I believe in working towards a living wage, one that is possible for every community and every community member. Oregon’s plan to increase the minimum wage by area is a good start to making sure workers are treated fairly. This must account for the differences in the cost of living throughout Oregon, in order to have a smooth transition and become a sustainable part of our economy, with an end goal of a $15/hour minimum wage. I support this.
I totally believe that anyone who works 40 hours a week should be able to support themselves. I believe that anyone who works 40 hours per week should be able to provide food, shelter and clothing for themselves and their families. They should have health care, be able to save for their future and have some money in his/her pocket. Use this tool by MIT to look at state by state, county by county livable wages.
To make a living wage happen I would put more money into the hands of the people who need it the most (and that would not include corporations or the wealthiest 10% of Americans). To do that I also would:
- Greatly expand the federal earned income tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples, particularly those with children.
- Increase the child tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples.
- Make Medicare for all because if most of your money goes into paying for healthcare premiums you cannot afford to live, or if you have a medical emergency and no health insurance you could find yourself bankrupt.
To go along with this, we must provide adequate resources for working people. This includes supporting affordable childcare, as well as higher quality education. I will strive to make college affordable and increase attendance for trade schools.
And finally, we must tackle Social Security and make the following changes in the way it is funded. For greater detail see my pages specifically on Social Security.
- Remove the cap on earned income subject to the Social Security tax so that, except as set forth below, everyone would pay 6.2% of their earned income into Social Security.
- Broaden the base by making all income (earned and unearned) subject to the Social Security tax.
- Exempt the first $30,000 of earned income from the 6.2% Social Security tax (thereby increasing take home pay by $1,860!)
I would make all these changes because if you really want to stimulate the economy and encourage people to get jobs then we must provide more money to the people who will spend it to support themselves and their families. This is not “trickle down” economics this is direct action economics.
Unions & Worker Co-Ops
I absolutely support worker’s rights to fight for fair treatment. There should be more employee ownership and participation in every industry. Middle class workers are the people we rely on every day for our wellbeing, and they should be treated as such. In office, I would work with unions to ensure that workers have the right to negotiate for better wages, conditions and a strong voice in their workplace. I support the Employee Free Choice Act to remove barriers that workers face when trying to form a union and freely associate. This would provide further protections for workers that have been missing in the past. As with any piece of legislation, the specific details do matter and it would be my priority to examine them fully if elected.
I would oppose right-to-work laws that prohibit employees in unionized workplaces from being compelled to join a union or to pay for any part of the cost of union representation, even though they generally receive the same benefits as union members who do contribute. They are beneficiaries and they should contribute to these benefits.
I would oppose any amendment to the Constitution that would attempt to either remove completely or attempt to somehow lessen the constitutional right to conduct “Area Standards,” as stated in the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA).
I would also oppose any attempt to lessen union rights granted under the LMRDA, as amended.
One job program I would like to see come back in a big way would be an updated Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) for young people ages 14–25. Just like the CCC, the program that I envision would provide unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The young men and women who participate would be provided with medical, dental and vision care, shelter, clothing, and food, together with a wage.
Just as the original CCC led to improved physical condition, increased employability, a greater appreciation of the outdoors and our nation’s natural resources we could do the same. One of the greatest natural disaster threats to our country is fire and we could use young people to reduce that threat by having them, thin our forests, reduce fuels on the ground and reforest.
Under the original CCC, Enrollees planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed trails, lodges and related facilities in more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas. We could (should) do the same today. We could put hundreds of thousands of young people to work in our forests thinning and removing fuels off the ground. They would benefit from the physical labor, (hopefully) gain a love of the forest and (hopefully) we could make some real strides in preventing the terrible forest fires that are only getting worse every year.
I did a six-month internship with the Municipality of Anchorage when I was in law school and found the real life experience absolutely invaluable. Because of this experience I am a big believer in, and advocate of, apprenticeships, internships and coop education. Everyone wants experienced workers, but no one wants to be the one to give new workers that experience. This is a great way to give new workers the experience they need to get good paying, family wage, jobs.
Oregon has an Apprenticeship and Training Division which partners with Oregon businesses and local apprenticeship committees to offer quality career opportunities through paid on-the-job training and education, with a focus on construction, industrial and manufacturing trades. This is a great program that as your Congressman I will promote on the national level.
Income Taxes and the Wealthy
I would not reduce income taxes for the wealthy. I would consider reducing corporate income taxes if it included getting rid of all corporate deductions and credits. I would not change the estate tax.
I support Glass-Steagall. Commercial banks are not supposed to be high-risk ventures; they are supposed to manage other people’s money very conservatively. It is with this understanding that the government agrees to pick up the tab should they (the commercial banks) fail. Investment banks, on the other hand, have traditionally managed rich people’s money — people who can take bigger risks in order to get bigger returns. There needs to be an impenetrable wall between commercial and investment banks.
I also support Dodd-Frank and would keep it totally intact.