Response: Our Revolution 2020

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1. Do you support the Green New Deal? Why or why not?

Yes. It is a settled scientific fact that humans have altered the planet detrimentally, leaving us less than a decade to change corporate and consumer behaviors, our economy, food supply, national security, health systems, workplaces and communities.

The GND would help everyone live through these troubling times and provide a safer future for all, not just the elite. We need bold leadership willing to actively acknowledge science; innovatively answer the call; prioritize safer environments for everyone; prosecute corruption and pollution; defend The Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, and The Endangered Species Act; and appoint smart leaders at the EPA. Bold leadership is essential to address:

  • The last 5 years have shown the hottest temperatures ever recorded.

  • Species are going extinct at 1,000 times the natural rate and over 1 million species are at risk right now.

  • The US stands to lose billions from the effects of the climate emergency related to heat deaths, low air or water quality, drought, loss of species, loss of pollinators, increased cancer incidence, more crime, and increasingly extreme floods, sea level rise, rapid ice melting, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, typhoons and other disasters.

  • ·We must hold corporations accountable for environmental pollution and health disasters.

  • When (not if) the climate emergency worsens, the poor will be hardest hit. Communities must be organized, funded and trained to help everyone.

  • We must acknowledge and eliminate extreme wealth and income inequality in America by making sure to include everyone in America’s future.

  • We must fairly tax the wealthy to mend centuries of growing inequality between the 99.9% and the very elite .1%. It is unfair that one-tenth of one-percent of people hold as much wealth as the bottom 90% in this country.

2. Do you support Medicare-for-All? If not, what is your approach to healthcare?

Yes. The Medicare for All Act (MFAA) would provide economic and retirement stability for all Americans after forty-plus years of greed and corruption in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries by third-party profit-makers.

The MFAA “Medicare for All Act” should be differentiated from “Medicare” in its current form. The MFAA would do away with premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for medical, vision, dental, long-term care and drugs.

Today, 27.5 million Americans are uninsured and 43.5 million are under-insured (with high deductibles and co-pays). Federal court filings confirm that 58% of bankruptcies are due, in part or fully, to medical debt.

Long-term care provisions would lighten the complications of elderly persons and their children. Currently, Medicare is available for the elderly, but it does not cover everything (so commercials on TV talk about parts and supplements). Medicaid (for low income people), not Medicare (for elderly people) is the largest source of government funding for nursing home care. Rules to become eligible for the income brackets cause legal nightmares for lawyers and their clients trying to avoid penalties of up to 40% taxes on estates. Thus, children expecting inheritances are facing legal fees and penalties, often losing their family homes or land.

Private Health Insurance was intended to be a guaranteed benefit for workers and their families, along with pensions (not 401Ks). Contrary to the intent, most people who work 40 hours a week would be bankrupted by a medical crisis like cancer or a major accident. Big health insurance executives have made profits for decades while excluding those with certain illnesses or preexisting conditions (like me; I was kicked-off my Blue Cross policy after having cancer in my appendix in 2001). Corporations have duties to shareholders to always increase profits, not a duty to policyholders to provide universal coverage and stress-free plans.

Insurance was intended to spread necessary medical costs among groups of people, not to exclude sick people for profit. The Economic Policy Institute has noted that “CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978 [, while] typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time”.

Private insurance companies force people to live in fear of going to the doctor or filling a prescription. Half of all adults in this country delay visits to the doctor for fear of the costs; and 1 in 8 of those adults’ condition worsened due to the wait time.

I believe that no parent should be forced to crowd-fund online for their child’s life-saving medical costs. The American system is so absurd that Remote Area Medical (RAM), a nonprofit provider of free mobile medical clinics worldwide, is now spending 80% of its resources helping poor Americans to get free and universal care.

Consolidating healthcare in America under one roof would cut-out administrative costs and patient inconveniences. Doctors shouldn’t live with the frustration or administrative expense of balancing their Hippocratic oaths with insurance company policy exclusions.

“Health Policy Choice” arguments are not persuasive, because a single-payer system makes all physicians eligible to give care to any person. Thus, all doctors would be “in-network” with the MFAA; whereas Private Health Insurance Companies exclude out-of-network doctors and medications or force patients to endure long fights to get access to necessary care.

In sum, the Medicare for All Act would save lives, time and money in many ways. The widespread effects would build a healthier society to withstand pandemics and prevent them in the future.

3. What is your view on right-to work laws and the $15/hr minimum wage?

“Right to Work” is a marketing term to push voters to vote against labor unions and all the worker rights that they have fought for – such as the 40-hour-work-week, rights to organize for benefits, paid holidays, sick leave and weekends. Much like “tort reform” or “pro-life” marketing terms, the headlines are misleading. Behind these policies are lobbyists which represent large corporate interests. Corporations must appease shareholders and seek greater profits – not greater kindness to consumers, the planet or its employees. I am a proponent of cooperative worker movements and increasing union participation, not cracking down more on the working Americans who pay 26% of their income in taxes while Amazon pays no income taxes.

I support a $15 minimum wage, but I still do not feel that would be enough to account for the increases in consumers’ costs of living today. In our current gig economy, app-makers skirt responsibility for contractors and rake in entrepreneurs’ profits on every job. I support worker rights for gig workers, contractors, part-time employees or those on salary.

Additionally, I support democratization and cooperative ownership of online platforms and industries. Pyramidal structures where CEO’s make a thousand percent more money than employees are inhumane and create social dysfunction. Four decades of “trickle down” economics have yielded a broken and imbalanced American society atop an already discriminatory history.

Protecting workers’ rights to organize is protecting human rights. Minimum wage increases should also accompany federal job guarantees, infrastructure repair plans and taxes on wealth (such as two cents per dollar over $50M) to re-balance our economy.

4. What is your view of cancelling student debt and making public college free?

Cancellation of trillions of dollars in student loan debit would allow millennial debtors, like myself, to have a real shot at the American dream. Free college, trade schools and online education, as well as free internet for all, would make society smarter, healthier, more productive and stimulate economic growth throughout all sectors.

In 2005, I graduated from a for-profit law school with $170,000 in debt that has grown over the last 15 years with interest. The job trajectory from a fourth-tier school was 1) get a job with the government for four years and 2) move into a law firm job. The economic crisis hit lawyers hard. In 2008, many lawyers from first-tier schools were without jobs too. In 2009, 45% of law grads were working in jobs that didn’t require a bar license. I became a prosecutor in 2006 making less than $40K/yr. In 2013, I was making $47K/yr. as a public defender. The recent news regarding Devos’ fight against students’ “borrower defense applications” affects me personally because one of those applications is mine. My American Dreams are crushed by student loan debt. I’m nearly 40, but I cannot afford to buy a home, have a child, another dog or the peace of mind that I can pay rent next month. Law school graduates in 2012 had an average of $140,616 in debt.

American student loan debt is estimated at $1.6 trillion spread out across 44.7 million people (14% of the population). The Federal Reserve attributed the drop in home ownership rates between 2005 – 2014 to student loan burdens for the 400,000+ young families precluded from home ownership.

As America has modernized, the bachelor’s degree has advanced from an optional salary-booster to a baseline educational requirement to earn a living wage. The value of college degrees are reducing while tuition costs rise. College tuition between 1980 – 2014 grew by 260% while consumer items’ increase of only 120% during that time. Freeing 45 million people to actively participate in the American economy would present far-reaching economic benefits.

5. What is your stance on immigrant reform regarding path to citizenship?

I would not ever vote to build a wall. Family separation is horrible, and I would do everything in my ability to stop it. New Americans should not live in fear of law enforcement taking them from their families, jobs, homes and schools for merely being illegal. I do not believe any human being is illegal; and leaders that stoke hateful rhetoric about asylum seekers, refugees, migrants or immigrants are making society unsafe for all of us. America is a country of people from many locations, but we are over 99% similar genetically (#science).

No human is illegal and every human is entitled to fundamental civil rights, access to their family and friends, quality education, occupational choice, economic prosperity, democratic process, travel, safe food, clean water, free speech, freedom of association, due process, protection from harm and safe communities.

6. Do you support the legalization of marijuana?

Yes. I support full legalization of cannabis.

State prison populations have grown 700% nationwide since the 70’s. Average per-inmate costs average $40K/yr. I have handled hundreds of criminal cases in the “tough on crime” and “war on drugs” era, and I do not want to see any more lives ravaged or families torn apart over unnecessary laws. America must stop incarcerating nonviolent people for selling or possessing a non-deadly plant.

America should support family farmers, patients, entrepreneurs and others in harnessing the environmental, economic and health benefits of cannabis. Republicans, who traditionally oppose “big government”, should want to remove the expenses of criminalizing cannabis. Releasing inmates, expunging records, rehabilitating people, reducing DEA/US Attorney caseloads, closing private prisons, allowing legal businesses to bank and freeing the FDA’s time to work on more risky substances would save millions, perhaps billions, in taxes. Cannabis legalization would, however, boost struggling local economies while funding schools and infrastructure projects. For example, Colorado’s legal cannabis industry’s sales reached $1.75 billion in 2019.

It is ethically, economically and environmentally wise to legalize cannabis. In fact, Pew Foundation research polling in November 2019 revealed that two-thirds of Americans support legalization.

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