On unemployment benefits
Not only will long-term unemployed people suffer if we lose emergency unemployment benefits, but the Economic Policy Institute calculates that many jobs will be lost as a result of the failure of that money to circulate through the economy. We need to prevent the loss of those jobs. We should not be letting these people suffer because the economy has left them behind.
Privatization is often used to siphon wealth away from the people. A report by the group "In The Public Interest" shows that privatization of many of our government's functions is failing on many levels. When somebody is entrusted to carry out a function that is for the public interest, they should be accountable to the public.
On corporate welfare
It is irresponsible for our country to be providing welfare to big corporate interests at a time when our economic activity is skewed against the poor and the middle class. CEOs often argue that there is a problem in that we are failing to reduce the deficit. But these same big corporations are wrecking the economy by taking corporate welfare, outsourcing jobs and avoiding taxes.
On health care
We absolutely need universal health care. Once we get that, we can create clear paths for routine visits, acute care, chronic disease management, end-of-life care, and emergencies. And it is vital that we get costs reduced...looking at what every other country on Earth charges for health care makes it obvious that in the worst case, we are getting fleeced, and in the best case, we are not getting the best value for our health care dollars.
We need to set up a system where someone who needs health care can log on to their computer or make a phone call and get care ASAP. There is no reason, in this era of technology, why this can't happen. We need more physician's assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses to meet the critical demands in the coming years, and we need educational policies to make that happen.
On income disparity
It is good news that our economy is improving, but we need to all work together to create policies that extend those gains to hard-working poor and middle-class across the country. We all look around us and see a distribution of wealth that looks like what it was in the years approaching the Great Depression. We have to find a way to create a system that promotes a level playing field for everybody and not just a playground for those who already have built-in advantages. We have simply got to take action on behalf of our disappearing middle class, and help give a hand to lift those who are spiraling down into poverty back up. This situation is unacceptable in a country that is swimming in so much wealth.
On poverty and homelessness
We don't need to break the bank to help the poor and homeless. A leg up on the front end prevents a lot of social costs on the back end. Many of us remember a country in which populated intersections were not occupied by desperate individuals with signs looking for any assistance they can get. One example of a program that has worked is Utah's "Housing First" program, which has been busy putting homeless people in apartments on the premise that it will save money in social services down the line. In that regard, it appears to be working, and has cut homelessness in Utah by a significant amount. Helping people in trouble does not have to strain government resources...in many cases it can save money that would be expended down the line.
We are seeing an public educational system that is falling into disrepair as politicians ignore the opportunities to build first-class systems for public education. Our schools are falling behind those in other countries at a rapid rate and we are losing our competitive advantages. We are seeing a higher educational system that is burdening college students with financial hardships that threaten to cripple their opportunities to pursue a career once they get out of college. We need to pursue opportunities to offer college students the chance to serve underserved communities and have their educational debts reduced or even eliminated. We have needs throughout society for doctors, teachers, people to repair and maintain the infrastructure, and many others who can create value for us, and we need to deploy these people in a way that strengthens our communities.
On environmental issues
Texas is a place of great natural beauty. It's a place of spectacular diversity, and we have to make sure that we preserve our environmental quality so that we have something special to pass on to our descendants. We have to keep our air and water clean, because we value and need those resources to thrive. We can create jobs that are environmentally sound.
We need to work to create sensible immigration policies that acknowledge the work and studies performed by productive members of our community. We need to work to get a bipartisan effort to pass the DREAM Act, because that is a solution that is within our reach.
On personal privacy
We all need to make sure that our leaders pass laws that don't interfere with your personal liberty and security. There should be no surveillance of ordinary citizens beyond what is absolutely necessary for our national security. The government should not be interfering with personal choices regarding medical and reproductive issues, and who a person chooses as a life partner.