Real leadership is about making a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
People in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula deserve a representative who understands their needs — a leader who comes from a place of shared experience and gets working-class values. But that’s only just the beginning. Being the kind of candidate people trust means continually traveling across this 25,000 square mile district. It means listening to voters. It means being courageous enough to talk about the issues that often divide us.
Our current Congressman doesn’t appear up to that task. But I believe it’s the only way to find common ground on issues that matter to us all, while at the same time standing for our values and holding the high ground when powerful special interests threaten working families.
We all know that being an effective leader doesn’t have anything to do with power, or money, or playing politics. Real leadership is about making a meaningful difference in people’s lives, and doing that means sending more real people to Congress who are willing to fight for working Americans.
This is what we stand for:
Strengthening Working Families
We stand for a strong middle class and those Americans working hard to get there. This means fighting for good-paying jobs, and seeing to it that every American has the means to provide for their family.
Today in Michigan, skilled workers are struggling to find good-paying jobs, and those who do have work too often have more than one job, or are forced to rely on overtime just to make ends meet.
For decades, politicians have been promising to bring back jobs and increase wages. But it hasn’t happened. As businesses remain focused instead on increasing shareholder value, too many have lost sight of the critical role American workers play in growing our economy. What’s more, too few politicians stand by the most basic of American promises: When workers contribute directly to the success of a business, they should participate in that success and see a share of the profit through increased wages. That’s how this is supposed to work, with workers being rewarded for their labors… not just shareholders.
But the fact is, over the last 40 years things have gotten worse, not better, for most Americans. In 1980, the top 1% of earners held an 8.5% share of national income; today that share is 23%. During that same period, wages for the bottom 50% of Americans have fallen from 18% to 12% of national income — meaning that half of all Americans’ income combined amounts to just half the wealth possessed by the top 1%.
How do we change this? We start by recognizing that income inequality is not a partisan issue. No matter who they vote for — Republican, Democrat, or otherwise — working families in America are getting poorer at the same rate. Wage stagnation has impacted every working American, which means we have the opportunity to build a coalition of people powerful enough to hold large companies to a higher standard, and rebuild a secure middle class.
Commitment to Education
If you give most Americans a fair shot, they’ll find a way to make a good life for themselves and their families. And that even chance at success begins with a quality public education.
Career Tech and Community Colleges – For many in Michigan, the path to a good-paying, quality job requires access to career tech education in our high schools and community colleges. This requires more federal investment in both. We need to support the efforts of schools to continually adapt to volatile job markets so that communities like those in Northern Michigan and the U.P. can develop the skilled workers necessary to attract and retain new businesses. This means re-examining public education, thinking beyond K-12, and finding a way to support innovative approaches to Pre-K through 14.
Pre-K Education – We know that children who receive quality early childhood education are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to go to college, and more likely to get a job. In fact, studies have shown that the return on investment on early childhood education is as much as $16 for every dollar spent. So anyone who’s serious about reducing the deficit should also be serious about federal investment in seeing to it that disadvantaged families are able to find childcare for their preschoolers.
Healthcare for All Americans
Healthcare in today’s America should be treated as a right, rather than a privilege for those few who can afford it. No American should ever go bankrupt because they get sick or hurt. No senior citizen should have to choose between paying for food, heat, or medicine. And no one should ever go without care they need because they just don’t have the money.
For more than 20 years, I was fortunate to have the heathcare provided by the US Marine Corps. When I was sick, I went to to doctor. If I needed a prescription, I got it. When I elected to have eye surgery, it happened. And when a work-related injury required months of physical therapy, no one intervened to question if the PT was necessary. I had annual check-ups, saw a dentist twice a year, and my family had access to contraception — all provided by the U.S. military. No premiums. No deductibles. No co-pays. No caps. And no one but my doctor and me making decisions about my care.
No American should ever have to question whether they can afford to take a sick child to the doctor, or face financial ruin just to have access to a life-saving medication. But in America today, we see inequities that force families to make just these kinds of choices — which I don’t believe is any kind of choice at all.
The solution is clear: A plan that makes healthcare portable, so working families no longer have to choose between higher wages or better health insurance, and employers can focus on running their business without having to carry the risk of a volatile healthcare market.
Rebuilding and Replacing Critical Modern Infrastructure
Michigan faces serious challenges regarding deteriorating infrastructure — roads, bridges, ports, schools, and utilities — all of which stand to threaten our existing economy and impact the state’s ability to attract new businesses that create quality jobs.
Funding this much-needed investment in our infrastructure requires committed Congressional leadership, including a special emphasis on the expansion of high-speed internet access to all of Michigan.
As ever-expanding technology finds its way into our schools, hospitals, and businesses, the growing digital divide in America threatens to leave rural communities behind. Today, high speed internet access is as important as roads and electricity when it comes to educating our kids, caring for the sick, and allowing small businesses to thrive. But in too many areas of Northern Michigan and the U.P., it doesn’t exist.
Providing access to rural communities requires Congressional support to make broadband deployment viable in much the same way the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 brought to power working families across America. A strong partnership between the federal government and rural cooperatives is the key to accomplishing that goal. As your Congressman, I’ll work every day to see that this happens so we can ensure our kids have access to the same quality education as students in large cities, give local businesses the opportunity to engage in global commerce, and connect rural hospitals with the technology they need to provide modern patient care.