I plan to address federal funding in order to develop a rail line or Hyperloop between the International Airport of Houston and downtown. This would not only connect our district, but provide jobs and economic opportunity to thousands of constituents. There are actually rail plans that I have researched all the way back from the 70s. Let's reopen these plans, and see what's possible! We also need to utilize technology and develop better flood prevention in neighborhoods and streets. As we address climate change, the city should be better prepared for large scale hurricanes like Harvey which cost people their homes, businesses, and lives. We can look to a city like Tokyo who developed an engineering marvel tank system to prevent ANY floods from happening. Let's bring cutting-edge ideas and technology to move our district and country forward!
Student loan crisis
I recently spoke to a teacher in my district. She has a masters degree and is working 3 jobs just to make ends meet and has not made a dent in her student loans. Employers and businesses should be able to provide debt relief as a benefit. Right now these benefits are taxed as income. Let's make it better for the student and the business by making it tax free, and allow business to deduct the full amount as an expense. This would make it easier for employers to hire new grads. As a small business owner, having high payroll taxes makes it harder to hire new employees. Furthermore, public colleges need a cap on tuition spikes and any student loan should have low flat interest rate. These solutions would allow new grads and small to medium size businesses to prosper, and give them an opportunity to do great things for our community!
My goal is to find a long term ways to reduce the cost of health care. Preventative care is essential in early detection. We need to make sure everyone has access to at least one wellness exam, eye exam, and dental visit per year. As an optometrist, I see patients who at times do not see their regular doctor at all because of reduced access. Over the coming months I plan to unveil the American Healthcare Plan. This is my version of a single payer public option that can be realistically funded and will give all Americans a chance to see any Medicare provider. We also need to implement nutrition and mindfulness as part of the core curriculum in our public education system, and take the special interests out of food and drug related policies. These actions will go a long way in reducing the incidence of chronic disease and the cost of prescription drugs.
I came out as gay over a decade ago, and since then amazing strides have been made in human rights. We need to protect all of the progress that has been made and continue the fight to make sure discrimination against sexuality, gender identity, race, and faith does not have a place in any legislative policy. Congress also needs to protect the rights of women in healthcare and at the workplace. Let’s guarantee equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.
My focus on immigration policy will be first to address humane treatment for those entering or seeking asylum in our country. Over the last year the conditions at border patrol facilities have put people with medical conditions at risk, including multiple children who have died in custody. We need to increase resources at the border in terms of medical care, proper food and shelter, and beds. Border security funding should be diverse and go towards all aspects of the immigration process. Additionally, DREAMers play such a vital role in our culture and economy, and we need to make sure they have protections. These individuals are our neighbors, classmates, co-workers, and they are Americans!
Money in Politics/Campaign Finance Reform
We can’t fix any of the problems in our country until we get big money out of our politics. Our politicians spend the majority of their time fundraising, talking to big donors who represent a very small subset of the population. And post-Citizens United, we have a huge pool of unaccountable dark money sloshing around the system through super-PACs and special interest groups, corrupting everything it touches and making real change impossible. That’s why if I’m elected to Congress, campaign finance reform will be my top priority. Regardless of their party affiliation, most Americans believe that the system is hideously corrupt - and they’re right. Big money is buying our leaders and driving them to act contrary to the public interest, and even those who are elected with the best of intentions cannot help but have their views warped by spending all their time with people who have far more wealth than the average citizen. This has got to end, and I won’t rest until it does.
Our criminal justice system has very little to do with justice. It is an immoral, systemically racist and classist mass incarceration machine which has proven very effective at shielding the wealthy from consequences while victimizing the poor and people of color. It is a tragedy that the justice system of the greatest nation on earth should function this way. Citizens are criminalized and imprisoned for offenses that are non-violent, trivial, or both. People sit in jail for months or years because they do not have the financial capacity to make bail. They lose their job, they lose their home, they can’t take care of their families and they are in many cases serving more time than their crime would warrant, all without ever being convicted of a crime. People are denied adequate legal counsel, bullied into accepting plea bargains and threatened with outrageous sentences if they dare exercise their constitutional right to a trial by jury. The private prison industry is a rapidly growing maw that swallows human beings to be exploited for profit - modern day slavery. In this country today, you are entitled only to as much justice as you can buy, and the outcomes of encounters with police or the courts are largely determined by the color of your skin. We cannot accept this any longer - and when I am in Congress, I will seek justice for the voiceless victims of this inhuman system.
It’s time to legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. Public opinion on this issue is clear, as is the data. Cannabis does less net harm to society than alcohol, which is legal - yet in many parts of the nation we continue to impose extremely harsh sentences for the possession and sale of this substance. Our archaic approach to this issue, rooted in the racist fearmongering of the early 20th century, has no rational basis. Bimal does not see any point in continuing to spend millions of dollars a year to prosecute and incarcerate people in marijuana-related cases when the substance could instead be a significant source of federal tax revenue - part of the solution to our budget challenges rather than part of the problem.