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Policies

Healthcare 

  • I believe that it is every American’s right to healthcare and I will fight for universal coverage for all.

  • I am also a strong advocate for lowering the cost of prescription drugs. In the era of Covid-19 especially, we must do everything we can to ensure low drug prices. Three pieces of critical legislation I support on this issue are as follows: 

  • 1. Lowering the price of prescription drugs in America to the median price in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK as proposed by the Prescription Drug Price Relief Act.

  • 2. Supporting the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act which would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of brand-name drugs under Medicare Part D. 

  • 3. Allow for the importation of affordable medicine from Canada under the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act.

  • America spends more on healthcare today than any other country in the world. Still, we see around 30 million Americans without health insurance and millions who are underinsured, which leads to tens of thousands of Americans dying each year because they lack decent healthcare.

  • In addition, last year during the pandemic roughly 29% of Americans lost their coverage. This is the sad state of American healthcare. This should not be happening, especially in the richest country in the world.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted our need to ensure that every American has health coverage. Americans’ lives are not commodities! I also understand much of the debate around Medicare For All or the public option can miss the point. Our goal should be affordable healthcare for all Americans, especially at such a crucial time. The starting point is irrelevant if the end goal is to ensure every American is covered. However, I also believe since Medicare will be cheaper than for-profit insurance and that Americans not on Medicare over time will want to transition, Medicare For All is the best way to achieve this.


 

Education

I believe in:

  • Tackling the student debt crisis

  • Tuition-free public college for all

  • Increasing funding to our state and local governments in times where it is desperately needed (school funding, pandemic relief)

  • Universal preschool

  • Funding generated by wealth tax

 

In a post-Covid economy, I understand we are going to need an even more educated workforce. Covid saw budget cuts to state and local governments. I will push back against budget cuts in education at all costs and fight for our public school system.

Student debt is out of control. Right now, student debt is over $1 trillion. This reality points to a broad overarching problem which is the private debt crisis facing households across the country. Part of this crisis is student debt driven. I support measures to cancel all student debt. The corporations who provide loans to students charge ridiculously high interest rates, which should be stopped. 

I also believe that it is every American’s right to tuition-free college and that an educated workforce is necessary. In the era of Covid, where many good paying jobs were lost, it's essential for us to not only invest in education, but to provide it for all. Therefore, I support and will fight for H.R. 3472, the College for All Act. 



 

Economy

Federal Jobs Guarantee: 

  • Near full employment should be a definite progressive policy goal. With many Americans put out of work from the pandemic, I believe a more aggressive jobs agenda is needed. This can be achieved through a Federal Jobs Guarantee. I believe in the right to a job. With millions of Americans willing to work and crumbling infrastructure, a jobs program has the potential to lift millions out of poverty and help tackle some of the most important crises facing our nation. 

  • Many proposals have been made for a federal jobs guarantee with the most known being from the Green New Deal. I believe we need to be pragmatic and embrace all possible approaches. The Center for American Progress has released their own version. In addition, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has released a proposal for a jobs guarantee through a national infrastructure bank. I believe all these proposals have merit and should be considered. 

  • We must also understand another important feature of the Federal jobs programs is their ability to help marginalized and often stigmatized workers facing possible structural barriers in private sector employment. 

 

A stable financial system:

 

I believe a stable banking and financial system is key to a healthy economy. However, we must understand it needs dire reform. 

 

I will fight to

  • Reinstate the incredibly important, yet underrated and under known, Glass-Steagall Act

  • Stronger regulation and oversight of financial derivatives  


 

Poverty: The Fight for a Fair National Minimum Wage 

I will be taking a pledge to accept half of the Congressional salary until we bring wage increases to the American people. 

Over the last few decades, wages in real terms have remained relatively stagnant. 

In addition, union membership has continued to decline, meaning workers lose collective bargaining power. 

I am aware the American worker is long overdue for a wage increase and I support the fight for $15 an hour.

I also believe a $15 minimum wage will benefit the worker and our economy as a whole and can even help create new jobs and lower unemployment.

Over the last 40 years the real wage (wage after considering inflation) for most workers has not budged. The average real wage has about the same purchasing power it did over 40 years ago. Worker’s productivity has increased as well as profits, all while the top gains have been going to the highest income earners. There is no reason we cannot institute a national $15 minimum wage. Everything has become more expensive, and wages have not been adjusted to account for this. 

I support the Raise Wage Act of 2021 which will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. Such a measure, I believe, is crucial for a thriving post-Covid economy. The current Federal wage of $7.25 in the time we live in this is simply untenable. The reality is that 1 in 9 workers when working full time will still be in poverty under the current wage. This is unacceptable while the US has some of lowest federal wages among all major industrialized countries. A $15 an hour wage would put the US in the top position globally. This shouldn’t be much to ask from the richest and most powerful country in the world. 

Recently, some have doubted the viability of a $15 wage. I believe this needs to be met with some skepticism. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a study noting the pros and cons, citing that over 27 million Americans would see a pay increase, lifting 900,000 Americans out of poverty. The CBO also claims that it will lead to an increase in our deficits due to job loss. However, I believe that a boost in demand for goods and services from higher wages will create new jobs, so that any possible job loss will be met by new job creation from spending by workers. The CBO provides a crucial function, but a living wage is a necessity. I believe we can and must do better. 

I also understand the concern with how this might affect small businesses, which is a legitimate concern, and we need to make sure they are not harmed in the transition to $15 an hour. Big corporations get their subsidies, their tax cuts— some don't pay taxes at all! These benefits to the big corporations which have been making record profits can be diverted to propping up the small businesses with subsidies to aid with the transition to $15 an hour minimum wage. It is time we put the American workers first, and to prove my commitment to this issue, I will reiterate that I will not accept a full Congressional salary until we raise the wages of every American. Congressional salaries are $174,000 a year plus taxpayer funded healthcare; infinite travel expenses and incumbency advantages, such as limitless mailers so that once they are in office, they can stay. I will take a pledge to accept half of the Congressional salary and will push a bill to cut the salaries of all politicians until we get the wages of the American people raised. Representatives should not be living so comfortably off of taxpayer-funded salaries while they neglect to act in the best interests of the American people. If Congress doesn't want to act, we have to make them act.




 

Infrastructure

As a believer in modernization, I am deeply upset with the current state of our crumbling infrastructure. We have fallen far behind other industrialized countries. 

I support:

  • Investing in high speed rail

  • Rebuilding our structurally-deficient bridges 

American Infrastructure has been lacking behind those of many of the other major industrialized countries. During the Trump administration, no major spending package was able to be passed. It has been only recently that President Biden has taken the bold stance to introduce a $2 trillion infrastructure program. While this is a step in the right direction, we must understand it's only beginning to tackle our problems. 

In previous years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) had given America an infrastructure score of D-. It is only recently that this score has improved to a C-, but I believe we can do better. The ASCE has already estimated that a $4.5 trillion investment by 2025 is needed to fix our roads, water systems, bridges, and other structures. This makes our current proposal in Washington only scratching the surface. The reality is, in 2020, America had over 45,000 structurally deficient bridges and over 220,000 in need of repair. But this new infrastructure plan is only rebuilding 10,000. The raise in the corporate tax rate to fund it isn’t much of a hike. During the Obama era, it was 35%, Trump lowered it to 21%, and President Biden is proposing 28%. I believe since the current state of American infrastructure is in such poor condition, Congress needs to push for a more aggressive spending package to meet the needs our civil engineers are desperately asking us for.

An example of the desperate state we are in with infrastructure would be Flint, Michigan's water crisis and the fact that the issue is still not fully resolved—several years later. The residents of this city were provided poisonous water for years, and there are cities all over the country where this same exact issue can and likely will happen if we don't take immediate action on infrastructure. How long before this becomes a major issue for Long Island? We need to act now rather than wish we did sooner.



 

Taxes

  • Wealth Tax. 

  • Raising the corporate tax rate

  • Wall Street Sales Tax

  • A Progressive estate tax structure

In an era of extreme wealth and income inequality, we need serious tax reform. During the Covid pandemic, we saw a drastic increase in such inequality. This has had an effect on low-wage earners the most. Therefore, I support efforts to institute a wealth tax on top earners. Recently the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act has proposed a tax on a person’s net worth at 2% if they make between $50 Million and $1 billion annually and 3% annually for anyone over $1 billion. The problem is not just income inequality, but wealth inequality, and this tax addresses the issue head-on. The reality is that one family of six people, the Waltons, controls more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans. The top 1% of earners control about 15 times the wealth of over 50% of America, and the 0.1% own the same amount of wealth as about 90% of the nation. During this pandemic, the billionaire class has added $1.3 trillion to its collective net worth since last March. There is no better time for such a tax. This will help shrink the ever-so-widening gap between rich and poor, and bring in roughly $3 trillion in expected revenues over the next 10 years, which can be put toward our schools, infrastructure and the rebuilding our communities. We must be clear here: this is a tax on the super wealthy. This tax will have no effect on the 99% of American households that have net worths below $50 million. 

President Trump's famous tax cuts did not deliver the economy he promised. Roughly 80% of all tax savings under Trump went to the top earners, while 20% of cuts went to working-class earners, leaving the vast majority of tax cuts for the rich. Many people state that the tax cuts and Jobs Act boosted business investment. A key feature to their argument is that Trump's tax cuts lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. This was said to lower capital costs and thus give a spur to business investment. However, with the rise of market power, it is not likely the tax cuts had any effect on business investment decisions. Business investment decisions are usually based around expectations surrounding future demand. The increased investment could rather be attributed to an increase in demand. The increased demand under Trump was mainly due to higher government spending, as well as cuts to personal income taxes, but not cuts to corporate taxes. Such an analysis was supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since it is known that corporate tax cuts don’t do much to boost investment, I believe we must ask our corporations to pay their fair share. 

 

Another key important element of a progressive based tax policy that I support is the For The 99.5% Act. This would institute a progressive estate tax which (as hinted in its title) would have no effect on 99.5% of Americans, but rather only the very rich. The act increases taxes on the value of one’s estate as it increases. The act would a new progressive tax structure as follows: 

  • 45% on estates valued between $3.5 and $10 million.

  • 50% on estates valued between $10 million and $50 million.

  • 55% on estates valued over $50 million.

  • 65% on estates valued over $1 billion.

 

 

Finally, I am proposing a Wall Street sales tax, also known as the “Robin Hood” tax. In short, this tax is on the trading activities of financial services firms which include investment banks and hedge funds. The tax will apply to transfers of stocks, bonds, and derivatives. For quite some time, this tax was on the books in the state of New York, but loopholes have made the law virtually pointless. Recent attempts in the NY Assembly have sought to reinstate this tax. While I support this effort, I believe this tax should be federal to help fund crucial infrastructure projects and to invest in our future.  

 

 

Gun Control

  • Universal background checks

  • Tackling the real causes of gun violence.

I believe in the second amendment and the right to own firearms, but I also know this comes with a social responsibility. 

I am deeply upset by the country's recent wave of gun violence and believe something must be done. I believe Congress needs to act by enacting universal background checks. I also believe in taking a new, fresh, and nuanced perspective on this issue of gun violence which most Democrats are not able to do.  

We must also understand that America has deeper problems beyond the appearance of guns that are usually responsible for gun violence and mass shootings. We have racism, mental health and poverty problems. These are the true causes of gun crime in America. I believe in working to fix the true underlying issues facing this country. 

Anti-Corruption

  • End Citizens United: monumental SCOTUS case passed to get big money out of politics. All we have done is legalized bribery. We can no longer have the richest people in the country buy an entire political campaign to vote in their favor. 

  • Divesting: All politicians, federal and state must divest from stocks when elected. You are serving your country when you are in office and you are not there to represent yourself. Being a politician offers a unique situation for you to be able to vote in a direction that could positively affect your stock portfolio which is a huge conflict of interest and borders on insider trading. Politicians that are able to use their power to affect their business must also divest from their businesses. We cannot have politicians making decisions that can positively affect the profit margins of their company. That is a huge conflict of interest.

  • Term Limits. Can only be in the House of Representatives for 12 consecutive years (6 terms) before you must take a break, run for a different office or leave. We need to keep the flow of fresh ideas and working-class Americans into politics to minimize the chance of corruption, but also to keep America evolving into its best self. After you break, you can run for your Congressional seat again. As for Senators, you may be in office for a max of 18 consecutive years (3 terms) before you must step down or take a break. Congress is retained at a rate of 90%, which gives little chance for there to be any real progress in this country. We need progress for our healthcare system, for our wages, for our voting rights laws, for our environment, for our infrastructure and so on. Without progress, our country will crumble.

  • I do not, and will never take any money from dark money donors, such as the PBA, Corporate PACs, and other lobbyists who will try and get in my way of delivering real results that would help the people of my district. I will not answer to CEOs on Wall Street. I am running for office to return power to the American people; I am not running for office to serve the interests of the richest in the country. We need to uplift those who are down so we don't have so many Americans struggling.

  • Will not accept the taxpayer-funded healthcare that comes with Congressional office until we have universal healthcare to cover all Americans

  • Will only accept half my Congressional salary until I get wages raised nationally.



 

Criminal Justice Reform

  • People’s Plan (tackling over-militarization in policing tactics, more comprehensive police training, higher educational standards for those who apply to become Police Officers)

  • Ending the Prison-Industrial Complex that incentivizes private companies to create prisons and occupy cells with incarcerated individuals for profit, which consequently causes higher incarceration rates in the nation with the highest incarcerated population per capita amongst developed/comparable nations 

  • Incarceration rates are disparate for non-violent crimes such as marijuana possession, now legal in NYS, between white Americans and BIPOC Americans—I want to end this disparity 

  • We must end qualified immunity for law enforcement and make police records visible to the public. Transparency in Law Enforcement is long overdue.

Supporting H.Res. 702, The People’s Justice Guarantee, introduced by Representative Pressley, which would “recognize that the United States has a moral obligation to meet its foundational promise of guaranteed justice for all.”

Copyright ©2023 by John Atkinson for Congress 2022, NY-01, all rights reserved.

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