Issues 2018-05-07T16:21:04+00:00


On the Issues

I have three main priorities: Ensuring access to healthcare services for all, investing in rural infrastructure and technology, and fighting for working families in Oregon and in America. 

Most importantly, I will be an advocate and a voice for Oregon’s 2nd district in Congress.

Our current leadership is stripping healthcare from thousands of Oregonians. They consistently ignore the needs of rural families and individuals, and they fail to prioritize working families and union welfare, which are the backbone of CD2 and of this country.

I believe that it’s time for a change. As a hardworking Oregonian, I know how much healthcare matters. The fact that some families are still forced to make the decision between economic stability and their own health is ridiculous in a country as wealthy as the United States. In Congress, I will fight to make sure that everyone has access to effective and efficient Medicare services.

With my own roots in Oregon’s 2nd district, I have worked in and understand the impact rural America has on our country as a whole. Agricultural communities and farming counties are vital pieces of our nation’s identity, and it is past time they were treated as such in Washington. I am committed to developing and supporting legislation that will provide necessary funding and investment in sustainable infrastructure within rural communities and towns. Everyone deserves to thrive, not just get by.

Similarly, current lawmakers in DC have neglected to pay much attention to the rights of working families and union members, which are another indispensable part of America’s economy and community. These are the people who keep our state and our country running. Teachers, electricians, food workers, paramedics, and laborers keep us moving every day. It is our responsibility to make sure they have safe spaces to work in, receive fair wages for their efforts, and are generally cared for and appreciated daily. In Washington, I will work to shift the focus from the highest bidder to the average American, making sure that the millions of working families who define the heart of our country are given every opportunity to prosper.

Burnette for Congress

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave a D+ grade to our nation’s infrastructure in 2017. These are the bridges, harbors, roads, schools, dams, and drinking water systems upon which millions of Americans depend. With every passing year we allow our infrastructure to crumble, the repair costs increase exponentially. Is this what we want to pass onto our children?

Rural America is consistently forced to the back of the line for infrastructure spending. I will fight for policy which prioritizes spending in areas that are usually overlooked and need it the most. Infrastructure spending in rural communities and agricultural economies should be doubled by 2022. Access to broadband in rural areas is a good place to start.

Infrastructure investment should be a top priority. We should start with rural America.

In a country as wealthy and as developed as the United States, access to effective and affordable healthcare must be a universal right. The most practical way to address this is by providing Medicare for all our citizens from birth. Additionally, we must address the shortage of primary care doctors and healthcare workers in rural areas. Rural America needs a healthcare delivery system that will eliminate the burden of traveling long distances to receive quality care.

Universal, usable healthcare must become federal law.

Many of the largest corporations in the United States pay little or nothing in taxes. They have grown enormously wealthy because of this status quo. When we ask that corporations pay their fair share in taxes, we are scolded for succumbing to the politics of envy. I have a different definition: Our current corporate tax laws are a textbook example of the economics of greed.

In order to hold these corporations accountable, I want legislation to institute a 10% minimum corporate tax rate by 2022, below which no loopholes apply. And, in the event of proven corporate malfeasance, each shareholder—including corporate executives holding stock options—would be required to surrender a portion of their shares or options to the Justice Department. This proposal incentivizes shareholders and executives alike to demand good corporate citizenship; currently, little or no such incentives exist.

Every American corporation pays taxes. No more free rides.

We have emerged from the 2007-2008 financial crisis—caused by under-regulated too-big-to-fail financial institutions—with a system that is once again populated by too-big-to-fail institutions. We remain precariously close to a repeat of the 2008 catastrophe.

Too-big-to-fail is big-enough-to-harm-us. We need to ensure that the original Dodd-Frank protections are kept in place. We should also reinstate the Glass-Steagall protections that put a hard firewall between legitimate banking and speculative stock and securities investments. Your bank should never be able to use your money to gamble.

We need permanent protection from the reckless gambling within of the financial sector.

America’s working families are stretched well past the breaking point. We need a federal minimum wage that is consistent with the actual cost of living in the United States. That’s a $15/hour minimum wage, indexed to inflation. Accordingly, the federal poverty level should accordingly be defined as anything less than what an individual earning the federal minimum wage would make if working full time.

I will fight for the implementation of a $15/hour minimum wage by 2021. In accordance with our rising standard of living, $15/hour is fair, dignified, and a much-needed raise for our working families.

The time has long passed for us to provide multiple paths to employment, trade apprenticeships, service sector training, and university. Advancing opportunities for Americans in all parts of our country—urban and rural—is a responsible investment for our district and our nation’s future.

We must turn to organizations that have been successful at implementing these types of programs and pathways, such as union apprenticeships or the non-combatant training programs offered by the U.S. military. We also must ensure the availability of resources for our citizens after they complete these initial training or educational programs by making sure they are connected to employers.

Everyone should have access to these pathways without going into massive debt. As a representative, I will argue for solutions that boost our local businesses by offering a tax credit for employing newly-trained youth as apprentices or trainees, with further credits for their long-term retention. Smart solutions that emphasize empowering our young people while bolstering our economy will encourage younger populations to succeed in urban and rural environments.

Every American is entitled to a dignified retirement. We must work ensure people can retire at an appropriate age in order to make room for our younger population to advance their careers. Right now, only the first $128,700 of an individual’s earned income is subject to social security taxes, while a wealthy person living on income from interest, annuities, and dividends is excluded from paying any social security tax. In other words, our social security system remains deeply regressive.

Social security taxes should apply every dollar of a person’s income, no matter its amount or source.  This will enable us to actually lower social security taxes on middle class, working families because the wealthy will actually start paying their fair share. We must increase the retirement benefit and decrease the disincentives for early retirement. I will fight to remove the cap on social security tax by promoting a 2022 deadline.

Social security is how we take care of each other. We should treat it that way.

Almost by definition, nations engaged in mutually beneficial fair and open trade are not at war. Trade facilitated by international corporate and governmental agreements that accelerate a race for the bottom and further wide the income gap between wealthy individuals and the middle class is not acceptable. Nor is trade that allows other foreign corporations or nations, especially those with subpar labor and environmental standards, to overturn our own laws and protections.

Trade agreements that weaken our working families, export working class jobs, and destroy the environment of either country involved are not acceptable. The test of international trade must be that it leaves both peoples and both countries better off.

The standard is fair trade, not free trade.

Citizens United remains one of the most destructive Supreme Court decisions in this country’s history. By acknowledging our corporations as, in effect, having the same rights as a person, we stack the deck in favor of wealth and power and against vast the majority of our citizens.

If corporations are indeed legally defined as “people,” we should hold them fully responsible for their actions. Corporate misconduct should lead to probation the same way that individual wrongdoing leads to real consequences. Similarly, gross corporate misconduct such as BP’s actions in the Deepwater Horizon spill or Wells Fargo’s account frauds should be sufficient grounds to trigger an aggressive response that inflicts real punishment on senior management and stockholders alike. As a champion of our middle class, I will fight for a legislative fix to end the impact of Citizens United once and for all.

Corporations are not people. Citizens are not customers. Governments are not corporations. Citizens United must be reversed.

Campaigns for public office should be short, smart, and cheap. Unfortunately, our current system promotes exactly the opposite.

We must pursue legislation and policy that mandates a fair and democratic election system. The promotion of public financing, changing our voting system by opening polls on weekends and making Election Day a federal holiday to encourage more individuals to get to the polls and doubling down on our efforts to reduce voter suppression are essential actions. Additionally, we must require our media to provide fair and equal coverage with access to all candidates.

The election process should solve problems, not create them.

When a single American is educated, it benefits every American. It is in our best interest to provide affordable education to every person who is motivated to pursue it. Currently, we are doing the opposite. Education is so expensive that students are forced to fund it by incurring enormous debt. This leads to a social system in which our citizens choose not to pursue training-intensive professions simply because they do not wish to go into lifelong academic debt. Each of these decisions comes at a huge cost to us all.

We must begin a transition to a system of subsidized education from public institutions and community colleges. Students should have every opportunity to pursue an education free from the burdens of debt and the added stress of working multiple jobs while in school just to make ends meet.

Education benefits us all. We should fund it that way.

I firmly believe that we will not see the revival of a thriving middle class without the re-unionization of the American workforce. At its peak, over 40% of the working class was represented by unions. It is no coincidence that the same period was marked by a thriving middle class and national economy. From the 1940s-1970s, even non-union employers offered something approaching union-scale wages and benefits in order to attract employees. This particular tide did indeed lift all boats.

Unions are dedicated to raising workers’ wages, improving benefits, and guaranteeing a safe workspace. I am committed to vocally supporting unions and unionization as one of the few forces that really can revive the middle class. Unions keep the pressure on, no matter which party is in power. That benefits us all.

Unions created the middle class. They’ll bring it back.

Climate change is real. We’re causing it. And we all feel the impacts: Hotter summers, explosive wildfires, erratic crop yields. It’s happening now, and we must act. We have the technology to move quickly away from our dependence on fossil fuels. There is enormous opportunity in OR2 and in the nation as a whole to promote a thriving economy and a healthy environment.

I will promote policies that shift our focus to sustainable energy policy and expands the foundations we already have in place for a technologically sound and environmentally friendly approach to development. The true costs of carbon should be assessed at every step in the supply chain, starting with the oil well and continuing to the gas pump. I will advocate for the immediate institution of cap and trade, fee/rebate, and any other economic program to stop carbon emissions at the earliest possible date. I will also be a champion of sustainable development in America’s rural areas, pushing for policies that result in the right kind of energy production and increased job opportunities.

We cannot have a thriving economy without a clean environment. We must pursue a practical agenda that raises wages, creates jobs, and reverses the impacts of climate change and global warming.

The Trump administration’s irrational and hostile stance on the welfare of our nation’s immigrant population is responsible for countless emotional and personal hardships for the individuals involved. It is also at the heart of enormous adverse economic impacts because of the effect on the vital portion of our workforce made up of immigrants. The vast majority of immigrants work hard, pay taxes, and are law-abiding citizens. We are a nation of immigrants, and their story—one rooted in hope and the promise of a brighter future—continues to drive us forward as a nation today. It is our responsibility to ensure that these members of our American community are valued, supported, and given every opportunity to thrive in this country.

It is reprehensible to punish children—Dreamers—for actions taken by their adult parents. For that reason alone, I fully support DACA. I also believe that DACA should incorporate an accelerated path to citizenship for Dreamers. Immigrants who came as adults and have been in the United States for a reasonable, defined period without any significant legal problems should also be granted a path to citizenship.

In 2016, the United made up 4% of the world’s population and 26% of the world’s economy. We contributed approximately 37% of the all the money spent globally to our defense budget.

The U.S. expects our NATO allies to devote at least 2% of their GDP to defense spending—a number that many have not realized—while we spend at least 3.6% of our annual GDP on defense. We are subsidizing the defense of many nations that can afford to meet the 2% agreed upon goal. This must stop.

We must scale back our contribution to wasteful defense spending. Ensuring our country is safe and protected should not place a lopsided drain on our country’s resources. Additionally, we must enact the necessary regulations to make sure that the money we do allocate to defense spending is used wisely and invested in programs that help the Department of Defense realize the overall goal of keeping America safe.

Despite advances in recent years, the fight for women’s rights still has a long way to go. The current administration is endangering many of the gains made in the last decade in relation to equal pay for equal work, protecting parental and family leave, and a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body.

It is unacceptable to go backwards when it comes to women’s rights is unacceptable. We need to champion real, effective, and lasting policies that will allow women to receive equal pay for equal work. Additionally, we must fight for legislation that will protect a woman’s right to exert control over her own body and have the appropriate access to vital medical and social care necessary. We also must stand behind policy that safeguards her right to raise a family without sacrificing a job to do it. Most importantly, we must create a country and a culture in which women are able to thrive and succeed in everything they do.

Gender equity is decades overdue. It’s time to fight in earnest for equal rights for all.

Ten years ago, legalized same-sex marriage was utterly inconceivable. Ten years later, it had become absolutely inevitable. This is a sign of real and just progress. When it comes to social issues like LGBTQ rights, we must continue going forward, not backward. Freedom to love whom you wish and how you wish is a basic human right.

I am firmly committed to opposing any policy that compromises this right and championing legislation which protects and encourages it.

The right to love whomever you love cannot be interfered with.

While we cannot reverse the long history of injustices suffered by Native Americans, we can, as a nation, do everything possible in the present to right the wrongs and mitigate the terrible side effects many individuals and tribes still experience from past atrocities. We must work to preserve the basic civil and human rights of our hundreds of thousands of Native American citizens.

We can start by initiating a good faith effort to quickly and fairly resolve outstanding treaty rights disputes, especially for those involving high-level issues of tribal sovereignty. Additionally, as we contemplate renegotiating the way federal lands are administered, we must insist that Native Americans play a lead role in the administration and management of non-reservation federal lands.

We can never forget that tribes are nations within our nation. As such, the federal government has a unique and essential responsibility to ensure that tribal communities and economies are healthy and vibrant and are able to govern themselves as they see fit.

Veterans have risked their lives to protect our freedoms and our land. We should be offering them the highest standard of care and service when they return home. However, with our current, broken system of veterans’ affairs, many of these services do not come close to such standards. A lack of resources and investments put into bolstering a healthy and efficient V.A. is the root of an unacceptable and intolerable problem. We owe veterans more than they are currently receiving.

Further, every veteran should be eligible for medical care regardless of discharge status. If PTSD causes a person to act out and receive a less than honorable discharge from our armed services, we should still remember that PTSD is a combat injury.

In Congress, I am committed to working toward legislation that will adequately fund the V.A. with necessary resources to ensure medical services to every veteran. An individual that commits themselves to the service of this country in uniform is deserving of such benefits.

Every veteran is deserving of fully funded V.A. services. This should be a top priority within our government.

I am committed to supporting efforts to make marijuana a legal substance in the United States. There is credible research that confirms that it is no more dangerous than substances that have been part of our culture since the founding of our nation, like alcohol. History shows that efforts to criminalize these substances—the Prohibition Era—just do not work. Law enforcement resources should be spent on bringing dangerous criminals to justice and keeping our streets, neighborhoods, and communities safe from serious problems, not arresting individuals for possession of marijuana.

In Congress, I will support legislation which works toward decriminalizing marijuana and allocates control over the regulation of growth, sale, and services to the states. Further, legitimate cannabis businesses should have the right to the U.S. banking system, a right which they are currently not afforded.

We are wasting valuable time, effort, and resources unnecessarily criminalizing pot. Encouraging safe usage and the states’ right to regulate relevant business structure is a practical solution.

The magnitude of gun death and violence in America is horrific. It is unacceptable. The overwhelming majority of America believes that inaction within our government is intolerable.

Legislation that promotes logical, common sense reform to existing firearm policy while maintaining the rights outlined in the 2nd amendment is legislation I will support. Specifically, I am in favor of a system that includes loophole-proof universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and mandatory safety training for every first-time buyer. Adequate mental health services must be included in Medicare and healthcare.

Gun violence in any form is unacceptable and preventable.  Common sense, bipartisan firearm policy is the practical path forward. We should work toward a 2/3 reduction in gun deaths in the next decade.