On The Issues
MEDICARE FOR ALL
Jeff strongly believes that healthcare is a human right. Our current healthcare system is a drain on working Americans and small business. There is a better way. Ensuring that all Americans can access health care in their time of need, regardless of their income, isn’t a partisan issue, it’s just flat out the right thing to do. There is a reason almost all industrialized nations provide universal health care for their citizens.
Medicare for All is an extremely cost effective option that ensures care for all people in all conditions. We’re 37th in the world for healthcare, but Erdmann knows we can do much better. The profits of big pharmaceuticals and the health insurance companies should not take priority over the ability of citizens to receive medical attention.
All Americans from all walks of life have their own issues and their own tribulations. At the end of the day, everyone in our nation is in this together, and somewhere along the line, we forgot that we’re united. We can do better; we can provide Medicare for All.
AN EQUAL ECONOMY
When Jeff was growing up, his dad worked in a mill, and his mother was a daycare provider. These were working class jobs, but during that time, this led to a middle-class lifestyle. Today, we live in the richest country in the world, with the greatest income inequality this country has ever seen. Making it harder for working people to get by, all the while shrinking the middle class.
For far too long honest working Americans have been taken for granted as politicians and millionaires have been stacking the deck in favor of the wealthy. These problems created by the Washington special interests for the rich, and can be undone if we elect representatives with our values.
There seems to be a trend of electing millionaires and Washington insiders to Congress. This has not led to a better life for the majority of Americans. It’s time we elect a working voice for working Americans.
- INCREASE TAXES ON WEALTHY
The tax code is unbelievably complex, complicated and allows those who benefit from the system the most, to pay less than their fair share. Jeff believes in tax reform that makes the tax code simpler, fairer, and increases the tax burden so the top 1% of society pay their fair share.
It’s time the tax system benefits working Americans again.
- ELIMINATE TAX LOOPHOLES
Due to our terrible tax laws that favor the rich at the expense of working Americans, corporations dodge over $400 billion a year in taxes due to loopholes. This is all perfectly legal, as special interests in Washington help craft these bills.
Jeff believes that it’s time to fix our tax systems, so even the wealthiest Americans have to pay their fair share, and get rid of the competitive disadvantages that plague small business.
- WALL STREET REFORM
American families are still feeling the effects of the great recession. When Wall Street puts itself first and gambled with trillions of dollars, then Main Street had to bail them out. While we are still reeling from the fallout, they gave themselves golden parachutes, and are doing better than ever.
Jeff believes in breaking up the big banks and making sure that no bank is too big to fail. Erdmann supports Bernie Sander’s, “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act.”
IMPROVING MINNESOTA’S RURAL ECONOMIES
Jeff grew up in and has lived in rural Minnesota for 32 years. Improving the lives of rural Minnesotans is more than a priority for Jeff, as his life has been shaped for the better by living in these communities.
- FIGHTING FOR FAMILY FARMS
In a time where family farms are finding it hard to make ends meet, and corporate farming is at an all time high, America needs to craft policies that help lift up family farming.
Jeff finds it unacceptable that the wealthiest farms collect the majority of farm subsidies, while the bottom do not receive any. It’s time we had a representative that will put the small and local farmers first.
Finding ways to help small farmers boost their bottom line by getting them connected with local customers seems like a no-brainer. Let’s help our community farmers and our businesses come together to truly invigorate our rural economies.
- HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES
Rural small businesses will benefit from moving to a Medicare for all program. By taking health insurance out of the equation, small businesses will have a chance to compete for talent that is currently out of reach. There are so many positives to living in rural areas, but access to affordable health care often deters people from considering jobs in smaller towns.
A tax code that looks out for the interests of small business is necessary for growing jobs. Too many subsidies and tax breaks are given to large corporations giving them a disproportionate advantage. Jeff wants to help small businesses grow and expand.
- IMPROVING INTERNET ACCESS
Internet access is critical in growing rural economies. The United States of America is ranked 16th in the world by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in broadband internet access. If America wants to lead the world, then it starts with 21-century infrastructure investments for our rural economies.
Jeff plans to increase investment in Rural Development Programs, and specifically broadband access. Rural Minnesotan family farms, small businesses, and students deserve better and far better than 16th in the world.
CREATING GOOD PAYING JOBS
The cost of living is rising, but decades of wage stagnation is not allowing our incomes to keep up. We need to lift wages so everyone can support their family and retire securely.
We can keep jobs in America, and keep the playing field level when it comes to trade policies. We should be encouraging corporations to stay here by eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship their jobs overseas.
- RENEWABLE ENERGY ECONOMY
If we want to invest in working America, then we need to lead in clean energy technology. This emerging market is key to not only combating climate change but also the terrible trade policies that have shipped our jobs overseas. On top of creating jobs, these policies will also lighten the load on our family’s energy costs. American families can use all the extra money they can muster.
Jeff will fight hard to make sure our government invests heavily in the renewable energy revolution.
Voting is a fundamental right of any democracy. Attempts to restrict a citizen’s right to vote are un-American. False claims of voter fraud are being used by Republican leadership to justify changes that make it more difficult for people to vote. This is wrong. At a time when we have only 50-65% participation nationally, we need to be looking at ways to make it easier for people to participate in the process
- CITIZENS UNITED
One of the joys Jeff’s had teaching American Government is informing his classes that our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. However, when the Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United, they gave us a campaign system that is of the special interests, by the billionaires, and for the Washington elite.
No wonder working Americans aren’t getting their fair share or treated with respect when you must be a millionaire to run for office. When we don’t have leadership in Washington that lives our day to day lives and shares our working class values, we get corporations as people. We get large sums of “dark” money going to candidates we don’t want, so they can buy our elections and remove our voice.
Enough, with big money, Washington elites, special interests, and millionaires running our government. Jeff believes that our government is for the people and should be represented by working people like you and I. Jeff is going to fight hard to enforce campaign finance laws. He’s also going to fight for a publicly financed campaign system that amplifies your voice, not that of the wealthy elite.
- NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE
The foundation of democracy is that everyone’s vote has the same value. However, the electoral college process makes some votes worth more than others. Nowhere in America do we award the victory to the person who gets the second most votes, yet it has happened twice in our past five Presidential elections. This is wrong and undemocratic.
An elector in Wyoming represents around 190,000 people, while an elector in Texas represents over 700,000. This flaw in the process gives a person in Vermont the same voting power as three people from Texas, or one person in Montana, a vote equal to four Californians.
Due to the Electoral College rules, a candidate for president can win without a plurality. We can do better, let’s move away from the Electoral College and towards a national popular vote where everyone’s vote is equal.
- NO MORE CAUCUSES
If you have ever caucused, then you’d know, this system leaves a lot to be desired. The process does not represent an inclusive approach. It is significantly harder to participate for people who have to work nights and disenfranchises people with children, as well as people with disabilities. The archaic rules give party insiders and the party establishment huge advantages in the process to determine the endorsed candidates.
It is time for us to reform our caucus system and make the process easier and more approachable for everyone.
The intentional redrawing of electoral boundaries to favor one party over another has promoted less competitive elections and is a travesty for democracy. Gerrymandering favors the interests of the representative against the interest of the citizen.
Representatives don’t want close elections; they want safe elections. Fair competition is a good thing in business and in politics. More competition will make it harder for candidates with extreme views to win, which can hopefully begin to erode the polarization we see in Washington. The drawing of congressional district lines should be done by an impartial group of citizens.
- TERM LIMITS
If we can’t fix our nation’s problem with gerrymandering, then we need to implement term limits on our representative’s time in office. Our representatives shouldn’t be so comfortable. We have too many members of Congress that have forgotten their job is to serve the people of their district, not their own self-interests. Jeff will promote and support a Constitutional amendment that calls for term limits to be placed on members of both houses of Congress.
EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION
Jeff has been an educator for 27 years. By teaching American Government in our public schools, he’s seen first-hand how education policy affects our children’s ability to learn. He knows that the opportunity for future success and innovation is built on education, and that starts in our public school classrooms.
A strong public education system has been and will always be the foundation of a prosperous America. Jeff’s greatest concern in the classroom is growing class sizes. Students grow and accept academic challenges more when they have quality connections with their teachers. These growing class sizes diminish the effectiveness of the teacher to reach all of their students.
Outside of the classroom, the greatest concern Jeff sees is the movement to use vouchers as a way to take funding from public education and divert it to parochial schools. This will lead to the destruction of our public schools. This is simply an effort to take from the overwhelming number of families that use public schools and help out the wealthiest families with their choice to go to a private school.
Our country should focus on creating the best public educational system possible.
- COLLEGE DEBT AND ACCESS
When Jeff went to college, the federal government invested in higher education so Jeff could get his degree with a limited amount of debt compared to today’s graduates.
If America is to stay competitive on the global market, we have to invest in higher education. We cannot pass the buck onto our children and our families.
Jeff supports lowering student loan interest rates, allowing debtors to refinance, getting more financial aid available to students, and allow year round Pell grants. America doesn’t need to saddle an entire generation with debt.
- ENCOURAGE TRADES DEVELOPMENT
Not everyone wants or needs a 4 year college degree. We need to expand opportunities for people to get their two year trades degrees by partnering with local community colleges, local businesses and labor groups to promote apprenticeship programs, as well as career development.
- UNIVERSAL PRE-K
In today’s economic landscape, it’s unbelievably hard to get by. This is especially true for people that have to pay for quality childcare. Jeff is focused on making Minnesota’s Universal Pre-K program stronger, and narrowing the gap to allow our students a head start.
STRENGTHEN SOCIAL SECURITY
The idea of all Americans having a respectable retirement emerged during the great depression. Our commitment to this program should be stronger today than it was back then. Americans have had money taken out of paychecks their entire life, and it should be returned to them later to ensure they have the means to a respectable retirement.
The reason Social Security isn’t as properly funded as it should be is because politicians took our hard-earned dollars for their political purposes. This is wrong. If we paid back all that we have “borrowed” from Social Security, we wouldn’t even be talking about this issue.
The truth is Social Security is a successful program. In a time where the gap between those who have, and those who don’t is reaching an all-time high, Social Security is vital for a secure retirement.
It’s also not too late to improve upon this system, millionaires and billionaires pay the same amount into Social Security as someone who makes $127,000 due to a cap on taxable income. If we’re going to fight the massive income inequalities in our country and put us on the right track, this is a no-brainer, Jeff is going to raise this cap.
Gender inequality is still happening today. America has come far in the past 45 years, but there is so much more work to be done when addressing gender inequality. This work especially urgent when the past 45 years of progress is under attack by radical Republicans in Washington and in our own congressional district.
Jeff believes that we need to approve the Equal Rights Amendment to provide the legal backbone to stand up to the oppression facing women in so many areas of their lives. Jeff will work to remove the deadline placed on the Equal Rights Amendment so that additional states can show their support for it and we can get it added to the Constitution as the 28th Amendment.
Jeff has a strong stance on respecting others and treating all people as valuable—that includes equal pay for equal work. When women are being paid significantly less than a white man in the same job role, that’s an injustice no one should live with or stand for.
There is no need for a two-tiered wage system. Tipped wage disrespects not only the workers who work for a substandard wage but disproportionally affects working women. Let’s lift people out of poverty and close the gender pay gap.
Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. Jeff will fight for women and families to have access to family planning services and free contraception, and for other incentives to protect women’s health.
ENSURE PAID LEAVE
America is one of only three countries in the world that don’t offer paid maternity leave. But don’t worry, we’re in good company with Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho. It’s time American families were valued. Jeff will push for paid maternity leave.
FIGHTING CLIMATE CHANGE
Jeff believes that people landed on the moon. Jeff also believes that the world is round. And, yes, Erdmann believes that climate change is real and is caused by human activities.
Conspiracy theories are no way to govern. With 97% of the scientific community in consensus, we need to use the facts we have today to make the changes we need tomorrow.
It’s vital not only to our economy to grow renewable energy jobs, but to our planet and our survival. It’s never too late to do the right thing; it’s never too late to start making a difference. The environmental costs of doing nothing have a harsh impact on working families, and these inequalities need to be addressed.
Jeff also stands with and congratulates Congressman Keith Ellison in his attempt to repeal billions of dollars in taxpayer handouts to the oil, gas, and coal industries. We work hard for what we have; we shouldn’t give it away to highly profitable companies and executives.
STANDING WITH OUR NURSES
A race to the bottom for our nurses is not an option. Nurses are overworked and over stressed, and are easy targets for hospital officials. It’s time to stand up for the nurses and their ability to collectively bargain for a better life.
Jeff stands by our nurses and supports increased funding for Nurse Workforce Development Programs and limits to the number of patients an RN can care for.
SUPPORTING OUR VETERANS
When people put their lives on the line to protect our freedom and give the greatest sacrifice, a sacrifice only they know; we owe them everything. While they are serving and after their service, Jeff believes that we need to provide our troops the housing and educational resources equal to their sacrifice. We should give all we can for Veterans, as they gave all they can for us.
Jeff will always speak out against racism, sexism, xenophobia or whatever type of bigotry is strewn to disrespect another individual. Jeff knows how to create a culture of success, and its foundation is built on respecting and valuing others.
Non-discrimination protections that are already applied to gender, race, and religion should be expanded to the LGBTQ community. Let’s make this a more perfect union. Making all Americans equal is not special treatment—it’s the justice laid out in the United States Constitution.
Having credible and effective border security is important to the security of our country. America doesn’t need a wall that won’t solve any of our problems and will run up our national debt.
We don’t need more to divide us; America needs comprehensive immigration reform that includes a clear path to citizenship for people already in the U.S. working hard and paying taxes. We can secure our borders and expedite the immigration process for family reunification.
The repeal of DACA and not voting for the DREAM Act is just cruelty. 76% of Americans think immigrants brought to this country as children should stay in the country. Over 70% of Trump supporters think the Dreamers should be protected. This is a bi-partisan issue. Washington’s broken system isn’t allowing the people to get the solutions we desperately need.
Jeff supports the second amendment, and people’s right to bear arms. There are millions of people who own guns in Minnesota as well as the United States, and 99% of these hunters and trap shooters obey the law. However, there is a cultural gap between urban and rural communities with regard to their views on firearms, and we need to bridge the gap between lifestyle choices and their effects in different communities.
As a teacher, Jeff has heard several stories from his students on how excited they are to spend time with their parents or grandparents on hunting trips. These types of intergenerational interactions bring great value to all involved and can create lifelong memories. Jeff also understands rural gun culture as he has spent 32 years in those communities.
The people Jeff talks to in rural communities know that there is a difference between using guns for hunting/sport and recognizing the reality of mass shootings, urban gun violence and the dangerous situations our law enforcement community faces with assault weapons. The urban and rural cultural understanding of guns is different, and there needs to be change to combat firearm violence.
With that said, we need to recognize the impact the gun lobby has had on how citizens talk about gun violence. The NRA is wholly owned by the gun manufacturers. Their money dominates the Washington D.C. landscape and is making it harder and harder to pass common-sense gun legislation, like universal background checks that 90% of Americans agree with. The gun show loophole should be closed to prevent private sellers from selling firearms to people without background checks. Finally, there is no reason to have automatic assault weapons, and after Las Vegas, we need to get bump stocks off the streets.
However, getting some sort of gun control isn’t enough. Over 20% of mass shootings happen because of a mental health issue. If our politicians were as serious about ending mass shootings as they say they are, they would commit more resources to allow individuals access to mental health care. I would help make that happen.
Jeff has had several former students/athletes that have gone into law enforcement and he is very concerned with their safety due to the increase in mass shootings and the growing number of situations they have to handle dealing with mental health issues. Our citizens and law enforcement personnel deserve to be safer in our day-to-day lives.