Our priorities say a lot about us. Michael Kotick is focused on building a new era of growth, ensuring compassion and respect, and fighting for a clean future. Click around and take a look, but also know this: If you have a better idea, no matter what party you’re from, we want to hear it. Because keeping an open mind and working together will result in the best possible solutions.
Jobs for the Future
We are at almost full employment in Orange County. Unemployment is less than four percent. A lot of this has to do with growth in real estate construction, tourism, and other industries. But having a job is different than having enough to live, and raise a family. It’s becoming more and more difficult for everyday people and families to make ends meet. You need to make at least $25 per hour just to afford a basic one-bedroom apartment in Orange County, and childhood poverty is at 25.5 percent as a result. California’s path to a $15 an hour minimum wage, which is expected to impact 605,000 OC workers, is a good start and we should extend it further.
But with skyrocketing housing and health care costs, a higher minimum wage by itself isn’t enough to protect the shrinking middle class. The impact of financial stress goes beyond dollars and cents issues like paying the bills every month—it reaches into the lives and minds of Orange County’s families and children. A family’s financial stress at home is one of the main reasons why we see such a large increase in depression and mental health cases for over 50,000 children in Orange County.
The good news is that better and higher paying jobs are waiting. Almost 50 percent of Human Resource managers across Orange County say they have higher paying jobs available, but can’t find the right mid-skilled workers to fill them. We’re not talking about doctors or lawyers. There are jobs available that simply require a high school diploma and certifications in areas like basic computer skills or trade-specific training. Better still, these are the types of jobs that will pull everyone up—our businesses that need qualified workers to grow and the 62 percent of OC residents who don’t have a college degree.
It’s time to force Congress to invest in retraining and up-employing workers who have been or will be displaced by automation, robotics, and retailer shifts to online — not to just get them back on their feet, but invest in them so they thrive in Orange County. Helping workers obtain basic technology skills for booming IT and medical industries, or trade crafts for infrastructure development, will also benefit the businesses that are the backbone of Orange County’s growth.
A win for you. A win for business. And a win for our future.
Gun Violence Prevention
Like almost every Democrat and almost every American, I support the 2nd Amendment.
But, after tragedies like those in Las Vegas and Parkland (or the numerous school shootings that have been reported in 2018 alone), some Republicans say, “Now is not the time to talk about gun safety.” And they’re right. Now is not the time– it’s ALWAYS the time to talk about gun safety. If any other disease or device caused over 36,000 preventable deaths a year, we would be doing everything in our power to stop it. So why not guns?
We all know why. The NRA gives millions in campaign contributions to Republicans every year, including thousands of cumulative dollars to Dana Rohrabacher. The result is that politicians like Dana have become puppets for the NRA. And all the NRA really wants is to sell more guns, pure and simple.
When elected to Congress, I pledge to support and actively work to take the following steps to prevent further gun violence and promote gun safety:
- Never accept donations from the NRA. Unlike Dana Rohrabacher, I will never take a penny from the NRA. And not just because I disagree with them. It’s because I have no intention of representing anyone but you.
- Expand the technology, rigor and national coordination of the universal background check system, including those who are on the NO FLY LIST.
- Reverse Donald Trump’s Executive Order (Feb 2017) that rolled back President Obama’s actions that made it more difficult for those with mental illness to obtain a firearm.
- Close the “Boyfriend Loophole.” Expand gun controls to include any domestic violence offender to have firearms seized (not asking them to surrender them) and ensure they never get another one — expanding the Lautenberg Amendment.
- Legislate against bump stocks, silencers and assault rifles, such as the AR-15 and the high capacity magazines that enable them.
- Eliminate the Gun Show Loophole.
- Increase in-home safety requirements, gun ownership training and locking mechanism innovation to ensure that accidental firearm deaths are avoided.
- Oppose conceal and carry reciprocity from state-to-state.
- Appropriate funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research and analyze data on gun use to more effectively address gun violence.
It’s up to Congress– to our lawmakers– to pass common-sense safety measures that could save more lives, in much the same way that auto safety laws have drastically reduced auto fatalities over the years by requiring seat belts and air bags, and properly training and licensing drivers. Gun safety doesn’t mean taking away guns, any more than auto safety means taking away cars. It just means fewer people will lose loved ones to preventable gun violence, and we can all live in a safer, healthier country.
To be clear, gun safety measures need to be based on a national conversation with national solutions. State actions and legislative measures have resulted in stricter California laws, however, we must recognize that state-to-state borders are artificial when someone can buy a firearm at a gun show in Nevada and just drive back into California. We need national action that protects all people, all of the time.
Seven children under the age of 19 are killed every day. 50 women-per-month are shot to death by an intimate partner. If we want to do something about this unnecessary suffering, we need to vote out Republicans who take blood money from the gun lobby and get the NRA out of Washington.
Our gun homicide rate is not just a percentage higher than most high-income countries, it’s twenty-five times higher. Even the majority of NRA members agree that universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of known criminals, domestic abusers, and terrorists should be law. Here in Orange County, more people are injured or killed by firearm accidents, than gun crimes, so just having safety locks or other aggressive gun safety innovations would make a huge difference in our communities.
While not directly related to gun safety, mental health is a subject in this country that needs to be discussed and action taken. In Orange County alone, there are only approximately 10 dedicated hospital beds for mental health, which fails to meet the need that is growing exponentially amongst members of our community at all age levels. We need attention and care, which is yet another reason that we need to approach healthcare as a right, not a privilege.
Gun safety, gun violence and mental health are important topics that should not wait until the Midterm elections. We all need to join our collective voices to say #NeverAgain, to #MarchforOurLives and to fight lobbyist attempts to suggest that the only ways to curb gun violence are defensive- metal detectors, teaching children to fight back and more armed civilians.
Instead, we need to follow the lead of other nations that have successfully addressed this issue and legislate gun safety.
Across industries, international trade is one of the highest growth and highest paying sectors in Orange County—accounting for 170,000 jobs. Instead of falling for outdated ideas to shut ourselves off from the world, which will result in a higher cost of living for every American and will cripple Orange County’s economy, we instead need to build on existing trade deals to make them better.
Are our trade deals perfect? No. Not by a long shot.
But pulling out of NAFTA and similar deals with no clear replacement will only decrease America’s negotiating power with larger nation groups like the EU and China. It will also jeopardize agreements protecting many Orange County technology, services, and medical innovation companies (such as patents, etc).
With Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, and South Korea representing Orange County companies’ Top 5 international trading partners (members of NAFTA and the former TransPacific agreements), we cannot afford to put our companies at risk and make basic goods for all Americans more expensive.
Enacting excessive trade tariffs and abandoning our current trade deals runs the risk of losing an entire Orange County job sector and increasing your grocery bill by a minimum of 10 percent at the same time. It’s unacceptable and not a real solution to the very real problems people are experiencing in our economy.
While trade agreements do require better business protections, we also need to address the risk to jobs by modernizing our valuable workforce.
We need to put real resources into skills training, so that American workers are competitive in industries like medicine, clean energy, IT and trades that pay $25,000 more than the standard Orange County annual wage.
The fact is that Orange County’s biggest customers live outside our borders. We can close our doors to them, or we can make sure our workers are set to compete for a generation to come.
Small Business Growth
The next generation of economic growth and jobs will continue to come from small businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups. We need to make it easier for these new businesses by helping future American small business owners and innovators get started.
Since 1990, big business eliminated over four million jobs and small businesses added eight million during the same time, accounting for over 54 percent of retail sales and around 50 percent of rented retail and office space. Yet somehow Congress always seems to focus on helping large corporations that are cutting jobs and growing at slower rates than ever before.
While Orange County sets a great example by providing the types of organizations and support networks that small businesses need, we need to go further by accelerating our investment in small businesses with more attractive startup loans and new business incentives in the key growth areas for Orange County and the country: technology, security, intelligence, health, and renewable energy.
It’s time to unlock the potential of our fellow Orange County residents and the country by giving them the tools they need to start small businesses, strengthen the middle-class, own their own futures and drive even greater economic growth.
Want better leadership in Washington? Me too. It starts with educating the next generation. Not just to be good leaders but also good consumers of information. The path for the next generation of leaders starts with an advanced education. President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have a plan to gut public education. We can’t let that happen.
We need to invest more in teachers, in the arts, and in STEM programs that focus on advanced education in science, technology, engineering, and math. And, while Orange County is already putting these lessons into classrooms, we need to increase federal support.
Currently, Orange County’s computer science programs are not keeping pace with math and science. Compared with 25,000 students enrolling in Advanced Math and Science programs, only 1,300 students are taking Advanced Technology courses. This disparity is not due to a lack of willingness for schools to offer them, but out of a lack of resources. Orange County can’t do it alone. We need federal support to prepare our students for the indisputable fact that technology and computer science will underpin every industry in the future.
College student loan rates are out of control and are preventing a new generation of Americans from entering new careers without crushing levels of debt.
An opportunity for an affordable higher education is an indisputable right in a modern, advanced society, and necessary for our economic growth. Outside of mandating a monumental decrease that lowers student loan rates, we need to ensure that our future leaders are not being crushed by outlandish debt at the very start of their careers. And we need to strategically invest in those students who invest in the key growth areas of America’s innovation economy.
College loan debt forgiveness should be awarded to the highest performing higher education students or trade-specific certificate recipients who dedicate five years in a field that fuels technological or renewable energy advancement or public service, whether serving in the state and local government, non-profit organizations, or teaching America’s youth math and science at the K-12 levels. We need to reintroduce the values of forward thinking innovation and public service into the fabric of our country, and it starts by enrolling our nation’s leading students. Hard work, high performance, strategic innovation, and public service need to be at the core of our workforce.
My mom is an immigrant to this country, so I know firsthand the commitment of immigrant families to American values, freedom, and opportunity.
Orange County is a county of immigrants and our culture, community, and businesses have flourished because of them. Over 30 percent of our neighbors and friends in Orange County are foreign-born, and we are a beacon for what’s possible when we put aside inexcusable discrimination and fear to embrace good people who are simply pursuing a better life—that’s the American Dream.
But it’s not just our national identity we need to protect. Immigrant workers and inventors have contributed tremendous wealth to our country. It is foolish to tell people to take their talent elsewhere. We need an expedient and fair path to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants who have come to this country in search of the opportunities that only America offers, while ensuring that our laws are enforced and our safety is protected.
Protecting Civil Liberties
It is absolutely alarming and unacceptable that any modern political campaign has to even include women’s rights or the rights of the LGBTQ community as a topic—it’s a given, it’s undeniable, it’s not up for discussion.
I am 100 percent supportive of a woman’s right to choose (and the support and services that help ensure those rights, including the defense of Planned Parenthood) and I’m a full advocate for equal pay for equal work. Furthermore, members of the LGBTQ community deserve every right that is afforded to every American—everyone’s liberties and civil rights must be held equal under the eyes of the law and in our hearts. We cannot rest until we have achieved a vision for a country of total respect and dignity—one that guarantees the preservation of everyone’s civil liberties without exception.
Jobs for Veterans
Our veterans have volunteered to serve our country, knowing that they could pay the ultimate sacrifice, and they deserve our gratitude with the best of opportunities when they return to civilian life. Orange County is home to the fourth largest veteran population in the state of California, so this issue is incredibly important to me, to us, and to the country.
“You fight for this country, I’ll fight for you. It’s as simple as that”
– Michael Kotick
We need to spend less money on expanding foreign bases and more money ensuring that every veteran has a guarantee of multiple job interviews waiting for him or her when honorably discharged. We can accomplish this through partnerships with large and small businesses, alike.
Several years ago, I successfully negotiated an agreement between Army PAYS and a large Orange County corporation to guarantee interviews for highly qualified veterans—that’s the spirit that needs to expand across Orange County and across the country. By engaging the partnership of companies across all industries and offering training to help veterans showcase their extremely valuable armed forces skills in leadership, security, mechanics, and technology (one of Orange County’s top growth industries), we can effectively help veterans transition into the civilian workforce with speed and respect. We need to thank all veterans for the risk that they have taken for our country in defending our freedom.
See more on the health care we need to provide to our veterans under the health care section.
Advanced & Affordable Health Care
“Our health care can’t just be described as affordable, it needs to be advanced. We need to do it right and with passion. The health of our families and our neighbors is too important to leave to chance.”
– Michael Kotick
Affordable quality health care is the birthright of any citizen in a respected, advanced society. The United States needs to actively pursue not just universal coverage, but the continuous advancement of best-in-class medical care offered at affordable prices. And I make those two commitments to you today.
We need to chart a long-term health care path while ensuring that we defend the rights for people to get affordable, quality healthcare today. I stand for the more than 60 percent of people in Orange County who will lose access to affordable health care (including the 1 in 3 people in Orange County who rely on Medicaid to stay healthy) if the currently proposed health care changes go through the Senate and the House over the summer.
When someone making $40,000 (before tax) will see their health care bills reach more than $14,000 under the new Senate health care plan—that’s absurd. That is turning health care into a health crisis, because people will have to choose between staying healthy or putting a roof over their family’s head and food on the table. Asking anyone to make that choice is unacceptable.
Today, we need to commit to defending and enhancing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. It’s not perfect, but it does provide the foundation for great health care with the right changes. Starting today we must adamantly defend our rights to affordable health care by:
- Increasing insurance company competition to drive premiums down, including reintroducing the incentives for more insurance companies to compete in markets that now only have one or no provider.
- Taking an aggressive stance on the cost of prescription drugs. Medication is a part of everyone’s annual healthcare costs and leaving those costs unchecked is disproportionately contributing to the rising costs of health care in the US. From advanced medical treatments to opioid drug overdose life-saving drugs, the average American pays at least 4x the price for medication in the US versus the same in Canada. Saving a live should be affordable and no one should have to make the choice between saving a life and paying a bill.
- Making it easier for people to enroll in affordable health care programs through dedicated assistance so we can grow the pool of insured citizens, driving the costs down for everyone.
- Defending patients with pre-existing conditions and continuing to allow children to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26 is non-negotiable.
As we continue to pursue more affordable health care for all Americans, we cannot (and will not) settle for the limitation or cutbacks of Medicare and Medicaid—seniors and those in need deserve these necessary support programs. As seniors are on-pace to make up over 50 percent of Orange County’s residents in the coming years and with over 30 percent of residents reliant on Medicaid services today, we have made decades of promises, to every generation, that these types of programs will help you pull yourself out of poverty or retire with dignity. Now is not the time to talk about cuts, privatization or raising the retirement age. Now is the time to discuss ways that we can manage these programs in the most appropriate, financially effective ways so that we can keep the ironclad promise that hundreds of millions of Americans are counting on without taking the easy way out with more taxes. The government has an unquestionable mandate to keep its promises, especially to a group of people (our seniors) that will make-up the greatest percent of our Orange County population in the next decade or two.
Climate change is real and will affect our future—science has proven that. People who don’t believe in science should not be anywhere near our country’s leadership. Climate change is one of the greatest dangers of the 21st century—both to our health and our national security.
And, while some may not agree on the term “climate change,” everyone can come together around our responsibility to ensure clean water and clean air as a fundamental human right for future generations. We need to encourage the greatest minds to develop innovative solutions that preserve our fundamental human rights for clean air, clean water, and a safe environment.
Doing our part in the fight for a smaller environmental impact also includes responsible usage of nuclear power. While nuclear power holds many benefits in the area of energy efficiency, we should immediately stop all nuclear energy facility expansion until we can find a 100 percent safe way to store its waste. San Onofre is a great example of what happens when we don’t think ahead and plan for the future. We must accelerate ongoing funding of that research and development for current and future disposal until it gets figured out once and for all. The easiest solutions are often not the best ones and while there seems to be a proposed plan in place, I do not believe that is the best for the people and the environment of Orange County. We must ensure safety for people and the environment as we fund, research, and create safe disposal solutions.
Those who preach energy independence through strengthening the oil position of the United States are completely missing the mark. Oil is a diminishing resource, with limited availability. It is a necessary evil that will run out in the long term, and it will become more expensive as that day draws closer—whether it’s 10 years or 100 years, we are reminded of the risks and the danger of oil just by looking at the wells off the coast of Huntington Beach and wondering “what if.” To achieve true energy independence, we need to be investing in alternative energy sources, and alternative innovations within the energy sector, to ensure that we are not dependent on oil cartels as the supply begins to dwindle in the future. Everyone who speaks about energy independence needs to be incentivizing energy innovation starting now.
As evidenced by the increasing number of cyber attacks in the US and across the world, we need to encourage and incentivize a new era of cyber security innovation that protects individuals, companies, our government, and our financial assets. Deepening our security infrastructure in the areas of key public and health services, as well as encouraging numerous safeguards for our financial institutions, needs to be a regulated requirement in the handling of America’s wealth and well-being. In this key area of security, we should be actively supporting new innovations that embody this heightened level of security, such as cryptocurrency (BitCoin, etc.) that use advanced blockchain and peer-to-peer checks and balances.
Diplomacy and the Military
We must usher in a new era of diplomatic engagement that exhausts strong and powerful economic tools and relationship-building measures to ensure that foreign nations are upholding fairness to U.S. agreements, fundamental human rights, and abstaining from any acts of aggression. We need to re-establish ourselves as a beacon of hope and a compass of freedom and good in the world—the world counts on the stability and leadership of the United States.
However, I have full recognition that there are moments in which military action is inevitable and, while a last resort, we need to act swiftly in those instances. Decisive and bold action with the strongest military force in the world needs to be executed only as a part of an articulated short-and long-term strategy that includes both a path to victory and a plan to exit post-victory with Congressional approval. This tempered and strategic use of force will allow us to maintain a best-in-class military force, while re-allocating the $56 billion dollars in proposed increases to causes at home—our infrastructure, our education system, and economic growth.
Specifically, regarding autocratic and dictatorial regimes across the world, we should not be closely aligning with any nation that frequently exerts totalitarianism, imperialism, human rights violations or any type of aggression—physical or cyber. No matter their size or their history, our longstanding American code of morality, purpose, and conduct requires us to strongly oppose it and take any required action with speed.
Fiscal Accountability and Taxes
All 50 states are required to balance their budgets, yet the federal government currently has no requirement to do so. I fully support an aggressive process that puts America on a path towards a required balanced budget. There are some hard choices that need to be made on that path towards a balanced budget, but I believe that such a measure would first force lawmakers to increase and maximize the efficiency of government programs before any burdens are passed on to taxpayers. Government programs are not a blank check to be paid by the American public and should be under constant review to ensure their efficiency and effectiveness.
Americans should keep their hard-earned money and continue to use that income to stimulate our economy. The US government has ever expanding responsibilities. However, the first step in expanded service to the public needs to source its funding by finding spending efficiencies and not assume that additional taxes are the solution.