BY MARCO SERNA
Candidate For Congress
Over the last three years, the Trump administration has praised itself for bringing about an economic renaissance to the United States. While job growth has increased since 2010 and the economy has grown, the fact is that many Americans have not benefited from this “economic renaissance”. This is especially true for many workers in the 3rd Congressional district and throughout New Mexico.
Recent studies have shown that the economic recovery is not what the President is making it out to be. The US Department of Labor recently disclosed that job creation in President Obama’s final 29 months in office generated 800,000 more jobs than President Trump in his first 29 months of office. The New York Times recently disclosed that the economy got less of a jolt from President Trump’s tax cuts than it initially appeared. Meanwhile, these tax cuts have ballooned the US spending deficit which will reach a massive trillion dollars by next year. The unnecessary trade war President Trump has waged against China has hurt the US economy and may bring us into a recession in 2020. According to the American Farm Bureau, farm bankruptcy filings in the year through June 2019 were up 13 percent from 2018 and loan delinquency rates are on the rise. In addition, American agricultural exports to China amounted to $24 billion in 2014 and drastically fell to $9.1 billion last year. Exports of farm products to China fell by $1.3 billion in the first half of this year.
Overall, New Mexico has followed the rest of the United States in its economic performance. Despite efforts to diversify, much of the state’s economy is still dependent on the mining industry. According to the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, the state collected more than $4 billion in revenue from activities related to oil and natural gas production in FY18. Agriculture is one of the states principal industries with cash receipts approaching $3 billion annually. There are over 1.5 million cattle on New Mexico farms and the individual dairy herds are estimated to be the largest in the country. The New Mexico Bureau of Economic Research projects “most new jobs in relatively low-wage sectors and that income growth will be a drag on the state’s economic growth through 2020.” In addition, the climate change debate has raised the question of our country moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy resources. Given the importance of the oil and gas industry to the New Mexico economy, the future of our economic wellbeing is in jeopardy.
To flourish, I believe that New Mexico has to elect public officials who will fight for a strong economy. With globalization, automation and the challenges of climate change, our state must diversify and accept the challenges of the future. As a member of Congress, bringing jobs and economic opportunity to our communities will be my top priority. To succeed, we must understand the challenges facing our country.
First and foremost, I join with President Obama in the belief that the widening income gap among Americans is the “defining challenge of our time”. Today, the top 0.1 percent own about 20 percent of the entire nation’s wealth, while the bottom 90 percent of earners own about 25 percent. The United States ranks around the 30th percentile in income inequality globally—that means 70 percent of countries have a more equal income distribution. The top 1 percent of earners now makes an average 81 times more than the bottom 50 percent of adults, whereas in 1981 they made 27 times more—that is a 54 percent increase in income inequality in a relatively short span of time.
Studies conducted over the last decade show that the gap between the rich and poor in New Mexico continues to widen. According to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C., inequality has been dramatically worsening in New Mexico. Since 1979, the top 1 percent of households in the state has experienced a 55 percent growth in income while the average income for all other households has fallen by 9 percent (Since 2016). According to the last Census, 20.4 percent of New Mexico residents live below the poverty line which places our state 49thnationally, ahead of only Mississippi.
There are a number of reasons why this income inequality exists in New Mexico and the United States. Many economists believe that globalization, the decline of labor unions and automation are the leading causes of this disparity. Also high on the list is our nation’s tax policies and economic priorities. Consider that in the last three years, the Trump administration passed a trillion-dollar tax cut that primarily benefited corporations and the richest of Americans. The most profitable companies in the world like Amazon, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum paid no federal taxes thanks to the Trump‑Republican tax cut. It is inconceivable to me that Washington would allow Amazon to pay no taxes on $11,200,000,000 of profit in 2018 , while at the same time, President Trump is proposing drastic cuts to Medicare and Social Security, yet that is where we are. We simply cannot stand for such reckless self-dealing! In Congress, my priorities will be the following:
I will only support tax breaks that benefit working New Mexico families;
Instead of supporting tax breaks for Wall Street, I will support tax breaks for small businesses like my mother’s that are the driving force for jobs in our community;
I support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour;
I will never vote to cut funding for Social Security, Medicaid , and Medicare;
I believe in equal pay for equal work. Women still, on average, only earn $0.81 for every dollar their male counterparts make – and the gap is even wider for women of color. Unless we codify equal pay for equal work into law, women will continue to lose billions in wages compared to their male colleagues.
I support a national paid family leave program;
I will always support the funding of Education and ensure our teachers get the salaries they deserve;
I believe that everyone has an inherent right to affordable and quality health care;
Veterans deserve more than empty promises. I will be a strong advocate for veterans who defended our freedom and represent the best of America.
I will work to expand and protect the sovereignty of our Native American Tribes;
I support increase funding for affordable housing;
I support comprehensive immigration reform and providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers;
I will work hard to provide broadband internet throughout our rural communities;
I support equal rights for every New Mexican and stand proud with my brother and our LGTBQ community.
I believe that we need to invest in our future and support infrastructure legislation that will rebuild our nations bridges and roads, while creating jobs for so many Americans.
I support taking a strong stand on the unfair trade policies of China. However, I disagree on President Trump’s tariff war and believe that the best course of action is to unite our allies and force China into changing its trade policies.
New Mexico faces unique challenges unlike many other states in the country. With an economy based on mineral and oil extraction, our state is especially vulnerable to the international climate change movement. We need to accept the fact that alternative forms of energy is the wave of the future and start investing in solar, wind and renewable energy. We also need to start looking at geothermal energy and the development of carbon captive and storage plants.
In a recent poll conducted for NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, 70 percent of Americans say they feel angry “because our political system seems only to be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington”. To bring true economic prosperity , we need to unify our divided country and work together for a common goal. As your next Congressman, I pledge to work together with all New Mexicans to make the “American Dream” a reality to all of our citizens.