Climate Change is a dire concern that has the potential, if unanswered by political action, to permanently damage humanity and our planet in multiple ways. Responding to it absolutely should not be a partisan issue, and I am proud of the Representatives from Utah who have spoken about the need to act meaningfully in response to it and hope to support them in finding solutions. Behaving as faithful stewards to the Earth and all God’s creations, mitigating potential damage to our way of life, and ensuring that all the world’s wonders are preserved for generations to come, will perhaps post one of the greatest challenges that humanity will face in the 21st century. I have faith that we, as Americans, are more than up to the challenge and will achieve wonders in the near future if we begin work now. As such, I support...
1: Addressing Climate Change and establishing Environmental Justice through the adoption of a Green New Deal.
Despite distressingly partisan condemnation and ridicule, no other proposals have been drafted which possess the scope and ambition within the Green New Deal, which is only appropriate to correct the incredible scope of issues we are facing due to, and alongside, climate change. If no other solutions can be found or proposed, as binding or nonbinding legislation, plans, strategies, or any other descriptive term, then building off of the Green New Deal as a means of addressing climate change seems only appropriate. Most ideas within it, such as ambitiously modernizing crumbling American infrastructure and providing for those who rely on income from fossil fuel industries to transition away from its continued production, are solutions that have attracted bipartisan support and are ones that I want to develop further. Finding common ground and crafting climate policy that respects the rights of Americans as well as our planet’s health is critical to ensure our future prosperity, and I would be interested in further developing the Green New Deal with those two goals in mind.
2: Restoring the ability of government agencies to freely research and discuss the impact of climate change in their findings.
The Trump administration’s actions to suppress discussion of climate change and the potential impact humanity might have to mitigate its worst effects are chilling at best. Denying that the problem exists and refusing to allow its free study and research does nothing more than ensure insecurity for all within the United States. Problems such as rising sea levels and the increasing prevalence of hurricanes already threaten the nation as a whole, and even landlocked states like Utah currently face challenges such as inversions which trap pollutants with disastrous effects on air quality and the greater likelihood of drought. Even a plan as ambitious and far-reaching as the Green New Deal needs to understand the full ramifications of climate change as it relates to human activities. Restoring the ability of these agencies to discuss relevant issues and determine what needs to be addressed will allow us to far more effectively unleash the capabilities of the United States in ensuring that our environment is safe for current and future generations.
3: Ensuring that divestment from fossil fuels and the adoption of greener technologies becomes an integral part of the United States' foreign and domestic policy.
One of the most astonishing capabilities of the United States as a global actor is its ability to inspire others through its example and its economic provisions. Encouraging our allies and trading partners to adopt greener technologies and divesting from the sales of oil in favor of cleaner forms of energy will help ensure that addressing climate change is a global effort. In this, we can and should lead by example, and make America first in exemplifying how effectively a country can reorient itself to provide a model for the future.
The United States is uniquely positioned as an actor on the global stage. The power, resources, and reach of our armed forces are surpassed only by the soft power we wield and the ingenuity of some of our finest citizens at finding and working toward the peaceful resolution of otherwise intractable issues. That being said, as enormously potent as our international capabilities can be, they must be guided by a policy that prioritizes the needs of the United States, both as an individual actor and as a resident of an ultimately peaceful and prosperous world. I support…
1: Policies that will sharply curtail direct or indirect interventions intended to forcibly change how another state is governed.
Preparing for the possibility of conflict does not necessitate pursuing hard solutions that revolve around the use of armed forces and violent methods. Iraq and Libya serve as two contemporary examples of how disastrous such actions will likely develop, regardless of how pure the intentions for pursuing them originally were. This likewise applies to the usage of sanctions, tariffs, and other economic maneuvers meant to inflict damage upon other countries, which, while potentially necessary, have the potential of bringing about unexpected consequences and should never be the first resort in our international interactions. Utilizing diplomacy and pursuing peaceful methods of creating positive change should be our primary means of interacting with the rest of the world.
2: Moving away from viewing the relationship between us and our allies as predicated upon financial concerns.
No relationship, strategic, special, or generally positive, should involve one member taking advantage of any other members. However, this relationship goes both ways. Contemporary actions from the Trump administration centered around perceived financial slights and non-equitable payment, which reduces the relationship between us and our NATO allies to transactional and disregard the invaluable ways they have supported the United States in the past, such as their stalwart support after the September 11th attacks. Preserving these strong relationships between us and our allies within and outside of NATO cannot be based solely off of this transactional mentality. Pursuing beggar-thy-neighbor policies will provide short-term benefits at best, and will divide ourselves from our neighbors and allies.
3: Taking a stronger and more assertive stance on promoting democracy and human rights.
Events such as the protests in Hong Kong despite responses from China underscores the precarious situation for worldwide democracy. Additionally, the security needs of the Kurds highlight the continued need of the United States to provide support for people yearning to be free and to provide for the security needs of all our allies. This cannot be applied generally enough to justify any form of intervention, but rather should be a key guiding focus for crafting future foreign policy.
4: Diminishing the capacity of Presidents to unilaterally pursue military actions by repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
No branch of the government should be immune to checks and balances from the other two branches. When it comes to pursuing military operations under the AUMF, however, the executive branch wields an excessive amount of power, providing close to complete impunity for a President to pursue military actions for almost any reason. Repealing the AUMF will curtail this power and ensure a greater degree of protection against the possibility of seeing the United States commit to military actions for little more than personal political gain.
5: Increasing the provision of humanitarian aid and the means of its equitable and non-wasteful distribution.
A defining trait of the United States as an international actor is its charitability. In terms of the sheer magnitude of humanitarian aid provided, we are the single largest contributor in the world. However, this amount is dwarfed in comparison to our annual military expenditures, which continue to climb as contributions to humanitarian aid stagnate. I believe that reversing this trend and empowering agencies which will provide its equitable allocation will serve the interests of the United States. Playing a larger role in supporting those in need around the world will prevent potential future security concerns arising from their insecurity, and will likewise promote the image of the United States as a moral superpower to the rest of the world.
6: Ending our engagement in conflicts overseas.
As of my writing this in February of 2020, the United States has been involved (at least in part) in conflicts throughout the world, with our military operating in countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Libya. Our long involvement and engagement with countries as part of an increasingly tenuous linkage to terrorism has not brought about intended results. In spite of the incredible courage, sacrifice, and commitment of American soldiers, these contemporary wars have drained trillions of dollars and led to the injuries and deaths of thousands of our soldiers. As appealing as the economic component might be, my primary concern is with preserving the lives of those serving in our armed forces. I will seek for ways to bring our brave veterans home, and not expose them to continued danger overseas to pursue nonviable objectives.
From descriptions of Washington as a swamp to general feelings of animosity toward legislators who seem less willing to listen to constituents and more likely to follow lobbyists and big-money donors, it is difficult to earnestly believe that the system is working for all. Ensuring that the national government represents the American people and works for them, not monied interests, will be the only way to ensure equitable future policies and safeguard the interests of all Americans. To accomplish this, I support…
1: A lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists.
Under the current system, former Senators and Congresspersons are prohibited from becoming lobbyists for only a short period of time after leaving office and can make multiple times their salary working as lobbyists. Stopping this revolving door will help ensure that elected officials will respect voters more than their accumulation of wealth.
2: Banning lobbyist bundling.
The practice, wherein “bundlers” collect large amounts of money from multiple donors to donate to a candidate or campaign. This allows campaign donation limits to be skirted by individuals, and funds collected this way do not need to be disclosed if the bundler is not a lobbyist. Such methods of circumventing Federal contribution laws should be addressed immediately and proactively.
3: Enhancing the capabilities of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The inability of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to form a quorum at the end of August 2019, in addition to the difficulties associated with penalizing campaign finance violations in a quick and meaningful manner, emphasizes the vulnerability of the FEC. As such, finding a bipartisan solution to enable the FEC to operate effectively and continuously is of paramount importance for ensuring that elections are financed fairly.
Strengthening Our Democracy
An engaged populace is vital for the health of any Democracy. Appropriate and accessible ways for them to exercise their right to cast their vote are equally important, ensuring that onerous barriers do not unfairly prevent large swaths of the American landscape from having their voices heard. To address these concerns and strengthen American democracy, I support…
1: Implementing a nationwide automated voter registration system.
Implementing such a system enables qualified citizens interacting with their local Department of Motor Vehicles to readily become registered to vote in their appropriate location if they wish. This is not an entirely hypothetical idea, and has shown promising results from limited implementation. Such a system would help ensure that more citizens would have their voices heard and safeguard against erroneous registration leading to improper voting.
2: Improving election security to ensure that election results cannot be tampered with.
Electronic systems for voting and registration have phenomenal potential, but they ultimately must be secured against outside influence to guarantee that the final results will reflect the will of voters. Funding allocation has been slow and fraught with issues such as a lack of transparency and concerns over the relationship between state governments and the Federal government, emphasizing the importance of working in good faith to find and establish a bipartisan solution to rectify an issue which may jeopardize the integrity of our democracy.
3: Ending gerrymandering by supporting the creation of transparent, independent commissions to promote voting equity.
Gerrymandering, the process of drawing district lines in a manner that supports certain candidates or political parties, is a pursuit utilized in past and present-day America to protect various political interests. Enshrining this practice as a means of maintaining political power is a grotesque violation of the democratic rights inherent to every American citizen. Curtailing this practice will be critical as a means for protecting voters from practicing democracy in an unequal landscape, ensuring that their votes are as meaningful as possible.
4: Highlighting the effectiveness of American bipartisanship by finding common ground and pursuing cooperative solutions.
The partisanship underpinning delays for votes of bipartisan bills that enter the Senate, such as the Enhanced Background Checks bill, is chilling and indicative of an unacceptable trend. Further emphasizing this is how positive bipartisan bills which have made it through have been: the Autism Cares Act of 2019 and its bipartisan success has been personally wonderful to see. Changing the actions of the Senate while in the House of Representatives is impossible, but I will act within my limitations as a Representative to promote bipartisanship and prevent such solutions from being passed in the hopes of achieving purely partisan objectives. Working to prove that cooperation and compromise are possible in the process of pursuing meaningful policies to solve social issues will accomplish two major goals. Firstly, it will help restore faith in our government as a bridge between different groups of our wonderfully diverse and unique country, instead of a barrier to solutions. Secondly, these solutions will do more to ensure that the values all Americans hold dear will be represented in enacted policies, rather than representing divisive perspectives which will further exacerbate tension and division. My ultimate desire is to enact more progressive policies, but I likewise wish to work with other representatives and politicians from all walks of life, as much as I can without compromising the values we hold dear.
The state of healthcare in the United States is a significantly divisive and worrying issue. There is little doubt that there is room for reform within our system: despite spending more on healthcare than any other country in the world, metrics such as life expectancy and coverage for citizens lag in comparison to other developed states. Addressing these concerns will be vital for ensuring that the American people have ready access to exceptional healthcare, instead of doing little more than paying into a bloated and inefficient system. To truly begin the task of addressing these concerns and reforming the American healthcare system, I support…
1: Disrupting lobbying efforts from the healthcare industry to artificially raise prices for products and services.
This expenditure represents a multi-billion dollar effort over the past few decades, and while addressing the overstated and undemocratic role that monied interests play in lobbying our government, it is particularly egregious when healthcare is taken into consideration. Healthcare industries spend the most on lobbying efforts, and at the very least, I will do everything I can to make their efforts and impacts as transparent and readily visible as possible.
2: Reviewing the role of the hospital chargemaster in determining how much a patient pays for care.
Hospital chargemaster prices are determined by individual hospitals, determine the rates that patients pay, and often obfuscate price comparisons from patients. The actual role they play in patient care is puzzling, with their prices either not reflecting the prices patients pay or acting as the bottom line, depending on who is asked. Considering the tremendous markup hospital chargemaster prices ask for services and their opaque role in determining hospital rates, it seems only pertinent to review their role and ensure that they are fairly charging patients for their care.
3: Addressing the growing opioid crisis and diminishing its tremendous impact on Americans.
I believe that the opioid crisis response bill of 2018 is a great first step for addressing the crisis, as is the website recently established by the Trump administration to ease the difficulty of finding addiction treatment. I want to continue this work and ensure that this incredibly damaging crisis is resolved as quickly and equitably as possible.
4: Increasing the degree to which we regulate the monopoly created by pharmaceutical companies.
This is an issue that has gotten far more contemporary attention and requires bipartisan attention and action to rectify. Rising costs associated with purchasing necessary drugs in the United States has continually risen and represents one of the most onerous costs in our system. Breaking this monopoly, such as by allowing the importation of drugs from Canada, represent potentially beneficial solutions that might at least ameliorate the situation in the short run. I believe that making the government step in and act to prevent consumer exploitation is necessary in this instance, and while other efforts may still be helpful, that such intervention will be the final necessary step to rectify this issue.
5: Pursuing the implementation of Medicare for All and the implementation of a single-payer healthcare system.
The above issues, as well as preserving the gains made by the Affordable Care Act, would be my greatest priorities. I have no desire to allow those gains to slip away due to actions from the Trump administration. However, I do wish to capitalize upon those benefits and implement Medicare for All to permanently rectify some of the largest remaining problems with American healthcare, such as its typical provision through employers and systemic failings of insurance coverage (best exemplified by surprise billing, wherein healthcare is unexpectedly provided by an out-of-network, uncovered entity). It's no wonder considering the plethora of issues with our healthcare system that millions of people have had to turn to crowdfunding in a desperate bid to cover their medical expenses. A number of different proposals exist which could potentially lead to Medicare for All's implementation, and determining their feasibility and working to support their passage would be a priority alongside preserving the gains we have already made as a country.
The Declaration of Independence advanced a very powerful and radical notion of the primary role of government, specifically, that it should exist to protect and enshrine the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was upon this notion that our government was originally envisioned, and ensuring that our government continues to act primarily to protect those rights is of paramount importance to me. Protecting the rights of Americans established within the constitution and the bill of rights is absolutely essential for ensuring our continued freedom, and infringing upon them in the pursuit of policy should never be taken lightly. To ensure all Americans are able to equally and equitably enjoy the prosperity of our great nation, I support…
1: Ensuring the protection of religious liberty by curtailing attempts to restrict or diminish its exercise.
The very first right enshrined by the First Amendment is that of every American to freely exercise their religion, without the government preventing or endorsing any specific religion. Contemporary actions, such as calls to ban Muslims from entering the United States and executive orders accomplishing similarly chilling effects, highlight the necessity of acting to continue ensuring this freedom.
2: Acting proactively to address hate speech and organizations founded upon advancing any form of supremacy.
Attacks on religious and ethnic minority populations have gone unanswered and without a proper and meaningful response from the federal government. This is an unacceptable state of affairs. Fear of political backlash should not prevent the federal government from taking every precaution with regards to hate groups and extremist organizations with designs to perpetrate attacks against any demographic population.
3: Actively working to ensure that partisanship will not be a factor in crafting policies respective to LGBTQIA+ individuals, religious minorities, and other groups.
A terrible and unacceptable facet of political discourse in contemporary America has centered around enshrining homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and other destructive practices which seek to other and damage members of minority populations by framing them as un-American or damaging to the fabric of our society. Attempts to legitimize such shameful practices should be called out and prevented, regardless of what political entity or party is advancing such ideas.
4: Releasing humanitarian aid for Puerto Rico and establishing a more equitable means of providing disaster relief to the neediest Americans.
A sad truth regarding American infrastructure and reconstruction in the wake of a disaster is that those least aided are those in the greatest need. FEMA aid, unfortunately, does not benefit all disaster victims to equivalent degrees, with disparities developing between minority and white victim compensation and richer and poorer victims. This serves to deepen divisions in communities and exacerbate living conditions for richer and poorer individuals affected by a disaster. In terms of scope and necessity, Puerto Rico stands out as a community in need of help which shamefully has not received much assistance from the Federal government. The release of humanitarian aid to Puerto Rico and its provision of critically important help for disaster victims will be the first, vitally important step to developing more effective aid provision to the neediest of disaster victims.
5: Raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $15 and pegging it to rates of inflation.
While the average productivity of American workers has continued to reliably increase, wage growth has stagnated in more recent history. This, and other issues related to wages, are not only economic issues. Often times, the most impacted groups are also the most vulnerable in society, leading to heightened stratification in the United States and deepening community divisions. Passing existing legislation to raise the federal minimum wage and finally win the fight for fifteen will be necessary, and pegging the minimum wage to inflation will ensure that it will not be a fight that must be continually and repeatedly fought.
6: Instituting an extreme wealth tax, ensuring that large corporations pay their fair share in taxes, and determining other effective means of reducing extreme wealth inequality in the United States.
There is a tremendous problem in the United States with regard to wealth and income inequality, and it has only gotten worst in contemporary history. Upper-class household wealth is growing at an increasing rate while the wealth of middle and lower-class America has diminished. When coupled with budget-balancing measures such as slashing security nets and social programs, it becomes sadly evident that the successes that the richest among us have enjoyed have come at the expense of those with little to give. Instituting an extreme wealth tax on the top 0.01% of Americans would go a long way toward reducing the extreme wealth inequalities in the United States, as well as providing a significant source of revenue to fund programs that would work for all Americans, instead of exacerbating inequality.
In addition to this, corporate tax cuts instituted by the Trump administration created conditions wherein several of the larger corporations in the United States effectively paid a negative income tax, ensuring that the American public would subsidize all of their costs of doing business while getting little in return. Unfortunately, new sources of corporate wealth typically do not trickle down and benefit the American public, but instead ends up going toward less publicly beneficial goals, such as being moved overseas or used on stock buybacks. While every business must have its own self-interest in mind, preserving that self-interest should not lead to the American public being harmed or unfairly taxed in the pursuit of enshrining success. I believe that the most equitable way to move forward will be to ensure that we all pay our fair share and contribute toward keeping the United States an economically healthy place to live and do business for all.
Family and Childcare
From the nuclear family model to single-parent households and other forms of familial organization, families and their compositions, heritage, traditions, and countless other facets of life both reflect and compose the wonderful makeup of our great nation. Protecting families, providing a welcoming and conducive environment to children (born and unborn) and ensuring that families receive the support and attention that they deserve is of critical importance to me. Failing them equates to failing our future, ensuring only the weakening of American society and diminishment of what it means to live in the United States. To support them, I will focus on...
1: Instituting paid family leave to ease the financial concerns associated with childbirth.
Numerous proposals have been advanced to institute a nationwide paid family leave policy within Congress, and with them, an advancement of the need to reduce the hardships alongside childbirth. Such concerns, especially when coupled with the average costs of having a baby ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, do little to ease the process. These hardships can easily contribute to economic uncertainty for families planning or expecting children, leading couples to delay or refuse to have children, or, in the most tragic cases, abort their children for fear of not being able to provide decent living standards. Reducing them with a paid family leave policy will increase familial cohesiveness and ease these potential burdens, improving the lives of families and potentially saving the lives of unborn children.
2: Restoring personal exemptions to help larger families with more dependents.
The elimination of personal exemptions alongside the other changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The act was helpful for smaller families with fewer dependents, expanding the standardized deduction by up to $11,000 for married couples and increasing the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000. These costs, however, were largely born by larger families with more dependents, who had more to gain from personal exemptions. These personal exemptions provided reductions worth $4,050 in taxable income for each dependent claimed by a tax-filing family. While set to be restored in 2025, this loss disproportionately affects larger families, increasing burdens upon families who are already providing for multiple children or other dependents. Restoring these personal exemptions in a shorter period of time will go a long way to helping larger families help those who need them most.
One of the greatest accomplishments of the United States is our development of historically prominent institutions of higher education. They continue to stand as popular destinations for students and academics around the world, and the research produced is second to none. That being said, these incomparable boons are not bestowed to all students equally. Numerous barriers keep students from pursuing their academic future or using it to its fullest extent and contributes to exacerbating divisions in the experiences of richer and poorer students. To help bridge this divide, I will focus my efforts on...
1: Canceling student loan debt in the United States.
Properly addressing soaring student loan debt has long been a significant political concern.The soaring costs of higher education have saddled students with thousands of dollars of debt, leaving them with an onerous long-term burden. Even Utah, with the lowest average student loan debt per person, nonetheless leaves the average student in tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt. This financial burden prevents pursuers of higher education from participating in and growing our economy, in favor of bloating a colossal bubble of debt, and should be done away with.
2: Making public universities and trade schools tuition-free.
Higher education costs quite a bit of money and poses a major barrier for American students looking to enter undergraduate or higher-level degree programs. This is an issue that hits fairly close to home for me, as it was the primary factor influencing my decision to earn my master's degree in Estonia instead of obtaining it domestically. Making public university and trade schools more affordable by subsidizing tuition would be a huge financial boon to other students in similar positions to mine, as well as easing the potentiality of somebody returning to university later in life, whether to broaden their horizons or to shift their career trajectory. This would work with canceling student loan debt, emphasizing the economic benefits from the former and ensuring that it never again ballooned to such staggering numbers.
Two issues alongside this must be addressed. The first is the need to control the rate at which a public university or trade school might raise its tuition prices. Allowing them free reign to alter their prices while keeping taxpayers on the hook for covering those wanton increases would be of little benefit to taxpayers and students alike. A solution to this might be pegging tuition increases to the consumer price index, which would provide an indicator for when tuition costs were exceeding average price increases due to inflation. The public institution increasing tuition beyond that could then have to cover the additional tuition costs itself, protecting students and taxpayers alike. The second is the role of private universities, which I believe should not be changed directly. Doing as such would be an overstretch of the government's role and would remove the potential for alternative opportunities to be offered in tandem with public education.
3: Ensuring that students in kindergarten through the twelfth grade have access to healthy meals.
Lunch debt is a growing concern in contemporary American society, with news stories about children being denied access to food highlighting the necessity of our children having access to food while undergoing compulsory public education. The Department of Agriculture is tasked with aiding the nutritional needs of children in the United States but has recently seemingly been unable to do so. Determining why and acting to ensure that they have the resources and capabilities to fulfill this task would be an excellent first step to fixing this frankly unacceptable problem.
Developing Policy Areas
I admittedly do not have concrete plans or ideas for every policy I want to pursue. This section is dedicated to issues I want to fix and learn more about effectively addressing in the near future, and includes...
1: Addressing housing prices in the United States and providing more widespread and affordable options. One of the major draws of living in a state like Utah as compared to states like New York and California is housing prices. I have had difficulties moving out myself, and I have been blessed enough to have a supportive family willing to help out. Not everybody is as fortunate as I am, and I would rather try to fix this problem on a national level than make such an issue more commonplace.
2: Finding ways to address homelessness that provide for those without shelter and will not revolve around hiding homeless persons from sight. One of the first things I worked with upon arriving in Utah was homeless youth, and at the very least, it made me much more sensitive to those without. Much like addressing housing prices, finding equitable solutions for homeless individuals which respect their right to have some form of shelter is something I would very much like to develop. In addition, I am particularly invested in helping homeless trans individuals, who often encounter additional barriers in their pursuit of support, as well as continuing to provide shelter and solutions for homeless veterans.
3: Legalizing and/or decriminalizing the possession of marijuana. I admittedly have never smoked marijuana before, nor have I ever had the inclination to do so, but the role of its criminalization in contributing to our bloated prison population is truly unfortunate. Finding a way to rectify this massive issue is another interest of mine.