not tax breaks. The GOP is offering sweeping statements about their “once in a generation” tax plan, but much of it is the same trickle-down economics, littered with tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy, which have been tried and failed in the past. We cannot implement a tax plan that will increase the national debt, give a huge tax break to billionaires, and create further income inequality between the wealthy and the rest of us. We need to focus on creating tax incentives to that encourage us all to work, invest, save, and innovate here at home. Comprehensive tax reform needs to broaden the tax base, while also lowering tax rates, growing the economy, and reduce our national debt. By creating a tax code that is more straightforward, fair and competitive, we will boost economic growth, while creating higher wages and incomes.
Our political system is now orchestrated by special interests. I fully support the overturning of Citizens United. Since the 2010 Supreme Court decision, there has been a flood of dark money into elections by special interests. This has grown from $62M in 2010 to nearly $1.8 BILLION dollars for federal elections in 2016. This is clearly evident in our own district, where Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers has seen her campaign contributions grow from $1.45M in 2010 to $3.2M in 2016 (I would bet we see her top out over $5M in 2018), mostly from special interests outside of Eastern Washington. If we want our elections to be determined by voters instead of the whims of businesses and billionaires, then we must overturn Citizens United.
Congressional Term Limits
Our founding fathers did not envision a system dominated by career politicians. In fact, Washington, Jefferson and Franklin were all concerned with Term limits, which is why the ability to enact this was added to Article V of the Constitution. Public service used to be treated as an honor, and citizens would be elected by their neighbors to represents them for a period of time, and after which most would return home to private life. We need to bring that version of public service back to D.C.! Unfortunately, politicians today find public service as a way to get rich and powerful by standing up for their big money lobbyists instead of their constituents, and they almost never give that up willingly. Instead, we need to implement Congressional term limits and put an end to career politicians running our system. As a starting point on this discussion, I would suggest 5 terms (10 years) as a member of the House of Representatives, and 2 terms (12 years) as a member in the Senate.
Support our Veterans
We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our brave men and women who service in our armed forces. It is our profound responsibility to give our Veterans all the support they need when they return home from service. I would work to:
Ensure the VA is fully funded and that every veteran gets the care that they deserve.
Expand mental health service for Veterans dealing with PTSD and other traumas from service.
Make comprehensive dental care available to all veterans at the VA.
Expand the VA’s Caregivers Program, to help our Veterans receive the training, educational resources, and tools needed to succeed.
Aside from our native Americans neighbors, we are a nation of immigrants. We must ensure a reasonable path to legal citizenship exists for those that wish to migrate to America now, the same way our families did before us. We want to see American workers fill domestic jobs first; also allowing for vetted young skilled workers to enter our country will help the economy grow at a higher rate, and fill the gap that baby boomers will leave when they retire. For those persons whom have already found their way to America outside of the system, we need to work with them in a way that compassionately moves them through a legal path towards citizenship without ripping families apart, which is not the American way. Deportation efforts should be focused first and foremost on those found guilty of committing violent crimes or the distribution of illegal drugs.
Every man and woman has the freedom to choose whom they love. When personal rights do not infringe on the safety or well-being of other citizens, then the government should not be concerned with overseeing or regulating those areas of personal liberty, including whom one should or should not marry. The LGBTQ community deserves all of the same rights as every other citizen, and nothing less.
When we support women we make our homes, communities and businesses stronger. As a father, I want my daughter to grow up with every opportunity that a man will have, and as both a son to a single mother and as a partner to a wonderful woman, I could support no legislation that brings either of them down instead of lifting them up. There is still an wage gap that needs to be closed, as women only make 80% of what a man does when performing the same job. In executive leadership, women currently only hold 26 (5.2%) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, which is an under representation of their participation rate in the workforce. When it comes to a women’s health, that last thing she needs is a room full of white-haired male legislators telling her what she can and can’t do when it comes to the care of her body. I trust women to make the decisions that are right for themselves when it comes to their own health.
This area of women’s reproductive health is a nuanced issue, one that is matter of personal privacy and safety. It should be a decision made by the individual in consultation with her doctor, family and any personal or spiritual advisers as to what is right for them, and is not a decision that should be made by the government. The reality on this matter is that even if the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, that would not end abortion in our country; Instead, it would only end safe abortion in our country, returning us to a time filled with unsafe self-induced and back-alley abortions. In a 2016 study, The New England Journal of Medicine found that unintended pregnancies have dropped to its lowest rate in 30 years, including an 18% drop between 2008-2011, thanks to advances in long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), such as the IUD. I support efforts to extend access to reproductive education and contraception in an effort to prevent unplanned pregnancy, as well as to promote adoption when a viable option.
The 2nd Amendment is the law of the land and is to be respected. When done responsibly and safely, I support the citizens rights to own firearms, a tradition that goes back the length of our history. We should recognize, however, the vast impact that firearms have on our country. We have more guns per capita (112.6 guns per 100 persons) than any other country in the world, by a huge margin. According to a 2016 study posted by the American Journal of Medicine, U.S. homicide rates are 7 times higher than other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that is 25 times higher. In 2012, Congressional Research Service found that there are roughly twice as many guns per capita in the United States as there were in 1968, and more than 300 million guns in all. In that same period, 1.4 million people were killed with a gun. As much as I support the rights of law abiding citizens to own and operate firearms, I support reasonable, common-sense laws that prevent gun ownership by those whom cannot be trusted to do so safely and reasonably, such as felons convicted of violent crimes or persons with documented and severe mental health issues.
As the son of a retired Police Captain, I have the utmost respect for our Law Enforcement Officers. From time spent engaging with our local police departments, they have reinforced to me that the majority of crime can be traced back to two root causes, which are not unique to Eastern Washington: poverty and drugs. Poverty has long been the biggest indicator of whether or not someone will turn towards a life of crime. In Spokane, ¾ of the crimes can also be traced back to drug abuse. The best thing we can do to proactively help prevent crime is promote programs that help citizens get out of a life of poverty (education, healthcare, jobs and affordable housing) and to create adequate drug rehab capacity to support those who need assistance, as well as mental health treatment. In Spokane, there is often a 7 week lead time before someone in need can get into rehab, at which point they are less likely to go and more likely to continue committing crimes. Since mental health and substance use disorder services are one of the 10 Essential Health Benefits covered by the ACA, funding for this can be prioritized through the medicaid expansion which Washington State adopted.