Green Jobs for NEPA
Northeast Pennsylvania was once known as an industrial hub, with Scranton being known as “The Electric City”, but since the coal and locomotive industries have left, no other major industries have come to the area, resulting in an unemployment rate that lagged both the state and the nation in recovery from the 2008 recession. Our current leadership is not focused on a strategy that brings stable, long-term, union jobs to the area and as our competitors work to have an edge on the next generation of jobs. We need to focus on investing in the next wave of green energy jobs and work to bring them to Northeast Pennsylvania.
Medicare for All and Healthcare Reform
Most developed countries in the world have a universal healthcare system. As the United States has put so much money and energy into other parts of the Government, healthcare has suffered as the costs of life-saving prescription drugs and health insurance has skyrocketed. As a result, so many Americans suffer every year, and many lose their lives. The bottom line is that no American should go into debt or need to raise money on GoFundMe for medical expenses. Shifting to a universal healthcare system will ensure that all Americans have access to the quality care they need without taking on incredible amounts of debt.
If we want to compete with China, we need to invest heavily in the education of our next generation and the teachers charged with educating them. From the ground level, this means ensuring that teachers are paid a living, competitive wage and have the proper supplies to provide a superior learning experience. From a higher education level, we must work to bring the cost of college down to ensure that every American has an opportunity to attend a higher education institution and allow our people to be properly educated to compete globally. Education is our key to keeping our edge around the globe and we must work to ensure educators and students have what they need to excel, including forgiving an unstainable amount of student loan debt.
Government spending has ballooned over the last two decades and has grown in an unsustainable way. While spending is needed to ensure our country can grow and defend itself, we are not being intelligent or innovative with the way we are spending our money. In general, we constantly debate how to spend more money on the same things we have been doing for the past 30 years. As an example, when we ended the war in Afghanistan, Americans were sold on the prospect of saving lives and saving money. This should translate to billions of dollars coming home to be reinvested here but, our defense budget for the next year has gone up without the war. We need to re-evaluate our entire budget to cut out unnecessary spending and reallocate it in a way that promotes investment in Americans and prepares our country for the future.
The Environment and Climate Change
Climate change is a major threat across the country, but even so in our district, as it runs along the Susquehanna River. We need to transition to more sustainable energy sources and work to revitalize our environment. By doing this, hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs can be created in our country and our area; our air quality can be improved, and we can ensure that further environmental damage is prevented. As the world and investors are looking forward to green energy and the massive amount of wealth these opportunities can bring, America is still heavily subsidizing oil and natural gas. To prepare our country to take the lead in these emerging industries, we need to shift these subsidies to green energy and to technologies of the future.
Social Safety Programs and Social Security
While Social Security can continue to pay full benefits through 2033, we need to reevaluate the program now to prevent having any cuts in benefits over the next decade. We need to expand social security to ensure that it meets the needs of our seniors and ensure that payments are adjusted with the real cost of living. In addition, we need to expand our social safety programs to include a guaranteed family leave program, like that of all other developed nations to ensure families can properly take care of newborns and newly adopted children. Congress must also act on a Universal Pre-K program to ensure the youngest of Americans and their parents can properly prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.
Internet, Data, and Social Media Regulation
The internet has changed greatly over the last two decades and laws regulating social media companies and personal data collection have failed to address how technology has changed. Few laws govern how these organizations collect, use, and sell personal data, as shown by the massive amount of unethical data sharing between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 elections. To ensure all Americans’ personal information is protected, we must create a comprehensive regulation for these industries to follow and hold these companies responsible for any misuse of this data.
It is great to see that we are finally going to be spending money investing in America’s crippling infrastructure. While this is a great start, the bi-partisan infrastructure bill fails to promote change within our infrastructure, and we need to ensure that these investments are innovative and prepare the country for the next generation of jobs. In addition to this, we fail to invest in quality transportation options such as high-speed rail. Through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, billions are given to Amtrak to add additional stops, including here in Scranton and the Poconos, but these investments will fail to meet our needs if they are not high-speed.
Jobs and the Economy
The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, meaning that the bottom end of earners have ended up losing incredible amounts of money each year as inflation goes up and minimum wages stay stagnant. If we expect Americans to be able to compete on a global scale, we must ensure that all Americans make a livable wage. In addition to this, we need to shift our focus away from subsidizing massive companies like Amazon, Apple, or Google which are constantly breaking record profits, and shift to subsidizing Main Street small businesses. There is no reason these massive companies should be paying a lower tax rate than Main Street small businesses.
Criminal Justice Reform
We need comprehensive reform to the prison system in the United States as incarcerations are incredibly high, especially compared to other developed nations. As a first step, we need to end the war on drugs and work to promote rehabilitation as opposed to jail sentences that do not provide any impact on the issue. In addition to this, we need to work to end for-profit prisons in this country that constantly work to keep people behind bars. We must also work to decriminalize marijuana and expunge the records of those convicted in minor marijuana convictions. The legalization of marijuana can provide even more jobs to our area that are now being done under the table illegally.
We continually increase our defense budget every year and defense contractors are making more money than they ever have. While we continually are paying more for our defense, we have failed to pivot to investing in cyberspace and the infrastructure that supports it. While we need to reevaluate our entire budget, we need to shift focus to fighting in cyberspace and ensuring that our infrastructure is ready for the change of warfare to a virtual space.