I Would Be Interested in Listening to a Politician Who –
Early this summer, Christie Spencer, Julie Scott and I agreed we are tired of negativity in politics. I want both parties out of my wallet and my private life. As a socially moderate (sometimes liberal), fiscally conservative independent voter, I am in the middle, a voter both parties claim to court. You won’t even get my attention unless and until you have something positive to say about your candidacy or candidate. I am well beyond uninterested in your negative opinions about the opposition. It stands to reason you don’t agree with them or you would be them. Please don’t go into a diatribe on Facebook against a candidate, just use the Like button for your candidate. If on the other hand, you have something good to say, have at it, be positive.
Some random political thoughts:
Legislative bills should be readable, one page would be great, but minimally, realistically, you should be able to read any bill in a half hour. It would be nice to see a bill with more pages of endorsers than pages of discourse. How can we expect anyone to read a thousand page bill, comprehend it, much less begin to imagine the unintended consequences and have enough information to vote intelligently on it?
Every congressperson should be required to submit a bill a day to decrease federal spending, close tax loopholes or both. Compare it to homework for elementary school kids, to be brought in for stickers so they get in the habit. Congress needs to search for and eliminate wasteful federal spending.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who would vote for no small airport federal airline subsidies. For instance, airlines flying into Ely, Nevada get federal airline subsidies of $3,600 per person. I read about a new bill which would decrease the subsidy to $1000 per person and wonder still why the federal government is involved at all. It might be better for the town if visitors had to spend the night in Ely and support local businesses instead of flying in and out. It might be more cost effective to buy a small used airplane and use it as a taxi to fly the 245 passengers a year in and out of town. If decision makers in Ely, White Pine Co. or Nevada, feel this particular route is of civic importance, they could subsidize those flights. I don’t have any insights into the needs of the citizens of Ely, I have never been there. I don’t have anything against the folks from Ely, I just don’t see it as a federal issue.
I would be interested in a politician who understood that they only work 3/4 of the year. Members of Congress and their minions should be paid a 3/4th of a year salary. Too many are out running for office, politiking instead of governing, for days, weeks or months at a time. There is a five week vacation in the summer, year end holidays, plus the two weeks of federal holidays, so their salaries should be adjusted down for less than ten months of work. They should be paid to work from January through September straight. If by September, they haven’t completed their work, for instance, passing a budget, they would have to stay until their work is finished, for no more pay, much less overtime.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who wants to end tobacco subsidies. These subsidies are still being paid, not out of the federal budget, but out of the tobacco settlement money. That’s vile. That money should be used for health care and abatement. It’s like drinking coffee every day and then fussing about having your teeth whitened. I don’t care if you drink coffee and I don’t care if you have your teeth whitened. I do care if you make me subsidize coffee growers while charging me for whitening your teeth.
I would be interested in listening to a politican who would address the ethanol situation, especially in drought years, when corn might be put to better use – food.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who understood what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, especially for pensions. The politicians should share in the Social Security system instead of having their own system. No one in the legislative branch from the 1960s forward should be allowed to have a federal pension because jointly and severally their inaction about Social Security and Medicare have pushed us to a demographic chasm and fiscal cliff. Punatively, they should be stripped of their federal pensions and allowed ½ of the social security amount they would have received in a real job. Certainly, they were not doing their jobs during the last 40 years when this could and should have been addressed. All of their legislative pension money should be dumped into Social Security. Not because that amount will fix the problem, but because the legislators don’t deserve it. They abdicated their responsibility for this problem for decades. The time to deal with this problem was when the “largest class ever” was contributing. College economics classes convinced me that unless something changed, I would not be able to count on Social Security money. Accountability for their governance should cause those legislators’ pensions to be revoked; they haven’t earned a pension.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who understood “Do not call” lists should apply to everyone including politicians and charities. As uninterested as I am to hear from window replacement or gutter companies, I am equally as uninterested in hearing from politicians or their minions during dinner. DO NOT CALL should mean everyone.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who thought federal buildings should not be named for living people. Stamps didn’t used to be named for living people. That may be changing and it may not be a good idea. Letting the dust settle on various careers might save the Post Office potential embarrassment with celebrities (Michael Jackson in Thriller vs his ranch) and sports figures (Steroid use, doping, anger mangement issues). A ten year waiting period after the death of a politician before being considered for a building might be very wise. I have blocked out the names of the Chicago politicians who should not be honored, but I am certain those in Illinois remember and are embarassed.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who thought the upcoming shortage of doctors was important to the health care of the nation and had a plan to diffuse it that didn’t involve increasing the national debt. For example, encouraging more med school application approvals; encouraging more hospitals to have residency programs; encouraging more teaching hospitals to have more residents; encouraging insurance companies to subsidize residency programs along with different teaching hospitals. It seems like there are more students trying to get into premed than can get in; there are more college graduates trying to get into med school than can get in; there are more med school graduates trying to get into residency programs than can get in; and heaven knows the residency programs need to be updated, 36 hours on and ten minutes off (exaggeration) sounds like hazing not educating. Break the log jam. Why on earth does the cost of residency programs fall on Medicare? What an illogical burden.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who could vote for base closings suggested by the Pentagon without adding or subtracting bases. If the Pentagon doesn’t need the bases, get rid of them. Instead of a panel wasting time to consider base closings, just close the bases. Yes, this causes disruption and hardships in the areas surrounding the closures. However, it becomes a local issue, best solved by local people. Some fairly innovative land usage solutions have evolved through base closings around the country. Study them, copy them, on the local level. Similarly, if the Pentagon doesn’t want a specific new weapon system, stop making it. Why on earth do politicians second guess those cost savings decisions?
I would be interested in listening to a politician who thought perhaps our path/programs in “helping” other countries less fortunate than we are was flawed. For instance, Haiti in the last sixty years. There must be some other path that might work better since throwing money at the problem has not worked. We haven’t really helped Haiti, though we have spent an awful lot of money trying. Our hearts have been open, but maybe there is a better way. Yes, there would be immense problems with direct transfers, but remember Imelda Marcos’ shoes. I am not certain the current path is right and maybe we shouldn’t hand out money to individuals, but what we have done in the past hasn’t worked either. Let’s admit it and brainstorm some different, better ideas.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who thought the United Nations might be more accountable and less expensive. I have heard diplomats and other personnel do not pay parking tickets citing diplomatic immunity. Perhaps each embassy or legation should be allowed a certain number of vehicles with State Dept. plates and if the number of tickets rises to an absurd amount in a month or year, they lose the plates and have to rent their own cars without immunity. If an ambassador or head of legation is inconvenienced by the staff’s actions, he/she can take action and get them to pay their own parking tickets. This is millions of dollars in New York. It is unfair to the other residents of New York who have to abide by draconian parking laws, that some foreign visitors don’t cooperate and never intend to cooperate. Maybe another country could be given the treat of hosting the UN for a while without the United States’ fiscal backing.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who understood and acknowledged the work needed on federal bridges and superfund sites, not just in his or her district or state but all over the country. There is a phrase “ignorance of the law is no defense.” After the bridge collapsed into the Mississippi, there should be a parallel phrase for legislators, ignorance of the problem is no defense. Every legislator should be liable, jointly and severally along with their staffs for future federal bridge collapses, superfund pollution sites and downstream cancer problems. If they have time to pass legislation for National Pork Belly Day (I made this up, please don’t tell me there is one), they should have time to govern. A Fairfield Co. Connecticut non profit used TARP money to buy a truck. That was not a federal issue, but a legitimate local issue for sure. There was no need to conjure up “make work” for the stimulus, just fix the federal bridges and superfund pollution sites already identified.
I would be interested in listening to a politician who would be open to brainstorming about privatizing- selling stock in Amtrak and TVA.
I will be listening to various politicians to hear if they have ever taken and passed a macroeconomics class, a biology class, had a real job, served in the Armed Forces or the State Department or had any foreign experience. Ten years of political experience doesn’t mean much during gridlock. Ten years of life experience might.
The two biggest entitlements are health care (Medicare, Medicaid, VA hospitals, disability care, federal prison hospitals, whatever system the legislators are in, Obamacare) and Social Security. However, every one of us knows there are places that can be cut back, that should be cut back and are not being addressed. Cut the easy stuff, the low hanging fruit first, for instance the Senate’s Hair Care Revolving Fund, which had more than a quarter of a million dollars in 2010. I hear over and over again, those numbers don’t make up much. Just do it. Before asking for more money, show progress. cut the waste, don’t talk about it. There is some federal program couched in bureaucratic and medical terms, the name of which I have blocked out of my mind, that says children need more exercise, so be sure they can walk to school. A positive goal, but what it boiled down to was federal money for local sidewalks. That’s nuts. Someone in Boston shouldn’t have to pay for sidewalks in Boulder. That’s a local issue.
If each Representative presented one cost cutting measure in a bill less than two pages long and each bill was allowed 15 minutes of discussion and a vote, there could be 435 cost cutting measures introduced and voted on in less than three weeks. Instead there are huge omnibus bills that can not be debated on the merits because they are too big. Instead of bigger is better, try shorter and more concise. Maybe the long involved subcommittee process could be bypassed for bills of less than two pages. Maybe gridlock could be avoided if the bills are simple enough to speak for themselves. Maybe the bottlenecks would be exposed for real instead of posturing. The same should be done in the Senate. There should be a competition among states like the Olypmpic medal count but instead for dollars cut from the budget.
Arguments about who should pay more are disingenous when they compare 10% of $50,000 ($5,000) to 9% of $1,000,000 ($90,000) with the point being made that 10% is more than 9%. Well sure it is, but then again $90,000 is more than $5,000. Stop trying to incite class warfare. The tax code is already progressive, the question is should it be even more so or less so. It should certainly be less convoluted. Don’t vilify citizens for taking advantage of tax policies in effect, instead close the loopholes. There could be the same “Olympic medal count” for dollars saved in closing tax loopholes.
As long as there have been federal programs that redistribute the wealth, some people have tried to get the money undeservedly. Read some disallowed Revolutionary War Pension files. Human nature is such that some people try to scam the government. Safeguards should be set, enforced and reviewed. Decide upfront if the program is needs based or merit based and stick to it.
Those are some of my political feelings. In general I am not interested in anyone else’s feelings because they are so negative. No offense intended, it’s all I can do to keep up with the president, vice president, senators, representatives, the issues, the judges, the state and local politicians and how I need to vote. I am not worried about how you need to vote. When you feel the need to share something positive, please do.