My Policy Positions
I stand with the community and will focus my efforts around the policies that mean the most to you and your families.
See FORWARD plan to emerge from the pandemic
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.
Our roads, bridges and public infrastructure within our District are falling apart. Our highways were not built – nor have they been maintained – to handle the amount and weight of the traffic that they experience every day, and we see evidence of that each time it rains. Because of poor construction, maintenance and drainage, cars and trucks are backed up for miles and sit idle on the Bronx River Parkway, the Hutch, and others. While they sit in traffic, they spend hours polluting our air. We also see school buildings in our District and across our nation crumbling around our kids. And a recent study of the 90,000 bridges within our country has concluded that over 25% of those will fail in the next two decades.
Over the course of my career I have advised over 700 governments on financing, building and maintaining their infrastructure. Some were repairing and replacing facilities that were damaged or destroyed by natural disasters, but most were local municipalities who wanted to provide better and more efficient essential services to their constituencies. I have seen what works and what doesn’t in communities across the United States.
In our District the time is NOW to be proactive in addressing these problems. Of the 27 districts in New York State, 15 of them have received more federal dollars for infrastructure than ours. I see that as a failure on the part of our Congressman. I will fight to make sure that our District receives its fair share of federal dollars, especially given how important our local infrastructure is.
We have a unique opportunity during this current COVID-19 pandemic to not only fix our crumbling infrastructure but to also create millions of new jobs within our district and our nation to replace many of those that have been lost during this crisis. I would propose to create a new workforce, hired, educated and trained to build and repair our infrastructure both locally and across our country. We can do this as a joint venture with local and national private companies who have the expertise and capital to do so and who want to give back to their communities. The workers who join this effort will acquire new skills that will guarantee them employment opportunities for the rest of their lives, and we will all benefit from their efforts and skills. The federal government can support these efforts through loan programs, educational seminars, training and direct investment.
Transitioning to a Carbon-Neutral Economy
The climate crisis our world is facing is unprecedented in human history and will make our planet uninhabitable for our children and grandchildren absent radical change in how we run our economy and live our lives. The earth is seeing warming trends never before experienced which are having a profoundly negative effect on our air, land, oceans, and biodiversity. Furthermore, the pollution from power generation, mining, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and other sectors pollutes the air we breathe and the water we drink, resulting in ever increasing negative health impacts. It is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to mitigate this crisis.
The United States’ capacity for innovation and leadership and meeting tough challenges head-on has been proven in the past, and it’s time for us to step up and lead again. My proposals to address the climate crisis include addressing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from power generation, transportation, agriculture and livestock, buildings, and plastic production and pollution.
As a start, I will propose that the United States immediately rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. In order to ensure that we meet our goals under this agreement, I propose that the United States transition to a carbon-neutral economy by 2040. I want to propel the U.S. to the forefront of the design, production and implementation of the most up-to-date technologies and storage techniques in order to protect our health, preserve our natural spaces and oceans, and protect biodiversity.
We can meet this challenge while taking advantage of the economic benefits that come with it. Not only does adopting new green technologies benefit our health and that of our ecosystem, it will require investment in a resilient and flexible workforce to implement and as such it represents an economic opportunity for our District and for our country. Transforming our economy is a winning proposition, and I know how to get it done.
The climate destruction that has taken place under the Trump administration is extremely dangerous. Its roll-back of the Clean Power Plan and reduced regulation of many GHGs has set our nation back decades in our fight against the climate crisis. The owners of fossil-fuel-burning power plants who, under the Obama Administration, had scheduled retirement of these plants in favor of other cleaner technologies have since extended the useful life of these facilities so as to avoid making large investments in new power generation prior to when it is federally mandated. Under this Administration, such a mandate will never come. Fortunately for us, several states such as California and Florida have adopted state-wide rules limiting pollution and GHG emissions. But this is not enough. For the U.S. to be a world leader in this effort, we need a coordinated, country-wide plan to address this critical issue.
Furthermore, the United States Government should not be subsidizing the pollution of our air, land, and water, and we should not consider ourselves free to destroy the habitats of other peoples and species. Rather, our government should be in the business of protecting our valuable resources as well as our health. Therefore, I will propose to immediately end all subsidies to fossil fuel companies and projects and redirect those subsidies to renewable energy projects. In addition, I would propose extremely harsh civil and criminal penalties for companies and individuals who knowingly disregard EPA rules and regulations. I will vote to end mining and drilling on public lands, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR), as well as on Native American lands and in off-shore, deep-water sites. I will vote for strict regulations to clean up existing fracking operations so that they do not contribute to groundwater pollution, and will also ensure that all existing natural gas projects are regulated so that they do not release methane and other harmful GHGs into the air. The combination of strict regulation, an end to subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and increased subsidies for renewable energy will result in economic conditions that cause a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. Companies react quickly to rules that adversely affect their bottom lines.
I believe that nuclear energy is a part of our medium-term clean power future. While additional nuclear power plants should not be built due to their high cost compared to renewables and the issue of the disposal of spent nuclear fuel, well regulated existing nuclear power plants must continue to contribute to our growing energy needs without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the Department of Energy should continue to explore the viability of Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which can be quickly and safely deployed in many areas while they transition to renewable solutions.
We can get to a carbon neutral grid, and I promise to make that happen. For the last 18 years, I ran the Municipal Energy Group at Bank of America and was on the firm’s Environmental Impact Task Force. Bank of America made a pledge to finance and provide funds totaling more than $125 billion in order to encourage investment in green energy and I am proud to say that the bank has already reached that goal. I have personally worked on over $24 billion in renewable energy projects in the last 7 years, and I know how to get these projects done.
Transportation powered by fossil fuels is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. These emissions negatively impact people’s health, exacerbating asthma and heart disease, with the biggest adverse effects in lower-income areas. I believe this is unacceptable, and that everyone, no matter their zip code, has a right to breathe clean air. In large part due to our proximity to Manhattan, NY-16 is in dire need of investment to facilitate the efficient transport of goods and people while improving our air quality. Within New York State, our District ranks #16 out of 27 in receiving federal aid for transportation. This is completely unacceptable. Given then number of our residents who use public transportation daily, there is no reason why rural districts in upstate New York should receive more federal support than us.
The technology exists to make the transition away from fossil-fuel powered transportation, and I will support the incentives and infrastructure investments necessary for that transition to take place as soon as possible. I will propose an immediate expansion of fast electric car-charging infrastructure, as well as increased tax incentives for citizens and businesses to purchase electric vehicles (EVs). I will direct resources in our community to improve our crumbling roads and bridges, including a significant increase in protected bike lanes so that people can safely engage in healthy and emissions-free bicycle transportation. I will also support increased investment in emissions-free public mass transit, to further reduce dependency on cars.
Finally, as our nation undergoes the enormous transition to EVs in the next decade, we must remain cognizant of the electricity generation that is used to power those vehicles. As such, the section above regarding Electricity Production becomes that much more relevant.
Agriculture and Livestock:
Agriculture and the raising of livestock together contribute about 10% of the United States’ GHGs from cows’ digestion, manure, on-farm energy use, fertilizers (which are largely made of fossil fuels), and the packaging, storage and transportation of food products. I will support efforts to reduce the GHG emissions associated with the food sector, including supporting more local agriculture, farmers’ markets in our District, and food programs such as City Harvest, County Harvest and the New York Food Bank that feed the hungry and prevent food waste.
I have contributed to addressing this problem head-on in my own life by significantly reducing my meat consumption, and I will support regulation and tax incentives to redirect our agriculture sector away from its heavy emphasis on meat and dairy and the feed for these animals to a more plant-based agriculture sector, which can feed just as many with much lower water use and lower production of GHGs. I will also support legislation to ensure that all animals on farms and feedlots are not subjected to cruel and inhumane conditions.
About 11% of our total GHGs from the food sector could be eliminated if we stopped wasting food, which is also a moral problem when one considers the numbers of people who are food-insecure. In addition to significantly lowering harmful emissions, reducing food waste will have the added benefit of lowering sanitation costs to municipalities from hauling heavy food scraps and either burning or landfilling them. I will support efforts to recycle food scraps, such as the pilot project that is currently underway in Westchester County under the leadership of George Latimer, as well as provide incentives for backyard composting of both food scraps and yard waste, efforts which should be happening across the country and which can be modeled on the successful efforts to reduce food waste in other countries such as Canada and Korea. One of the many lessons we have learned during the current pandemic is that we can be much more efficient in our food preparation and consumption. We need to continue our diligence even after this horrible period is behind us.
GHG emissions associated with the construction and operation of buildings are another area where well designed regulation and tax incentives can make a huge impact. Making our buildings more green will not only cut back on emissions, but it will also have a positive effect on human health, save people money on electricity, heating and water, and create new jobs. Our New York headquarters at Bank of America was the first platinum LEED certified building in New York City. Working in that environment over the past decade made me realize that the efficiency and positive environmental changes are well worth it.
I will propose that we strengthen current energy standards and create new ones to make buildings and the machinery that heats, cools, and electrifies them more efficient and less polluting. In addition, I will support changes to the construction industry to incentivize the use of more efficient materials and methods, as well as a new national green building code that uses the LEED standards as a model.
Plastic Production and Pollution:
As a longtime scuba diver, I am horrified at the reality that a truckload of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans every eight minutes, and that the amount of plastic in our oceans will exceed the amount of fish by 2030 if we do not dramatically reduce our production and consumption of plastic.
But one doesn’t need to be a diver to be aware of the magnitude of this problem: a short walk down an urban street or on almost any beach is enough to see that the world is awash in plastic waste. It causes the deaths of marine animals including whales, turtles, dolphins, and albatross, who mistake floating plastic for food and subsequently die of intestinal blockage and malnutrition. Moreover, micro plastic particles are so widespread that they have been found in locations as disparate as Arctic ice, the Mariana Trench, both bottled and tap water, and human bodies. We have yet to see the full impact on our health of this widespread and increasing pollutant.
And it’s getting worse: plastic production is on the rise, largely due to the welcome widespread adoption of renewable energy. Fossil fuel companies, seeing a decline in demand for oil and gas for power production, heating, and transportation, are hedging against that decline by increasing their production of petrochemicals to make plastic. Petrochemicals are projected to drive half of global oil production growth between now and 2050.
Thus, we can’t address our climate crisis without also addressing plastic production and the resulting pollution. As part of my commitment to protecting public health and biodiversity, I am proud to throw my full support behind the proposed Udall Lowenstein legislation which calls for extended producer responsibility (EPR), wherein producers of plastic – as opposed to cash-strapped municipalities – would be responsible for its proper disposal and recycling. In addition, it calls for much higher recycled content in plastic produced for packaging in the United States. I will also support an immediate halt to permitting for new plastic production plants and much stricter environmental regulation of all plastic production plants in the United States. We need radical action to mitigate the enormous and growing problem of plastic pollution, and I will do what it takes to make this happen.
Healthcare for All
Healthcare for All
I firmly believe that health care is a fundamental right – not a privilege that should be available only to those who can afford it – and I will work to make sure that all Americans have access to health care. Americans should not have to live in fear of being made poor or bankrupt because of an illness or accident, and we can all agree that prescription drugs in this country are too expensive. There’s no justifiable reason why any American should not be able to buy the medications they need to stay or get healthy. Moreover, our current fractured health care system has put us at or near the bottom of health rankings for industrialized countries by many measures, including maternal mortality, infant mortality, and life expectancy. This is unacceptable.
Additionally, I don’t believe that one’s ability to access health care should be tied to their employment status. The COBRA system, while well-intentioned, is fundamentally flawed: it doesn’t make sense to expect a newly unemployed and therefore salary-less person to be able afford to pay the premiums that their employer formerly paid for their health insurance. Furthermore, our current health care system inhibits entrepreneurship, which is fundamental to our country’s economic health and growth. Americans are less likely to start a new business if it means going without health insurance, and a new small business can struggle to pay the high cost of health insurance premiums to cover its employees. Thus, I will work to disentangle health insurance and employment status.
These critical faults with our current medical system have been magnified during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis not only caught our incompetent president off-guard; it also has exposed the danger posed to everyone by a system that only provides care to those who can afford it. Well over 30 million Americans have already found themselves jobless as a result of this crisis, many of whom will also have lost their health insurance. Furthermore, the pandemic has hit our African American community particularly hard, which is a result of structural inequalities in our economy, in access to health care, and in the delivery of health care. As a nation we must work harder to eliminate these inequalities. A necessary component of a plan toward equality is ensuring comprehensive health care access for all Americans.
Therefore, I strongly support strengthening and building upon the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), as well as efforts to move quickly toward a universal health care system in the United States, with the caveat, at least initially, that people should be able to keep their private health insurance if they have it, can afford it, and want to keep it.
Also, our country should join the ranks of other industrialized countries and provide paid medical leave, paid parental leave, and paid leave for those who must care for sick children or relatives. These policies are good for families and good for our health care system, and will result in lower transmission rates of illnesses by employees who are no longer afraid of losing their jobs and income if they stay home from work due to illness.
Lastly, as I work with other representatives to ensure health care for all Americans, I will fight tooth and nail any attempt by this administration and its allies to weaken Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid before we have a new, comprehensive health care system in place. It is unconscionable that the current administration has as its stated goal the starving of funding to these programs which are so vital to individual and public health.
Racism & Police Brutality
Racism & Police Brutality
Our country is plagued by systemic racism. The roots of this racism go back to the shameful days of slavery, and long after emancipation people of color continue to be deliberately denied their constitutional rights. Equal opportunity has never been the reality in the United States, nor has our nation ever lived up to its promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That has only been available to white men. And this is unacceptable.
Police brutality toward people of color is one of the many ways in which this reality manifests itself in our country. This has gone on throughout our history, and must stop. Too many lives have been lost and dramatically altered by violence perpetrated by those tasked with protecting us all. I want to make clear that I know that racist cops are in the vast minority. But there should not be any, and until we can guarantee that, we must change the way police operate in this country to eliminate these acts of violence that terrorize people of color.
I have five children. Four are white and one is black. As a parent, my first priority is keeping them safe. I don’t want to live in a country where one of my children – or any child – is treated differently than the others because of the color of their skin.
We need real leadership on this issue in this country. Leadership like that of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who took immediate action to deal with rogue cops and reduce tensions in her city.
If I had a say in the matter of the senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, I would expedite the trial of racist cop Derek Chauvin. And I would immediately arrest the other three officers at the scene for probable cause.
If elected to Congress, I will propose the following legislation at the federal level to put an end to this stain on America:
- That hate crimes legislation be used when prosecuting officers who target people of color in such a way that results in a denial of their rights or physical harm to their bodies.
- That all jurisdictions put tighter restrictions on how and when they can use force.
- That all police officers are taught through extensive training how to recognize and nonviolently deal with cases of mental illness.
- Require that strict standards of “reasonable” and “necessary” be met prior to the use of physical force.
- Require deescalation prior to the use of force, and provide all officers with more extensive deescalation training.
- Institute a national ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ rule for police officers. The officer who murdered George Floyd had EIGHTEEN complaints filed against him, and somehow he was still on duty. This rule would require a police department to remove any officer with three or more complaints from active duty until an independent group verifies and evaluates the complaints.
- That military equipment no longer be offloaded from the Pentagon on to police forces.
Guns Off Our Streets
Guns Off Our Streets
Specific actions I would support include:
Mandatory background checks: Every single gun owner should be required to pass an extensive background check in order to purchase a gun, including guns purchased in private sales, on the internet, at gun shows and transfers upon the death of a registered owner. In addition to a background check, I would institute a waiting period of at least 72 hours for all firearms purchases.
Limitations on ownership: Individuals under 21 years of age should not be allowed to purchase guns. We need to pass a federal “red flag” law that would allow law enforcement to confiscate firearms from individuals deemed by the courts to be a threat to themselves or others. We should also ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and silencers. We need to eliminate the “boyfriend loophole” which allows domestic abusers to have guns simply because they are not married to their victim. I would also ban all guns in schools, except for law enforcement.
Support for gun safety: Increase BATF funding. Set national safety and storage requirements for guns with a focus on those in homes that have children under 18. Provide funding for the CDC to conduct research and study on ways to reduce gun violence and protect public health, including by looking at the ways that other countries have maintained low rates of gun violence.
Current laws: We should strictly enforce our current laws as they apply to both buyers and sellers of guns. Here in New York, for example, we need to enhance interstate law enforcement to block the “iron pipeline” which floods our state with illegal guns from other states that lack strong gun laws.
Over the last three years, the Trump Administration and Mitch McConnell have made a dedicated effort to nominate judges to the federal bench that are aligned with their extremely conservative policies. These include Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals judges and District Court judges. To me, this is a concerted effort to put in place judges that will side with the Administration on important issues such as Women’s Rights, LGBTQ+ Rights, Gun Reform, Healthcare and Environmental priorities.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Constitution sets no specific requirements for these nominations. The problem we are facing is that a large majority of these judges are not qualified for the positions for which they are being proposed and many of them have extremely poor grades from the American Bar Association. The bigger problem is that these judges are appointed for a life term! This means that the damage that the Trump Administration is causing will extend well beyond his term in office.
My proposal would be to establish minimum criteria that all federal judges would have to meet before being considered for one of these important positions. This would not be limited review by the Senate Judiciary Committee (as it is now) and would take into account prior rulings and a judicial scorecard established by a nonpartisan council of legal experts that will apply to all ongoing nominations.
Article III of the Constitution also provides that federal judges can only be removed through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate. Once we have regained control of both the House and the Senate, I will propose that all of these subpar judges be impeached and be replaced with judges that meet the new minimum criteria discussed above.
Our country was founded and built by immigrants and is made stronger through immigration. That is why I support comprehensive, humane immigration reform that improves border security and targets criminals, not families. The policy of family separation at the border is abhorrent, and I will fight to pass legislation aimed at reuniting every single child in U.S. custody with his or her family, unless there is a danger to the child in so doing.
I will also work to enact an immediate lifting of current bans on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations. Our nation should never discriminate against immigrants based on their religion, country of origin, or ethnicity.
I will support an immediate end to funding for President Trump’s racist border wall, which is costing U.S. taxpayers upwards of $5 billion and destroying the habitats of many wild animals that live in the border region while doing nothing to keep out the latest Coronavirus – a far bigger threat to our safety and our economy than any immigrant.
There should be a legal path to citizenship for DREAMers who arrived in our country as children and know no other home, and I will work to make this happen.
I will also support U.S. economic, security, and development aid to the Central American countries which the majority of immigrants are fleeing. Improving the safety, security, and economic conditions of these countries is the only effective way to stem the flow of immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees.
Affordable Public College
Affordable Public College
Education in the United States is a basic right that should be provided to all individuals similar to health care and equal rights. Education is the key to economic equality in our country and serves to bridge a way out of poverty.
I attended New York public schools from kindergarten through law school and I am proud that my children followed in my footsteps attending public schools in our District through high school and then public colleges. I saw how the strength of our public school system can serve as a stepping stone to a fulfilling career that can support a family comfortably and gives an individual the opportunity to achieve even more.
However, in order to keep up with the private schools and the competition from students from other countries, individuals looking for a strong public school education need to be able to afford attending these schools and these schools have to be funded in a way that they are able to keep up with ever-changing technology. We also need to hire the best professors. We need to make sure that public funding is able to do that from both the state and federal levels.
We need to create a system that allows all students to attend public colleges, even if they do not have the means to do so. But we also want those students to be motivated to succeed. In Argentina, college is free to all. However, for every 100 students that enroll in free colleges, only about 23 go on to graduate. We should learn from this. We should start with junior college which should be free. Anyone who successfully finishes junior college should be able to attend a 4-year institution for free.
Legalize marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act
Four years ago, the establishment media and politicians told us legalizing marijuana was “too radical.” Today, 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana and 33 states have legalized medical marijuana. Data from the Pew Research Center shows that two-thirds of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana. The federal prohibition on marijuana has been a disaster. The costs associated with enforcing this ban reach nearly $14 billion a year. We need to legalize marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act.
I will commit to:
· Vacating and expunging all past marijuana-related convictions.
· Ensuring that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs. African Americans are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as white Americans.
· Regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana in order to protect all Americans.
· Ensure legalized marijuana does not turn into Big Tobacco.
In addition to legalizing marijuana for important racial justice reasons, I am a strong supporter of legalization because tax revenue generated from a well-regulated market for legal marijuana can be used for infrastructure repair – something NY-16 badly needs. States like Colorado and Washington that tax and regulate marijuana have already generated millions of dollars for roads and bridges. Our budget in New York and other states across the country also should be benefitting from this revenue-generating opportunity.
My father, my grandfather, and three of my uncles served in the Armed Forces. From a young age, they instilled in me the importance of supporting our military and our veterans. Individuals who have served and defended our country have earned our nation’s gratitude and should not be forgotten. Supporting our veterans strengthens our communities, our economy and, ultimately, demonstrates our commitment to our military. I believe we must reform veterans’ healthcare, empower transitioning veterans while providing the necessary resources to integrate veterans back into the civilian workforce, and improve the coordination of resources, programs and other initiatives between governmental and non-governmental entities to create a comprehensive approach so that no veteran is ever left behind.
In the area of healthcare, we need to increase the access to and number of healthcare providers for our veterans. Just as important, we need to streamline the process to receive care, and minimize bureaucratic hurdles. This is a critical issue, especially in the fight against veteran suicides. We need to immediately address the mental healthcare issues faced by our veterans. The frequency of suicide among our veterans is appalling and we should be embarrassed as a country that this is happening. As such, we need to provide free counseling to all former members of the military and require proactive follow up by our mental healthcare providers. Additionally, we need to increase flexibility and health care options. This includes the ability to get in-home care for those who need it, as well as greater access to specialized healthcare services specific to women’s healthcare issues, such as pregnancy care and reproductive services.
We should empower our veterans with the education, skills and opportunities to continue serving after they take off the uniform. Veterans should have the flexibility to use the educational benefits they have earned to pursue the education they need to begin their second career. Whether it is a college degree, trade school certificate, or building flight time in pursuit of aviation certifications, veterans have earned the right to use their educational benefits as they see fit. I know firsthand the value that veterans have added to the teams I have led. At Bank of America, I helped recruit, hire and mentor veterans as part of the firm’s goal of hiring 10,000 veterans. I am proud to say we have already exceeded that goal. While I made it one of my highest priorities, there should be more opportunities for veterans to gain valuable industry experience through internship programs prior to transitioning from the military.
Last, we need to do a better job of coordinating all of the resources, programs and initiatives between government and non-governmental entities. Transitioning veterans currently face the daunting task of navigating a myriad of individual programs and initiatives, each working separately to provide specific services. As an example, my firm has entered into a partnership with a veteran-owned investment bank to jointly seek and execute on financing in both the municipal and corporate sectors. In this regard, we have helped train the individuals at this firm and made introductions to clients in order to get them more exposure, more business and a greater presence in the marketplace (please see my Endorsements page for a further description of these programs). By coordinating resources and bringing together the various programs and initiatives, we can create a comprehensive approach to cultivating veteran entrepreneurship and employment.
Mental Health & Addiction
Mental Health & Addiction
Mental health needs to be treated with the level of seriousness with which we treat physical health. One in five Americans will live with a diagnosable mental health condition at some point during their lifetime, and mental illness can affect persons of any age, race, religion, sexual orientation, or income. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic will only add to our country’s mental health treatment needs. We must tackle the mental illness epidemic because the impacts of this crisis have reverberated in our neighborhoods and destroyed lives.
Substance abuse – particularly opioid abuse – is a mental illness by which millions of American families are impacted, and young people of color and LGBTQ+ people are more likely to suffer from poor mental health and substance use disorders. Those most vulnerable to addiction are no less deserving of our compassion and care than those with a physical illness. We must ensure access to prevention, treatment, and recovery to all who need it – including the families of those suffering from addiction.
The Trump Administration and its allies in Congress are failing to provide the ideas and resources needed to address this full-blown national emergency. In fact, President Trump wants to repeal Obamacare and Medicaid, the nation’s largest payer for mental health services. We must not let this happen.
I will commit to providing solutions to the mental health crisis that we face in the U.S. by supporting the following:
- Increasing mental health screenings in primary care. Since 2005, the incident of major depression among adolescents has risen more that 50%.
- Ensuring that people who need treatment get it.
- Making medication for addiction treatments more readily available.
- Connecting service members to proper care. Veterans are often disproportionately impacted by mental health concerns. 20 Veterans die by suicide each day.
- Supporting a national red flag law to allow a family member to get a judge’s order to temporarily remove firearms from the homes of those likely to harm themselves or others.
SALT Tax Repeal
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed the ability of taxpayers to deduct their state and local taxes (“SALT”) by putting a cap on these deductions at $10,000 per year. Previously, there was no limit. This limitation has no basis in federal taxation but was clearly a punishment by this Administration targeting high tax states such as New York, New Jersey and California for not voting for Donald Trump. In fact, this deduction has been in the federal tax code for more than 100 years without limitation. New Yorkers pay a disproportionate share of taxes to the federal government when compared to individuals in other states.
I want to be clear: this tax deduction is not just a benefit for the wealthy but it affects everyone in our district because of the detriment it causes on housing values and ultimately local schools and infrastructure. Let me explain with an example. Let’s say a house in our district was worth $200,000 four years ago, prior to the SALT tax cap. Because of the cap, the value of this home has now decreased by 10% – 20%. This obviously hurts anyone who is looking to sell their home. But in addition, the property tax to be paid on that home goes down by the same 10% – 20%, leaving local authorities with less revenue to make their budgets.
How would this downfall be made up? By increasing taxes on the other homeowners and businesses within the district? Not likely in this economic and political climate. As a result, local programs for education such as after school programs will have to be eliminated or scaled back significantly. Infrastructure projects will have to be delayed or abandoned.
It is amazing to me that our New York legislators allowed Trump to pass this legislation given how detrimental it is to our state in particular. As a former tax lawyer with a Masters in Taxation, I will fight to eliminate this cap so that everyone in our district can continue to receive at least the level of public services they received 4 years ago and then fight for more federal assistance for education, transportation and general improvements.
Foreign Policy Principles
Foreign Policy Principles
In the last three and a half years, our country’s foreign policy has consisted of a series of shameful and destabilizing acts: we have alienated our allies, cozied up to dictators around the world, provided Saudi Arabia with weapons after it murdered a journalist in Turkey – weapons which were then used to maim and kill innocent Yemeni civilians, unilaterally pulled out of nuclear agreements with both Iran and Russia, unilaterally withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, encouraged the break up of the EU, and weakened NATO. Trump has fired longtime, effective career foreign affairs officers and installed inexperienced relatives and loyal followers with no background in foreign policy to high-level positions at the Department of State. Further, Trump has cut funding to critical international NGOs such as the WHO and the UN – funding that represents a small portion of our budget, and which is essential for maintaining global public health and peace, and ultimately to protecting human life. All of these actions have made us less safe, made our allies – on whom we depend and who depend on us – less trusting of us, and caused more chaos around the world. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis are clear examples of global problems that do not respect national borders and thus highlight the critical need for global cooperation and collaboration.
We need a serious course correction, and we need strong leadership.
My approach to foreign policy is rooted in the same principles that ground a doctor’s oath: do no harm. I will support foreign policy actions and expenditures that restore the rest of the world’s faith in the United States as a partner that has as its main goals the strengthening of the architecture of multilateralism such as NATO and the United Nations, the protection of human rights around the world, the reversal of the climate crisis, and the promotion of democracy through peaceful means.
I support wielding our power and influence through diplomacy and aid, as I believe they are more effective and obviously less destructive than military action. I am fundamentally opposed to war and to foreign interference: the human damage to innocent lives, the environment, and economies caused by hostilities can almost never be justified, and our record of late at achieving our objectives has been very poor – such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides maintaining a military for self defense and peacekeeping purposes, I can envision voting to authorize use of our professional military forces when unabated human rights violations are being committed, and when there is a clear objective as well as a clear path to success in achieving that objective – with minimal loss of American and other lives.
I am in favor of non-military means of achieving our objectives overseas and will vote to increase our commitments for foreign aid and diplomacy, which, effectively wielded, can forestall or completely avert instability that causes refugee crises, hostilities, and the perceived need for military interventions. I will work to ensure that foreign leaders who do not respect women’s and minority human rights and other basic democratic principles – such as the leaders of the Philippines, North Korea, and Russia – face diplomatic and financial consequences.
Additionally, our military with its unparalleled logistics and supply chain capabilities should be used when needed to support our people at home. For example, the current pandemic has shown that the White House – with its current occupant – is not able to effectively manage the stockpiling and distribution of PPE and other medical equipment. Had our military been called on from the very beginning, we could have done a much better job getting equipment where it was most needed and could do the most good, and without the rampant and unconscionable catastrophe profiteering being committed by Trump and his cronies today.
Women & Individual Rights
Women & Individual Rights
I also believe that all Americans are equally entitled to the same rights. With adoption by same-sex couples under fire and transgender Americans now unable to serve our country in uniform, I am aware that we have a long way to go to ensure an equitable society. I will work locally and nationally to make sure that we have the right community resources for LGBTQ+ youth and residents to get the support and legal protections they need.