Hot Button Issues…
The 2020 elections will be a referendum on the most ignorant, irresponsible and dishonest major political figure in American history, Donald Trump. As a consequence of Trumpism, it will also be a referendum on a whole lot more.
Our congressman, Mark Amodei, led Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Nevada in 2016 (which failed) and has asked to carry Trump’s banner in the Silver State again in 2020.
Amodei has supported nearly everything Donald Trump has said and done as president, including:
- Lying to the public a staggering average of almost 15 times a day.
- Petulant, childish, vulgar name-calling
- Child caging
- Sexual assault (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”)
- Contempt for the rule of law
- Government by conspiracy theory
- Mass rallies where worshippers cheer the president’s hateful propaganda against Democrats, immigrants, the so-called “Deep State,” the free press, and whichever celebrity the president is fighting on Twitter that day.
This is the new normal brought to you by Donald Trump and Mark Amodei and the triumph of partisan loyalty over integrity, morality, and sanity.
“[I]n my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”
Many conservatives reading that will, I hope, feel sick when they think about the hateful, xenophobic policies of the Republican Party under Donald Trump and his sycophant Mark Amodei.
Our country has always been – and always will be – strengthened by immigrants of diverse origins who share our values.
We must also face a reality of human nature that unorganized mass migrations, such as Europe experienced with the flood of Syrian refugees, can lead to resentment, anger, virulent nationalism and the ascension of authoritarian governments.
I support a systematic and measured process to create legal pathways to immigration. I passionately believe in America as a beacon of hope and justice and a refuge for the victims of violent persecution.
Were the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave it to individual states to allow or disallow abortion, the result would be a nonsensical patchwork of statutes where an act that is legal in one jurisdiction could be prosecuted a few hundred feet away in a bordering state.
But the conversation on women’s health care shouldn’t end there. The United States has the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality among comparable developed nations. The rate is even more pronounced among women of color. This is a complicated issue that goes beyond racism. Congress needs to address racial inequalities in health care, and support preventative care and family planning resources.
In pursuit of those goals, we must end the war on Planned Parenthood. This is a valuable and responsible public health care organization whose overwhelming mission is providing health care to low-income individuals, including screening for cervical and testicular (yes, men’s) cancer.
Congress should also support efforts to make adoptions more accessible and affordable. There are over 400,000 children in foster care dreaming of being adopted into a loving home. The problem is the adoption process is unduly long and at an average cost of $43,000 is prohibitively expensive for most Americans. At a time when couples spend tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments or travel thousands of miles to adopt a child from abroad, government and charities and all who deplore abortion should work together to facilitate safe domestic adoptions.
In a perfect world, all children would have safe, loving homes. That should be the goal. Unwanted children are unlikely to experience that.
America is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t guarantee universal health care. As Bernie Sanders often points out, we pay to double the amount per capita for health care as the average of other major countries. Double. Obviously, we can do better. A country as rich as the United States can and should ensure that quality, affordable health care is available for everyone and everywhere.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)–which extended health insurance to 20 million Americans and ended discrimination against pre-existing conditions––was a responsible plan built on sound economic principles first implemented by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, in a Democratic state, Massachusetts.
Ever since then, Republicans have campaigned for Obamacare’s repeal and replacement because Democrats passed Obamacare and because it achieved some success. Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare because they failed to come up with a better alternative.
Here’s a logical way to start: Build upon the ACA, and create more competition in the health insurance market, by introducing a public option. And allow individuals to enroll in Medicare and Medicare Advantage at 55 instead of having to wait until 65.
If Americans like these new public health choices and the data show public insurance can achieve better outcomes than private insurance, that can serve as the blueprint for expanding the public insurance market.
Medicare for all, single-payer, the public option, a national health service, hybrids – these are all alternatives worth exploring. But any plan must include metrics for success that all sides agree on in advance. If the plan implemented doesn’t meet those metrics, fix it or scrap it. Don’t gloat. Don’t blame. Move on to Plan B.
The Second Amendment reads, in full: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Many people, myself included, read that sentence as, “You have the right to keep and carry a gun if you serve in the country’s militia.” However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to possess a firearm — unconnected with service in a militia — for any normally legal purpose.
Like the vast majority of Americans, I am appalled by the continuing frequency of mass shootings, and I refuse to believe that nothing can be done to improve the situation. Which is what this Congress and this president have done — nothing.
America’s population of guns is now greater than its population of people. About 40 percent of all households have guns. Based on this status quo, we are going to be living among a lot of guns for the foreseeable future, and some of them are going to be used to kill people without justification. We need to do more than just throw up our hands.
We could enact many simple reforms to the federal background-check system right now if not for Mitch McConnell allowing House-passed measures to die in the Senate without a vote or be filibustered. For example, we could close the private sale exemption (aka the “gun show loophole”) and the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows a gun sale to go through by default if a background check isn’t completed in three days.
Expanded background checks and a ban on assault rifles (the latter supported by two-thirds of the American public) can’t hurt. I support buy-back programs as well.
But these ideas focus on only one site of the gun violence equation, the supply side. Background checks and similar measures can be good at limiting gun purchases to law-abiding citizens. But some law-abiding citizens will go insane, and when they do, the lethal weapon (or, often, weapons, plural) in their possession doesn’t disintegrate.
So here’s what I propose:
Leave responsible gun owners, including conservation-minded hunters, alone.
Gradually and significantly reduce gun violence the same way we gradually and significantly reduced smoking and littering in previous decades, through sustained public-service-announcement campaigns. Teach people, starting when they’re young, that guns, like cigarettes, aren’t safe, cool or sexy. They’re hazardous to your health and the health of those around you.
These campaigns should be informed by research by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). Republican administrations have blocked the CDC from even studying the root causes of gun violence as a public health issue. We need to authorize the researchers to offer policy recommendations free of political influence.
Also, let’s encourage supposedly liberal Hollywood to make fewer films and TV shows that portray gunfighting as exciting action or a rational way to resolve conflicts. The same goes for our armed forces recruiting commercials. Many of them closely resemble video games.
We need a government that accepts as fact what 97% of climate scientists — and nearly 70 percent of the public — understand: global warming is real, and we are already seeing its disastrous effects. It requires our immediate attention and global cooperation.
Fighting climate change offers Nevada a great opportunity to diversify its economy and energy production. According to the Department of Energy, while natural gas accounts for 65% of Nevada’s electric grid, solar is only 12.23% and wind a paltry 0.81%. Nevada’s solar market grew 29.9 percent between September 2018 and 2019, and the state ranks as the 10th highest number of employees in the solar energy sector with the fourth-highest installed solar capacity.
According to the Federal Reserve, 30 years ago the top 1 percent owned nearly one-quarter of all U.S. household wealth. Today it’s nearly one-third. The share of wealth owned by the bottom 50 percent has shrunk from 3.7 percent in 1989 to 1.9 percent now. Elizabeth Warren puts it this way: “The top 0.1 percent … own about the same wealth as 90 percent of America.”
Many factors have contributed to the rise of super billionaires and the hollowing out of the middle class. They include the decline of high-paying, often union-represented, jobs in manufacturing that required no more than a high school education. They include companies that are shipping jobs overseas. Trade and tax policies have also tended to favor wealthy people who make most of their money from investments, not wages.
We need to rebalance policies, especially on taxes, to encourage the regrowth of the middle class. More than anyone, the super-wealthy have benefitted from our country’s freedom-to-prosper infrastructure that includes safe roads and bridges, clean air and water, the historically generous tax treatment of inherited wealth, secure markets, a strong defense and equal justice under the law. That includes asking billionaires who are becoming America’s oligarchs to pay their fair share. An important first step is to repeal Trump and Amodei’s tax cuts that further enriched the wealthiest Americans, did virtually nothing to improve on the upward economic trajectory of the Obama years – but did manage to ring up a near-trillion-dollar deficit in 2019.
In 2019, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour set a record for remaining the same for the longest period in U.S. history without Congress raising it. The rate has remained the same for 10 years.
Over that span, the cost of living has increased by 18 percent.
I support a $15 federal minimum wage phased in over a period of time. This will test the longstanding conservative theory that raising the minimum wage would actually reduce jobs. Let’s set benchmarks for success and we can adjust course if necessary.
The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC struck down a campaign finance reform law intended to limit the ability of companies, unions, and other organizations to influence elections through massive advertising campaigns. The ruling essentially said the ability to spend money to get one’s message out is the same as freedom of speech, and organizations are entitled to the same First Amendment rights as people.
It will likely take a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and those are almost impossible to ratify. That’s especially true now with our current political divisions and the fact that those organizations would likely wage a massive campaign to defeat such an amendment.
I favor legislation to prohibit so-called “dark money” campaigns in which the source of funding of the ads is hidden from the public and require disclosure of all funding to these ads. Let voters know who is paying to elect or defeat a person or proposal, and let them draw their own conclusions about their motivations.
The job of a government in an economy based on free enterprise is to ensure equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. Wealth is distributed most fairly when it is earned through hard work, talent, and smart choices.
Emerging technologies have always affected employment opportunities. Today is no different. Automation may soon replace jobs as diverse as truck drivers and radiologists. Presidential candidate Andrew Yang gets it.
Two of the most important choices a person can make in life are whether to remain in school and how to choose a bill-paying, sustainable career. Our education system needs to not only prepare people for the jobs of tomorrow — which will include the arts — it needs to encourage people to think long term. And while we should take steps to make college more affordable, we must dispel the mantra that everyone needs to go to college. We need to support the modern American workforce by making both college and specialized technical training more affordable, and incentivize trade schools and apprenticeships.
Social Security and Medicare are the cornerstones of America’s commitment to seniors and disabled people. These are not “entitlements.” They are earned benefits that Americans have paid into for generations. As your congressman, I will defend Medicare and Social Security for today’s seniors and future generations.
Also, everyone knows prescription drugs are far too expensive. Let’s allow the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare Part D directly. Loosen restrictions so Americans can buy prescription drugs from countries like Canada where quality control is assured.
I will support and protect the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain without interference.
I will advocate for repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, which allows states to pass so-called Right to Work laws.
I will support efforts to restore Obama-era work rules that made millions more employees eligible for overtime pay.
I believe it’s long past time to begin raising the minimum wage to $15.
I believe in regulations that protect pensions from being reduced or raided.
I will work to close tax loopholes that incentivize corporations to outsource jobs.
I know college isn’t for everyone. Trade schools and apprenticeships offer an excellent path to enjoyable, good-paying jobs.
I will ask that any federal infrastructure projects pay workers the local prevailing wage as stipulated under the Davis-Bacon Act. It’s a win-win. We create living-wage jobs while rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges.