Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. As a country we spend approximately 18% of our GDP each year on healthcare, more than any other high income country, and yet our health outcomes are middle of the pack. This is due to lack of insurance and underinsurance that exists across America; individuals cannot afford to get the care that they need, and because of this when they have an issue that’s treatable it persists ultimately making treatment much more complex and costly. People are dying because of high prescription drug prices. No one should be forced to choose between basic human necessities like food, bills, and rent, and the medicine that they need to live. I believe that the Medicare for America plan proposed by Congresswomen DeLauro and Schakowsky is best suited to address these issues. If an individual is satisfied with their employer-sponsored insurance coverage by all means they should have the choice to remain on that plan, but I believe an auto enrollment, low-cost public option with included coverages for prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing, mental health services, and disability services must exist for them and everyone else, particularly those who are underinsured or uninsured. That is precisely what this plan will accomplish. As your Congressman I would:
- Support the Medicare for America Act proposed by Congresswomen DeLauro and Schakowsky.
- Support regulation of the Pharmaceutical industry to prevent high prescription drug prices.
- Support safety net care to reimburse hospitals who treat individuals who are underinsured or uninsured.
Thousands of families across the 3rd District are struggling to make ends meet. It’s becoming more difficult than ever to qualify to buy a home and people are pushing their dreams off further and further. At the same time there’s a rising demand in the technology, manufacturing, and transportation industries for skilled workers. I believe in social innovation, and the reality is that the current economic situation for a lot of families in our district is unsustainable; while I fully support a Federal Minimum Wage of $15, I believe that more must be done to support our families. As your Congressman I would:
- Support a system which moves the minimum wage to a living wage that will scale with the average cost of living.
- Support paid family leave.
- Support and advance workers’ rights.
- Create an economic development council for the 3rd District called 20Up with a two-pronged responsibility to:
- Identify businesses with a need for full and part-time skilled workers to fill $20/hr or higher positions and pair those students to those positions.
- Partner with industry leaders in technology, manufacturing, and transportation with local community and city colleges to teach students critical, transferable industry skills.
My wife and I have been dealing with student loans throughout our marriage, 18 years and 2 kids later and we’re still paying them. This experience is a systemic crisis, thousands of students across the US graduate each year with tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. These folks are forced to put off their goals and instead spend years and years paying off this debt. I firmly believe that the key to our future as a nation is investing in our public education systems – primary, secondary, and post-secondary – to allow them to have adequate funding, providing students with low, or no cost education. In an effort to do our part, my family and I founded an annual scholarship at Moraine Valley Community College to lessen the financial burden on recipients, but what we need as a country is a reallocation of funds to our public education systems to support our students. As your Congressman I would:
- Work to drastically reduce the cost of higher education.
- Support living wages for teachers.
- Work to ensure that every school, from the suburbs to the inner city, have the resources they need to provide successful outcomes: including funding for upgrading facilities, new classroom technologies and their associated trainings, comprehensive health education, and after school programs.
- Support STEM programs across IL-3, including advocating for federal and private sector grants.
- Develop and introduce The Blend Program, aimed at providing vocational training and teaching high school students real world skills including financial literacy. This will prepare students with the skills they need to slot into industry positions immediately after graduation.
This country was built by immigrants seeking freedom from persecution, seeking a better opportunity, and working towards a better tomorrow. My parents are immigrants who came here for a better opportunity, with the dream to raise our family. The current administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions are simply unacceptable: the Muslim ban, the family separation policy, making migrants fleeing violence wait for months at the border to apply for asylum, the ICE raids on places of business, the actions being taken to deny green card applicants and visa applicants by expanding the LPC test, the almost everyday stream of racist and tasteless comments about different communities. This is an attack not only on those communities, but on our ideals and values as Americans. This administration is dehumanizing these families and I am absolutely unwilling to allow it to continue. Asylum is an internationally recognized human right. In my personal time, I have been connecting undocumented families I know with pro-bono immigration attorneys to assist them in gaining legal status. While I believe that has made a small difference, what we need as a country is comprehensive and fair immigration reform to put these families on a path to citizenship and prevent any future administration from the egregious actions which have taken place over the last few years. As your Congressman I would:
- Stand first and foremost for human dignity.
- Support sanctuary cities and asylum seekers as asylum is an internationally recognized human right.
- Support Comprehensive and Fair immigration reform to make our immigration system simpler, more accessible, particularly for non-native English speakers, while retaining the highest level of security.
- Expand my work personally to create and market a large network of pro-bono immigration attorneys to assist undocumented families in gaining legal status.
As a government which prides itself on being a leader in human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties I believe we have done a great disservice to half of our constituents. To think that in our country today I, as a male, have a higher income sheerly on the basis of my sex is absurd. What’s more is women’s reproductive rights are regularly under attack in states across the country. In the case of Georgia specifically, that bill allows for a woman who miscarried to potentially be investigated, does not include language protecting women from criminal prosecution should they seek an abortion, among other ludicrous inclusions. This is a far governmental overreach into the lives of constituents. The fact of the matter is the Georgia bill and bills like it, passed in Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, and introduced in many other states put women’s health and lives at risk. I believe in a woman’s right to choose; that we have control over our own bodies is essential to the very core of personal liberty. As your Congressman I would:
- Support Equal Pay for Equal Work.
- Support Women’s reproductive rights.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health
In America today there are crises surrounding substance use, particularly opioids, and mental health which we can no longer avoid. 130 people die everyday as a result of opioid overdoses, and the CDCP estimates that the cost of prescription opioid misuse is over 78 billion dollars each year! (reference footnoted) I believe in accountability, and the fact is this crisis is primarily due to a lack of oversight and regulation over the Pharmaceutical industry, which promoted these drugs to physicians with the false pretense that they were non-addictive. I think it speaks volumes about our current mental health system when one of the largest mental health facilities in the country is Cook County Jail. On top of the fact that the stigma of mental health is a barrier from seeking proper care, mental health centers have been closing across our state due to a decrease in funding. Our families simply do not have adequate access to the programs and resources they need to help them overcome these issues. As your Congressman I would:
- Partner with existing sliding scale mental health clinics and rehabilitation centers across IL-3 and create an outreach and transportation plan for underserved communities.
- Push for a reallocation of federal funding to support the creation of sustainable, sliding scale mental health clinics and rehabilitation centers, particularly in underserved areas.
- Hold pharmaceutical companies accountable by working to initiate investigations into their practices surrounding their promotion of opioids to Physicians from the mid 1990s to early 2000s.
Supporting Small Businesses
I’ve always had the vision of owning my own production company. In 2006, I started Rush Productions from the basement of my home. I couldn’t qualify for a loan, and I had very little equipment of my own so I borrowed equipment from some generous friends in the industry. Business picked up quickly, but then the recession in 2008 hit, practically erasing all of the progress I made. With the help of family and friends, I was fortunate enough to get back up and running and today have a fully functional storefront business with multiple locations and all the equipment and gadgets I could possibly need. As a small business owner I understand how difficult it can be at times. All across our country, the same banks that caused the recession and got bailed out with our tax dollars are denying families the small business loans they need to achieve their dreams. Corporations like Amazon and Walmart are getting larger and larger, putting existing small businesses at risk. All this while our government sits by and does nothing. As your Congressman I would:
- Expand funding and community outreach efforts for the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide low-interest, government backed loans and grants to existing and new small business owners.
- Work with the U.S. Small Business Administration to ensure that requirements for loan qualifications are reasonable and fair.
- Create a network of partnerships with small businesses and government in a variety of industries across IL-3, ensuring government always contracts to small and family-owned businesses when possible and that small business owners have access to free promotional services.
- Develop and advance legislation which works to enhance small business competitiveness in the market.
Campaign Finance Reform
There is too much money in politics and, as much as some politicians like to deny it, money buys influence. In our current system industries have the upper hand, they’re worth billions of dollars and have no issue putting in hundreds of millions towards candidate’s committees. If an incumbent comes out against them, they pour millions of dollars into their opponent’s campaign. This issue is further exacerbated by the use of dark money, and lack of enforcement surrounding campaign finance violations. The funding system has become very complex and far-reaching, and lost in the midst of things are the issues families care about the most. While grassroots, crowd-sourced, funding strategies are effective in theory, they simply cannot create as much funding as quickly. This is why we need comprehensive reform. As your Congressman I would:
- Introduce a federal hard-cap model, whereby the FEC determines a hard-cap funding limit for each Federal race. This ensures no candidate has an unfair spending advantage over their opponent, and it is simply the best ideas that will succeed.
- Develop and advance legislation which would strictly limit campaign spending to campaign committees, such that no committee can have a peripheral influence on a race.
- Support legislation which would repeal the Citizens United ruling, and eliminate dark money.
Climate Change and the Environment
The science is clear, global climate patterns are shifting and it is up to us to take action to protect our future generations. We simply cannot continue to put off action on this issue, in the past 10 years climate change has cost US taxpayers over 350 billion dollars. Corporations cannot be allowed to continue to pollute our air with toxins, which is why I supported the Sterigenics shutdown. We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels and coal to power our lives. We have a responsibility to ensure our future generations will have clean air, water, energy, and be safe from environmental disasters resulting from climate change. As your Congressman I would:
- Support legislation shifting fossil fuel subsidies to clean energy subsidies, while protecting workers and local economies.
- Expand funding for clean energy sources like wind and solar, as well as funding research into other forms of sustainable, renewable energy.
- Expand and promote tax credits to families utilizing solar energy, as well as electric vehicles.
- Develop and advance legislation to ensure that all federally supported construction and infrastructure bids have a sustainable, environmental approach.
- Support legislation tightening enforcement of environmental standards.
Gun Violence Prevention
Gun violence is an epidemic in our country and recent events have demonstrated the gun violence epidemic is in fact a national emergency. In recent years, we have all seen the tragic violence that domestic terrorists can inflict with assault rifles and demented ideology, be it anarchy or white supremacy. Policies need to focus on the disproportionate impact of gun violence on communities of color – Black men are over 10 times as likely and Hispanic men are over 3 times as likely to be gun homicide victims than white men. Here in the 3rd District, we are also exposed on a weekly basis to the less publicized displays of gun violence on our city streets.
I believe that federal legislation regulating the purchase of firearms does not infringe on the rights afforded by the Second Amendment. Legislation I am proposing does not stop an individual from purchasing a firearm. Rather, these proposals are focused on three primary goals:
1. Creating harsher federal sentences for those who buy and sell illegal guns
Rush believes that those who profit from and exploit the straw purchasing loopholes in various states, as well as those criminals stockpile weapons by acquiring guns illegally from these straw purchasers, are the biggest contributors to the endless gun violence in Chicagoland and other urban areas.
Rush has proposed “Sell for Life” legislation, which would ensure that straw purchasers and anyone else who buys or sells guns illegally would be charged with a federal crime with a life sentence. Illegal gun sales contribute to thousands of deaths across the country each year and should be treated the same way as the crime of first-degree murder. Representative Robin Kelly’s H.B 6441, making all straw purchases of firearms a federal crime, is a good first step on this front and should be passed by Congress immediately.
2. Taking assault rifles, high capacity magazine clips, and other weapons of war completely off our streets
The use of assault rifles in mass killings across the country has allowed domestic terrorists to rack up tragically high body counts in a short period of time. Assault rifles and high capacity magazine clips are weapons of war and should be treated as such.
Rush believes Congress should immediately pass a national ban on the importation and sale of all assault rifles and high capacity magazine clips. These weapons should only be utilized by our Armed forces and at certain times by local law enforcement.
3. Implementing the most thorough and transparent set of federal background checks for those wishing to purchase a firearm
Unfortunately, the number of white nationalist groups in the United States, those particularly electrified by Trump’s presidency, surged by almost 50 percent in 2018. Recent events have demonstrated that inhabitants of the dark web attracted to radical ideologies like anarchy and white nationalism should not be allowed to purchase firearms, and a federal database that takes this into account in its background checks may very well stop the next mass shooting. Homeland Security should be investing the resources and the manpower to address this rising white nationalist threat that threatens the safety of all Americans.
We are living in a data-rich age and private companies often know more about our internet search history and consumer habits than we do ourselves. There is no reason big data can’t work towards developing a national background check database that would be a required screening step before any American purchases a firearm.