MEDICARE FOR ALL
Health care is a human right. Period. Having access to quality health care and affordable prescription drugs shouldn't be contingent upon the size of your bank account. As the parents of two sons who live with Crohn's disease, Mary and I have received bills for $18,000 for single treatments. We’re fortunate to be covered by health insurance, but not everyone is, and that’s morally wrong. I understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll of chronic illness and why it is so important that we pass Medicare for All and address the astronomical costs of prescription drugs. If elected, I will not only defend the ACA and fight Trump’s efforts to deprive Michigan families of medical care, I will work to ensure access to affordable health care for every American.
GOOD-PAYING JOBS WITH BENEFITS
Many candidates talk about creating good-paying jobs, but for me it’s been a lifelong commitment. The dignity and value of work has been attacked and undermined in every way in this country. Too many of our jobs have been offshored, contracted out, privatized and made part-time or temporary. Lower pay and fewer pensions and benefits mean many among us won’t be able to enjoy a solid middle-class life and retirement. The result? Unprecedented inequality of income and wealth.
It’s time to end trickle-down economics and create a bottom-up economics that puts what’s good for the average hard-working American at the center of every policy decision. We can create better jobs by making increased living standards the center of all trade deals, raising the minimum wage, restoring the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively, undertaking a massive effort to restore our roads, bridges and sewers, and building new infrastructure like bullet trains, mass transit and high-speed broadband.
I strongly support paid family leave and believe that no one should have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security. And it is completely unacceptable that women only make $0.82 for every dollar made by men. In Congress, I will fight for equal pay and benefits for all women – especially women of color, who suffer the widest pay gap.
QUALITY EDUCATION FOR EVERY CHILD
Restoring the middle class means we must stop short-changing our kids. All children, regardless of their zip code, deserve a high-quality education that provides them with the resources, instruction and support necessary to help them reach their full potential. As a product of Berkley public schools and a proud parent of four children who have all attended public schools in the 9th District, I will advocate for universal public education, starting with preschool and including excellent K-12 schools under local control with well-compensated and well-respected teachers. We must invest in our kids to build a strong future for Michigan.
I vehemently oppose Betsy DeVos’s efforts to undermine public education and tear down teachers. I’m ready to take on DeVos and fight for students, just as I’ve been fighting for workers’ rights for decades. Michigan doesn’t need privatization or unlimited charter schools, but rather strong public schools. I will work to ensure every child receives a high-quality
education that provides them with the resources, instruction and support necessary to help them reach their full potential.
My wife, Mary, taught sixth grade for years, and we know the importance of giving teachers the resources they need to be successful in their classrooms. As a lifelong union advocate, I stand in solidarity with educators across the country fighting for the respectable pay, fair pensions and adequate classroom resources they deserve.
And as a father of four, I know what it’s like to try to raise a family in this era when the middle class is under attack every single day. We must invest in higher education, so students aren’t buried in debt when they graduate. I support free community and four-year college for poor and working-class students and many reforms for wealthier students who need to take out loans including lower interest rates, loan forgiveness for public servants, returning loan servicing to the government from big corporations and more. In addition, public colleges need better funding to improve instruction and graduation rates.
We must help our workers transition to the jobs of tomorrow. As Michigan’s first Chief Workforce Officer, I created “No Worker Left Behind,” helping 162,000 Michiganders get training and over 120,000 get new jobs during the Great Recession. That means supporting community colleges and apprenticeship programs that train and retrain workers for skilled jobs across many industries.
Michigan needs skilled, financially-stable young people to start businesses, put down roots in our communities and contribute to the economy. We must also support our skilled trades’ training and retraining programs, so our workforce is ready to meet the technical demands of the future. A university education is not, and should not be, the only path to a decent living.
Social Security is one of the greatest achievements of the Democratic Party, providing a safety net for the oldest and most vulnerable Americans. We can never go back to the days when our elderly were allowed to live and die in poverty. We owe it to today’s seniors and to future generations to protect and expand this vital program at a time when nearly half of families have no retirement savings at all. Republicans try to scare people into thinking Social Security can’t be fixed, because they want to privatize it. But we can make modest tweaks to ensure the solvency of this program for decades and decades to come, including raising the wage cap to ensure that the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share.
The GOP tax plan was not a reform; it was a shakedown. Corporations and the richest 1% of Americans will reap most of the benefits, while working families got tiny cuts that expire after several years. In fact, it’s even worse than it seems, because the GOP tax cut has blown a large hole in the budget, and Republicans are now predictably arguing that we need to cut Medicare and Social Security in response. If they get their way, poor and middle-income households will lose far more than they gain from tax cuts; only the richest households will come out ahead. Especially given that the distribution of income and wealth in this country is already the most unfair it’s been in a century, that’s morally obscene. I will fight for a fair tax system where corporations and the wealthy pay their share to fix our roads, fund Social Security and Medicare, and provide quality education for every child.
The GOP tax cut will be especially harmful to states like Michigan, because the exploding budget deficit will enlarge the trade deficit, and lead to the loss of additional manufacturing jobs.
I’m fed up with trying to navigate Macomb and Oakland County roads. Our poor road conditions are costing the typical Metro Detroit driver $856 per year in repairs and maintenance -- almost twice the national average. Politicians in Lansing have been too chicken to confront the problem, kicking the can down the road year after year, even as the road crumbles beneath the can.
Congress should set an example for Michigan and other states by creating a comprehensive, long-term program to invest in roads, bridges, sewers, locks, ports, mass transit and other basic infrastructure. I will work across the aisle to pass an infrastructure plan that lays the groundwork for a new era of American prosperity without bankrupting our city and state governments.
If we want to rebuild the middle class, we need to stop acting like a declining empire and initiate a real infrastructure program to rebuild our country and put people to work! China is investing billions of dollars in new roads, trains, ports, and airports. How can we compete when our infrastructure is obsolete and crumbling? Let’s determine how much it will cost to fix our horrific roads, bridges and sewers. Let’s identify must-do projects like a new Soo Lock. And let’s figure out the cost of building out electric vehicle charging infrastructure, solar energy to power schools and local governments, and bullet trains between short and medium-haul cities like Detroit-Chicago and Detroit-Columbus.
Let’s identify whatever mix of taxes, bonds and notes are needed to pay for rebuilding our country in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Imagine how patriotic we’ll all feel when we can zoom from Detroit to Chicago in 90 minutes, drive on smooth roads and read in a solar powered library. We can do what it takes to move America forward again.
With Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs (like everything else), he acts or tweets without thinking or listening. But politicians are just as wrong when they overlook American workers' justifiable frustration over the series of bad trade deals and economic policies pursued by China and others that led to Trump’s tariff action.
We need a fighter in Congress who will stand up for trade policies that protect workers’ rights and end the race to the economic bottom for workers around the world. It’s time for a new trade regime aimed not at freeing capital to move all the work where wages are lowest, worker safety regulations are the weakest and environmental protections lacking, but rather at raising the standard of living for workers in all countries involved and protecting our one, precious planet everywhere.
We need to crack down on dumping, currency manipulation, theft of intellectual property and other violations by China and any others who do the same. Let’s change our tax policies to incentivize creating good jobs at home, and increase job training and apprenticeships.
While the Trump Administration tries to turn the clock back 50 years on women’s autonomy and reproductive rights, I will fight for the rights of women to make their own choices concerning their bodies and reproductive health.
The decision about whether to have an abortion is a complex and difficult one best made by a woman in consultation with her doctor. The gag rule put in place by President Trump is a direct attack on women’s health care rights and discriminates against lower income families. I am disgusted but not surprised, as this administration constantly politicizes health care.
Family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood provide patients with crucial preventive care and screenings. More than 4 million women, men and young people in the United States depend on Planned Parenthood for high-quality, affordable health care. Trump and his administration are more than happy to deprive millions of women of health services. I can’t wait to get to Congress and fight this anti-woman agenda.
As the father of four kids educated in public schools, the bottom drops out of my stomach every time we hear about another school shooting. As a person of faith, I’m sick of hearing the “thoughts and prayers” coming from the very people who are supposed to take action. Congress does nothing because the Republican party is beholden to the NRA.
We need universal background checks, gun violence restraining orders, a new assault weapons ban, a bump stock ban, and more. It will likely take a movement like those for civil rights, women’s rights and the environment to tackle the epidemic of gun violence. We have to build this movement, and young people are leading the way. I will not accept money from the NRA. I will fight for sensible gun policies, which is why I’ve received the Gun Sense Candidate distinction from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
More than 40 percent of major industrial facilities in Michigan are spewing large volumes of pollution into our rivers and lakes, violating the Clean Water Act. Unfortunately, we can't count on the Trump Administration to stop the pollution.
We have a moral obligation to protect and preserve our land, air and water, starting with our Great Lakes. We have to tackle overtaxed and outdated sewer systems that threaten waterways like the Clinton River and add pollutants to Lake St. Clair. Indeed, we need to protect our water not just in the wilderness, but also in Flint and every other city.
Above all, we must address climate change with tremendous urgency. Saving our planet and our people from global warming is a moral imperative, but it's also an economic opportunity. I created Lean & Green Michigan to help businesses and nonprofits retrofit their buildings for energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy like solar. We have facilitated over $20 million in clean energy projects, creating well-paying jobs, making our businesses more efficient and competitive, and reducing our carbon footprint.
I know from experience that we can speed the deployment of electric vehicles, solar, wind, biomass, and other clean energy along with advanced batteries to store the new energy we create. In Congress, I will help make our state a leader in clean energy technology, which will create reliable, good-paying jobs, protect the environment and keep communities safe from pollutants.
HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL
Every person is precious; every person is made in God’s image. We have to defend the human rights of every person. That is not negotiable. In Congress, I will work to unite all people around the need for full rights, freedom and opportunities for everyone.
I believe LGBT+ people are to be celebrated and their human rights must be protected. Congress should bar discrimination against LGBT+ people on all fronts – housing, employment, public accommodation, banking, adoption, and more.
Racism and xenophobia have been a problem in this country since before we became a country. We have moved from slavery to Jim Crow to the prison industrial complex. We need to fight the forms of oppression people of color face today. Among the things we need to do are decriminalize marijuana; put more emphasis on treatment than incarceration for substance abuse problems; protect the rights of returning citizens in terms of voting, employment, housing and more; and work with police to end profiling and discriminatory stops and arrests. We need to work to integrate all areas of American life, from education to careers to housing.
We need immediate action to end immoral family separations at the border. People fleeing violence should be treated with compassion by this great country. Simple, common-sense reforms will allow families to stay together and live in the community while their claims for asylum are examined. We also need a clear path to citizenship for young people who were brought to America as children. Finally, Congress needs to stop ICE from terrorizing undocumented people who are productive and law-abiding members of their communities. If the Trump administration is unwilling to exercise reasonable judgment when it decides how to deploy law enforcement personnel, Congress must step in and limit its discretion.
And we need comprehensive immigration reform. I’ve been active on this issue for decades, ever since I co-founded a group called Immigration Reform, Advocacy, Training and Education after the Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed in 1986. We need a reasonable system where people who have spent a certain number of years living, working and paying taxes here, can become citizens of this country over time. Ripping apart families simply because they came to the U.S. illegally or overstayed a visa many years ago is immoral and counterproductive. With birth rates dropping, we need immigrants to help revitalize our cities and inner suburbs and fill out our workforce, which otherwise will face critical shortages in the years ahead.
Too many families are treated poorly by banks, payday lenders, and check cashing stores that charge excessive fees and engage in abusive practices. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is working to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has saved consumers billions in unjust fees and charges. In Congress, I will work to protect and strengthen this agency. But we need to go further and embrace Postal Banking. Postal banking would give everyone in the United States easy access to simple checking accounts and banking services from a source they can trust not to rip them off. It will make banking services available in rural and poor communities that are not profitable for conventional banks.
DEFENDING OUR DEMOCRACY
Our democracy is under attack, from foreign interference, gerrymandering, hidden corporate money, and voter suppression. It’s time to reform our system and restore the faith in our political process. I support a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United. I support full disclosure of the source of all money donated to candidates or used to influence elections. I support public financing of campaigns. I support much stronger ethics rules to prevent revolving doors between government and lobbying.
But we must do more, and turn democracy from a spectator sport in which people simply vote every few years into a critical task in which we all participate to debate the issues, defend our interests and demand our rights.
In Congress, I will fight to:
Create a system of automatic voter registration nationwide
End partisan gerrymandering
Restore protections for voters' rights, especially in states with a history of discrimination
Strengthen the security of our elections systems
Expand ethics and disclosure laws for the president and vice president
Impose stronger lobbying rules and prohibitions
Expand public financing of campaigns
End dark money in politics
Pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United