A Quality Education for All
Our nation must commit to excellent, low cost public education that serves everyone and prepares them for success in our high tech society.
I strongly support strengthening our public schools and universities. That includes paying teachers higher salaries and providing the resources teachers need. We also need to experiment with new, high-tech empowered teaching methods which enable students to learn at their own speed in their own way. The old "industrial model of education"—all the same at the same pace—is outdated.
We should start with affordable Pre-K for every toddler. I also support free education in our community colleges. Pima and Cochise Community Colleges are great assets, but going there should be free. This would help so many of our young students, including those with disadvantaged backgrounds.
We must create a debt-free path for Americans wanting a higher education, starting with eliminating interest on loans for students attending public universities.
We need to expand stronger vocational and technical training programs to quickly equip people with the skills necessary for high-paying jobs here in Southern Arizona.
By investing significantly into basic research, we can create greater innovation and technological breakthroughs that will encourage recent university graduates to stay here and grow our district’s economy.
Universal Coverage and Lower Health Care Costs
I support universal and affordable health care for all.
Through the efforts of generations of Democratic leaders starting with President Truman, we have extended health care coverage to about 90 percent of Americans, but we are failing to control costs. I support extending coverage to the 10 percent of Americans who currently do not have access to health care using our existing systems. I also believe that everybody’s coverage should be adequate to protect them against costs they cannot bear. I will also lead the fight against our ridiculous health care costs.
We have created multiple, well-functioning methods to deliver health care to the vast majority of people in the United States. We need to finish the job by building on and extending current programs. We must reverse the vandalism done to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by this administration.
Medicaid expansion needs to be accepted by all of the states. Congress should act to require all states to provide Medicaid coverage to the most vulnerable, including childless adults and low-income groups.
Health Care Costs
As we finally extend health care coverage to all, we face the continuing fight to lower the cost of health care. Americans’ usage of health care is about the same as in other industrialized countries, but the prices we pay are much higher. American health care costs are simply ridiculous. Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare, and the VA, each can teach us lessons as we look to improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Three factors among many others are driving health care costs up: chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, the general aging of the population, and advances in medical technology and treatment. We are also poorly managing the sickest, whose treatment demands a sizable part of our health care dollars. We must do a better job of dealing with these major factors.
We are also incarcerating too many people, many of whom are serving sentences into old age. Health care delivery in prison settings cost much more than in other facilities. Finding ways to address this and other sources of rising health care costs must be part of a vigorous, national discussion.
We know the NRA won’t accommodate or compromise with us. Why have a nominee who’s already accommodated and compromised with the NRA?
I believe we can have effective gun laws that reduce violence while protecting the legitimate rights of hunters, sportspeople and gun collectors.
I was honored to serve as an intern for Gabby Giffords, a Congresswoman who was willing to listen to her young constituents. I believe that any person who represents the Democratic Party as our nominee should be able to look the young people of the #NeverAgain movement in the eye without apology for our current and past positions on gun violence.
There is no such thing as a neutral position on guns. The high school students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida have made that clear by refusing to be fold under the fear tactics of the NRA. No one law or policy will fix our nation’s gun violence crisis. We must work on all points to reduce our shameful record on gun violence.
We must acknowledge the fact that many communities have felt the destructive effects of gun violence. There is no aspect of comprehensive gun violence policy that requires us to stigmatize people, just actions.
Mandatory background checks for all gun transfers
To limit the capacity of ammunition clips and aftermarket accessories
“Red Flag” laws that will help reduce deaths by removing firearms from those suffering a mental crisis or disarming (after a hearing) those going through a high-stress crisis that often serves as a prequel to gun violence
Mandatory waiting period for gun purchases
Child access prevention measures
A strengthened regulation of Federal Firearm Licensees (FFL). Corrupt gun dealers account for a disproportionate number of crime guns
To repeal the “Tiahrt Amendments”—restrictions that currently cripple law enforcement
Adopt a 3-day waiting period of all sales of firearms and ammo
Using microlabeling technology, we can add tracking codes to all firearms and ammo.
Mandate better data integration across federal and state agencies, including law enforcement and mental healthcare providers.
Immigration—Our Dreamers and our Neighbors
As the son of immigrants who fled tyranny in Turkey and Iran, I see the immigration issue from my own personal experience. We must have a comprehensive, humane immigration system.
As the Tucson-born son of immigrants (my father from Turkey and my mother from Iran), I understand that the only difference between me and the Dreamers is a piece of paper. We must extend a path to citizenship for the Dreamers and their parents. Families should not be separated and people working in America who are building American lives should not be deported. Their lack of legal status is in part the fault of Congress which failed to create a comprehensive, humane immigration system.
Positive Actions, not a Wall
Rather than build an expensive wall separating us from Mexico and dividing tribal lands, we need to reach out to Mexico and the Central American countries to support them in their efforts to bolster their economies and to further human rights, including women’s rights. Too many people in Mexico and Central America never get the opportunity to imagine a stable economic future for themselves, and human rights abuses are too often an everyday experience for too many. Women’s rights in particular are rarely respected, causing many women to flee with their children to the United States in order to protect their family, as anyone would do. These are problems we should address through positive actions, not reactionary band-aids like building a wall.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform
In Congress, I will support Comprehensive Immigration Reform including provisions for asylum for people who are fleeing oppression, like my parents once had to do. America should not turn its back on “those yearning to be free.”
Comprehensive immigration reform should also include provisions for workers who want to come to America and build lives while respecting its laws and contributing to its economy. America has always opened its door to many who are among the “poor and huddled masses” and they have always found a way to integrate into our country, enriching it in the process.
We also need to provide work and a path to citizenship for students from abroad who are educated here and want to commit to being a part of this country and contribute to its development. We also need to have a better system of enforcing visa restrictions once we have a comprehensive, humane immigration system in place. I do not support open borders.
Our veterans and their families sacrificed for all of us. We must provide effective re-entry programs and provide excellent benefits at the VA hospitals.
A homeless veteran is an indictment of us all. A veteran suicide is an American failure.
The debt we owe our veterans should be repaid in part by fully funding and responsibly managing programs for returning veterans including VA medical benefits, mental health programs, suicide prevention programs, VA loans, college grants, job training, and support programs.
We salute our veterans by honoring our promises and refusing to create new veterans through pointless wars. Too often we have sent our soldiers into wars that cannot be won for geo-political reasons. Why are we still in Afghanistan after 17 years?
Our veterans need enhanced suicide prevention programs and much better re-entry programs to help them reintegrate into civilian economic and social life. We must also take into account the fact that multiple deployments are a strain on veterans and their families which makes re-entry into civilian life more difficult.
I do not support the privatization of the VA or proposals which would fold the VA into a larger system of health care, which might dilute veterans’ benefits.
American Global Leadership
The current administration’s foolish policies and its short-sighted, almost petulant retreat from global leadership have not only created a void authoritarian countries are trying to fill but have also created cracks America itself is in danger of falling through. The world wants and needs wise, consistent, and innnovative American leadership and I can play a part in bringing America back from the brink.
International Trade and Economic Development Institutions
The U.S. should commit once again to building international trade and economic development institutions, involving both Asia and Africa, and not let China have free rein.
While we fight wars at great cost, China is building a new structure of worldwide influence developing competitors to U.S. led institutions such as the World Bank. China’s Asian Development Bank is gaining influence through Asia and the Pacific Rim. China has also committed enormous resources to its One Belt, One Road initiative to build an infrastructure and system of economic influence across Asia to Africa and Europe that allows it to project power and to profit from economic growth. America needs its own Asian and African strategy.
I support American participation in the PTT and in the Asian Development Bank and would encourage the United States to lead the further development of Asian and African economic development. We also need to encourage economic development and civil rights in Mexico, Central America and throughout Latin America.
Rebuild Amercan Diplomacy
America is at its best when it leads with the power of ideas rather than resorts to the power of its military. We must rebuild our diplomatic corps decimated by the current administration. After WWII we built an international, multinational system of laws and we need to recommit to them.
We need to reconfigure some of those institutions, such as the UN, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to reflect today’s challenges. For example, the WHO can only monitor disease outbreaks. It does not have rapid response teams or funding to address world epidemics directly. Another example of issues which need to be addresses is that the ICJ lacks transparency especially in state to state arbitration. I am proposing a renewed American engagement with the international community and multinational institutions.
By its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Iranian nuclear deal, we have forfeited our leadership, strained our alliance structures, and emboldened authoritarians and dictators around the globe. This terrible, self-inflicted damage has to be stopped and new efforts put into place to repair the damage and address the issues. Regardless of wealth or where one lives, we all face daunting issues including nuclear proliferation, extreme climate change, migrant crises, and regional conflicts. These great challenges call for inspired, multi-national diplomacy.
The Economy: True Prosperity for All
The Raise American Pay Act (“RAMP”): A Trickle up economic policy for the 90% by reconnecting real wages of most workers to the profits and top earners in a company. It benefits the companies, the workers, and saves our government almost a trillion dollars over 10 years. *Small Businesses and Start-Ups are exempt
Democrats and Republicans have failed to address what is possibly the single biggest economic issue facing most Americans: decades of wage stagnation. Democrats focus on trying to fix the consequences of low wages through government spending on social programs. Republicans focus on “maximizing shareholder value” and trickle-down economics—which always seems to end clogged up with some plumbing problem...
Here’s the real problem: For nearly a half-century now, 90% of the workforce has received little benefit from the record profits corporations continue to enjoy from the much heralded solid economic growth in America. Eight out of 10 Americans now live paycheck to paycheck. If the average American does not or cannot prosper from ‘solid economic growth’ in America while corporations keep reaping ‘record profits’ what does that tell you?
Workers play a crucial part in making these gains possible, yet their wages have been totally disconnected from the growth taking place in the economy. Since the early 1970s until this very day, real wages for most workers have remained completely stuck, with barely a trickle reaching the average American—like a wash in the desert. During this time, real pay at the very top tripled and profits quadrupled, the size of the economy per American nearly doubled (even after discounting inflation), and our workers doubled their work-hour productivity. But again, hardly a penny increase in pay to the typical American worker. Let Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives “enjoy” their 11% approval rating while we introduce the Raise American Pay (“RAMP”) solution.
Here’s the real solution: RAMP reconnects the profits of businesses along with the pay of their top 10% of salary earners to pay going to the other 90% of workers through a compensation ratio (“CR”). Companies that keep their compensation ratio stable over time (thereby giving workers a proportionate share of gains that businesses are reaping) will get tax breaks. Companies that don’t, that are unwilling to share their gains with their workers, won’t get tax breaks. They will lose a good portion of the reduced taxes they just received from the Trump tax cuts (remember, those cuts were sold with the claim that by taxing businesses less, workers would receive solid pay raises!). It’s a solution that transforms the tax cuts into a powerful mechanism that really does boost workers’ wages and yet also leaves companies with strong profits. This solution, at long last, will put an end, to the suppression of wages along with its many disturbing consequences both for individual families and the nation.
Through RAMP, average real wages will rise almost 35% in 15 years for the typical worker versus 5% given current trends
Higher wages will boost consumer demand, lifting job creation by fully 20%, resulting in the addition of 4 million new jobs
Tax revenues from the added jobs plus reduced social spending from the wage increases will create a net $900 billion federal budget surplus over 10 years
*Above Figure illustrates the increase in government surplus due to RAMP's positive affect on wage growth comparied to continuing with the past wage growth.
The plan has been years in the making by a team of business people and academics, addressing many different situations and potential consequences. It’s something we can all get behind—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
Because the solution can appeal to progressives, moderates, and conservatives alike, I’m confident it can pass once in Congress. America depends upon the strength and wellbeing of its middle class. So do our businesses, which can thrive only if there is strong purchasing power. There is a real solution that will enable many, many more Americans to gain economic security and improve their living. Let’s restore America’s get-ahead economy. Let’s make the American Dream a reality in most people’s lives again. Let’s rekindle the confidence of Americans. Let’s do this together.
My mother escaped from Iran just before the revolution that would have left her without control of her own life—because of her gender. Her story and her narrow escape inspires me and will guide my actions in Congress.
During the Ayatollah’s revolution, my mother left Iran just ahead of the severe suppression of women's freedoms. Once in America she was able to earn multiple college degrees, each one a repudiation of the regime, a testament to America's eminence and an example for women everywhere.
Women deserve equal pay for equal work and access to all the support needed to raise a family (childcare, health care, quality public education).
Women’s rights to reproductive health will be rigorously defended and women must have affordable health care that includes contraception and other reproductive health services. I strongly support Planned Parenthood and believe that its federal funding should be protected.
I will work towards strict enforcement of laws such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which protects Americans from losing their jobs due to sexual orientation, gender or gender identity. I also strongly support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which gives women the right to being paid the same as men for the same work performed. I want to ensure that the civil rights lawyers in the Justice Department rigorously enforce these laws and have consequences for not doing so.
Sustainable Infrastructure: The AZ SpeedRail & AZ SolarState
Federal investment in infrastructure was critical to Arizona’s development and can be once again. China's rapid advance means we must think big again, we must think smart again: we must be America again.
From our years as a territory to the 1960’s, the Arizona Congressional delegation fought to get water rights from the Colorado River. Regional and international agreements provided the water Arizona needed and the Central Arizona Project (CAP), built with federal funds, brought Arizona’s water allocation to farmers and to cities including Phoenix and Tucson. Without that investment in the CAP by the Federal government, Arizona would be a glass without any water. Not half full, but empty. And most of us wouldn’t be here.
Working as an international development and trade lawyer in China, I saw the great benefits of many infrastructure projects, including high-speed trains between all the major cities such as Foshan to Shenzhen and Beijing to Shanghai. With high speed linkage, cities expanded rapidly. China used rather brutal techniques to clear the land to build these linkages. We can build similar high-speed train systems our way, respecting property rights and the environment, especially here in the Arizona desert.
I am proposing to build a high-speed train system between Tucson and Phoenix. Passengers could use easy-to-rent cars, preferably electric, or shared ride services to move around the cities. This system would empower economic development throughout central Arizona–from Tucson to Phoenix–and would provide enormous economic benefits. And as a Federal project, we must ensure accountable and competitive construction practices that provide good jobs with incomes that would help Tucson families improve their lives.
I also support making Arizona the Solar State. Federal as well as state policies should facilitate the transition to new, clean industries to protect our environment, provide cheaper transportation and power, and help American industries dominate these huge new markets. China is moving fast; so should we.
Americans should not have to be a financial expert to save enough for a secure retirement or hope for good health to avoid going bankrupt due to health care costs. Retirement Accounts, including pensions, need to be portable.
Since American wages have been flat for decades, many Americans struggle to save enough for retirement. Some studies show there is a $7 billion dollar gap between what retirees have and what they need to survive. This means that Social Security must be defended and expanded to better support low-income seniors and Medicare must continue to provide health care at affordable prices.
Almost a third of seniors have no income except Social Security and about half of seniors receive the majority of their income from Social Security. Social Security must be defended and it must do a better job of supporting the seniors who are the most in need.
Many seniors currently spend as much as half of their incomes on health care. That is too much. This administration has taken money out of Medicare to give tax breaks to the most fortunate Americans. This needs to be reversed.
All Americans need better ways of saving for retirement. I support proposals such as opt-out IRAs, which have been shown to increase savings and age-adjusted contributions so that as incomes increase the percentage of savings increases. I also support inflation-linked retirement savings bonds.
Wasteful Government Spending
Government has a responsibility to manage taxpayers’ money wisely.
Americans work hard for their money but too often feel that the government wastes tax dollars. And they are right. There is waste in government. That does not mean that government is bad, but it does mean that we should make every effort to spend every dollar wisely.
In Congress, I will work with other Democrats and across the aisle to identify areas where waste, abuse or outright fraud can be minimized. Whether identifying money in “expiring budgets” which is spent too freely or finding ways to make our bureaucracies more effective, I will try to be a good steward of taxpayers’ money.
For example, the Federal Aviation Administration has spent billions of dollars on computer systems that have failed to work correctly. By using advanced GPS systems, American airlines and military airplanes could fly with higher levels of safety and fly more direct routes saving time and aviation fuel. Developing high-tech solutions to some of what government does could improve our lives in many ways. But these systems need to be developed efficiently and cost-effectively.
In our defense budgets, I will be vigilant in opposing bases here or abroad that are no longer needed or weapons systems that the military does not really need, but are supported by some in Congress just to keep the money flowing to certain Congressional Districts. In foreign aid I will ask the hard questions, particularly about whether our military aid is being used to support dictators and authoritarians.
And of course, we have engaged in wars all my life at tremendous cost in blood and treasure. Some of these conflicts have become quagmires due to geopolitical factors, and we have found ourselves spending huge sums of money and jeopardizing lives for little return. That is the greatest waste.
I will also oppose efforts to undermine basic science by demagogues whose strategy it is to ridicule what they do not understand. Too often demagogues attack legitimate and important basic science by ridiculing projects that these demagogues make no effort to understand. This is true even of important projects at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Scientists need to be accountable, but so do Members of Congress.
Finally, we do have to pay interest on our debt, which is rising at an alarming rate due to this administration’s irresponsible tax bill. In its entire history the United States has never defaulted and should not even consider a default, even for a day. Republicans have preached fiscal responsibility for decades, but they are terrible sinners. Today, about eight percent of federal revenue goes to pay interest on the debt, instead of to schools, the environment, infrastructure, federal support for basic research or other legitimate objectives of government. What a waste! We pay more in interest than we spend on the entire Department of Justice or NATO. We have to teach our Republican colleagues what fiscal responsibility means.
Campaign Finance Reform & Voter Activation
A Paradigm Shift In Political Campaigns
We fed the homeless at the Primavera Homeless Shelter (https://primavera.org/)
We kick started TeenDemocrats.org, to give teenagers a voice in today’s crazy world of politics. If they don’t get a seat at the table, they’ll bring a folding chair. (https://www.teendemocrats.org/)
We got our volunteers and prominent community members to donate to the Florence Project, providing the separated families and minors with legal counsel (https://firrp.org/)
We gathered signatures for the Arizona Outlaw Dirty Money Ballot Measure, even though it’s a State initiative, getting dark money out of politics is our priority (https://outlawdirtymoney.com/)
We are sponsoring a bowling night fundraiser for homeless minors in partnership with Youth On Their Own (https://yoto.org/)
We are piloting the "GrandMentors" program, an intergenerational mentoring program connecting retirement communities to middle school and high school students. This is a two-way street that gives both sides immeasurable value.
And we have registered countless people to vote, this is something I’m sure every campaign does (or at least should).
Stop Divisive & Innaccurate Mainstream Media
Going through a sensational “scandal” myself, I’ve seen first-hand how the media can spin things out of control. Without a primary obligation to set forth the accurate details of a story, reporters and journalists instead choose to spin the story in hopes to appeal to the mob. They focus on one side of the story and refuse to acknowledge facts and objective reason. Sometimes, I wonder if the media itself shapes the public view or if the public view shapes the media. It is a two-way street, both feeding the other into a frenzy spin at times.
Protect the Environment Now! (Carbon Fee & Dividends)
Climate change is an existential threat to human life, causing volatile weather patterns, water and air pollution, rising sea levels, and…global warming! This threat can truly disrupt our way of life.
Reuniting Separated Families (A Quick Solution)
For the remaining families that are still separated, the Trump administration should bring all the children and parents to one location and allow them to find each other. This will reduce time and money in investigating the connections between the family members. Once a family is united is moves through an expedited process to confirm their relationship. The end.