America faces challenging new realities in a changing world. The economy is faster, smarter, more competitive and more global. We need to support the innovators who are creating the jobs of the future, and prepare our workforce with the skills 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. But our federal budget is upside down because too many in Congress are more focused on holding onto problems for political gain than solving them. Balancing the budget over time requires sensible tax policy and smart cuts.
Invest in Research
San Diego knows the transformative economic power of scientific research. The wireless technologies invented here spawned QUALCOMM, one of our largest private employers, created thousands of high-wage jobs and changed the way the world communicates. Similarly, SPAWAR 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 has wavered on these investments. Scientific research funding was not keeping pace with inflation, and was even cut. I have been a consistent and vocal advocate for increasing funding for basic scientific research through the National Institutes of Health. I sent numerous letters to appropriators asking for increases in the NIH budget, and last year helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act to increase NIH funding by $8 billion. This, coupled with a $2 billion increase in NIH funding last year’s spending bill, means that Congress is finally taking bipartisan steps to adequately fund research. San Diego is the top metro area in the country for NIH research funding, receiving more than $768 million in funding in 2015, which benefits a number of labs and universities.
In fact, according to a recent study, San Diego’s innovation technology sector accounted for more than 141,000 jobs in 2013 – about 10% of the region’s total workforce. Notably, the average wage in this sector is more than $100,000 (more than double the region’s average salary), and each supports an additional 1.6 local jobs. These industries 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 ... in China or England rather than 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.
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. 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 saw the dangers presented by the partisan gridlock in Congress when we repeatedly went down to the last moment to raise the country's debt limit and even shut down the federal government because we couldn'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 because extreme members of Congress can't play well with others. 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 recognized as a “Fiscal Hero” by a group called Fix the Debt for my bipartisan work on 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. 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.
And 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, but we've got to do it the right way. And 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.