If you’re a public official, it’s all the more important to keep a bright line between your personal interests, and the interests of those you’re elected to serve. Unfortunately, there’s a real-life example of what happens when that line fades right here in Washington.
It’s not too early to say that the first few moves from the new Trump administration don’t bode well: In just a week, Trump has already issued executive orders that threaten working families, from taking the first steps toward unravelling affordable health care to cancelling a reduction of mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers. I can only hope that these are just the opening moves, and that working families will ultimately win the game. But we can’t sit back and watch, hoping. Because that sort of passivity invites despair. What we can do is uphold our promises to working families in our own neck of the woods.
The thing about the Affordable Care Act is that if you pull one string, the whole blanket will fall apart….and there goes health coverage for millions. Should you be afraid of what the Republican Congress and Senate and Trump are planning to do? No matter who you are, you should be.
I like to think that when we say “make America great again,” we simply want to return to the economic norms of 50 years ago, when Congress periodically and in a bipartisan manner raised the federal minimum wage to keep up with inflation and productivity, when both wages in general and profits increased with productivity increases, and when the average household income was on the rise.
South Seattle residents should demand their legislators push state House leadership to go bold. In these dark times for our nation, we can’t limit our own vision of a just society with vibrant diverse communities and true opportunities to pursue happiness for all. We won’t get out of the darkness without hope and light.
The Affordable Care Act could and should be improved. But it does work. Millions of people in our state alone have health coverage that they did not have before. What we need to do now is to decrease health care costs and eliminate wasteful unnecessary care. That means driving down the costs of pharmaceuticals, hospitalization and specialty care. But that would mean taking on the “swamp” of special interests in Washington, D.C. Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress swim in that swamp. They want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They don’t have a replacement. That’s their plan for making America great again. But that’s not our America.
Two weeks ago the people of our state voted to raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour in 2017, and eventually $13.50 in 2020. It’s an important step forward — but just one step. And thanks to a judge in Texas, Washington has some more work to do.
Two of the last five elections for president have gone to the losers of the popular vote. We have turned democracy upside down. State legislatures can rectify this anti-democratic process by passing a multi-state compact that commits their electoral college delegates, no matter who they individually support and no matter what the outcome of the election is in that particular state, to vote for the winner of the national popular vote.
Have you had your ballot on the kitchen counter — for almost two weeks now — and still not opened it up to vote? Or maybe you forgot where you put it? Or maybe you recycled it, and now don’t know where to get your ballot to vote. Or maybe you just want to wait until the last minute to vote. I hope that is the case. Your ballot includes your opportunity to actually make or change the law, by voting on initiatives that more than 350,000 Washington citizens have signed in order to put them on the ballot.
You got your ballot in the mail. Now what? Vote! Our votes up and down the ballot will help shape our state and nation for decades into the future. Among the many important issues and candidates, Initiative 1433 and the Sound Transit measure allow us to directly boost economic opportunity and vitality in our communities.
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