Hawaii Needs Committed, Passionate Leaders to Serve in Congress Who Put the People First over Special Interests

The federal government’s response to the pandemic showed how critical the role Congress plays in our nation. It highlighted the awesome might of what government can and must do, how expansive its reach is in improving the livelihoods of all Americans, and how states and counties rely on Congress for maintaining vital services. The list is endless.

Prior to the pandemic and since the passage of the bipartisan COVID-19 rescue bills, Congress has been characteristically paralyzed on a number of key issues. You can count on one hand the major accomplishments of late with the passing of the infrastructure bill as the crown jewel.  We all know where the gridlock, impasse has been – in the U.S. Senate. But Congress (U.S. House) has been very successful and managed to push through a number of landmark bills.

The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle (HFC) will continue its tradition of not endorsing a candidate but will strongly advocate on specific issues of the public office candidates are seeking, as well as what we would want in a candidate in the way of leadership.

In this issue’s cover story we feature the leading candidates for Hawaii’s Congressional Districts 1 and 2. HFC would want our Congress members to support the following:

*Actively sponsor and support legislation that will finally address lowering the cost of fuel, whether it is supporting bills to prevent price gouging; looking into investments on improving or expanding our refineries to be more cost-effective; exploring the optimal level of drilling, sustaining and releasing of Federal oil reserves; looking at adjusting taxes (emergency tax suspension, windfall profit tax) and subsidies. The federal government can play a more active role in ensuring more affordable energy, which happens to be a major reason why inflation is so high at the moment.

*Expand alternative sources of energy and climate sustainability.

*Support anti-trust laws and support a more competitive business environment. The supply and demand reason cited for inflation is ultimately due to the concentration of industries where monopolies can set prices as they please without competition from middle- and small businesses. Inflation was to be expected immediately after the reopening of the economy after the lifting of pandemic restrictions. At that time, it’s plausible that bottleneck supply chains were responsible for the initial inflation. But too much time has passed (supply chains already corrected) and we’re seeing obscene doubling even tripling of profit margins of big corporations. The essential products they sell (food etc.) are becoming increasingly unaffordable and something needs to be done for both the short- and long-term.

*Support more initiatives that will bolster middle and small businesses.

*Protect our democracy and voting. The Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act must be passed. We need to expand voter registration, expand voting access with guidelines for mail-in voting and early voting, establish Election Day as a federal holiday, and prevent state lawmakers from redrawing districts so as to disadvantage minority voters. We need to restore the Justice Department’s authority to police election laws in states with a history of discrimination.

*Ensure better public safety through gun reform. It’s high time that we have a national universal background checks, national red flag law, ban assault weapons, raise the age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21. Statistics show guns have become a national health crisis and it should be treated as one. We need common sense gun safety laws.

*Support innovative ways to keep the cost of the Medicare Program to be affordable, lower the high cost of prescription drugs, and lower the overall cost of healthcare, and finally hit the mark of a obtaining true universal health coverage for all.

*Enhance Social Security benefits and ensure the long-term solvency of the Social Security program. Social Security age eligibility should be reduced and the benefits tier (age at which Social Security benefits starts) should be abolished. It’s fair that full benefits begin at one specific eligibility age.

*Support racial equality and minority rights. Support equality in policing laws. Toughen hate crimes laws. Expand and support existing law enforcement efforts to crack down on organized hate groups. We have a militia problem (mostly all white supremacist groups) in this nation and it’s only getting worst.

*Pass tougher ethics and campaign finance laws and crackdown on corruption. Get rid of unlimited, undisclosed spending by corporations and billionaires, reduce the power and influence of special interests in Washington.

*Protect fair labor standards; protect consumer rights through strong consumer protection laws.; find innovative ways to make education more affordable; work at attaining universal access to high speed and affordable internet.

There are far more legislation that we support at the federal level and encourage voters to support the candidate who is serious about fighting for these and similar issues.  Our democratic institutions are weakening and our ability to survive and prosper (compare today to the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s., etc.) is becoming increasingly difficult. This is directly related to the power of special interest groups (giant corporations, multinationals) and their stranglehold on Congress.

What Hawaii needs, what Americans need are leaders who are passionate about looking after the interests of the people over special interests. We need leaders who are ethical and not just in it for self-promotion. As far as leadership: the best candidate should be a crisis advocate. After all, there are so many pending crisis our nation faces. We need a committed leader in Congress who will make a mark in leadership while serving there. Congress has 435 members. It’s easy to be drowned out. Hawaii star politicians who make it there can be unaccustomed to be one among many stars, and consequently lose interest fairly quickly then quit. That’s not commitment. We want and deserve more for Hawaii.

At Congress, it’s not enough to say you are there to bring in Federal dollars for Hawaii. That’s expected and Governance 101. We need leaders who are passionate about the issues of justice and fairness, and that includes economic justice and fairness.

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