Accelerating Sustainable Energy and Environmental Protection

For the last decade, I have been involved in the clean energy industry as an attorney and non-profit founder and director, and I will be a champion in Washington on issues of sustainability and climate change and their impact on our economy, health, and security.  I want to put our district at the forefront of clean energy economic growth.

I feel that a transition to a sustainable energy future is imperative, due to both our depleting natural resources and the environmental impact of fossil fuel use and extraction.  The question is whether Americans will be using clean energy technologies developed and manufactured in Asia and Europe, or whether our federal government will spur clean energy innovation to help America lead in this rapidly-growing industry.

I believe strongly in the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is driven by human activity.  I will be an outspoken opponent of any and all efforts by the Trump Administration to undermine our global leadership on climate and sustainable energy policy issues.  I already have been greatly disturbed by Trump’s efforts, supported fully by Darrell Issa, to undermine environmental protections to aid the fossil fuel industry.

In order to reduce carbon emissions, I believe we must consider several ideas, including a “revenue-neutral carbon tax” that would impose a price on carbon dioxide, which would be matched dollar for dollar with corresponding cuts of existing taxes.  We must also continue to explore cap-and-trade policies to reduce emissions, which have been proven to be largely effective when implemented in California and at the federal level.

We must ensure a long-term solution to securely move and store hazardous waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.  In the January 28, 2017 Times of San Diego, I criticized Darrell Issa’s “interim” storage plan and proposed a full examination into reopening the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in phases or on a scaled-down basis.  I will continue to be a vocal proponent of a permanent solution to high-level radioactive waste.

I believe that we must transition from fossil-fuel based power production to sustainable, renewable alternatives, particularly in our district.  In the December 22, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune, I criticized the proposed Carlsbad Energy Center, noting that it “runs counter to the energy-use practices that Californians are adopting in terms of clean distributed power generation combined with investments in energy efficiency.”  Accordingly, I believe that we must empower our local communities to choose their own clean energy procurement and production decisions.

Finally, we must end subsidies to oil and fossil fuel companies, including any direct funding or tax giveaways that rig the game in favor of fossil fuels compared to more sustainable energy sources.

Holding Washington Accountable

When President Trump tweets about “fake news” or his staff talks about “alternative facts,” I believe that it’s more important than ever to hold Washington accountable, protect the truth, and put country over party.  We are living in unprecedented times that require accountability, transparency, and a free press.

I support efforts at the state level – including in California – to require Trump to make his tax returns public or be kept off the 2020 ballot.  I also believe Trump must fully divest from his businesses and enter into a blind trust with an independent trustee.  Finally, I support a special prosecutor or an independent commission to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia – before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election.

I also will fight for fundamental campaign finance reform to reduce the corrupting influence of money in politics.  We must explore all reform alternatives, including a Constitutional amendment, to curtail and reverse the damage done by the 2010 Citizens United and 2014 McCutcheon Supreme Court decisions.  I also strongly support efforts that would allow states to enact their own public financing laws.

By contrast, Darrell Issa supports Citizens United and his ties to big business run deep.  During his time as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, the People for the American Way said that he “functioned quite efficiently as an arm of a Wall Street lobbying shop.”

Providing Affordable Healthcare Coverage for All

I believe that the American Health Care Act (AHCA), recently proposed by Republicans and supported by Darrell Issa, is a dangerous tax cut for the very wealthy masquerading as healthcare reform.  Independent analysis suggests that 46,100 residents in the 49th Congressional District would have lost coverage under the AHCA, including 3,800 children.

Ultimately, I believe that we must work towards single-payer national health insurance, also known as “Medicare for All,” a system in which a single agency organizes health care financing, but the delivery of care remains largely in private hands.  According to Physicians for a National Health Program, 95 percent of all households would save money under such a program. Patients would no longer face financial barriers to care such as co-pays and deductibles, and would regain free choice of doctor and hospital, and doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

In the near term, I believe we must work to repair and strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  I believe that President Trump’s wanton neglect of the ACA is unconscionable.  Many ideas to improve the ACA must be explored, including the implementation of “public option” early Medicare coverage within health insurance marketplaces, and the hiring of new full-time federal enrollment assisters to help Americans enroll.

I will defend Medicare and Medicaid, ensure young people can stay on their family health insurance plan, prevent discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions, and ensure veterans swiftly get the care and benefits they have earned.

Achieving World-Class Education

We must work to ensure that every child in the 49th Congressional District can achieve their full potential.  Our education system must prepare students well for the jobs of the future. I believe our teachers are heroes and should be at the core of any plan to improve public schools.

I will fight the Trump Administration’s desire to privatize public education.  Instead, I will advocate for our local public schools to get the resources they need to hire and keep excellent teachers, reduce class sizes, and invest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs.  We need to focus on training and retraining teachers, especially in STEM, special education, and bilingual instruction.  We must address an increasingly dire teacher shortage by improving college loan forgiveness programs, addressing housing accessibility, and making it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom and provide mentorship.

I believe that any student who qualifies to attend college must be able to do so affordably, and that our community colleges must serve as increasingly important centers for job training and placement.  Towards those ends, I will advocate for solutions like the College for All Act, which aims to eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 per year, and would make community college tuition-free for all income levels.

Finally, I will hold President Trump accountable for his campaign promise of capping annual student-loan payments at 12.5% of income, and forgiving any outstanding loan amount after 15 years.

Creating Jobs for the Future

Our district has vibrant biotechnology, information technology, and clean energy industries and we must advocate for federal policies that support their continued growth.

I will be a vocal advocate for increasing funding for basic scientific research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Unfortunately, President Trump’s budget outline would cut $6 billion from the NIH, a direct hit to our district that undermines a longstanding commitment to biomedical science.  Darrell Issa has been silent on the harm the Trump budget will do to our local biomedical industry.

Because no full-time American worker should ever live in poverty, I support a gradual increase in the federal minimum wage to $15, implemented at a pace that allows employers to adapt their business plans.  Exhaustive research over the past few decades suggests raising the minimum wage produces better outcomes not only for workers, but also for their children and families.

Finally, I believe we must fight for additional Wall Street reform and prevent corporations from sending jobs and profits overseas. We also must guard against the sort of risky business and lending practices that led to our last financial collapse.

Fighting for Women’s Rights

I will always stand for women’s health issues, including access to contraception and the right to make one’s own reproductive choices.  I will fight any legislation or executive action that allows insurance companies to discriminate against women.  I believe that only a woman, her family, and her doctor should be able to decide what is best for her health.

I will defend Planned Parenthood, which provides essential preventative and reproductive health care services like cancer screenings, STD testing and low-cost birth control to millions of American women.  Darrell Issa opposes a woman’s right to choose and would restrict it, and supports defunding Planned Parenthood.

I will defend equal pay for equal work and fight any effort to allow wage discrimination against women.  It is unconscionable that women and men would earn different wages for the same work.

Finally, I will make ending military sexual assault a priority of my service in Congress.

Defending our Seniors

Our great nation cannot allow its seniors to go without healthcare or fall into poverty and homelessness.  I will fight to ensure that we never forget or neglect our seniors.

We must fight to preserve Medicare and Social Security, essential programs that reflect our shared commitment to support seniors.  Darrell Issa has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and threatened to raise the retirement age.  I believe that we must oppose Republican efforts to privatize Social Security or raise the retirement age — an unfair idea that will hurt seniors who have worked the hardest.

The American Health Care Act, promoted by President Trump and supported by Darrell Issa, would have allowed insurance companies to charge people age 50-64 up to five times as much as younger adults for the same coverage.  This age tax on older Americans is unacceptable and would have undermined the prosperity of an entire generation.

According to AARP, over 3 million low- to moderate-income older adults ages 50-64 currently rely on tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to purchase health insurance coverage. Proposals to replace the current-law tax credits with new “flat” tax credits adjusted for age would substantially reduce their value by as much as $5,900 for an individual and would put health insurance and care out of reach for many.

Social Security benefits are a lifeline for many Americans, keeping them and their families out of poverty. In 2013, Social Security kept over 22 million Americans out of poverty, including over a million children (under age 18), over 6 million adults (between the ages of 18 and 64), and nearly 15 million people ages 65 and older.  More than 10 million older Americans depend on Social Security for the majority of their income.

Our seniors have paid into these programs for decades and we cannot let them down.

Honoring our Veterans

My grandpa, Ted Levin, served in WWII for the U.S. Army Air Forces as a gunner with the 867th Bomb Squadron. After fighting in the Pacific air offensive, he returned home and started a small business with my grandma.  Grandpa was a true patriot who earned the programs and benefits he received by virtue of his service.

Our veterans need to know their Congressional representative will fight to protect this assistance. We are still allowing far too many veterans in need to fall through the cracks.

I will work to ensure that veterans get the same educational benefits whether they attend public or private institutions.

Moreover, we must close the “G.I. Bill loophole,” which allows for-profit colleges to count military tuition assistance and G.I. Bill payments as private sources of funding, rather than as the government funds they actually are.  For every dollar a for-profit school receives from “private” sources, it is eligible to accept $9 more in government funds supporting other students.

I will work to close this loophole and prevent for-profit schools from targeting active and veteran service members, their spouses and children for their money rather than for their academic potential.  As argued by the National Military Family Association, “By eliminating this financial motivation for recruiting those using the G.I. Bill, educational institutions would have to focus on the quality of their educational offerings and the outcomes, to include on-time graduation rates and graduates’ employability.”

I believe the Department of Defense and other agencies should prioritize the hiring of veterans for construction projects, particularly as we consider large-scale improvements to our nation’s infrastructure.

Finally, we must provide more veterans with affordable housing and homeless assistance programs.  No veteran should return from service without a place to call home or the support of the community.

Standing for LGBT Rights

I will be persistent in the fight for marriage equality and protection against discrimination until it is the law in all 50 states.  This includes equal treatment of LGBT couples who hope to adopt a foster child.

I believe that no one should face discrimination or harassment based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, and that no child should face hostility in school because of their sexuality.

I also believe that our country has a role to play to help protect the rights of LGBT people around the world, and will use my voice in Congress to stand for LGBT rights.

Keeping America Secure

We must always protect America, defend our interests and values, support human rights, and be resolute against terrorism.

However, I strongly believe that war must be a last resort, not the first resort, and that we must exhaust diplomatic solutions before resorting to military engagement.  I will oppose unnecessary military intervention overseas and believe we should prioritize the use of force where our own national security is at stake.

I will support efforts to fight international and domestic terrorism without sacrificing our privacy rights or human rights.

Finally, I will oppose torture of all forms for detainees and prisoners of war in our custody.

In addition to ensuring our safety against international threats, I support keeping us more secure at home by expanding Brady background checks to all gun sales, including those made over the Internet and at gun shows.

Treating Immigrants with Dignity

I am the grandson of Mexican immigrants on my mother’s side.  Having not graduated high school themselves, my mom’s parents sent all five of their daughters to college.  At age 50, my grandpa, Rosendo Bringas, became an American citizen, and it was among the proudest days of his life.

I want to preserve the values and aspirations of so many immigrants like my grandparents, who dream of the uniquely American opportunity for self-improvement.

I will be a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants.  I believe we must reduce our immigration backlog and allow our country to attract the world’s brightest and highest-skilled workers to help us better compete in a global market.

At the same time, I believe we must strengthen the security of our borders (but not with Trump’s misguided “Wall”), and require undocumented immigrants to pay back taxes and study English.

I also supported the executive action taken by President Obama in 2014 to protect certain undocumented immigrants with strong ties to the community and U.S. citizen family members from deportation. President Obama’s order prioritized the removal of undocumented felons, gang members, and others, while protecting those who have worked hard and contributed positively in our communities and neighborhoods.