A New Republican Platform for Voter Consideration
The Republican Party traditionally has held that individuals should have the greatest freedom compatible with the same freedom for others, and that they should assume primary responsibility for their own welfare and for the betterment of the community. The Federal Government should provide services needed by the community that cannot be provided by individuals. This includes protecting America from domestic and foreign threats to security, fostering and regulating economy and trade, maintaining a “safety net” for its citizens in health and income in times of trouble, and supporting research in areas in which private resources are inadequate, such as health, science, space and energy.
The Republican party should put forward a specific and coherent agenda in a constructive manner.
We offer the following platform in an attempt to address current issues in our society, in the hope that it might provide a framework around which Republicans can coalesce and move forward.
Before we enter the main critiquen of specific problems, it may be well to think about some common Republican views, and current public sentiments, that will have a huge impact on the coming elections.
--Republicans must emphasize our committment to "equal pay for equal work"
--Republicans must emphasize our committment to raising the Federal minimum wage to at least be above the poverty level, thus $12/hr.
--We must emphasize fixing the flaws in Obomacare, not simply repealing it. Outright repeal is very unpopoular, in the absence of a clear, better, well discussed and acceptable alternative, but contolling costs is understood as neccessary.
-=We need to show that "all lives matter" and that we support the rule of law, for citizens and police, and that we strongly support our police forces..
--The disparity in incomes in USA is a hugely important and vital topics on every person's mind, and an increase in tax
rates on high incomes makes good sense from every viewpoint, save one.
--We must avoid as unfeeling the idea of sending every illegal home, and develop a forward looking program for some groups of aliens including familes born here, and students, and at the same time a larger temporary worker program.
--We need to strongly support our military, and our veterans, and at the same time look for ways to cut huge chunks of waste out of the defense budget.
--We must recognize that some post high-school education has become a requirement for most jobs, and thus we must make state run colleges and universities available to all capable and serious students at minimal cost.
Updated last 1 May 2016
Foreign Policy | Energy Independence | Trade Policy and Domestic Manufacturing | Economic Recovery | Medical Care | National debt |Social Security | Immigration | Taxes | Identity | Illegal Drugs | Firearms | Abortion
The US must aim to hold its position in the world as a beacon for democracy and freedom. It must:
- Develop a coalition of democratic nations from around the world, and moderate Muslim individuals and nations, to together destroy ISIS, that is clearly a threat to all civilization
- Accept Near East refugees into USA with care, and support alternative proposals such as safe settlements in the mid-east until onflict in Syria stops, allowing refugees to return home.
- Provide arms and support to Ukraine as they attempt to fend off a Russian controlled invasion of their eastern provinces.
- Support legitimate democratically elected but fragile governments, and include Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.
- Campaign against nuclear proliferation in hostile countries, and be prepared to stop it by force.
- Press for a two state agreement in Israel/Palestine , and withdraw all financial aid to both in case of failure.
- Recognize that Russia under Putin will continue to infiltrate, dominate, and partition neighboring countries until and unless he understands that our country and our friends will not allow this activity.
The US government should:
- Develop wind, solar, water, or wave power, bio-diesel and any other energy sources, while recognizing they are will not soon provide the amount of non-polluting energy needed. Provide loan, guarantees, and tax incentives to the emerging companies. This is exactly what our major competitor for world market share, CHINA, is doing, and is the technique that allowed Chinese companies to dominate wind and solar energy in the past 3-5 years.
- Promote conservation methods in use of fossil fuels.
- Stimulate research on all “alternative energy” sources by preferential tax treatment, and a series of awards for original ideas or developments.
- Expand nuclear power generation, starting now.
- Develop sources of oil and natural gas in US territory in an environmentally responsible manner.
Trade Policy and Domestic Manufacturing
US manufacturing has been decimated by decades of poor policy and neglect. This has led to a decline in real US wages toward Third World levels. We must develop a national policy to rebuild ourmanufacturing base, and support the return of industries from abroad. Our economic life and in fact our entire social fabric depends on a re-industrialization of America. Without it we will end up with chronic high unemployment and low paying service jobs. Unfortunately this problem has been neglected by the current admistration for the last seven years, making the required changes even more urgent and difficult.
Governmental financial support helped families weather the recession, but does not provide income security for the future, and adds to the debt load consuming a quarter of federal income. We need jobs- but how, what kind and where?. Infrastructure repairs are important and provide termporary work, but will not provide the quantity or quality of jobs needed for the long term. The service economy, and the financial sector, provide jobs, and high income for a few persons, but relatively low wages for most workers in these sectors. They do not contribute broadly to national wealth. In contrast, manufacturing can generate good wages for the workers, and has until recently been the engine contributing to the improved economic status of the middle class during the past century.
We need to re-industrialize America. Wholesale transfer of factories and jobs abroad, has wiped out huge segments of our economy. We no longer lead in diesel locomotives or wind turbines, and do not manufacute a single camera, cellphone , or TV. Iphones were designed in California, but 100 million were built in China (to Apple's shame!). We need industry- especially manufacturing, which 10 years ago provided 25 % of jobs in America, and now provides less than 12%. Manufacturing and construction generate wealth for workers. Human and mechanical labor transform material of modest value (steel, aluminum, glass, oil, coal) into items of complexity and major value-- cars, airplanes, computers, solar panels). This process was the source of US economic success for decades, and remains so in Germany and China. We have lived on borrowed money for a decade, losing our factories, our jobs, our engineers, and even the skills needed to man the factories. We need a national program to bring industry back to America. This has to be industry producing the products we need today , and tomorrow. We must jump start the process, and get America citizens working again:
We need trade agreements that provide truly equal access, not agreements, for example, that limit our export of 15,000 automobiles to Korea, while allowing them to export 800,000 cars to the US each year.
2) We should demand that our trading partners compete from a fair base. In particular, it is not “fair” to have US workers compete with workers abroad whose effective compensation does not include the costly benefits mandated for our workers, including unemployment benefits, health care and disability insurance, retirement benefits, and extensive public educational facilities. For competition to be fair, we must insist on trade agreements that require employees of companies that export to the US to receive benefits that are functionally comparable to those provided for workers in the US. This means provision of educational, health care, retirement, disability, and unemployment benefits. Obviously “comparable” depends on the wage scale in the local economy. We can not legislate foreign wages. But we can at least make trade more “fair” by applying tariffs if trading partners do not provide employment benefits in the partner country that are proportion to those mandated in the US, and do not allow equal access to markets. This is not a foolish or impossible idea. We already have extensive agreements with other countries covering some aspects of fair labor practices built into our trade agreements.
3) We must also provide tax incentives for investment in businesses, and tax dis-incentives for sending jobs and factories abroad. This an absolutely crucial part of the "fix". We should help provide loans, loan guarantees, and tax incentives to emerging industries especially in areas such as energy and technology. It is great that Apple sells 20 million I-Pads, but consider that 100% of the production is done abroad. Industry, making useful things out of raw materials,is the ultimate source of wealth in any country. We have lost millions of jobs and tens of thousands of industrial facilities during the past 2-3 decades. Unless we reverse this trend we are doomed to a stagnant low level economy. Service jobs do not create wealth for the country, nor do financial businesses, although they create major wealth for a few people.
4) We must insist that policies making currencies artificially cheap (as currently in China) be eliminated.
5) We need to enforce anti-dumping regulations with tariffs, such as a recent 35% tariff on Chinese tauto tires.
6) We should promote a buy-American policy in private, institutional and public transactions, and institute a “Buy American” policy for all Local, State, and Federal governmental purchases, and financial support programs. For example, we have govermental support for solar panel installations (30% cost rebate). But increasingly panels are made in China, so government rebates go to the Chinese. And the new steel bridge from Oakland to San Francisco is being made in China, then floated in sections to the USA. Government subsidies help development of "wind farms", but the turbines are made abroad. How insane!.
7) We must intensify our efforts to improve our educational system, which will foster a corp of re-industrialization leaders who can help us compete in the 21st century. We must support training of skilled workers , engineers and scientists at all levels- vocational, college, and graduate school.
8) We must reduce government regulations, and stop governmental interference with industrial expansion. A classic example of such misguided action was the National Labor Relations Board attempt to stop Boeing from opening an airplane factory in So. Carolina.
9)-Provide economic relief to busineses by introducing FAIR competion with foriegn manufacturing, stopping the flood of federally mandated regulations, through loan guarantees, by giving tax credits for new hirings, and many other ways.
10) Begin a serious policy of returning appropriately selected illegal immigrants to their home country. Obviously such a policy needs to pay attention to years residence in this country, family structure, education and other factors, to be humane and broadly applicable, and provide a route to citizenship. We have between 10 and 20 million unemployed or under-employed American citizens, and we have 11 million or more illegal immigrants working in this country. It is not sensible to pay unemployment and other assistance to our citizens, while illegal immigrant are paid under the table to do their work. Alabama’s recently instituted law, as reported in the NYTimes, caused many illegal farm workers to leave. And hundreds of US citizens lined up for the jobs!
(FOR MORE ON GLOBALIZATION AND FREE TRADE, CLICK HERE)
The "MINIMUM" WAGE
The minimum wage certainly lives up to its name. $7/hr becomes $280/week or $14,000 for a years (2000 hrs) work, and puts the worker well below the Federally determined poverty level of $24,000 for a single person. Cleary it does not pay to work, when welfare benefits including cash payments, Food Stamps, public housing, and medical benefits in total can exceed (especially for a family) the income from a minimal wage.
We must gradually and progressively increase the mimum wage to at least $12/hr for all employees who have held a position for >6 months ( to allow for a training period, if needed). This increased cost will be passed on to the consumer of the service/output, but there is widespread agreement that this is fair. It has been estimated that his increase would end up with a McDonald hamburger costing $0.05 more. An increase in minimum wage should also be indexed to inflation, just as Social Security payments, and with equal or greater justification. It also will, along with higher taxes on huge incomes, serve to redress in part the current tremendous disparity between the top and bottom income segments of our society. And as another important benefit, it will help prevent a major present abuse in our society. Huge numbers of illegal immigrants work in the "gray economy", with low wages and no benefits and paying no taxes, but basically competing unfairly with citizens who should have these jobs, and should earn a fair wage.
A related and complicated problem is to address thoughtfully the relation of welfare benefits, and corresonding responsibilities, to the minimuum wage. It seems both logical and fair that the total of welfare benfits for one individual should equal less than earnings from the minimal wage, in order to favor employment. What are the total fair benefits for a family, including 2 adults and children? This conundrum is discussed in another section.
Economic Recovery (See also National Debt)
- Extend re-training benefits.
- Support job creation through loan guarantees, tax relief and grants in crucial areas such a solar and wind energy, and fuel-efficient transportation. This stimulation of private enterprise is the most important issue.
- increase support for education as a route to an industrious, competitive and inventive citizenry. Lower or eliiminate tuition at state colleges and universities.
- Provide relief to home owners with mortgage delinquency.
- Allow banks and other financial institutions that created toxic assets to fail, in contrast to programs which reward many of these companies with huge tax-payer subsidies.
- Develop legislation that would limit the size of major banks, and grow many smaller competitors, so that failure of a single large bank will not threaten our entire economy.
- Prohibit banks from both lending funds, and trading in securities for their profit. This was the most direct problem leading to the recent fiscal collapse.
- Develop legislation that will inhibit banks from taking excessive risk when that is backed up by taxpayer dollars, or from providing excessive salaries to top officers.
- We should alter current policies that allow financial institutions to borrow public funds at near zero interest, and hord the cash, or loan at 5% or more.
Medical Care (for more on "Medical Reform")
Our current "Health Care System" costs twice as much as in almost every other country,and does not cover the total population. The Obamacare law corrects a few problems, which is to its credit, but will surely add tremendous new expenses, despite all denials (and as already apparrent). If we really want to control and reduce health care costs, in order to free up some needed funds for other vital areas such as education, environment, and infrastructure, we may ultimately need to go to a "single payer" model as in Canada, but clearly the vast majority of USA voters do not currently favor this approach. Real reform may come, but for now several changes can greatly improve health care provision in general, and Obamacare in particular:
The most important single issue is to control costs through dramatic revision of Medicare fee schedules, which largely set the scale for all of physician practice, hospital care, and pharmaceuticals. Hospital charges are inflated several hundred percent. Currently medical fees to physicians allow incomes of multiple millions for proceedure oriented surgeons and radiologists. Reimbursement schedules that allow hospital CEOs and CEOs of medical insurance companies to gain multi-million salaries clearly end up costing patients more for medical care. We need to increase pay to internists, pediatricians and family practitioners who are currently underpaid, leading to a nationwide shortage in their ranks. Fund this primarily by decreasing pay to specialists and for procedures. This change is crucial if we are to have any hope of reviving family practice, and controlling costs. If we are ever to control costs within the current system, this the "ground zero" place to start.
- Consider treating medical insurance companies like utilities, with state-set rates allowing review of expenses and a reasonable but narrow profit margin. This model works effectively in Holland and Germany.
- Promote group practices or cooperatives providing comprehensive care on a capitation basis with salaried physicians. That is, move away from the strictly “fee for service” structure. It is entirely uncertain that this reduce health care costs, but it may promote better medical care.
- If a US “Public Option” medical plan is set up, make it honestly competitive with private companies, without government subsidies to the plan.
- Tax health benefits given as part of compensation, to equalize treatment of individuals who must buy their own health insurance.
- Support a “personally mandated” health insurance program, with subsidies for low income individuals. To date this idea has survived constitutional challenge. However almost the same response could be obtained, for instance, by offering participation in these subsidized insurance schemes on a "sign up only at one time of the year" approach, so that individuals who decide not to participate can not sign up "on the way to the hospital".
- Have competitive bids for drugs under Medicare.
- Support improved Information Technology in doctor’s offices, which may not save money, but may assist patients and doctors in providing more comprehensive care.
- The current approach to medical malpractice litigation ends up being a financial bonanza for many un-scrupulous lawyers, and may inflate medical expenses by 10-12%. One logical change would be to have fair and honest malpractice awards to compensate for damages set by arbitation panels, and completely eliminate punitive award payments to patients. Any punitive award, in medical malpractice actions, should be a governmental action with the award going to the state. Punishing another person is correctly a matter of state or federal law, not private civil legal action
- Eliminate excess payments for out of hospital, home-care and home services, which have been abused and are vastly too costly. Use competitive bidding among providers, publicize payment scales, and scale back current payment levels.
- Stop disability payments for alcohol and /drug abuse, and stiffen the disability review system. The recent quadrupling of awarded disability benefits, coming with the recession. suggests the criteria for disability have been altered, changing the disability program into a pseudo-welfare program.
There are fairly modest and reasonable changes that can make Social Security program viable well into the future.
- Gradually increase age requirement for partial (age 63)and full (age 67) SS payments.
- Assess SS tax on total income, not just the first $90,000, with a reduction in the basic tax rate, if possible, because of this change.
- Offer the opportunity to invest 10-20 % of SS benefits in a government sponsored IRA. Although derided by Democrats, this proposal is clearly logical since it offers a higher rate of return on a portion of the mandatory 7% of wages currently going to SS, does not damage the "safety net", and offers the chance for all employed persons the option of providing some support for descendants on death (in contrast to SS).
We must have immigration reform now, not one year or ten years from now.
- There is no blanket “right” to immigrate. The US must determine the number of immigrants offered an opportunity to come to the US each year, based on social, humanitarian, and economic criteria that Congress sets. We currently allow 400,000 legal immigrants each year.
- Continue the drive to stop illegal immigration by a non-porous border.
- Enforce laws against employment of illegal immigrants.
- Provide limited short stay work certificates for specific employment.
- Withhold welfare, sickness, or educational benefits unless the individual is here legally and has applied for citizenship.
- Provide a route to citizenship for illegal aliens who have been in the USA some specific period without legal offense, aliens with children born here, and students in high-school and college who maintain academic standing.
- Return other illegal aliens, especially lawbreakers/felons to their home country.
- Review regulations regarding “family member” immigration in the light of fairness and overall immigration policy.
- Make the income tax much more “progressive”, with rates increasing above current limits beginning at $500,000, and escalating in stages to 70% tax for income over $5,000,000.
- Tax health benefits given as part of employment, to equalize treatment of others who do not get this exemption.
- HIgher tax rates on very high incomes may not generate great income for the government, but will produce a more "fair" society, an even more important outcome. It is possible that a tax on wealth (in contrast to just income) will be needed to re-equilibrate the enormous income disparities in our society. For this moment, it is sufficient to start with a much more progressive income tax.
Anonymity facilitates crime and raises problems for law enforcement.
- Require an federal or state-issued ID Card for all persons, with picture, thumb print, and citizenship status. Consider how easily we accomplish this with drivers licenses.
- Develop a public moral/health campaign against the use of all illegal drugs, as we did for smoking. This needs to be presented and championed by our national, state and local leaders
- Stop further legalization of marijuana, which is clearly a social “first step” to widening the use of all illegal drugs. "Medical marijuan" is a sad and dangerous joke. For example, there are now an estimated 400,000 people certified by "doctors" in California to need medical marijuana to help their pain. A large variety of legal medications, included prescrition THC, are available if truly needed to manage pain and other illnesses.
- Provide one time free withdrawal programs for alcohol, drug and narcotic addiction.
- Disallow disability payments based on alcohol or drug addiction.
- Prohibit the sale of all automatic weapons and large bore guns.
- Allow rifles and handguns, based on a police certificate, available to any responsible citizen with a “clean” record.
- Promote conception avoidance, since no one is truly in favor of abortion as a means of contraception.
- Prohibit late (third) term abortion except in case of fetal abnormality, rape, or certain physical danger to the mother.
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
We currently hear much about “rights’, specifically in relation to health care. ‘Everyone has a right to health care”. But it an interesting to consider where and how one acquires such “rights”, and whether a "right" carries any responsibility on the part of the recipient.-
What is a right? Maybe we can define a right as the (presumably) non-alienable and un-impeded opportunity granted by some more powerful entity to an individual, or agreed upon by two independent entities, to behave in a certain manner, or to receive a certain benefit.
Our constitution states that we each have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The concept is, I believe, that these are innate rights of every citizen of this country (and leaves unanswered the rights of people outside of the USA) . These rights were not granted by our government, since the presumption was that these rights existed before the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, and were the philosophical basis for separating our territory from rule by England. Perhaps this means the particular rights were granted by God to each of us for being a member of the human race, or at least the part of it living in the area of the Colonies. In general the source of these basic rights is usually not examined in detail. And we should note that these rights have very distinct limitations. For example, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are limited by not interfering with the similar rights of other members of his society.
We also have a set of “universal: rights defined in our constitution and Bill or Rights;- to worship as we please, to have a private home, habeas corpus, the right to bear arms, to assemble, due process before the law. These are contractual rights, established and accepted by mutual agreement between the citizens, and the government the citizens establishing in 1776, that give freedom to behave in certain ways. The rights described so far do not require any specific action by the recipient, except that enjoyment of the right must be within the law, and must not interfere with the similar rights of others.
Beyond these basic rights we enter an equally important and often more controversial set of rights, bestowed by the government on its citizens, through the process of democratic action. These “rights’ are qualitatively different from those described above. The rights described in our constitution and Bill of Rights have to do with guaranteeing our freedom. The next set of rights involve the legally mandated transfer of goods and property from citizens deemed to have more than is necessary, to other citizens who are deemed to have less. We have the right to Social Security payments, if we have been employed and paid in a proportion of our wages to support the system. Each worker, and his/her married partner, has the right to medical insurance (Medicare) upon reaching age 62-65. If we have no other source of financial support and give up most assets other than our home, we receive the right to another form of medical insurance (Medicaid). If we are without means of self support (as defined by law) and disabled (as defined by law), we are entitled to Disability assistance. And if we are without means of personal support, we can also qualify for Welfare aid (and food via Food Stamps) for an established period of time or indefinitely. Currently another right is established, the right of every citizen to have medical insurance, paid for by the government if necessary. And there are many, many other special programs that assist children, blind persons, people who have home mortgages, veterans, the mentally handicapped, etc.
All of these programs, now “Rights” by common acceptance, have been enacted by our representative government, since the body politic believed that it was correct for the government (acting on our behalf) to help citizens in need. Before about 1934 individuals in need traditionally received aid from churches, private philanthropy, and dozens of helping organizations. Because the felt need was so great, because of the desire to make the burden fall “equally” on all, and to make the assistance more uniform, the benefits have gradually become the responsibility of Federal, State, and Local government.
Clearly these rights are not assumed to be granted by God, and they are not agreements set up the original contract between the citizens and the government. They involve decisions mandated by the majority, acting via government, requiring transfers of goods and money from those who have some, to others who have less. These are not generally construed to be innate “rights” in the sense of being an intrinsic part of being a human. These are rights only in the sense that they have been deemed to be rights by our government. This is not to say the programs are morally wrong. In fact the vast majority of citizens probably believe that most, or all, of these transfer payments are appropriate, as an expression of our collective desire to help people less fortunate.
The question needing discussion is whether and to what extent these “rights” should carry some responsibility for actions on the part of the recipient. Do, or should, these rights carry an implied or real obligation on the recipient? We have in some areas already accepted this sort of “contract”. Unemployed individuals who are able to work were required to seek employment (until this rule was abandoned by recent executive order), and their aid is for a limited period. Social security requires paying in, and benefits have some proportionality to prior contributions.
Beyond these areas the situation becomes murky, and raising questions can be interpreted as having an unfair and punitive intent. But for example, should a woman on Medicaid be eligible for fertility treatment? Should a woman on Medicaid and receiving welfare payments receive more support if she has additional children? Should the fathers of children receiving medical and/or financial aid be identified, as a requisite for receiving aid, and be required to provide support? Should provision of free medical care include an agreement with the recipient to combat obesity and avoid illegal drug use? Should purchases using food stamps be absolutely restricted to an approved list of food items that are logical for nutritional support, and not for snack foods, sweetened beverages and cigarettes? Should disability payments be made for drug or alcohol addiction? Should individuals in jail be required to do manual labor or attend school? Should all individuals who receive welfare be required to provide community service , or attend school, if not employed?
These questions arise because our government-administered welfare system obligates transfer of money from some working people, who often may have a good use for their earnings, to others who are for some reason unable or unwilling to hold a job. While the general concept of the welfare programs is supported by most all citizens, there is also concern about possible abuse. The questions raised are not intended as a general attack on welfare programs. Rather the idea is to promote the concept that these “rights” should come with recognized responsibilities, especially when the “right” involves transfer of funds from one citizen to another.
Is the premise reasonable, or unreasonable, or punitive, or foolish? Should there be recognized and agreed upon obligations on the part of the grantees? If so, regarding which “rights”, and what should be the obligations? Should these obligations/responsibilities be defined by government? How should the “obligations” be monitored? Admittedly this discussion raises issues and fails to provide answers. But just recognizing that these are serious issues in need of discussion is a start.