The Platform is a 4-Letter Word – Part 1

Reading time – 6:40; Viewing time – 9:54  .  .  .

This post was created in the days just before the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and the injuring of 5 others at a baseball practice. Clearly, the shooter had problems; yet that event has put into stark relief the extent of our political polarization, the frustrations of the American people and the extremism that some of our leaders have helped to deepen, all of which underline the points that follow.

DC is crazy and everyone knows it’s crazy. The president thinks everything is all about him and that his job is a popularity contest won by appealing to extremists. Many of those in Congress think their job about is serving special interests. The Republicans who speak loudly are anchored in the primordial Reagan ooze as though there is something holy about continuing to do what has never worked. Democrats don’t seem to be able to do much other than be against Trump and Republican extremism.

Meanwhile, We the People think it’s about America and Americans. That leaves it to us to be sane about the future of America, so here are the first seven of my Platform Points in bite-size portions. The key is that the vast majority of Americans are in line with these notions and our solution comes down to a 4-letter word. Note that my more aggressive comments are for the folks with big, extremist megaphones and not for the reasonable legislators who only want to make things better for everyone.

1. A minimum of 78% of Americans believe that big money infects and distorts our democracy and they want that changed. They want a We the People Amendment that negates the craziness of Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United, McCutcheon v. F.E.C. and the rest of the enabling decisions and legislation that allow the rich to buy America and impoverish the rest of us. Said another way, Americans want Congress to prevent the buying of Congress so that instead we can have an actual representative democracy.

Memo to Lawmakers: I understand that the present system requires you to grub for donations and seek the big buck donors. In fact, the system is the problem. In order to stop that, vote for the We the People Amendment to the Constitution. Get on the side of Americans, on the right side of history and end your begging for dollars. You’ll be glad you did it, because you know you hate begging for cash.

2. Just before the vote on the 2008 legislation that created Medicare Part D, Representative Billy Tauzin (R-LA) inserted an amendment into the legislation that prohibited the U.S. government, the largest purchaser of meds in the world, from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies for better pricing. That sure was good for Big Pharma. Billy Tauzin didn’t run for re-election that year, preferring instead to go to work for PhRMA, the lobbying organization of Big Pharma. They gave him a pay increase to $2 million per year.

Memo to lawmakers: We the People are angry about the revolving door between Congress and lobbying. Clean up this sleaziness. Make the Tauzin behavior illegal. And change the Part D law so we can negotiate better pricing with Big Pharma.

3. Until a few years ago when the NRA went on a campaign to change the meaning of the Second Amendment, we all knew that violent offenders and those not mentally stable shouldn’t have firearms. We still know that, but now over half of all deaths by firearms are suicide (also here) and many of those are our returning vets. A gun within arm’s reach makes suicide and homicide real easy and we have to wonder if that shooter at the Republican baseball practice would have taken any action at all if he were not able to obtain an AR-15 assault rifle. Over 80% of Americans want sensible gun safety legislation, including a huge majority of NRA members.

Memo to lawmakers: NRA campaign contributions are nice, but you’ll be okay without them. And the “cold, dead hands” mantra may bring about a satisfying testosterone rush, but it’s killing Americans. Pass sensible gun safety legislation.

4. The FDA has dragged feet for years on an Obama era requirement that restaurants display calorie counts on restaurant meals. “Now the FDA has indefinitely postponed the implementation of the rule which would require food manufacturers to list added sugars along with more visible calorie counts and clearer serving sizes.” They’ve also refused to require labeling that would let us know if a food product contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Why doesn’t the government want us to know what we’re eating?

Memo to lawmakers: You already know the answer to the question: It’s the Big Food lobby. They fear that if we consumers know the crap they put in their products that they’ll sell less of it to us, so they “incentivize” lawmakers and agencies to stall disclosure laws. This isn’t a key issue, but it is another case of Big Money buying our government in large and small ways, getting what it wants at the expense of We the People. Labeling changes cost next to nothing. Make them do it.

5. The American people don’t want bickering over how many millions of us should be shut out of healthcare by the various idiotic proposals being considered. By a significant margin, we want Medicare for all, universal healthcare, single payer – call it what you will. The statistics show that Medicare costs about 25% less than care that is provided through private healthcare insurance – that’s for equivalent healthcare procedures and outcomes. The cost differential is largely due to the overhead costs of private insurers, like marketing, sales expense and really high pay for their C-level executives. Switching to single payer will make a significant dent in our bloated spending for healthcare and will save individual Americans a lot of money.

Memo to lawmakers: Yes, it’s true that single payer will put out of business many of the private healthcare insurance companies that make lovely campaign contributions. The buggy whip makers had a similar challenge 100 years ago when something better came along. Those formerly making buggy whips figured out how to get along; so will our healthcare insurance folks today. Single payer is what Americans want, so your choices, lawmakers, are to continue to do the stupid dance over this issue (now being done in secret to jam it through the Senate) or you can get on the right side of history.

6. Trickle down economics never trickles down. It was factually wrong when it was proposed and it has consistently failed for nearly 40 years. Supply side stimulus doesn’t grow businesses; demand does, but demand isn’t stimulated by the upside down economics of trickle down. Let’s be specific about what actually happens: Giving more money to rich people with the expectation that they will expand their businesses and hire lots of Americans and pay good wages doesn’t happen. Making this worse is that because their personal wants and needs were already met before any tax windfall, rich people don’t spend the new trickle down money, so we don’t get a boost to the economy. Instead, overwhelmingly, rich folks have put their trickle down money into their investments so that nearly all reward has gone to them. The rest of us have stagnated.

Memo to lawmakers: Stop the dishonest schemes that only enrich the wealthy, like Bush’s tax cuts, Trump’s one-page “tax plan” and the disingenuous AHCA which would give huge tax breaks to rich people, funded by refusing healthcare entirely to 23 million Americans. The tax breaks will not redound to the rest of us, as history shows. Come up with a progressive tax plan that makes sense for all. And don’t ever again say “trickle-down” or “supply side” or we’ll know you’re lying.

7. Everyone knows that our infrastructure is failing. We have 55,000 bridges that need substantial repair or complete replacement. Our roads need a huge amount work. Our airports and trains are second rate compared to most of the industrialized world. The water and sewer pipes in all our major cities are over 100 years old. In short, there is a long list of what needs to be done if we are to remain the world leader.

Memo to lawmakers: Stop whining that the Obama Recovery Act (the “stimulus”) didn’t work. The spending you authorized was about half of what was needed for all those “shovel-ready” projects; then you gave half of it to rich people in the form of tax breaks that, once again, didn’t trickle down. The stimulus plan could have worked and our bridges would have been safer by now, but in your mania to ensure that Obama had no wins you submarined it. America is falling apart and you finger pointers with a big megaphone are a key reason why. Cut the crap and pass a major infrastructure plan.

This is the end of Part 1 of the Platform. You’ll find Part 2 in the next post and it will include the unveiling of that key 4-letter word.

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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5 Responses to The Platform is a 4-Letter Word – Part 1
  1. dominickpalella Reply

    A well-written platform, Jack, but like all political platforms written by politicians or well-meaning political organizations, they attest to the fact we are subservient to our elected officials. Whether 80% or 0% of citizen polling is for or against anything is irrelevant.

    Our political system is not broken or dysfunctional, as it operates as intended. That is, to maintain the political power of our government entirely in the hands of our officeholders. As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, we have no right to interfere with their decisions – just petition, protest and complain as much as we want, at least so far. Their sovereign authority can be questioned, but not influenced by their constituents – only by other politicians who choose to do so.

    Will one of the next parts of your presentation include a written law to fulfill and enforce an idea you’ve mentioned? Or, will you continue to suggest that we petition, protest and try to replace one politician with another who has no obligation to listen or respond to us. While most smart politicians will be adept at dodging questions, many will simply agree with protesters until the day of their next election. They’re all use to the pleading of citizens, and are about as affected as a mother with a five-year-old who wanders into the candy isle in a store. A politician and that mother knows what to say, without creating too much of a fuss.

    We must vet and elect people who agree to represent us using the transparently accountable method I suggest on my site, or something similar. Otherwise, I’m open to any other suggestions to make our country great again. Until progressives and conservatives alike realize they are continuously voting against their own interests, by making decisions based on the rhetoric they like to hear, good ideas will remain in the hands of people we have no way to control.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Dominick, very often the protests of the people carry no discernible weight with elected officials. On the other hand, without the very public demand, Richard Nixon might have escaped the threat of impeachment. Street protests were highly influential in ending the war in Viet Nam. More currently, Republican legislators have been besieged by the public in opposition to the AHCA with obvious effect. There’s no certainty that the Senate will pass a version of it. It’s an imperfect system, but sometimes We the People do have our day.

      • dominickpalella Reply

        Jack, I’m no longer surprised that well-meaning people advocate preserving political power in the hands of those elected, rather than our citizens. I understand why they do this, despite the obviously pitiful results, year after year. I expect progressive activists to continue cataloging the shameless behavior of politicians, and urging people to get “involved” in unwittingly maintaining their authoritative power over them. It’s the result of years of ubiquitous political propaganda indoctrination and an increasing amount of unabashed lying, fostered by our corporate controlled mainstream media and their lackey interviewers pretending to be journalists.

        However, there is no logical reason for us to continue to accept this submissive role in government. Politicians are our employees, whether they are well-paid members of Congress who get million dollar plus expense accounts to have people do their work for them, or someone on a school board. I can’t think of any other employer in the country who would put up with their behavior, and patiently wait for months to years to try to fire them. Until We The People can play a role in the decisions of our elected representatives, how can we honestly call ourselves a democratic republic?

        It’s a particularly sad and pathetic spectacle, when democrats are calling on their own officeholders to do the right thing, as if these politicians are too stupid to know what’s happening, and need to be encouraged to do their jobs. Shouldn’t this provide a clue to some to maybe look at a better use of their time, energy or money? Isn’t it time to stop pursuing “revolutions” that maintain political power exactly where it is, and think about an evolution in thinking to prevent us from repeating the same self-defeating behavior?

        Yes, the Vietnam war was influenced by the public, who had no role in this catastrophe to begin with, and was not even declared by Congress as a war. Wasn’t over 50,000 American lives lost, not to mention perhaps hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, before it ended? Do you really want to have uncertain outcomes that will surely be tried by politicians to destroy whatever they can of our healthcare system? As I’ve said before, our political system is not the problem, but the people we allow to run it.

        http://TrueDemocracyNow.org

        • Jack Altschuler Reply

          Thanks for your clarity, Dominick. Please watch for Part 2 of The Platform tomorrow – it addresses some of what you’ve offered.

  2. Joni Lindgren Reply

    We have a government that has been bought by the “profiteers”, like the NRA, Corporations and the uber wealthy and ENABLED by the politicians. They are all partners in crime. If all the Republicans and a handful of Democrats would stop taking money from the “profiteers” to pass legislation for their self-interests, we wouldn’t have all the killings! These congressmen have created a corrupt system by accepting money to give the profiteers exactly what they want! The NRA gives a ton of money to congressmen to pass bills that will keep guns on the streets and in the hands f the mentally handicapped and those who have already harmed others. So…..if you’re looking at who’s to blame for vigilante justice, then just look to all those congressmen who accepted money to pass all these bills that make the NRA more powerful!
    If you want to find out who your congressman is accepting money from, then go to VoteSmart.org and you will find all the profiteers your congressman owes favors to!!