18 June 2009

Thoughts on a Whig Agenda

Once again, let's return to the occasional theme of this blog, which is, what policies should a modern Whig advocate and support? Also, now that we have a Modern Whig Party, maybe my suggestions will help in the development of a unified set of domestic policies.

Please note that these are just my opinions, as I do not presume to speak for all Whigs, or for anyone else, or even my co-blogger Romulus, or for the Modern Whig Party. Some members, I am sure, would oppose most, or maybe all of what I think. This is my attempt to come up with some ideas.

Previously, general themes have been identified: liberty, independence, opportunity.

Immigration

First, we must reject the idea of a permanent non-citizen underclass.

Second, we must gain control over the border.

Third, after the border is made secure, we must accept that it is in our long-term interest to open a path to citizenship to some of those who are already here. To those who can establish their identity, pass a background check, and pay back taxes, we should welcome. To those who are here for purposes of crime, we must deport.

Fourth, we must examine the current immigration quotas and standards to provide for a more flexible approach, allowing more immigration when the economy is booming, and restricting immigration when unemployment is increasing.

Affirmative Action

While we may never be able to completely remove the link between parental wealth and the wealth of their children, we can reduce it by encouraging upward mobility, if we are truly to move to a more equal society. We should therefore link affirmative action policies to familial income rather than race.

Political Reform

Competition is what the incumbents fear, and what is needed in our politics.

We should increase the size of Congress, reform campaign finance laws along the lines of the "Clean Money, Clean Elections" proposal, which would provide some public funding to challengers when their opponents are self-financed, for a start.

We should adopt an amendment to allow states to impose term limits on their federal representatives, thereby reversing the 1995 Supreme Court decision in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton.

The redistricting procedures need to be reformed to reduce gerrymandering, and to allow more competitive elections.

Restrictions on the ability of political parties to get on the ballot should be greatly reduced.

War Powers

The War Power Act should be replaced with the proposed War Powers Consultation Act, which would both clarify and give Congress a proper role in decisions to deploy force abroad.

Health Care

All Americans should have access to health care. Individuals should have their choice of health care plans, health care decisions should be separated from employers, and individuals should be required to purchase health insurance.

Individuals of modest income should be assisted in the purchase of basic health insurance, and the destitute should have their insurance paid by the government. The federal government and the states should both be involved in health insurance regulation.

Medicare and Medicaid programs would be ended, and incorporated into this plan. Savings realized would be used to subsidize health insurance.

Taxes

The Flat Tax is fair, progressive, simple, and transparent. It should replace the current tax code.

Energy and the Environment

Out of concern for both the environment and our economic security, we should work to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Coal fired electric plants should be phased out, and replaced with wind, solar, nuclear, or other non-polluting power plants. Our coal reserves could then be converted to gasoline, thereby reducing carbon emissions by 40% and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

One tool for this is the Carbon Tax, which is simpler, less economically intrusive, and more transparent that the proposed "Cap and Trade" system. The tax can be phased in over time to allow the economy and technology to adjust. The money raised can be used to promote mass transit, or to reduce the tax burden on those with lower incomes.

Education

College student loans should be income contingent. Instead of paying upfront or taking loans with repayment schedules unrelated to income, students would accept an obligation to pay a fixed percentage of their income for a specified period of time, regardless of the income level achieved.

Science should be taught in science class. "Intelligent design" is not science.

Education should be improved through the use of differential pay. This means that high school computer, science, and advanced math teachers would receive more pay than elementary school teachers. This would attract higher quality teachers in technical ares, who would have knowledge of their subjects. Pay raises automatically aligned with seniority should be ended.

Vocational and technical education should be expanded, and made available to more students.

Business/Consumer

How about for a start, stop ignoring small businesses?

The most important change to assist small businesses would be to enact the Flat Tax, discussed above, which would produce positive results for business and job creation.

Relieving small business from the expense and trouble of providing for health insurance, as discussed above, would also provide relief to small businesses.

Sarbanes-Oxley should be revised to reduce the reporting requirements that can cost millions in order to comply. This law also increased the cost of listing on a stock exchange, which discourages initial public offerings. Founders of firms now try to sell to larger corporations, reducing the value of the start-ups, encouraging consolidation, and reducing competition.

The uncertainty of regulatory changes also depresses business activities. The involvement of the Administration in business decreases shareholder values, and introduces political meddling in economic and financial decisions.

The proposed "Card Check" bill should not be passed. Instead, any reform undertaken should act toward the dual purpose of restoring balance to labor-management relations and protecting workers from abuse by both unions and employers

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) should be either repealed or substantially revised.

The "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009" or HR 875 should not be enacted.

No more bailouts of failing large, politically connected corporations. For over a generation or more government policies serve to protect, to subsidize, and to coddle the established, at the expense of the start up. Policies should not favor failing, bloated industries over the entrepreneur.

The use of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by politicians as a slush fund and retirement home should be ended.

Foreign Affairs
this section is from the article at the link:

First, make the United States strong again by restoring its economic dynamism and pragmatic, can-do spirit.

Second, understand clearly that mutual indispensability is the fundamental operating principle for power in the twenty-first century -- meaning that the United States is the indispensable leader but needs equally indispensable partners to succeed.

Third, focus U.S. policy and the power coalitions that must be forged on addressing the greatest threats -- terrorism, economic crises, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and global pandemics -- and then just mind other threats as best one can.

Fourth, remember that international power works best against problems before, rather than after, they mature.

Fifth, realize that although the essence of power remains pressure and coercion based on a state's resources and international position, in other respects power is not what it used to be.


So what other policies would a Whig support?

In order to save Social Security, we will either have to privatize the system, like Sweden did, or tie increases to the rate of inflation rather than the rate of wage increases.

Citizens should be encourage to take personal responsibility for their lives. The 1996 Welfare Reform Bill should not be repealed.

Local government should concentrate on the efficient delivery of basic services. Law enforcement should keep people safe in their homes and on the streets.

The individual right to keep and bear arms should be applied to the states. "A government that does not trust it's law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust." -- James Madison

Treating marijuana as an intoxicant, and regulating and taxing it like liquor sales should be seriously considered.

Our economy is dependent on our transportation and communication infrastructure. Whigs should support efforts to increase competition in the media, telecommunications, and internet service provider industries. The transportation network needs additional investments, especially in the area of high speed rail.

Efforts to move decision making to the local or state level should be encouraged. Recent efforts to assert the Tenth Amendment should also be supported.

Accordingly, the power to legislate on abortion should be returned to the states, where the people of the state could decide the issue. The federal government should be removed from deciding social issues.

Policies and practices that confront corruption and conflict of interest, and which promote transparency and accountability should be supported.

Last, but not least, deficit spending must stop. Our national debt is damaging our currency, our international standing, and our economic future. The national interest must prevail over special interests. The practice of earmarking must come to an end. I wish I could be more specific, but cuts will have to come to every area of the federal budget.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What does your statement "control of the borders" mean? Do you advocate a wall, that would cost big bucks, unless the military were used to not only secure the work site but also be the suppliers of wall materials? The initial outlay of a permanent border would be far less in the long run that using thousands of men to guard the perimeter. Where do you stand on this. You seem wishy-washy?