Breakthrough for Black America
Breakthrough for Native Americans
This is the season where the Indigenous people of this land go from the footnotes of our efforts to being at the forefront of our plans to restore and reconcile relationships with people groups who have been historically underserved. The reality is that our federal treaty obligations have often gone unmet and woefully underfunded. To be the honorable nation we claim to be, we must hold ourselves accountable for our legal promises, moral obligations, and the damaging policies of our past.
In addition to investing in infrastructure and economic development towards the aim of powerful independence, we will focus on the following areas:
Healthcare: Native Americans have a lower life expectancy than any other racial/ethnic group and higher rates of many diseases. We will direct more federal funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Services which currently operates at a little over half of the amount necessary. This will provide for needs such as health facility construction, renovation, urban health programs, and sanitation services.
Housing: Covid19 further exacerbated the housing crisis for Natives where much of on-reservation housing is inadequate. We must follow through on our trust responsibility to increase the availability of safe, sanitary housing on-reservation. We will also increase access to credit and homeownership resources. Boosting funding for our Native American programs through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will ensure that innovative and comprehensive solutions are provided.
Education and Economic Development: To date, we have not come close to meeting our federal obligation to provide an education for Indigenous students. The achievement gap that persists is not indicative of potential, but rather of a lack of resources. We will increase funding to the Department of Education’s Indian Office of Education to raise the standard of education for students who often face cultural isolation, outdated facilities, underpaid teachers, subpar curricula, and racial discrimination. In our New Era of Education, we will also support adult and vocational training, including more funding for Indian community colleges.
Breakthrough for Immigrants
History proves that we are a nation of immigrants starting with America’s forefathers. That is why the Simmons Administration aims to restore the United States of America to her identity as the “land of opportunity” and a refuge for “...the tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We acknowledge that all of the world’s citizens do not enjoy the freedoms, protections, and opportunities that Americans possess. It is our intention to be good stewards of those possibilities. We do this with an eye towards powerful assimilation, meaning that while religious freedom and pride in one’s culture of origin are hallmarks of life in America, we will not stand for the subversion of our laws, or the adoption of practices counter to the values, freedoms, and rights we employ as a nation. Thus our stance on immigration issues naturally extend our Pro-Protection, Pro-Human, and Pro-Prosperity missions and urgently employ the following objectives:
- Policy Review: Rigorously review our current immigration policies and proposals to guarantee that the United States Constitution is upheld while promises and opportunities already conferred to individuals are secured. We will focus on a more satisfactory approach to reconciling DACA and the DREAM Act with our primary routes to American citizenship. Our aim is to counter the uncertainty, waste, and inefficiency in our current systems while ensuring we do not unwittingly supplant the already legal path being taken patiently by many.
- Generous and Lawful Immigration: We look to bolster our position as having a lawful immigration system that is one of the most generous in the world. This includes, but is not limited to, visa reforms and removing the red tape associated with the citizenship and asylum processes; making certain they are fair and efficient, and that they incentivize those who follow the legal path to citizenship.
- National Security: Lead a Department of Homeland Security that continues to prioritize national security for the United States as the premier priority and guiding light in all matters of immigration policy. This means ensuring that criminals of all kinds, including drug and human traffickers and terrorists are stopped well beyond our borders and face prosecution. We will be focusing our immigration enforcement efforts on arresting, detaining, and removing individuals identified as posing a threat to national security, public safety, or border security.
- Immigration and the Entrepreneurship: Immigrants account for roughly 15% of U.S. workers, yet they are 80% more likely than native-born workers to become entrepreneurs. They are critical to the American economy because of the jobs they create for others. Our Small Business Association will work to provide financial and professional development support for first and second-generation immigrant-owned businesses projected to significantly increase jobs in economically challenged communities.
- Immigration and Competitive Wages: 17.4% of the U.S. labor force is foreign-born with a large majority of those workers employed in service occupations as well as construction, natural resources, and maintenance occupations. Transportation, production, and material moving occupations are other industries buoyed by foreign-born workers. A Department of Labor in the Simmons Administration would work to find the balance between improving conditions and wages for workers while supporting the business growth of companies and small business owners who employ them. The perpetually low pay currently experienced by foreign-born workers has not only been bad for immigrants, but it has also had a disproportionately negative impact on viable employment opportunities for black men in poor communities.
Breakthrough for Young Adults
The Great Recession of 2008, Covid-19's economic downturn, and every election cycle have something in common. They all disproportionately affect and equally ignore the circumstances of younger Americans, including Millennials and Gen Z.
Financially, the Great Recession left Millennials without rungs to climb the ladder towards the same facets of the American dream we hold so dear, such as career building, financial security, and homeownership.
The rising cost of college coupled with the elimination of jobs further exacerbates the critical level of debt amassment.
Our solutions include strategic debt forgiveness, incentivized debt-free college for specific industries that will serve the nation most during this recovery period, specialized tax breaks to young business owners.
We will work towards a new national standard in education that prioritizes creative thinking, financial literacy, and entrepreneurial skills in order to increase their job market value and personal potential.
Breakthrough for Mental Health
The true silent epidemics our nation is facing on the underside of Covid19, social unrest, and economic instability are mental illnesses and impending mental crises going unrecognized, unreported, and undertreated. Mental Illness has long been a subject we have needed to face and truly tackle as a nation. Instead, we have allowed it to remain a stigmatized issue that only gets a mention in worst-case scenarios of outrageous violence and mass homicide. That represents a conflation of mental illness and violence that is not only unfair but dangerously inaccurate. Operation Restoration believes that we must begin to prioritize mental health as being equal to all other forms of wellness that we discuss and treat more openly.
Our Surgeon General and Public Health Services Commissioned Corps will prioritize mental health as being equal to all other forms of wellness that we treat more openly. We also must look more closely at the ways mental illness is presenting differently amongst various diverse people groups, like children, artists, military, college students, healthcare workers, and minority groups in order to identify unique needs and treat people where they are in life and location.
Dispelling the Stigma of Mental Illness
Demystifying mental illness and dispelling the stigmas associated with them will be crucial to our ability to treat more people who are suffering in silence. We have come a long way with public viewpoints because of pop culture’s more increasingly common portrayals of everyday people making use of counseling services. We are calling for a more responsible portrayal and coverage of news stories involving people with mental illness. The media has played a detrimental role in its portrayal of people with mental illness and the sensationalizing of news stories associated with mass violence also contributes to a potential increase in incidences of suicide and suicidal thinking during those periods.
A Call for Increasing Awareness and Support in various communities:
Children: Destigmatizing mental illness and encouraging participating in counseling starts here. We must empower our children to see mental illness without shame and as they see other health issues in need of treatment. We propose the upgrade of our education system include regular access to counseling for all kids in public school, not just those presenting with symptoms, or those requesting services. This allows students to learn the habit of expressing their emotions, processing life events, asking for help, and they can acquire coping and stress management skills. This is also a safe space to report instances of bullying and for practitioners to recommend further treatment outside of what is offered at school.
Today, children of color, boys, in particular, are disproportionately labeled as disciplinary problems while their white counterparts receive behavioral diagnoses. We will look to rectify this issue to assure that all kids are given a fair opportunity for proper assessment and have access to behavioral health services instead of punitive consequences, or too hastily being prescribed medicine as a way to control student demeanor in the classroom.
Military: Our servicemen and women, in many cases, are facing some of the most physically and mentally grueling circumstances possible. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the most common condition we know about. But, there is a myriad of other issues including separation from family due to long deployments in unfamiliar territory, unresolved relationship issues back home, economic strain, and the social hardship for new recruits, young families, and the increasing rate of women abused in the military and you will find many groups suffering mentally and emotionally in their own way. With new daily dangers of terrorism, abroad and homegrown, and an insufficient amount of chaplains and counselors actually trained in the art of counseling, we are adding to a growing list of anxieties for our military. For our military servicemen and veterans, we will fund more mental health services and research. Our military must focus now on recruiting and retaining more practitioners so that we do not lose them in great numbers to the civilian space and so that military families do not have to travel hours off-base to get quality, specialized mental health care. We are facing a shortage of chaplains who also wear the role of counselor. We will work to increase chaplaincy recruitment, bolster support, and make their training more comprehensive so they are able to meet the growing counseling needs of their members.
The Current Case of Frontline Workers: A Comprehensive Approach to Combatting a Future Mental Health Epidemic
One of the unintended consequences of our intense efforts to deal with Covid19 has been the burn out of our nation’s medical staff. The initial wave of the crisis was hard enough with the ever-changing treatment plans for an evolving novel virus, the stress of the PPE shortages, extended separation from family to decrease the risk of infection, and worry about possibly being a source of infection. Three other unimaginable realities only piled on to an already intense situation:
- Watching other healthcare workers die of the illness was not only traumatic but increased fear and uncertainty.
- Healthcare providers faced the unimaginable weight of deciding who gets treatment and who dies due to shortage or limited bed availability.
- The unexpected role of playing both medical attendant and lone companion to dying patients unable to be with family because of Covid19 restrictions was made even more difficult by having to serve as the liaison to a grieving family needing details about the condition and/or passing of a loved one.
- Finally, our inept handling of the virus is arguably linked to the grave nature of our second wave and impending third wave during flu season. That means our health care workers have been on the frontlines since March without a break. These are prime ingredients for mental health crises, addiction flare-ups and other abuse, PTSD, and an increase in suicides.
Our solutions revolve around first bettering the conditions for healthcare workers by stopping the PPE shortage that still exists today almost 8 months into the outbreak. Bonuses were not given to healthcare workers in the first round of stimulus to offset the personal expenses they were incurring to cover their own PPE and to pay for childcare during the long hours of overtime. Residents were operating as babysitters for doctors on call which was a powerful act of generosity that also cost them time on the floor during their residency programs.
We will implement the Defense Production Act that was used to increase our ventilator supply to continue to produce PPE at the rate of having enough on reserve at our hospitals and will continue that production to begin to restock storehouses across the nation in preparation for future outbreaks. Currently, there is still a shortage and our healthcare workers’ lives are endangered by recycling what they have on a daily basis.
We must also fix the bureaucracy that sidelines many doctors forced to be stagnant during Covid19 because of the red tape of getting hospital privileges. There will be an emergency system in place that will make it easier for private practice doctors, doctors from other hospitals, and locum tenems to be able to lend a hand during Covid19.
We will work with the insurance industry to make an upgrade in their coverage to include pandemics. If it were not for private practice closures, smaller practices could have been vital in our early testing and tracing initiatives and would have spared our much-needed emergency room beds from being occupied by less severe cases of the virus.
Tax breaks for traveling nurses and doctors who risked their lives to work in hospitals of extreme need around the nation.
Covid19 Trauma Survivors: Much like frontline workers, many families found themselves at the center of the epidemic either from their own illness or from the illness and death of loved ones. Many will never forget not being able to say goodbye after dropping off a family at the front doors of a hospital.
Breakthrough for Small Businesses
As we work to become a producer nation, supporting small business owners, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors will be at the heart of that process. We will expand access to opportunity for Americans who have always had big dreams, but often have been limited by restricted access to financing, capital, business development, and visibility. The fallout of Covid19 has hit our small businesses especially hard which means our efforts to support them must be just as heavy-hitting.
Our top priority must be providing direct assistance from the US Treasury by way of more grants and payroll subsidies. While increasing access to lending is important, crippling debt is not a long term solution. During Covid19 we saw opportunism from large operations cheating small “moms and pops” that make less than $1 million in annual revenue of the immediate assistance they needed. That particular class of businesses will be prioritized in future stimulus packages so that truly fledgling businesses, newly launched businesses, and those simply operating at a smaller capacity are not left stranded as they were during the initial rounds of stimulus relief.
We will look to offer greater tax relief for small businesses, solo-preneurs, and contractors as today’s tax code disproportionately favors major corporations who can afford to pay their fair share. Currently, our law’s tax cuts for corporations are permanent, but the new individual tax cuts and the small business deduction are not. We support the Main Street Tax Certainty Act, H.R. 216, that will make sure the Small Business Deduction is permanent and will also immediately provide COVID-19 liability protection and additional financial aid for employers who are struggling to keep their doors open.
As we work to raise the minimum wage for American workers, we will simultaneously build in a tiered wage system for small businesses that allows owners to gradually elevate lesser qualified, new workers-in-training up to the raised minimum wage over a designated period of time. More government contracts will be earmarked for small businesses and contractors, including some set aside for minority-owned, black-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and for those prioritizing social and environmental good.
In addition to assistance, there will be business development support because self-sufficiency is the ultimate end goal. Imagine an era ahead where you and your business were not dependent on the government to keep the doors open even in a time of crisis because you have learned the art of positioning powerfully for the future.
While increasing access to lending is important, crippling debt cannot be a long-term solution. These grants would help businesses that have become vital to their communities with health insurance, rent, mortgage payments, and utilities. Payroll subsidies would be an additional form of support that also keeps more Americans off of unemployment.
Breakthrough for Military Members and Veterans
We place incredible value on the voluntary sacrifice that our servicemen and women make to preserve the safety and freedoms of the United States of America. Because they serve domestically and abroad to secure our welfare, the American people are able to exist in a relatively peaceful state. Because they serve, we don’t have to. Our three key platforms: pro-human, pro-prosperity, and pro-protection converge to structure policy for our military and veterans. We must and we will prioritize them and their families.
To ensure the United States is prepared in the face of increasing domestic and international priorities, the Simmons administration will work to ensure that recent increases in military spending are maintained to provide training and development for our troops, modernization activities for aging equipment and vehicles, much-needed leaps in defense-related research and technology, and personnel support for our troops at home and abroad.
We address support for future, present, and past military members initially from a stance of military readiness, but also in terms of retention and recruitment. Recruitment has dwindled in the last several years, and in some areas, the quality of recruits has decreased – many now needing waivers for weight, drug use, criminal records, or test scores. The coronavirus has further exacerbated this decline due to enlistment offices closing. While many are calling for a reinstitution of the draft as the solution, the Simmons administration will diagnose the root of our dwindling military numbers, aiming first to restore its reputation as the desirable, honorable, and respected vocation that it is. Similarly, retention rates have become a common problem, creating a shortage of professional and experienced leaders and reducing efficiency and job satisfaction. This directly affects military personnel who are still serving. We will improve access to the highest levels of quality medical, mental, and specialized care, and life resources, ensuring troops and reservists do not have to travel miles and miles for necessary care or divide families geographically as they attempt to balance patriotic duty and survival.
Finally, we aim to make the military sacrifice a sustainable sacrifice for families – supporting them from boot camp to retirement and beyond. Without a doubt, military service is a sacrifice, yet it cannot come at the destruction and dissolvement of the family. We call our men and women to service and sacrifice not to struggling and barely surviving. We will examine the current pay schedule for enlisted and officers to ensure that they are not laying their lives down for us while they are forced to live on welfare. We will also challenge current structures that make it near impossible for servicewomen and men to grow their families, including those who desire to add to their family through adoption yet being delayed or penalized for military-required relocations. We will work to commit equitable resources, opportunities, and protections to women and other underrepresented demographics, ensuring the American military is the best and brightest throughout all levels of leadership.
Breakthrough for Boys, Men, and Fathers
We know and love too many good men not to acknowledge their worth and their unique needs in this season of restoration. That is why as we work to make sure women are treated as equals, are protected from harm, and are empowered in the workplace and beyond, we will not simultaneously strip men of the same rights or demonize boys and men in the process of liberating women. We see equality not as a matter of revenge, but of restoration and reconciliation.
As we work to make sure women are treated as equals, are protected from harm, and are empowered in the workplace and beyond, we will not simultaneously strip men of the same rights or demonize boys and men in the process of liberating women. Operation Restoration looks to restore powerfully productive relationships between men and women to achieve equality, a better quality of life, and to build strong families and partnerships that will serve as the cornerstone of our nation. We see equality not as a matter of revenge, but of restoration and reconciliation.
We believe breakthrough in this area looks like the following:
- Educational Equality: Our Department of Education will be concerned with parsing out the discrimination against boys that begins as early as in our school systems. Boys of color in particular are more often tagged with disciplinary referrals while their caucasian peers more often receive medical diagnoses for the same behavioral issues. We must revisit our efforts towards Restorative Justice to ensure we are saving our boys from the school to prison pipeline. We will work with schools to reintroduce more updated and relevant trade-based educational opportunities that will go far in keeping more students, including at-risk students, engaged academically with an eye towards their future.
- Ensuring Access to Government Programs and Aid: When it comes to programs to assist single parents or victims of domestic violence, women are often identified as the only recipient group. We will work to ensure that men have the right to the same government assistance and resources to help them provide for their families, endure times of need, and have access to counseling and other protective services.
- Inclusive Government Research: Men must also be included in government-funded health research to assure that their unique biological and social needs are accounted for.
- Vindication in False Accusations: False accusations of rape and domestic violence do occur. In a Simmons administration, we will ensure the voices of victims are lifted, and we will also ensure the accused are provided the right to prove their innocence and are not left without vindication when proven innocent. It is rare for false accusers to face real consequences. We believe false accusations must be treated as a serious crime, given the damage done to individuals, families, and careers while under a glaring public spotlight.
- Harsher Sentencing for Sexual Assault Against Men: Sexual predators escape the more serious consequences due to them in comparison to the severe harm they cause. National studies have concluded that 14.2% of men were sexually abused before the age of 18. Those numbers are likely low due to the fact that cases involving male victims, while more common than we think, are often under-reported, unrecognized by friends and family, and ultimately undertreated. Even still, we must do the work necessary to bring their predators to justice. We will work with the Federal Bureau of Prisons to ensure inmates are better protected against violence and abuse and their sexual offenders are prosecuted for their crimes in prison. We do not accept rape and violence as an inevitable reality of prison life. Inmates already paying the hard debt of imprisonment for their crimes should not have rape as an accepted added consequence.
- Ensuring Paid Family Leave: On the heels of the historic decision to provide equally paid leave to fathers who are government employees, the Simmons administration will encourage the widespread adoption of equal paid family leave for fathers in the private sector. This will go far in ensuring fathers are able to be a part of those all-important initial periods of bonding with their children and/or supporting their spouse without fear of financial hardship or job loss.
- Father’s Rights: We must consider making joint custody the default mode for divorce case outcomes except in cases where one parent is unfit or unwilling to parent. Some men have experienced being separated from their kids on the basis of accusations without proof. Those accusations should be supported with evidence prior to separation. We must also reform child support and alimony to consider the change in status for fathers caused by a decrease in wages, job loss, and extreme situations like Covid-19.
- Men’s Reproductive Rights: As we encourage increased participation from fathers in the lives of their children, we must now have a broader discussion about the reproductive rights of men and we will find ways to bring the voices of men affected by these situations back into the conversation to provide more options surrounding family planning, adoption, and parental rights..
- Ending Over-policing and Mass Incarceration: Over-policing and mass incarceration disproportionately affect male populations, especially males of color. Men are 65% more likely to get longer sentences than women for similar crimes. We believe our proposals in criminal justice reform, like the elimination of the cash bail system, the elimination of private prisons, and converting marijuana convictions will improve the lives of men across the nation looking to return to society and build productive lives including the restoration of their families. To read more about our criminal justice reform policies, click here.
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