Our country is in crisis and to solve our problems we must get our priorities straight. There are no shortages of viable, progressive solutions to the economic and environmental challenges facing us. What is lacking is political fortitude. We need champions for the solutions we know exist, champions who are not beholden to corporate donors. Right now we need to get our country back on track, with solutions that move us decisively toward a green, secure economy.
I advocate these progressive solutions:
Fairness in taxation and the Robin Hood Tax:
Pass the Buffet Rule to start undoing the inequities in our tax structure. Right now the top wealth-holders pay a significantly smaller percentage in income tax than do the rest of us. Beyond that, the marginal income tax on the top 1% should return to pre-1981 levels, to at least 70 percent. A transaction tax should be charged on all Wall Street transactions. Those who profit from gambling with the economic future for all of us should have to contribute a percentage of their profits for improving the common good.
Create jobs that benefit our communities:
Use the resulting revenues to create youth corps, senior corps, park corps, educational improvements, local food initiatives, mental health facilities, and other services for communities hardest hit by the economic irresponsibility of regressive policies that have transferred wealth away from the 99% and to the 1%.
Medicare for all:
The US is the only advanced country that does not provide this basic human right to its citizens.
Get the Big Money out of politics:
All political contributions over one thousand dollars should be disclosed, candidates should have public financing in elections after showing a threshold of support, and the Constitution must be amended to specify that only humans, not corporations, are people and that money is property, not speech.
Reorganize mortgages and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act:
Underwater homeowners should be able to reorganize their mortgages under bankruptcy. This alone would go far toward moving the economy forward. Without this it will take more than ten years to undo the current damage in the housing market. The Glass-Steagall Act would break up the biggest banks so they are no longer “too big to fail” and thus dependent on taxpayer bailouts.
Cut the basic military budget by 25 percent over the next decade.
National defense has become the nation’s biggest jobs program. We need to invest this money here at home to provide sustainable jobs for our young people. We must give them better choices than looking to the war machinery for employment because they see few other options.
Elevate the Environment in our national priorities.
Every decision we make must take into account the impact human activities have on the planet on which we and every other living being depend. Stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. Immediately turn our full attention and political will to adopting alternative fuels and conservation of energy.
We should immediately stop the war on teachers. It is functioning to tear down the very fabric of our society and to drastically undermine our children’s future. Accountability for educators is not the central problem of our public schools. A lack of support for poor and near-poor communities is the problem, as well as institutional racism. We should be investing in these communities and providing effective supports for the families to rise out of poverty.
I oppose the punitive measures under the No Child Left Behind Act as well as the Race to the Top program which pits teacher against teacher, promotes high stakes testing, and teaching to the test. Instead, we should follow the example of Finland, which has a widely-admired public school system where improvements were based on the principle of increasing equity for all students regardless of their background. Research has shown that elevating the status of teachers has the greatest effect on improving educational outcomes, even when funds for education are scarce.
We should not allow the privatization of our public schools. Privatization enriches a few while at the same time it does not improve outcomes for students.
Our educational system depends far too heavily on local property tax revenues. This most often means that communities needing the most educational resources receive the least. We need to pursue fiscal policies that direct more equitable resources to education.
We must lift the load of unpayable debt from the backs of our college students. Student debt should be forgiven. Our young people are shackled with debt they took on expecting to come out of college to good-paying jobs. Those jobs disappeared in the Great Recession brought on by Wall Street, leaving our young people with a debt burden that is crushing their ability to contribute their full energy and creativity to our economy. Higher education should be free.
We must end the wars that are being waged to defend fossil fuel interests. The United States should not attack Iran nor participate in any attack initiated by Israel.
It's time to bring all our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan; including private military contractors.
Congress has abdicated its constitutional responsibilities by handing the Executive branch virtually unlimited authority to wage war on the scale and in the fashion of its choosing. This has resulted in catastrophic and costly crimes against humanity such as we have seen in Iraq and Libya, and as we see continuing in an increasing number of countries including Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and others. Congress must lead the way in turning away from these disastrous policies by ripping up the President’s blank legal and financial check for waging war.
We can set an example for the rest of the world by fostering cooperation and dialogue with all countries of the world.
Congress has voted to expand the police powers of the Executive branch beyond anything stated or implied by the Constitution. This has resulted in the virtual shredding of much of our nation’s defining document. Congress must now vote to defund, downsize, or dismantle the Executive’s police state institutions, beginning with the continually expanding and largely unaccountable intelligence agencies. Congress must repeal the legislation that has granted these dictatorial powers, including but not limited to the Patriot Act, FISA, and the NDAA.
LGBT and Women's Rights
Women and LGBT people are people, and as such are entitled to all the rights all other people enjoy. No federal or local law that infringes upon the equal rights of women and LGBT people can be allowed to stand. This means full reproductive autonomy for women, without exception. It means freedom of marriage for LGBT people. It also means freedom from employment or other discrimination for all persons, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
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