SEE Forward Summary
Our world is facing a crisis like nothing before in modern history. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and whole economies are on the verge of collapse. The United States has always led the world in technology, medicine and opportunity. Today, rather than leading, we are behind the world in safeguarding our population and in responding to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
The federal government continues to play politics with people’s lives and has no meaningful plan for treating the pandemic and putting our society on the road to recovery. My campaign for Congress does have a plan that will bring us back together, heal our environment, and provide for immediate economic growth and long-term prosperity.
My plan is ambitious, but never before has the public need been so great and so far outweighed special interests and politics. We can solve big problems now because lives and livelihoods depend on our government’s response. By addressing our Social challenges, Environmental exigencies, and creating a road to Economic recovery, we can build our district and country back stronger, safer and cleaner than ever before.
We must adopt social behaviors that allow our society to safely reopen. New Yorkers celebrate our closeness and inclusion. Our federal government has a role to play in helping us to return safely to our nationwide public square.
Social measures will help us recover from COVID-19 and our plan will help us prepare for the next global pandemic that is inevitable in our interconnected world.
My social plan will provide for continued Response to the pandemic, Insure all Americans with a health care option, Socially distance our society in shared spaces and Empower all of us to be civically engaged during this crisis.
Testing for COVID-19 will be a long-term effort. Until there is a proven vaccine, testing will be our best tool in isolating the virus and preventing widespread outbreaks. Putting people to work performing comprehensive contact tracing will inform all levels of government where we need ramp up isolation measures and prepare healthcare workers for a potential spike in cases.
As new strategies emerge, such as the testing of municipal sewer systems to see where the virus is rising and falling, our public work force can help collect information to inform a local response.
COVID-19 has been particularly brutal to those with underlying health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity, as well as those who live in communities with greater concentrations of air pollution. People with access to medical care before the outbreak have been better able to survive an infection than those without medical care. Further, COVID-19 mortality rates have adversely impacted poor and minority communities, and this is unacceptable.
I believe that private health insurance should exist, but we also need to expand Obamacare, not reduce it. I would reinstate a penalty for those who can afford to buy a plan, but choose not to. And for those that cannot afford a public plan such as those whose jobs do not play a living wage or don’t provide health insurance, those who are out of work, and the homeless, I would expand Medicare. We know that prevention is cheaper than treatment and a portion of our healthcare budget must be dedicated to outreach, particularly in low-income and minority communities.
Washington has argued over healthcare for decades. I will make it clear: provide a pathway to insure all Americans right now or people will continue to die unnecessarily.
Further, to curb the spread of the virus, those infected must feel economically empowered to stay home from work to self-quarantine and recover. Many also need to stay home from work to care for the elderly or children who are suddenly not in school each day. Women, as primary caretakers for children and the elderly, are particularly hard-hit by the crisis and our policies must take into account the immediate need for safe child care for essential and front-line workers as well as paid sick leave for all Americans.
Returning to work and the public square presents many challenges. By regulating how we interact, government can enforce guidelines that will allow us to return to a new normal, safely.
We must move towards regulation of the airlines and public transportation. How we board planes cannot return to some passengers with privilege while others have chaos. Government should set guidelines that board people from the back, regulate distance between passengers and provide long-term protocols for proper spacing and sanitation.
Our public transportation system is overloaded by rush-hour ridership. Our plan would provide a modest federal income tax credit for workers employed by companies that expand work hours and stagger employees across the workday. Expanding the 9-to-5 workday and offering more work from home options will help reduce overcrowding.
Additionally, many countries around the world have closed roads to vehicular traffic and expanded protected bicycle routes so that people can safely use emissions-free bicycles as a transportation option. We need to do this in the United States as well. This will reduce crowding on public buses, subways, and commuter trains; it will create a low-cost commuting option; and we will have cleaner air and a healthier population as a result.
New York State’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, issued an executive order allowing the Board of Elections to mail out absentee ballot applications. Still, voters will have to accurately fill out an application request, check ‘temporary illness’ as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot and then receive an actual ballot sometime in June. While better than only being able to vote in person, this process is cumbersome and will lead to a certain amount of disenfranchisement.
Oregon voters have voted by mail for decades, and it works. New York should amend its constitution to allow for all voters to vote by mail. Even after we conquer this epidemic, we need to advance voter participation across the country by putting a national vote-by-mail law in place now. And we need to ensure the long-term viability of the US Postal Service as an integral part of this process.
The right to assemble is a pillar of our democracy. My plan will provide grants to local law enforcement agencies to create new guidelines for safe, socially distant public gatherings and demonstrations. Expanding the physical areas and hours of permit requirements will be a good first step.
Environment: B.R.E.A.T.H. Initiative
For the first time in 100 years, our planet is breathing. Why did it take a global calamity of biblical proportions to allow our earth to take a breath?
Before this pandemic, we saw daily evidence of the climate crisis in apocalyptic weather, rising sea levels threatening coastlines, and the permanent loss of habitats on land and in sea. The evidence of the damage we have done to our planet is clear; but today the skies are a bit clearer after a few short months of reducing emissions, and I want to continue this trend long after the crisis is over.
I have spent almost 35 years building carbon neutral power plants across the country including wind, solar, hydro, and biomass. As far back as 1985, I worked to build wind farms across California. Back then, the public outrage over coal was in its infancy. What made the California projects feasible was not forward thinking, altruistic companies; it was the 35% tax credit energy producers received for powering parts of the state with carbon-free electricity.
Yes, we shake our heads at climate deniers and cannot understand how they can turn away from the problem that will leave their children with an ecology in tatters and worldwide resource scarcity. But who could be against jobs, a robust new energy sector, and clean air?
As your Congressman, I will use my decades of experience building clean power plants to get our nation’s energy grid carbon-neutral by 2040 and empower people to have economic opportunities now and for decades to come. All of this can be achieved by redirecting subsidies from corporate polluters to the initiatives in my environmental plan with a minimal impact on current government spending.
I know how to achieve a Green New Deal that all parties can get behind.
We have the technology to construct a completely carbon-neutral power grid by 2040. The sun shines and the wind blows differently in different parts of our country. Understanding the best kind of renewable energy for each landscape is the key to providing the right tax and economic incentives for building a new power grid. This nationwide effort is not only good for the environment, but will also create much needed, life-long jobs.
The Trump Administration has destroyed the Clean Power Plan and rolled back Obama era targets for eliminating emissions from fossil fuel fired power plants. This has caused power companies to delay plans for replacing old, fossil fueled plants in favor of the savings from continuing to burn coal and oil. This is just wrong.
Additionally, the Obama era goal of returning to 2010 carbon emissions rates was completely achievable, but Congress failed to make the carbon reduction benchmarks the law of the land. Coal continues to burn at an alarming rate.
Congress needs to pass legislation to regulate the entire energy sector. This not only will police polluters, but it will ensure that tax incentives and subsidies go to companies and projects that meet certain ecological standards. Such legislation will help the environment and should appeal to lawmakers concerned with government waste.
Legislation on emissions standards also has the teeth needed in the wake of a climate-hostile administration; fines as well as civil and criminal penalties can be levied by multiple layers of government for polluters failing to meet legal standards.
The federal government is currently propping up big oil and gas with $20 billion in subsidies each year. We must turn off the spigot of free money to rich polluters and redirect those subsidies to companies that invest in building carbon-neutral energy plants. The tens of billions in reappropriated funds flowing from polluters to green power could help spawn an economic recovery of New Deal-sized proportions.
Currently, we reward polluters with modest fees as low as 12.5% to excavate resources on taxpayer land. That rate should be dramatically increased and any revenue from public land should be earmarked for recovery and protection of our federally owned property.
We have the technology to generate enough carbon neutral energy to power the entire nation right now. However, we must accelerate our investment in commercial-sized battery capabilities so that we are prepared to distribute green energy as each of our new plants comes online through 2040.
Solar farms hit peak production around 12:15 p.m. in Southern California whereas demand for electricity is highest around 5:30 p.m. While we have the capacity to store small-scale power for days, weeks, years or even hundreds of miles by car, our commercial capacity hovers around 2 hours. There has not been a viable commercial incentive to private investment in advancing large-scale battery technology. Our government needs to step up and appropriate funding for this purpose.
Accelerating funding in battery technology today will ensure that we have the capacity to move power across rural and urban landscapes as we build our new energy grid.
Converting our fossil fuel based transportation system to an electric powered fleet can be accomplished by providing a tax rebate for the purchase of electric vehicles. Beyond immediately reducing carbon emissions, these incentives will provide an economic boost to automakers that will be facing long-term decline in vehicle sales in a post-COVID economy.
The Trump administration has blocked progressive legislation in states like California to set vehicle emission standards. Congress can set and enforce standards through legislation and place a tax on high emission cars and trucks. Taxing high emission vehicles will give companies in the supply chain the motivation to convert to an electrical fleet sooner and the taxes collected can be earmarked for investment in a nationwide charging network.
Our federal government also must rapidly invest in a national network of fast electric car charging stations so that consumers feel they can safely invest in an emissions-free vehicle.
Since changing work habits at the onset of the pandemic, air-pollution rates have dropped over 25% in NYC alone, much of this due to reduced commuter miles travelled. If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic it is that some of our work force can be effectively home-based on a temporary or, in some cases, permanent basis.
In the past, part of our workforce flew across the nation and around the world to conduct business. Now, we have learned to adapt to virtual meeting places and this change in behavior has greatly reduced carbon emissions. One way to encourage continuation of this trend would be to amend the tax code to limit business travel expense write-offs to 50%.
Economic: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Many Americans are anxious about paying rent, getting a job again, and/or having food insecurity. For those that still have an income, anxiety persists about mortgage payments, home values, and financial stability. When I speak with people about the future outlook, they too often talk to me about their economic anxiety right now.
My economic plan focuses on the near-term period of time people really care about: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
Since announcing our campaign’s plan to audit the federal stimulus payments on April 22nd, public outrage has pressured the administration to make minimal commitments to investigate payments and some companies have returned the forgivable loans. However, the CARES bill lacks a mechanism to compel repayment, so we need another strategy to recover misappropriated funds.
As a tax attorney, I know how to perform a thorough audit of the payments. I will evaluate each beneficiary and issue a public report about the disbursements. I will apply maximum public pressure to inform citizens which corporations and individuals chose greed over the public interest. For example: large hotel chains, restaurant groups with more than four locations, public companies with over 50 shareholders, and educational institutions with large endowments should not have received money earmarked for small businesses.
As your Congressman, I will partner with consumer groups and communities to publicly shame underserving companies who improperly took federal dollars and get the money back, with interest.
Unemployment is at the heart of this crisis, but there are opportunities to put people to work right now. While our roads, bridges, trains and schools are nearly empty, let’s employ people to rebuild our district and our country.
Having helped build over 50 carbon neutral power plants across the country, I know that this is an area of growth that we can and must commit to today. We can begin by preparing a tax incentive package for companies to build new green power plants and initiate government sponsored online job preparedness for this sector right now.
Finally, I will look to identify tax incentives on the purchase of certain goods and services because I believe consumer spending is critical to economic recovery.
We will need a fairer tax code to generate revenue from those that can best afford it. For too long, tax policy has benefited the wealthy and special interests. Now we need every dollar in our economy to benefit those who need it. Right now, the financial need is so great, that politicians must to be forced to barricade the door from corporate lobbyists, and close loopholes and corporate giveaways.
As a tax attorney, I know how to shed light on the dark loopholes that allow American companies to operate offshore, reveal how companies like Amazon get tax rebates while paying $0 dollars in federal taxes, and how rich, passive investors and real estate developers like the Trumps pay less in proportional taxes than those who work hard for their earnings.
If there was ever a time in American history to truly enact a fair and more progressive tax code, that time is now.
We are facing one of the biggest challenges in American history. The ideas in this plan may seem big, but they are achievable. They are common-sense solutions for returning Americans back to society, restarting our economy, creating jobs in a clean energy sector and protecting the health of ourselves and our environment.
For too long, special interests and patrician bickering have favored the few and left out the many. Now, our leaders must unite behind one goal: restoring our country better than it was before, so that all have the opportunity to thrive.
Our vibrant democracy gives us the power to elect individuals who truly represent our collective needs. I will work every day to strengthen our district and build back this nation in every district across America.
I see a way forward for all of us.