Talk more about your views on “economic fairness.” We were poor economically but we were rich in educational opportunity and community in the town of Hancock. My dad is a carpenter and he started his own business 33 years ago, when I was five years old. My mom stayed at home with us when we were little, and when I was in fifth grade, she went to work at the local greenhouse and we were able to afford electricity. So, I grew up without electricity or running water; we grew most of our food. At age 49 [my mother] realized that she didn’t have benefits, in terms of retirement, or in terms of access to health care, and so she made the decision to take adult-education courses, she got a degree in nursing, and she’s now working the night shift at the hospital in Ellsworth.
I was a Subway sandwich artist, I worked at the local lobster pound, I worked retail, I waited tables. I had a variety of jobs and I knew through my high school and college years that I had to work. When I graduated from Middlebury College in 1997, I had about $30,000 in student loans — and that was relatively high at the time — but the job market for young people graduating college was excellent. I was able to find work immediately. Today, nearly 20 years later, most students are graduating with loans at that level or much higher — and unemployment for young people graduating from college is in the double digits, nationwide and here in Maine. That is really concerning because policies made in Washington are creating barriers to people’s opportunity to create better lives for themselves.
What I think has happened is that budgetary decisions in Congress have resulted in underfunding of some of our entitlement programs and overfunding of discretionary programs like our surveillance-industrial complex. People who are concerned about the deficit and future debt are worth listening to because we do have to make choices as a country about our spending priorities. If elected, I think it’s important to honor the obligations we already have, such as Social Security and Medicare, that are societal contracts. If people work their entire lives, we want them to be provided for in their retirement. It’s good for them, and it’s good for society.
What sort of health insurance do you have? As a married person, I’m currently the beneficiary of my husband’s health insurance. I have Anthem. At the ACLU, we always provided employer-paid health insurance, in full, to all of our employees. And that is a principle of my campaign: that every single employee on this campaign will be offered health insurance.
How do you feel about the Affordable Care Act? I think the Affordable Care Act is an important first step. I think that covering young people on their parents’ insurance benefits both those young people and the employers who are employing younger people. Requiring insurance companies not to prohibit people from getting coverage because of pre-existing conditions I think is an extraordinarily important principle. I think treating women’s health-care as health-care and not as something separate is important. But I think there are challenges in the Affordable Care Act and it falls short of universal health insurance. I support universal single-payer health-care.