Issues

A Plan for the American Worker

Brian understands that economic justice and social justice are inseparable. That’s why his campaign is about the American worker and investing in an America that works for ALL of us. He has a bold, comprehensive plan that not only creates jobs and grows our economy, but also removes barriers that have kept people down. He calls it his Plan for the American Worker. It includes:

  • Medicare for All

Brian believes healthcare isn’t a privilege – it’s a right. That’s why he’s helped lead the fight for Medicare for All for almost 15 years, and will continue the fight once elected to Congress. He understands that access to quality healthcare will not only create better health outcomes but grow our economy. Read more about Brian Flynn’s positions on healthcare

  • Job Creation

As the only candidate with a proven track record of creating hundreds of good-paying American jobs, Brian knows what it takes to get our economy back on track. He would prioritize policies that create an American economy that works for all of us, including investing in infrastructure, and reinvigorating labor unions.

  • Education & Training for Jobs of the Future

Having worked to promote high-quality public education, Brian will fight to strengthen our education system at every level. He believes in an education system that fully funds quality public schools, makes higher education financially accessible to everyone, offers alternatives for those not wanting a 4 year degree, and prepares the next workforce for the jobs that exist today AND the 21st century economy.

  • Infrastructure

Brian believes that infrastructure is not only essential to economic development and growth, it also greatly improves quality of life and is an investment that has an immediate return. This is a priority of his plan for the American Worker – with 21st century solutions. This requires major investments in transportation infrastructure, as well as in broadband and housing infrastructure so that our rural and small-town communities can truly thrive.

  • Unions

As the only union member in the race and the descendent of the legendary labor leader Michael Quill, Brian knows that no working class in history has thrived without a strong labor movement. By paving the way to a new golden age of American labor, we can halt the decline of our middle class, improve wages and working conditions for all workers, and make sure the benefits of the world’s largest economy are spread equitably.

  • A Clean Energy Economy

Brian believes in making investments that put us at the epicenter of a clean energy revolution, and is the only candidate with a history of environmental activism.  A switch to renewable energy will not only protect our environment, but also reduce dependence on foreign oil and fuel economic activity. His economic plan will put us at the epicenter of a clean energy revolution by eliminating the $40 billion subsidy given to the oil industry and using it to reinvigorate the EPA, invest in clean energy research and create green jobs, which can’t be outsourced.

  • Women’s Rights

Brian will stand beside women as an advocate of reproductive justice and gender equality. He understands that the absence of protective legislation undermines women’s autonomy and the incredible potential women have to contribute in the workplace and the economy.  Brian’s bold, inclusive, plan includes policies that support women in the workplace. That means fighting for equal pay, prioritizing affordable childcare, investing in universal pre-k, and protecting choice.

  • Immigration Reform

Brian recognizes immigrants as key to American culture and economic vitality, and as a group that faces major barriers to enjoying the social and economic benefits they help create. Undocumented immigrants too often go without the protections that should be available to anyone who lives and works here. Brian’s plan includes comprehensive immigration reform that would allow immigrants to come out of the shadows.

  • Racial Justice

Brian understands that one of the most enduring barriers that stops people from fully living the American Dream is racism in its varied forms, such as violent hatred, unconscious bias, and systemic design. Working to break this barrier means dealing honestly with the significance of race, and taking on racism where it is built into institutions as disparate as education, criminal justice, environmental regulation, housing, and labor markets.

  • Criminal Justice Reform

Brian believes in criminal justice reform that removes the barriers that keeping people from participating fully in our communities. Our criminal justice system should incentivize rehabilitation, not prison growth. We must also address systemic racial and economic biases, and keep people out of unnecessarily entering the prison system in the first place. This means abolishing mandatory minimum sentencing, legalizing marijuana, stopping the privatization of our jails, working to lower recidivism, and reforming our cash bail system.

  • Protecting Seniors

Brian Flynn believes a society is judged by how we treat our most vulnerable. Seniors deserve to live with dignity – free from worry, neglect, poverty and the injustice that stems from financial limitations and the lack of adequate resources or protections. Brian’s plan includes fighting for the American worker through retirement by protecting Social Security, Medicare, and high-quality long-term care, and by providing funding for critical programs such as home-delivered meals and fall prevention.

It is about building an America that works for ALL OF US.

Brian believes healthcare isn’t a privilege, it’s a right. As someone who has been advocating for Medicare For All since 2004, he feels strongly that nobody should ever have to choose between the health of their family and paying a bill. Americans need affordable, quality healthcare. Our historic system of employer-based insurance has constrained workers in the ever-more-fluid economy, and while the Affordable Care Act was a step in a better direction, its ability to deliver high-quality care at affordable rates has been crippled by Republicans’ massive resistance.

Brian also understands that reforming our healthcare system is not just a matter of providing quality, affordable healthcare, it’s also an economic issue. Medicare for All will make American businesses more competitive in the global market, and by separating health insurance from employment, it would free entrepreneurs to create new businesses. In addition, the Affordable Care Act created 500,000 new jobs across the country right here in NY19, and healthcare is the largest jobs sector in every county of the district.

Brian will take the lead in Congress on reshaping our healthcare system, including:

  • Finally passing Medicare for All by building support on both sides of the aisle. Focusing on the human right to quality healthcare as well as the potential for net savings and relief to small and midsize businesses and their employees, it’s good policy and good politics.
  • Protecting the ACA in the short term as Medicare for All is phased in. Unlike John Faso, who voted to take healthcare away from millions including many in his own district, Brian understands that the assault on the ACA from Republicans in Congress and the White House is an assault on many of us in NY19.
  • Ending the unfair premium that pharmaceutical companies are allowed to charge Americans and drive up our health costs. Brian’s Global Pharma Price Equity Act, developed in conversations with NY19 residents, would mandate that the prices Medicare and Medicaid pay for medication matches the most competitive pricing worldwide, reflecting America’s status as their largest market and funder of research.

Lyme disease:

Tick-borne illnesses represent a failing of the American healthcare system that is particularly felt in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. According to the CDC, Lyme is the fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease in the US, with over 500 new cases contracted each day and over 300,000 a year. Studies by the US Global Change Research Program have linked this massive growth to changes in tick activity that result from climate change. This means that it is unlikely to slow down in the near future, but compared to other diseases, Lyme faces a severe lack of funding for research, prevention, and treatment.

Reflecting the importance of Lyme to NY19, Brian will ensure that overhauling healthcare includes:

  • Passing the Tick Identification Pilot Program Act of 2017, which has been abandoned in the Energy and Commerce committee. This bill would fund state-level tick identification programs, to help people who have been bitten understand their risk level.
  • Increasing funds for public health efforts including disease awareness and research, to work against deficiencies in diagnosing and tracking.


Read more about Brian Flynn’s positions on healthcare

“I organize poor and exploited workers, I fight for the civil rights of minorities, and I believe in peace.”

— Michael J. Quill, Founder of Transport Workers Union and Brian’s Great Uncle

As the only union member in the race, Brian understands that unions are not only a key partner in our fight to achieve a thriving middle class, but also central to tackling racial and gender inequality by raising the wages of ALL workers, regardless of race, sex, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

The truth is, the more people in unions, the higher the pay for everyone. Unions are a powerful weapon in the fight against economic inequality, wage stagnation and a system that simply does not protect the large majority of American workers. There has been a staggering decline in the share of Americans who are members of labor unions in the last 40 years, a loss that has been widely regarded as contributing to the decline of the American middle class.

Brian’s support for unions runs in the family and has shaped numerous parts of his life. His mother was a member of the teachers union and his great uncle, the legendary labor leader Michael J. Quill, co-founded the Transport Workers Union. In addition to his endorsement by TWU, Brian has been a member of the Allied Workers Union for over a decade, and he fully supported his campaign workers’ decision to become the first campaign staff in NY history to unionize through the Campaign Workers Guild. Perhaps most importantly, Brian has helped create hundreds of union jobs in his factories around the country.

In Congress, Brian will work tirelessly to reinvigorate unions. His key pro-labor policies include:

  • Requiring government infrastructure projects to use unionized labor.
  • Advocating for collective bargaining, particularly in growing sectors such as healthcare and the service industry, two industries that create many jobs in NY19.
  • Working to pass the Employee Fair Choice Act in order to increase penalties on employers who retaliate against organizers, to make it easier for workers to unionize with “card checks,” and to force arbitration if a contract is not reached quickly after formation.
  • Repealing the part of Taft Hartley Act that allows states to pass “right to work” laws.
  • Supporting Sherrod Brown’s Butch Lewis Act, which protects pensions for union members with multiple employers, including Teamsters. It also provides US Treasury loans to pension funds in critical or declining status in order to pay out promised benefits.

Treasury loans to pension funds in critical or declining status in order to pay out promised benefits.

Brian Flynn for Congress | Flynn Campaign Staff Unionizes

“Poverty is not destiny. The quality of our schools is crucial to social mobility.”

— Joan Sullivan, CEO of the Partnership for LA Schools and Founding Principal of the Bronx Academy of Letters

Brian Flynn understands that education is at the foundation of our economic and social well being. Access to high-quality education is a key driver of social mobility, which has fallen to dangerous levels in recent years. Working with local public school teachers, Brian helped found a specialized public school (not a charter school) with a focus on excellence in the humanities. He is also a strong advocate for trade schools and apprenticeship programs, which are able to allow students to live fulfilling and stable lives through a variety of pathways.

In our age of high-cost education, too many young people are crippled by debt for many years after graduating. They are unable to start families, own homes, or start businesses. Brian will fight to strengthen our education system at every level and stand up to special interests who want to defund and privatize our public schools.

In Congress, Brian would be an advocate for:

  • Expanding our public education system to include universal pre-K, so that every child can begin school with the tools they need to succeed, regardless of their family’s economic background.
  • Making our public colleges and universities debt and tuition-free and expanding debt forgiveness programs, which would free the rising generation of Americans to lead innovative and rich lives.
  • Not accepting anything less than first-class public schools, including fighting for higher teacher pay and resources.
  • Promoting trade schools and apprentice-style training programs to prepare young people for good-paying jobs in industries that face a shortage of skilled workers.

Brian lives in Greene County, a place where hunting and guns are a way of life. But his neighbors – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – agree with him that we can support the Second Amendment while simultaneously improving gun safety and reducing gun violence. We can’t let special interests like the NRA gun lobby – and their bought and paid for politicians – stand in the way of common sense reforms.

In fact, nearly all Americans, including 97% of Republicans, believe in universal background checks, proven to be the single most effective gun violence prevention measure. States that have implemented this have seen gun violence reduced by more than half. And 94% of Americans want to close loopholes for internet, gun show and private sales.

At the end of the day, children shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they will be gunned down at school or on the streets of their neighborhood. But even beyond school children, more people in the United States are killed by guns than they are in car accidents. This is a major threat to women, who are 16 times more likely to be killed by guns in the US than in any other developed country, frequently as the result of domestic violence. Brian believes that we should treat gun safety like we treat traffic safety. Saving lives should always be the priority, not politics.

That’s why Brian is calling for real solutions now. These include:

  • Getting weapons of war like assault weapons and dangerous accessories like bump stocks out of the hands of civilians.
  • Closing the gun show, internet and private sale loopholes and enforcing universal background checks every time a gun is bought, to make sure that people who shouldn’t access guns can’t evade reasonable restrictions.
  • Ending the special liability loophole for gun manufacturers.
  • Treating gun violence as the public health issue that it is. That means repealing the Dickey Amendment so that public health agencies can access the funding they need to research gun violence and prevention.
  • Ensuring people have access to quality, affordable mental health care and violence diversion programs.

Recipient of the “Moms Demand Action Gun Safety Candidate Distinction”

Moms Demand Action | Gun Sense Endorsement | Brian Flynn Gun Sense Candidate

Brian believes we all have a right to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and a responsibility to leave the world a better place than we found it for our children. Climate change threatens the living things that share this planet with us, poses major risks to important industries in NY19 like agriculture and ecotourism, and causes damage that disproportionately harms our most vulnerable populations. As a former small business owner, Brian understands that the business community has a special responsibility to be stewards of our environment – so he founded the New York chapter of Environmental Entrepreneurs and spent years bringing business owners together to take on big polluters.

Taking action against global warming also offers major economic potential. The green energy industry is actually creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, and in NY19, we have a tremendous opportunity to develop wind and solar infrastructure.

From Congress, Brian would be able to take actions including:

  • Applying consistent and unwavering pressure on the Trump Administration to re-enter the Paris Accords and continue to find ways at the state and municipal level to adhere.
  • Putting the brakes on Scott Pruitt, and standing up for the vital mission of the EPA.
  • Making sure there are high levels of federal funding for renewable energy systems.
  • Working with both Democrats and Republicans to pass a carbon tax to curb excessive greenhouse emissions and protect our clean air and water.

OUR CAMPAIGN IS CARBON NEUTRAL! We have purchased 90mT of carbon to offset our impact on the environment during this race.

The profound impact of untraceable corporate money on our elections and politicians protects the financial interests of the wealthy and powerful – not those of everyday, hard working Americans. Brian believes it is regulated bribery and perhaps the greatest threat to our democracy. He is vehemently against allowing these corporations and special interests spending unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections.

Brian is a long-time opponent of money in politics and has pledged not to take any donations from corporate PAC’s for his campaign. Brian has even gone a step further with the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge,” and is refusing donations from individuals tied to the oil, gas, and coal industries. Unlike John Faso–who has accepted millions of dollars from special interests and ultra wealthy families like the Mercers–Brian’s votes aren’t for sale. In addition to vigilance in financing his campaign, Brian has also pledged to adhere to the rules of the Honest Ads Act, proposed legislation that requires digital advertising follow the same disclosure rules as traditional tv, print and radio ads.

In Congress he will advocate for:

  • Public financing for federal campaigns so that candidates and elected officials aren’t beholden to special interests and wealthy donors.
  • Overturning Citizens United and ending dark-money’s influence on our electoral system.
  • Fighting for full transparency by legally requiring that all financial contributions and expenses are disclosed.
  • Supporting the Honest Ads Act to allow us to know who is paying for an online ad and to make it harder for foreign entities to influence American elections.

“The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” — The United States Supreme Court, 1992

Brian has always been a staunch advocate for reproductive justice, including choice.

He understands  that a woman’s right to choose when and if to start a family is a matter of both personal and economic freedom. It can affect whether she will be able finish her education, get a good-paying job or even whether she’s be able to care for children she already has. Personal decisions about whether or not a woman has a baby should be made between her and her doctor, not by the politicians in Washington whose “gag rule” would prevent women from accessing the care they need.

And when a woman does choose to start a family, Brian’s advocacy won’t stop there. In Congress, Brian has pledged to fight for complete gender equality that includes and goes beyond choice. It is about ending social, political and economic limits that prevent women from being able to make autonomous decisions about their own bodies and pick the future that is right for them.

That means that Brian’s goals in Congress include:

  • Standing up for Planned Parenthood and other Title X programs, which are vital to many people in the district for accessing healthcare and family planning resources.
  • Ensuring that sex education is fully comprehensive, which has been shown to reduce teen pregnancies.
  • Passing strong anti-discrimination laws for pregnant women and working mothers, and stopping employers from asking about job seekers’ former pay, a practice that allows pay discrimination to follow people wherever they go.
  • Ensuring that all workers have the option of paid maternity and paternity leave.
  • Restructuring funding programs to ensure that parents are able to find quality, affordable childcare, and passing universal pre-k.

Brian knows that America is deeply divided by race, a fact that too many of us refuse to acknowledge. Most people ignore the fact that our schools are more segregated now than in 1968, a willing blindness that only stops us from figuring out how to solve real problems. Racism today is highly visible in the hatred of the re-emboldened alt-right, and many have pointed out the subconscious bias responsible for deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers. However, racism is also systemic, built into the ways our institutions operate, and this carries tangible social and economic costs. For example, black and Hispanic families in America have only 6-8% of the wealth of the average white family. Studies have found that black men without a criminal record seeking jobs fare worse than white men with a record. We must root out the racism in our labor and housing markets, in our schools, in our courts, in the way we manage our environment, and everywhere else it is present.

As a member of Congress, Brian would be able to take actions including:

  • Confronting systemic racism in our schools. This means restructuring and expanding funding for public schools to end zip code inequality, and prioritizing restorative justice to break the school to prison pipeline. Having affected parties talk, make amends, and return to classrooms allows for better results than “zero tolerance” behavior policies.
  • Taking on the racially disparate impacts of every level of our justice department, from bias training and neighborhood policing plans for our cops to ending the private prison industry and other perverse incentives for abuse.
  • Pushing back on health disparities by implementing Medicare for All, and by funding environmental justice programs like the EPA Small Grants and the tax credits outlined in Representative John Lewis’s 2017 Environmental Justice bill.
  • Making funds available to municipalities that develop plans to foster connection across enduring social divisions, from new integration plans to community centers or town hall meetings.

“[Brian] will lead the fight to see to it that the LGBT community is protected from the radical right and that the struggle for equality is achieved.”

— Allen Roskoff, co-author of the nation’s first Gay rights bill and the President of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, in the Club’s endorsement of Brian.

While recent years have brought major gains for LGBTQ rights, Brian recognizes that these cannot be taken for granted. Bathroom bills and the transgender military ban are some of the most visible threats to equality that are still working through the courts. In many states, discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity is still legal, and economic justice remains a major concern. More than one in four members of the LGBTQ community nationally report having faced overt discrimination in the past year, and transgender Americans are four times more likely to earn less than $10,000 per year than the national average. The struggle is nowhere near over.

In Congress, Brian will work to:

  • Ensure that employment discrimination against the LGBTQ community is made illegal, with legislation like the 2017 Equality Act that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Support a Paycheck Fairness Act, recognizing that women of color and LGBTQ women are among the hardest hit by pay inequality.
  • Taking a stand against the regressive policies being promoted by the Trump Administration by supporting bills like HR 4041, which directly counters the transphobic military ban.

Brian understands immigration as a cornerstone for American values and culture. All four of his grandparents came here from Ireland to escape religious and economic persecution, but they came with no special skills other than their character and work ethic. His grandfather was an undocumented immigrant bartender in Greene County for years. Today, when immigrants are made to fear police forces, they don’t report crimes, and communities are less safe as a result. We need to stop families from being torn apart, and to develop policies that will allow us to continue to welcome people from all over the world that want to be part of the American dream.

Immigration reform is also a key economic issue for America’s future. Immigrants add over $2 trillion to our GDP, buy goods and services, contribute to Social Security and Medicare, and pay an estimated $11.7 billion a year in state and local taxes. Research shows that immigrants complement, rather than compete with, U.S.-born American workers. Immigrant workers are vital in the cleaning, fishing, manufacturing, hotel and foodservice industries, and are indispensable to the farms here in NY19. They’re also doctors, lawyers, and teachers, and more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants and their children. As the Boomers age and birth rates decline, immigrants will help save America from critical labor shortages in the coming decades.

Politics and bigotry cannot be allowed to stand in the way of federal immigration reform actions including:

  • Passing a clean DREAM act and expansions for the DACA and DAPA programs. Families should not be torn apart, and those who were brought here as small children should not be treated as criminals.
  • Ending the federal assault on sanctuary municipalities. Rural and Rust Belt communities can benefit immensely from immigrant entrepreneurship, and on average, sanctuary counties are safer and have stronger economies.
  • Pushing for a comprehensive overhaul of our broken immigration system, including bringing workers vital to our economy out of the shadows with a clear path to citizenship.
  • Putting a stop to the human rights abuses characteristic of ICE raids and America’s highly-privatized immigrant detention facilities, making use of alternatives to detention.

We need to pass criminal justice reform if we want to remove the barriers that keep people from participating fully in our communities. It is unacceptable that America has only 4% of the world’s population and over 22% of the world’s prisoners. That means we have a higher rate of incarceration than Russia, China and North Korea combined. While the number of arrests have continually gone down over the last 20 years, the number of people in our prison has risen by over 40%. This is unacceptable. Brian strongly believes that our criminal justice system should incentivize rehabilitation, not prison growth that destroys communities.

We also cannot ignore the massive racial disparities that exist in our justice system. African Americans and Latinx people are stopped by police and imprisoned at rates far above the national average. For every 100 black women, there are only 83 black men who are not incarcerated–a gap that does not exist for white Americans.

Brian knows that Congress must work to change the way our criminal justice system works, including:

  • Abolishing mandatory minimum sentencing. Judges and prosecutors should be empowered to make decisions based on the totality of the circumstances.
  • Supporting legislation like the First Step Act that targets recidivism by lowering barriers to visitation to keep incarcerated people connected to their community, as well as by implementing better education, job training, and mental health and drug treatment programs in prisons.
  • Legalizing marijuana. Not only could it be an economic driver, it’s a racial justice issue. New Yorkers of color are 10 times more likely to be arrested, and forced into our criminal justice system, than white New Yorkers.
  • Putting an end to the private prison industry, at every stage of the criminal justice system. No one should have an incentive to grow prisons and increase recidivism.
  • Reforming our cash bail system. At any given time, 60-70% of people in jails haven’t been convicted. This doesn’t keep dangerous criminals off the streets, it just keeps the poor behind bars.
  • Brian believes a society is judged by how we treat our most vulnerable. Today, one in three older Americans are economically insecure, and more than a quarter of nursing home abuse goes unreported to authorities. Many seniors who would like to stay in their homes are forced to move into nursing facilities or group homes because of the lack of home care infrastructure. Seniors deserve to live with dignity, free from the injustice that stems from financial limitations, a lack of available resources and adequate protections against abuse and neglect.

    Brian believes in strengthening the social safety net, and removing the barriers seniors face in attempting to access critical services and resources such as: health care, reskilling for employment, financial stability, protection from financial abuses, high quality long term care, and funding for critical programs such as home-delivered meals, caregiver support and falls prevention.

    His specific policy proposals include:

    • Strengthening Medicare and Medicaid to ensure low income seniors can afford and address their health care issues.  This includes simplifying confusing prescription plan choices, and lowering premiums and deductibles which can be costly for those on a limited income. Seniors should never have to choose between food, rent and medicine.
    • Supporting programs that provide training and part-time employment as a means to help seniors obtain financial stability.
    • Preventing elder abuse by preventing forms of fraud that specifically target seniors, and reinstituting the nursing home protections the Trump administration rolled back in 2017.
    • Protecting and strengthening Social Security. Many seniors, particularly women and people of color, rely on Social Security for most or all of their retirement income. Social Security is a benefit earned after a lifetime of work and should be strengthened, not gutted in order to reduce the deficit that has grown to pay for tax cuts to billionaires.
    • Advocating for Brian’s original idea for a Home Health Corps program. Unemployed workers in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s would be trained to become caregivers, and matched with seniors who want to remain at home at an affordable cost. Not only would this program provide jobs in local communities and small towns across the country, it also would save tax dollars and allow seniors to live at home with dignity and security.

“We can’t arrest our way out of this. It’s just impossibleThe system has to change”

— Peter Volkmann, Chief of the Chatham Police Department and Founder of Chatham Cares 4 U

Brian knows that this crisis is an urgent medical epidemic – not a criminal one – and should be treated as such. NY19 is at the front line of the opioid crisis, which has taken too many of our neighbors and friends, especially in small rural communities. In Ulster County, there’s been a 300% increase in opioid related deaths from 2014-2016. That accounts for 30% of all deaths investigated by the medical examiner’s office. And we know that nationally, 80% of those seeking treatment don’t receive it. This crisis must not be allowed to continue without major federal attention, and our focus must be on prevention, treatment, and recovery.

In Congress Brian will:

  • Support programs that help those struggling with addiction find resources they need immediately. No addict wanting help should be faced with not getting it.
  • Fight for Medicare for All, including full access to a wide range of rehabilitation services and programs for every American.
  • End the criminalization of addiction, and explore the possibility of funding versions of the successful Chatham Cares 4 U program across the nation. Addiction-related transgressions should be dealt with by getting people to treatment, not with mandatory minimum sentencing.