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Klobuchar Unveils $100B Mental Health and Substance Abuse Plan

Senator Amy Klobuchar speaking in Minneapolis at a Hillary for MN rally at Plaza Verde. October, 2016 (Photo: Laurie Shaull)
Senator Amy Klobuchar speaking in Minneapolis at a Hillary for MN rally at Plaza Verde. October, 2016 (Photo: Lorie Shaull)

“The one thing I hear over and over again across the country is people’s stories of battling with mental health and addiction — people need help, but they just can’t get it.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar released a policy proposal Friday to fight drug addiction by improving access to mental health facilities. The 2020 Democratic hopeful’s plan also includes funding for a national suicide prevention campaign, early intervention for addiction and mental health disorders, and target neglected rural areas hit especially hard by the opioid crisis.

The $100 billion dollar proposal would be financed in large part by new fees on opioid manufacturers.

The issue holds personal significance for Sen. Klobuchar, whose father struggled with alcoholism.

“The one thing I hear over and over again across the country is people’s stories of battling with mental health and addiction — people need help, but they just can’t get it. I believe everyone should have the same opportunity my dad had to be pursued by grace and get the treatment and help they need,” said Klobuchar.

Klobuchar says her father’s experience with addiction shaped her preference for treatment rather than incarceration for nonviolent offenders.

Kavanaugh Supreme Court Hearing Gets Personal

In her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over sexual assault allegations, Sen. Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh if he had ever had so much to drink he could not remember what happened. Kavanaugh defiantly responded by asking the Senator, “Have you?”

In a recent interview with CNBC, Sen. Klobuchar described how her upbringing informed her handling of the Kavanaugh ordeal:

“I decided at that split-second moment, ‘I’m going to do my job,’ and my job is not to go down in the sewer with him. As I’d thought, many times when I had to deal with my dad when he was drinking, which I brought up at that hearing, I thought, ‘I’m going to take the keys away here.’ Because I have an obligation to uphold my own integrity, the integrity for Dr. Blasey Ford, the integrity for the Senate and mostly the integrity for the country, the judiciary.”

Centrist, Pragmatic Democrat

The Minnesota Democrat is recognized as a pragmatic and skillful legislator. She belongs to the centrist wing of the Democratic party, notably choosing to abstain from endorsing popular progressive initiatives like Medicare For All and free college. Sen. Klobuchar is a backer of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal, however, and her campaign has described infrastructure renovation as her “top budget priority.”

She describes herself as a supporter of capitalism, but not “unbridled capitalism.” She believes legislation needs to be enacted to restore checks and balances in the American economy to share prosperity.

Her tough, no-nonsense image could be an asset in the crowded Democratic primary, as the Midwestern Senator consistently wins red and purple counties, including 40 of the counties President Trump won in 2016. The same qualities have drawn controversy to the senator, as the New York Times has reported on her high turnover rate and alleged emotional abuse of staff. Sen. Klobuchar responded to the Times piece by admitting she has “high expectations.”

It is still early in the election season, but Klobuchar currently only holds 2% of the Democratic vote according to the most recent Morning Consult poll. When asked about her underdog status in the highly competitive Democratic primary, Sen. Klobuchar told CNBC, “I’m running this campaign on grit.”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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