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On The Issues

A STRATEGY FOR CHANGE 

The political systems of our country are broken and it’s time to elect Tom Wells to Congress to get to work to fight against corruption, lobbyists and any entity not looking out for the interests of Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. 

PUBLIC FUNDING OF ELECTIONS

I am advocating for progressive election reform. In this day and age, America’s system of public elections has created a core campaign focus on fundraising as cash from corporations and interest groups have flooded America’s political system. This has diverged our democracy into a competition between the haves and have-nots. Supporting publicly funded elections has become paramount now more than ever. Giving every American $200 in vouchers to donate to their preferred candidates will mobilize the voting base and engage people in the political process like never before. Receiving excessive money from big donors has caused too many of our elected officials to pivot away from the needs of working people. Publicly funded elections will send a message to the political establishment that politics is not a pay-to-play game for the highest bidder. Together, Americans can give momentum to candidates with ideas to fix America’s structural problems and with pure desires to be public servants.

Since Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, we have seen a detrimental influx of intense policy demanders, primarily the newly legalized Super Political Action Committees, influencing our elections beyond fair means. PACs and Super PACs can pour an unlimited amount of money into politics under almost complete anonymity. Large donors demand the passing (or blocking) of specific policies to benefit them, ultimately disconnecting politicians from those who they are supposed to represent. I want to overturn the damaging Citizens United case which would be an enormous step in the direction of fairer and more transparent elections. Lobbyists are also policy demanders that force our representatives to be biased. Lobbyists have similar effects as PACs, making huge political contributions to achieve a desired effect. Which is why I want to end this legalized bribery to help return the power to the people.

I support open primaries, a system in which citizens of any political party may vote in a primary under a preferred party ballot. This would increase voter turnout and engagement, a goal of the campaign overall. Ranked choice voting would allow voters to rank the candidates. Under this system, if a voter’s first choice candidate isn’t successful, their second choice candidate would receive their vote. This would eliminate wasted votes and strategic voting. To keep our elections honest, I also support the creation of an Election Fraud Council and open source technology for voting machines, ensuring that every vote is counted as it was casted uninterrupted by any fraudulent entities.

HEALTH CARE AS A HUMAN RIGHT

 We need to completely restructure our broken healthcare system into a single payer Medicare for All plan. Under the current system 27 million Americans do not have insurance and 137 million Americans have medical debt. Medicare for All would encompass comprehensive birth to death medical coverage for all citizens and lawful permanent residents. This includes all aspects of medical care such as Hearing, Vision, Dental, Mental health and significantly lowering the cost of Prescription drugs, without deductibles premiums or copays. This would all be paid for with a progressive tax bracket. And a wealth tax which is a tax on networth rather than income, this tax would be imposed on multi-millionaires. Along with social cost taxes on alcohol, tobacco and legal marijuana, and would actually bring down the nation’s health care expenditure by 13%. This system of healthcare has been proven to work, as countries like Australia and UK rank higher than the U.S on almost every aspect of care and they have a single payer system. Medicare for all would also prevent the 45,000 yearly deaths linked to lack of health coverage. Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege and this right can be assured with a Medicare for All system. 

PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

 Climate Change is a pressing issue that we must implement drastic changes as soon as possible in order to leave the best planet for future generations. One of the biggest steps towards a sustainable future is the Green New Deal which is a bill that lays a framework for this. It includes investing in green businesses in order to encourage them, moving to 100% green energy by 2030, and overhauling the public transportation system to eliminate greenhouse gases. Also implementing a carbon tax which would discourage companies from using fossil fuels which are one of the biggest factors contributing to climate change. Along with imposing strong Environmental Protection Agency regulations, particularly on hazardous waste and regulation dangerous GMOs. Without this immediate action the effects of climate change over the next decade will continue to increase exponentially. 

CRIMINAL & JUDICIAL REFORM

Demilitarize the police force

 The freedoms that the police have sworn to protect are threatened when federal programs provide them with weapons designed to protect our nation from foreign enemies. Militarizing the police force has led to aggressive enforcement of the law in communities with low-income and people of color. Demilitarizing the police force will allow for trust and legitimacy surrounding the police force to be established once again.


End for-profit prison system

 Private prisons provide fewer correctional services along with an increased risk for inmates and staff all while failing to deliver on their original purpose: substantial savings. A system of justice is not one where anyone should be able to profit millions off the suffering of incarcerated individuals and their families.


Victimless crime = civil infraction

 Crimes committed that cause no harm, injury, or violation to anyone outside of those performing the action must not be treated as criminal offenses. A real crime must have an identifiable victim. We must identify actions such as speeding for exactly what they are: civil infractions.


The broken criminal justice system

 The death of George Floyd was merely a symptom of much larger problems plaguing our nation. Our criminal justice system is broken. Order will never be achieved by disproportionately enforcing the law. Black and brown people are targetted, charged, and convicted, at incredibly disproportionate rates when compared to white people. The war on drugs must be stopped, marijuana must be legalized federally, cash bail must be abolished, and our police force must be put in check.


End Capital punishment

 Capital Punishment never will be the deterrent it was intended to be in the criminal justice system. It is a system that has cost our country millions, ended the lives of innocent individuals, and disproportionately affected disadvantaged communities. Having life without parole as the ultimate form of punishment is equally effective and is far more humane.


End cash bail system

 Cash bail systems give courts the authority to determine a dollar amount a person must pay to secure their release. This is a system that has criminalized poverty, forcing those who cannot afford bail to spend weeks or months in jail awaiting trial. A presumption of release system must be enacted on a federal level which would place the burden of proving a need for detention on prosecutors, limiting jail spaces for only the most serious offenders.


Convert the prison system from punishment to rehabilitation

 It is unacceptable to have a system that removes the incarcerated from society with no reasonable pipeline for re-entry. The prison system must emphasize reforming the incarcerated, offering education and training to those who seek to turn a new leaf when being released.


End war on drugs - treat as mental health

 The federal government has spent over 1 trillion dollars on the war on drugs, over-policed the use of drugs, and targeted low-income communities with people of color. We must stop treating substance abuse as a crime and begin looking at it as an addiction requiring a focus on mental health and rehabilitation with a community-based approach.


Fully legalize marijuana for recreational use

 A lack of federal policy has led to individual states leading the efforts in decriminalizing the drug that has been proven to show clear health benefits while remaining less harmful than alcohol. Marijuana-related convictions must be expunged, and the tax revenue generated from the legalization of marijuana must be used to fund federal programs and rebuild the communities that have been hurt the most.


Abolish “Stand your Ground” laws

 Stand your Ground laws lead to the impulsive and unnecessary use of lethal force, going far beyond the principles of self-defense. Federal laws must center around the de-escalation of senseless violence and the encouragement of retreating from dangerous situations when possible - the use of a firearm should never be a default option. Life itself is devalued when avoidable murder is labeled as self-defense. Self-defense in the context of these laws is murder and murder must be viewed by the legal system for exactly what it is - murder.


Federal investigations of police/ hold them accountable

 The powerful legal side of the police force has allowed for abuses of power against communities of color and low-income. When a system designed to protect law and order enforces the law disproportionately, you lose order. Florida is one of 18 states with a Police Bill of Rights (PBoR). These are laws that nullify evidence and allow for investigations into police matters to be conducted internally, effectively giving police officers the license to kill with little worry about being charged and convicted. Establishing federal and community-based systems of accountability is necessary to ensure police forces remain transparent and fair.


Judicial term limits - no lifetime appointments

 Supreme Court Justices make decisions that affect the everyday lives of millions of Americans. With lifetime appointments, Justices have not been able to stay independent of political pressures while fighting for the will of the people. Limiting terms will allow for a diversity of qualified applicants to make decisions without outside pressures while removing the political spectacle that has become Supreme Court Nominations.

EDUCATION REFORM

 Education Reform is something that this country needs. Education is costly, and everybody has the right to affordable education. My goals for education reform; Are Federal funding for Pre-K to 12, no Disadvantaged School Districts, no funding for-profit grade schools, free tuition for all public universities and trade schools, canceling student debt, and restructuring new student loans. People should be able to have access to resources, and it's the government that needs to help fund all Pre-K through 12th grade regardless of whether the district is wealthy or low-income. Restructuring schools that are in low-income areas can significantly impact the communities. Nobody should have to fear college due to the expensive costs. Providing free tuition for students attending public universities and trade schools can alleviate the fees for both students and parents. Free tuition can increase the chances of students in gaining a higher level of education. Students denied an education due to their parents' income is unfair and unnecessary. They have denied students an education due to the fact their parents made too much money. I support Free Tuition for all public universities and trade schools but also to cancel student debt. Because college is so expensive many people face the burden of taking out loans to pay for it. The government should not be allowed to profit off of loans. Canceling student debt will alleviate the financial burden that many people face and enable more people that want an education to get one without stressing or worrying about paying any of it back. With a growing number of job opportunities, our nation needs to have an educated populace.

 People who get 4-year degrees have access to higher-paying jobs compared to people with just a high school diploma. The more people with access to affordable education, the more roles we can help fill to improve the economy. Teachers should be getting paid way more instead of less. Providing vouchers to children to go to private and religious schools takes away money that could be going to help fund teacher's salaries. Private schools held to the same accountability and standards as Public schools will make it fair for everyone. States should also be creating their accountability systems for student's performance rates to strengthen low performing schools. If we can free student loans, restructure schools in low-income areas, and provide free education to all. These will help give people with more resources and opportunities they never knew they had. People will be able to get better-paying jobs, be prepared to support their families financially, and live happier lives.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Ending endless war

 Thousands of lives have been lost and upwards of a trillion dollars have been spent on the longest war in American history. For 18 years troops have been deployed in Afghanistan and for 18 years, the American people have asked to bring our troops home. The brave people of this country have been active in Iraq since 2003 and Syria since 2015 - we need to end these seemingly endless wars. Furthermore, Congress must establish its role in overseeing wars. No President should people able to start overseas conflicts that are both unconstitutional and immoral. We must not let the numb use of lethal force stand as our nation’s first response to international transgressions.


Banning military contractors in war zones

 Military contractors have become significant players in conflicts throughout the world, offering private armed combat services with no oversight or transparency. We can no longer stand for war zones being just another sector for profiting millions off the suffering of others. These entities are often unethical due to their financial motivations and our government does not control for the quality of the personnel. We must ban military contractors and insource our military operations.


Applying savings to salaries of enlistees- our soldiers are professionals

 The thousands of enlistees who have given their heart and soul to protecting our nation must be viewed as professionals. Like our healthcare workers and teachers, soldiers are professionals and we must apply savings to their salaries.


Abolish ICE

 The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been a source of terror for communities throughout the United States. This secretive police force has violated human rights, separated families, and ruined the lives of thousands of people who have sought asylum or immigrated in hopes of finding the opportunities our nation can offer. ICE has fortified the for-profit prison industry while placing people in detention centers with poor living conditions. No Government entity should infringe upon the pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


Abolish immigrant concentration camps

 Thousands of migrants and asylum seekers have been locked away yearly in immigration prisons with abhorrent conditions. Long time legal residents have even had themselves confined in these inhumane facilities, surrounded by children and their families who have done nothing wrong. These are human rights violations. We must abolish all forms of immigrant concentration camps and redirect the billions of dollars in funding to reform our broken immigration system.


Fully funding VA - end veteran homelessness

 The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is an agency that provides healthcare services and non-healthcare benefits to nearly 20 million veterans. A lack of necessary funding has led to thousands of veterans suffering from a lack of access to health insurance, no place to sleep, and unaddressed mental health challenges. America has failed the brave people who have fought for our nation’s freedom. Fully funding VA is the only way to provide veterans with the level of care that they deserve.


Ending sanctions that punish populations such as Palestine

 The United States has a responsibility to address conflicts throughout the world to bring about peace and justice without choosing one side over another. In pursuing peaceful relations, we must end sanctions that exclusively support populations such as Israel or Suadi Arabia, who have threatened democracy, and need to understand and address the needs of Palestine and Iran. It is illogical to spend billions of dollars promoting warfare when we have the resources necessary to bring these nations together and to hold them accountable for their actions.


Expanding Humanitarian foreign policy

 Under the Trump administration, the United States has removed itself from the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, the Paris climate accord, continued with the armed conflict in Afghanistan and targeted immigrants, closing our country off to millions seeking the American Dream. It is never too late to repair our international relations and to end the senseless loss of life through war. To be the best nation in the world we must begin to lead the world in fortifying partnerships that address worldwide issues: climate change, human rights, social and economic disparities, and protecting democracy.


Stockpiling medical equipment

 The Coronavirus pandemic has completely altered the United States landscape with over two million confirmed cases and a complete shutdown of our economy and traditional ways of life. The Trump administration ignored pleas to replenish the Strategic National Stockpile and with a lack of ventilators, testing kits, and personal protective equipment, it is obvious that our leadership has failed us. With threats of the devastating virus returning for a second wave, we cannot let this happen again. The federal government must work with state and local officials to collaborate on preparing for a possible resurgence of the Coronavirus pandemic. Congress must be held accountable for providing adequate funding to ensure our nation’s medical equipment stockpile is sufficiently filled and sustained.


Reforming the pandemic response team

 The Obama administration established The Global Health Security and Biodefense unit; tasked with doing everything possible with the power and resources of the Federal Government to protect against the outbreak of diseases. Under President Trump, this unit was largely disbanded and the effects have been disastrous. The spread of COVID-19 has reached over two million Americans and taken the lives of over one hundred thousand. We must reform this team to address future threats to our public health and must appoint individuals to the team based on experience and the ability to protect our nation.

ECONOMY

Social Security

 I want to advocate for removing the social security contribution cap on wages, a policy that would increase social security payroll taxes on the wealthy and better fund social security services. He also wants to require social security contributions from capital gains, meaning when a capital asset like a stock is sold for profit, a small portion of the profit must be contributed to social security. These policies would help produce the funds required to expand social security benefits to better serve Americans.


Reform Workers Rights
 
 Reforming workers rights is another cornerstone of my economic policies. I strongly support raising the minimum wage for all workers to 18 dollars an hour so that workers are not living below the poverty line. Since the 1970s, Americans stopped benefitting with correlative higher pay as the economy became more productive and efficient. I want to permanently tie wages to productivity- as the net productivity of the economy grows, hourly compensation for work should grow as well. Right-to-work laws prohibit union security agreements between employers and labor unions, and I want to end these laws to encourage union membership. Allowing workers to access their collective bargaining power as organized advocacy groups is why we need union membership for the working class. I am also in favor of paid family and sick leave of at least 12 weeks.


Modernize Our Infrastructure

 I recognize the need of modernizing the entire national infrastructure in favor of justice, which is why I am advocating for increased accessibility of housing through fair housing pricing and cutting taxes on small businesses and the working class. These groups are the backbone of the economy and deserve to be treated fairly. I will also expand high-speed internet to rural America, a major population of America that has been left behind in the technological age.


Reform Wall Street
 
 Wall Street direly needs reform, and I have a comprehensive plan to do so. The too big to fail theory states that some businesses are so large and the economy relies on them. Therefore the failure of these businesses would be detrimental to the economic system. I want to break up the complexly interconnected too big to fail banks that have no accountability as a result of the reliance of the American banking system on them. Working hand in hand, I believe the too big to jail doctrine needs to be ended as well. The U.S. Justice Department experiences difficulty charging banks with suspected crimes because these charges threaten the existence of the banks which puts the national and global economy at risk. With the dissolution of these ginormous banks into smaller, more manageable and accountable banks, we will have a more just banking system. I believe that if businesses, corporations, or banks are too big to fail, they are too big to exist. I am advocating for the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act, a depression era financial legislation that prohibits banks from making risky investments and encourages the banks to invest in government bonds effectively lowering the risk of commercial banks and keeping the customer accounts safe. These big banks caused the 2008 economic crisis, and these Wall Street reforms would prevent a similar crisis from happening again.


 I support taxing the richest people in our country so they can contribute their fair share to the programs and systems that everyone will benefit from. I also support saving the United States Postal Service by repealing the law that requires 75 years of pension savings of the organization- a huge burden that has never been applied to any other federal agency.

 Tom Wells wants to cap interest rates at a low percentage and cap ATM fees to make banking more accessible for the 63 million adults lacking these basic financial services. In order to ensure every American has access to these necessary services, I want to utilize the 31,000 post offices across the country to provide basic and affordable banking services. Through minimal changes, post offices would be able to offer checking and savings accounts, debit cards, direct deposit, online banking services, and low-interest small loans. This would end the disparity in banking service access, encouraging the financial success and literacy of all Americans.

CIVIL RIGHTS

 A nation where all people are treated equally
It is incredibly disturbing for the greatest country in the world to be a place where the color of your skin can lead to life-threatening disparities. Black, brown, and indigenous Americans have suffered at the hands of a system that has been rigged against them for hundreds of years. We must enact a Green New Deal to effectively address climate change while allowing low-income and minority communities access to clean air and water. We must establish Medicare-for-all which will ensure that health becomes a right for all and not a privilege for some. Federal funding must be given to all school districts equitably, not based on test scores and property tax revenue. Affordable banking services and lending needs to be available for all people.

 Discriminatory practices must be completely eradicated from financial institutions. To address violence in low-income communities and to live in a just society we must work towards treating all people equally, regardless of their race, sex, gender, religion, identity, or background.


Gun Safety

 When it comes to guns, there should be a ban on the sale and distribution of assault weapons as they are designed as tools of war and they should not be made available for sale to civilians. In addition, proper background checks are crucial in the prevention of firearms falling into the wrong hands. Currently, the gun show loophole allows no federal background checks to be done if firearms are sold by private sellers. All gun purchases should be subject to the same standards.

 An important distinction to be made is the difference between gun prohibition and gun safety/control. Gun prohibition would advocate for a complete ban on all firearms, which is not the solution Instead, gun control would limit the sale of assault weapons and require more extensive background checks, while still upholding the Second Amendment.


Minority housing and business grants

 Nearly 20 million Americans dedicate half of their yearly income to housing and no minimum wage throughout the country allows anyone to afford even a two-bedroom apartment. The housing crisis has worsened and has forced too many Americans into choosing between having a place to sleep and food to feed their families. We need to invest in building and preserving quality housing for minority and low-income communities who are in dire straits. Federal funding increases for the National Housing Trust Fund are necessary to ensure that affordable public housing is readily available to those who need it.

 Many of those that are struggling the most own and operate the businesses that keep their communities thriving. The devastation that COVID-19 has had on local businesses shows that the Federal Government must expand the access to business grants that Americans need as their livelihoods depend on it.


Path to citizenship

 The American Dream is only that of a dream for thousands of people who lack a just pathway to citizenship. Our current Immigration policy can no longer be looked at as a threat to our national security and needs to be seen as a threat to our humanitarianism. One in four families in the United States came from somewhere else in the world. We must reform our immigration policies and embrace diversity, accepting immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. As a nation, we must put a hold on mass deportations, cease construction of the Mexico border wall, and establish an expedited, accessible path to citizenship that does not close the door on someone due to financial or legal difficulties.


DACA/DREAMers/TPS protections

 The Trump administration has aimed to eliminate programs for the more than one million people in this country who lack permanent status. Dreamers and TPS holders have been a vital part of communities throughout the United States and are under siege. The United States is the only place these good people know as their home and it is where they have made a living and helped move our nation forward. Congress has a moral obligation to grant permanent protection to these people and to enact policy that grants them equitable access to education, living, and the opportunity to contribute to our economy.


LGBTQ+ Equality

 The LGBTQ community has been fighting hard to get political and social freedom. As a country, we must learn to accept diversity. People should have the right to love who they want and get married regardless of their sexual orientation. At the state level, LGBTQ people have been fired from their jobs, assaulted, and murdered due to their sexual identity.

 In many states, it is still legal to fire someone for being gay. It is still legal to deny someone housing or service in the military for being transgender. The toxic mix of hate, homophobia, and transphobia have contributed to the murders of transgender people. In Florida, they haven't been doing an excellent job at protecting transgender and gender non-conforming people in employment, housing, or public spaces. They are also not covered under the state's hate crimes legislation. Discriminations against all LGBTQ+ communities are unacceptable and must change. Equality will make us stronger as a nation. Passing the Equality Act, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, and other bills will prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

 I will ensure that LGBTQ+ people get comprehensive health care without being discriminated against providers. Policies must be put in place to ensure students can go to school without fear of being bullied, harassed, discriminated against, and physically harmed. Ensuring that LGBTQ+ people gain access to student loans, mortgages, and credit cards without being denied unfairly will be another top priority. I will also ensure that LGBTQ+ people can serve in the U.S. Military and make it easier for LGBTQ+ workers to form a union. I will ensure that any trans individual murdered will be investigated and treated as a federal hate crime. Discrimination only cuts off the necessities for these people to be able to live a normal healthy life.


Women’s Rights

 I am a firm advocate for Women’s Rights and will demonstrate this in a variety of ways in Congress. I support the Paycheck Fairness Act which is a proposed labor law that would essentially institute equal pay for equal work federally by adding procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This act would help eliminate the gender wage gap in the United States on a national level.

 I also will advocate for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment which prevents the use of federal funds to to pay for any abortions unless in extreme emergency circumstances. This amendment prevents Medicaid from covering the cost of an abortion, essentially making an abortion financially inaccessible for the 1 in 5 women who rely on Medicaid to pay for reproductive health care. The Hyde Amendment is a severe overstep of the government that interferes unfairly in the health care decisions of abortion recievers.

 I also support the protection and full funding of Planned Parenthood as it is an essential health provider organization. Title X, a federal grant program dedicated to providing recipients with comprehensive family planning and preventative health services, has my full support. This family planning program provides services to low-income and uninsured individuals at reduced to no cost, a necessary program for Americans. I want to also support and advocate for initiatives that protect women’s health, access to contraception, and the availability of safe and legal abortions.

 I strongly oppose all efforts to undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade and vow to help appoint federal judges who will uphold women’s most fundamental rights in the court of law. We also need to end sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence against women in workplaces, the military, and other institutions.


Religious Freedom

 The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens’ freedom of religion and also establishes a separation of church and state. We see weak enforcement of this right and I am committed to protecting this essential civil right that has been violated by recent acts in the government.

 The religious freedom of Muslims was overtly violated in 2017 by Executive Order 13769, also known as the Muslim Ban. In another effort to seal Muslim stereotypes into stone, the executive order banned travel from a number of majority Muslim countries in order to protect the United States from a terrorist threat. The targeted and hateful attack that came at the severe expense of one specific religious group violates the principles of religious tolerance. This infringement of a right that defines the freedoms the United States prides itself on will not be tolerated by me, if elected.

 I embrace and value religious diversity and am a fierce advocate for the separation of church and state with the understanding that all citizens cannot be represented equally if religion pollutes the decision making of our politicians. It is the responsibility of politicians to represent the views of the constituents, unencumbered by religious biases or influences, and if I am elected I will do this.

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