Name: Betsy Dirksen Londrigan
Office seeking: U.S. Representative, 13th Congressional District
City of residence: Springfield
Campaign website: http://betsydirksenlondrigan.com
Why are you running and why should you be nominated? I am running because I believe healthcare is a right and not a privilege. When I saw Rodney Davis, Donald Trump and their cronies celebrating their attempt to rip healthcare away from millions of Americans, I decided to get in this race to fight back against a dangerous Davis/Trump agenda and stand up for our District. I believe a good job and education are keys to building better lives. Our middle-class is getting hit from all sides. We need a representative who will work to bring good paying jobs back to the district. We need to promote apprenticeship programs in high schools and make college educations affordable so our kids are job ready and not crippled with debt. I should be nominated because I am the one candidate who can take on Rodney Davis and win. I bring a lifetime of commitment to our District to this fight. I bring the common sense and work ethic of a former teacher, entrepreneur and mother to this fight. There is no one who will fight more passionately for her home, family, neighbors, community and district.
What are your views on the nation’s health care system? What needs to be changed, if anything? Health care is a right, not a privilege, and needs to be affordable, accessible and focused on quality of care. Immediately, we can add a public option that would include all Essential Health Benefits. Initially, it would be available in counties with one or zero health plans selling on the Obamacare marketplace. This would quickly create more options for families and reduce costs. Next, we could open it nation-wide to allow small businesses to enroll too. Ultimately, it would expand to larger employers. Moving people into a public option program and giving the program time to grow is key to keeping it affordable. Between now and when we are able to pass this legislation, we need to protect the progress we made with the Affordable Care Act. It is not a perfect piece of legislation, but it was solid first step in the right direction. We need to allow prescription drug prices to be negotiated instead of demanded and continue to update administrative procedure in order to streamline the process for individuals and health care providers, simultaneously saving costs. We must protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These are key partners in any healthcare plan.
The federal budget is in deficit and the debt is growing. What should be done in order to balance the federal budget? The Trump Budget that was passed and signed by the president is accomplishing nothing except doubling down on trickle-down economics, giving tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and incentivizing shipping jobs overseas as well as adding $1.41 trillion to the deficit by 2027 (CBO). We need to take a step back and re-prioritize families, students and the middle class, and the first place to start is changing our representation to reflect these priorities. I believe debt reduction is going to have to come through a coordination of efforts. For example, raising the cap on the Social Security maximum salary tax while bringing military spending back in line with their budget while implementing cost-saving measures to other federal programs--the deficit has to be addressed from a variety of angles, not just one.
What local issues do you want to work on in Washington, D.C. and why? In the 13th District, over 33 percent of our jobs are tied into our healthcare and education systems. We have to keep them strong. I’m very clearly an advocate for healthcare, and will be a strong advocate for education too. I want to make college more accessible and affordable by: encouraging two-year and four-year colleges to expand income share agreement programs so students pay for tuition costs through jobs secured post-college; raise the child tax credit to 18 so parents can save money towards educational costs; allow those with crushing student loan debt to refinance at lower rates; open avenues for paying off existing student debt including making it easier for employers to offer student loan repayment as an employee benefit and lowering interest rates; allow colleges to incorporate “student ambassadors” into their work-study programs to mentor high school seniors through the college application and financial aid process; raise the cap on employer-provided tuition assistance to help companies cover tuition costs and advanced training for employees; and preserve higher-education benefits, such as employer contributions, deduction of tuition and qualified educational expenses and allow companies to cover the cost of a college education at community colleges and partner institutions for working students.
Immigration into the United States continues to be a topic of debate. What changes should be made to the nation’s immigration system? I want a fair, practical and humane path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding immigrants who are in the United States illegally. We’ve been the “Great American Melting Pot” and given birth to the notion of “The American Dream” where no matter who you are or where you’re from--if you work hard enough, anything is possible. I believe being a nation of immigrants is why this beautiful mosaic of a country stands as a beacon of light to people around the world. I want to codify DACA to protect Dreamers by granting permanent residency and a path to citizenship through higher education, military service or employment.