What follows is a letter I sent to David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to President Obama with a series of ideas in the genre of the ‘If I were king’, variety. My hope was that, to some degree, some if not all of them might reignite the enthusiasm that propelled Barak Obama into the White House in the first place. What they do offer, to some degree, are the kinds of programs that harken back to his call for ‘real’ change which has not been a successful message to date. The changes in the way we do things here will send a message to the American people that it is systemic change that is needed and being offered, not the window dressing applied over ‘business as usual’ that is the appearance to date and I believe is the chief cause of the decline in the popularity rating of the President. It is my hope that even the mere announcement of the ideas that follow, or some of them, will prevent the democratic party from losing its majorities in the House and Senate in the mid-term elections at a time when going back to the Bush theory of government will use the ignorance of the electorate to buy support for the Republican party and it’s ideologues at the cost of progress and the return to the regressive policies that created the mess the Obama administration was elected to repair.
Dwight Owen Schweitzer, Esq.
1000 Quayside Terrace Ste. 903
Miami, Florida 33138
August 8th 2010
Mr. David Axelrod
Sr. Adviser to the President
The White House
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue
Like most Democrats, I am concerned that the biannual elections will leave President Obama as a lame duck. I believe the cause of this is that the administration has failed to inspire the American people, who expect results in weeks that actually need years. I think what is needed is an agenda for Main Street, one that shows imagination, creativity, and are not long-term quests for results, but rather resonate quickly with the voters on a level that will reinvigorate the enthusiasm that came out of his choice for the Presidency.
What follows is a broad brush summary of ideas, and initiatives that I feel might offer real and systemic change that will benefit the middle class and those who were there but now, no longer are, and I will be happy to help fill in the details.
- A plan that replaces current Medical mal-practice insurance, and the need to sue, with a system similar to workers compensation, one that is not based on fault but on result, is quick, predictable, with the same approach to a schedule of benefits that presently exist in workers compensation statutes, and based on the cost of living geographically, but otherwise uniform throughout the country. There would also be a bi-partisan panel that would be empowered to also award punitive damages under well-defined standards and real, but not exorbitant caps.
- An announcement that the entire contents of the Library of Congress will be on the internet with free access over the next 5 years.
- A plan to redirect federal education funds to balance student computer access in every school district in the country by 2012 based upon the ‘grand list’ of each school district so the money to buy them will be fairly apportioned based on the ability of the particular school district to provide computers to all its students out of its own revenue base.
- The creation of a commission to study the abolition of the income tax and replace it with a graduated federal excise tax on everything sold, and paid by the seller collected from the buyer at the point of sale. (the most basic needs within the economy would have a negative tax), the greater the lack of ‘necessity’ of the item will result in a higher rate of tax, (this would tax consumption, offer a faster and better method to control the economy by allowing rapid up or down adjustments in product focused tax rates, would force everyone to pay taxes (40% do not pay income taxes now), would lower credit demand and increase savings rates. The only remaining vestige of the income tax would be on passive income over $200,000.00 yr. Place an excise tax on stock purchases in lieu of the present capital gains tax on sales of investments (taxing the buyer instead of the seller) Re-sales outside of normal business channels (yard sales and the like) would require that a tax be paid by the buyer and a % of that tax would be a credit back to the buyer on a form given by the seller to the buyer (the tax paid as shown on the form could then be applied by the buyer toward the tax due on other purchases) to keep resales from being under the radar. This process would also allow for a much easier way to increase Federal revenues simply by adjusting the tax rates on certain goods and services up or down individually which would not need Congressional approval, could better control inflation by balancing supply to demand through tax rates’ specifically directed to those areas in the economy where there is an imbalance between supply and demand. The potential benefits of this approach are significant and would be calculated to cover the present and projected costs of social security and medical access.
- People hate the IRS, the honest payers cover the amount needed due to the cheaters, productivity is lost due to the time dedicated to record keeping and to prepare the returns, the present system encourages consumption and incorporated obsolescence. A value added tax should be considered as a part of this package, and a vast decrease in the federal work force by dismantling the IRS bureaucracy would also be a publicly approved response to the growth in the size of government and the ‘cost’ of the IRS is huge.
- The creation, working with the Banking industry, of a “National Credit Repair Act” which would lay out a menu which, if followed, will guarantee the restoration of a persons credit rating in stages and over time. The problem now is that credit ratings, once lost, are very difficult to regain, the steps necessary to do so are vague, the time required is unknown, and yet we are a society that depends on credit to buy most goods and services. Having lost access to credit the 35 million consumers the recession has made no longer credit worthy, and who therefore cannot buy the things they would otherwise have purchased, result, in impeding our economic recovery. Some form of government guarantee of a % of the credit granted would help in expediting credit access by rewarding those who have complied with the statute, thereby getting access to crediteasier and therefore faster.
- A federal law that would require that anyone killed on an interstate highway who has recoverable organs, is over the age of 25, has had a drivers license for at least 5 years and who has not opted out of the system given notice of their right to do so for each of the past 3 years. Their names would then appear on the records of their MV dept and in a national registry and shall thereafter be presumed to have given consent to harvest those organs for transplant as needed anywhere in the United States. Thousands of potential donors are lost every year and it will make the US the destination of choice for those needing transplants from all over the world. (It could have a positive effect on our balance of payments as well)
- The creation of a ‘Peoples Advocacy Division’ within the Justice Department and the FBI to handle complaints of governmental abuse of power by federal or state governmental employees and would have the ability to bring suit on the injured parties behalf, under USCA §42-1983 expanded to include federal employees acting under color of federal law, in the name of the person or persons with valid complaints against any government official to be sued in the Federal Court within the jurisdiction where that offense allegedly occurred. To make this process work, The countrie’s Law Schools should be invited on a voluntary basis to create screening and review panels made up of 3rd year Law students to initially review complaints originating in their defined region and then pass them (all) on to the Justice Department with their findings and the legal support for their recommendations.
- The creation of an “Infrastructure Assessment Commission” under the Interstate Commerce Commission which has the responsibility of cataloging in descending order of necessity, the infrastructure projects that most need to be repaired or replaced on a non-partisan basis so the allocation of the funds already authorized will not give the American People the sense (which they presently have) that it was just another example of wasteful pork barrel spending making the increase in the national debt harder to justify. (if my math is correct the debt that came out of WW II vs revenues and as a % of GNP was significantly higher than where we are now or will be over term; if so somebody ought to remind ‘my fellow Americans’ of that fact.) The simple truth is that governments like businesses run on the basis that it ‘takes money to make money’. For example, when a person buys a home their debt to income ratio is much more disparate than the debt to income ratio of the Federal Government; it is all a matter of growth oriented spending. That case needs to be made and the President needs to have fireside chats educating the country on the issues where it is obvious that the man in the street has no idea why our policies are what they are.
- The creation of a Commission to study the effects of lobbying on the process that resulted in the recent healthcare legislation. You and I both know that the failure of the ‘Public Option’ to become part of that legislation will result in higher costs, lower access than hoped for and the public needs to know why they did not get the most important part of that quest to bring the USA in line with most of the other developed nations of the world. (Frankly I would have simply offered Medicare as the only bill with age as the criteria to phase in access, starting with age 10 and below and 60 and above and then add 10 years at each end as the economy could afford to absorb the cost until the gap ended and all Americans were covered.
I realize that these proposals present tremendous challenges given the way we do business in Washington but I am also aware that they are just the kind of initiatives that cut the rug out from under the Tea Party “all Democrats do is spend” mantra, that is and has been, gaining ground. As a result the decline in the popularity of the President and the Democratic partiy was inevitable precisely because no one is able to compare with any degree of credibility, what has been done, with where we would be, but for him and the actions taken by his administration.
I believe that these proposals are not simply pie in the sky, but are the kind of ideas that will show that the President’s call for “Change” during his campaign meant systemic change. They also offer a win win in the sense that if the Republicans take control of the legislative branch in November none of these ideas will go anywhere but they are just the kind of ideas and programs that will inspire both present and former middle class voters, and those independent voters, that real change on their behalf is being offered by the administration, and having supported him originally they will come back seeing in a tangible way the kind of proposals they hoped to see when they voted for him.
If you can find a spare moment, I gave a lecture after President Obama’s election but before his inauguration that can be found under my full name on YOUTube, entitled “Obama’s America, Reflections on the Past, A Vision for the Future:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7vDrA34Hxs.
Very truly yours,
Dwight Owen Schweitzer
1For references I am originally from CT, a friend of Chris Dodd, Peter Kelly, Jay Rockefeller among others. I was a senior adviser to John Glenn (I ran his Connecticut Campaign) during his run for the White house and helped President Clinton get on the primary ballot in the Connecticut Primary and was his guest at his inauguration. I served an aide to The Finance Chair of the DNC at two Democratic National conventions, among other political and related activities.
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