President Obama has dropped some ten points in recent polls—not surprising given the massive media swirl about supposed scandals. Even though a strong case can be made that the scandals have little merit and are driven by partisan opponents, the President needs to be clearer about his positive agenda for the American people. It would be wise if he held a White House news conference in the near future laying out his second term agenda. The criticism saying he has none would dissipate. Here’s what he could include:
We recently asked in The Chronicle, “What About Jobs?” With the unemployment rate in the United States at 7.6% -- more than 50% over our post-World War Two average—and at 13.5% among African Americans, and the numbers even higher in Michigan, the major topic Americans and Michigan citizens are still concerned about is jobs. Jobs have become a forgotten issue. The President has been pushing creation of infrastructure jobs but the Congress has been filibustering and opposing the bills.
Implementation of the new national health bill and getting people to use and know the bill are also properly large on Obama’s second term agenda. The Affordable Health Care Act offers preventive care and allows children to remain on parents’ plans until age 26. It stops pre-existing conditions from blocking coverage and gives lifetime care. Most significantly, it covers 30 million previously uninsured Americans. Getting those who do not have insurance to use the law is imperative.
A vital concern on the agenda is the Sequester and its affects. The sequester is causing cuts in food stamps, college scholarships, K-12 education, cancer research and veterans’ benefits among other critical programs, as well as defense. The sequester should be repealed as the legislation of Cong. John Conyers, Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, would do.
High on the agenda is enforcing the Voting Rights Act. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told us recently, the power of the Voting Rights Act is authorized in the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Yet the Supreme Court’s conservatives have just blocked part of the Act. We should be doing more to fight voter suppression, not less. Congress must pass corrective legislation, immediately.
There is no peace in the Middle East. There is no good answer in Syria, but it must not become a never-ending American war. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars must proceed on course to end, which includes the 200,000 contractors still in the fight. Contractors make up to five times as much money as soldiers, but have almost no oversight, as NSA leaker Edward Snowden and the CIA contractors who tortured in Abu Ghraib have proved.
We must fight oil price gouging. Have you noticed that gas prices go up and down based on the visibility of the opposition? Don’t fall for the claim that it is supply and demand.
Social Security should not be privatized to become a Wall Street benefit, nor cut. It is solvent for over twenty years, and only slightly in deficit after that.
China cheating: The U.S. continues to be victimized by a trillion-dollar debt to China. It is vital we do not allow ourselves to be blackmailed into niceness while our economy gets trampled on.
The President supports drones but other liberals oppose them. We must persuade liberals to support them because they keep American soldiers from being killed. They are an important tool against terror.
Nuclear power plants are often built on earthquake fault lines and hurricane centric locations; and in all locations, radioactive cancer-producing waste ultimately oozes out. Safety and waste have not been solved since nuclear power was created. As Joan Konner, Emmy Award winning television documentary producer, has stated, “We are no further along in what we need to do with nuclear waste than we were in the 1960s.”
There must be a more realistic approach to Latin America. The U.S. knee-jerk put-down of Chavez’s elections in Venezuela, as well as our refusing to do business with Cuba, showed simplistic opposition and did no good to the U.S. image. Now that Chavez is dead and Castro will be soon, we must accept whom those and other countries select.
To address a true concern, Obama should improve the IRS approval process of non-profits. The flaw happened in 1959 when the Eisenhower administration interpreted a law that said tax exemptions were for “exclusively” social welfare groups and inexplicably made it “primarily”—a gross error in regulation that opened the door to political abuse. “Exclusive” must be enforced.
We must quit making the fiscal cliff a priority instead of helping American citizens. Trickle-down economics theorystates that tax cuts to the wealthy and big businesses will translate to increased economic growth. This has continuously been proven wrong. Productivity is higher from direct support to infrastructure jobs and tax breaks to middle class Americans.
The value of public service should be respected. People who give to the country, state and locality by working for government should not be demeaned. However, anyone in government for the money who takes bribes should be thrown out and jailed.
Money in politics has a disproportionate influence and mostly helps conservatives who have more of it. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited anonymous corporate money is a disaster for democracy. New legislation and at some point new Court appointees can change it.
Gun safety must return. 5000 have been shot and killed just since Newtown six months ago. Solely because of money’s election power, the NRA blocked 91% of the American people’s wish for background checks following Newtown, Aurora, and other mass killings.
An immigration bill must be passed. 71% of Hispanics voted Democratic because Romney did not back off his inane “self deportation” statement and policy. Both sides now realize that a policy must be adopted ultimately recognizing the 12-20 million illegals already in the United States but securing the border for the future.
The unconscionable VA backlog could be solved by hiring temps. If VA administrator Shinseki asked for an “emergency appropriation” from Congress, to hire all the temps he needed, it would be granted in an eyelash.