“I’m sure you’re used to being stonewalled and told there’s not enough money to go around,” Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard declared at the start of her stump speech to SEA members, referring to state employees’ stalled contract negotiations with Gov. Chris Sununu. “Told there’s not enough money for universal health care … not enough money to invest in infrastructure, the list goes on and on. Yet, somehow there is enough money to squander over a trillion of our taxpayer dollars on a regime change war in Afghanistan that we have been lied to about for three administrations.”
Rep. Gabbard has made foreign policy the centerpiece of her campaign. She contextualized the cost of war into local dollars, explaining that the U.S spends $4 billion dollars every month on Afghanistan alone, without a clear mission on the end goal. “Three months of funding in Afghanistan would cover New Hampshire’s entire annual budget. Let that sink in,” she told union members.
Members asked about a range of topics including impeachment, the electoral college, wages, and health care among many other themes. The congresswoman called her approach to health care a “single-payer plus plan” that blends a Medicare for All approach with a private insurance option, similar to Australia’s model.
Tam Feener, state employee of the Department of Education and president of Chapter 44, asked for examples of Gabbard’s labor related activities. The congresswoman listed numerous examples of how she has supported workers throughout her career including sending letters of support on behalf of workers during stalled contract negotiations and supporting legislation that would strengthen the National Labor Relations Board.
Rep. Gabbard also focused on her state’s proud history with unions and how it has influenced her policies. She hails from Hawaii, and told the story of sugar plantation workers who rallied together to strike for better working conditions and overcome poverty wages, resulting in massive social change throughout the state and costing plantation owners millions. Hawaii boasts the highest union membership per state, and she highlighted her strong labor relations including her 94% AFL-CIO rating and her history of standing shoulder to shoulder with workers in picket lines. She also emphasized her voting record against trade agreements that do not benefit American workers or the environment, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her co-sponsorship of worker-friendly legislation like the Freedom to Negotiate Act, which enhances workers’ right to strike and strengthens unions’ right to collectively bargain.
“Let’s put people ahead of profits and get down to what’s real,” she told SEA members.
To view a replay of her town hall, click below.