We simply can't expect private, for-profit health insurance companies to work with the government to provide affordable and adequate health care coverage for every single person in this nation. It's still far too common that a person is forced to choose between paying for the life-saving medical attention they need or keeping their house. We must stop prioritizing corporate profits and ensure health care for every American through a single payer system – The time is now. Right now. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was a step in the right direction in many regards. But the inherent flaw in Obamacare is clear – As long as those seeking to maximize corporate profits are allowed to determine how health care coverage works, there will always be sick people who are forced to make some of the life’s most difficult choices.
Seven countries currently provide tuition-free higher education to their residents, and the cost of a college education in many other countries, like Mexico, is nearly free. To remain competitive in this global economy, America should have one of the best-educated workforces in the world. Education is the cornerstone of a thriving, powerful economy. While technology permeates every part of our lives, from medical treatments to national defense, Americans find higher education further out of reach. The only limitations we have are those we place on ourselves. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I agree, and it is time for a change.
American workers today are paid the equivalent of about half of what similar jobs paid almost 50 years ago. I support raising the minimum wage, which would increase economic activity, spur job growth and reduce government welfare spending. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that an increase to just $10.10 per hour would inject over $22 billion into our economy, and create about 85,000 new jobs over a three-year phase-in period. We saw how ‘trickle-down’ economic ideology failed after Gov. Brownback of Kansas and the GOP-controlled legislature tried to cut taxes, eliminate regulation and shrink government, thinking that after a sprinkle of fairy dust, they would stand back and watch as economic growth soared. Sadly, financial stability is certainly not what “trickled down” to their workforce. It is the time our elected officials declare their “real life experiment” an epic failure, raise our minimum wage, and apply common sense when spending America’s dollars and cents.
Within the developed world, the United States has long been known to have lower voter turn-out than many other countries. This may be because many states still place the burden of voter registration solely on the individual. Thirty-nine states have automatic voter registration when individuals register at the DMV, and North Dakota requires no registration prior to voting. Eleven states still require voter registration through snail mail or in person. Rather than restrict voter registration access, our elected officials should work together to enhance access to the ballot box for all who are eligible to vote.
The issue of women’s health care is far more complicated than just a matter of abortion. I refuse to support legislation which would limit women’s access to low-cost birth control, preventive screenings, procedures, and treatment, just to make sure that women also have no access to safe abortions, with no regard for their private, personal circumstances. This anti-democratic thinking represents a dangerous leap back in time, especially for low-income women and families. For these reasons, I do not consider the issue of women’s health care to be simple, and I will not support legislation which discriminates against women.
I support a Wall Street Tax which research shows could generate from $50 billion annually to $800 billion over the course of a decade. A financial transactions tax would affect mostly higher-income taxpayers, and the funds could support other vital programs, such as a tuition-free college education program. Such a plan would build a robust American workforce, strengthening America’s position as a world leader. George Washington said, “Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.” The time is now for America’s wealthiest to pay taxes based on their incomes, and not based on their ability to secure unfair tax breaks.
Our government pays private prison corporations to set rates for each day their cells are occupied, just like hotels. When cells are occupied, they make more money for their shareholders. They support laws which imprison more people for longer periods. When our crime rate goes down, taxpayers make up the difference. Basing incarcerations on financial incentives violates our Constitution; this corrupt system highly victimizes America's most vulnerable citizens. While white and black Americans use drugs at similar rates, black people are jailed on drug charges ten times more often than white people. One in three black men can expect to be incarcerated in his lifetime, compared with one in six Latino males, and one in 17 white males. America, once a beacon of light, symbolic of liberty and enlightenment, has traded her integrity for a for-profit business of “he who has the least pays the most.”
Our nation should lead those who research and invest in solar power and other renewable energy sources. Also, American residents and corporations should be encouraged to convert to renewable energy by receiving tax incentives. High levels of greenhouse gases continue to affect our planet with increasing global temperatures, rising sea levels, changing precipitation, heat waves, droughts, floods, heavy snowfall, ocean acidification, and species extinction. By transitioning to clean, renewable energy, we have the power to create new jobs and give rise to a strong, new green economy.