Sunday, March 05, 2017

A DEMOCRAT'S SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NATIONAL PARTY- 2017 EDITION


A citizen making his pitch to a school board for an idea to help kids- something we all should do on a local and national level to elected officials and candidates for public office

So, I did this once before in 2004. And again in 2009. Oh, if only they'd listened (!) (you can find the posts on this blog. And here we go again....)

March 5, 2017

To: Democratic members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Democratic National Committee

Re: remaking the Democratic Party, providing a simple, effective, platform which will be good for America, will also allow the Democratic Party to retake the national legislature and the executive branch, and will put the Republican Party in a bind

Dear Democratic Congresspersons and Senators and members of the Democratic National Committee- and Senators Bernie Sanders and Angus King:

Odds are you don't know me and have never heard of me, so I'll give you some quick background before I get into the meat of this letter: I'm in my mid 60's, father of one son (in the Marine Corps reserves), a lawyer who has worked in poverty law and Civil Rights, and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University School of Law. I've taught Constitutional law to college students. And I've run (unsuccessfully, or you would have heard of me) for political office, always as a Democrat. I'm writing this letter as a citizen who is a lifelong Democrat from the Will Rogers wing of the party. I'm more of a fiscal conservative and social liberal, but my abiding consideration is to identify problems and come up with practical solutions that are consistent with our Constitution and our moral values as compassionate human beings.

The current problem facing the Democratic Party is that there is no coherent identifiable platform that the Party has agreed upon and which every candidate, incumbent or challenger, subscribes to, and of which the public is well aware. My solution is to hone in on the problems facing the country and come up with solutions that Democrats can agree upon, which are politically popular with all groups, and which will paint the Republicans in a corner whichever way they respond. Here are four areas, my brief summaries of the solutions that the Party should agree upon and make the lynchpin of every campaign and all national and local advertising, followed by in depth elaboration on each.

1. JOBS: The primary reason for the 2016 loss by the Democratic candidate for President in the swing states of Pennysyvlania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, is jobs. Had the voters in those states been presented with a simple workable solution to the problems of unemployment and underemployment, a Democrat would be in the White House and the Senate would be controlled by Democrats.

The solution is simple and obvious: the Democratic platform should contain a promise that every willing American adult who wants a job will be able to get a job, either through free retraining or, in the last, a public service job at a living wage. Republicans will argue that this is an impossible promise due to funding and deficit issues, but Democrats should counter that Republicans have had no trouble finding money when it came to unfunded wars, including the very unnecessary war in Iraq, or when it comes to fighting terrorism. Nor do they have any problem giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy, even when those tax cuts have historically destabilized the budget.

The advantage of this promise- every willing American gets a job- is that it's simple, easy to understand, it is doable, and no matter what, any Republican opponent will be in the position of either arguing against it or else alienating his or her base by agreeing with it. The jobs provided to those who can't succeed through free retraining or re-education will be public service jobs to help rebuild and repair America's infrastructure, as well as jobs in public works projects, child care and education.

The moral advantages of this proposal are that it will remove the odious xenophobia towards immigrants (legal or illegal) because this program will only be available to American citizens, and it will also be a crime reduction program in areas where unemployment, underemployment, poverty, and despair help foster the conditions to create criminal activity.

The political advantage is that it's easy to understand (just re-watch the 1993 Kevin Kline movie, "Dave"), and it takes away the appeal of a demagogue like the current occupant of the White House who wants to pit American citizens against each other or against foreign nationals who come to this country.

2. HEALTH CARE INSURANCE: The problem is uninsured Americans, followed by the secondary problem of insurance premiums too high and rising for many Americans. Each can be dealt with in three words: "Medicare for all." Or a different three words, same thing: "Single Payer Plan."

The proposal is that Medicare remains free for all over 65 and all others who currently qualify. One modification is for all persons on Medicaid, currently funneled through the States with Federal regulations, who will be transferred to the Medicare program. So far, that is effectively not much of a change. The big addition is to allow all persons not otherwise eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, whether or not they currently have other coverage, to purchase Medicare at a price equal to the incremental costs for adding one person to the program. Anyone who can afford it pays full price; all others will be subsidized in part or in full depending on their assets and income.

In one fell swoop, this eliminates the mandate for all persons which was included in the ACA to get insurance companies to participate in the insurance exchanges, and it streamlines administrative costs for all medical providers while allowing the incredible leverage of the Medicare program over health care costs to be applied to all of the new enrollees.

This proposal in effect keeps all of the popular aspects of the ACA- children being able to stay on parents' plans through age 26, no ban on enrolling persons with pre-existing conditions, no life time cap on benefits- while eliminating every unpopular aspect of the program (the mandate being #1, followed by the push back by some employers, such as religious institutions and the Hobby Lobby crowd, against providing certain aspects of coverage for their female employees).

Some of the benefits of this proposed change are obvious: employers will love it, because in one step all of their employee health care expenses is removed from their overhead, making them more competitive with foreign manufacturers (which might actually increase wages and also add jobs!) Citizens will appreciate it because it's simple to sign up, they get one card to carry that is good everywhere. States will appreciate having this huge budget issue off their plates. And Republicans will hate it because it effectively addresses all of their issues- fake and semi-real (job killing, religious freedom, increasing premium costs, physician choice) and leaves them in a bind if they oppose it.

Along with this proposal I suggest that the bill include a complete revamp of the medical malpractice industry- the insurance cost aspect and the tort reform aspect. Remove all medical malpractice insurance costs from physicians, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and other medical providers by changing the current at fault tort model to a no fault model patterned on Workers Compensation programs. Fund it with a modest sales tax (about 1% or 2 % should do it) on all medical services and all non-prescription pharmaceuticals (I would also put that sales tax on any pharmaceutical which is controlled by prescription but which the manufacturer, inexplicably, advertises in print or broadcast). Including this in the reform bill should get the medical profession and hospitals, previously solidly in the Republican camp, to wake up and realize that supporting Democrats makes huge economic sense.

3. ABORTION: Most people can't see a compromise on this issue. You are either pro-life (anti-abortion) or pro choice (pro death to the other side). I disagree. Democrats should have a platform with a proposal for a law called THE REDUCTION OF ABORTIONS IN AMERICA ACT. The proposal is simple, yet effective (and it is going to be opposed by some pro choice advocates): the act will allow any father of an unborn fetus who is willing to bear the entire cost and responsibility of raising the child to veto an elective abortion (by "elective," it means an abortion that is not performed to save the life or avoid serious injury to the mother or to terminate a fetus that would almost certainly be non-viable). It will also allow any willing person or couple who can post a large enough bond and who is approved by the local social services agency (under guidelines already existing for adoptions following termination of parental rights cases) to agree to adopt an unborn child, and thereby veto an elective abortion.

This bill will also provide funding to Planned Parenthood and similar non-religious organizations for minors and adults to obtain contraception, including devices or injections such as Norplant, in order to reduce the total number of abortions in the United States. This bill may well be opposed by women's rights organizations, but that may be a plus politically, as every "pro life" person who has heretofore been a single issue voter on that one issue has had only one political party to address his or her sincerely held beliefs- and that has been the Republican Party. (Republicans' unstated motto: "our concern for life ends at birth.")

The government will no longer be telling a woman she has to bear a child- the "veto" power over an abortion by the putative father (excluding rapists, of course) can't be labeled as government intrusion on a woman's right to choose because she chose that male to be the possible father of a child. Veto by a couple willing to adopt is a bit different, but still, the woman volunteered to have sexual relations that might produce a child without using effective birth control (again, excluding cases of rape- but even there, we don't sanction the murder of a one minute- or one year old- baby because the father was a rapist).

Republicans will hate this because they don't want a solution- they only want the political issue because they have no original ideas but depend in large part on the single issue voter- pro life, anti-gun control (who should logically be opposed to each other). Democrats will be seen as showing courage by standing up to some of the pro choice advocates who want to give women the unfettered freedom to make every decision concerning the unborn child- a right we don't give any person once a child is born.

4. CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: Most Americans (including most elected officials) are really, really tired of politicians continually asking them for money and of election campaigns which now are interminable. The rest are paid political consultants who make a living off this process. The Democratic Platform should call for a law which does no damage to Citizens United or The First Amendment, but which addresses the root issue: false or misleading television advertising, much of it purchased with so called "dark money" or political PAC's, which have a single goal of demonizing Democratic candidates. The solution? The air waves are owned by the public, and should be treated as such. Even cable includes satellite transmissions (it's not really cable anymore). The law will state that no station or network shall air any ad which promotes one candidate or attacks another candidate in the same race (or for the same office if the ad runs against an incumbent before the primaries) until that ad is first previewed by the incumbent (if he or she is not the one running the ad) or every opponent who has qualified to run (if the incumbent runs the ad or it is run on his or her behalf by an independent entity). Any person attacked in the ad shall be permitted to create a response ad twice as long as the attacking ad, which will include only the candidate attacked in the responding ad (no anonymous voice overs), which will air immediately following every airing of the attacking ad. Any ad that simply promotes a candidate without obviously attacking an opponent will be followed by one or more free ads of the same length by every other candidate in the race.

Along with this requirement will come public financing of all federal elections, with the funds coming from a national sales tax on every ad running on every network, cable or not. And finally, no candidate for any federal office will be permitted to solicit money for any reason, campaign related or not, from any person, or to accept money from any person, while a candidate or while holding a federal office. That will be a criminal act of solicitation of bribery.

And no person or corporation will be allowed to offer or pay money to any candidate or any close family member (spouse, children, parents) of a candidate or holder of any federal office, including appointed judicial offices. The only exception will be bona fide employment offers that come from an entity which can not in any way benefit from any act of the federal office holder.

Thanks for reading this far. That should do it for starters.