CAMPAIGN
ISSUES

Jobs and Small Business

Families in the 7th District are concerned about the economy and about their children’s future. They think it’s time for us to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those with power and access. Gretchen wholeheartedly agrees.

As mayor of Saline for 14 years, Gretchen worked with members of both parties to balance the budget every year while working with businesses to create jobs and support local schools. Under Gretchen’s watch, Saline became one of the best places in the country to start a business and raise a family.

Gretchen will bring the same nonpartisan, idea-focused leadership to Washington. But the 7th District doesn’t have that kind of representation today. Congressman Walberg has supported six foreign trade deals that cost Michigan tens of thousands of jobs. He even admitted that he was “bought and paid for” by one special interest group. Congressman Walberg takes their money and votes to let big corporations get tax breaks while they ship our jobs overseas.

We deserve better. Walberg clearly doesn’t represent our priorities here in the 7th District, and it’s time to put him in permanent retirement.

In Congress, Gretchen will stand with working families against politicians like Tim Walberg who put their donors ahead of the people they were elected to represent. Gretchen will fight to stop foreign trade deals like TPP that outsource our jobs, fix bad deals like NAFTA that have forced our kids to leave Michigan to find work, and fight to protect Medicare and Social Security.

The wealthy and well connected have a Congress that fights for them already. I’ll be a Congresswoman who fights for you, your family, and what’s best for our country.
– Gretchen Driskell

Trade

Free trade agreements have been a sweetheart deal for special interests, but a raw deal for hardworking Michigan families. In Congress, Gretchen will stop bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that threaten to outsource Michigan jobs and fix bad deals like NAFTA that have forced our kids to leave Michigan to find work.

Over his long career, Congressman Walberg has put the special interests that fund his campaigns ahead of working families by voting for every foreign trade deal he’s had the chance to in Congress, including the Colombia Trade Agreement, South Korea Trade agreement, Panama Trade Agreement, and the Peru Trade Agreement, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. He even said that NAFTA created jobs, when it actually cost Michigan 43,600 jobs, and agreed during a debate that outsourcing is “necessary and good” for the nation’s economy. And with his vote to fast-track TPP, Walberg gave President Obama a blank check to negotiate a deal that would spell disaster for Michigan workers and businesses.

Gretchen, on the other hand, knows how difficult it is for families when the jobs they depend on get cut or shipped overseas where companies can get away with paying workers less. That’s unacceptable. And it’s why so many of our neighbors here in the 7th District are fed up with Congressman Walberg.

While Walberg was voting to fast-track the TPP, Gretchen came out immediately against the harmful trade deal. Gretchen is running for Congress to stop the bad trade deals that Walberg has always supported at the expense of working families and businesses. Gretchen will stand up against the TPP and politicians like Walberg that can’t be trusted to fight for hardworking families here in the 7th.

“I’m sick and tired of being told that the next trade deal will be different. It’s time to stop outsourcing American jobs and start creating them instead.”
-Gretchen Driskell

Social Security and Medicare

Over the years, programs like Social Security and Medicare have served hardworking Americans well. While responsible leaders of both parties have worked to protect these vital lifelines, Congressman Walberg is not among them. Time and again, Congressman Walberg has demonstrated his hostility to these important programs by calling Social Security a ponzi scheme and voting for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s irresponsible budget, which would recklessly phase out Social Security and Medicare as we know it, shifting costs to the elderly and sick.

The Ryan Budget would have converted Medicare into a “premium support” system driven by private insurance vouchers. When elected to Congress, I’ll work tirelessly to protect and strengthen these programs for our seniors, including opposing efforts to raise the Medicare and Social Security eligibility age. Our seniors deserve representatives who will stand by them and support the type of common sense policies that help them live with greater independence and dignity in their communities. I’m proud to stand with them and against Congressman Walberg and his powerful friends who would turn their backs on our seniors at the time when they need the support of their country the most.

Whether it’s opposing bad trade deals or protecting Social Security and Medicare, I’ll do what’s right – not just what the corporate special interests want. We’ve had enough of the already.
– Gretchen Driskell

Government Accountability and Campaign Finance Reform

Government accountability and transparency are a fundamental building block of our democracy. Gretchen believes that the public should be able to hold their elected leaders responsible when they violate the public trust. Throughout her time in public service, Gretchen has worked to ensure that government officials work openly on behalf of the people they were elected to represent.

That’s why, as a state legislator, Gretchen co-sponsored legislation to improve government transparency by requiring the Legislature, the Governor, and his office to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Gretchen also understands the growing negative influence that money has on our politics. In Washington right now, our representatives spend their time catering to big-moneyed special interest groups instead of representing their constituents.

Congressman Walberg is a prime example of this, even admitting that he’s been “bought and paid for” by one DC group. So it’s not surprising that he votes to let big corporations get tax breaks while they ship our jobs overseas. The people of the 7th District deserve a representative who truly represents them, not someone who’s bought and paid for by special interests.

Gretchen is a proven advocate for the voices and priorities of hardworking Michigan families. When elected to Congress, Gretchen will work tirelessly to improve government transparency and accountability, and ensure that our elections aren’t hijacked by politicians like Tim Walberg and the special interests that bankroll them.

Prioritizing Our Public Education System

Gretchen understands that a strong economy requires a strong education system, and she believes that all children deserve access to a high-quality education that prepares them for the 21st century economy, regardless of their background or zipcode. That’s why, as mayor of Saline, she made having good public schools a top priority. In Congress, she will continue to advocate for public education and ensure that our schools and teachers have the resources and support they need to provide an excellent education for our children.

But education doesn’t stop after the 12th grade. Gretchen knows that to compete in today’s global economy, many Americans need higher education, be it four-year college, community college, or vocational-technical programs. Higher education is the single most important investment Americans make in their futures, yet due to its skyrocketing costs, it is simply out of reach for too many working families.

While Congressman Walberg has voted to slash education funding at all levels, Gretchen has been a longtime advocate of ideas to make higher education more affordable while preparing our students for careers and encouraging them to stay and use those talents here in Michigan as jobs open up in the skilled trades. In Congress, she will work to support and expand job training programs and make sure that every American has access to affordable higher education and a chance to succeed.

Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse

Prescription drug and opioid abuse has truly become an epidemic—nationally and statewide. More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than in car crashes. From 2001 to 2013, the number of youth overdose deaths in Michigan nearly quadrupled. In Washtenaw County alone, opioid overdose deaths soared from 29 in 2011 to 65 in 2014.

This problem touches all of us. Rich and poor. Old and young. White and black. Every Michigan community is affected. Every Michigan family is vulnerable.

We can and must do more.

As a state representative, Gretchen has worked with local leaders in law enforcement, public health, substance-abuse treatment to craft multidisciplinary solutions built on local expertise, established best practices, and common sense. By discussing addiction as a disease and a public-health crisis, we can reframe the debate on prescription drug abuse. Working together, we can reduce the destructive impact of addiction in Michigan schools, businesses, and communities.

Transportation and Infrastructure

As a former CPA and mayor of a small town, Gretchen understands how important attracting businesses and building accessible, transportation-friendly communities are to Michigan’s economic future. That’s why in her first term as a state representative, Gretchen was thrilled to sit on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She worked hard on that committee to create a sustainable plan to fix Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure, and supported initiatives that will help all of Michigan’s citizens and businesses thrive.

Gretchen also understands that the struggle to find reliable transportation remains a steep barrier for far too many hardworking Michiganders ready to unlock their economic potential. When Gretchen is elected to Congress, she’ll continue to be a strong voice for fixing our crumbling roads and bridges so that we can build an economy that works for everyone.

Veterans

As the proud daughter and granddaughter of veterans, and as the mother of a member of the Navy, Gretchen has always prioritized veterans’ issues. Michigan has more than 640,000 veterans, and when it comes to caring for and treating them, they deserve the best. Unfortunately, we’re not there. Waits for Veterans Affairs services are so long that veterans cannot get access to the healthcare they need. Here in Michigan, residents in the state-run Grand Rapids Home for Veterans have suffered from staffing and negligence issues. Nationally, 11-20% of our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, and every day, 20 veterans commit suicide.

Meanwhile, Congressman Walberg, who claims to support veterans, has actually voted against funding for veteran suicide prevention, healthcare, and PTSD treatment.

This is unacceptable. We owe it to our veterans to them to take care of them when they return home. Not a single veteran should have to wait more than 30 days for services, and not a single veteran should worry about having a roof over their head or securing a job.

In Lansing, Gretchen has introduced legislation to create a workforce training program for veterans entering the advanced energy sector and supported proposals to make it more affordable for veterans to return to school and offer tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed veterans. In Congress, she will advocate for adequate funding for the VA and support reforms that better connect our veterans with the healthcare, housing, and employment services they need and have more than earned.

Agriculture

From our country’s origins, agriculture has served as the backbone of not only the American economy, but of American culture as a whole. Our stunning agricultural landscape is a testament to the strength and richness of our nation’s farming heritage.

Here in Michigan, agriculture remains central to the lives and livelihoods of countless hard-working families across our state. In total, Michigan agriculture employs nearly one million Michiganders, who contribute over $101 billion annually to our state’s economy and produce more than 200 commodities, making Michigan one of the most agriculturally productive and diverse states in the nation.

Gretchen has long been a champion of policies that support the growth of Michigan’s agricultural sector. A strong believer in local food initiatives, Gretchen supports policies that promote local and regional food systems, enhance agricultural productivity, and improve the targeting of farm-support programs.

In Congress, Gretchen will continue to work hard to support our spectacular network of family farms, which are vital to both strengthening our state’s economy as well as preserving one of the greatest symbols of our shared heritage.

Environment

Gretchen knows that our public health, and the health of our economy, are closely tied to our environment. Michigan has one of the most diverse and beautiful environments in the country—from the Great Lakes; to our national parks, forests, and lakeshores; to our nationally recognized trails and greenways. Much of our tourism, recreation, and overall economic well-being depend on Michigan’s water, land, and air, and Gretchen has proven to be a champion for protecting these resources as well as our public health.

When a family of Gretchen’s constituents found that their drinking water well had been poisoned by an industrial solvent, she made sure they got connected to safe municipal water. During the Flint water crisis, she called for holding our state officials accountable to the public, while Congressman Tim Walberg failed to do so, claiming, “Government can’t protect us against everything.”

Gretchen also understands the importance of moving toward a clean energy economy — not only to help mitigate global climate change and looming energy shortfalls, but also to create good-paying jobs right here in Michigan. She advocates for sound, reliable energy policy, like tax incentives and research and development programs, that encourage new energy companies to invest and grow in Michigan and create jobs.

“Bad trade deals are a sweetheart deal for special interests and a raw deal for our workers. We’ve got to stop them.”

I’ll fight for workers and against bad trade deals. Period.”

– Gretchen Driskell