Sunday, December 14, 2008

Political Parties - Democratic

Welcome to Part 2 in our series exploring the various positions of the political parties and what I agree with and disagree with. This week we will explore the platform of the Democratic party as found in their platform on their website
I will do my best to abbreviate the positions listed as this is a 59 page document. Feel free to read it in it's entirety if you so desire.

Excerpt from their Preamble
"We believe that every American, whatever their background or station in life, should have the chance to get a good education, to work at a good job with good wages, to raise and provide for a family, to live in safe surroundings, and to retire with dignity and security. We believe that quality and affordable health care is a basic right. We believe that each succeeding generation should have the opportunity, through hard work, service and sacrifice, to enjoy a brighter future than the last."

"Today, we pledge a return to core moral principles like stewardship, service to others, personal responsibility, shared sacrifice and a fair shot for all –values that emanate from the integrity and optimism of our Founders and generations of Americans since."

Jumpstart the Economy and Provide Middle Class Americans Immediate Relief "We will provide an immediate energy rebate to American families struggling with the record price of gasoline and the skyrocketing cost of other necessities – to spend on those basic needs and energy efficient measures. We will devote $50 billion to jumpstarting the economy, helping economic growth, and preventing another one million jobs from being lost."

I'm going to sound really redundant after awhile, especially when you consider all their talk of reducing taxes for 95% of Americans. How are they going to pay for this? How does $50 Billion prevent one million jobs from being lost?

Affordable, Quality Health Care Coverage for All Americans "If one thing came through in the platform hearings, it was that Democrats are united around a commitment that every American man, woman, and child be guaranteed affordable, comprehensive healthcare."

"Ensuring quality, affordable health care for every single American is essential to children’s education, workers’ productivity and businesses’ competitiveness. We believe that covering all is not just a moral imperative, but is necessary to making our health system workable and affordable. Doing so would end cost-shifting from the uninsured, promote prevention and wellness, stop insurance discrimination, help eliminate health care disparities, and achieve savings through competition, choice, innovation, and higher quality care."

I like the idea of affordable health care for everyone, but only in the context of personal responsibility and free market competition. My theory is that the insurance companies have become and overwhelming middleman in the health care business. Providers have to pay large staff to bill insurance companies and are also subject to contract rates with insurance companies. The insurance companies have the leverage in negotiating these rates since they are the ones essentially providing the clientele. The insurance companies in turn have to make enough and pay out little enough to pay their employees and make a profit. Think about the cost of health care when you eliminate this kind of overhead created by a middleman.

In reality Walmart's push to start the prescription drug plan for $4 generics is the right idea. Other pharmacies followed suit. Drug companies aren't going to participate if they aren't making money, and neither will the pharmacies. This type of push ought to be made in provider care as well. In reality, it is available. Patients without insurance can negotiate self-pay rates for procedures with the doctor and the facility. Places like Walmart and other superstores are opening up preventative care clinics in their stores that offer low cost preventative screenings.
Main stream providers could move this direction by essentially running "cash only" businesses and listing their prices for various services. I've also heard of a doctor charging one yearly fee that will cover all visits for the year regardless. It's ideas like this that will revolutionize health care and help to eliminate the bloated middleman system.

That said there is a need for catastrophic insurances for accidents, or a buffet type, choose your insurance coverage. For example, if you know cancer runs in your family, you might opt into a cancer policy for life or at a certain age. But the providers that need to take them are generally specialty providers.

"We must fight HIV/AIDS in our country and around the world. We support increased funding into research, care and prevention of HIV/AIDS."

I disagree with government funding of HIV/AIDS research. I also disagree with government funding of Cancer research and stem cell research. I do, on the other hand, support privatized funding for research of all of these. St. Jude's successfully raises money every year from private donors like you and I. I am not opposed to government funds being used to educate and prevent any disease, but within reason.

"Fiscal Responsibility. As we improve and strengthen our health care system, we must do so in a fiscally responsible way that ensures that we get value for the dollars that are invested."

I would agree, however I think we have to come to an agreement on the definition of "fiscal responsibility."

Retirement and Social Security "We will make it a priority to secure for hardworking families the part of the American Dream that includes a secure and healthy retirement. Individuals, employers, and government must all play a role. We will adopt measures to preserve and protect existing public and private pension plans. In the 21st century, Americans also need better ways to save for retirement. We will automatically enroll every worker in a workplace pension plan that can be carried from job to job and we will match savings for working families who need the help."

How can you possibly pay to match savings for working families who need help? how do you define "needing help." Is there incentive for them to rise above "needing help." This sounds like income redistribution which I am vehemently opposed to. I do support private entities and churches providing help to those who "need help."

"We reject the notion of the presumptive Republican nominee that Social Security is a disgrace; we believe that it is indispensable. We will fulfill our obligation to strengthen Social Security and to make sure that it provides guaranteed benefits Americans can count on, now and in future generations. We will not privatize it."

I would privatize Social Security. I think Social Security is great for everyone if they get to keep what they put in. But they should own each and every penny that they put into it. When you get a chance look at Galveston County's model. This is a link to one of many articles discussing it.

Good Jobs with Good Pay "Democrats are committed to an economic policy that produces good jobs with good pay and benefits. That is why we support the right to organize. We know that when unions are allowed to do their job of making sure that workers get their fair share, they pull people out of poverty and create a stronger middle class. We will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions and fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. We will restore pro-worker voices to the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board and we support overturning the NLRB’s and NMB’s many harmful decisions that undermine the collective bargaining rights of millions of workers. We will ensure that federal employees, including public safety officers who put their lives on the line every day, have the right to bargain collectively, and we will fix the broken bargaining process at the Federal Aviation Administration. We will fight to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers, so that workers can stand up for themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods."

I support the right to organize, but I also support the right of any company to refuse to negotiate with unions at any time. Look at the auto bail out now. It is a bailout to support the unions not the auto companies themselves. Unions are a bureaucratic hierarchy that suck money out of the company in the form of dues from the employees. Companies have to be able to cut the fat out of their business to succeed.

"In America, if someone is willing to work, he or she should be able to make ends meet and have the opportunity to prosper. To that end, we will raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation, and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit so that workers can support themselves and their families. We will modernize the unemployment insurance program to close gaps and extend benefits to the workers who now fall outside it."

I disagree with raising the minimum wage. The majority of the people making minimum wage are high school students. If you can't rise above minimum wage, then you probably aren't worth more. Raising minimum wage unnecessarily puts a strain on businesses and subsequently consumers in the from of increased prices for goods and services. Even people working in many of the fast food restaurants are making more than minimum wage. When you raise minimum wage the above unions talk their workers into going on strike because they need to have their wages adjusted to follow suit with minimum wage. So any company dealing with unions are also affected drastically by raising the minimum wage.

Opportunity for Women "We will pass the “Lilly Ledbetter” Act, which will make it easier to combat pay discrimination; we will pass the Fair Pay Act; and we will modernize the Equal Pay Act. We will invest in women-owned small businesses and remove the capital gains tax on start-up small businesses. We will support women in math and science, increasing American competitiveness by retaining the best workers in these fields, regardless of gender. We recognize that women still carry the majority of childrearing responsibilities, so we have created a comprehensive work and family agenda."

Notice the statement "remove capital gains tax on start-up small businesses." Small businesses don't pay capital gains taxes woman owned or not. They pay income taxes. So don't buy into this rhetoric. Next, I believe we are already at a point where men and women are equal in the work place. If women are making less, is it possible it has to do with them leaving the work force for a few years to raise their children? Or if their children are in daycare, are they leaving work more often than men to go pick up their sick kids? I think any kind of absenteeism is fair to consider with men or women.

"We will work to combat violence against women."

I'd revise this to violence against people, not just women. What happened to the mantra, "we are all created equal?"

A World Class Education for Every Child "We must set high standards for our children, but we must also hold ourselves accountable–our schools, our teachers, our parents, business leaders, our community and our elected leaders."

I agree with holding oursleves accountable.

"We will make quality, affordable early childhood care and education available to every American child from the day he or she is born. Our Children’s First Agenda, including increases in Head Start and Early Head Start, and investments in high-quality Pre-K, will improve quality and provide learning and support to families with children ages zero to five. Our Presidential Early Learning Council will coordinate these efforts."

This is essentially free daycare in the form of "education." I oppose funding daycare because when you choose to take on the responsibility of children, you should be responsible for caring for them or paying for their care. And remember free daycare isn't free. So how are they going to pay for this one?

Support Small Business and Entrepreneurship "Encouraging new industry and creating jobs means giving more support to American entrepreneurs. We will exempt all start-up companies from capital gains taxes and provide them a tax credit for health insurance. We will provide a new tax credit for small businesses that offer quality health insurance to their employees. We will help small businesses facing high energy costs. We will work to remove bureaucratic barriers for small and start-up businesses–for example, by making the patent process more efficient and reliable."

Again with the capital gains taxes for start-up companies. They don't pay capital gains taxes so this is an empty statement. However I like the tax credit idea for offering health insurance to their employees. I also agree with removing the bureaucratic barriers, but for more than just the patent process. For all of it.

Real Leadership for Rural America "Rural America is home to 60 million Americans. The agricultural sector is critical to the rural economy and to all Americans. We depend on those in agriculture to produce the food, feed, fiber, and fuel that support our society. Thankfully, American farmers possess an unrivaled capacity to produce an abundance of these high-quality products. In return, we will provide a strong safety net for family farms, a permanent disaster relief program, expansion of agriculture research, and an emphasis on agricultural trade. We will promote economic development in rural and tribal communities by investing in renewable energy, which will transform the rural economy and create millions of new jobs, by upgrading technological and physical infrastructure, by addressing the challenges faced by public schools in rural areas, including forest county schools, supporting higher education opportunities and by attracting quality teachers, doctors and nurses through loan forgiveness programs and other incentive programs. All Americans, urban and rural, hold a shared interest in preserving and increasing the economic vitality of family farms. We will continue to develop and advance policies that promote sustainable and local agriculture, including funding for soil and water conservation programs."

This is fancy talk for farm subsidies which I stated last week that I vehemently oppose. If people can't support themselves on farms and in rural areas, they should go somewhere that they can support themselves.

Restoring Fairness to Our Tax Code "We must reform our tax code."

I agree with restoring fairness to our tax code and reforming it. Nothing that followed supported these statements. I suppose there might just be a fundamental disagreement on what "fair" means. The Fair Tax is the fairest method I've discovered so far.

Revitalizing and Supporting the Military, Keeping Faith With Veterans "To renew American leadership in the world, we must revitalize our military. A strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace."

I agree with a strong military being necessary to sustain peace.

Allow All Americans to Serve "We will also put national security above divisive politics.... We support the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and the implementation of policies to allow qualified men and women to serve openly regardless of sexual orientation"

I agree. Qualified people who perform and act professional in their jobs should be able to serve in the military as they are in every other job in the country.

Stewardship of Our Planet and Natural Resources "Global climate change is the planet’s greatest threat, and our response will determine the very future of life on this earth. Despite the efforts of our current Administration to deny the science of climate change and the need to act, we still believe that America can be earth’s best hope."

I find it interesting that this party denies science that disproves man made climate change. That said I agree with stewardship of our planet and natural resources.

Children and Families Fatherhood "Too many fathers are missing–missing from too many lives and too many homes. Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and are more likely to commit crime, drop out of school, abuse drugs, and end up in prison. We need more fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to understand that what makes a man is not the ability to have a child–it’s the courage to raise one."

I agree whole-heartedly with this statement and the need to work towards correcting this. I have a theory that mandatory birth control would fix this, but it generally goes against my strong belief in liberty as well. I don't have a solution but I highly respect the efforts of high-profile people like Bill Cosby and others in this area.

Open, Accountable, and Ethical Government "In Barack Obama’s Administration, we will open up the doors of democracy. We will use technology to make government more transparent, accountable, and inclusive."

"We will lift the veil of secret deals in Washington by publishing searchable, online information about federal grants, contracts, earmarks, loans, and lobbyist contacts with government officials."

"We will put all non-emergency bills that Congress has passed online for five days, to allow the American public to review and comment on them before they are signed into law."

I want you all to watch in the new administration and see just how transparent and accountable they become in these areas. Because I agree with every one of them, but on the last one, if the representatives and senators don't listen to the public before casting their votes, why would we expect the President to? I suppose, if he cares about getting reelected, he'd care. So watch out for this and utilize it if they truly follow through on this.

I leave you with one final thought, with all the ideals they want and without explanation on how they will fund these programs, how do they plan to pay for it and still give 95% of Americans tax cuts?


Jolly Roger said...

The simple fact of the matter is, the "free market" as applied to healthcare is unworkable. It is no more workable than "free market" solutions rto police and fire protection would be; when you need a fireman, you simply do not have the luxury of shopping around for a good fire department, and that luxury does not exist for health emergencies either.

This country spends more, and gets far less, than any other country in the Western world. the healthcare cost component of an American made product or service is a de facto VAT that is heavily damaging to our economic position both here at home and in the global marketplace. The system is a failure and must be scrapped.

jtormey3 said...

Dear Lola, you beautiful girl:

“Quiet Rockland” is an organization based in Pearl River, New York that has been fighting the “Bobby” Sturgell FAA and Mary Peters USDOT for the past year-and-a-half. Our organization acts consonant with the interests of thousands of citizens in Rockland County, NY and elsewhere: 47,000 in the Town Of Orangetown, NY; 300,000 in Rockland County, NY; and 30,000,000 in the Northeast.

1. Quiet Rockland asks that, once sworn-in, you please cause your re-configured USDOT and FAA to immediately withdraw the US$53,500,000+ failed boondoggle of the prior administration known as the “NY/NJ/PHL Airspace Redesign”. It never made sense to put between 200-600 new jumbo-jets per day over densely-populated and minority-laden neighborhoods in Rockland County. We need environmental justice, a restoration of sensibility, and peace. We need cancellation of the Sturgell/Peters Airspace Redesign.

2. The American people including Quiet Rockland call for your Administration to please treat and pay all Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and Aviation Inspectors fairly; protect them from threat and harm; and listen to them. NATCA needs a real contract. The ATCS and Inspectors are the true aviation professionals. Their input is vital to the future of American aviation safety, and they have suffered to a wholly-unacceptable degree during the failed “Bobby” Sturgell FAA regime.

3. The American people including Quiet Rockland must have a federal government that restores, to quote Congressman Oberstar, a “Culture Of Safety” in aviation. An FAA “partnership program”, on the other hand, wherein the Agency abdicates its legally-mandated function as regulator and instead adopts a cozy economic pandering relationship unabashedly calling the airlines its only “customers” - is a grotesque, harmful, and abysmal dynamic, and an insult to the intelligence of the American people. The “customers” are, in point of fact, the passengers and the overflown people on the ground. Federal law requires consideration of both, a fact that the failed Sturgell aeromercantile FAA conveniently and consistently forgot.

4. The failed “Bobby” Sturgell FAA must immediately be re-populated with responsible federal officials for a change. We need government officials who tell us the truth.

5. Finally, we respectfully request that you please select a new FAA Administrator with ties to the Northeast who understands the complexities of this region and its airspace, and one who will carry out the 4-point agenda hereinabove.

Besides, we have heard that current FAA managment are "cat people". They sure act like it.

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