ISSUES and IDEAS
Politicians constantly paint a picture of a clash between their own good ideas and their opponents' evil ones. This isn't normal but it has become politics as usual. We must change the national dialogue to accommodate differences but still act upon shared beliefs and goals. Our federal system was designed that the State of Mississippi and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were not supposed to necessarily be identical but were expected to share a common thread. That thread is fraying and must be repaired.
There are indeed issues that are urgent: the opioid crisis or gun violence where we must act quickly because people of all ages are dying every day. In the long term, we will be able to fix the dysfunction in Washington only by bridging between differing viewpoints and finding common ground, where such ground is possible.
We must act to improve the lives of our fellow Americans. Through both leadership and the willingness to cooperate with others, we will be true to the principles our Founding Fathers established and constructively engage with each other and do more together.
Here's an overview of my positions on several important issues.
Our public education system is the single greatest equalizer that exists in our country. All of our children are all guaranteed access and that access is key to unlocking a child’s potential. As the son of an educator, I’ve understood both how hard teachers work and the power of a strong education.
Education and Skills Based Training
We are so fortunate to live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which leads the nation in education standards; our commitment to education needs to extend from pre-K through college and needs to empower our teachers. In Congress, I will fight for funding that allows Massachusetts to continue to innovate in the classroom and ensure that our STEAM curriculum needs are met, educators are supported and have professional development opportunities, and that differentiated learning environments are available to meet students where they are. I believe there is no one size fits all approach to education and that for some students college is not a necessary step. I will advocate to protect our vocational and technical high schools which prepare our kids for in demand, well-paying jobs.
While college education has become the buzzword for an increasingly corporate educational system, we must evaluate and remedy a system that burdens graduates with material levels of debt as they start their careers. For those who seek and would benefit from a traditional college education, we must make it more affordable, through grants, tax incentives, low cost loans, and other mechanisms. The compounding economic effects of student loan debt prevent young adults from buying homes, starting a family, and delay many other choices that the rest of our economy relies on. Parents’ debt for their children’s education also risks the financial security of many who are preparing for retirement. I also believe there is a lack of transparency and I will support legislation that offers more transparency throughout the student loan process, because I don’t believe that any person who is furthering their education, from 18-85 years old, can truly understand the convoluted mess that is the student loan system.
Reverse the attack on academia
The corporatization of education has resulted in a sustained attack on tenure in academia. Instead of protecting the wisdom that is cultivated in a properly functioning peer-reviewed academic environment, today's academic institutions are essentially modeling themselves as for-profit companies, with a focus on volume of students processed, instead of on depth and quality of education provided. Institutions that invest in the long term development of talent should be rewarded. Academia must maintain its place as a refuge for learning, research and intellectual pursuits, because institutions of higher education provide our society a critical protection against tyranny.
JOBS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The nature of our economy is radically different than the economy of our parents and grandparents. Structural changes to both our regional and global economy demand a new approach to how our government interacts with and assists in economic growth and development
This very district gave rise to the Industrial Revolution; the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence was the birth of the labor movement and Senator Paul Tsongas offered to all of us his impassioned Call to Economic Arms. We have a rich history here, and I believe our economic future can be just as bright. Washington lacks leaders who understand how to create jobs and the burdens placed on small business owners. Senator Tsongas understood this disconnect and that the health of any social agenda is directly tied to the underlying health of our economy.
Level the Playing Field
Our tax code and regulatory schemes are not fair to middle class Americans or small businesses. Families deserve a tax code that is progressive, a wage that can support a family, access to childcare and family leave, and to not have to decide between making a mortgage payment or paying off a medical bill. These are all issues I will fight tirelessly for in Congress.
Many small businesses today face uneven regulations and taxation. The growth of new business models like ride share services and short-term rental players like Airbnb requires a regulatory and legislative response to level the playing field for traditional and small businesses. Large companies have the political and financial clout to find creative ways to avoid the burdens imposed upon smaller or more labor dependent businesses. Meanwhile, small businesses and employees are left to fend for themselves.
Urban Renewal and Revitalization
My plan for growth focuses on the reality that job creation within this district will come largely from smaller and entrepreneurial enterprises. Our larger cities are all conducive to growth as incubators for such enterprises and the innovation they bring. With the right investment strategy, promoted by federal policy, cities such as Lowell, Lawrence, Fitchburg, and Haverhill can benefit from redevelopment capital that should be claimed, deployed, and utilized. My extensive revitalization and redevelopment experience ranges from as far away as Cambodia to as close as within the district, in Tyngsborough. These are complicated projects and require the unique set of experience -- legal, business, real estate -- that I can provide.
Skills Training and Relevant Educational Opportunities
Talk to most businesses across the Third District and it is easy to see that there is a mismatch between the training that available labor is receiving and the skills they need to thrive in today's economy. The single biggest threat to middle class workers’ jobs is automation, not immigration as the President would have you believe. Immigration is actually critically important to our economy, as many Americans delay starting a family and decide to have less children, our workforce is shrinking. While comprehensive immigration reform is part of the solution to an adequate labor pool, a reconfiguration of our educational priorities in also in order.
While college education has been pushed as the way to increase an individual’s economic mobility, we’ve lost sight of the fact that the burden of student loan debt can sometimes outweigh the value of the degree. We must invest in an improved skills based education system for those individuals for whom a traditional college degree does not fit and whose economic potential and career goals point them elsewhere. There are numerous honorable professions that do not require a four year degree that can support a family.
I discuss many of these topics in a radio interview with WCAP radio, which you can find by clicking here.
There is no difference between cancer and terrorism. Both can kill you without warning, yet the government expects you to pay out of pocket for protection from one and not the other. I believe the government should provide universal protection against both.
I support the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); it accomplished many valuable reforms such as allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s plans until the age of twenty-six and establishing protections for those with pre-existing conditions. As an employer, I have watched premiums for small businesses become too high while individuals’ out-of-pocket expenses simultaneously increase.
The ACA imposed public subsidies into a private health insurance system ill-equipped to handle it. This ensures two very detrimental impacts: no centralized cost controls and higher distributed costs. The first of which results in higher overall systemic cost to provide care, and the second, which causes both employers and employees to pay higher premiums. We must change our approach to lower costs , improve quality, and increase access.
Single payer + private insurance
The better approach is to allow an improved single payer system to provide a base level of care for those individuals without the resources to opt-in to a private insurance market. Moving to single payer is sensible because the federal government will need to improve on the currently dismal single payer system operated by the Veterans Administration (VA). That critical improvement yields an opportunity to scale the VA to address a larger population of patients.
Under my proposal, a federally funded base level of coverage would provide basic healthcare services, including annual physicals, contraceptive coverage, basic dental coverage, along with critical care coverage. This lowers the systemic costs associated with low healthcare adoption by providing free coverage while at the same time liberating private insurance from the burdens of providing a subsidized marketplace. Private insurance would be available and, most research suggests, taken by a large number of participants.
I do support Senate bill, S.1804, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, but do not support the House bill, H.R.676, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers. The House bill was introduced first, in late January of 2017, and was never intended to be a fully functioning piece of legislation. It was meant to be an outline of where the party should be headed with regard to this issue, and was only about 30 pages long. As a result of this brevity a number of key issues were overlooked or left out. The Senate bill, by comparison, is much more in depth and reconciles the Hyde Amendment issue. The Hyde amendment was passed in 1976 and bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. In a single payer healthcare system where all funding comes from the federal government, the Hyde Amendment would effectively ban abortions by requiring all fees to be paid out of pocket. Senator Sanders’ bill contains a section that repeals the Hyde Amendment to avoid this situation.
MENTAL ILLNESS, DRUGS & ADDICTION
One of the most pressing public health crises we are currently facing is the ongoing opioid crisis. There is not a town in the Commonwealth that has been spared the devastating consequences of opioid addiction. It has claimed lives, destroyed families, imposed enormous burdens on our incredible medical professionals and first responders, and forced us all to consider how best to treat loved ones who are struggling to access mental health services.
Many important steps have been taken on a state and federal level to provide resources, increase access to mental health beds, empower our emergency responders to use Narcan, and to increase awareness. But there is much more to be done on both the prevention and treatment side of this issue. We’re still falling short on the availability of mental health beds and families are struggling to pay for the necessary treatments.
I will fight for increased federal funding, additional research, and standards for recovery programs and will always continue to seek input from the individuals on the front lines of this epidemic whose expertise will guide my policy.
ENVIRONMENT & CLIMATE CHANGE
We are fortunate to live in such a naturally beautiful place. Climate change is occuring at an alarming rate. Here in the Third District, we have seen unpredictable temperatures that swing from below zero one day to spring-like temperatures the next. Our buildings, power grid, and infrastructure were never developed to withstand these new developing weather patterns. My own business suffered a six month shut-down as a direct result of climate change and we were still fortunate. These impacts will continue to become more extreme and more dangerous.
Nothing is more important for future generations than our efforts to preserve and protect the environment and reverse the dangerous trajectory we are on. This means reduction in waste, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, developing incentives to help businesses and families transition to cleaner, renewable energy sources, investing in green technology, and money to support clean up efforts to reverse damage that’s been done to our environment. There is a responsible path forward for environmental protection which balances our planet's critical state and the economic impacts of regulation. We must balance to achieve a truly sustainable and long term solution. It is indeed a moral failure that the United States fails to lead the way on climate change.
The Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords is an international embarrassment and betrayal to our allies. This administration did not stop there and has gutted our Environmental Protection Agency and replaced career public servants with individuals who deny science. Our country is home to some of the most brilliant scientists in the world; we have to trust the data they give us and apply it to policy considerations and use it to drive technological innovations. I will fight in Congress to protect the environment, financially support incentives to transition us to cleaner energy sources, and I will defend science.
I am proud to have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, in which I pledge not to take campaign contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industry and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.
GUNS & THE SECOND AMENDMENT
I have long decried the number of guns in America and the alarming ease with which we are adding more. Firearms have transformed our country into a constant battlefield. Why does the most powerful country on earth seem so powerless in the face of this scourge? When you add the number of guns we have in America to a mix which includes the naturally occurring rate of mental illness, we get a toxic brew. Just as we cannot gauge and prevent the mentally infirm from acquiring weapons, we cannot entrust our future to a militarized life where we must live with our guns drawn at all times.
We must place the Second Amendment alongside the others, not above them. The Second Amendment, properly interpreted, allows for gun ownership but not in an unfettered, unregulated manner. Moreover, ammunition, which is the real danger, should be taxed and regulated as the hazardous product it is.
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, a conservative Supreme Court justice appointed by President Richard Nixon said in 1991 that the Second Amendment "has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public." Let’s all think about that as we live through yet another school shooting.
EQUAL JUSTICE FOR ALL
As your next Congressman, I will always fight for equal justice for all of the residents of the Third District. I will protect:
Seniors who want to be able to age in place and are being crushed financially by the cost of healthcare;
Women who deserve to be paid equally for their work and to have control over their reproductive rights;
Immigrants who want a chance to be a part of this beautiful country and whose status means they lack workplace protections most of us take for granted;
Members of the LGBTQ community who deserve to live as their authentic selves without stigma, fearing for personal safety, job or housing loss, or medical coverage;
Veterans who need our support in combat and when they return home to ensure they can find work, pursue an education, access the highest quality of healthcare to build the life they fought for; and
Minorities who deserve to see equal representation, equal pay, criminal justice reform, and to have their voices heard in the halls of power.
I’m the son of parents who are aging, Mom made me a fierce feminist, both my parents immigrated here from India, I have loved ones who identify as LGBTQ, I’ve seen the enormous burden placed on our veterans post combat, and I’m a brown kid who grew up never seeing Massachusetts send someone who looked like me to Washington. I'm a proud American who believes, based on extensive experience in business, law, and society, that we can all Do More. Together.