On Wednesday, the Signal spoke to Democratic candidate Lulu Seikaly, an attorney running for Congress in the Plano area.
Seikaly is facing off against one-term Republican incumbent Rep. Van Taylor and has managed to outraise him in the final few weeks of the race, as well as the previous fundraising quarter.
A DCCC poll last week found both candidates were about even in the district, the most college-educated district in the state that still votes Republican.
Here’s what Seikaly told the Signal about COVID-19 relief, taxes, climate change, and police reform:
It looks like a second COVID-19 relief package won’t come until after the November elections. What is the bare minimum Congress should be able to agree on to help Americans? What are some non-negotiable aspects of a second COVID-19 relief bill?
I think for me, I’m not looking for any sort of specific dollar amount when it comes to COVID relief. When elected, I’m going to be looking for a deal that’s going to help working families and small businesses.
Non-negotiables are, getting monetary help for small businesses, getting monetary help for unemployment insurance. Those are two things I’m going to be looking for when voting on a COVID-19 relief bill.
What is your campaign’s top issue?
Healthcare. Healthcare, healthcare, healthcare, healthcare.
You know, Van Taylor, my opponent, is one of the representatives who is actively working with Donald Trump to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. Supreme Court.
He wants to dismantle the Affordable Care Act which we know is going to remove protections for pre-existing conditions. We need a representative who is going to fight for accessible healthcare for everybody. Even pre-COVID, that was the number one issue that we were hearing about on the ground.
With COVID, it’s just an absolute disgrace that our administration with the help of my opponent is actively working to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
Additionally, kind of as a subcategory for healthcare, we need somebody whose going to fight to lower the cost of prescription drugs because the pharmaceutical industry is continuing to price gouge medicine. Congressman Taylor, my opponent, is not to be trusted when it comes to advocating for lowering the cost of prescription drugs because he’s heavily invested in Big Pharma.
People here shouldn’t have to choose between paying their mortgage and purchasing medicine for their family. It’s something that’s been very high on our list pre-COVID, and now with COVID, it’s that much more important.
I wanted to talk about where would you like to see Democrats take tax policy in 2021. Biden recently released his tax plan. Biden is proposing raising the top federal tax rate from 37 percent to about 40 percent, its pre-Trump level. Biden says this would only affect those with taxable incomes above $400,000. What are your thoughts on that? Does it go too far, not far enough or is it just right?
With Trump’s tax cuts, we know it was only intended to help big corporations and not working families. In Collin County, we need someone who is going to fight for middle-class families, not to fight to protect corporations.
You know my opponent recently got hit for protecting big commercial real estate companies, Big Pharma, the oil and gas industry. At the same time, we need somebody whose going to fight for middle-class families and not [allow them to] get hurt by taxes when they can’t even afford to pay their own medical bills.
At the end of the day, we’ve seen the tax code get more and more unfair and more disjointed. The way that the Republicans passed the 2017 tax cuts was atrocious. We know that once fully implemented it’s going to give away, I believe, 83 percent of the benefits to the ultra-wealthy and add a trillion dollars to the deficit. It’s just another example of poor fiscal management that raises the deficit while leaving us here in North Texas kind of in the lurch.
People should end up paying their fair share, that’s really where I stand on this issue.
You mentioned Trump’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act, which reduced the top corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. Would you support legislation to revert or change the corporate income tax rate?
I think we just need to get back to a tax code that’s more and more fair. That people are able to pay their fair share. You know, what’s so terrible about this 2017 tax plan — besides the fact that it just showed that the Republicans are poor fiscal managers — is that we’re now in COVID-19 and it’s a unique moment of crisis and we should entrust our representatives to expand protections and benefits.
Congressman Taylor voted against oversight for that spending, the COVID-19 spending in the first bill. At the end of the day, that allowed the federal government to spend millions of dollars with no accountability. So I think that we need to get back to more fiscally responsible management, and the Republicans like to campaign that they are, but their actions have shown that they’re not.
The latest United Nations climate change report said the globe has a little more than a decade to address climate change before it causes irreversible damage. What is your climate action plan?
Well, I’m hoping we get a Joe Biden administration and I’m hoping that administration puts us back in the Parris Climate Agreement. I think that’s step number one at a bare, bare minimum.
You know, I don’t know where we lost sight, where Democrats listen to science and experts and Republicans don’t, but I am one of those candidates that likes to listen to the experts and scientists.
I do agree that we need to move toward clean renewable energy by 2050 because that’s what the experts are saying. We know Texas is actually leading the nation in renewable energy and we know that renewable energy is going to create thousands of jobs. That’s why we have to move toward clean renewable energy by 2050.
What actions would you like to see Congress take to address the police killings and police brutality of Black people?
I do not support defunding the police, but I do believe we have to increase funding for training and resources. We have to give our police officers more support. We need to allocate for things like more training, invest in things like social services, drug rehabiliation and mental health programs. At the end of the day, these police officers need more resources.
Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you would like to talk about?
My opponent likes to brag that he is Mr. Bipartisan. But thats only because hes on a bipartisan caucus. But this guy has just been voting with Donald Trump 95 percent of the time, which is completely out of touch with this congressional district.
I think that it’s important for people to understand that he can go around saying how bipartisan he is, but when you’ve been voting with Donald Trump 95 percent of the time it’s one of things where its hard to believe that he actually is.
Photo: Lulu Seikaly
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com