Dennis Crawford on the Issues
It seems politics these days has descended to the point where most spend their time and energy talking about who they’re against and what they oppose. Nebraska voters deserve better than that – we must be for something positive – so I’m going to tell you what I’m for.
In my opinion, the biggest challenge we face now as a society is the trend of inequality we have experienced since the early 1980s. Over the last 35 years, middle class incomes have been squeezed and most of the gains have gone to the top 1%. This hasn’t only hurt the middle class — it has slowed down economic growth. We need to reverse this negative trend to get our country moving again and provide health care security for all Americans. My agenda to revitalize the middle class has four central pillars: health care reform, higher wages, investments in renewable energy, and infrastructure investments.
The modern history of our country demonstrates that it all begins with the middle class. If middle class incomes grow, everybody prospers and we experience broadly shared and robust economic growth. The genuine job creators are middle class consumers. If they have more money to spend and more confidence in the future, everybody benefits. All of my ideas are aimed at strengthening the middle class.
The first step in growing the middle class is for the Congress to act as a check and balance on the executive — as was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. At the Constitutional Convention, the Founding Fathers rejected proposals for a very powerful executive branch. As your member of Congress, I would stand up to reckless and lawless actions from Trump. If we are to preserve the middle class, we must first stop the regressive and destructive Trump/Fortenberry agenda.
Stopping the agenda of the radical right isn’t enough. We must go on the offensive and present our own ideas for positive, progressive change. I would support the following measures as your member of Congress from Nebraska CD-01.
Health Care Reform
The issue I’ve heard about the most since I’ve been on the campaign trail is health care. People are genuinely concerned about protections for those with pre-existing conditions and rising premium and health care costs.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has done a lot of good but there is always room for improvement. My plan is for a robust government or public option to be available for purchase on the ACA exchanges. I call my plan “Medicare Plus.”
Medicare Plus would allow a consumer to select the government option or Medicare Plus to be his/her health insurance carrier in the insurance exchanges. Therefore, Medicare Plus would compete with the likes of Blue Cross Blue Shield and Conventry in the exchanges. The Medicare Plus plan would create a needed dose of competition in the heavily concentrated Nebraska insurance market. My plan, Medicare Plus, would keep healthcare costs affordable for working families in Nebraska by providing more options and creating additional market competition.
ACA subsidies would be available for those who qualify to purchase Medicare Plus in the exchanges. This additional competition would force the already existing private health insurance companies in the exchanges to reduce their premiums and provide better service to their customers.
The original ACA legislation contained a robust public option but it was blocked by the Republicans. The ACA would have worked a lot better if a public option or Medicare Plus had passed the Congress in 2010.
Other reforms to improve the ACA would be more generous subsidies for the purchase of insurance and subjecting the insurance industry to the anti-trust laws. The application of the anti-trust laws would break up the insurance industry into smaller companies and would create more competition.
If Trump and the GOP succeed in destroying the ACA, I would support a Medicare for all bill.
Due to GOP obstruction, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2007. The Nebraska minimum wage was raised to $9 per hour in a 2014 voter referendum. Nobody who is working full time should be living in poverty. That is simply immoral. We need a higher minimum wage.
In 1968, the minimum wage was $1.60 and the economy was thriving. As a matter of fact, the economy was doing better in 1968 than it is now. We need to raise the minimum wage to 1968 levels as adjusted for inflation. That would place the minimum wage at $11 per hour. I would support legislation raising the minimum wage to $11 per hour and then adjusting it for inflation.
A higher minimum wage would reduce poverty and dependence upon government programs. It would also make it harder for the likes of WalMart and the fast food industry to get out of paying for health insurance for their employees by keeping their wages so low that they qualify for Medicaid. The taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the business plans of large corporations.
Investments in Renewable Energy
Nebraska’s vast potential for generating wind energy is being wasted due to a lack of leadership by elected Republicans officials at the state and federal level. Nebraska’s wind capacity is fourth in the country but Nebraska lags behind sixteen other states when it comes to actually generating wind energy. Under current law, Nebraska’s publicly owned electric companies aren’t eligible for federal tax credits. That lack of eligibility must be ended.
Jobs in wind and solar energy pay middle class wages. In addition, generating more wind energy reduces our dependence upon foreign oil from unstable countries and reduces green house gas emissions. It’s a win-win deal for all Nebraskans.
Our country’s roads, bridges, water, airports, and transit systems are in need of significant improvement, according to a 2017 report from from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This report gave America’s aging infrastructure a near failing grade of D-plus. According to this report: “Each American family is already losing $3,400 in disposable income each year, more than $9 a day, due to poor infrastructure. We’re paying it on car repairs, wasted time and gas and an increased cost of goods.”
As an elected member of Congress, I would support genuine infrastructure investments. That would mean money spent for actual projects — not for special interest tax breaks and privatization. Infrastructure jobs can’t be outsourced and they pay a middle class wage. Everybody would benefit from better roads, bridges and airports.
Of course, there are many more issues confronting Nebraska and the nation – please check back here often as I will be detailing more of my positions.