Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dear Democrats

I want to add my view of what I think you should focus on in the 112th Congress, and even if you don't have the majority in the House, I expect you to still push for it and make noise about, and more than ever, take the Republicans to task. You've already done that with the bill to repeal the healthcare reform law, but the Senate shouldn't be diplomatic about not bringing it up but make it clear it will never see the light of day.

That's not my point here. Here's some things to focus on.

First, focus on creating jobs here. Rebuild the nation's manufacturing centers in the midwest, the clothing centers in the southeast, technology centers everywhere, and so on. It's time to bebuild America and create jobs for Americans. If corporations don't want to do that, push them, embarrass them, even threaten them.

They don't want to create jobs here, so you have to encourage them, even provide incentives, but at no cost should you sacrifice workers' wages, benefits, rights and protections. And even support the right of unions and employees to have them. They are the power of this nation. They've made this nation. They deserve our respect, admiration and support.

Second, focus on protecting federal employees. You needlessly froze their salaries, and my annuity, for 2 years. We're losing money now as the cost of health insurance and living keeps increasing, but we can't keep pace without small increases in our salary and annuity.

So above all else, don't hurt them anymore. Don't ask for or agree to a longer freeze. Don't ask for or agree to cuts in staffing levels. Over the many decades since Ronald Reagan we've been asked and forced to do more with less. We've long been past the level we can't do more anymore. You can't keep pushing for more, there's no more more there to get.

Three, improve healthcare insurance. Get more coverage for women's healthcare and reproductive care. It's just the right thing to do.

Makes states create the risk pools. Some state governors have said they won't or delay it. Don't let them.

Create oversight for healthcare costs and insurance premiums. They are the primary reasons the cost keeps going up and the law doesn't address that. Some state regulate the latter but none regulate the former, at least outside of Medicare and Medicaid payments to providers. Do better.

Create the public option. There are two excellent models to frame a new plan on, Medicare and the Federal Employees Health Benefit plan, both government-private health insurance. This can easily be done for the public option and give the insurance companies competition to be fair to customers.

Fourth, push China into fair trade agreement for tariffs, markets, products, etc.

Fifth, rebuild America's infrastructure. You're doing this, now do more.

Sixth, cut the budgets of the Defense Department and Homeland Security Adminstration. Make the cut significant to help balance the budget deficit. No cosmetic cuts, real ones. Make them do what the rest of government is doing, more with less. We've done it, they can too.

Seventh, increase the budget for Veterans Affairs. It's the right thing to do for our veterans (yes, I served during the Vietnam-era).

Eighth, get us out of Afghanistan. It's a waste to stay longer, a waste of lives, resources, money and whatever else you can add. There's no reason to stay any longer. It won't get better and it's not winnable. Time to bring everyone and everything home.

That's it for now. I'll add or revise suggestions as I think of them from the news, from your words and actions, and from my anger with you up until the lame duck sesson.

No comments: