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Health Care

The Affordable Care Act has had significant benefits to our health system. 20 million more Americans have health insurance due to the ACA. In addition people cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and young people can stay on their parents insurance until the age of 26. The ACA also eliminated lifetime spending caps on insurance policies.

The positive aspects of the ACA certainly out-weigh the negative, however, many problems still exist. Rising premiums, confusion regarding what hospitals and services are in-network and less plan options are some of those issues.

While I will fight to preserve the ACA and work to improve it where ever possible, I believe we need a single payer health care system that guarantees health insurance to all Americans.

Access to health care should be a right, not a privilege. I have set forth a comprehensive health care plan that includes major reforms. These reforms are aimed at:

1. Controlling the cost of health care for individuals, families and business,
2. Providing quality care to every American,
3. Controlling the cost of health care within our state and federal budgets.


1. We will control cost for families and businesses. The average employer pays 14% of its payroll towards health benefits and the average person pays 13% of their pay to cover health insurance premiums. Under this plan, the government would institute a payroll tax of 8.25%. This would actually reduce the amount of money spent by employers and employees.

My plan maintains the existing level of federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid. This current level of spending combined with the new payroll tax revenue would generate enough revenue to cover 100% of the medical costs for every American. Such a plan provides for certainty of cost for businesses and employees, prevents massive increases in future government spending, and provides quality health care to every American. Under my plan, every American would have health insurance. 

2. A universal, single payer health care system must include coverage for EVERY HOSPITAL and EVERY DOCTOR. When someone needs medical care they shouldn't need to worry which hospital or doctor is "in-network". 

3. We must give the federal government the right to negotiate drug prices for our new healthcare system. Large pharmaceutical companies should not be able to initiate uncontrolled price increases or limit access to life saving drugs for financial gain. We will also need to limit annual cost increases for services to ensure that the revenues collected can cover high quality care for all Americans.


American Manufacturing

As the owner of a small manufacturing company I understand the challenges faced by American workers and the manufacturing industry. Without a doubt, we need to level the playing field for American workers. Trade deals like NAFTA and others have helped ship jobs overseas, eroded incomes for hard working Americans and have devastated rural and urban communities across the country.

In order to bring back American manufacturing we should take a number of steps including adding higher import taxes to countries that do not mandate environmental protection, a living wage or follow basic worker and human rights standards. 

We must also institute a national job training grant program to allow any company looking to hire new workers to receive federal grant money to train workers. While this system is available on a local or state level, it is not widely accessible.

As an employer, the single largest challenge my company faces are finding qualified employees. People with no education, skills or training drive up manufacturing costs and have little opportunity for personal growth. By creating new job training programs, free tuition for vocational and job skills training and working to customize training with individual employers we can expand manufacturing, grow our economy and provide good paying, stable jobs to millions of workers.


Women's Rights

We have an obligation to recognize that women are not treated equally in our current society. Women earn only 79 percent of the pay as men doing the same job. This inequality demonstrates a need for Progressive leaders to lend a voice to women's issues.

I support the Paycheck Fairness Act that will require equal pay for equal work.

Besides working to create an equal playing field in employment, I believe strongly in the right of choice. The difficult decision of an abortion should be made between a woman and her doctor.

It always amazes me how Republicans want to reduce government regulations and government involvement in personal decisions, yet when it comes to women's issues they seem to believe the opposite. Along those lines, I oppose any health insurance limitations on birth control. No employer, hospital or insurance company should be able to deny access to contraception.

I also support health initiatives. Planned Parenthood is a right wing target even though they provide critical female and family medical services. Cancer screenings, HIV testing and affordable quality primary health care services are provided by Planned Parenthood. We should be expanding funding to health clinics and providers like Planned Parenthood. I won't stand for the smear campaign the right-wing has dumped on women and Planned Parenthood.


Public Lands

The system of National Parks, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges and Bureau of Land Management lands are one of the greatest treasures in America. The continued attempts by Republicans and special interest groups to exploit the resources for profit is unacceptable.

The United States Government holds these public lands in trust for all Americans- both current and future generations. It is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that future generations can enjoy these lands. 

Managing resources for the public trust means that decision makers must balance resource extraction, public recreation use and conservation. The decisions are not always straight forward.

My belief is that these resources should be preserved and protected for future generations. While logging, grazing and mining may occur on some of these lands, these activities should never be allowed if they will be detrimental to water, wildlife or the future use of the lands by the public.

As part of a comprehensive public lands management reform package, I would re-write the General Mining Act of 1872 that allows free access to mine public lands without fair compensation to the government or appropriate restrictions to mining to protect critical habitats.

As the Founder of a not-for-profit that fights for public trust resources I understand the challenges we face. I am currently involved in challenging a mining proposal on National Forest lands in Arizona and have been deeply involved in a fight to protect the Superior National Forest and Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness from proposed copper mining. 

Our public lands should be treated as treasures, not as bargaining chips to fulfill campaign promises or to pay back large campaign donors.


Climate Change

Climate change may be the single most important environmental issue in our lifetime. The impacts of a changing global climate will impact not only sea levels, but also food production, water availability and species survival. Climate change has the potential to create world wide instability, famine and drought.

Climate change also presents us with an opportunity to act as a global leader and lead a solution to this international crisis. Done the right way, we can replace dirty energy jobs with better paying clean technology jobs all across America.

I strongly support the Paris Climate Change Agreement and will support any effort to eliminate or reduce the use of fossil fuels and encourage the development of wind and solar resources. 

I oppose the extraction of oil, gas and coal on federal land and have fought for public land resources in Illinois, Minnesota and Arizona. 

Those who deny climate change science are lying to the American people. I will continue to be a voice for the environmental challenges we face and will be an advocate for climate change solutions.


Campaign Finance

One of the most important issues threatening our democracy is the uncontrolled spending in political campaigns. In the 2016 election cycle over $3 billion was spent on our elections. This is just crazy.

Our existing members in Congress spend an average of 15-20 hours a week on fundraising for their next election. Phone calls, donor meetings and appeasing special interest groups has become the normal routine for Congress. Maybe that is why nothing gets done anymore.

Because I oppose the current system and believe that a member of Congress should be accountable to the voters in the District and not large donors and special interest groups, I have pledged not to accept funds from lobbyists or special interest groups.

As we move forward, I believe Congress must pass legislation that mandates all federal elections will be publicly funded. We must eliminate the outside influence of money in our elections.

If we can't pass legislation that mandates federally funded campaigns, I would introduce legislation that limits all campaign contributions- from individuals, companies and special interest groups to $200. This would force campaigns to be funded with grassroots support and eliminate the influence big money has on our elections.


Immigration

A plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

The stance of the Trump administration against immigrants violates the very essence of what makes America great. While we can't tolerate open and unrestricted boarders we must also remember that every immigrant has a story.

Legal immigration from any country should be welcomed regardless of race or religion. The United States should do its part as a member of the world community to accept refugees after an appropriate vetting process.

The challenge of illegal immigration is a bit more complicated. I believe that if illegal immigrants do not commit a crime while in this country they should be granted a path to citizenship. People who travel thousands of miles with only what they can carry on their back are seeking freedom and opportunity. The fabric of American society has been based on that pursuit of freedom and opportunity since our founding.


Guns & Background Checks

I am the holder of a firearms owner id card and believe that it is not reasonable to expect that guns can or will ever be banned in our country. I also do not believe that our Constitution protects the unrestricted sale or ownership of firearms. Certainly, our founders could not have imagined the advancement in weapons technology that has occurred since our founding.

I believe very strongly in universal background checks and we MUST close the gun show loophole. The gun show or Brady Bill loophole allows private sellers to sell weapons without running background checks on the buyer. A 2015 Harvard study found that 15% of all gun sales occur without a background check.

I understand that a father may sell a gun to a son, but the Brady bill loophole allows any private seller to sell a trunk load of weapons to any random person without any background checks. This is bad policy and must be changed.

I also believe that the fundamental right "to bear arms" in our Constitution is an important one. A citizenry who has no right to be armed is at risk of being persecuted by its government. That right however should not extend universally. The government should restrict automatic weapons and other types of guns that have the ability to cause mass casualty events. Protecting citizens from their government and protecting citizens from gun violence can occur without trampling on either goal. I will support universal background checks and any reasonable legislation that restricts the sale of weapons that can easily cause mass casualty events.


Social Security

Republicans in Congress keep telling us that social security is going broke and we must cut benefits, change the eligibility age or privatize it completely.

These are non-sense statements intended to kill one of the most important and successful social programs in our history.

Social Security currently has a $2.6 trillion surplus and can pay full benefits for the next 19 years, but that isn't enough. Too many seniors are living below the poverty line and relying solely on their Social Security benefits.

I believe we should raise Social Security benefits. I support a bill introduced by Bernie Sanders that will increase Social Security benefits by $1300 per year. And I agree that we should pay for this increase in benefits by lifting the tax cap on Social Security.

Currently income only up to $118,500 is taxed for Social Security. I would remove the cap and tax all income. We have a moral and social obligation to take care of our seniors. I don't think asking the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes is asking too much.



Paid for by Geoffrey Petzel for Congress
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