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U.S. needs big ideas, not big cuts

This month, Trump’s Cabinet announced efforts to roll back SNAP and affordable housing, months after the GOP voted to give billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations. Subsidize the rich, attack the poor: this is the new Trump normal in Washington.

Debra Haaland

I’ve worked hard my entire life – at a bakery, owning a small salsa company, administering a tribal government, as a service provider for developmentally disabled adults, and for many years organizing communities across New Mexico to vote. But working full time is no guarantee of a living wage, dignity or getting your basic needs met.

It is expensive to be poor in America – and I know because I’ve lived it. As a single mom, I’ve spent decades learning the hard lessons of struggle. Congress desperately needs a voice like mine now.

I know about sky-high credit card interest rates that create cycles of debt – because I spent more than a decade trying to pay my way out of $6,000 in credit card debt that came from just trying to get by. I know about payday loans that double or triple your original loan practically overnight – because I had to take one out for my daughter’s graduation. I know about student loans, too. I’ve had to choose between rent and groceries – and I don’t wish that choice on anyone. I have paid every bill, but if I could take back all the late fees over the years, I might be able to pay off my student debt.

Sixty-three percent of Americans don’t have $500 for an emergency – and those everyday life emergencies have set me back time and time again. Not because I don’t work hard, but because working hard doesn’t guarantee you anything in America today unless you are already rich.

It’s clear that the GOP leadership has never struggled a day in their lives – or they would end these obscene attacks on poor and middle class Americans, and they wouldn’t subsidize groups like the ultra-rich fossil fuel industry to pollute our neighborhoods and wreck our climate.

I believe we can do better: We can revive an American Dream where everyone who works hard can live with dignity. I believe in good jobs with living wages, the right to unionize, paid sick days and family leave and fair, predictable schedules for working parents and students. We need to expand Social Security to ensure that every elder American can support themselves.

I also believe in dignity for our elderly or disabled neighbors who can’t work. In a country as rich as America, no one should be homeless, hungry or sick without care. We must take on Big Pharma and make prescription drugs affordable for all of us.

Our country isn’t broke – we’ve been robbed by the billionaire class. If everyone pays their fair share, we can ensure everyone who wants to work gets a job – through big ideas like 100 percent renewable energy and the green jobs that it brings, a national infrastructure bill that puts Americans to work, and a national public childcare and pre-K program.

Affordable housing, access to food and access to healthcare are not luxury items that only the rich should have, and I plan to go to Congress and fight for working families across Albuquerque, New Mexico, and America to get a better deal. I’ll stand up for 100 percent renewable energy, Medicare for All, getting big money out of politics. If elected I’ll make history for New Mexico as the first Native American congresswoman. But I’ll also stir things up as a fierce and honest voice for the rest of us.

They keep saying there will be a blue wave in November this year – but I don’t think that’s enough. We need a historic wave of true representation so that working families, people of color, women and the rest of us have an equal seat at the table.