America is being challenged in 2020 — by a global pandemic induced by climate change, a shattering recession, and a reckoning on race and justice.
We’ve learned once again that elections have consequences — and having elected leaders with proven records of leadership and getting things done can make the difference between life and death.
We need to strengthen America with bold new investments in people. Join me.
— Georgette Gómez
INVEST IN PEOPLE
Millions of Americans are out of work, sending a shudder through the economy and local communities. While we need to provide help to large industries reeling from the pandemic, we must put small businesses and people first.
The CARES Act and other Congressional action made a difference in providing real relief to American families and giving a lifeline to businesses struggling in the shutdown.
Congress must take additional action to help struggling families and the small businesses that are the foundation of our economy.
Extend Supplemental Unemployment Benefits Until The Economic Crisis Is Over
Congress acted quickly to address the massive unemployment created by the pandemic, extending benefits for 13 weeks, providing an additional $600 per week, and extending eligibility to contractors, self-employed and part-time workers. Supplemental payments have been cut, and many states are set to eliminate aid even though tens of millions of Americans are still out of work. Congress should act to extend emergency unemployment benefits through the worst of the pandemic while the unemployment rate remains at a historic high.
Cancel Federal Student Loan Debt For Low and Middle Income Individuals
The CARES Act temporarily suspended loan payments during the pandemic, but bills will soon come due for 42 million Americans with student loan debt. During a deep recession, student loan debt is a crushing burden, and borrowers who default on their loans may never fully recover. It’s urgent that Congress pass a bill to cancel student loan debt for low and middle income individuals, halt involuntary collections, and avert economic disaster for millions of Americans.
Bolster Food Security By Expanding the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)
Food banks are reporting more than 50 million Americans experiencing food insecurity, with low-income kids and seniors facing remarkable hardship. Charities have stepped in with herculean food distributions efforts, but we need large-scale action to fight hunger as only the federal government can undertake. It’s critical that we expand SNAP benefits for families with children, loosen overly restrictive eligibility requirements, and expand delivery options to get essential food to at-risk individuals who are self-quarantining.
Make Affordable Child Care Accessible For All
Quality child care can provide the strong start that every child deserves and the support working families need. In San Diego, we’ve taken emergency action to provide childcare to frontline workers, but we need a new federal commitment to supporting childcare, including incentives for employers who provide childcare.
INVEST IN PUBLIC HEALTH
COVID-19 has shined a light on just how fragile and unprepared for emergencies our public health system really is. Experts predict more pandemics as climate change worsens. It’s our responsibility to fix the system before the next crisis.
We spend billions preparing for the distant threat of a nuclear war, and very little preparing for the very real threats of pandemics. The CDC budget is less than 10% of the Pentagon budget. We are the richest nation on earth, and need to prioritize our communities’ well-being.
We must prepare for a dramatic spike in the uninsured, as millions of Americans are losing employer-funded healthcare along with their jobs, amid a public health crisis.
Fund Public Health
The coronavirus has shown us the crucial importance of pandemic prevention, infectious disease research and well-funded local public health departments. Trump’s 2018 budget cut local public health funding by over $1 billion – those cuts need to be reversed so county Public Health departments on the frontlines have the resources they need to test, trace and track outbreaks now and in the future. The Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) was created by the Affordable Care Act, but has never been fully funded. When a vaccine is developed, the PPHF will play a vital role in expanding vaccination programs nationwide.
Instead of Trump’s threats to cut off the World Health Organization, America needs to increase our participation and funding of global public health efforts because infectious diseases don’t respect national borders. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Center of Disease Control (CDC) budgets need to be restored, not just through one-time emergency funding, but with long-term investments in programs like the CDC’s One Health initiative. One Health seeks to prevent new infectious diseases from emerging by working for the best health outcomes for people, animals, and plants in a shared environment. These investments will strengthen the response to COVID-19 and prepare us for future public health emergencies.
Invest In Healthcare Workers & Emergency Responders
Leaders on both sides of the aisle have proposed hazard pay for essential workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. We need to keep our first responders, healthcare employees and sanitation workers protected, cared for and on the job. Congress needs to act on hazard pay and explore how to attract the best and brightest to our public health infrastructure, including launching a national service program, to mobilize thousands of young people to help communities respond, recover and rebuild.
Make Quality, Affordable Healthcare A Reality for Every American
The coronavirus crisis makes clear why it’s so urgent to ensure affordable healthcare for every American. We’ve seen the harsh impacts in underserved, underinsured communities who have felt the virus’ vicious impact most severely. As we recover and rebuild from this pandemic, it’s time to boldly reconstruct our healthcare system so it is affordable, accessible and universal. We must move swiftly to extend open enrollment periods for the Affordable Care Act and move toward making Medicare for All available to bring down costs and protect coverage for families and small businesses.
Expand Paid Sick Leave
Every American worker deserves paid sick leave so they can afford to stay home when they or their loved ones are sick. Expanding paid sick leave would limit the spread of coronavirus and prevent future pandemics – and it’s an issue of fundamental economic fairness for working families, whether we’re in a time of emergency or not. In San Diego, I’ve helped implement the Paid Sick Leave Law to guarantee a week of leave for every worker. It’s time for Congress to act on paid leave to protect public health and working families.
INVEST IN JOBS & INFRASTRUCTURE
Working families are struggling through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. This crisis demands urgent, bold investments in jobs, infrastructure and a fair economy.
At the same time, we can help prepare our country for the looming crisis of climate change, through job-creating investments in clean energy.
Rebuild Crumbling Infrastructure
Repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure would create millions of jobs and address urgent unmet needs in transportation, healthcare, housing, safe drinking water, and more. Cash-strapped state and local governments have deferred routine street and highway maintenance. Earthquake retrofits to keep people safe in the next big quake have been delayed. The time to start planning bold action to rebuild our infrastructure is now.
Invest to Meet the Challenge of Climate Change
Scientists warned of a coming pandemic, but the Trump Administration dismantled and defunded pandemic response plans. We can’t make the same mistake on climate change. The science is clear – we must cut emissions now to avoid a climate catastrophe that would have a devastating impact on coastal communities such as San Diego.
Smart investments in clean energy can retool the economy for a brighter future and retrain laid off workers for new, good paying careers. Experts predict millions of jobs would be created through funding for residential solar power installations, building electric vehicle charging stations, energy efficiency retrofit projects for homes and office buildings and electrifying port infrastructure.
Retrofit Transit Systems For Safety
Transit is an essential part of our transportation infrastructure and key for meeting America’s climate goals, but we will need comprehensive upgrades to safeguard against the spread of the virus on buses, trains and trolleys. Upgrading public transit systems is critical for the working families who need them and will ensure essential workers can get to work. Investing in transit safeguards public health, protects an essential service, creates jobs and prepares us for a more secure future.
Preserve & Develop Affordable Housing
National and local action on affordable housing is vital to keeping Americans sheltered. Federal funding for transportation and other infrastructure should reward cities that take the initiative to develop affordable housing.
We need to act now to get ahead of a surge in evictions in the coming months and a skyrocketing need in affordable housing.
Preserving affordable housing includes rent assistance, to provide relief to struggling renters while keeping landlords afloat. And for the most vulnerable, expanding the housing voucher program to cover more families would strengthen the social safety net. Right now, only 25% of eligible families receive vouchers because of cutbacks in funding.
Taking action now can prevent the affordable housing crisis from turning into a housing disaster, while preserving and creating tens of thousands of good paying construction jobs.
Roll Back Trump’s Tax Cuts For The Wealthy & Big Corporations
This national emergency is a time for shared sacrifice, not self-interest. Congress should repeal Donald Trump’s tax giveaways to the wealthy and put that revenue to work helping working people who are struggling to get through the crisis. During a pandemic, it’s simply un-American to cut taxes for millionaires and let big corporations use tax loopholes for profit, while workers and small businesses are left to fend for themselves.
INVEST IN POLICING REFORM
The death of George Floyd and other examples of excessive force are a nationwide problem.
Under my leadership in San Diego, the Council took swift and bold action to ban chokeholds and other carotid restraints. As the Council President, I helped lead the effort to create an Independent Review Commission that will be on the November ballot.
While policing is the responsibility of local government, the federal government can and should play a larger role in reforms for justice and safer communities.
We must also renew the focus on programs and first responses that treat and assist, not punish and arrest, when it comes to domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and homelessness. It’s time to consider public safety holistically to address root causes of inequality and poverty and help all our communities, especially the historically underserved, stay supported and stay safe.
Focus police efforts on community policing and demilitarize police departments
Federal funding should be directed to community policing and away from extreme hardware that escalates tensions rather than resolving them. Congress should act to prohibit the Department of Defense from transferring military weapons and equipment to civilian police departments. No police department in America needs grenade launchers or armored vehicles.
Provide incentives for greater transparency
The federal government provides billions in support to state and local law enforcement. The Department of Justice should create a performance ranking of police departments, including transparency and misconduct. This ranking would be considered in allocating all federal grants to the city. Federal funding should be reconfigured to reward police departments that take real steps toward reform, including mandatory body cameras, civilian review bodies, and public databases of police misconduct.
Create national standards on use of force, including a national ban on chokeholds and police training
While many jurisdictions like the City of San Diego have banned chokeholds, we need national standards on use of force to keep our community members safe wherever they travel. It is clear that additional federal training requirements are needed to de-escalate response to both 911 calls and people exercising their First Amendment rights.
Provide additional funding and authority for the Department of Justice to investigate and address police misconduct
The Department of Justice is empowered to investigate a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional policing, and aggressive pursuit of this mandate has led to police reforms in many American cities. The Trump administration has largely abandoned these important tools of police reform. Congress should restore funding for Department of Justice initiatives that work to reduce violent confrontations and promote community-based policing.