“Phew!” I say, as I symbolically wipe the beads of sweat off my brow.
The Mayan’s longest cycle calendar has ended and we are still here. The prognosticators of doom have erred again. As some sage minds have suggested from this point forward we enter a new age of awakening, a new beginning for mankind to pursue a path toward a higher consciousness. Could this be a period in our lives that allows us as individuals, and as a collective society to act with more compassion, fairness; to act and think with more sensibility and reason; to behave justly and simply do what is right?
Another symbolic sweat off the brow wipe took place this November 6th. As an American society, did President Obama’s reelection illustrate our desire to continue toward an enlightened, rather than darkened path for our future? ‘Tis the season for miracles…
This recent endorsement and affirmation by the majority of the American people for positive changes to take place in our society provide a golden opportunity for President Obama’s second term agenda. His vision for America won; the other guys’ lost. No holds bar time President Obama. You’ve received another four years to fully pursue the right course of actions, to get us back on track. You have the momentum; let’s get it done!
Besides the appropriate actions President Obama has already undertaken, I would like to seize this opportunity to suggest some more specific course of actions, a laundry list that I think will help us on this progressive path:
Money Out of Politics Legislation
Diffusing the influences of the Koch Bros. and their fellow billionaire cronies is of the utmost importance. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take down that banner at our international airports which waves the slogan “The best government money can buy!”
We truly need to get the tainted money out of politics, if we as a nation are ever to reclaim our democracy for We The People, the 99 percenters, possibly as a first in our living history.
1. Overturning Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling.
The corporately biased Supreme Court struck a huge blow against our democracy by their 2010 ruling in favor of Citizen’s United, allowing unlimited spending by large corporations and billionaires, anonymously, on advertisements designed to unduly influence political elections. There is no reasonable way our Founding Fathers believed that money is free speech; quite the contrary…. one person, one vote republic.
There are current efforts by the following organizations, founder Ralph Nader’s Common Cause organization and former Senator Russ Feingold’s organization www.ProgressivesUnited.org, that are petitioning to make this happen. Similar efforts are being conducted by Senators Bernie Sanders (I –VT) and Al Franken (D- MINN).
2. Passing Legislation for Public Financing of Presidential, Congressional and State Elections.
A fairer, more democratic alternative to our current election system would be to establish public financed elections.
Current organizations advocating this position include Common Cause, www.publiccampaign.org, and an organization called www.washclean.org which supported a public financing bill titled Fair Elections Now Act (FENA) in 2011.
I propose the public financed elections legislation should include a provision for a public radio and TV channel open to all candidates. No advertising; just their message. All political parties as well as qualified independent candidates will have equal access to the airwaves. This action would also greatly reduce the cost of campaigning.
No additional taxpayer funds would be required to accomplish this financing. The federal government has numerous unnecessary funding sources in which to draw the appropriate funds. For instance, to finance public campaigns, we could eliminate the unnecessary two billion dollar corporate welfare subsidy oil companies receive AND eliminate the unnecessary five billion dollar annual non-payback loan we give to the Israeli government. This would easily allow the federal government and the state governments to fund public financed elections, leaving a billion dollars or so left over.
3. Passing Legislation to Eliminate all Lobbying Organizations.
Let’s get our democracy back in the hands of the people. This effort will help reestablish the principle of one person, one vote, whether you’re a powerful CEO or average Joe. Our Constitution provides no guarantee for a corporation to form a lobbying firm. Let’s get our legislators to pass the necessary legislation to eliminate lobbying. Current efforts underway to accomplish this democratic change are being championed by the organization www.change.org
Social, Progressive and Civil Liberty Legislation
4. Repeal Patriot Act
Let’s be honest; there are no terrorist threats. President Obama should know this fact. We should not have to relinquish our civil liberties anymore under the guise of a false sense of security. As Benjamin Franklin stated so eloquently “those who give up their liberties for security shall deserve neither.” As a Constitutional lawyer, President Obama should know better than to endorse these totalitarian measures which dismantles our Bill of Rights. He, and Congress, should do the right thing and restore our dignity and civil liberties on this matter. Eliminate TSA mandatory searches at our airports. Eliminate Homeland Security Department. Repeal the Patriot Act.
5. A Ban on Assault Guns
The recent horrific tragedy in Connecticut may finally be the tipping point that drives a sensible dialogue and action toward resolving or at least mitigating future tragedies like this mass shooting from happening.
Senator Feinstein has stated that on the first day of Congress’s new session, she will introduce a bill to ban assault guns.
In the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy will continue to champion stricter gun control laws. Other appropriate pragmatic actions should also include expanding our gun purchasing background checks, cracking down on secondary gun purchasing outlets, and creating greater treatment access for people who have mental health problems. A societal campaign designed to deter the sale and use of violent video games weren’t hurt either.
6. Eliminate Fed interference with States’ Marijuana Laws and pursue a course toward Federal Decriminalization of our Marijuana Laws.
Last year Barney Frank and Ron Paul introduced a bill to repeal the federal ban on marijuana, leaving the decision up to States to decide. The bill never made it to committee and there is currently no such proposal in the works.
However, after the recent legalization passage for smoking marijuana by the states of Washington and Colorado, the federal government may now be more compliant.
The Obama administration has taken the position that users of medical marijuana in states where it is legal should not be prosecuted; only large scale producers are being targeted.
And, most recently, President Obama is asking for Congress to reconcile the Federal law with the new state law; an emphasis on decriminalization and regulation as an alternative to the failed “War On Drugs”.
Senator Patrick Leahy has said he will address the issue in January with a proposal to amend the Federal law to allow small amounts of marijuana use. President Obama says he will also ask Attorney General Holder to examine the issue.
7. Reintroduce Cap and Trade Bill
Give a hoot, don’t pollute. This may have to wait until 2014, when those remaining pesky Koch Bros.-sponsored Tea Party Republicans are voted out of the House of Representatives and the Democrats reclaim their House majority control. Still, there’s no time like the present to begin working again on passing this important environmental legislation.
Economic Fairness Legislation
8. Bring Tax Rates on the Wealthy One Percent back to Fair Levels
President Obama is adamant that this will be part of the final negotiated agreement for our fiscal debt reduction solution.
Recent surveys show that the wealthy support higher taxes as part of a balanced solution to the government debt problem that includes spending cuts.
Still, a majority support for tax increases on themselves, presumably for the sake of the broader economy. For many of the wealthy, the possible reductions in asset values stemming from problems in Washington far outweigh the potential reduction in their income.
9. Eliminate High Income Social Security CAP.
Keep the FICA payroll tax reduction for the average working American. To cover these reductions in revenues to the Social Security System, raise the income limit (CAP) on those making over $100,000 and deduct their FICA payroll tax at the same rate as those making less than $100,000. Also, as a fairer way to reduce Social Security’s burgeoning cost, apply a needs test to Social Security recipients. Warren Buffett has agreed to this reasonable measure. Those who don’t need social security as a retirement supplement should be paid back what they contributed, and no more. Implementing this change to the Social Security System would save billions.
10. Eliminate IMF loans including international loans to Israel.
Reduce the debt and eliminate taxpayer funded freebies to foreign governments. Help and assistance begins at home, not abroad.
11. Negotiate the Interest on Debt Paid to Federal Reserve.
Of course we know the bankers are the ones who really rule the world so this may be the toughest issue for President Obama to address; just ask Lincoln and Kennedy. Still, with the public behind him for support, there may be room for change here. Renegotiate the interest rate terms the Treasury pays the Federal Reserve on the national debt. The middle class are always be asked to make sacrifices for the good of the country. The bankers should too. Billions can be saved here!
Social Justice Investigations
12. Begin federal investigation into possible Koch Industries’ illegal business transactions with Iran.
A Bloomberg Market magazine article broke the story that strongly suggests Koch Industries may have committed criminal acts including bribing foreign governments and illegal sales to Iran. Upon a thorough read of this report, it would appear the Koch Bros. may have technically tip-toed their way out of prosecution on both these matters at present however where there is smoke there is fire. Turn up the federal investigation heat on these fellows President Obama. It too would be the right thing to do.
There are of course other suggestions such as a Federal law reinstating Wednesday is Ladies Night at the bars and nightclubs, but for now, implementing these twelve items would do our society a lot of good which is of course the whole point, and a good beginning!