Stevens, a resident of Rochester Hills, has an undergraduate degree in political science and philosophy from American University where she also earned a masters degree in philosophy. Prior to being elected to Congress, Stevens was chief of staff for the Obama administration’s U.S. Auto Rescue Task Force.
FEDERAL RESPONSE TO COVID-19
How would you rate the response by the Trump administration to the coronavirus crisis that has gripped the country? Specifically, the national supply of personal protection devices and critical supplies for the medical first line responders. Likewise, was there a clear and timely national policy response on containment of the virus? And what about a national policy on reopening the economy?
The federal government could and should have done more, earlier, to limit the transmission of the coronavirus and make sure essential workers on the frontlines had personal protective equipment. Mixed messages from the administration on treatment, testing, medical equipment, social distancing, and the severity of the outbreak led to a mismanaged and often incoherent response resulting to date in over 190,000 lives lost. It is clear from the disbanding of the White House office focused on pandemic preparedness, and the disinvestment in the CDC, that this administration was not adequately prepared for COVID-19. As we continue to combat this pandemic and rebuild our economy, we must prioritize testing, contact tracing, social distancing, and widespread wearing of masks. The Obama-era White House office focused on pandemic preparedness must be restored. I support fully funding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and working with American manufacturers to replenish our PPE stockpile and secure critical supply chains. We must restore our relationship with the World Health Organization to encourage global cooperation against future pandemics and commit to coordinated, clear, and regular communication on the facts, and health and safety guidelines on a regular basis.
When President Donald Trump came to office, he and his administration began to rollback a number of environmental regulations enacted by the administration of President Obama, and reversed a number of decisions from prior administrations dating back to the Clinton era that were designed to promote a cleaner environment. The last count put the total at over 100 environmental rules that have been weakened or eliminated by the Trump administration. Do you support what the current administration has done on this front? Explain.
I firmly oppose the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle climate and environmental policies and support the enforcement of the Clean Air Act and previous environmental policies that have kept our water safe and our air clean for decades. In addition, addressing the enormous threat of climate change means that we need to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and be the leader in reducing carbon emissions in coordination with the rest of the world. As a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have also been a champion of clean energy, sustainable manufacturing, electric vehicle development, and emerging technology to improve our plastics recycling capability. In Michigan, we have an opportunity to lead the way in many of these areas, building a sustainable 21st Century economy and creating good-paying Michigan jobs. We must also conserve the “Pure Michigan” environment that makes our state the most beautiful in the country while supporting thousands of jobs, which is why I have consistently fought to protect federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
NATIONAL HEALTH CARE PLAN
Despite attempts by the current administration and Republican members of Congress, a substantial number of persons continue to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare. What is your position on the current Affordable Care Act and the issue of a national health care plan in general?
Every Michigander deserves access to affordable, high-quality healthcare. The skyrocketing cost of health care and prescription drugs is something I hear about from constituents every day. I believe we should be working to fix the Affordable Care Act, not dismantle it and leave millions of Americans without coverage. In Congress, I have fought to expand access to affordable and high-quality healthcare. I helped pass legislation to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, protect people with pre-existing conditions, crack down on junk insurance plans, and lower drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies. In Michigan’s 11th District, diabetes patients are paying as much as 21 times more for Insulin than they would pay in another country. That is unacceptable, and it’s why voting to pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act was one of my proudest moments in office. While proposals like Medicare for All are too costly and will not lead to full and adequate coverage, I support lowering the age of eligibility for Medicare to expand coverage to more Americans, and proposals to end harmful surprise billing practices. My opponent has promised to “fully repeal” the Affordable Care Act. I promise to protect and improve it.
SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
How can we guarantee Social Security benefits for future generations?
In Congress, I have fought every attempt to privatize or cut Social Security. Instead, I believe we must protect and expand Social Security benefits to keep up with the costs faced by our seniors, grandparents, and veterans. These are programs that seniors paid into their entire working lives, and we must keep our promise to them by ensuring these programs are protected now and for generations to come. Recent proposals from the Trump administration to eliminate the payroll tax are incredibly concerning. The AARP said this plan could undermine Social Security’s long-term finances, and the Social Security Chief Actuary said an elimination of the payroll tax would deplete the Social Security Trust Fund by 2023. Congress must be committed to getting middle-class families relief, but not at the expense of a shortchange to older Americans.
GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION
What is your position on the need for added gun control legislation? Which, if any, of the following gun control measures could you support: Requiring expanded background checks? Background checks at gun shows? Banning bump stocks? Raising the age on the purchase of weapons? Banning military style weapons?
I believe that Michiganders can still enjoy the sport of hunting and riflery while keeping our communities safe. As a passionate advocate for common sense gun safety laws, I was proud to help pass historic, bipartisan legislation to expand background checks in 2019. Unfortunately, the Senate has refused to hold a vote on this bill despite overwhelming bipartisan support for the idea of expanding background checks and closing gun show loopholes. We need to pass that legislation once and for all, and make sure deadly weapons are not making it into the wrong hands. I also support the federal ban on bump stocks and have co-sponsored legislation to ban assault weapons. Lastly, we need to enforce the laws that we have on the books to ensure that people who seek to circumvent background checks are held accountable.
Should Congress move to find a common ground that will provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already located here, many of whom are working productively? Explain. The Trump administration – before the current pandemic – had imposed or in some cases proposed stricter rules for allowing immigrants to enter our country. Do you support those that have been imposed and proposed?
Our immigration system is broken and needs comprehensive reform. In Congress, I have voted repeatedly to secure our borders and worked to formalize a path to citizenship for those living, working, and paying taxes in the U.S., and even serving in our military. Dreamers are American in every way except on a piece of paper, and the United States is the only home they have ever known. I do not support proposals to drastically reduce legal immigration, which would lock talented individuals out of our economy. I have co-sponsored a strongly bipartisan proposal to make it easier for high-skilled immigrants to come here through the employment-based green card system and contribute to our economy. We also need to ensure consistent, humane practices at our borders that do not separate families.
YOUR TOP ISSUES
What would you list as your top 3-5 issues that you hope to address in this next term of Congress?
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented economic crisis in Michigan, and as an economic development professional who helped rebuild Michigan’s economy during the Great Recession, I am ready to do it again. My focus is on working with our small businesses, manufacturers, and families across Michigan’s 11th District to help them recover and get back to work safely. As a nation, we must ensure we are equipped to handle the next crisis, whether it is a pandemic, natural disaster, or cyberattack. That’s why I have introduced the Resilient Supply Chain Task Force Act to secure and strengthen critical manufacturing supply chains, bring the production of medical supplies and personal protective equipment back to the United States so we are not dependent on China. Michigan maintains an incredible advantage with our ability to lead the world in the production of electric and autonomous vehicles. In order to maintain our competitive advantage, I am focused on securing fair trade deals and ensuring that we address our infrastructure challenges. I am also committed to staying focused on finding solutions to the problems we faced before the pandemic, from climate change to our underfunded public schools. I am eager to reach bipartisan consensus to deliver for Michigan and our country.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
Why should voters support you in November as opposed to your opponent? Be specific in your comparisons.
I was born in Rochester Hills, where I live today, and I’m honored to represent the community that raised me. My parents met at Oakland University, and I’m a proud graduate of Seaholm High School in Birmingham. I grew up in an entrepreneurial home that valued fiscal responsibility and hard work. In Congress, I have delivered for Michigan’s economy, working to bring advanced manufacturing jobs to Michigan and growing workforce training programs to close our skills gap. Michigan manufacturers are incredible -- that’s why I instituted Manufacturing Mondays, a program that highlights our best-in-class products and gives me a chance to hear about the problems facing our workforce. I have continuously worked across the aisle to pass legislation to strengthen federal investment in advanced manufacturing, secure better trade policies for Michigan workers and businesses, and encourage more women to pursue opportunities in STEM. We know what Washington Republicans will do if they take back the House: relentless attempts to take away people’s healthcare, tax breaks for the super-wealthy that balloon our national debt, and full implementation of the DeVos agenda to shortchange our students. Michiganders need leaders who will fight for middle-class families, and I am fired up to keep going.
Esshaki of Birmingham has a bachelor's degree in integrative studies from Oakland University, his law degree from University of Michigan Law School and a nursing degree from Oakland Community College. An attorney who previously worked at Howard & Howard, he has not held political office before.
RESPONSE TO COVID-19
As a former medical professional there have been several distressing things about our country’s response to the pandemic. This should not be a politically polarized issue. Health officials should have been the lead on guiding the public, but the press would not let that happen – that has been true as it relates to the president, or the governor of New York or Michigan. Politicians are famously not precise and political. Now, health officials have stumbled as well. Ventilators turned out to be less helpful than originally thought, and the World Health Organization has been unduly influenced by China, oftentimes sending conflicting information about this virus. On the other hand, America’s health care system, doctors, nurses, and general medical staff have proven themselves during this crisis. They have risen to the occasion at great risk. They have not been given enough credit. But our political leaders are still failing our most vulnerable. There is no clear policy and support system for nursing homes. Nursing home residents are consistently the most at-risk. I don’t think a national system for re-opening is the solution. We have a massive country and the appropriate re-opening standard in rural Montana is not the same as Detroit. What we do need is for the leaders of the country to have adult conversations with the public, explaining why it’s unlikely that we will have a quick magic medical cure and what that means for all of us. We need to be having conversations about what we can do to stay safe and limit the spread, while simultaneously re-opening our economy.
Caring for our environment is important and we have a responsibility to protect it. There have been successes with mitigating damage like removing DDT. Environmental regulations are important, but we need to ensure that those regulations make sense, are science-based, and that they work. The superfund law, for example, has spent a enormous amount on litigation, not mitigation. We have to ask ourselves how we can strike a wiser balance. Details matter, and I support a rolling review of all regulations to make sure that it will continue to advance the goal of a clean environment and make economic sense. This will result in a shift based on science, not politics.
NATIONAL HEALTH CARE PLAN
We have the greatest healthcare system in the world. We must continue to work to improve that system while also ensuring that everyone has access to quality affordable healthcare. The increasing costs of healthcare continue to serve as an impediment to universal access. The high costs have disproportionately hurt the middle class, who are spending more and getting fewer benefits in return. I was a nurse for nearly ten years and witnessed first-hand the failures of Obamacare. Obamacare failed to address the rising costs of healthcare and has actually caused those costs to continue to increase. Further, ObamaCare is forcing the consolidation of medical providers into ever larger big companies (insurance, hospital and individual doctor networks). Big medicine is not a remedy to cost or quality. Healthcare is complicated, and we need to start having serious conversations about driving costs down. Medicare-for-All, and other similar proposals are not the answer. They will inevitably give Americans fewer choices, and lead to increased costs and decreased quality.
GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION
I am an attorney and a constitutional conservative. I support the Constitution. The rights of law-abiding citizens must be protected. But we must also do a better job of enforcing the laws that we currently have to ensure that firearms stay out of the hands of criminals. We have numerous tragic cases where a person was reported to law enforcement as a threat, but there was no follow-up. Congresswoman Stevens voted last year to not report illegal immigrants who try to buy a gun to ICE. Suicide is another area where guns can be an issue, yet we continue to treat mental health issues very poorly on all levels. These are examples where we should be able to find common ground to reduce gun violence.
REASON FOR RUNNING
Our Congress is broken. My opponent, Haley Stevens, epitomizes the problem. She claimed to be a moderate and pledged not to follow the Democratic party line. Now she votes with Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time, and every policy that she supports calls for bigger government and higher taxes. She is one of the most partisan members of the Michigan delegation. These policies will crush our economy and continue to add to our nation’s debt. She supports a range of policies that will damage our health care, our economy and just violate common sense. Her health care plan will eliminate 100,000 doctors and nurses. That is a stunningly bad idea. Endlessly larger government is not the solution to our problems. But that is Haley Stevens’ answer to every issue we face. We need leaders in Congress who will end the partisan games and focus on fixing real world problems like health care and our economy.
WHY VOTE FOR YOU
I am running for Congress because we need leaders who will stop playing political games and actually solve problems. These days, politicians don’t even attempt to have a reasoned conversation. They just yell and spout talking points. Congresswoman Stevens claim to fame is yelling at constituents and on the floor of Congress, where her own party had to yank her away from the microphone. For over eight years as a nurse, I helped by caring for people in crisis. As a lawyer, I work tirelessly to solve complex problems, promote justice and right wrongs. Today the politicians in Congress seem less concerned with finding solutions for the people that they are supposed to serve and more concerned with pandering to the special interests funding their campaigns. As a nurse, I fought for my patients everyday. As a lawyer, I recently took on Governor Whitmer in federal court where four judges, appointed by presidents of both parties, agreed with me that her actions were unconstitutional. I’ve proven that I’m willing to stand up and fight for the principles that have made this country great. I will continue doing that in Congress.