I’m running for Congress to build a Minnesota for all of us – where every member of every family is rewarded for their hard work with an outstanding education, the training or retraining for a good job, and a fair shot at a better life. I’ll never give up on the Minnesota and the America that we can create together.
Growing our Economy and Creating Jobs for Today and the Future
The economic recovery has not touched all families. For many, paychecks aren’t going up, while the cost of groceries, prescription drugs, education, and other household expenses continue to rise. We need leaders in Washington that will invest in and do more to create the right jobs, with better pay and make sure Americans have the tools to succeed in a 21st Century economy.
I’m ready to do just that. Over the past decade, I have worked to create good-paying jobs in Minnesota, with responsibility for a workforce of 16,000 employees at a major Minnesota manufacturing company.
It’s a mix of 21st century manufacturing and technical jobs, and small business entrepreneurship that we must continue to work to create in Minnesota. That means prioritizing investments in education and career skills, and reforming a system that too often benefits special interests, big corporations, and the wealthy.
To help the economy grow and families prosper, we must focus on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurship, invest in America, and invest in Americans.
Supporting small business growth and entrepreneurship
Washington should be in the business of rewarding entrepreneurship by making it easier for people to start and grow small businesses. Here’s what we can do:
- Make it easier to access capital and loans
- Increase small businesses' access to technical resources and technology
- Simplify regulations and taxes for companies with 20 or fewer employees
- Increase tax deductions for start-up and healthcare costs
All of these measures will make it easier for America’s innovators to start and grow their small businesses while continuing to grow our economy.
Investing in America
Congress must invest in infrastructure revitalization by rebuilding our roads, highways, and bridges and increasing access to high-speed internet – especially in rural areas. Not only will this create good-paying construction jobs in the short-term, experience has shown that public infrastructure investment stimulates private sector jobs growth.
In order to help stimulate private sector investment in infrastructure – like machinery, buildings, and factories – we must incentivize companies to bring their cash outside the United States back home. Billions of dollars in foreign earnings and capital are overseas – let’s make sure that money is invested in America.
Investing in Americans
American workers need to have the right skills for the high-paying, high-growth technical jobs of the 21st century. We can make sure of this by investing in workforce development initiatives and encouraging public-private partnerships in higher education. When schools work with local employers to link training and education to the needs of the regional economy, students and employers win.
Our goal should to be for each student to receive the training necessary either through college, a technical degree, or apprenticeship program to be ready for a good-paying job. And we must be committed to continuous learning and job re-training as industries and technologies change. This requires a commitment to investing and encouraging partnerships between Minnesota companies and technical colleges.
Higher education and job training is only part of the equation. We must encourage companies to invest in their workforce by closing tax loopholes that move American jobs overseas, and replacing them with tax credits for companies that hire American. Let’s reward those employers who create jobs in America.
Protecting America's Workers
Creating a good paying job for every American is only half the solution. We need to make sure that everyone can join the workforce and feel secure in their job. I'll fight to protect the rights of every worker to organize and collectively bargain. My wife and I have four sons and I saw how hard my mother worked to raise children on her own. We need a national paid family leave and earned sick and safe time policy. A lack of paid family leave disproportionately impacts women that have to care for family members and those with employers that don't provide maternity leave. We also have a child care availability and affordability crisis looming in many areas of this country and need to consider all possible solutions to addressing it. We need to continue our investment in an all of the above regional transportation strategy to make sure workers can get to their workplaces quickly and efficiently so they're more productive and can spend more time with their families.
If health care is not affordable, it is not accessible. I know that, firsthand. I grew up for a portion of my childhood without health insurance. I still remember the box of bills that sat on our kitchen table when my little sister had a medical issue. I also spent more than 20 years working in two healthcare manufacturing companies, and at one, I oversaw our employer-sponsored health plan.
We must work to repair our healthcare system, starting with immediate fixes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and work toward universal health coverage. It's time to stop playing politics with people's lives.
Many families, particularly those who are self-employed as small business owners and family farmers, cannot afford the healthcare available in the individual marketplace, but Washington has done nothing to help. Congress needs to work across the aisle immediately to stabilize healthcare costs for these families.
We can do this without giving up the good things that have come from the ACA. Current law has eliminated the penalty for pre-existing conditions, ended lifetime limits, allowed young adults to remain on their parent’s insurance, and given tens of millions of Americans access to healthcare who didn’t have it before.
To stabilize the market place, it’s critical that we reauthorize and make permanent a federal reinsurance program that does not shortchange other current programs. We must provide a long-term outlook for cost reduction subsidies. We also must rein in out-of-control costs in the pharmaceutical industry. We can start by making pharma compete by negotiating with Medicare, make medical pricing more transparent, incentivize preventative care, and move away from a fee-for-service healthcare system.
Finally, we need to work towards universal healthcare. There are many specific policy ideas emerging to accomplish this goal and we should consider each as to whether it brings us closer to making sure every family has healthcare they can afford.
The Opioid Epidemic
Our country is confronting one of the largest public health threats since the onset of the AIDS epidemic. The opioid epidemic now claims more lives every year than car accidents or gun violence – nationwide, over 33,000 people died from opioid or heroin overdoses in 2015 alone.
The Second Congressional District is home to some exceptional local leaders in the fight against this epidemic. The Shakopee Police Department and the Scott County Board have rolled out programs that focus on rehabilitation and recovery rather than punishment and incarceration. Whether it’s a new drug court program, treatment center, lifesaving medication for first responders, or critical new research, all these efforts have something in common: they require resources and funding. That’s how our leaders in Washington can and should help.
When I’m elected to Congress, I will work to expand the funding allocated in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). This bipartisan bill allows the federal government to provide states with grants to fund a variety of programs aimed at curbing prescription opioid and heroin abuse. I also will support the Addiction Recovery for Rural Communities (ARRC) Act, a bill to help rural communities fight the opioid epidemic.
High Quality Public Education, Career Training and Affordable College
Education and career training are the keys to securing a strong economic future for families in Minnesota. And as the proud wife of a former teacher and mother of four sons – three in college and one at Rosemount High School – I understand the importance of a great education for all children.
When I’m elected to Congress, I’ll prioritize funding for public education and ensure that our teachers have access to the resources they need to be successful. We must invest in pre-K education to bridge any learning gaps before kids start school, stabilize funding for K-12 education, and ensure that career training is available to all students.
It’s critical that we fully fund special education so that every child has the resources they need to learn and grow and school districts can better manage their budgets.
We also must give our teachers the respect they deserve by protecting their right to organize and collectively bargain, and giving tax credits to those who spend their own money on classroom supplies.
Giving Teachers A Raise
Part of giving teachers the tools they need to succeed is making sure that teachers are paid fairly. We owe it to all of our children to make sure that we’re attracting the best and the brightest to education today to help build and shape the best and the brightest of tomorrow. When we raise teacher pay, we can recruit, and keep, the best possible teachers for our children.
It’s not enough, though, to just tell cash-strapped schools and districts that they need to pay their teachers more. We need to make sure that they have the resources to do so. When I go to Congress, I’ll work to end the carried interest loophole, a tax policy that allows hedge fund and private equity managers to misrepresent earned income as capital gains, letting them pay a lower tax rate. We can send that nearly $16 billion back to the states to help them raise wages for all of our teachers.
Cost of college and career training
One of the biggest issues facing families is the nearly prohibitive cost of higher education. 70% of Minnesota’s college graduates have taken on some form of debt in order to complete their education, with the average price tag amounting to $31,579. That kind of debt causes our young people to delay major milestones, like buying a home or starting a family. Not only is it bad for our graduates – it’s bad for the economy.
In order to stay globally competitive, we must make higher education affordable and re-emphasize the range of career options available to young people, from colleges to technical degrees to apprenticeships. As a member of Congress, I would support legislation to make the first two years of post-secondary education free – whether it is technical education, earning an associate’s degree, or the first two-years of a bachelor’s degree. That’s how we build the workforce of the future and attract the industries of the future.
Caring for Our Veterans
We owe so much to the brave men and women who volunteer to serve our country in the armed forces. As a leader at a major Minnesota company, I set strategy for a program that put veterans to work in our company, and across the medical technology industry. As a nation, we need to do all we can to encourage private industry to recruit, hire, mentor, and train veterans.
When our soldiers return home, they deserve access to the best healthcare possible. But that isn’t what they're getting right now.
An audit of the VA found that more than 120,000 veterans waited at least 90 days for healthcare appointments or never received appointments at all. And over 82,000 veterans were still waiting for the VA to evaluate their claims for service-connected disability compensation more than 125 days after filing.
Many veterans face serious health problems related to their service. My family has not escaped this burden. My uncle died of cancer in his early 50s following his service in Vietnam – believed to be due to Agent Orange exposure. Younger veterans face similar heath challenges related to their work near toxic “burn pits.” They deserve the best care, treatment, and compensation that our nation can provide for their physical and mental health needs.
We must be there for our veterans for life. They’ve been there for us.
Protecting the Environment & Slowing the Pace of Climate Change
Climate change is a threat to our environment and the health and safety of all Americans. But it also presents us with a great opportunity to create economic growth through smart public policies. We must continue to encourage growth in the renewable energy sector, and become a world leader in innovation. America led the world in creating and adapting new technologies in the 20th century - let’s make sure we continue that trend by leading the global green economy.
Our approach to addressing climate change doesn’t need to be onerous. We can lower our carbon emissions, build an energy infrastructure that relies less on fossil fuels, and attract and advance the industries of the future by looking for innovative solutions on climate change. If we invest in emerging energy industries we can create good jobs and get back on track as a global leader in our new energy economy. I look forward to working on a bi-partisan basis to pass common sense initiatives, like instituting a carbon fee and dividend program to reduce our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels through market-based solutions.
We need a smart and tough foreign policy agenda that protects the United States and at the same time preserves the shared American values of privacy, liberty, and diversity.
We should equip our military personnel with the 21st century tools they need to defend our nation as well as eliminate terrorist threats as efficiently and safely as possible. We must support the use of innovative technologies, update and improve our cybersecurity infrastructure, and ensure that our military and intelligence officials have access to every tool they need to protect our nation.
We also must return to a diplomacy first mindset and work to restore the strong relationships with our allies. We’re at our safest and strongest when we’re leading a coalition of countries committed to peace and freedom.
Protecting Minnesota’s Seniors
When Medicare and Social Security were enacted, they lifted a generation of seniors out of poverty. Since then they’ve been a promise we’ve kept to each succeeding generation, allowing Americans to retire with dignity. That’s why I oppose any changes that would cut, privatize, or jeopardize these programs.
We should look for ways to strengthen both programs, instead of using the retirement of millions of Americans as a political football. This includes allowing Medicare to negotiate for the best prices on prescription drugs, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse of both programs, and shoring up their funding – even if it requires asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.
In addition, we must also do more to prevent elder abuse. Altogether, the Minnesota Department of Human Services receives nearly 1,000 reports of elder abuse every week. Too often, those closest to vulnerable adults are the ones taking advantage of them, causing victims to hesitate before taking action. As leaders, we must do what we can to empower social workers, caretakers, and seniors themselves to identify, prevent, report, and end this abuse.
Finally, we must combat the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. In order to start to combat the high cost of prescription drugs, we must allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies just as we already do in the VA. In addition, we must work to end anti-competitive “pay-for-delay” deals, and allow individuals to reimport individual supplies of medication from approved pharmacies in Canada.
Fighting for Our Agricultural Economy and Greater Minnesota
I grew up in rural America for much of my childhood. My grandfather farmed beans - until the 1980s farm crisis forced him out. My 91-year-old grandmother still lives near that same land where he spent so much of his life, and she tills and plants her own garden each year.
I know how unique each community in Greater Minnesota is and how important farming is to the Greater Minnesota economy. We are the fifth largest agricultural state in the country, and Minnesota’s 75,000 farms contribute $19 billion to our economy each year. Agriculture is a critical component of and opportunity for economic growth in Minnesota’s second congressional district. To keep that agricultural economy growing, we must help farmers export their products to new markets such as Cuba. Agricultural exports totaled over $8 billion in 2012 and continue to grow.
As a member of Congress, I will work across party lines to pass a new farm bill that ensures a stable and strong crop insurance program as a safety net for our farmers, and at the same time provides adequate funding for SNAP and other nutrition programs that help bridge gaps for families in Minnesota. If we make sure that fresh food is covered under SNAP that is a win-win. Farmers can sell more to people here at home and SNAP recipients have healthier food.
I also understand that healthcare affordability and access to quality medical care in Greater Minnesota are serious issues for Minnesota farmers and have specific solutions to address these concerns.
We should prioritize infrastructure investments in the United States, particularly ensuring that Greater Minnesota has access to high-speed internet to help communities meet their needs. It is not fair that our rural communities cannot build small businesses and utilize educational resources from the internet in the same way that suburban communities can. We also must address rail issues to ensure producers have reliable access to markets.
Minnesota has taken a leading role in producing homegrown energy, providing clean, renewable energy, and reducing our reliance on foreign oil. I will fight to maintain a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and lead the effort to make Minnesota a leader in homegrown energy.
Money in Politics
The Supreme Court in its 2010 decision in Citizens United completely changed elections in the United States, by allowing unlimited and dark money spending. Money in politics was always a problem but now it is worse than ever before. Now special interest groups can spend unlimited amounts of untraceable money to elect people who will tip the rules in their favor once in office. The voices of the people are lost in favor of the voices of the few and the powerful. It is a big part of what is wrong in Washington.
I am committed to pass laws to end Citizens United and get big money out of politics. Corporations and special interests are not people and their oversized influence on the way our government works needs to end now. Total transparency starts with requiring everyone who spends money in a campaign to say where that money came from.
Empowering Strong Women and Strong Families
I grew up surrounded by two strong women – my mother and my grandmother. My mom raised the three of us with the help of my grandmother. My grandmother lived a few homes down, and was on her feet for eight hours a day at a nearby shoe factory into her 70’s. Mom completed her college degree after almost 10 years and is still a teacher today.
As a leader at a Minnesota company, I started a Women In Business program to support and mentor women in their career choices and help them achieve that next level of success. Women have made great strides, but we still face challenges.
Our work is not done until women have equal opportunity and an equal voice in this country. Women should receive equal pay for doing the same job, and today, that is sadly not the case. Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act would be a great step in the right direction. We also must make sure that young women are being exposed to and encouraged to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, which currently count only 23% women among their workforce.
I support full reproductive rights for women and access to contraception and family planning services. No one should ever come between a woman and her doctor when making these decisions. The dangerous proposals that seek to eliminate contraceptive and family planning services coverage from the ACA guarantee must be stopped, and I will stand against them. I support Planned Parenthood and will continue to fight to protect their funding so that all women – especially those in rural areas – have access to the healthcare services they need.
Gun Violence Prevention
Our family has always been comfortable around firearms and strong supporters of the Second Amendment. Two of our four sons are avid deer and duck hunters and a third competed in trap shooting in high school. I’ve been known to join them from time to time on the gun range.
Support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with doing everything we can to keep guns away from criminals and other dangerous people. Every day, 93 Americans are killed by gun violence and there is no reason we can’t work to address this issue while protecting our Second Amendment rights. That’s why I support commonsense measures to address gun violence.
First, I believe we should lift the ban on Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research into gun violence. We need the facts in order to decide how to improve gun safety.
Second, I support universal background checks for every gun purchase, including those sold online and through private sales. The facts are compelling: In states where background checks are law there are 52 percent fewer mass shootings, 48 percent fewer law enforcement officials are shot to death, and 48 percent fewer people commit suicide by firearm. We should not allow criminals or domestic abusers to have such easy access to a firearm.
Third, we need to stop suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from purchasing firearms and reinstate a rule recently repealed by Congress that stopped some people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns.
Finally, I believe we should immediately ban the sale of military style, semi-automatic weapons, and make high-capacity clips, “bump stocks,” and other attachments that enable semi-automatic rifles to fire faster illegal.
These measures by themselves won’t eliminate gun violence in this country. But if they reduce the incidence of gun violence and help law enforcement stay safer, they’re worth fighting for.