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ADAM'S PLANS FOR THE SENATE

AFFORDABILITY AGENDA

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California working families are facing an affordability crisis. And we can do something about it. It’s not that people aren’t working hard – they’re working harder than ever, and still not making enough to get by. They’re paying more for housing, childcare, gas, medicine, education and food. And their wages simply aren’t increasing fast enough to keep up with the basic costs of living. Meanwhile, corporations continue to make record profits and the wealthiest among us don’t pay their fair share. Corporations are raising the prices of goods with little oversight and swallowing up their competition. We need federal price gouging rules, better antitrust enforcement, and to drive down the costs of prescription drugs and gas — all while protecting and empowering workers. We also need to shore up our social safety net, benefits, and care economy for our seniors and most vulnerable. A big part of this crisis is the lack of affordable childcare. Every American should have access to paid parental leave and universal childcare. We need to cap the costs of childcare, expand Head Start and Early Head Start, and get more childcare centers and teachers. When we expanded the Child Tax Credit, we reduced child poverty by more than 40% – Republicans callously let it expire. We need to expand it again, and make it permanent. We must take dramatic steps to drive down costs in California and across the country – and that starts with my affordability agenda for working families, along with my housing and homelessness agenda.”
– Congressman Adam Schiff Candidate for U.S. Senate

MAKING CHILDCARE AFFORDABLE

Guarantee Three Months Of Paid Parental Leave

Offering parents three months of paid parental leave would help address the child care shortage by allowing parents to stay home with their children to bond with them during their developmentally critical first months. Paid parental leave has been linked to children’s emotional development and academic success. All parents should have that opportunity through a federally guaranteed three months of paid parental leave.

 

Provide Universal Childcare, Including Universal Pre-K

In California, two working parents earning low wages — let alone a single parent — have to devote a staggering percentage of their income to pay for child care, and for some, childcare costs can consume their entire income. Other families simply cannot find affordable childcare anywhere, or they work evening hours when it is not available. Through a refundable tax credit, Adam’s plan would cap childcare copayments for families at no more than 5-10% of a family’s income and encourage states to waive copayments for families at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

 

Dramatically Expand Head Start and Early Head Start

We need to dramatically expand Head Start and Early Head Start by passing Adam’s legislation to expand eligibility, triple annual funding, establish a grant program to renovate, expand, and acquire program facilities, provide student loan forgiveness for Head Start and Early Head Start child care workers, and increase salaries for employees of Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

 

Fair Pay For Early-Childhood Educators

Salaries for early childhood educators and caregivers have remained far below wages for K-12 teachers for years. If we want to increase the supply and availability of quality childcare, we need to pay them fairly and attract more people to the profession. We need to increase compensation for early-childhood educators so their salaries are on par with those of K-12 teachers.

 

Public Financing Of Teacher Training

We need to create a federally-funded teacher preparation system and establish continuing training programs for early childhood educators. This approach would ensure that early childhood educators have the most up-to-date and critical knowledge of child development and proven strategies to help children learn at this early stage.

 

Incentivize Businesses To Provide Discounted Childcare For Employees

We should encourage businesses to use the non-refundable tax credits already available to them—like the 45F tax credit—by making it refundable if businesses build and operate discounted childcare for employees. The federal government also needs to require childcare facilities and plans to be part of any new construction of federal buildings and facilities.

INCREASING COMPETITION AND REDUCING COSTS

Enforce and Strengthen Federal Antitrust Laws

Antitrust enforcement in the United States has declined since the 1980s. With increasing consolidation in the food, gas, and technology sectors, it has become clear that we need stronger enforcement to rein in monopolization which leads to higher costs. Adam’s plan will beef up antitrust enforcement and bring down prices by dramatically increasing funding for the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice for antitrust enforcement and investigations, and passing legislation that protects competition and increases choices for consumers.

Impose Federal Price-Gouging Regulations

Federal price-gouging regulations help prevent unjust price increases, curb inflation, and rein in corporate power. More than 60% of America’s grocery sales are now concentrated within just four companies, for example, creating a virtual monopoly that is causing higher prices for shoppers and fewer grocery store job opportunities. The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Agriculture should implement a set of price-gouging regulations based on the New York State Attorney General’s proposal to create guardrails that protect consumers against price-gouging during emergencies.

Bring Down Prescription Drug Costs

We can help all Americans spend less on prescription drugs by expanding the drug price negotiation program created by the historic Inflation Reduction Act, and allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of all drugs. Just like the Department of Veterans Affairs negotiates the price of all drugs for veterans, the rest of the federal government must be allowed to do the same. We can further reduce drug costs by allowing the reimportation of medication — i.e. bringing back prescription medication that was produced here in the United States and shipped to be sold internationally. This will help address the fact that Americans are currently subsidizing the availability of lower cost prescription drugs in other countries while working families here foot the bill.

Lower Gas Prices

We can bring down the cost of gas and provide immediate financial relief for consumers by suspending the gas tax and making oil companies pay for it instead. That’s why we need to pass Adam’s Federal Gas Tax Suspension and Windfall Profits Tax Act, which would do just that. Long term, we need to continue making a massive investment in renewable energy. The global supply of oil is limited, but the supply of renewable energy is not, and reducing the cost of renewable energy will bring down the cost of oil as well.

Rein in or Prohibit Corporate Use of Stock Buybacks to Inflate Share Values

Stock buybacks–when companies spend their profits on buying back their stock to artificially inflate stock prices rather than investing in higher wages for their workers or updating equipment–were largely illegal until 1982 when President Ronald Reagan changed the rules and gave corporate executives permission to buy back stocks. With the funds they used for stock buybacks, companies like Lowes, CVS, and Home Depot could have given each of their workers a raise of $18,000 per year. We need to hold these companies accountable and ensure they reinvest these funds in their workers by reining in or prohibiting stock buybacks.

Protect and Strengthen the Right To Organize

History has shown that when workers have a right to organize and negotiate their wages and benefits, it improves pay and job conditions for workers all across the country. The PRO Act would expand critical labor protections related to workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain for better wages, better schedules, safer working conditions, and protections for their jobs in the face of new technologies like artificial intelligence that are transforming the workplace. We must make it possible for people to form a union, secure a contract, and enforce that contract if we are going to successfully reverse the decades-long trend in which middle class and working class families are seeing their incomes decline while productivity continues to increase.

Eliminate Rules Preventing Workers From Suing Employers For Violations

Over the last several decades, the Supreme Court has allowed large corporations to force customers and employees into arbitration – rather than going to court – taking away workers’ ability to sue for violations of employment laws including their rights to minimum wages and overtime pay. To address this, we need to ban mandatory arbitration clauses and class action waivers in all employment contracts by passing legislation to prohibit agreements that force arbitration of employment disputes, and prohibit agreements and practices that interfere with participation in class action lawsuits.

Ban Non-Compete, Non-Solicit, And No-Poaching Agreements

One in five workers nationwide is restricted by a non-compete agreement — preventing employees from working for their employer’s competitors after leaving their position. When companies enforce these blanket conditions on their workers, it leads to lower wage growth and decreases career mobility, making it harder for people to progress in their careers. By banning or restricting the use of non-compete agreements for non-specialized employees, we will increase competition and help workers.

Foster and Grow California’s Innovation and Entrepreneurial Economy

California is home to more jobs in the technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial economies than any other state in the country — and we need to keep it that way. These industries are a vital source of jobs for working and middle-class families, and an important source of revenue to our state. We need to grow these important industries, and work hard to keep these companies, and the innovation and jobs they bring here in California. California is on the forefront of new developments in technology, from Web3 and quantum computing to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, as well as biotechnology and climate technology. We need to develop comprehensive regulatory frameworks to ensure that these companies and jobs stay here and grow here, and that the United States remains the global leader in these important new technologies. Otherwise, we risk losing jobs to workers overseas, where these technologies will face less oversight and transparency, and which will potentially create increased economic risk for working families.

CREATING A ROBUST CARE ECONOMY

Enact Paid Family Leave For All American Families

No one should have to choose between taking care of a child or sick family member and making a living. The United States is the only wealthy country in the world without any national paid family leave policy. It is time for us to change that. We need a national paid family leave policy that guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid leave for all American families to alleviate the undue burden on parents and family members who are in a caretaker role.

Provide and Fund Care For Our Elderly and Our Sick

Paying for the care of an elderly or sick person can be an overwhelming cost to families, with long-term care prices growing by over 40% in the last decade. In recent years, we have also seen more than half of the long-term care workforce driven out of the profession due to low wages. We need to invest in providing access to long-term care services and high-quality, good-paying jobs that reflect the value they contribute to our families and our economy by creating a federal long-term care benefit to pay for nursing care for all Americans. In the meantime, Adam’s plan will provide additional funding for long-term care by providing long-term care workers with fully refundable tax credits with an annual minimum of $1,000.

Making Home Care More Affordable

By 2050 the population of Americans 65 and older is projected to increase by nearly 50%. The U.S. does not have a coherent system of long-term care, and the private market has been plagued by giant rate hikes and insurers leaving the field. We can address this by providing increased funding for home care under Medicare and Medicaid to allow seniors to continue living in their communities.

MAKING OUR TAX SYSTEM FAIRER

Increase Taxes on Corporate Profits

Corporations have been making record profits while consumers are struggling with rising prices due to inflation and price gouging. Trump lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, and now he’s threatening to make it even lower if he returns to the Oval Office. Some companies avoid paying taxes altogether — in fact at least 55 of the largest corporations in the United States paid ZERO federal corporate income taxes on their 2020 profits. We need to make sure corporations cannot evade taxes through tactics like offshoring profits and onshoring debt to eliminate their taxable income. And we should return the corporate tax rate to 35% by rolling back the Trump era tax cuts for big corporations.

 

Fully Fund The IRS To Go After Tax Cheats

If the top 1% of Americans paid the taxes they already owed, we could raise at least an additional $175 billion per year in tax revenue. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) now has fewer auditors than at any other time since 1953. And many IRS auditors lack the appropriate training and skill set to go after the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, leading auditors to target low-income filers. Increasing the IRS’s budget would allow them to hire more auditors and train their workforce better to ensure that wealthy individuals pay their fair share and cannot evade taxes.

Middle Class Tax Cut

Middle-class families are bearing the brunt of sky-high inflation and increasing costs. We should provide them relief with a middle-class tax cut during these challenging economic times, and restore the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT) for families making less than $400,000. California provided a middle-class tax credit in 2022, issuing debit cards and direct deposits to eligible Californians. The federal government can consider the adoption of a similar program to ease financial pressure on middle income families.

 EXPANDING THE SOCIAL SAFETY NET FOR VULNERABLE FAMILIES

Expand the Child Tax Credit and Make it Permanent

Under the Biden Administration, the expanded Child Tax Credit reduced the child poverty rate by over 40% — but Republicans in the Senate let it expire. We must once again expand the Child Tax Credit — this time making it permanent, and transition the credit to a per child allowance tied to inflation. Child allowances are a winning investment for not only our children’s future, but our country’s.

Pilot Guaranteed Income Programs Grant

In 2022, the state of California proposed a guaranteed income program, a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI), that will provide $25.5 million in grant funding to seven pilot programs across the state. Another recent pilot project to provide $750 to individuals experiencing homelessness proved successful in increasing positive economic and health outcomes. We should create a federal grant program that would allow states to experiment with UBI programs, particularly those focused on mothers and families in low-income communities. We should ensure these grants target areas receiving Promise Zone funding, and pair the grant funding with additional Promise Zone funding so these neighborhoods can address poverty with a comprehensive approach. Similarly, a pilot program could be implemented to provide UBI payments to Medicaid and/or Medicare recipients.

Expand and Strengthen Social Security

While Republicans are actively working to cut retirement benefits, we must boost and strengthen Social Security benefits for the lowest-income retirees and shore up Social Security’s main funding source. By lifting the payroll cap to $250,000 of income, we can dramatically expand Social Security and guarantee retirement benefits for all Americans.

Expand Eligibility and Funding For SNAP Benefits

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – known as CalFresh in California–is one of the most important elements of the social safety net and the second largest anti-poverty program for children in the U.S. However, while SNAP benefits are adjusted each year for inflation, these adjustments could more accurately reflect consumer prices if they were adjusted more frequently. To make sure that SNAP benefits meet the needs of consumers based on current prices, we should index the benefits to inflation every six months, rather than just annually.

Expand Medicaid Eligibility

In states that haven’t expanded Medicaid there are 1.9 million people who have incomes above their state’s eligibility for Medicaid but below the federal poverty level, and therefore are ineligible for health insurance on ACA marketplaces. Adults who work may still have incomes below the federal poverty level because they have low-wage jobs, and people with incomes below poverty often do not have access to employer-based health insurance. By incentivizing states to expand Medicaid availability, and providing coverage for vision, dental, and hearing services — like we do in California —- we can provide healthcare coverage to more Americans.

LOWERING THE COST OF EDUCATION

Make Public College Free for Californians

California’s economy will need about a million more college graduates by 2030 than the state is on track to graduate. We can address this workforce shortage and help make college affordable for California families by guaranteeing two free years of community college for full and part-time students, and free college tuition through tax credits and deferred tuition at California’s public universities. This benefit would be covered for those individuals making less than $125,000 and married households making less than $250,000.

 

Dramatically Expand Pell Grants

We must pass legislation to double the size of Pell Grants to put college in reach for more families, and pass the College for All Act, which would guarantee tuition-free community college for all students and ensure that students from most households are able to attend public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free.

 

Cancel Student Debt

Young people should not be saddled with life-long debt to pursue higher education. When the U.S. student loan system was conceived of in the 1950s, it was designed to supplement the cost of tuition for students who could repay these loans by working summer jobs. The cost of attending college has increased astronomically while state and federal investment in higher education has plummeted. We can begin to address the increasing cost of higher education by canceling at least $50,000 in student loan debt for every borrower. We can also address debt cancellation for Americans who need it most by fully relieving Medicare and Social Security Disability Insurance participants of all student loan debt that dates back more than twenty years for both current recipients and future enrollees by passing Adam’s Student Loan Relief for Medicare and Social Security Recipients Act. Most importantly, we need to restructure how we pay for higher education so students in the future don’t become so heavily indebted simply because they want a college education.