Last week I took a barnstorm tour of 11 cities in two days across Congressional District 4 with gubernatorial candidate David Garcia. Meeting with voters is always inspiring and instructive.
For 10 months I’ve been crisscrossing the district to hear what voters have to say about the issues that matter most. Here’s what they’re telling me:
The hottest issue is immigration. Voters say they want solutions, not divisive rhetoric. I support keeping America safe using walls, fencing, electronic surveillance, border patrols or whatever makes sense. But a single, massive $30 billion wall won’t work. It didn’t work in China or Berlin, and it won’t work here.
Nobody wants open borders, including me. What we need is immigration policy that balances our national and economic security with our growing demand for labor, while living up to our compassionate traditions. We must require that employers prove they have offered jobs to Americans first, while requiring that immigrants coming to work here pay an employment bond they can pick up on their way back home. This is simple, practical and doable.
Our next biggest concern is health care. People worry about rising costs and limited options, and they need affordable prescriptions. We all agree the system is broken and the Affordable Care Act isn’t working the way it should. That’s what happens to a system that’s being sabotaged at every turn. Congressional Republicans are still promising to repeal the ACA, even though they never offered a good alternative.
Most voters are enthusiastic when I propose making Medicare voluntarily available to everyone as a competitive option. Why Medicare? It’s well established, it’s cost-effective, people understand it, and it works. It should be available to our veterans, too, and we should let the VA compete with Medicare on services and quality of care. Congress must also let Medicare negotiate drug prices. We should help lower-income people with drug costs, and repeal the 2017 tax cut for billionaires to help pay for it.
Voters understand that education, jobs and economic development are tied together. Most jobs in our district pay retail or lower wages. We need better-paying jobs, especially in high-tech, and to support that, high-speed Internet must be available to everyone. We need broadband to run our businesses and educate our children. High-speed Internet is also critical to effective telemedicine, something rural communities desperately need, and something I pioneered in the VA system.
The key word in our district is “rural,” and leveling the urban-rural playing field is my top economic priority. Employers need an educated workforce and access to new technologies, and we need great teachers to make that happen. So, I’m for boosting teacher pay and offering federally subsidized college-loan forgiveness to those who sign on to teach in rural America.
A growing economy requires we retrain our workers. We can anticipate a changing labor landscape with advances like robotics and artificial intelligence. It’s not enough to say to someone who’s lost a job, “OK, but we won’t let you have welfare or food subsidies unless you’re working,” and give them no way to gain necessary skills. Let’s train them to compete and win in a fast-changing job market.
Solar energy is a key part of that change, and it’s an industry we must embrace. No state gets more sunshine than Arizona. Consumers want energy choices like solar and wind, and they would create thousands of jobs across our state and help contain utility costs.
Our current tax policy makes us financially vulnerable. Our national debt is up to $21 trillion and rising. We have to pay that down, but instead we’re giving tax breaks to billionaires. Every dollar given today to billionaires will have to be repaid tomorrow by our children. Who borrows from their kids? It’s fiscally irresponsible and a threat to our national security.
No single party can solve any of these issues. For Congress to work together, we absolutely must restore civil discourse. Everywhere I go people say they’re sick and tired of tribal politics. I am too.
My dad was a Methodist minister. He taught me to reach across spiritual lines and respect other points of view. I’ve applied that lesson for decades in business and in life by listening and working with everyone. That’s how democracy works.
People ask why I think I can do a better job than our current congressman. I listen to people before I decide. I care about facts, not blind ideology, polls or the party line. I’m committed to representing everyone in the district, not just those who agree with me or write big checks. I’m independent-minded, and always try to be fair.
Dr. David Brill is the Democrat running for Congress in Arizona’s Congressional District 4.