Position statement: The United States is becoming a pariah around the world due to the leadership of the President, and the obvious corruption and moral degeneracy of key staff. We need to remember the dreams of the founders to create liberty and justice for all. The US government is being corrupted by the political decisions of the Supreme Court that allow Congress and the Executive to support the interests of corporations and wealthy contributors that override the will and the needs of the people.
Here are some of the key topics that were discussed tonight. Every reader should make up their own list of things that are important. Your concerns and advice should be forwarded to your Congressional representatives, whatever your political philosophy. The lobbyists and many members of the government are in it for the money and power. We have to be in this election to Make America – America Again.
- The first thing that makes all of the other changes possible is to address how these programs are going to be funded. The top priority should be a reduction by 50% of the spending on defense that is now at $715 billion per year. $350 billion would more than suffice for defending the US, but would not finance the current global domination program. This could be done in incremental reductions of $100 billion per year until the $350 billion defense target funding is done.
The GOP tax plan of robbing the poor to pay off the rich needs to be revisited. The minimum tax on income from all sources should be at la graduated income scale would be applied on income, with at least 25% for those earning over $250,000 as individuals or as businesses. There should be a $1 tax per $1,000 value on all financial transactions above $250,000 that involve US institutions for domestic or foreign transactions.
We own a big part of the global cake, and we can share it with our people, to provide Healthcare for All, Education for All, homes for the homeless, roads that can be safely traveled. We can share a part of our bounty with the rest of the world instead of trying to force them to submit to the will and needs of the US. We need to bring back Food for Peace, expand the Peace Corps around the globe, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in the US.
- Health Care for All is a key issue. The method of achieving that objective should not force people to abandon what is working for them. Whether Medicare or the Affordable Care Act is the platform, there must be a choice that allows people to maintain their current insurance if it is serving them, and a choice to join Medicare or the ACA if they wish.
Gun reform was mentioned as a national health crisis. The citizens want background checks, red flags for domestic abusers and mentally unstable people. The influence of the NRA is waning, but it has major support by the gun manufacturers, and those afraid that their guns are going to be confiscated. The members of Congress that have accepted major campaign donations are the barrier to reform. The weapons designed for war should be tightly controlled and owners should be stringently held accountable for their use.
- Education for All is a key issue, but it should not be focused just on colleges. In 2017, less than 35% of US citizens said they attended college for four or more years. For the other 65% of the population, a focus on supporting education at community colleges, trade schools, technical schools and apprenticeships is of far greater value to the majority of citizens.
Forgiving all student debt is unfair to the vast majority of US taxpayers that never went to college, paid their own way, or paid off their loans. Government refinancing of student debt at zero or low interest is reasonable. The students made the decision to be educated where they went, and to choose the careers they followed. We can help debt holders but is not among the most important issues of interest to a majority of the people.
With the continual technology changes involving new processes and increased automation and AI in manufacturing and service industries, there need to be formal programs for training and retraining workers on a continual basis. Where job losses are the result of corporations moving jobs offshore, the corporations should bear some or all of these retraining expenses.
- The focus on supporting unions is a complex issue. This is an area that needs to be balanced against the needs of the entire workforce in the US. “In 2016, there were 14.6 million members in the U.S., down from 17.7 million in 1983. The percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States (or total labor union “density”) was 10.7%, compared to 20.1% in 1983. Union membership in the private sector has fallen under 7% — levels not seen since 1932.”
Unions have made the US one of the safest countries in the world for workers, but they have not been able to keep jobs from being shipped out of the US by Wall Street incentives. Wall Street has led the charge that companies invest in factories outside the US to make a higher product. The candidates need to support the same protections offered in other countries to their workers with regard to corporations paying for retraining and reparations for jobs lost due to corporate profit focus or failure to invest in manufacturing technology.
- With regard to reparations to victims of historical injustices, the focus on African-Americans that were descendants of slaves is fair in one sense, but divisive in another area. The most victimized of all groups are the Native Americans. The reparations due to Native Americans for the seizures of property, murdering of citizens, and displacement of cultures predates slavery and with abuse and neglect that continues to this day would be huge.
The near-slavery of Chinese labor to build the transcontinental railroads and the internment of Japanese Americans in WWII are two other groups that should be considered if reparations were to be paid. This is an issue of guilt that money cannot wipe out. We need to focus on how we can make this a better place going forward, and not divide the country even more by choosing which group been hurt most.
It would be more productive to focus on creating true equal opportunity in education, finances, legal representation for all citizens than to attempt to provide reparations to those unfairly treated. The group of women that have suffered pay disparity remains huge, with about $0.80 on the $1.00 in pay.
- With regard to refugees, the US is a signatory to the Geneva Convention that was established in 1951 and ratified by the US in 1968 regarding the treatment of refugees. The current administration has seen fit to ignore the conditions defined for the treatment of refugees in the Geneva Convention. Following the defeat of the current administration, these conditions should be restored for treatment of refugees. Immigration policy needs to be reviewed and revised to account for the classification of immigrants as regarding being given refugee status.
- Foreign policy should be done by negotiation, not by invasion, or draconian sanctions that harm the citizens of other countries. Denuclearization of all countries should be negotiated on a global basis. Those countries with nuclear capabilities, whether official or unofficial, should be involved in a verifiable elimination of nuclear and biological weapons.
- Congress needs to follow the dictates of the US Constitution regarding the sharing of power with the Executive Branch. “The Treaty Clause empowers the President to make or enter into treaties with the “advice and consent” of two-thirds of the Senate.” This implies that the withdrawal from established treaties by the President requires a 2/3 vote by the Senate. The President should not have been allowed to leave the Global Climate Agreement or the Iran Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement without Senate approval.
“Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives to the Executive Branch the command of the nation’s armed forces, while Article I, Section 8 gives to the Legislative Branch the power to decide when the United States goes to war.” Congress needs to force the declaration of war in all areas where there are continued military occupations by US forces. The War Powers Act reasserted this requirement, which has been abdicated by the current Congress. – The War Powers Act—officially called the War Powers Resolution—was enacted in November 1973 over an executive veto by President Richard M. Nixon. … To that end, it requires the President to consult with the legislature “in every possible instance” before committing troops to war.”
- We need to force Congress and all areas of government to acknowledge that Global Climate Change (GCC) is real and a threat to humanity. The idea that it is acceptable to deny scientific facts in order to maintain profits and jobs that contribute to the GCC is based upon ignorance, greed, or both.
The candidates all supported policies that put the US back in the UN Framework on Global Climate Change, aka the Paris agreement). The President should not have been able to withdraw the US from any signed treaty without the consent of 2/3 of the Senate. There should be a forced policy change to provide incentives to all technologies that reduce the US’ contribution to global warming, and acknowledgment that this is one part of the US regaining an international presence in solving global warming.
- There needs to be a Constitutional amendment that overturns Citizens United. This decision proves that members of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) are operating in direct conflict with their defined responsibilities in the Constitution. SCOTUS is chartered to be an impartial agent to maintain the US Constitution, and fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence to provide life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all citizens. Majorities are not following the Constitution.
The issues raised during the Democratic presidential debate of July 30, 2019, were all important. It is our responsibility as citizens to seriously challenge the current campaigns of fear, divisiveness and hate that continues to be fostered by the existing administration. It is important that we evaluate the candidates carefully as to whether they are capable of redirecting the US back to its foundations.
As the Democratic field is being reduced, it is important that our inputs are being considered. This is a link that will take you to official contact information for members of Congress. Determine what you want to happen and then contact your members of Congress to tell them what you want. They usually listen.
Future generations and the world are depending upon us to take action to restore our strength and commitment to make the US a positive example to the world. We need to do this by acts of true self-interest to provide meaningful education that begins in kindergarten and continues through retirement.
WAKE UP! STAND UP! SPEAK UP! VOTE!!
© Copyright 2019
Rev. Jim Hetzer