Title I of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 funds public schools in disadvantaged and working class areas. This funding has not kept up with inflation and does not account for what students and teachers need. In Volusia County alone, well over half of our schools receive Title I funding. As a teacher educator, I know that education is vital to our children’s success and our community’s prosperity. In Congress, I will fight for increased Title I appropriations as every child deserves a great education. I also support a one-time forgiveness of outstanding student loan debts. Although costly, this will be a great boost to our economy and millions of Americans who are struggling.
Raising the Minimum Wage
and a Universal Basic Income
Our federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009, and Florida’s minimum wage is only $8.56 per hour. This does not keep pace with inflation, let alone cost of living. I will vote for the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582) when re-introduced in 2021 in the 117th Congress. This bill has already passed the House, but Mitch McConnell will not even hear it in the Senate. It increases the federal minimum wage to $10.60 in 2021 and the increases continue to $15.00 in 2025 and are than indexed to median wages. Our economy is not working for everyone. Raising the minimum wage will have a ripple effect, benefiting workers, small businesses, and our local economy’s consumer spending and tourism.
Furthermore, I support a universal basic income (“freedom dividend”) for all Americans. This is part of the Black Lives Matter platform for a reason. The money exists in our economy, but is being funneled to top corporations and the ultra-wealthy. Our IRS has a tax gap of $450 billion per year. We need to strengthen and adequately staff our IRS, which has been hamstrung for many years. “Trickle up” economics is what works, not “trickle down” which has been proven to be a bold-faced lie. Also, the “laziness” problem is overblown. Americans are workaholics. We aren’t going to become lazy losers just because we’re getting a monthly stipend. Higher wages and a guaranteed minimum income will be a tremendous boost to Americans, especially in disadvantaged areas like Daytona Beach, where so many live in poverty with low wages and a lack of opportunity. It will also be a boost to our consumer economy, with much of the money returning as tax revenues while contributing to American prosperity.
Putting an End to
Robocalls and Scams
Robocalls have gotten completely out of hand. Caller ID spoofing is already illegal—but where’s the enforcement? Even car dealerships do it, bypassing blacklists using phony phone numbers that belong to real people. The TRACED Act, signed into law at the end of 2019, is a big step, but we need to do more to fund and empower the FCC and to hold scammers and telecommunications providers accountable. In Congress, I will support educational funding and further legislation to stop scammers in their tracks. We need to hold big corporations accountable for data breaches, many of which provide fodder for identity theft and targeted crimes like imposter scams, wire fraud, romance scams, ransomware, and extortion. In particular, criminals prey on our senior citizens. We must fight back.
You worked hard all your life to pay into Social Security. My Republican opponent says he has the “guts” to “go after” your Social Security and Medicare. This is pure robbery. We need to be strengthening Social Security, not slashing it. Our local economy depends on Social Security, and you earned those benefits throughout your life. Many of our seniors rely on Social Security and cannot afford any cuts or loss of buying power. I will support the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 860), which imposes payroll taxes on top earners, increases cost of living adjustments, and finally indexes the thresholds for income tax on Social Security to inflation—this should have been done in 1984! With a few sensible changes, we can fully fund Social Security through 2100 and beyond.
Moving Toward Universal
Healthcare for All
I support universal healthcare for all Americans (“Medicare for All”). It is a sorely needed investment in the American people—in our health, wellness, and prosperity. Tying health insurance to your employer and having a patchwork of competing systems is a giant waste of resources. If this were the business world, you would see mergers, acquisitions, and consolidation to streamline this system. Per capita, we spend far more on healthcare than any other nation on earth—yet we have lackluster health outcomes and far too many bankruptcies, illnesses, and deaths.
A big step in the right direction is to expand Medicaid in Florida and other southeastern states. The people are no longer buying Republican rhetoric that Medicaid rewards laziness. Many hard-working Central Floridians cannot get affordable health insurance and are one illness away from destitution. In the 117th Congress, I will immediately co-sponsor the Incentivizing Medicaid Expansion Act (H.R. 584) when it is re-introduced.
We need to negotiate for lower drug prices. Medicare should not be a taxpayer giveaway to pharmaceutical companies. We should not be paying a huge premium over Canada, Mexico, and the rest of the world for pharmaceuticals, many of which are funded and developed right here in the United States of America. When a drug’s patent expires, we should switch from the expensive name-brand to a generic version. New drug formulations should offer an improvement over the prior drug—and not just be an excuse to obtain a new patent. In 2021, we will pass The Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3) into law, which will be a historic step that addresses out-of-control pricing on insulin, EpiPens, and other prescriptions.
Police Reform and
Legalization of Cannabis
We must stop providing federal funds to police departments that murder Black men. We should tie funding to citizen oversight and independent review boards. We should federally prohibit police unions from negotiating to protect dirty cops. We can have something similar to Title IX officers in higher education (to prevent sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence) in our police departments to review policies and use of force. Many police officers agree that we are overfunding policing while underfunding social services, which results in officers being dispatched inappropriately and for situations they are not trained for. The following list was written by a local voter who suggested these items to me. I support all 7 items:
1. Requiring and increasing the use of body cams on police.
2. Demilitarizing the police.
3. Reforming use of force standards to better prevent excessive use of force.
4. Requiring independent review boards and/or civilian oversight committees in killings by the police.
5. Decriminalizing drug use.
6. Repealing mandatory minimums.
7. Repealing duplicative federal criminal laws that already exist in state law to prevent the same crime from being punished twice.
I agree with Ryan Morales and others—I support the federal legalization of cannabis. The war on drugs has failed, and cannabis in particular is relatively safe. The criminal justice system disproportionately prosecutes people of color for the possession of cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia. This must end.
Greenhouse gas emissions are out of control, leading to stronger hurricanes and other disasters. Wetlands are being paved over in Florida’s 6th district and our aquifer is being drained. This is not conservative. This is reckless. We must federally support green technologies and stop propping up dangerous, failing fossil fuels. This is why in Congress I will immediately co-sponsor a Green New Deal (H.Res. 109) for the American people and Floridians in particular. I will always work toward protecting “The Real Florida” that we all know and love.
American workers are being left behind. We are the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Why do we keep enabling big corporations to treat the American people as disposable? I support unions and workers’ rights. Women and minorities should not be the last hired and first fired. Congress must stand up for American workers. Corporations are too focused on the next quarter’s profits. We must make them take care of their employees, which will in fact benefit everyone. A revolving door of disaffected, maligned employees is no way to build capital. I will support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 2474) when it is re-introduced in the 117th Congress. This will pass in 2021, after we flip the Senate and presidency blue on November 3rd, 2020.
I need you.
I cannot do this without you. Politics is a group activity and it takes a community to rise up and demand the change they need. I promise to fight for the people of Central Florida. Will you?