Rishi Kumar is running for U.S Congress from Silicon Valley CA-18 challenging Rep. Anna Eshoo in the June 7, 2022 open primary election. Currently a hi-tech executive, councilmember of Saratoga, CA, Rishi is the only Democrat in this race who has pledged to reject PAC money and Special Interest Group campaign money. Last year, Rishi ended up with 37% of the votes in challenging Rep. Anna Eshoo in the November 2020 election, a performance that far exceeded any other prior challenger in 30 years of this congressional district. As Saratoga’s councilmember, Rishi won his reelection with the highest votes in Saratoga’s 64 year election history.
The U.S Congress’s tax increase proposal is the largest tax increase since 1968.
A tax increase should be our last option. The House Ways and Means Committee has suggested a 2.2 trillion proposal that will not be reflected in our communities and instead circulated back into Washington politics. To make matters worse, our House could soon be voting for 11 times the tax increase than what the Senate is willing to pass. I believe a bipartisanship approach is just what America needs. We cannot just “mind the gap” in Congress – it’s time to bridge it through moderate, effective fiscal policies that combat the inflation taking a toll on our economy.. Which is why we should focus on removing the fat in government and cutting inefficient programs that don’t provide value to the American people.
As Saratoga’s councilmember, I continue pushing against expanding government footprint and increasing taxes. For instance, when a new Saratoga road tax appeared on the city council agenda earlier this year, I was the only dissenting vote preferring to optimize our city budget instead. As a tech executive, I have never been interested in following the herd down a cliff. Pragmatic policies is what America needs.
We need to cut “fat” from the government, specifically defense spending.
Tax increases are never a good thing. Prudent tax increases can close the gap to pay for infrastructure but expanding the government is not the right path. This is what should be considered first:
- Public-Private-Partnership projects: This is how massive infrastructure projects are happening all over the world! Optimizing the public sector budget, and cutting waste is crucial. I am against waste such as VTA’s Light Rail of Silicon Valley that has poor ridership, is excruciatingly slow, and is losing money every day. I observed VTA buses during the pandemic – a driver, but zero passengers. There are plenty of examples around – we just need to identify them and take action.
- Defense Spending: America spends $768 billion on “defense” greater than the next 10 countries combined. It’s time to bring Americans back from the ~800 bases worldwide, and bolster our defense with cybersecurity, cyberterrorism, bioterrorism and ransomware. Yes, Silicon Valley’ companies are ready, willing and able! Conflict in the Middle East has proven costly to the American taxpayer and has bloated the military-industrial complex. Our military is overextended abroad. Let us make the money work better for America.
The U.S House of Representatives recently approved a $768 billion Pentagon “defense” budget – the largest ever. American taxpayer dollars were lining the pockets of defense contractors and politicians in Afghanistan, spending $290 million a day for 20 years. I recently watched the Turning Point on Netflix and it was downright appalling. I have called for an audit!.
The IRS collects $3.5 trillion annually. We have spent $10 trillion in American wars over 20 years, and the Taliban is back, Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that continues to exist. It is time we forge a better path. We need the money put to use here in America.
FEDERAL DEFICIT AND MEDICARE:
We should continue to protect Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare, while cutting the deficit.
- At $28.8 trillion and growing, the nation’s debt has reached record levels. Over the past 18 months, we’ve spent more than $5 trillion responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Our national debt can become a huge challenge quickly.
- When it comes to cutting budgets to balance the national debt, one area that must remain protected are our social safety nets like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the dangers of employment based healthcare with millions being laid off and sent into poverty while losing their health insurance.
We need to invest in America’s infrastructure
America’s cities, towns and villages – including the communities of Silicon Valley – urgently need an investment to maintain critical infrastructure. We need to invest in our future.
I wholeheartedly support the Washington bipartisanship to bring such an investment that will bring resources to communities, that will strengthen, protect and maintain the infrastructure that keeps America thriving. It could become one of the biggest investments in American history.
Where will this money be spent?
The passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in the Senate, which includes $550 billion for transportation, broadband and utilities will likely add two million jobs to our economy. Investments will rebuild community transportation projects, make streets safer, improve bridges, expand broadband infrastructure, develop digital equity and cybersecurity, expand water infrastructure projects, strengthen wildfire mitigation, flood prevention, watershed protection, ecosystem restoration, and grid resilience.
America is falling behind and this investment is what we need
The Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, the New Deal and America’s Highway System were required. This is too! This additional spending will avoid increasing the federal deficit – 50% paid for by new revenue and 50% from unused unemployment and COVID-19 funds. The investment will boost growth and generate more tax revenue. If we don’t invest now, The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that it could result “in the loss of $10 trillion in GDP and a decline of more than $23 trillion in business productivity cumulatively over the next two decades”. For decades America has fallen behind while other nations have been laying groundwork for their future growth. For example, our infrastructure spending is roughly a quarter of what China is spending to modernize its infrastructure.
Silicon Valley needs a huge investment to ensure that we remain the innovation capital of the world. We need a plan to address our traffic woes and a water infrastructure plan to ensure we get through these recurring droughts. California needs a better plan than the inadequacies of PG&E and the recurring fires. It is very important to expand out broadband and to make it readily accessible too.
Silicon Valley is the 19th largest economy of the world, but is currently impacted with a severe housing crunch, high cost of living and congested traffic due to decades of inaction. Our rush hour commute time goes up every year while local laws are being threatened in order to build new housing, preempting local control and with absolute disregard to urban planning.
Meanwhile, The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the agency that plans and operates the county’s road and transit network, has been called out as one of the most inefficient organizations, losing about $9.30 per rider. In America, the transport sector is now responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than any other, including electricity production and agriculture. Globally, transport accounts for around a quarter of CO2 emissions.
A high-speed net zero GHG transportation system, would bring every job in the region to within a reasonable distance of every home. This would expand affordable housing options – bringing distant Silicon Valley cities such as Stockton, Modesto an economic boom based on affordable housing growth and jobs accessibility, thanks to high-speed transportation. A U.S. Department of Transportation’s direction from July 28th, 2020 establishes regulations for hyperloop technology. The Transportation Department has categorized hyperloop under the Federal Railroad Administration, making it eligible for government infrastructure funds. Following the coronavirus outbreak, and momentum for low-carbon policies, Hyperloop capsules make a very good consideration due to their low density nature, permitting volume but not compromising speed or safety. Such high-speed transportation technology would allow Bay Area residents to live in more affordable areas without having to spend an impractical amount of time commuting, or even worse, being pushed out of the Bay Area altogether as housing prices rise. Eco-friendly and noise-free, tunnel based cutting-edge transportation system operates at a top speed of 760 mph, reducing commute times between any two counties of the megaregion to under 21 minutes. We have to preserve and improve the diversity and quality of life that the Bay Area is known for. We must make Silicon Valley increasingly accessible and affordable, attracting the best talent of the world – without wrecking our quality of life issues. Such a transportation-housing plan will be a step in the right direction. The Biden Infrastructure should ideally enable this spending for every urban economy in America. We need a transportation vision plan to aid our supply chain and all the quality of life issues we have hit.
Silicon Valley has been sorely lacking a plan for decades, we need one now. We need to invest in our future and water is a huge challenge for us. Sacramento’s push for housing with legislation such as SB9 and SB10 will lead to a huge growth of housing – without a need for a proper urban plan. Is this the future of communities? Water trucks delivering water to neighborhoods? The housing push is bereft of smart growth strategies that would consider long-term negative impacts on communities and the environment. Sacramento’s approach is piecemeal and short sighted with no plan to mitigate the long term detriment of our communities. High-density mixed-use housing along transit centers and jobs – family and senior safe – is a likely better approach that will help the long term economic prosperity of our state.
Silicon Valley’s population has grown over the last few decades, but there hasn’t been a water infrastructure plan or a transportation plan. Not even a vision plan. We are seemingly just waiting for a miracle. This infrastructure investment has become critical, as the very future of Silicon Valley and America depends on it.