By Congressman Rick Nolan
Democracy requires time and participation. The hundreds who took valuable time to participate in our seven Northern Minnesota listening sessions over the Easter recess proved that point. I get my best ideas from the folks I represent, and I’m grateful to all who showed up and spoke out.
Minnesotans aren’t simply ready for a change — they’re demanding it. They want Congress to put politics aside and get to work governing on a bipartisan basis. And they want us to begin by changing our priorities, reinvesting in America and our infrastructure, creating good paying jobs, and reforming spending, health care and a rigged tax system that allows the wealthiest 1 percent to escape paying their fair share.
People have clearly had enough of our involvement in wars of choice and so-called “nation building abroad” that have cost us so much in blood, treasury and precious lives. They are outraged by President Trump’s proposals to boost Pentagon spending by $90 billion over the next 18 months. And they could not be more opposed to his plan to pay for it by cutting funding for infrastructure, jobs and human development, public education, libraries, environmental protection, mental health services and the services communities provide to people who need heat, food and medical care.
Moreover, northern Minnesotans expressed grave concern over growing U.S. involvement in the conflict in Syria, the bombing in Afghanistan, and President Trump’s threat to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea. A military attack on another nation is an act of war. Our people expect Congress to assert its Constitutional responsibility to vote on matters of war and peace. And they expect President Trump to present Congress and the American people with a clear rationale and strategy for his military actions.
With regard to health care, the folks at our meetings want Congress to fix what needs fixing in the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) and get costs under control — not dismantle the system. They flat out opposed the failed Republican plan that would have cost 24 million Americans their health insurance, and provided millionaires with a $67,000 annual tax cut in the bargain. They’re not interested in fly-by-night health insurance that doesn’t cover people with pre-existing conditions or include comprehensive coverage for the basics like hospitalization, maternity care and prescription drugs, just to name a few.
Over the long term, they expressed widespread support for what I have always advocated: a top-quality, universal, single-payer system that works like Medicare — where everyone pays the same amount, costs are strictly controlled, everyone’s essential services are covered, and the risk pool is spread across all 320 million Americans.
We will be holding more of these important listening sessions later in the spring, and I do hope you will be able to attend so I can get the benefit of your views.