My commitments for an economy that is fair, transparent, and prosperous for all of us.
The promise of American opportunity and prosperity means something different to each of us. What we each envision varies in terms of wants and needs, and aspirations can change over time. But we all want to see our children have more opportunities than we had. Today, too few New Mexican families have that. None of us want to ever face a choice between putting food on the table or paying rent. And today, too many New Mexicans face choices like that.
New Mexico has lagged all other states in the Southwest in recovering from the recession - indeed, most of the nation. We have failed to attract good paying jobs, reduce income inequality or poverty, make taxes fairer, and ensure New Mexico kids don’t go to bed hungry. The middle class has melted away, and we have the unfortunate distinction of having one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world. Too many American families go bankrupt from healthcare expenses, and low wage workers have to hold two or three jobs just to make ends meet, which leaves many young children without any hope of having a pre-K education - the most important start to a good education and a path out of poverty.
We need to make a stronger and more honest commitment to our values. Fairness is not just about getting equal pay for equal work (though it is that too!) -- it’s about taking bold and challenging steps to raise incomes and protect those with little or no economic power. Transparency isn’t just about taking public comments -- it’s about educating consumers, sharing information, and stopping special interests from writing all the rules. Prosperity is not just about a company’s profits -- it’s the freedom to care for your sick child and not worry about losing your job.
Damage has been done and it will continue through this administration. It’s critical to elect leaders today who have an eye on the kind of broad economic reform we will need to recover after the current Presidency, as well as that which we’ve needed for centuries to live up to the American ideal of freedom and opportunity for all.
An economy that is fair
Most would say that life isn’t fair. I think about my grandfather, who was a natural-born leader, could speak four languages, was an athlete and an artist. Had he been born into a fairer society, he would have gone to college and had endless possibilities. Instead, the sacrifices he made as a participant in the U.S. assimilation effort, led him to leave his homeland for 45 years; and even in spite of all the hardships, he was able to provide a good home for his family and have a retirement. He returned to Laguna after he retired -- to a home, and to a field he could plant.
Many Native Americans weren’t as fortunate as my grandfather. Imagine being from a tribe that was victim to the allotment era where Indian Reservations were divided like checkerboards, and after several generations a sense of community and economy became smaller and smaller, leaving little for the future. Across America today, and regardless of ethnic background, times are hard for so many families.
Our governments should do everything in their power to make our systems -- especially the economy -- as fair as possible to everyone. Here are some of the policies and ideas that I believe meet this challenge, and that I will support as your next Congresswoman.
My priority in Congress will be the families and small businesses of Main Street -- not Wall Street.
Small businesses should be able to access the same low interest rates provided by the Federal Reserve to big banks and foreign investors.
I will prioritize tax incentives for small businesses that keep their operations in the U.S., provide healthcare and paid sick leave to their employees, and commit through company policy to equal opportunity employment.
From capital loans to unnecessary licensings, we need to cut red tape for small businesses to grow and thrive.
We must preserve net neutrality rules so small businesses don’t have to pay more to conduct sales with their online customer base.
American workers and consumers are what make our economy thrive.
I support a living wage of $15 per hour. Taxpayer-funded giveaways to large corporations that do not pay a living wage must stop; and, we should give tax credits to small and medium businesses that do pay a living wage.
I support the requirement that all businesses provide paid sick leave and paid maternity/paternity leave. Falling ill or having a child should not throw an entire family into hardship.
All women must be paid the same wages as men when they do the same work. I will work for full implementation, enforcement, and expansion of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and also champion measures that address racial disparities in wages. While women in general are paid just 80 cents to every dollar of their male counterparts, women of color are paid even less.
I support nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in employment, federal, state and local government, housing, education, credit, health care, and public accommodations. LGBT Americans are more likely to live in poverty than their non-LGBT peers; and, transgender Americans are 4x more likely to have an income below $10,000 per year. In Congress, I will sign on as a co-sponsor to the Equality Act to establish nondiscrimination protections nationwide.
It’s consumers that deserve the protection of the US Government, not billion dollar corporations trying to get away with something. That’s why I support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as established by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. I will promote strict enforcement of consumer protection regulations, and work to strengthen the penalties for corporations that choose to take advantage of American consumers.
I will continue to be a champion for labor unions and the rights of workers to bargain for fair wages and benefits. Labor unions help raise the wages, workplace conditions, and quality of life for all workers, union and non-union.
We must expand DACA, implement DAPA, and protect them from threats from the administration. I will continue to work for solutions to put this crucial part of our workforce, economy, and communities on the path to full citizenship. The Institute on Taxation and Economy estimates that the 11.3 undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. contribute $11.64 billion in state and local taxes each year; and, $13 billion in annual payroll taxes, according to the Social Security Administration.
A note on immigrants & immigration
We must also stop tearing families apart and putting parents and their children in private, for profit detention centers. This is a significant reason why I divested the Democratic Party of New Mexico from Wells Fargo in 2016, as well as for their investments in DAPL. We must protect and advocate for family unity, fair wages, and fairness in immigration practices and policies.
We all deserve opportunities for success, and we all need to pay our fair share. We also have some making up to do.
- We need to protect and expand the sovereignty of Indian Tribes, including the land buy back program and land into trust acquisitions. I support increases - not decreases - in federal budget allocations for infrastructure, housing, education, and healthcare systems. Let’s also work on a federal program that would subsidize small business capital for Native Americans who are at or below Medicaid eligibility levels, and provide grants for business space and overhead.
We must put an end to offshore tax havens that allow large corporations to avoid paying hundreds of billions in federal taxes.
We must stop charging ordinary Americans higher tax rates for an honest day’s work than we do to the super-rich for playing the stock market. I support a tax on financial speculation, including Wall Street investment houses and hedge funds.
We need to protect and expand Social Security -- and we can when everyone pays their fair share. I support ending the tax exemption on income over $250,000 per year. It’s also time to have a serious discussion about how administrations have borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for bank bailouts, tax cuts for the wealthy, and prolonged military intervention. This practice risks the solvency of Social Security, as well as the American promise and value of financial security for retirees and people with disabilities.
I support a progressive estate tax on the principle of hard work, and the need for wealth to be invested in the communities through which that wealth was created. We also need a more progressive personal income tax on households that make over $250,000 per year -- which account for approximately 2.1% of American households. Last, we need to remove the special low income tax rates on capital gains.
An economy that is transparent
How our tax dollars are spent must be open to the light of day. For years, the federal government has provided billions upon billions in special tax credits and giveaways to businesses (funded by taxpayers), with the significant majority going to large corporations. Most often this money goes to pay millions in CEO salaries and to boost their own stock prices. We saw this happen after the bank bailout -- Wall Street CEOs who had just crashed the economy were lining their pockets with bailout money. This becomes even more problematic in light of Citizens United, which gave corporations free reign to interfere in our elections.
For the sake of our democracy, Citizens United must be dismantled. Big corporations and special interests should not be allowed to drown out the voices of average Americans.
I support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
I will support election reform efforts to move toward a system of publicly-financed elections.
We also need strengthened financial regulation to re-establish the wall between investment and commercial banking. The American people can’t afford another crash or bailout due to the greedy speculative gambling of Wall Street.
We need to level the playing field for small businesses.
We need to close frivolous tax loopholes that allow large corporations to write off billions in stock options given to executives as compensation. Rather, we should invest in incentives and tax relief for small and medium businesses that create jobs in our local communities, become worker owned, and keep their operations in the U.S.
I support small businesses having a stronger course of action when large corporations engage in litigation to avoid paying for services. This includes legal protections, better regulatory enforcement, and access to more capital so they can navigate and survive these challenges when they arise. I also support withholding payment from federal contractors if they do not pay small business subcontractors on time and in full.
An economy with shared prosperity
Our country’s trickle-down approach to economic growth benefits the super wealthy and large corporations at the expense of the rest of us. Those at the top pay a much smaller share of their income in taxes than those at the very bottom. The wealthiest among us must be held accountable to pay their fair share, and we use those public resources to support the wellbeing of everyone.
Creating an economy with shared prosperity requires a long term vision for how we incentivize businesses.
Tax incentives to develop New Mexico’s clean energy economy -- not giveaways to big oil or coal. We cannot incentivize the destruction of our planet for the sake of profits. As a society we should also move to breathe life into training a new workforce so that coal and oil workers have a future in clean energy if they want that.
We must end taxpayer funded subsidies to large multi-national corporations, particularly those that ship jobs overseas. Subsidies and incentives should support small, medium, and worker-owned businesses that are committed to creating jobs in the U.S.
New Mexico has solar, wind, and geothermal energy, and can and should be leading the nation in clean energy.
For too long, politicians have put ideology ahead of New Mexico’s economy. We should be leading in clean energy production. I will work to tear down the barriers that have kept clean energy jobs, businesses, and dollars from benefiting New Mexico the way they have benefited other states.
We can’t afford to rely on finite energy resources. This reliance devastates our environment, and by default prioritizes profits over people because of limited supply and consumer dependence. This is why I will double down on clean energy. Investment in clean energy infrastructure and technology creates high paying, sustainable jobs, and will reduce energy costs for New Mexican families.
New Mexico boasts world renowned National Labs in the country, and they are actively working on climate change issues. We should take advantage of this wealth of expertise and infrastructure and ensure “defense spending” is also directed to the defense of our environment. We should expand research and development of clean energy solutions to create new, good paying federal jobs -- a leading job market in New Mexico.
Investing in our roads, transportation systems, electrical grids, telecommunications, and water systems.
Instead of investing in new projects that don’t actually modernize our infrastructure, that displace and shutter small businesses, and that further reduce access to services for low income communities, we should invest in making sure our existing infrastructure is safe, usable, and creates more access and ease for the day to day of New Mexicans and their families. This includes building broadband access throughout New Mexico -- especially in Native and rural communities.
President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allowed for Indian Tribes to directly access infrastructure funding, which helped New Mexico and helped Tribes. All communities should be able to speak for themselves when it comes to access to such funds.
Healthcare and social services is the largest growing industry in New Mexico.
The Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid in New Mexico created good, critical jobs in health care, and we simply can’t afford to see this growth disappear. I will fight to protect the ACA, and work toward a universal health care system that will demand a greatly expanded workforce in order to provide healthcare to all.
We need to repair and expand our behavioral health care system in New Mexico and everywhere. Therapists, counselors, social workers, and other behavioral health service providers are a major part of the healthcare and social services industry -- and, we desperately need to ensure these services are proactive and accessible in every inch and corner of our state. Doing so creates jobs opportunities, and provides critical services for our families and communities.
LET’S KEEP INVESTING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY IN NEW MEXICO — BECAUSE IT WORKS FOR OUR ECONOMY.
- ccording to ABQ Business First, the New Mexico film industry brought in $505 million into the state in fiscal year 2017, surpassing the previous record-holding results by more than $115 million. This industry also had more than 448,000 worker days in FY 2017. We must continue investing in this industry that provides high paying jobs with benefits, invests in recruitment and training of the local workforce, and brings in significant tax revenues to New Mexico.
Innovation spurs growth and helps address complex problems we face in our communities today.
I’ve talked to technology and start-up CEOs and know that Albuquerque could be the next tech capital of the Southwest. Nearly 50,000 New Mexicans work in the tech industry here in New Mexico, including our Labs, and there is still tremendous room for growth. The tech industry also boasts some of the best paying jobs in our state.
Thousands of tech industry jobs remain open in New Mexico because we don’t have qualified candidates to fill them. In Congress, I will support legislation like Sen. Martin Heinrich’s recently introduced CHANCE Act, to create apprenticeship programs aimed at creating a highly skilled and qualified tech workforce to meet industry employment demands.
Additionally, as clean energy solutions grow and infrastructure needs advance, we must ensure the workforce has adequate training to migrate and/or hone their skills. Job creation must include robust training programs, especially for skilled trade workers.
At the heart of our ability to sustain ourselves are farmers and family farms.
New Mexico’s economy and food supply depends on family farms. Rural communities, in particular, benefit from family farms as they often invest and sell their goods in surrounding local communities. Family farms also use practices that are better for the environment, workers, animals, and consumers.
In Congress, I will support efforts to create Farm to Table programs in our communities, including in public schools. The need for better nutrition in our schools can be met by investing in local farms and farmers. Similarly, the need to support local farms and farmers can be met by investing in the nutrition of New Mexico’s students.
I will also support incentives for the creation of community markets, farm to table programs that target food deserts and low income communities, and measures that incentivize big box grocery stores to prioritize partnerships with local farmers.
I support improving the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, including increases in funding and infrastructure-building programs. Approximately 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native people each month depend on this program, and we need it to continue supporting Indian Country infrastructure and agriculture, as well as rural economic development.
A note on mass produced food
There is nothing more disturbing than learning about the inside business of mass produced food. From GMOs to pesticides to methane pollution, we must shift our thinking to long term human, animal, and environmental impacts of factory farms, and envision a future that prioritizes local, sustainable, and green food farming.
Public Lands belong to the public, and must be expanded.
- Our public lands are not only treasures -- they support an outdoor recreation economy that generates: 1) 99,000 jobs, 2) $9.9 billion in consumer spending, 3) $2.8 billion in wages and salaries, and 4) $623 million in state and local tax revenue.
Hemp and marijuana will revolutionize our economy and infrastructure -- legalize and regulate.
I wholeheartedly support the production of hemp in New Mexico and throughout the U.S. as a major opportunity for economic development and environmental sustainability. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that prevents hemp production. Hemp is an amazing resource that is the most durable natural fiber in the world, and can be transformed into biomass energy and diesel fuel. It is also rich in protein and contains all essential amino acids. It is sustainable and can be used for countless purposes from paper to food, and fuel to infrastructure.
As I announced in my healthcare platform, I support the legalization and regulation of marijuana. Not only has it been shown to provide important health benefits for those who live with complex diseases, chronic pain, and PTSD, but it generates significant tax revenues, as demonstrated by states like Colorado and Washington. New Mexico has long searched for ways to adequately fund our public schools, Medicaid, and behavioral health, among other services -- we must advance the legalization of marijuana as a way to do so.
A note on marijuana and economic justice
The failed drug war drains nearly $80 billion a year from our national economy. It has also led to the mass incarceration of primarily black and brown Americans, a significant proportion for simple possession. According to the ACLU, between 2001 and 2010, 8.2 million arrests were made for marijuana, and 88% of those were for personal possession of small amounts. Despite blacks and whites using marijuana at nearly the same rates, blacks are four times more likely to be arrested for possession. These arrests often lead to job loss, prevent job opportunities in the future, and prevent access to small business or other kinds of financial loans.
On this note, we should not ignore that the growing recreational and medical marijuana industries are largely run by white Americans who can more easily build small businesses and are not the targets of police profiling. Mass incarceration fueled by the failed drug war has disenfranchised millions of people of color; within our current employment laws and regulations, there is little opportunity for this population to reap the benefits of a legalized marijuana industry. This reality must be part of the legalization discussion.
I believe we have choices in how we acquire and use our resources, and for far too long those choices have been made by too small of a group of people behind closed doors.
I am reminded of a past Martin Luther King, Jr. event where the speaker asked everyone in the room to stand; then she asked people to sit down if they were Black, woman, Native American, non-Christian - these were people, who, at one time couldn’t vote because laws in our country forbade them to. Two white men were left standing by the time she finished the list, and she woefully stated that, at one time in our history only these two people would make decisions for all of us. We should all have our say.
Our economy works the way it should when we all participate, which is why I have worked hard over many years to increase voter turnout. If we want economic justice, health care justice, quality public education, and more, we must elect candidates who will stand strong against the wave of selfishness and greed. I am that candidate for New Mexico’s First Congressional District, and I ask you to join me.