Fighting Back In Virginia-- Meet Kannan Srinivasan

Kannan Srinivasan is running for the Virginia legislature in a new district just west of Fairfax county. It stretches from South Riding up through Dulles Airport to the Potomac River. You can read about his distinguished professional life here, but what interests us about this race is that he’s a passionate Democrat who strongly believes that our convictions and its impact on lives of people should be the guiding principles of politics. “We should be committed to good governance which is based on continuously measuring progress on improving people’s quality of life,” he told me this week. “I see many times, transformational ideas or initiatives get a skeptical view on execution, practicality or cost. While those are very valid considerations, our politics and governance should be focused on achieving transformational changes– we may have a phased approach to implementation but we should never dilute or lose sight that our politics should only be based on convictions and its impact.”

I asked him to name and explain 3 initiative that make up his platform and why they would be of benefit to people in Loudon County and Virginia.

Free Community College: Education is the best investment we can make to build our society for a better future and be able to compete in the globalized economy. Community colleges/technical colleges offer an excellent opportunity for students to gain employable skills and provide a path for the students to plan their future career or higher education. While several States have programs that help with some tuition assistance for many families, the process to qualify and the overall cost is still a stumbling block. Couple of years ago, I was travelling twice a month Nashville for work and I used to visit a shoeshine stand at the airport regularly. I met a young man who would polish my shoes and would have great conversations with him on his goals and education plans. He had a lot of enthusiasm to learn and a strong work ethic. He had just entered the new Tennessee free community college program with a mentor requirement. We would discuss how the program works and how it helps him to get a solid education with flexible schedules. I had suggested him to take accounting courses as that would be a good employable skill in any macro-economic condition. I would get updates from him during my visits. In a later visit he was not at the stand, I found out from his colleague that he had graduated from the community college program and took a good job as an accountant! It was a great validation for the excellent initiative. A federal program that provides ample funds to work with States to enhance their existing programs or institute new programs would be a great investment that will pay rich dividends in producing the work force we need.

Student Loan Reform: Continuing on the theme that education being a great investment, the high student loan debt-- more than 90% of it being federally underwritten-- is a huge burden on our young population and they carry that burden later in their years. It impacts their lives in so many ways and hurts their full contribution to the society. For several decades we have had very low interest rates in the economy but the interest rates charged on student loans are always higher. While the risk profile of a student loan is certainly different from other loans, since the federal government is the underwriter for the vast majority of the loans, we should have interest free loans. It is a smart and the right policy choice to invest in the future generation.

Medicare Option for All: I am very active in health care policy and program implementation. I feel strongly that we should have a Medicare Option for people to enroll. An option to enroll will protect those who may want to keep their current plan and network. Medicare program, which covers more than 60 million adults or 18% of the population, has been functioning very well for several decades from both quality of care and cost perspective. Lowering the eligibility age would provide options to those who may need it. It will also encourage entrepreneurship as people with good experience can bring their expertise to start small businesses and avail health care coverage. Small businesses are the leading job creators in the economy and this would propel economic growth.

He told me that hfeel these three transformational ideas are “examples of how deserving initiatives get debated but do not get the action they deserve. In business, we often talk about ‘full potential’ when we discuss growth and opportunities for the enterprise. Our politics should also be focused on helping our society achieve its full potential. This is possible only in a political environment where convictions and its impact take prominence over convenience. Our politics is too often focused on short term conveniences. When voters realize that progress is very slow they get disengaged and we lose participation. We should strive to have a system that works for all— this is a conviction that my politics is based on.

Please consider contributing to Srinivasan’s campaign here at the Blue America state legislative Act Blue page.