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Recently, Alabama 8th graders ranked 50th in the nation in math proficiency. Alabama's teachers are underfunded, and our class sizes are too big to be effective. Additionally, less than 50% of Alabama students who start higher education graduate with a degree.


Quick Facts:

  • Alabama schools score in the bottom 40% for graduation rates and test scores.
  • College readiness is only at 18% in Alabama.
  • Employability of students is only at 31% in Alabama.
  • Only 25% of Alabama 8th graders scored proficient in reading.
  • Only 33.7% of Alabamians attain a higher education, the 8th worst in the country.

Jesse's Plan:

Debt-free College
Tuition-free college for all students.

Better Funding for Public School
Allocate more funding for teachers and students and less on athletics. Expand education budget.

Smaller Class Sizes
Decrease class sizes for better learning and create more jobs in the process.

No Experience, No Regulation
Require educational experience for all members on the school board.

We are living in the richest country in the history of the world, but many Alabamians wouldn't know it. 900,000 people are living in poverty in Alabama, 300,000 of those are children. That's more than 1 in 4 children in Alabama living in poverty. Our wages have been stagnant while almost all economic growth goes to the top 1%.


Quick Facts:

  • Alabama is the 3rd poorest state.
  • Alabama has the 3rd highest rate of child poverty.
  • Alabama has the 2nd largest income inequality gap.
  • Alabama has the 5th highest gender wage gap with Alabama women only making 72.6 cents to a man's dollar.

Jesse's Plan:

$15 Minimum Wage
Gradually increase all wages until the minimum wage reaches $15.

Trade Reform
Stop corporations from shipping jobs to other countries with less regulation.

Equal Pay for Women
Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Ending the wage gap is essential to alleviate poverty in Alabama.

Expand Social Security
Expand benefits that are currently less than 800 per month. Raise the cap on taxable earnings for Social Security. Right now, a person making 180,000K/year pays the same into Social Security as someone making 10 million/year.

Rebuild Infrastructure
Rebuild Alabama's crumbling infrastructure and create thousands of jobs in the process.

Of the top 10 leading causes of death in Alabama, 9 are health-related. Meanwhile, 14.5% of Alabamians are uninsured, down from 17.7% since the ACA, and even more are underinsured.


Quick Facts:

  • Alabama has the 2nd highest infant mortality rate.
  • Alabama is 1st in diabetes and 2nd in hypertension.
  • Alabama is 6th in inactivity.
  • 139,000 Alabamians fall into a gap in healthcare coverage.

Jesse's Plan:

Universal Healthcare
Institute single-payer healthcare for every American, including mental health coverage. Expand Medicare and Medicaid until then.

Lower Prescription Prices
End price gouging by pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers.

Paid Sick Leave
Guaranteed paid sick time for every worker.

Paid Family Leave
Guaranteed family leave for every worker.

Only 8.9 million of the 22 million veterans in the US have VA health benefits. In fact, there are 18,000 veterans without health insurance in Alabama alone. Additionally, chronic homelessness affects veterans twice as much as other Americans. We must take care of our veterans after they return home.


Quick Facts:

  • There are approximately 410,000 veterans living in Alabama.
  • Alabama hospitals were rated worst for veteran appointment completion.
  • Veterans make up 33% of homeless males in the US.
  • 1.2 million veterans in the US lack health insurance.
  • Only 10% of the US defense budget goes to fight terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East.

Jesse's Plan:

Veteran Care
Create a path to employment for veterans. Establish better healthcare for veterans.

Funding
Reallocate defense funds to our troops instead of the military-industrial complex. Decrease our bloated defense budget.

Responsible Military Action
Use appropriate military force only when diplomacy fails.

If elected to Congress, Jesse Smith will stand up for Social Security and Medicare. He is fully committed to preserving, protecting, and strengthening these lifelines for today’s seniors and for future generations.


Social Security


Jesse won’t vote to cut Social Security under any circumstances. He will defend and work to expand this important and vitally necessary lifeline for seniors.

Social Security reflects Democrats’ shared belief that every American should be able to retire with dignity after decades of hard work and that no American should face poverty because he or she is old, disabled, or when a loved one dies. It is the most successful government program in our nation’s history. For 80 years, it has kept millions of elderly Americans out of poverty and ensured a decent retirement for workers. Through good times and bad, Social Security has paid every nickel owed to every eligible American – on time and without delay. As corporations destroyed the retirement dreams of millions over the past 30 years by eliminating defined benefit pension plans, Social Security was there paying full benefits. As millions of Americans lost their life savings after Wall Street’s recklessness crashed the economy in 2008, Social Security was there paying full benefits.

Today, Social Security is more important than ever. Over half of workers between the ages of 55-64 have no retirement savings. More than a third of senior citizens depend on Social Security for virtually all of their income. One out of every five senior citizens is trying to scrape by on an average income of just $8,300 a year.

We all hear talk of a looming “retirement crisis” and calls to cut benefits by changing payout formulas or raising the retirement age. But the real problem is not the long-term solvency of Social Security. Rather, it is the fact that millions of Americans are facing an insecure and underfunded retirement. The best way to address this retirement issue would not be to cut Social Security but to protect, preserve and expand it.

Jesse will protect and defend Social Security against Republican attacks. Republicans are using scare tactics about the future and effectiveness of Social Security to push through policies that would jeopardize the program. Jesse believes Social Security must remain what it has always been: a rock-solid benefit that seniors can count on—not subject to the budget whims of Congress or fluctuations of the stock market. As a member of Congress, he will fight any attempts to gamble seniors’ retirement security on the stock market through privatization, oppose reducing annual cost-of-living adjustments, oppose efforts to raise the retirement age, and oppose closing the long-term shortfall on the backs of the middle class, whether through benefit cuts or tax increases.

Jesse will support legislation to expand Social Security for those who need it most through increased cost-of-living-adjustments and lifting more seniors out of poverty by increasing the minimum benefits paid to low-income seniors.

Jesse will support legislation to preserve Social Security for decades to come by supporting bills that will ask the wealthiest to contribute more. Social Security must continue for future generations. There is no way to accomplish this without asking the highest-income Americans to pay more. Not only is this the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it is also what the vast majority of the American people want us to do. According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 61% of the American people support expanding Social Security benefits by lifting the cap on taxable income.


Medicare


Medicare is the bedrock of health care coverage for more than 50 million American seniors and people with disabilities. As a member of Congress, Jesse will fight Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA made preventive care available and affordable for an estimated 39 million people with Medicare and saved more than 9 million people with Medicare thousands of dollars in prescription drug expenses. Jesse will fight against Republican plans to privatize or “phase out” Medicare as we know it by shifting millions more seniors into private plans that would dramatically raise their costs. Jesse will stand against these attempts to weaken the program. He will support efforts to drive down drug costs for seniors and other Americans and ensure Medicare can negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, so we can lower costs for seniors


Prescription Drug Costs


Too many American seniors and families are being squeezed by rising drug costs. Every month, 90% of seniors and almost half of all Americans take a prescription drug. A typical senior on Medicare spends over $500 per year out of his or her own pocket on prescription drugs. Individuals with chronic health conditions or serious illnesses can spend thousands of dollars each year in out of pocket spending to afford their prescriptions. The largest pharmaceutical companies are together earning $80-$90 billion per year in profits, while charging Americans thousands of dollars for new drugs – often at much higher costs than in other developed nations. They’re receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer support for basic research, but spending more on marketing than R&D. Americans are having a hard time paying the bill. According to a Consumer Reports survey, “one of out every four people facing higher drug costs were also unable to afford medical bills or medications; one in five said they missed a payment on a major bill.”

Jesse believes we need to hold drug companies accountable to lower drug costs for Americans. As a member of Congress, he will work to stop direct- to-consumer drug company advertising subsidies, and reinvest funds in research. Almost every country in the industrialized world bans or severely restricts direct-to-consumer advertising because it increases drug costs, and can include confusing, misleading or incomplete information or exaggerated claims if not regulated effectively. Jesse believes that eliminating corporate write-offs for direct-to-consumer advertising would save the government billions of dollars over the next decade. The proceeds could be used to invest in research.

Jesse will support legislation to cap monthly and annual out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs to save patients with chronic or serious health conditions hundreds or thousands of dollars. Americans should be able to afford prescriptions for their conditions throughout the year, and not have to stop taking a needed medication when they cannot pay for the increased cost.

Jesse will support efforts to promote competition and leverage the country’s bargaining power to lower drug costs. He will work to pass legislation to prohibit “pay for delay” arrangements that keep generic competition off the market, lowering prices for Americans and saving the government up to $10 billion.

Jesse will support efforts to allow Americans to import drugs from abroad – with careful protections for safety and quality – until American drug costs become more competitive. It is unfair that drug companies charge far lower prices abroad for the same treatment, while imposing higher prices on Americans. Countries in Europe often pay half of what Americans pay for the same drugs.

Jesse will support efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate drug and biologic prices. Jesse believes Medicare should use its leverage with more than 40 million enrollees to negotiate and drive down drug and biologic prices for seniors and others in the program. Today, drug prices in Medicare are negotiated by benefit managers, rather than using the full bargaining power of the program. Jesse believes we should drive the best bargain for Americans, and especially for senior citizens, by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, especially high-cost drugs with limited competition.


Black Rights


Quick Facts:

  • The poverty rate for African Americans in Alabama is 31.1%.
  • Unemployment for African Americans in Alabama is 10.9%.
  • The diabetes mortality rate in Alabama was 70% higher for African Americans than for Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • African Americans make up 54% of Alabama's prison population but only 26% of the state's population.

Jesse's Plan:

End Police Discrimination
Prevent and reverse policies that allow police to unfairly arrest and prosecute minorities.

Black Lives Matter
Automatic Department of Justice investigation whenever someone dies in police custody.

Fight Segregation
Continue to fight against segregation in our communities and schools.

Black Youth Jobs
Ensure black youth are included in federal jobs bills.


Voting Rights


Quick Facts:

  • Alabama was the birthplace of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Alabama has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country.
  • Voter ID laws unfairly target low-income communities.
  • Alabama's voter turnout in 2014 was only 41%.

Jesse's Plan:

Democracy Day
Make election day a federal holiday so everyone has a better chance to vote.

End Discriminatory Voter ID Laws
End restrictive voter ID laws that prevent many low-income people from voting.

Automatic Voter Registration
Make voter registration automatic on a person's 18th birthday.


Women's Rights


Quick Facts:

  • Alabama ranked 47th for poverty in working-age women.
  • 17% of violent crimes in Alabama are domestic violence incidents.
  • Alabama has the 5th highest gender wage gap with Alabama women only making 72.6 cents to a man's dollar.
  • In the US, 1 in 4 women experiences sexual assault on college campuses.

Jesse's Plan:

Contraceptives
Ensure access to birth control regardless of income.

Reproductive Rights
Protect a woman's right to make her own medical decisions.

Equal Pay for Women
Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Ending the wage gap is essential to alleviate poverty in Alabama.

Early Childhood Education
Fund early childhood education for all children.


Immigrant Rights


Quick Facts:

  • Households headed by undocumented immigrants paid $130 million in state and local taxes in 2010.
  • Undocumented immigrants make up 2.5% of the population in Alabama.
  • There are approximately 120,000 undocumented immigrants in Alabama.
  • One deportation costs taxpayers $23,482.
  • Restricting access to medical treatment for immigrants puts the public safety at risk.

Jesse's Plan:

Path to Citizenship
Create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

End Harmful Immigration Policies
Put an end to harmful immigration policies like that in Alabama.

DREAM Act
Support the DREAM Act for young undocumented immigrants.


LGBTQ Rights


Quick Facts:

  • LGBT+ people in the US are disproportionately affected by poverty.
  • Alabama has one of the highest rates of LGBT+ couples raising families.
  • 41% of LGBT+ Alabamians are not out at work for fear of discrimination.
  • Only 30% of LGBT+ Alabamians have access to partner benefits for health insurance.
  • Alabama's Sex Ed classes are required to teach that homosexuality is unacceptable and illegal.

Jesse's Plan:

End Workplace Discrimination
Prevent employers from discriminating based on gender or sexual orientation.

Limit School Bullying
Ensure schools properly address LGTBQ bullying.

Adoption
Ensure all people can adopt regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Love Won
Ensure states like Alabama follow the Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality.

Alabama has made the news several times recently for police brutality, most notably in Tuscaloosa and Madison. Alabama also made national headlines with a 20% increase in overdose deaths from 2013 to 2014. This is not how Alabama should be represented.


Quick Facts:

  • Alabama has some of the most overcrowded prisons in the country.
  • 8,212 people are arrested each year in Alabama on drug offenses.
  • 723 people died from an overdose in Alabama in 2014.
  • Alabama does not have a 911 Good Samaritan Law.
  • Alabama ranked 3rd in the number of people sentenced to prison per capita.

Jesse's Plan:

Police Reform
Demilitarize police so they look less like oppressing forces. Make police departments be a part of the communities they serve. Allow good police to report misconduct without fear of retaliation.

End War On Drugs
Treat addiction as a heath concern, not a criminal problem. Remove cannabis from the list of Schedule 1 drugs. End mandatory minimum sentencing.

End For-Profit Prisons
We cannot allow corporations to treat humans like inventory. End all for-profit prisons.

More people were killed by guns in Alabama over the past 10 years than all U.S. combat deaths in the Iraq & Afghanistan wars combined. Meanwhile, Congressman Mike Rogers has received both donations and an A rating from the NRA.


Quick Facts:

  • A person is killed by a gun every 11 hours in Alabama.
  • 47 children aged 0-18 were killed by guns in Alabama in 2010.
  • Alabama has the 7th highest rate of gun ownership.
  • Alabama has the 4th highest rate of gun deaths.
  • Firearm homicide rates are 25 times higher in the US than in comparable countries.

Jesse's Plan:

End Loopholes
End gun show loopholes.

Universal Background Checks
Thorough background checks on every firearm purchase.

Assault Weapon Insurance
Place a full coverage premium insurance on all assault weapons.

The science is in, and climate change is real. Extreme weather is already affecting us. Alabama needs to join the rest of the nation in fighting this threat.


Quick Facts:

  • 14 of the hottest years on record were in the last 16 years.
  • July 2015 was the warmest month ever recorded.
  • Higher global temperatures lead to more extreme weather events.
  • May 2015 was the wettest month on record in the continental US.
  • Alabama ranks 4th in the release of toxic chemicals into waterways.

Jesse's Plan:

Tax Carbon
Institute a tax on all carbon.

No More Fossil Fuels
End our dependence on fossil fuels by phasing them out.

Clean Energy
Develop clean energy technology and create thousands of jobs in the process.

Cleaner Environment
Develop technologies to clean our water, land, and air. Reinstate and strengthen environmental regulations.

Big bank lending to small businesses is down, leaving many small businesses with no choice but to build credit card debt or go to higher cost lenders. Meanwhile, the biggest bank in the US spent $8 million lobbying Congress in 2012.


Quick Facts:

  • Election spending topped $1 billion for the first time in 2012.
  • Super PACs accounted for over $600 million of that $1 billion.
  • Just 3 of the world's largest banks collected over $1.1 billion in only 3 months in 2015.
  • Alabama ranked 7th in corruption convictions per capita.

Jesse's Plan:

Overturn Citizens United
Support overturning Citizens United which allowed unlimited amounts of money to go into politics.

End Gerrymandering
End strategic redistricting to swing elections.

Get Big Money Out of Politics
Fight for public financing of campaigns, the elimination of super PACs, and to keep big money interests out of politics.

Reinstate Glass-Steagall
Reinstate Glass-Steagall to regulate risky banking practices in the US.

The US spends more on defense than the next 7 countries combined, 5 of which are allies. This funding does not go to our troops but instead to fund the military-industrial complex. Additionally, Alabama Republican leaders recently decided to use much-needed funds to renovate the Governor's Mansion when our schools, environment, and infrastructure are also in disrepair. Attorney General for Alabama, Luther Strange, has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight gambling on Native American lands. It's this kind of wasteful spending that has put Alabama and the US in its current debt crisis.


Quick Facts:

  • USDA employees were found to be wasting $5.8 million in taxpayer funds for personal use.
  • The US spends up to $2 million annually to maintain empty or expired grants.
  • The US continues to acquire new properties while spending $25 billion to maintain empty properties.
  • The US spent $10 million on advertising the National Guard with the "Soldier of Steel" movie.
  • The US spends $92 billion on corporate welfare.

Jesse's Plan:

Reallocate Funds
Reallocate our spending away from wasteful endeavors.

Lift the Social Security Cap
Raise the limit on taxable income for Social Security.

End Tax Loopholes
End loopholes that allow corporations and the 1% to not pay their fair share in taxes.

Wall Street Speculation Tax
Put a tax on risky Wall Street speculation.

Tax on Cannabis
Legalize cannabis for recreational use and tax it for funding.

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