Our country is in crisis and the urgency of now is upon us. The importance of trust in our government institutions is more important now more than ever.
Countries around the world have done a better job of managing economic downturns in part because their people have faith in their institutions, their leadership, and each other. Without trust, you can’t have family economics that is sustainable, retirement benefits that deliver the outcomes we’ve worked hard for, salaries you can live on, water supplies that are clean, medicines that are safe, and hospitals that have sufficient capacity to care for us when needed. Our society is vulnerable and at-risk in many ways. We have to trust each other and we have to trust our government to be there when we need it.
My work over the past 35-years has shown that I have the ability to get things done by bringing people together to solve Arizona’s most pressing problems. We must put principles over politics and must change the way government functions and ensure that it works for us and not against us. We must pursue policies that restore our trust and confidence in our government institutions. We must pursue policies that reform the institutions that we depend on to protect and serve us at all levels of government. A pragmatic, bipartisan approach will bring our economy back, strengthen our healthcare system, and protect seniors, families, and our most vulnerable populations.
Gentles 9 Point Plan for Real Police Reform
“It’s time to channel anger into action and usher in a new era of police accountability and criminal justice reform. I support the overwhelming number of women and men in uniform who are doing a good job. I also support real, substantive, actionable, and accountable change and reforms that will make our communities safer and stronger for all.”
In addition to the Gentles 9-point plan outlined below Gentles is calling for criminal justice reform that begins with a ban on federal and state private for-profit prisons. “The only reason for-profit corporations exist is to make money and it is unacceptable to use our people, overwhelmingly people of color, and specifically people of African descent, as the product that provides the profitability for private prisons. This is part of the pipeline to prison problem that exists in our country today.”
Gentles 9-point plan calls for the following:
- Severely restrict claim and use of qualified immunity statutes to ensure that bad police officers and public employees are not protected for their bad behavior and judgment. This will make officers think closely about their actions.
- Require all police officers on the street to wear body-worn cameras that cannot be turned off while on duty.
- Release the names of all officers involved in shootings and their track records.
- Increase training in implicit and unconscious bias and racial stigmatization.
- Establish citizens review and oversight boards at the local level to monitor and hold accountable those sworn to protect and serve. An example is the City of Phoenix that just approved $3 million in funding for such oversight, which is a step in the right direction. All police departments, including those in Congressional District 6, should implement similar oversight.
- Provide greater latitude to police chiefs to terminate bad cops for egregious behavior. Today, it is very difficult to do so based on state statutes and the influence of unions.
- Reform civil service boards to make it more difficult to overturn a Chief’s decision to terminate an officer.
- Implement national qualification standards to become and to be retained as a police officer. We must take into consideration small and rural communities in this discussion, as their pool of qualified individuals is much smaller. Similar to doctors, we must hold police officers to a higher standard, require more training, and require disciplinary actions related to bad acts more than any other profession due to their direct impact on life.
- Require agencies to report all misconduct to their Post Boards with investigation requirements.
Uncertainty and unemployment are crushing our economy and working people’s sprits right now.
The depth of government distrust, economic inequality, and health disparities exposed by the current crisis compels us to act immediately and decisively. Our government and its institutions are broken and we must make significant changes. More importantly, the American people must have faith that it can work for us and that it will be there in our time of greatest need.
Over the past 35 years, I have gotten things done by bringing people together to help address Arizona’s most pressing problems. We must put principles over politics and must change the way government functions, to ensure that it works for us and not against us. We must pursue policies that bring our economy back, strengthen our healthcare system, and protect seniors, families, and our most vulnerable populations.
The Trump tax cuts of 2017 have proven to only benefit big corporations and the wealthy. We must stop this administration’s erosion of the institutions we depend on to support us during the good times and the bad. This requires real change and leadership, as the last several months has exposed the significant structural weakness of our economy. Long before COVID-19, we could see the social and economic inequalities driven deeper by the policies of the current administration. Former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz recently cited how the COVID-19 virus has exposed much of the socioeconomic inequalities that already existed as it has become clear that many of the essential workers that our economy depends on are those that are not paid or treated well (1).
Today, we find ourselves worrying that our children cannot afford to rent a decent home much less buy one. Our economy seems better at creating financial shelters for billionaires than shelters for the homeless. Our international supply lines are too fragile and offshore sources for critical goods are too distant. We are facing shortages like never before. We need leadership that is not afraid to challenge the status quo and the norms of our economy, and to chart a new way forward to reverse the permanent tax cuts given to corporations and to make the tax cuts given to individuals permanent instead of temporary. These economic goals are within our reach. It is not rocket science. We need to understand that it is about how the government is supposed to work for us and not against us. We can have both successful companies and prosperous people but we will have to work at it.
The interrelationships between having a good job, career, or a successful small business is foundational to an economy. We must be intentional in recasting a better tomorrow through lessons learned today.
The Gentles Economic Agenda will put our nation on the path to a better economic future by:
- Improving family financial stability and economics
- Protecting seniors and retirement incomes
- Strengthening wage and income growth for our economy’s frontline and essential workers
- Developing a more vibrant small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem
- Investing in economic infrastructures that drive job creation and economic revitalization
- Improve family financial stability and economics
- Make the temporary relief provisions in the 2017 tax cut for individuals and families permanent. Many of the tax benefits set up to help individuals and families will expire in 2025. Child tax credit, the standard deduction, lowering of personal tax rates, and mortgage interest deductions are just a few.
- Make health insurance portable and not tied to one’s job. Portability is a necessity as many workers will have to change jobs and industries as the economy recovers. This should include guaranteed coverage of pre-existing conditions. This COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how fragile our health care delivery system has become.
- Provide homeowners with protections including mortgage forbearances without fear of foreclosure or large balloon payments during times of national or local disaster.
- Ease credit reporting so that the loss of a job and a missed payment does not lock people out of the economic recovery due to a poor credit rating.
- Provide a rental expense tax credit that goes towards homeownership if a home is purchased within a five year period. Though no federal rental tax credit is in place, there are several states that have small renter’s tax credits, including some that are refundable (2).
- Provide a tax credit for time out of work or loss of a job. This could be expanded to include, cover, or provide a guaranteed minimum income (GMI) which would provide individuals an income sufficient to live on, provided they meet certain conditions.
- Reduce or waive capital gains taxes for individuals up to a specified cap or ceiling – up to $1,000,000 for a period of 1-2 years. This will help individuals and small business owners build up savings and help capital reserves to help mitigate future economic downturns.
- Following the Peace Corps or Americorp model, use community service work to help reduce student loan debt. At the minimum, let’s provide relief in the form of forgivable loans in exchange for community service or a commitment to work in a high need or low-income community. For every year of community service, the student can receive one year of loan forgiveness or waive tuition for the first two years of university work or community college. This is a win-win as graduates need opportunities to thrive without the burden of long-term debt, and our community needs skilled workers in communities that struggle to attract talent.
- Protect seniors and retirement Incomes
- Penalties for not staffing for acuity (level of illness) must be sufficiently severe to deter. Understaffing is the number one cause of death in senior living and rehab facilities. Cutting corners on staffing requirements to meet required care. Funds for the state to do inspections and to hold senior care accountable. Centers say they are staffing at two to three times but not actually doing so to increase reimbursements.
- Provide relief and support to senior citizens during this pandemic and eventual recovery. Senior citizens are the most vulnerable demographic now and are frightened for good cause. Many are struggling to make ends meet.
- Make means-tested social security benefits tax free for the next three years puts more money in senior’s pockets and provides some additional sense of security.
- Eliminate taxes on mandatory IRA withdrawals. Current taxes that are deferred until withdrawal then become taxable income. With the passing of the CARES Act, individuals that are typically required to have a mandatory withdrawal have the option to stop those withdrawals, which will save the individual from a tax perspective (3). My proposal exempts the first $100,000 for the first three years of withdrawals and gives people some relief while keeping more money in their pockets supporting their retirement instead of penalizing their hard work to build the savings for when it’s needed. Withdrawals will be tax-free and not subject to capital gains so long as they are using it for medical or other approved hardship related expenses.
- Currently, social security benefits are federally taxable as income (up to 50% of benefits are taxable if your income is above $25K for an individual and $34K for a married couple. Up to 85% of your benefits are taxable if your income is over $34K as an individual and $44K for a couple). Under my plan, tax-free social security benefits for retirees with income below $100,000 improves well-earned retirement security for seniors.
- Ease and expand rules around 401k hardship withdrawals and repayment to eliminate penalties.
- Strengthen wage and income growth for our economy’s frontline and essential workers
- Support a federal livable wage indexed against the local cost of living and inflation or a federal minimum wage, whichever is greater. Having a livable wage at the federal level will provide a baseline across the country in order to provide stability to Americans (4). This is important. Prior to the pandemic, we were creating plenty of jobs, but low wages often require workers to have more than one job to make ends meet.
- Restore medical equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturing to the US. There is growing support for a federal medical equipment manufacturing initiative in the economic development arena to provide forgivable loans to manufacturers to locate their manufacturing plants in zip codes of greatest economic need and to offer employment to underemployed or unemployed workers to produce in-demand medical equipment such as PPE.
- Encourage students and retrain professionals into health care and other front-line fields by providing scholarships and immediate job placement with incentives to work in the hardest-hit areas upon completion of training and coursework.
- Develop a more vibrant small business and entrepreneurial ecosystem
- Implement a tiered-funding approach to all future stimulus support to ensure small businesses get their fair share of funding by providing 75% of all funding to companies with revenues of $1 million or less, and 25% to small businesses with revenues of more than $1 million up to $5M cap.
- Require greater transparency and accountability for bank credit and lending practices to underserved communities.
- Make certain small business loans forgivable for keeping people employed for more than six months.
- Invest in entrepreneurial and social enterprise development programs that encourage new business formation to address local market gaps.
- Invest in economic infrastructures that drive job creation and economic revitalization
- Increase investment in local community development agencies including Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFI) whose mission is to invest in distressed communities.
- Eliminate matching requirements for grant funding for economic development programs under the disaster assistance program. This would provide local communities more flexibility in channeling funding to locally based programs to create small business jobs and employment.
- Reform Opportunity Zone policies and close loopholes to increase private investment to truly direct capital investments into economically disadvantaged or underinvested communities.
- Invest in economic development infrastructure including universal and affordable access to high-speed internet and broadband. These services will be essential as we rethink how we deliver services and keep people connected living in underserved communities.
The importance of trust in our government institutions is more important now more than ever. Countries around the world have done a better job of managing economic downturns in part because their people have faith in their institutions, their leadership, and each other. Without trust, you can’t have family economics that is sustainable, retirement benefits that deliver the outcomes we’ve worked hard for, salaries you can live on, water supplies that are clean, medicines that are safe, and hospitals that have sufficient capacity to care for us when needed. Our society is vulnerable and at-risk in many ways. We have to trust each other and we have to trust our government to be there when we need it.
- Pound, J. (2020, April 14). Economist Joseph Stiglitz says coronavirus is ‘exposing’ health inequality in US. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/14/economist-joseph-stiglitz-says-coronavirus-is-exposing-health-inequality-in-us.html
- Kimberlin, S., Tach, L., & Wimer, C. (2018). A renters tax credit to curtail the affordable housing crisis. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 4(2), 131–160. doi: 10.7758/rsf.2018.4.2.07
- Ebeling, A. (2020). Congress Suspends Required Minimum Distributions For 401(k)s And IRAs For 2020, Opening Window To Tax Savings. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2020/03/27/congress-suspends-required-minimum-distributions-for-401ks-and-iras-for-2020-opening-window-to-tax-savings/#6ffef5102cb6
- Ravenscraft, E. (2019, June 5). What a ‘Living Wage’ Actually Means. The New York Times, Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/05/smarter-living/what-a-living-wage-actually-means.html
Health Care Agenda
Health care is a human right. Here is what I believe and what I’ll do on the important issue. Our focus must be on people and principles and not petty Washington DC politics.
The fundamental issue relating to health care is the availability and affordability of coverage, along with the concern that a catastrophic diagnosis, such as cancer, can lead to a decreased socioeconomic status or even bankruptcy. I support the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and will work to protect, expand, and strengthen its provisions. We must provide access to coverage for as many people as possible to help drive down costs. We must provide a more sustainable solution for the uninsured who use emergency rooms as doctor’s offices. Doing so drives up costs for hospitals, which is then passed onto those with private/employer-based insurance. The long-term goal is to figure out how to provide health care for the millions of Americans who are still not covered while keeping the costs affordable for everyone else.
The need for fundamental health care coverage for everyone is greater than ever. People have lost their jobs, and some may not return to the position they had before COVID-19. Small businesses have closed and large employers have eliminated jobs, yet people still need health care. We must have a system that carries people through the good times as well as the tough times, when they are working and when they have lost their jobs. I support a public option added to the ACA that provides a bridge for when times are hard. Additionally, I believe access to affordable health care must be independent of employment status and portable, meaning if you change or lose a job you can take your insurance with you if the new employer does not offer insurance or is more expensive. This protects against any gap in coverage going from one job to another.
Is the ACA perfect? No, but let’s make it better by keeping what works and fixing what does not. We must control the rising cost of premiums and deductibles for individuals that makes it hard for some to keep a plan. Current employer mandates must remain in place to ensure affordability. It makes no sense to throw out a successful system that has stood the test of time by decreasing the number of uninsured, in favor of a new unknown plan during one of the largest healthcare crises in our nation’s history. We need a system that provides access to more people, regulates the price of life-saving prescription drugs, and brings more transparency to upfront costs of care to eliminate surprise billing. We must ensure that all can access insurance even with a pre-existing condition, especially in these current times. That is why I support:
- Developing new measures to help us recover from this pandemic and prevent a future one including expanding resources for testing, facilitating rapid vaccine development, increased production of PPE equipment, and strengthening the supply chain to deliver critical medical devices like ventilators
- Providing access to affordable healthcare for everyone, regardless of employment status or location of residence
- Requiring full and up-front price transparency for all treatments
- Expanding Medicare to allow access at an earlier age and greater investment in Medicade to cover more children living below the poverty line
- Stopping extreme attempts to cut Medicare, cut Medicaid and repeal ObamaCare
- Fighting gross inequity in health care between the rich and the poor and those facing African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans
- Placing greater emphasis and incentives on education and preventative care to combat chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other preventable diseases
- Expanding the use of telemedicine and adequately funding community health centers will help bridge the gap of affordability and access
- Incentivizing physicians and other healthcare workers to practice in rural and low-income communities, beyond what currently exists
Finally, the addition of a public option will open a new pathway to medical care for those that cannot afford private insurance. To that end, I am not in favor of eliminating private insurance. Instead, let’s improve the ACA to make it more attractive and affordable for everyone. Affordable healthcare is a fundamental right of every American citizen. Our Founding Fathers spoke of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and each of those is impacted by our health.
Our country is great due to the hard work of immigrants who contribute and helped build this great nation we so love.
Just as my family and so many before and since they came seeking opportunity to take care of their families and to chart a new future. That is why the immigration issue is so important to me. I believe Immigration reform is a human rights and an economic issue and one that requires a bipartisan comprehensive approach to improve.
During my time working as a Senate staff member, I helped countless families navigate the complexities of what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), State Department, and consular officers in embassies across the world. I saw the immense challenges people had immigrating legally, much less how others enter illegally. We must reform the legal pathways to immigrate while mitigating the illegal paths others choose.
Immigrants help our nation meet our workforce requirements. Many are essential workers who are keeping our farming, agriculture and food supply moving, keeping the restaurant going, individuals making sure our grocery stores are operating, and our trucking and transportation system workers ensuring products arrive at their intended destination.
I support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that:
- Improves border security and enforcement by redirecting funds for a border wall to more effective safety and security measures
- Reforms the current inadequate quota system and waiting period for people from designated countries
- End family separation policies that orphans children left in the US when parents are deported
- Continues US direct foreign aid directed at specific countries to stabilize the issues that cause people to come to the US illegally – lack of work in their home country, political persecution and violence, economic strife, food insecurity, climate change, amongst other issues
- Stricter enforcement of temporary and visitor visas for those that overstay
- Creates a temporary protective status that gives people a way to live and work in the US legally. Those that broke the law should make amends – pay a fine, pass a criminal background check, pay back taxes, work in an area deemed an essential service, low-income community or another area with critical worker shortages, and meet a minimum residency requirement prior to gaining a legal or permanent residency status
- Grants legal permanent residency with a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients
- Tightens H1-B visa and other employer visa categories to deter those who use this status to usurp the system
It is long past the time to address the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country. It is impractical to think we can deport them all, completely shut down our borders, or build a wall long and tall enough to keep people out of the country. It is simply not possible, nor practical. We need a bipartisan compromise and achievable solutions, not divisive fear-mongering rhetoric designed to drive division and fear, less partisanship, and more bipartisan compromise.
Gun Control and the 2nd Amendment
I support the 2nd Amendment and my wife is a 29-year retired military veteran and she’s quite adept with a gun.
I support the constitution – the 2nd and all the other amendments. I think we need common-sense gun control measures like ending the gun show loophole – to keep criminals and others from buying off the books guns at gun shows. Bump stocks, AR-15, AK-47’s, and other military weapons are not much help to sportsmen and women and I think they have to be reined in.