Big Ideas for a Watershed Time
It was a Fox mantra, "liberals have no ideas" but Americans realized this is big fat lie.
Here are my top-ten priorities.
1) Get the hell out of Iraq.
We need an concrete exit plan and it must get rolling right away. Today. Now. Bush should cancel all vacations, all bike rides, all fundraising and politicking -- heck -- pull all-nighters until it gets done.
The best I've heard is the "Peter Galbraith Plan" which involves a partition with some US troop presence in Kurdistan.
I predict that partition will be bloody and horrible but it's still better than Bush's "stay the course" to a horrific hell on earth and a possible regional war.
2) Public Financing of Campaigns
Unless we can get big money out of politics, we'll never get anything done for the middle class. Nor will we save the environment, bring back consumer protection or break our dependence on oil.
3) Universal Health Care
Fifty million uninsured Americans is just unacceptable for the richest country in the world. Plus healthcare is just insanely expensive.
The best liberal idea I've ever heard is to simply extend medicare to the whole population. We could phase it in, starting with under 18 and over 50, or similar.
4) Massive Switch Over to Renewable (aka green) Energy.
This solves three of the biggest issue in the world: wars for oil; global warming; and funding of radical Islam by the Saudis. It also helps our foreign trade deficit and creates a whole new industry to stimulate the economy.
The best liberal idea I've heard is to end the tax breaks subsidies of oil companies and use those billions on an energy Manhattan project.
5) Full Funding of Education from Pre-school to Graduate School
This is not socialism -- it's infrastructure for capitalism. In the new global economy a country's population is its #1 national resource.
The Republicans sold tax cuts because they supposedly would pay for themselves in increased revenue. (total nonsense) But funding of education does pay for itself in increased tax revenues. Better educated people earn more and then pay more taxes. Better educated people are also less likely to end up in jail, which saves us tax payers a bundle.
6) Fix Social Security and Balance the Budget
Social Security is one of the most successful and best loved government programs. It's no wonder that America rejected the neo-con's raid on it. But they will support making it fiscally solvent.
Social Security's going broke and our huge national dept are the same problem: politicians don't have the political nerve to either raise taxes or cut spending.
The proposals that make sense are practical and relatively minor: a slight increase in premiums and income tax; an increase in retirement age by a couple of years; and ending the waver for the rich.
7) Win the "War on Drugs"
Remember the War on Drugs? I think we lost it -- or maybe we called a truce -- but drug abuse is as bad or worse than ever. It's a scourge on society that at least equals the threat of terrorism, in my mind.
I recommend the carrot and stick liberal response: readily available treatment for addicts and aggressive law enforcement against pushers. I, personally, am not for legalization but decriminalizing pot would probably not have horrible consequences.
8) 21st Century Bill of Rights
Technology has created privacy issues far beyond anything the founding fathers could imagine -- heck it's far beyond anything we could imagine in the 1970s, let alone the 1770s.
We need a new bill of rights. We've lost our bearing on where our rights start and the government's ends.
Is our email is private? Do we have the right to walk down the street without being electronically monitored? Who owns our private information? Does the government have the right to track who we call, where we shop, what we buy? Does a business have the right to keep our credit card number forever just because we shopped there once?
9) Get Serious About Homeland Security.
Bush and the conservatives have talked a big line about homeland security, but they've really done very little. It's just insane that we inspect only 5% of containers coming into our ports. We need to infiltrate terrorists networks. We need to find and deport visa jumpers. Basically, we need to implement the 911 Commission recommendations.
The almost two billion dollars a week we're spending in a Iraq will go a long ways towards real homeland security.
10) Solve the Illegal Immigration Problem
This is my one common ground with Bush: we need a guest worker program. But Bush and I want it for different reasons: he wants it for super-cheap labor to exploit; I want it so that the guest workers can unionize, get good wages and health benefits.
I'm not against some sort of symbolic fence but it won't make a dent in the problem. It will cost us untold billions of dollars.
A far better use of the money is on employer enforcement to dry up the demand for illegals. If the Pacific ocean can't keep illegals Asians out, a couple-foot wide fence won't keep Latinos out. Drying up job opportunities will keep them from wanting to come.