Medicare for All
& Addressing Medical Debt
The current healthcare system in the United States does not work. How is it possible that in a country as wealthy and developed as the United States, people lack access to necessary medical care? How is it that this is still a discussion that we’re having, especially after the devastating circumstances created by the pandemic? Despite the efforts and progress that have been made thanks to the Affordable Care Act, there are still too many people who are not getting the care they need and deserve. For this reason, I’m in favor of a Medicare for All plan that provides coverage for all Americans’ medical, vision, dental, mental health, and long-term care needs. Once such a program is in place, there is no doubt we’ll see a benefit to the overall health of communities everywhere in Southern Arizona and across the country, because we will have gained access to preventative care, which helps address issues before they arise. Additionally, by cutting out the middleman that is the insurance company and creating a national program with an interest in the public, we will be able to reinvest funds that go toward obscene salaries for health insurance and pharmaceutical executives, and instead reduce wasteful spending, eliminate abuse of the system, and put a stop to the fraud that occurs when prices grow exponentially for vital medications like insulin, EpiPens, and HIV antivirals. Nearly a quarter of Americans cannot afford their prescriptions, and about three in ten have reported not following the prescribed regimen as a result of the costs. We need to do more to change that.
Green New Deal & Decarbonization
Climate change is already having devastating effects on the state of Arizona. Rising temperatures and lower snowfalls in the Rocky Mountains have created a water crisis. And with six other states also fighting over rights to the watershed (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming in the north, and Nevada, California, and Arizona in the south), the crisis is set to worsen. If we do not address the underlying factors of climate change, parts of Arizona itself will be uninhabitable within many of our lifetimes, both because of the water crisis, and because the temperatures will become unbearable. For this reason, we need to transition to renewable energies in order to stall and reverse the impacts we've already brought on. And in a state that receives as much sunshine as Arizona, there's no reason we can't capitalize on solar energy, thereby improving the quality of the air we breathe and reducing water usage from other energy resources. It should also be a top priority that we heed the recommendations of the Tribal Nations and promote sustainability of the Colorado River by ensuring equitable allocation of water usage, collaboration among all communities with a vested interest, and funding research that enhances our understanding of this precious resource.
Abolish ICE & Immigration Detention
We saw unbelievable cruelty to immigrants and asylum seekers under the Trump administration, no doubt, but his administration was by no means the only to mistreat new arrivals to the US. Since its inception, ICE has inflicted violence on communities of color and immigrant communities. In my work as an asylum paralegal, I have seen on a daily basis the cruelty with which asylum seekers are treated. It's time we change this system. I'm in favor of abolishing ICE and the inhumanity with which they treat people. In addition, we need not hold asylum seekers and certainly not in detention centers notorious for human rights abuses. Asylum seekers are given court dates, and despite the previous administration's posturing, over 85% of families appear for their initial court hearings, and that number jumps to 99.9% when they have legal representation., There simply is no need to boost the for-profit prison system.
Real Public Safety & the Reallocation & Reprioritization of Government Funds
George Floyd’s murder in 2020 was an event that for the most unfortunate of reasons brought into focus on a national scale the devastation we impose on our communities of color, but especially on our Black communities. But his is not the only one. This is a national problem that our leaders have ignored for far too long, and though police departments operate independently and report to local political leaders, it is my position that the federal government can step in to provide guidance on how we create real public safety and reallocate government funds to actually support our marginalized communities. We need to demilitarize police, and begin a reexamination of those funds so that they could instead be used for community-building efforts like education, youth programming, housing, health care, drug treatment, and other social services. Further, we need to create systems of accountability by ending qualified immunity and establishing a public national database that tracks misconduct.
Cancelling Student Loan Debt, Tuition Free Public College, & Universal School Meals
Our economy is devastated at the moment. Our future generations are burdened with never-before-seen levels of debt, and the disparity in wealth is rapidly accelerating. Making education universally accessible to our communities will go a long way toward evolving our economy. Tuition for my first year at the University of Arizona in 2007–2008 was $4,824 per year, or just under $20,000 if I were to have graduated in four years. Instead, as the effects of the Great Recession began to result in more and more cuts to education statewide, the price of tuition increased every year. The $20,000 became $30,000, which became $40,000. The result was that by the 2014–2015 academic school year, the year in which I graduated, the total cost of tuition had increased to $10,957 for in-state students to offset the cuts. That’s an increase of 227 percent over a period of eight academic years. Currently, tuition at the university is $12,716 per year, and even with the fairly new rule that locks that price in, an in-state student is looking at more than $50,000 even if they graduate in four years for tuition alone! One then has to account for the cost of books, transportation, housing, food, and additional fees, and pretty quickly you see that the average family in Tucson (let alone Douglas, Wilcox, or Bisbee), where the median household income in 2019 was $43,425, is priced out of our own public university. For this reason, I’m in favor of plans to eliminate all student debt and make all of our public colleges and universities tuition free. Previous generations didn’t have this burden, and dispelling the economic baggage would be incredibly beneficial for the economy. It should also be the case that if anyone wants to pursue higher education, a benefit to our community overall, they shouldn't be burdened with an inordinate amount of debt to do so. Finally, when it comes to K-12 education, because it is compulsory and because of the economic disparities that exist in our communities, we should absolutely have Universal School Meals available for all of our students. The benefits greatly outweigh the costs, as we know that students are better able to focus and learn when they are not preoccupied by hunger.