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On the Issues


There are two questions that plague Ohioans. The first question is “Can I afford quality health insurance?” The second question is “Is my family safe from the opioid epidemic?” We are failing our citizens if the answer to either of those questions is ‘No’.

There is an endless string of statistics available regarding the Opioid Crisis, and each one of them is seemingly more-unbelievable than the last:

  • Opioid overdoses kill more Americans under the age of 50 than car crashes or gun deaths.
  • More Americans died in 2016 from drug overdoses than there were American casualties in the Vietnam War.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, 3.8 billion opioid pills were prescribed across Ohio.

As the crisis has mounted, we have moved more toward prevention, but it hasn’t been enough. If we want to change the result, we have to focus on its source.

It starts with the healthcare industry. For years, our doctors have been incentivized to over-prescribe opiates by constant lobbying from pharmaceutical companies. Only now are we starting to see the balance swing toward a more responsible approach to writing prescriptions.

In addition to monitoring prescription drug scripts, we need to continue investing in funding and support for treatment programs that are focused on positive public health outcomes. It isn’t enough to rely solely on first responders dispatched with Narcan to address the crisis. We need a full shift toward treatment, and we need to develop coverage for that treatment through our insurances plans.

But in order to do that, we need to fundamentally change the American healthcare system: we need to ensure that every American has access to quality insurance and coverage. And that means we need to move to a universal model of coverage—my preferred method being single-payer care. Here in Ohio, Senator Sherrod Brown has introduced a plan that would allow citizens aged 55 and older to join Medicare. This is an important step that we need to take.

Senator Brown’s plan takes our most effective model of healthcare and expands its coverage, while simultaneously removing citizens from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) pool of participants. This will lead to a younger pool of enrollees in the ACA, which would lower premiums. Most importantly, it would lay the foundation for a Medicare buy-in, which would provide universal coverage and allow for a private insurance option.

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Jobs & Economy:

I come from a family of small-business owners, dating back to the days when my great-grandfather sold boots to railroad workers. They taught me from an early age that customers drive the economy, and I’ve learned that lesson time and time again running my own small business. Our economy thrives when our citizens have good, decent-paying jobs of their own.

We need to focus on creating steady and dependable jobs, while making benefits better for workers. Let’s start by looking to infrastructure and skilled trades as a source of employment. We should be investing more in public works: hiring citizens to build positive community infrastructure like bridges and tunnels, or installing new pipes to get the lead out of the water in our public schools.

We can start reshaping our economy by making a serious push toward green-energy solutions, which will create thousands of new jobs while helping us fight our greatest existential threat. We can start promoting skilled-trades through public schools, community colleges and apprenticeship programs—occupations that are drastically understaffed and desperately needed.

And once we start rebuilding our country, we need to continue by reinvesting in our commitment to our workers. It starts with fixing the areas where we are failing: we need guaranteed overtime for workers who qualify, paid family leave and the correct classification of employees vs. independent contractors.

It also includes a promise to fix our retirement system. Not only does social security need protection, but it also needs strengthening—right now, roughly 70% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings. Too many of us are working into old age, with far too little in our 401(k)s: we need to know that there will be something waiting for us to dignify a lifetime spent working.

We also need to change the way we pay our workers now, starting with resetting our minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. The value of the federally-mandated minimum wage in 2018 is 36% less than it was in 1968; we are falling behind a standard that was set 50 years ago. I believe that we need to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour to reset the standard for what our workers are worth.

At the same time, I’m a small-business owner in a low-margin business: I understand that a sharp increase to the minimum wage is unnerving to a lot of folks. But it’s possible to help businesses like mine make that commitment. What we can’t afford to keep doing is allowing our country’s top employers to continue enjoying their cash reserves and executive pay while giving their workers a wage they struggle to survive on.

This means that we need to increase the minimum wage and focus on supporting our lowest-income workers: we can do this by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which progressively scales to lift the pay of workers, without imposing on small businesses like mine. It is also a policy that has bi-partisan support in Congress. By combining the two—increasing the minimum wage and expanding the EITC—we can greatly improve the lives of workers in this country without devitalizing small and low-margin businesses.

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Campaign Finance:

Right now, the way we finance elections is the clearest demonstration of the gross imbalance of power between this country’s middle class and its richest citizens. In the 2016 election cycle alone, 158 families accounted for roughly one half of all funds raised.

In the eight years since the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, we have seen a dramatic shift in the source of campaign spending. In 2016, Super PACs spent roughly $1.1 billion on campaigns and an average of $2.5 million was spent per PAC. Simply put, the voices of our citizens are being drowned out by those with the only means to be heard. When the Court ruled on Citizens United, they stated that the use of money in politics should be considered “free speech”, provided that the funds in question were not given directly to any candidate or campaign. Although Super PAC funds may not be funneled directly to candidates, there can be no debate over their outsized role in our politics.

We cannot claim to have a free democracy, if our voices aren’t all able to be heard equally. The last eight years have reestablished a truth that we have long been aware of: money isn’t speech. If we want everyone to be able to have a say in the process, then we need to legislate against money in politics. We need to have a level playing field.

This means we need to begin and end with absolute transparency. Our campaign has already publicly pledged to swear off corporate donations, and that will not change over the course of this election. But it shouldn’t just end with voluntary commitments—we need to make laws to ensure that we know who exactly is financing our elections. That starts with a legal requirement of all Super PACs to disclose the source of their funding, so that we know who is contributing donations and where they’re going.

Additionally, I believe that we need to seriously examine expanding the public financing of elections. There are 13 states that allocate funds for public elections, and they do so either by providing campaigns public funding or by matching candidates’ donations while capping both at a fixed amount. We can start fighting against the flood of money in politics by making a push for legislation that supports public financing.

Finally, I support a constitutional amendment that would reverse Citizens United. We need to make sure that our representatives are working for their constituents and not corporations, and that means we need to make a permanent change to our system. A constitutional amendment protects our voices, and it affirms our right to participate in our democracy.

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Meet John

I'm running to represent Ohio's 12th district in Congress because I believe in the simple truth that, as working families go, so goes the country.

As a farmer, small-business owner and native of rural Ohio, I've seen firsthand the importance of economic opportunity for everyone - especially those on the other side of power.

If we want to deliver on our national promise that hard work will pay off, we have to start by electing representatives who understand what that promise really means.

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