Candidate Responses - Alan Cohn
In addition to answering the 20 survey questions, this candidate provided the following elaboration on several progressive issues.
Seeking a fair, honest, and open government that works for all:
Big money in politics has had a corrosive effect on our democracy and is one of the biggest impediments to our country's progress. It empowers wealthy elites and corporations to the detriment of working families in this country. We need to overhaul and democratize our campaign finance system and that includes repealing Citizen's United.
Seeking broader rights and better wages for workers:
$15 an hour is the absolute bare minimum anyone should be paid for their labor. That is only $29,250 a year for individuals working 40 hours a week. This is not just an economic justice issue - it is a gender and racial justice issue. The average Social Security retirement benefit paid to a retired worker is $1,413 per month. That is not enough to live on, but that is what so many have to do. Nearly 50% of individuals over the age of 55 don't have a dime in retirement savings. We need to help make sure that older Americans have a more robust safety net for when they retire and that starts with raising the monthly benefit for social security recipients. As a lifelong union member who has been a member of 4 unions, I wholeheartedly support collective bargaining rights. Union members have higher quality healthcare insurance, higher wages, and safer work conditions than non-union members. Right to work legislation has decimated union membership and we need to end it.
Seeking to maintain a strong economy:
Multi-lateral trade deals can help raise the standard of living in our country by making goods more affordable, but too often they've displaced workers and liquidated entire sectors of the economy. Globalization has made manufacturing in the US more cost-prohibitive and uncompetitive, but there still exists some opportunity to do it as part of an effort to strengthen our economy. It is a disgrace that large multi-national corporations evade taxes to enrich their profits all the while exploiting our infrastructure, policing, and education and postal system without paying into it. Amazon paid $0 in taxes last year and that has got to change. Our crumbling infrastructure desperately needs increased government funding for maintenance and revitalization efforts. Failure to provide this funding could cost lives. More so, making repairs in our roads, bridges, and subways can help save us money in the long run.
Seeking to provide a quality public education for all children, as guaranteed by our State Constitution:
Children who attend pre-k have higher high school graduation rates and stronger social and emotional skills. The early childhood years are amongst the most important for a person's overall development. This opportunity is cut off from so many families because it is too expensive. Universal Pre-K is an investment in our country and our children. We have a trillion-dollar student debt bubble and millions of Americans of every generation loaded up with untenable levels of student debt that derails life and creates a huge barrier for individuals trying to buy a home and start a family. It is imperative that we find ways to radically bring down the cost of tuition and help relieve the debt student loan borrowers.
Seeking justice and equality for all:
We have a broken criminal justice system that is propped up by a for-profit prison industry. Nobody should be making money off the incarceration of human beings. Women's sexual and reproductive rights are human rights. The house recently ratified the ERA and now we need the Senate to do it too. Recognizing women as being equal to men is one of the most basic, bare minimum acts our government can take.
Seeking recognition of the fundamental right to affordable housing, health care and retirement security:
Health care costs are out of control and prescription drug prices continue to skyrocket, all the while it becomes hard and harder for working class and middle-class people to get the care they need. Sick people are not able to get the health care interventions they need, without often going into severe debt. We have the most expensive health care in the world and one of the worst set of healthcare outcomes. We must have a healthcare system that covers everyone, is affordable, and does not cause millions of people to go bankrupt every year.
Seeking a clean and safe environment:
We need to take climate change head-on and do all of the above items. If we do not, there will be a massive economic toll, an increase in war and armed conflict, more droughts and natural disaster, and more poverty and hunger. Future generations depend on us taking swift action now. Mining, drilling, oil exploration, and agriculture have contributed to environmental degradation and have made our water and air more toxic. We absolutely need to strengthen and expand environmental regulation.
Seeking a peaceful and secure world:
As the world's only global hegemon, we have a responsibility to help broker peace in the world. Diplomacy is one of the greatest tools we have to actualize that goal and we should take advantage of every opportunity to use it. Torture is illegal, dehumanizing, and a violation of the Geneva Convention. It has no place in our country. Police departments do not need military equipment to keep our communities safe. In fact, it has made our neighborhoods more unsafe. We must work with countries around the world to decrease our stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and denuclearize our planet, but we must do it while maintaining our military edge and safeguarding our national security.