Category Archives: priorities

Priorities

We all know the Republican priorities by heart: small government, stop molly-coddling deadbeats, send foreigners home, end abortions and perhaps contraception, restore Christian morality in America, drastically expand the military, suppress Democrat votes through actual voter suppression and extensive gerrymandering and union busting, restore jobs by cutting corporate taxes, build a wall, electronically control visas, drill baby drill, no new environmental restrictions, and much more. One thing Republicans have done a great job of is making Americans aware of their agenda. They have also been great scandal-mongers keeping citizens riled up and screaming for the heads of the President and his staff. They have been so good at these things that even Democrats can barely remember their own priorities.

Bernie Sanders reminds us that regulating Wall Street and banks in order to protect citizens from another economic downturn should be a top priority. His list of priorities also includes passing changes to current tax laws so that we are not sending all our money to the wealthy while leaving out the middle class. He would like to see more support for workers with families, especially for women in the workplace, but not only for women. He advocates things like paid sick leave, paid family leave and equal pay for equal work to close the male/female pay divide. He sets a high priority on doing whatever we can to combat climate change. And he would like to make higher education economically feasible for all.

Hillary agrees with all these things and adds in decriminalizing drug addiction to focus on treatment, getting petty offenders out of jail, and she is still rolling out policy statements, each time addressing a new area that requires action. In terms of foreign affairs Democrats are not so hawkish right now, preferring diplomacy, but Hillary makes it clear that she can do “hawk” if necessary.

There is not a lot of overlap in what Republicans consider important and what Democrats see as important and even where there is overlap, solutions offered are not at all the same. This has put governance into stalemate territory making it almost miraculous that the President was able to accomplish as much as he did. Of course, the GOP chorus repeats the refrain that Obama is a “weak” President. They also like to use the word “feckless”. The one I love (not) most in their repertoire is the insistence that Obama “has blown up the world”. They blame all change in the Middle East and Syria and Russia and China on Obama, but their recall of historical facts and their chain of causations lack a foothold in reality and the blaming is therefore unsupportable. They keep getting away with this shoddy, politically expedient reasoning by skillful propagandizing because they do not want the blame for George W. Bush’s actions laid at the feet of the GOP. However, 43 is definitely the one who took the lid off the boiling pot and let old animosities loose in the modern world. What is done is done, but at least accept that your party lied and had a great big hand in creating the current chaos.

Given all this, why, oh why, do we spend our days talking about women’s issues? Why do we spend hours trying to undo Planned Parenthood, with its long history of helping poor women especially, even threatening to close down the government over it? Why do we have an American political party arguing about contraception? These guys have discussed this among themselves and have decided that if the “sexual revolution” never happened then American families would still be intact. Well suppressing women’s rights has “Remember Prohibition” written all over it.

With all the important territory we need to cover to help America and Americans thrive, abortion and contraception never would have been on my list of priorities, and I would bet many other Americans feel this way. Perhaps the GOP is only pretending to be this interested in these issues to bide their time until they regain the Presidency. Of all the laws, such as tax loopholes that we might need to overturn, these laws seem really low on the list. This might be just about men holding dominion over women.

Well change the subject please! America, we must insist that these GOP men rearrange their priorities. I wish we the people had enough money to sue Ted Cruz et al for wasting the people’s money threatening to shut down the government and, indeed, shutting down the government. In that way we could speak to them in a language they understand, the language of the law.

By Nancy Brisson

Democracy in Action/The Fiscal Cliff

Have you written to your congressional representatives and senators to let them know what you would like them to do in this matter of the fiscal cliff? They are still stuck. They do not accept the results of the election as definitive proof of what the people want and perhaps it isn’t. How will they know unless we all inundate them with letters and emails that inform them of our choices in the matters of America’s finances. If you lose your Medicare or your Social Security and you haven’t talked to your reps about how you feel about entitlements then you may be left moaning and groaning about the impacts of cuts you don’t favor. If you think that the huge and widening gap between the wealthy and the poor is the result of tax laws that will keep growing this gap then we need to let our reps know that we want to revise the tax laws to change this trend. If you don’t agree with these points I really hope that you will not write to congress, but you certainly have the right to do so.

Here is the letter I sent to Congress:

Your address
 Congressperson’s address

Dear                                    :

I think many of us are perplexed by the complexity of the issues involved in dealing with all of the following issues at one time:


·         decide what to do about taxes,
·         decide what to do about budget cuts,
·         decide what to do about the debt,
·         decide what to do about the deficit,
·         decide what to do about tax loopholes,
·         decide whether or not to simplify the tax code,
·         decide how best to stimulate job growth,
·         decide what to do about “entitlements”,
·         how to make sure we keep inflation low while we tackle and solve all these issues.

 Solve them? That could take several lifetimes. Pick a direction and see how it works while keeping in mind that we may have to try something else? That’s probably more like it. Why are we trying to accomplish all of these things at once?


Let’s deal with one or two things at a time.


·         Raise the debt ceiling and raise top tax rates. Please start there.
·         Make some careful cuts to the budget but leave “entitlements” alone for now.
·         Tackle education and infrastructure to help grow jobs, but make sure to chose projects that really will help. In terms of education spend money to train people for those jobs that are going unfilled. In terms of infrastructure, look at how to get the most bang for our buck. What parts of our infrastructure will help jobs or trade or business. If we have solved the problem of the water resources in Nebraska build that Keystone Pipeline the Republicans want so much.
·         Then make some more cuts and begin work on “entitlements” only if necessary.

I am hoping that we can leave entitlements alone except for making Medicare and health care in general less costly. Raising the age when Medicare and even Social Security become available is harmful to senior Americans as employers are often not willing to continue to employ older workers. Workers are “encouraged” to retire early in order to save employers from paying the high salaries such workers earn. Once retired these older workers may find another job but it will not pay what they are used to earning and, therefore, not having social security or Medicare will present a real hardship. Also studies show that age gains are not as great for lower income workers as they are higher income earners. Let’s see if we can improve our economy without changing entitlements first. I thought the rhetoric was that Washington intended to strengthen entitlements rather than cut them.


I am counting on you to prioritize these tasks that you all face on behalf of Americans and deal with them in their proper order and with proper seriousness and care. I am certain that you cannot address all of these issues properly before the end of the year, but I am equally certain that you can deal with finding revenue through raising the top tax rates and raising the debt ceiling.
Sincerely
Or just send them this:
 
Here are the links for the addresses for our Congresspeople in Washington. These lists will change in January, but for now they are accurate: