The following is by Edwin Santana, who hopefully will kick Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA01) out of Congress this November.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article outlining the ways that Rob Wittman has failed us as a Congressman since taking office in 2007. Today, I want to spend some time talking about how we can counter Wittman’s ineffectual leadership with bold progressive ideas to solve the problems that working families face in America’s, and Virginia’s, First District.
Healthcare, education, and the economy are three issues that affect everyone in some way, shape, or form. Rob Wittman’s approach to strengthening our healthcare system has been to try and strip away coverage from millions, while raising the prices on the rest. Thankfully his plans were rebuked when the American Health Care act was voted down, despite his best efforts. I think the morally right, and fiscally responsible, thing to do are the same in this instance. The United States needs to move to a Single Payer system, like Medicare For All. Americans waste hundreds of billions of dollars every year paying for inadequate and inferior care while leaving millions of our most vulnerable uninsured. Single Payer health care will save up to $600B a year, while ensuring every American has access to the care they need.
A strong public education system is the great equalizer in our country. It guarantees that every kid has a chance at getting an education, opening up opportunities for them later in life, no matter their beginnings. Because of this, I believe we need to implement education reforms at a federal level that target struggling schools and reduce the achievement gap, something we haven’t been able to do in decades. We also need to start paying teachers in accordance with the massive responsibility that they hold in our society. Building the educational foundation necessary for successful futures should be a national priority, and I support drastically increasing teacher pay through congressional action.
We also need to invest heavily in early childhood development and universal pre-K. Getting kids interested in learning in ways that are age appropriate and involve play begins to lay the foundation for a life of learning that our teachers will continue to build upon. Rob Wittman believes the best way to improve our kids’ educations is to sap resources from their schools to give to charters, while leaving flagging schools and their students hanging in favor of for-profit institutions. It should go without saying that I oppose Wittman’s educational policy stance.
As I have previously stated, Rob Wittman is a shameless lobbyist for the boat-building industry and defense contractors. This has caused him to stovepipe the economy of the First Congressional District into two areas: boat building and federal workers. Government has shut down twice since Mr. Wittman has been in office, and has failed to pass a budget since 2009.
Long-term fiscal planning for the Department of Defense and keeping the government funded would do more for those industries than his endless campaign for a 350-ship navy, which has caused him to overlook opportunities right under his nose. For instance, Virginia could be a national leader in renewable energy if we stood up to utility companies and invested in green technology. The solar industry, for example, is growing at a rate 17x faster than the overall economy, and has the added effect of being a benefit to our planet.
I would also support raising the minimum wage to $15, and indexing it to inflation, so that any American who works full time can make a living wage and support their family with dignity. Rob Wittman could have advocated for a $1.5T infrastructure plan that would put Americans to work, but spent that on tax cuts for wealthy families instead. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Those are three pressing issues that affect families not just in the First Congressional District, but nationally as well. Our campaign platform also includes improving quality of, and access to, broadband internet; strengthening environmental legislation to protect our communities; and passing legislation to combat sexual harassment and assault. We believe that our government should work for the common good and on behalf of America’s working families, not for corporate donors and special interests.
Rob Wittman could have spent a decade advocating for any one of these issues. Instead, he chose to spend his time trying to strip away health care and, as of Jan 20, 2017, being a rubber stamp for Donald Trump. America’s First District deserves better. Change is coming.
Edwin Santana is a second generation Puerto Rican, a father, husband, son, engineer, USMC Officer and Logistics Consultant with a commitment to service and to the progressive ideals needed to secure a better future for all Virginians. As a candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 1st District, he is continuing his public service by fighting for a single-payer healthcare system, strengthening of our public school system, securing economic opportunities and broadband internet access for all Americans, protecting the local environment, and bringing an end to our culture of sexual violence.