Easing the Burdens of Recession

Good economic times in this country came to an end as soon as George W. Bush took office. In the last seven years, we've seen the greatest peacetime economic expansion in our history undone by endless price hikes and outsourcing. The White House's borrow-and-spend financial policies have driven this country further and further into debt. Citizens here in Virginia and across the country are having a tough time getting to work in the morning and feeding their families. In the wealthiest nation in the world, this is unacceptable.

Relief for Working Americans

I believe - first, last and always - in economic fairness. The first step to achieving this is addressing the kitchen table shortfalls that average Americans face every day. We cannot address the inequalities within our economy until every person in this country has access to the basic necessities of shelter and food. I will work to pass legislation to protect borrowers by limiting the ability of unscrupulous mortgage lenders to push for repeated financing. I will also work to put right the mistakes that led the subprime mortgage crisis in the first place. The 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act turned mortgages into junk bonds. I will spearhead the effort to amend laws separating commercial banking from investment banking to better protect consumers. Finally, we've been misusing too much of our food supply for too long. I will vote to cut the federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol, which have literally made bread and butter more expensive.

Real Solutions, Not Political Ploys

While all of these crises demand immediate attention, I won't buy into the quick fixes that will cost us more in the long run. A gas tax holiday may be a good way to win votes, but it does nothing to stop prices from rising. Prices at the pump are high because we're relying on a non-renewable source of energy found in unstable parts of the world. If we don't want to continue to pay $4.00 per gallon, we need to take real steps towards a clean energy economy. The technology is available; we're just not using it. That is why I will work to strip traditional energy companies of their tax breaks and use those resources to support corporations that are more consumer- and environmentally-friendly. This will help save American millions of dollars by 2020. This is also why we need greater investment in public transportation. I was instrumental in getting the first federal funding for Dulles Rail, and I will continue to work to make sure that the metro is extended. The Tysons tunnel option is the most rational approach at this time.

Jumpstarting Our Economy

Long-term solutions are necessary to get our economy back on track. The recent recession has made our economic weaknesses clear, and we need to provide more than just stimulus packages to address them. America became rich because of its natural resources, but it has remained that way because of its human resources. The better the public education system in this country is, the sooner we will be able to take advantage of technologies we can't yet imagine. Education provides our children with the knowledge to build the industries of the future. I will fight to make our schools the envy of the world, allowing America to regain its position as the global leader in innovation. With thriving educational programs in place in our schools, we can harness the opportunities of the future to strengthen this nation.

I also believe strongly that by addressing our infrastructure needs, we can start putting Americans back to work. Investing in public transit and our airports and replacing dilapidated bridges not only improves our quality of life, but creates new well-paying jobs at the same time. I am the only candidate for the 11th District who will have the seniority to reclaim my spot on the House Transportation Committee upon entering Congress. Because I have served before on that committee, I can hit the ground running from day one.

Protecting Working Families

As money has come to play a larger and larger role in politics, politicians have made it harder for workers to get the support they deserve. It's time to change that trend. As a member of the House of Delegates and the State Senate, I introduced legislation to allow far greater collective bargaining rights in Virginia. I believe these rights provide workers with the best opportunity to get what they've earned. In Congress, I will sign on as a co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act to make it easier for workers to unionize. I will work to pass the RESPECT Act to allow all workers without real supervisory status to join unions. And I will push to raise the minimum wage so that those who are working in those jobs receive a salary they can actually live on.

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace

Women have historically been greatly undervalued in the workplace. They are hurt by the dual roles they are expected to play, as employee and as heart and soul of their families, where they should be rewarded for filling both roles. In recent years we've taken a step back in the fight for equal pay for equal work, and it's time to move forward again. I am a champion for women's rights, and will continue to make better treatment for women in the workplace and their families a top priority. My first vote as a member of the 103rd Congress was to pass the Family Medical Leave Act, which provided workers the ability to better care for their loved ones without risking their jobs. I helped to finally get it passed after it had been stalled for 12 years. I will continue to build on that success and to support paid family and medical leave.

Better Treatment for Government Workers

With so many government employees calling Northern Virginia home, I am familiar with their unique set of challenges. The current administration's increased use of contracting government work out has led to substandard results and has hurt longtime government workers. These workers already suffer from the great disparity between their salaries and those of their counterparts in the private sector. If we want to keep the best people working for our nation, we will need to pay them what the free market says they are worth. We began the project of raising government salaries during the 1990s, but the Bush White House has found other uses for our tax dollars. I'll work to put us back on track. I will also vote for limits on contracting government work out, which has done little to cut costs or improve quality. I was a tireless advocate for government workers on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, and I look forward to serving them again.

Longtime Advocate for Fair Trade

Despite pressure from the White House, I broke ranks and opposed NAFTA when it came to a final vote in November 1993. I believed then and I believe now that the agreement did not do nearly enough to protect our workers from competition against nations with less stringent labor and environmental laws. Time has proven this to be true. When I return to Congress, I will work to implement truly fair trade by strengthening labor and environmental protections so that Americans are not punished for holding high standards. I will vote to strip corporations moving jobs overseas of their tax breaks and give those benefits to employers committed to creating new opportunities here at home.