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Russ Cirincione refuses to accept the "status quo" - it's just not enough for the modern era of politics. The time for incremental change, that does nothing for Americans, is over. We need a new deal for America, and a New Deal Democrat. After 32 years of the same representation, New Jersey deserves a change.

It's time for a Green New Deal, Medicare for all, and to put an end to corruption in politics.

Since Russ refuses to take money from lobbyists and corporations, Russ is running to be a voice for all Americans, and he will fight for the bold ideas we need. Americans work hard, so Russ will demand the best for New Jersey and America.

No exceptions. No excuses. Imagine, if we prioritize our human needs and put people first, anything is possible.

Together, we will build a better future and a people-powered movement for economic, social, racial, and environmental justice. For all of us.

all policies

Coronavirus and Pandemic Response >

We're facing a national pandemic, and our government should automatically respond to such circumstances efficiently and effectively to provide peace of mind to every American.

Russ fully supports: 
The Emergency Money for the People Act: 
$2,000 for every adult. $500 for every child. Until this crisis is over.
My primary opponent does NOT support this bill.

Bailouts for Main Street and working people FIRST. The People must be prioritized during moments of crisis.

The Right to Health Security, always for every American.
- Guarantee the right to Health Security with Medicare for All: Everything Americans need to stay healthy in a time of national emergency shall be guaranteed.
- Free testing.
- Guaranteed refills on required medications. 
- All tests, vaccines, or drugs to be imported from international partners, before FDA approval as long as a foreign government’s FDA or similar organization has approved it. 
- Medicare shall have the exclusive negotiating authority over the price of testing, the price of treatment, and all related expenses.
- Direct investments in producing all Personal Protective Equipment (like gloves, masks, hazmat suits) that are needed for medical staff, frontline employees, and the general population. All at cost of production.

Employee Options and Corporate Policy: 
- Mandatory Overtime Pay for employees working more than 40 hours a week. 
- A Federal Jobs Guarantee: To deal with massive layoffs, put people to work in our communities. 
- Paid on-the-job training for industries and professions that are in high demand, like medical staff, cleanup services, community outreach / community building, home care services, social services. Caretaking and health services will be prioritized. 
- Train pandemic response teams to sanitize public areas and construct new medical centers.
- Emergency Medical Responses in high frequency areas.
- Increase funding for research to combat the virus.
- Training communities on how to prevent spread. 
- “Social Distancing” Pay of $2,000 per adult per month, and $500 per child per month. Also known as a “Universal Basic Income.”
- Expanded unemployment benefits fully funded by the federal government. 
- Paid Family Leave / Sick Leave. 
- Full telecommuting options for all.
- A halt on all foreclosures, evictions, student loan payments, rent, and mortgage payments. 
- Any corporation that does receive a bailout must only use that funds for payroll.
- No public funds shall be used for corporate buybacks, executive bonuses, or private profiteering.  Funds shall primarily be used for employee salary. 

Infrastructure Plan 
- Declare a national emergency, within 48 hours.
If a contagious disease that does not have an effective medication has landed in the United States, the Federal Government must declare a national emergency. 
- Immediate emergency funding of up to $1 Trillion for medical centers, personal protection equipment (PPE), training and salaries of new support staff to diagnose and treat the new illness.
- Temporary international travel precautions: All people returning on international trips to the US will be screened in secure medical locations and receive necessary medical attention.
- Domestic travel protections: Transportation will be limited to necessary travel.
- Emergency funding for constructing new hospitals or emergency medical structures in highly populated areas, with assistance from the national guard and Army Corps. Of Engineers: Prioritize unoccupied space like parking lots and fields for temporary structures. Erect both temporary and permanent structures. 
- Testing kits deployed en mass at every major transportation hub.
- Mass distribution of supplies to medical staff, such as facemasks, hazmat suits, and sanitization supplies.
- Mobilizing a pandemic response team consisting of: medical experts and national guard to deploy disinfection teams equipped with hazmat suits, disinfection sprays, and rapid response kits; and construction crews to erect temporary medical service structures  
- Funding for community health centers set up in every major township. 

Medical Industry 
- Increase production for required personal protective equipment, provided to hospitals and medical workers, through public-private partnerships, which shall include providing PPE at cost to those who need it. 
- Research and Development: Funding increase for vaccines and medical development. 
- Immediate disclosure to national research facilities of any and all research applicable to the new disease from private industry. 
- Temporary nationalization of patent rights for production of any medicine or vaccine known to have beneficial effects on the virus. 
- Vaccinations provided for free, when developed. 
- Free visitation to emergency rooms and doctors for all. 
- Funding for nurse and physician house calls. 
- Deploy national computing technology on discovering protein chains. 

Government and Administration: 
- Administration officials have the duty to disclose within 24 hours of knowledge of the national emergency. 
- A complete ban on stock ownership by any Congressional Representative.

Racial Justice for All >

It is long past time for Racial Justice in the United States. We cannot move forward until we have a presence of justice.
The time is NOW to end the injustices in our society.  America must actually take steps to truly remedy racial injustice and prejudice. America must repair the damage of 400 years of segregation and discrimination, must right past wrongs, ensure that we heal the divide, to bring true racial justice, equality, and opportunity for all. White people cannot stand on the sidelines in this moment. We cannot be indifferent at the injustices in society. The time is NOW to make sure everyone is accountable to the rule of law.
(The issue of Racial Justice is also addressed in Criminal Justice Reform section below).

I support any policy that will invest in our communities first and redirect funding towards social programs that have been underfunded. Addressing economic issues is the best way to deter crime. We need to expand Federal funding for passionate community building and invest resources in neglected areas such as: 
- Education
- Youth Services
- Funding for a new type of first response department that includes social workers trained to help people with mental illness, and homelessness.
- Public Health investments and Medicare for All.
- Housing as a Right.
All of these issues are addressed in a specific policy section below.

Reparations: Russ supports reparations, and would support creating a special committee in the House to study and produce recommendations for reparations for descendants of enslaved Americans.

We must create an educational system that teaches everyone we are all one Race: The Human Race.
We will create a national training course that teaches principles of equality, justice, and inclusion, based on the work of experts in this field. We cannot tolerate any intolerance in our communities. No one is born racist, and no one is born to hate others - it's a learned behavior. Racism and prejudice can, and must, be "unlearned" and "un-taught." Worse, racism has been used to divide and conquer the working class and Americans. It's even exploited by foreign governments, and the New York Times recently reported Russia is attempting to incite racist groups to divide Americans.

Our federal government must implement a national plan and actual, real goals, of teaching inclusion and equality. We must establish a national program to teach principles of love, inclusion, and diversity, we can win the war on racism. So, how do we unteach those that have learned to hate others?Have you ever heard of Jane Eliot's "brown eye, blue eye" experiment? Here's her appearance on Oprah from 1992, which demonstrates that prejudice is something that is taught, but can be unlearned. We need to implement the strategies she's developed over decades that have successfully taught inclusion and fought prejudice, as well as other national experiments on the topic.

Funding to address unequal education systems: 
We must fully fund our schools from the federal budget, to end the injustice where a zip codes determines the quality of education. We must also allow students to attend public colleges and universities without owing a dime, for opportunity for all. Finally, must provide universal childcare and pre-K, as the earliest years of a child’s life are key to future academic and career success. These policies will begin to offset the racial wealth gap.

Address the racial wealth gap:

New Jersey is one of the most unequal states in the country. Wealth of white families far exceeds wealth of black families. This is the effect of an unjust economy. We must address this racial wealth gap head on with direct investments in black and brown communities and businesses.

Red-lining may no longer have explicit government backing, but through racism in real estate agencies and the banking industry, the reality of encouraged segregation is still with us. In addition, our history of racist housing policies is still limiting our ability to grow through diversity and celebrate our differences and commonalities. 

We must desegregate our communities while preventing gentrification.
- Narrowing the racial wealth gap through economic policies like a $20/hour minimum wage.
- Enacting rent stabilization.
- Investing in POC-owned businesses.

Why Russ is the better choice for New Jersey:
Russ understands our country’s history of racism and believes we must heal this deep divide that still exists today. Russ will do everything it takes to combat racism and create true equality for all. When Russ was in housing Court

Frank Pallone, the incumbent, has been in Congress for over 30 years, voted for the 1994 crime bill, which has disproportionately put black and brown people in prison. He's watched as the racial wealth gap has grown and grown and families of color have been priced out of their communities. Russ is the better choice because he will fight for all of his constituents, not just those with money to donate or an established seat at the table.

Please also see the additional policy section below on Criminal Justice Reform.

Criminal Justice Reform

Ban For Profit Prisons and other Prison Reform:
We have only 4.5% of the world's population, yet nearly 25% of the world's prison population. Black and Latinx people face higher arrest rates, longer sentences, and higher incarceration rates, despite breaking the law at comparable rates to White people. It’s time for change. We must:
- Abolish for-profit prisons. There should be no incentives to lock people up.
- End cash bail.
- End the “three strikes” rule.
- Reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
- Repeal the 1994 Crime Bill.
- Scale fines for traffic violations and other offenses to income, so millionaires and working-class people are equally deterred from breaking the law.
- Ensure all people who have served time are properly rehabilitated into society, a primary function of a federal jobs guarantee.
- Ban forced labor in prisons and require a minimum wage.
- Nationalize existing private prisons.

Police Reform:
- End racial profiling, "broken windows" policing, and stop and frisk.
- Ban the resale of military equipment to police departments and de-militarize the police.
- Train police to de-escalate situations without force.
- Require body cameras on police officers.
- Create an independent DOJ commission to investigate claims of police brutality.
- Expand social services.
- Create a new first response emergency team that employs social workers as first responders to situations where violence is inappropriate, like to compassionately assist the homeless, those with mental illnesses or disabilities, domestic disputes, etc.
- Hire additional counselors for schools.
- Ban the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement.
- Ban civil asset forfeiture nationally.
- Abolish ICE, and transfer key responsibilities like child/sex trafficking prevention to other departments, like the Department of Homeland Security.
- Civilian Complaint Review Boards to review police departments when civilians lodge a complaint of police misconduct, which must be independent and have subpoena power. We should model Newark, NJ in this manner.
- De-militarize the police.
- Investigate any police department that has had police brutality incidents, by an independent federal department.
- Ban chokeholds and neck restraints.
- Ban chemical weapons in accordance with international law.
- A ban on qualified immunity.
- Psychological evaluations of police officers at least annually.

Legalize Marijuana.
- Acknowledge the racist application of marijuana prohibition laws.
- Regulate the drug and its derivatives to protect the public from unsafe vapes.
- Expunge all criminal records for marijuana possession.
- Provide compensation to those who have been incarcerated for marijuana possession.
- Prioritize and invest in small businesses owned by those who have been affected by marijuana prohibition and tough-on-crime policies.

End the War on Drug Users.
- Legalize marijuana, expunge all non-violent possession convictions, and compensate those who have been incarcerated due to possession of marijuana.
- End the failed war on drug users, who are victims of addiction, and instead provide rehabilitation and addiction treatment as part of Medicare for All.
- Provide rehabilitation services through Medicare for All.
- Treat addiction like an illness, not a crime.
- Decriminalize drugs and follow the Portguese model of treating addiction as a mental illness.

Why Russ is the better choice for New Jersey: Frank Pallone voted for the draconian 1994 crime bill. Russ will work to abolish that bill. New Jersey has one of the highest arrest levels for marijuana possession in the nation, and we must end the prohibition on marijuana.

Expand and Improve Medicare for All

1. Medicare for All, a single-payer system, will save New Jerseyans an average of $3,000 per year on health insurance.
2. 95% of Americans will save 10% of their income.
3. Everyone will be guaranteed full health coverage - everything you need to stay healthy is covered with Medicare for All.
4. Comprehensive care will include vision, dental, hearing, mental health, and long-term care.
5. America will save about $10 TRILLION in health care costs over a decade.
6. Out-of-pocket medicine costs will not exceed $200 per year.
7. Medical bankruptcy will not exist, and medical debt will be erased.
8. The Hyde Amendment will be repealed, so women will have the right to determine their own health.
9. Medicare for All will eliminate employer expenses, allowing unio
ns to negotiate for wage increases and other benefits while receiving the same healthcare.
10. How do we pay for it? Well, Medicare for All pays for itself. It's projected to save America $700,000,000,000 every year. New Jersey is projected to save $2.5 billion per year at the state level, and local counties will save hundreds of millions of dollars more. Most of the savings comes from cutting the red tape of our current system because Medicare is 20% more efficient than for-profit health insurers.

We need to replicate what works in other nations. For example, the French model for Health Insurance is considered one of the best in the world by the World Health Organization, and allows private insurance to provide private, supplemental coverage, but the companies must operate on a not-for-profit model.

Put our healthcare decisions back into our own hands with Medicare for All. Companies and boardrooms will not make those decisions for us anymore. Today, our bosses choose our insurance plans for us, and insurance companies block us from life-saving services in the fine print of policies. They decide what's in the plan: which doctors are “in-network,” how much we pay for medicine, and what services we can get. They make decisions based on their profit, not our well-being. Medicare for All will put the power back in our hands.

Russ's Signature Policy Proposal: A just transition for all people who work in the health care industry. Because Russ knows that talking points about job loss are meant to divide us up, Russ's Signature Policy will benefit New Jersey employees in the health care industry. All displaced employees will be guaranteed new employment, a stipend for relocation, and job training. All earned private pensions and benefits will be guaranteed. The 300,000+ employees who are aging out of the workforce will be paid 100% of their current salary until age 65.

Why Russ is the best choice for New Jersey: 700,000 New Jerseyans lack health insurance, partly because our state has the fifth highest cost of health insurance in the country and only three providers. Insurance companies have decided to squeeze the most out of New Jersey, and it's time to change that. The average total cost for annual health insurance is about $17,500, part of which is paid for by our employers. Instead of giving their workers raises, employers are forced to pay higher and higher insurance rates. Last year alone, the price of health insurance increased by nearly 16%.

Russ’s pledge: Russ has pledged to support and co-sponsor Medicare for All legislation on day one. The incumbent Democrat, Frank Pallone, takes millions of dollars from Big Pharma and the insurance industry and refuses to even hold hearings on Medicare for All. We deserve a representative who will work for the people, not powerful campaign contributors.

Every other industrialized nation has switched to a single-payer program. None have gone back to the system we have. With Medicare for All, life-saving insurance will be guaranteed to all people, and we will get better results. The current system leaves us with no choices; all of the choices are made by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. There are millions of people uninsured and under-insured in this country, and those with insurance pay far too much. With Medicare for All, we will save money, have better results, and cover everyone.

Universal Basic Income

There are more than 40 million people living in poverty in the United States. Robots, artificial intelligence, and automation are displacing human workers in many professions. A UBI will provide economic stability in times of upheaval and will incentivize socially beneficial work that is currently unpaid.

In Congress, Russ will volunteer to sit on a special committee to examine a UBI. It would be tasked with:
- Investigating the economic and social impacts of providing $1,000 a month to every person in America over the age of 18.
- Proposing protection measures to ensure that hyperinflation does not result from a UBI, including investments in our domestic production capacities to increase supply.
- Exploring funding options, including the closure of corporate tax loopholes.

A Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is a 21st century economic growth package that will create 20 million new jobs and transition our nation to 100% renewable energy. The Green New Deal addresses multiple issues at the same time: the climate crisis, income inequality, racial inequality, national security, and our crumbling infrastructure.

A Green New Deal will:
- Ban fracking.
- Achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030.
- Cut electric bills in half by 2030.
- Ensure a just transition for all the workers in the fossil fuel industry, including pay, training, and new energy sector jobs that are safe--no more black lung!
- Guarantee a well-paying job to every American who wants one.
- Expand green, public transportation systems, like high-speed rail.
- Enable public community ownership of utilities.
- Hold fossil fuel executives accountable for their gross negligence and intentional deception of Americans for 30 years.
- End all fossil fuel subsidies from American taxpayers, which amounted to $650 billion in 2015.
- Pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to a clean, healthy environment.
- Invest in the Portal Bridge and infrastructure throughout New Jersey and the nation.

Russ's Signature Policy Additions for New Jersey:
- Build up to 50 offshore wind farms to power our state and nation, each of which create around 5,000 jobs in New Jersey communities.
- Guarantee pensions for all workers in the fossil fuel industry.
- Clean up all superfund sites.
- Build high-speed rails and electric buses for faster, cleaner commutes and travel.
- Rebuild our water infrastructure and fully address the Newark lead crisis.
- Provide free public transportation.

The New Jersey Climate Crisis is here:  New Jersey is particularly threatened by the climate crisis. NJ-6, our district, is a shoreline district, which means we will experience the worst of the climate crisis. Our $44 billion tourism industry, which provides thousands of jobs in New Jersey, could be wiped out by rising sea levels, frequent hurricanes, and other effects of climate change. In April 2019, a wildfire of 11,000 square miles tore through the Pine Barrens. Lake Hopatcong had to close because the warm summer let toxic blue-green algae grow, closing the lake for swimmers. Indeed, we are the fastest-warming state and have already hit the 2 degree threshold. By 2035, more than 60,000 New Jersey homes will flood every two weeks. Billions in property value and hundreds of millions in tax revenue will be lost if we do not beat the climate crisis.

The Green New Deal will create the freshest air we've ever breathed and the purest water we've ever drank. It will end pollution and our dependence on the outdated technologies of fossil fuels by harnessing nature’s clean and limitless energy sources--the sun, wind, and water. Instead of fighting wars for oil overseas, and instead of destroying our country’s natural beauty for “natural” gas, we will preserve more lands and waters than ever before and become energy independent. 

How we pay for it:
- End the fossil fuel industry bailouts, and stop spending $650 billion a year on corporate welfare for the fossil fuel industry.
- Reduce defense spending to a level appropriate for a peacetime nation.
- Create community-oriented careers that will exist for generations, increase income tax revenue, and stimulate the economy.

Why Russ Cirincione is the best choice for New Jersey: Our current representative, Frank Pallone, takes huge donations from the fossil fuel industry. He has taken money from the biggest polluters, including TransCanada (the builders of the Keystone pipeline), Duke Energy (responsible for the 2014 North Carolina coal-ash spill), Dominion Energy, and PSEG.

Our district cannot trust Pallone to regulate the industry that pays him and protect us from its poisonous products. Pallone does not support the Green New Deal, and instead has proposed waiting thirty years to address the crisis. He wants to classify fracking and some coal production as “clean” energy. Almost all climate scientists agree that these policies will doom our species and our planet.

Russ is the best choice for New Jersey because he understands the urgency of this crisis. He will not sell our future to the fossil fuel industry. He will fight for his son's future and all of our future here in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties.

Cancel Student Loan Debt & Free College

All Americans deserve the opportunity to get an education, regardless of their income. We're going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, to realize the American promise of equal opportunity. Tuition-free public college allows students to dedicate themselves to their studies, without having to worry about being able to afford the next semester. It also benefits our society as a whole; with a more competent workforce and a more knowledgeable population, our economy, civil society, and democracy will work better.

The United States has fallen to 11th worldwide in terms of the rate of college-educated students. To remain competitive in an international economy, we must invest in public higher education. That includes increasing the funding for vocational education and providing textbooks for free to all students.
A college education in today’s world must be considered a right, not a privilege, as a high school education has been for the last century.

Student Loan Debt
- U.S. student loan debt totals $1.5 trillion, and affects 45 million Americans.
- It accounts for the second largest amount of debt behind mortgages.
- 92% is held by the federal government, (the Dept. of Education), at high interest rates.
- It has already been paid for.
- Student loan debt shackles students to monthly payments, when they would otherwise be injecting that capital into the local economy.

What if I’ve already paid my student loan debt? College debt is a scam. We need to unconditionally cancel it for everyone, and provide tax credits for those who have paid it off over the past twenty years.

End Corruption

Politics is dirty because we have legalized bribery at the highest levels of government. Politicians take money from the same corporations and individuals they are supposed to regulate, making a farce of democracy. If we want sane environmental policy, we must cut off the flow of dirty fossil fuel money. If we want Medicare for All, we must cut off the influence of HMOs and Big Pharma. If we want internet freedom and net neutrality, we must cut off massive donations from the telecoms industry. If we want a government of, by, and for the people, we must end government of, by, and for corporations.

We need to return power to the People by ending the corrupting influence of big money in politics. Making our elected officials responsive to their constituents, not their wealthy donors, will produce a government we can trust and be proud of.

Russ will: 
- NEVER take corporate PAC money or lobbyist money for his entire career.
- End Citizens United.
- Finance elections and campaigns with public funds, by granting every American $100/year to be donated to campaigns of their choosing. (Also known as "Democracy Dollars").
- Ban all private donations and Super PACs.
- Kick lobbyists out of Washington.
- Ensure free and equal airtime on news channels for political candidates.
- Russ supports the American Anti-Corruption Act :
- End the "revolving door" and enact a lifetime ban on politicians becoming lobbyists.
- Require all federal candidates to disclose tax returns.
- Ban nepotism to prevent politicians from hiring unqualified people.
- Ban members of Congress and high level government employees from owning stocks or trading stocks while in office.
- Require all government officials to sell any assets that pose a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof.
- Enact term limits on members of Congress.

Signature Policy for New Jersey:
- Create an independent corruption oversight board at the federal level that investigates claims of corruption within states in conjunction with states’ attorneys general and departments of justice.

If we want a government of, by, and for the people, we need to end the influence of big money. Politics is dirty because our elections are dominated by big money. We've got legalized bribery at the highest levels of government. Politicians take money from the very special interests and corporations they are supposed to govern. This is a disqualifying conflict of interest. If we want nice things, we have to cut off the big money that's spent in elections. If we want sane environmental policy, we must cut off the flow of dirty fossil fuel money. If we want Medicare for All, we have to end the money from HMOs and Pharmas from influencing our elections. If we want internet freedom, we have to end the telecoms wires of money to candidates.

Americans deserve free and fair elections — free from the corrupting influence of big money donors. So we're going to ban PAC donations to politicians and switch to the public financing of our elections. We're going to kick lobbyists out of Washington. We're

If we end corruption, we will save money and prioritize the needs of the 99%. Because government will not hand out lucrative, no-bid, pork filled contracts to the industries that fund their campaigns.

In New Jersey, we are dealing with corruption scandals of our own. 70% of tax subsidies are given by our New Jersey government to a corporation, then the corporation sells those tax subsidies to another company, for a profit, completely tax free. That's bad business for New Jersey. Did you hear that under the Christie administration, 12 companies faked a move to New York to receive $100 million from taxpayers in tax credits? That's our money that was dished out to them, that should have been invested in creating jobs.  

Democracy dollars has been proven effective in Seattle, where every citizen receives $100 in "Democracy Dollars" vouchers that they can donate to a political candidate. Use it, or lose it.

Why Russ is the Better Democrat for New Jersey: No one can serve two masters. It's either the money, or the People. Russ stays loyal to the People and rejects all big money: no corporate PAC and no lobbyist money. Russ has publicly pledged to do so for his entire career. This stands in stark contrast with the incumbent, Frank Pallone, who is paid by the biggest corporations in the country that have business before Congress. Pallone claims to support campaign finance reform, but he takes no real action because he knows the status quo keeps him in power.

Lower Property Taxes in New Jersey

New Jersey homeowners have seen their annual property tax bills double in the last 20 years, to an average of nearly $9,000. Meanwhile, the state receives a paltry $1.2 billion in federal funding for our schools, less than 4% of its total education budget. It is time to end the practice of exacting exorbitant property taxes and start making the federal government work for us.

Russ's Plan for Lowering Property Taxes for New Jersey:
- Fully fund public education through federal investment, vastly reducing the property tax burden.
- Establish a minimum expenditure per pupil at the New Jersey standard.
- Save New Jersey over $2.6 billion on health coverage for state and local government employees by passing Medicare for All.

New Jersey has high property taxes because we do not receive enough from the federal government to fund our schools. Therefore, Russ will fight for the federal funding of our schools, which will lower property taxes in New Jersey.

A Living Wage

The term “minimum wage” sounds sterile, clinical. It lets us forget that millions of Americans have to try to survive on that wage, and that it often means a life of insurmountable debt. It’s time we recognize that the minimum wage must be a living wage, as it was originally intended. No one should be too poor to live, no one should have to work multiple jobs to get by, and everyone who works hard should be fairly compensated.

Russ supports a $20 an hour minimum wage, indexed to inflation and cost-of-living increases. Properly adjusted since its creation, today’s minimum wage would be $33 an hour.

The United States today has the worst inequality since 1928, according to
an AP report based on available Census Bureau data. We’ve been in an economic growth period for the last decade, but many hardworking Americans have not felt the return. Almost all new income, the product of all of our hard labor, goes to the top 1%. Since the 1970s, productivity has increased apace, but real wages have stagnated.

One job should be enough to support a family, as it was for much of our history. MIT’s Living Wage Calculator indicates that for a family of two adults and one child residing in Middlesex, the living wage is $27. For Monmouth County, it's a little above $20. Yet 90,000 people in those counties, or more than 10% of the population, make the New Jersey minimum wage. They sink further into debt, leaving themselves and their children with an insecure future.

We can enact special carve-outs for small businesses that can demonstrate a real financial hardship of paying a $20/hour wage, and can provide federal grants to ensure that their business remains profitable with the new wage. But the facts demonstrate that an increase to a $20/hour wage is actually a boon to small businesses. Increasing the minimum wage leads to an increase in both business revenue and employment, according to a new study in New York City.

Why Russ is the better Democrat for New Jersey:
The federal minimum wage has not increased in ten years, yet the cost of nearly everything has gone up. Russ understands the struggle of working people in this country. Russ believes that one wage should be enough to provide for a family. We all should earn enough to live. For a more prosperous America, Russ will fight for better wages in New Jersey and nationwide.

Beat the Opioid Crisis

The Opioid Crisis is wreaking havoc on our communities, and we must protect our people. Every 15 minutes, a baby is born with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome because of opioid use during pregnancy. Since the late 1990s, more than 400,000 Americans have been killed by opioid overdoses. 

We can trace this epidemic to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, and ultimately our for-profit healthcare system. 

How did we get here?
When prescription opioids were introduced in the 90s, the drug manufacturers knew then they were addictive, potentially deadly, and less than effective for long-term pain relief. Nevertheless, Big Pharma lobbied lawmakers, aggressively marketed, and pressured doctors to prescribe more and more opioids. 

The opioid crisis is a byproduct of the insatiable greed of the pharmaceutical industry, and the politicians who take their campaign contributions. And the crisis is exacerbated by expensive and inaccessible mental health services.

We have faced drug crises in the past. One of them resulted in the era we call Prohibition. Another resulted in the infamous 1994 crime bill, supported by our current representative, Frank Pallone. With the passage of that bill, our government incarcerated hundreds of thousands of young, black men instead of alleviating the public health crisis that it was supposed to address. Because of that bill, prisons have become one of the primary providers of addiction treatment.

Clearly we must avoid the racist, misguided mistakes of the past. This time around, we need to hold the drug manufacturers accountable for their role in over-producing and over-selling opioids, and give people the care that they need.

Russ will address the opioid crisis head-on by treating it as a national emergency. He will fight to: 
1. Pass Medicare for All,
to cover mental health services and ensure that anyone who struggles with addiction can get the help that they need.
2. Decriminalize all drugs following Portugal’s model, which has effectively reduced drug use.
3. Invest in research to find safer alternatives to opioids.

When we decriminalize drugs, we must do it in a responsible way, including:
- Regulate them to protect the public from illegal vapes and contaminated products.
- Expunge all criminal records for marijuana possession.
- Provide reparations for those who have been incarcerated for marijuana possession.
- Prioritize and invest in small businesses owned by those who have been affected by marijuana prohibition.
- Provide rehabilitation services through Medicare for All.
- Treat addiction like an illness, not a crime.

Why Russ is the better choice for New Jersey:
Russ takes zero dollars from Big Pharma. We must vote out all politicians, like Frank Pallone, who take millions from the drug companies and maintain the status quo.

Democracy in the Workplace, Strong Unions & Employee's Rights

We need more democracy in our economy. Right now, the economy is set up as small monarchies and oligarchies, governed by secretive, closed-door boardrooms, dominated by shareholders and insiders who care about lining their pockets, not contributing to society. Much more so than government, the companies we work for dictate our lives. This system erodes freedom, equality, and democracy. It’s time to give workers a say and have a truly participatory economy.

Russ will be one of the most pro-union members of Congress in the country, because he is a member of DC-37, AFL-CIO, AFSCME. In fact, he has been rated by Data for Progress as one of the most pro-union "politicians" in the country, far surpassing the incumbent representative's record. That's because Russ is running to represent the people against exploitative, irresponsible corporations, just as unions represent the workers.

Unions won us the weekend, child labor protections, and the 40-hour work week. When unions were strong, one job could support a family. Unions helped build the highest standard of living the world has ever seen. It's no secret that the decline of wages over the past thirty years has been linked to the decline of unions.

Strong unions means better wages, better working conditions, and a bigger share of the profits that employees create. Union employees earn 25% more per hour, and receive better benefits, on average, than non-union workers. Divided we beg, united we bargain.

Russ supports these policies to strengthen unions and increase democracy in the workplace, for all of us:
1. Promoting the right to unionize
for better wages, better hours, better benefits, overtime pay, and better working conditions, a key to growing the wealth of the working class.
2. Guaranteeing the right to strike, and banning "strike busting" workers from becoming full-time employees.
3. Ending the "independent contractor," "supervisor," and “franchise” loopholes. All employees deserve benefits and protection from bad actors in the workplace. Irresponsible corporations must be held liable for their actions and those of their subsidiaries.
4. Requiring "just-cause" employment, where any firing must be based on a sufficient "business" reason and may require an explanation.
5. Enabling employee governance: Mandating, in certain firms and industries, that 50% of boards be elected by the employees of the company.
6. Abolishing all "right-to-work” laws, which are anti-union, across the country.
7. Expanding union recognition with union card checks. Once 51% of employees sign a union authorization card, the union must be immediately recognized and negotiation must begin within 10 days. Within 90 days there must be a contract, or binding arbitration will begin. Employers may not interfere with union activities outside of negotiations.
8. Standardizing union contract clauses.
9. Upholding union contracts
during corporate mergers and acquisitions.
10. Protecting pensions and passing the Keep Our Pension Promises Act.
11. Banning the mandatory arbitration of negotiations with the NLRB.
12. Enshrining labor protections in the National Labor Relations Board,
and removing the requirement of appointments by the executive branch. Instead, recognized unions shall meet and elect board members of the National Labor Relations Board.
13. Allowing special "strike funds," funded by unions, to guarantee pay for union workers that are on strike. Strikes present a unique scenario: the business loses profits and the workers lose income. Allowing unions to transfer income to striking members would encourage negotiations, empower employees, and discourage crossing the picket.
14. Repealing most provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, which handcuffs union activities. This will include a ban on employer-sponsored anti-union propaganda.
15. Allowing industrial sector unions to negotiate nationally, as is done in every industrialized nation.
16. Banning discrimination in the workplace
with the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ+ people from workplace discrimination.

Labor justice does not end at unionization, however. We must take a number of other steps to promote employee rights:

Ensure the right to a fair schedule. If you’ve worked in the restaurant industry, you know how frustrating it is to not know your schedule more than a few days in advance. You’re unable to plan ahead or know how much income you’ll have next week. Russ has been there, and he knows that change is needed. We must put an end to "on-call" scheduling for industries where it is not required. For example, companies with greater than 20 employees should have to give at least one week's notice of schedules. If an employee is given less than one week’s notice, they must be paid a bonus, unless the shift is voluntarily picked up. This law is on the books in New York, and can scale up to the entire country.

Create a “right of first refusal” for employees. If a company decides to sell, close a shop, or ship overseas, employees should be given the opportunity to purchase these assets. Federal funding for loans to purchase them should be provided if the employee-purchased assets will be owned as a worker cooperative for the public good. This will protect local jobs and create opportunities for worker-owned cooperatives.

Win the trade war. Require all corporations with any business in the US to comply with all United States labor and environmental regulations. Protect domestic and agricultural workers. Penalize companies that close US plants.

Protect the medical benefits that employees have bargained for. Transition to Medicare for All with a “no loss of quality” guarantee. The National Labor Relations Board will oversee new union contracts, requiring that employer savings from Medicare for All be passed on to workers through benefits or increased wages. Never again will CEOs be able to deny your health benefits--as the GM CEO did to the UAW Labor Union--because they disagree with your free speech.

Codify standards for federal contractors.
Every federal contractor must:
1. Be a union shop.
2. Pay a living wage.
3. Create three jobs in the US for every two moved overseas.
4. Limit CEO compensation to no more than three times the average worker’s full time salary.
5. Refrain from union busting and anti-union propaganda activities. Failure to uphold these standards must bar the contracting company and its executives from ever receiving federal contracts again.

Pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019 (H.R.2474). This bill would help restore unions to their former effectiveness. It would allow legal action and financial penalties against companies that participate in union busting. It would also push back against so-called right-to-work laws that have decimated unions and empowered exploitative bosses over the last decade.

Increase employee ownership. Establishing a national worker cooperative incubator for startups and employee-owned companies that pledge to serve the public interest, not private profit, first.

Federal Jobs Guarantee ("AMWORKS")

A federal jobs guarantee (America Works, AMWORKS) will end unemployment in this country and ignite our economy. It will set a high standard of living for all, and allow us to restore our social, physical, and economic environments.

The federal government should put every American who wants a job to work rebuilding this nation’s crumbling infrastructure, producing a green energy economy, and strengthening community bonds. Local-national dialogue and cooperation will produce tailored solutions to unaddressed issues.

Each federally funded project will start by asking a question that is rarely ever asked: “What does your community need?”

At the heart of each AMWORKS job will be the common good, the public interest, not a profit motive. What if the roads in our towns were paved, not with an eye on the annual municipal budget, but with an eye on long-term durability and environmental sustainability? What if public housing was constructed, not to line the pockets of developer executives, but to provide high-quality homes that communities felt a desire to maintain?

Imagine how many projects that badly need an upgrade in our communities--schools, parks, libraries, environmental remediation, roads, bridges, fire departments, police departments, wind and solar farms-- but these are never undertaken because our towns and states lack the funds to complete them.

AMWORKS will create the funds, provide logistical support, hire local, ensure on-the-job training, support unions, encourage community ownership, and, most importantly, respect the wishes of community members. This is how we promote the general welfare.

Women's Rights

Women's Rights are deeply important to me, and America must ensure gender equality. Women are often paid less than men for the same work, states have oppressed reproductive rights, and women are often price gouged for necessary products / services.

People of all genders and backgrounds must stand together to fight for gender justice and equality. Russ will be on the side of women’s rights and equality.

In Congress, Russ will fight to:
1. Eliminate the Pink Tax.
Women should not have to pay higher prices for the same products.
2. Enforce pay equity. Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to achieve pay parity between women and men.
3. Repeal the Hyde Amendment. Include women's healthcare in Medicare for All, including contraceptives and abortions.
4. Expand the WIC program and increase benefits for pregnant women/AFAB (assigned female at birth), and their infants, so that every family receives the nutrition needed to grow and live healthy lives.​
5. Decriminalize Sex Work and include STD testing in Medicare for All
. Repeal SESTA-FOSTA, a law that puts sex workers at greater risk. We need to fight sex-trafficking to protect the victims, and we must promote internet freedoms. The incumbent that Russ is challenging voted for this anti-sex work legislation, which unfairly targets women (and LGBTQ+ persons) while failing to address exploitative/predatory actors in the sex work industry.​
6. The Violence Against Women Act: Re-authorize, improve, and expand it.
7. Childcare for All: Universal, high-quality, affordable childcare for all.
This includes federally funding childcare and paying the childcare workers a living wage.
9. Guarantee 6 + months of paid family leave
, available to parents and siblings who have responsibilities for taking care of newborns.
10. Support women's health.
Include women's healthcare in Medicare for All, including contraceptives and abortions.

Expand Social Security

Today, far too many seniors live in poverty. Social Security benefits only pay about $14,000 a year.

We will double Social Security benefits, so everyone may retire in dignity. We should lower the retirement age, rewarding those who have worked hard and earned the right to retire in comfort.

In Congress, Russ will support: 
1. Double Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income.
2. Starting our "golden years" sooner, and lower the retirement age to 60.
3. Providing in-home care for seniors as part of Medicare for all.
4. An expansion of Medicare benefits under Medicare for All.
5. Filling the funding gap in Social Security, to ensure it's available for generations.

Housing for All

Housing is a human right, and it's time we treat is as such. The US government should guarantee housing to all, investing in new, affordable, desirable homes. We all need a roof over our heads, and the safety, comfort, and chance to prosper that it provides.

New Jersey has not avoided the housing crisis. 8,862 New Jerseyans experienced homelessness on any given day in 2019. People are priced out of their homes by incredibly high property taxes, but New Jerseyans must make $27 an hour to reasonably afford rent for a two bedroom apartment. Gentrification has exacerbated these issues, pushing long-time residents out of their communities. 

No one should be spending more than 30% of their income on housing. But 51% of Americans pay more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities, with minority groups hit the hardest.

The US today has a homeless population of 500,000, ten percent of whom are veterans. We need to build affordable housing. Russ has dedicated his career to fighting for affordable housing, and it's time his knowledge and experience is put to use at the federal level.

Russ fully supports:
- Low-interest mortgages and refinancing options, as low as 0%.
- Building 1 million new housing units throughout the country.
- National rent stabilization.
- Prohibiting discrimination against potential buyers and leasees based on income source.
- Requiring large landlords to report data on eviction rates, average rent increases, and average maintenance costs.
- A right to counsel for all tenants.
- A minimum threshold for nonpayment evictions of two consecutive months of missed rent.

We need housing policies that work for everyone, not just the wealthy residents.‍
‍Housing in the public interest is affordable, environmentally friendly, and located close to transportation, health, and other services.

Russ's Signature Plan for New Jersey:
- Reduce property tax burdens in New Jersey by increasing the federal education budget and enacting Medicare for All, which will reduce the cost that New Jersey local governments pay for employee health insurance.
- Allow a full State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction for homeowners; repeal the Republican tax scam!
- Allow a tax deduction for rental payments.
- Allow refinancing of mortgages to low interest rates.

A Fair Work/Life Balance for All

We work hard, and we deserve a fair work-life balance. Americans are more productive than ever before, but we work longer hours than ever as well. We must guarantee all people paid vacation time, paid family leave, and paid sick leave. These are all guaranteed in every other industrialized country. The United States has fallen behind.

Paid Family Leave: The United States lags behind in paid family leave. Almost every other country allows families to bond in the earliest stages of a child’s life. Without paid family leave, families are overly stressed at this critical time in child development. This affects parents’ productivity at work, their family stability, and the immediate and future health and success of the child. As a father, Russ knows how hard the first few months are with a newborn. It is time to recognize that family values mean we value families. Paid family leave shows that commitment.

New families need six months of paid family leave to bond and grow together. Beginning in 2020, New Jersey is providing 12 weeks of paid family leave to all, for a newborn or to take care of a sick family member, with income capped at $840/week. That is a great start, but it must be lengthened and brought to the entire country.

Paid Vacation Time: We are the only industrialized nation that doesn’t require paid vacation time. This is about all of us having more time to find meaning in life outside of work, whether by spending time with our family and loved ones, strengthening our communities, finding new passions, or pursuing new faith. In addition, paid vacation time has been shown to increase productivity; to do our best work, we all need breaks. We should guarantee all 4 weeks of paid vacation leave to all.

Paid Sick Leave: The COVID-19 pandemic has proven the necessity of paid sick leave more than anything. Everyone gets sick, and everyone needs time to recover. We should not be forced to endanger coworkers in order to put food on our tables.

Time for Freedom: Russ also supports a congressional subcommittee to explore a concept proposed by the Labor Movement in the 1940s, called "Time for Freedom." Imagine, every seventh year, all Americans would be guaranteed an entire year of vacation to enjoy life, explore the world and their passions, and live to the fullest.

Foreign Policy

It's time to end America's endless wars and end America's illegal occupations across the globe. Congress must reclaim it's Constitutionally mandated authority to declare war, and become efficient with our military. We must be strong on defense at home, yet careful and calculated with any conflicts overseas. War should be a last resort, and we should focus on diplomacy and negotiations.

Our nation has been far too quick on the trigger. American foreign policy has been based on confrontation and projection of military power. The last time the US declared war was 1942. Since then, over 100,000 Americans have been killed in overseas conflicts. Our leaders have dragged us into illegal occupation after illegal occupation around the world, with little to show but graves. 

Let “peace” be the watchword of a new generation of American policy.

End Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Constitutionally, only Congress has the power to declare war, and the president is not authorized to use military force without Congress. We must enforce this constitutional provision and democratize our foreign policy.

Russ supports peace, diplomacy, and a democratic foreign policy through:
- Reclaimed congressional authority to declare war.
- Anti-interventionism.
- De-nuclearization of the planet and America. We should not be sowing the seeds of humanity's self-destruction.
- Significantly reducing the military budget to invest at home and in our veterans instead.
- Reducing the number of overseas US military bases from 800 to fewer than 50. Britain, Russia, and France combined have just 30.
- Ending the war in Yemen and ending our exports of military arms to human rights violators.

We need world peace across the globe. We must strengthen our alliances and reaffirm the unique opportunity of the United Nations. America must be a leader in the UN again and focus on international diplomacy.

Denuclearization treaties across the planet. Humanity should not be building the weapons that can destroy all life on earth. The wisdom that nuclear supremacy will keep us safe is outdated. Instead, we have created a ticking time bomb.

Why Russ is the best choice for New Jersey:
The incumbent, Frank Pallone, has consistently voted for bloated war budgets, including the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). Russ will never vote for a bloated military budget, and he would have voted against the NDAA. Russ believes in a "diplomacy first" approach to foreign policy.Congress must reclaim its constitutional authority of declaring war and pledge to use that authority only in self-defense. Let “peace” be the watchword of a new generation of American policy.

End Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Constitutionally, only Congress has the power to declare war, and the president is not authorized to use military force without Congress. We must enforce this constitutional provision and democratize our foreign policy.

Russ supports peace, diplomacy, and a democratic foreign policy through:
- Reclaimed congressional authority to declare war.
- Anti-interventionism.
- Denuclearization of the planet and America. We should not be sowing the seeds of humanity's self-destruction.
- Significantly reducing the military budget to invest at home and in our veterans instead.
- Reducing the number of overseas US military bases from 800 to fewer than 50. Britain, Russia, and France combined have just 30.
- Ending the war in Yemen and ending our exports of military arms to human rights violators.

We need world peace across the globe. We must strengthen our alliances and reaffirm the unique opportunity of the United Nations. America must be a leader in the UN again and focus on international diplomacy.

Denuclearization treaties across the planet. Humanity should not be building the weapons that can destroy all life on earth. The wisdom that nuclear supremacy will keep us safe is outdated. Instead, we have created a ticking time bomb.

Why Russ is the best choice for New Jersey:
The incumbent, Frank Pallone, has consistently voted for bloated war budgets, including the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act). Russ will never vote for a bloated military budget, and he would have voted against the NDAA. Russ believes in a "diplomacy first" approach to foreign policy.

End Hunger

16 million children across America go without nutritious meals on a regular basis, and the picture is even worse when schools let out for the summer. In a country where 40% of our food gets thrown out, none of our kids should be suffering from malnutrition or hunger.

We need healthy school meals, an end to corporate farming, the elimination of food waste and food deserts, and investments in healthier, greener alternatives to meat.

The establishment in Washington, including Frank Pallone, is happy to let Big Farm(a) create our food policy, treating animals cruelly, destroying our ecosystems, and hurting millions of Americans.

The current "Farm Bill" is actually a massive taxpayer handout to corporate conglomerate farms. A Farm Bill should promote healthy food, but ours does not. Instead, it subsidizes processed, low-nutrition foods like corn and sugar. Even cotton receives more of an investment under the current farm bill than organic farms do.

We need a "Healthy Food Bill" that prioritizes growing healthy, sustainable food and feeding all Americans. That bill would end the price difference between organic and non-organic food by reprioritizing our subsidies. It would also ensure full plates for all by optimizing distribution.

As your representative, Russ will introduce legislation to:
- Prioritize investments in healthy food, grown without pesticides and high in nutrition.
- Invest in family farms, and ensure that farmers make a living wage.
- Fund vocational training in sustainable farming practices, along with a federal jobs guarantee.
- Require food "ingredient" labels to include which pesticides are used.
- Require all grocery stores to donate food that is not shelf-suitable but still edible to local food banks or soup kitchens, instead of throwing it in the trash.
- End corporate monopolies over our food supplies.
- Promote sustainable farming that replenishes soil quality.

Russ's Signature Proposal for America:
- Construct thousands of indoor, vertical, automated, hydroponic/aquaponic/aeroponic farms throughout the country. These farms will be community-owned, provide thousands of community careers, and grow low-cost, organic food. These farms will be self-sustaining, utilizing renewable energy and organism symbiosis.
- Ban "School Lunch Debt" and make sure every student gets healthy, free meals at school.
- Fully fund all school food programs from the federal government. Students need full bellies to learn.
- Invest in imitation meat production and plant-based consumption campaigns to reduce animal cruelty and chip away at the environmental costs of the meat industry.
- Conduct regular inspections of factory farms, create new health standards for all factory farms, and work to phase out the practice. Factory farms increase risks of widespread food borne illnesses, are cruel to animals, and produce dehumanizing, dangerous, stressful work conditions.

Universal Child Care

Russ will fight to guarantee high-quality, affordable, universal child care and early learning opportunities for all Americans. The early years of our lives are incredibly important, conditioning all of our future academic, behavioral, social, and career successes and struggles. It is our duty to give as many children as possible the start they need to succeed in life.

Right now, Americans pay the most in the industrialized world for child care. The average cost of a full-time child-care program is now $16,000 per year. Between 1990 and 2011, the costs of child care rose 40%. Meanwhile, wages stagnated.

Russ and his wife, Erika, have faced the difficulty of finding high-quality and affordable child care. Both of them have to work full time, so Cole, their two-year-old son, goes to a daycare every day. It costs Russ and Erika about $1,500 a month, making it inaccessible to many of our most vulnerable families. It's time that we make sure every child has the early start they need: high-quality care that doesn't break the bank.

This isn’t just humane, it’s a smart investment. Every $1 spent on early-childhood education produces $8.60 in societal gains, half of which are seen in increased earnings later in life for the childhood recipients.

A more logical child-care system is also affordable for the government. Universal childcare could be financed, for example, by an "ultra millionaire" wealth tax of just 1% on wealth over $50 million. Other practical funding schemes have been proposed by Elizabeth Warren, among others.

Immigration Justice

We direly need immigration justice in our country. The deep flaws in our immigration and citizenship system have only been exacerbated by the current administration, with its despicable treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented immigrants.

Russ condemns Donald Trump’s immigration policies. But he also knows that both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for our country’s decades-long failure to implement reforms. “Comprehensive immigration reform” has become a phrase that sounds good and stands for nothing, bandied about by establishment politicians who fail again and again to do anything. It’s time for change.

Russ supports:
- Reforming the immigration system to make a path to citizenship straightforward and accessible.
- Eliminating financial status as a category of consideration for immigration applications; one’s income does not determine one’s worth.
- Closing the concentration camps (a.k.a. detention centers) on the border.
- Abolishing ICE and returning necessary functions, like anti-sex trafficking enforcement, to other departments.
- Ending the farce of young children having to defend themselves before immigration courts.
- Scaling immigration rates to the health of the US economy. In times of low unemployment, immigration should increase to fill unfillable positions, and vice versa in times of economic contraction.

Modernize Democracy

We’ve played with fire for too long when it comes to the integrity of our elections, and now the house is starting to burn, whether because of Russian interference or home-grown voter suppression. It’s time to modernize our democracy to ensure that our government is of, by, and for the people, with all elections and voters protected by the federal government. 

In Congress, Russ would fight to:
- Create a Federal Election Protection Commission.
Our voting machines should be updated and secure with a paper ballot trail. Voting machines and other voting methods should not be outsourced to any corporation, thereby ensuring integrity and avoiding issues like those experienced in the Iowa caucuses this year.
- Mandate that all federal elections are deemed national holidays or occur on weekends. The votes of working people, especially those with multiple jobs, are suppressed under our current system.
- Restore the Voting Rights Act. We must update the VRA so that states once again have to prove their policies will not result in voter suppression.
- Make voter registration automatic, with an opt-out option: All eligible voters should automatically be registered to vote, unless they expressly refuse to be. Registered voters should be made aware of their party registration and other party options once a year.
- Secure our elections. We need updated voting machines, strong anti-hacking measures, and consistent information about where, when, and how to vote.
- Make it easier to vote. No one should need a driver’s license or passport to vote. No one should have to choose between a paycheck and making their voice heard.
- Enact direct democracy on ballot initiatives. For every federal election, there should be one or two ballot initiatives, as there are at the state level in New Jersey, for direct government by the people. For instance, in the 2020 election, there should be a national ballot issue on whether to legalize marijuana or not. This direct decision-making will increase voter turnout immensely by giving each voter a greater sense of their impact.

Personally, Russ pledges to lead the way by increasing transparency. He will hold monthly town halls within the district, with live polling so the district can vote on key issues and make their voices heard. Questions may be submitted in advance and at the town hall. This will increase democratic participation in our government and encourage everyone to stay civically engaged.

End Gun Violence

We need to end gun violence in this country. No other country deals with as many mass shootings as America does. It comes down to one fact: we have the highest rate of gun ownership on the planet. In fact, we are the only country on earth with more guns than people.

Russ supports:
- Universal and instant background checks.
- Mental health screenings.
- A voluntary assault weapons buyback program.
- A ban on new sales of assault weapons, including all semi-automatic rifles.
- Immediate registration of all firearms.
- Requiring "gun owner’s insurance" and safety training for licensing, similar to what is done for car insurance.
- The right to own a pistol or shotgun for home defense, and a bolt-action rifle for hunting.

Invest in Public Education

Education makes democracy work and lays the foundation for the future we deserve. But Congress has not taken it seriously; less than 10% of our discretionary budget is invested in public education, while more than 60% of it is wasted on endless, illegal occupations across the globe. In most states, spending on schools has dropped over the last decade. In some states, including New Jersey, your zip code determines the quality of your schooling because our funding schemes rely on property taxes.

It’s time to cut property taxes--which are regressive and reinforce education inequality--and shift funding of schools to the federal government. Hand-in-hand with that, we must mandate per-pupil funding and end the travesty of funding determined by high-stakes testing.

Russ is married to an educator who works with students with special needs, so he knows the incredible work that teachers put in on a daily basis and the value of the public education system. Russ will always fight for teachers in New Jersey.

In Congress, Russ will support:
- Increasing the starting salary for public school teachers to at least $60,000 nationally, adjusted to cost-of-living increases.
- Prioritizing public education in our federal budget, thereby lowering property taxes.
- Ending unequal education funding that exacerbates the achievement gap.
- Expanding before- and after-school programs, like arts, tutoring, and teen centers.
- Enacting universal pre-K.
- Encouraging vocational training.
- Banning the use of toxic chemicals in schools.
- Promoting summer programs for students to have fun, fulfilling, educational vacations.
- Providing healthy and sustainable school meals for all children and banning lunch debt.
- Passing a non-discrimination act that protects equality and rights of LGBTQ+ people.
- Eliminating high-stakes testing.
- Banning the "for-profit" model of charter schools.
- Launching a federal investigation into the efficacy of charter schools.

LGBTQ+ Justice

The LGBTQ+ community has long been the target of discrimination, harassment, and abuse in this country. As the Trump administration continues to eliminate protections for LGBTQ+ Americans, it becomes clearer and clearer that Congress needs bold progressive leadership to combat this.

As a result of discrimination, harassment, and bullying, we have seen an alarming number of LGBTQ+ individuals die by suicide. LGBTQ+ students are three times more likely to be targets of physical harassment and are 90% more likely to be bullied than non-LGBTQ+ students. More than half of transgender male teens have reported attempting suicide in their lifetimes, along with 29.9% of transgender female teens and 41.8 % of non-binary youths. These numbers, while staggering and saddening, must also be calls to action.

What can be done:
Combat LGBTQ+ harassment at schools by implementing LGBTQ-inclusive curricula in public schools.
2. Ensure that all public schools have and maintain LGBTQ+ clubs and other community spaces.
3. Increase the currently abysmal counselor-to-student ratio in many schools.
4. Train students, teachers, and administrators to make their schools welcoming environments for all people.
5. Deem trans murder and suicide a national emergency.
6. Restore all protections lost under the Trump administration and reverse all anti-LGBTQ+ laws on the books. Example: Eliminate the transgender military ban.
7. Ban conversion therapy.
8. End youth homelessness, which is disproportionately experienced by LGBTQ+ individuals.
9. End the “Gay Panic” and “Trans Panic” defenses. Murder as a result of homophobia or transphobia is unacceptable.
10. Add nonbinary options to all public documents. De-gender documents where that is not possible.
11. De-gender dress codes in our public schools.
12. Ensure that trans employees will not be fired for enforcing their preferred pronouns in the workplace.
13. Classify gender affirmation surgery as necessary care under Medicare for All.
14. Remove transmedicalist language from educational materials.
15. End misgendered imprisonment, where people are sorted into prisons based on the gender assigned to them at birth.
16. Ban intersex mutilation.
17. Remove restrictions, legal and financial, on name changes and ID changes.
18. Support the Equality Act to protect all people from discrimination. Our LGBTQ+ community must be protected from discrimination in the workplace and everywhere. Russ will immediately co-sponsor the Equality Act and fight to ensure the social justice that the LGBTQ+ community deserves.

Why is Russ the best choice?
Russ understands that it takes strong, LGBTQ-affirmative voices in the public discourse to change minds and de-stigmatize LGBTQ+ identities. Russ pledges to be one of those voices. Also, unlike the current representative, Russ will vote against all anti-LGBTQ+ legislation regardless of political expediency.

Reform Charter Schools

New Jersey has over 91 charter schools, with 50,000 students enrolled, and 35,000 on waiting lists. New Jersey's first charter school came about in 1996. Ever since, charter schools have been spending wastefully, are overpriced, and produce lackluster results. The public funds of New Jersey have been lining the pockets of rich property owners, who have rigged the system to charge exorbitant prices for New Jerseyans. The truth is we do not need to have a separate system of charter schools - we need to invest in our public education more instead, because the common good requires us to focus on educating children.

For example, New Jersey charter schools cannot legally own property. So they set up fake shell companies to buy the buildings and the shell companies charge the charter schools very expensive rent that is far above market rates. This is wasteful and profiteering. In the end, Charter schools drain millions of dollars from our public schools in waste.
Their main goal is to make a profit, not educate students. They make secret decisions and don't have to disclose them to our State. That's why we have to ban for-profit charter schools, and require them to switch to a non-profit model and open and transparent.

In Congress I will support:
- Banning the "for-profit" model of charter schools so that all our resources go to educating our children and providing teachers' and staffs' salaries.
- A federal investigation into the success of charter schools and their efficiency.

For more information on this issue click here.

Protect Veterans with the Hero's Promise

Legislators on both sides of the aisle heap praise on the Americans who answer the call of their country, yet do little to actually help those veterans. In America today, 50,000 veterans are homeless and 20 veterans commit suicide per day. Veterans struggle to find jobs, to live with PTSD, and to return to civilian life.

We must treat our veterans, who risked their lives in service to our country, with the respect that they deserve.

The Heroes Promise:
- Citizenship for all veterans.
- Mental health treatment, unconditionally provided, for free, for life, for all veterans.
- Healthcare via the VA or Medicare for All upon leaving service, including dental, vision, mental health, and long term care.
- Monthly, required therapy for returning veterans who have seen combat.
- Education for veterans, including life-long, tuition-free, public education.
- A right to housing for all veterans.
- An "End of Service Income," similar to a severance package, which would continue paying veterans for up to six years. For example, a non-combat veteran who served four years would receive four more years of base pay.
- Meal and sleep guarantees (6-8 hours of designated sleep time unless in a war zone).
- Right to file grievances outside the chain of command.

Digital Privacy Act

Because of technology, our lives are ever more connected. But they are also ever more vulnerable. All of our online actions and many of our offline ones are now recorded. This tracking is often done secretly, and the information collected is often used against us. It was used in 2016 to influence an election and target people based on things they may not have even known about themselves. It's used to sell us more products. It’s used to violate our privacy and make money off of the most personal moments of our lives.

We need to protect the right to privacy and modernize the law to reflect our digital reality. We will create personal property rights in online data by taking the following steps:
- Requiring that big data companies either have a fiduciary duty of loyalty to the user to act in the best interests of the user, or that they provide clear disclaimers.
- Allowing anyone to opt out of data collection.
- Mandating notification of data breaches within 24 hours of a company gaining knowledge of the breach.
- Codifying the right to be forgotten, entailing deletion of all of our data and confirmation of such.
- Requiring easy access to any and all data on ourselves.
- Providing fair compensation for the sale of our data.
- Mandating active notification by sites, providers, and other companies when our data has been sold to a third party.

Disability Rights

We need to protect everyone's rights and provide the services that people living with a disability need. Many people living with a disability are forced into institutions for long-term care and find their civil rights infringed upon. To uphold our values of equality and liberty, we must provide federal services to help people living with a disability achieve independent lifestyles, be productive members of society, and live a high-quality life.

In Congress, Russ will work to:
- End the sub-minimum wage paid to those with a disability and pass a living wage.
- Protect those with a disability from all forms of discrimination.
- Pass the Disability Integration Act of 2019. ("DIA").
- Pass Medicare for All to provide long-term services and care, in-home personal assistance, and community based services.
- Federally invest in research and development, including the use of 3D printing, to manufacture low-cost wheelchairs, vehicles, and prosthetics.
- Amend the 21st Century Cures Act to mandate the use of web-based time sheets. Prohibit Electronic Visit Verification ("EVV") systems from violating civil rights and protect the right to privacy by banning cameras and recording systems controlled by a secondary entity, bio-metrics, bio-marking, geo-tagging, or any forms of surveillance in the home.
- Expand Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.
- Enact a federal jobs guarantee that will employ all people with a disability who want a job.
- Ensure that the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") has a new federal enforcement mechanism.
- Fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA")

Cryptocurrency Regulation

Cryptocurrencies are the new frontier of digital currency and constitute a technological revolution. The blockchain creates a public ledger of all transactions and promotes transparency. Cryptocurrencies are the future for online payments and development is exceeding expectations. The United States must become a frontrunner in this industry, provide technical training as part of the federal jobs guarantee, and provide clarity on cryptocurrency regulations. The securities laws must be modernized to protect consumers from fraud and also provide clarity on taxation and regulation issues.

Russ will be one of the most crypto-friendly members of Congress. Drawing on the Swiss model, he will introduce legislation that:
- Defines three types of currencies: Asset token, Utility token, and Payment token.
- Guarantees tax-free transactions on all cryptocurrencies, except for purchases of goods that are subject to local and state taxes.
- Requires that an "ICO" (initial coin offering) meets certain disclosure standards.
- Mandates registration with the SEC for "securities" if a token represents an ownership stake in a company.

Modern Money Economy

Much of what we assume to be true about the economy is related to our own personal experience. We each earn incomes, which is our only source of getting dollars. This creates a mentality of "scarcity" - there is only so much of our own money in our budgets. We, as people, are currency users. Now, a currency user is much different than a currency issuer. The federal government was given the sole power to create our national currency, the dollar. When we think about where all dollars come from, they are all originally printed by the federal government, when the government decides to invest in something. The source of all money in the economy today actually comes from our federal spending. Therefore, it is actually government spending that drives the economy that powers our lives. We should focus on prioritizing doing the things that we need to get done. The dollar was created so we can do great things from the federal government.

If you're worried about inflation, don't be. There is already $22 Trillion in federal debt, and we have not been able to hit  2% inflation for decades. Further, we will use the many economic tools and economic planning that can counter inflation. This will be part of federal monetary policy, legislated into the bills, to prevent inflation. For one, we can issue bonds, like we did in World War II, that takes money out of circulation to deter inflation.

However, in four key sectors in our economy, there has been extreme inflation over the past few decades: Education, Housing, Healthcare, and Energy are quickly rising in costs because there is not enough production to meet demand. Inflation is caused by an increased demand, but a lack of supply. Therefore, we have to invest in our productive capacity to counter inflation. That's why it's important for policies that invest in education, housing, healthcare and energy.

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