From securing federal dollars for San Diego’s biomedical research industry to promoting small business and free trade, I’ve spent my time in Congress passing legislation that encourages economic growth both nationally and at home in San Diego. Roughly one decade removed from the Great Recession, however, America continues to face challenging new realities in a changing world. In order to build an economy that brings opportunity to working people, we need to support the innovators who are creating the jobs of the future. We must also support our workforce by giving them the skills they need to compete for those high-quality jobs. By reforming our immigration system, making smart investments in research, education, and infrastructure, and fixing our complicated tax code, we can create economic growth that leaves no one behind. Unfortunately, our federal budget is upside down because too many in Congress are more focused on holding on to problems for political gain than on solving them. I’ll continue to work with anyone to balance the budget over time with sensible tax policy and smart cuts.
Invest in Research
San Diego knows the transformative power of scientific research and the high-quality jobs that research creates. During this current session of Congress, I worked with the Trump administration to block a Chinese company’s hostile merger with Qualcomm, one of San Diego’s largest private employers. Wireless technologies invented here in San Diego spawned Qualcomm, which has created thousands of high-wage jobs and changed the way the world communicates. Similarly, SPAWAR, another San Diego-based company, supports jobs and investment in basic research for military applications – the kind of research that led to the development of the internet and GPS. And every day on Torrey Pines Mesa, researchers at Salk, Scripps Research, Sanford Burnham, UCSD, and elsewhere use grants from the National Institutes of Health to find cures to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. These scientific investments have transformed our world and raised the quality of life for millions; equally important, they've also created good-paying jobs for San Diegans.
But Congress and the Trump administration have wavered on these investments, and scientific research funding has not kept pace with inflation. I have been a consistent and vocal advocate for increasing funding for basic scientific research through the National Institutes of Health. I’ve sent numerous letters to appropriators asking for increases in the NIH budget, and during our current session of Congress, I successfully fought to increase NIH funding to a total of $37 billion—a record high even when adjusting for inflation. This means that Congress is finally taking bipartisan steps to adequately fund research. San Diego is among the top metro areas in the country for NIH research funding; in 2016 alone, the NIH provided about $850 million to over 90 institutions in San Diego County.
Research institutions and life-sciences companies support nearly 220,000 high-quality jobs in San Diego County. And as of March 2018, employees of life sciences companies on average earn more than $117,000 annually. In turn, these institutions account for roughly $33.6 billion in total economic impact in San Diego. The life sciences are critical to our local economy, and San Diego deserves a representative who recognizes the importance of ensuring that they continue to thrive.
We want the next Google or Qualcomm or the next medical breakthrough to happen in San Diego, but without serious commitment to maintain and aggressively increase investment, that next innovation could be created by a UCSD graduate ... but in China or England rather than in San Diego or California.
Investing in research is one of the best ways we can drive American competitiveness and job creation while improving San Diego’s international profile as a growing innovation hub.
Invest in our Green Economy
As a member of Congress, I believe that we have a moral obligation to future generations to embrace the clean energy revolution.
I serve as the Chair of the Climate Task Force for the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, working to create green collar jobs by advancing policies that promote clean energy, domestic manufacturing, and the development of renewable energy resources. And as one of four co-chairs of the Congressional Algae Caucus, I strongly advocate for research in algal biofuels technology. In our current session of Congress, I introduced the bipartisan Algae Agriculture Act of 2018, which will make certain that algae qualifies for the same investment opportunities as other agricultural sectors.
As a nation, we must work toward a long-term energy policy that 1) creates new American jobs; 2) emphasizes greater energy independence; 3) invests in the development of alternative fuels; 4) promotes clean energy technology like wind and solar; and 5) ensures greater national security.
Invest in our Children
The economy, especially in San Diego, runs on brainpower. If we don’t educate our children, our nation won’t be able to compete for the jobs of the future. We need to make sure our K-12 education system is preparing our kids for college and ensure that any student who qualifies and wants to go to college can afford to do so. I recently introduced bipartisan legislation to provide an incentive for employers to help cover the cost of their employees’ student loan bills — called The Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act. And for those who do not choose a four-year degree, we must work toward establishing our community colleges as centers for skills training and placement.
Reform our Tax Code and Balance the Budget
We’ve seen the dangers presented by partisan gridlock in Congress when we repeatedly wait until the last moment to raise the country's debt limit and even shut down the federal government because we can’t reach a compromise. We can't continue to consider not paying our country's bills and risking the basic function of our nation's finances to satisfy the whims of our current president and certain extreme members of Congress. I introduced the Protect America's Credit Act to tie the debt limit increase to the nation's GDP growth, and the Pay Down Our Debt Act to require a negotiated budget compromise if the debt starts growing faster than the nation’s economy. Combined, these reforms will help keep our credit safe around the world while still allowing for tough fiscal discipline at home. I was even recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” by a group called Fix the Debt for my bipartisan work in tackling the national debt.
We must also reform the nation’s tax code to simplify it for the middle class and encourage American companies to create jobs in America. We should work to incentivize companies that build and expand here at home, rather than abroad. I voted to give hardworking Americans a break by making the earned income and child tax credits permanent, and have worked to extend the Research and Development Tax Credit, which incentivizes businesses to invest in innovation. During the last Congressional session, I supported legislation to repeal the Cadillac Tax, which would have likely unraveled the multi-employer health insurance options that people in San Diego depend on. And at the end of 2015, I helped pass the Omnibus spending bill, which made the R&D tax credit permanent, giving San Diego small business owners a true incentive for new innovation.
Additionally, we must immediately end subsidies to oil companies that are among the most profitable companies ever. The fact that oil companies are subsidized by the taxpayers while making record profits – and while middle-class Americans are struggling – makes absolutely no sense. Keeping the earnings and jobs created by American companies at home and ending subsidies will help get us back on the road toward a balanced budget.
We must balance the budget, and we've got to do it the right way. In other words, it shouldn't be on the backs of seniors and the middle class. I only support a budget that simultaneously cuts wasteful spending, tackles our long-term debt, preserves a safety net, reforms the tax code to encourage competitiveness abroad and job creation at home, supports a strong military and makes the investments in infrastructure, education and basic scientific research that will support our country and our children into the next century.