At the start of 2013, I published a list of actions that would solve the health care crisis in the United States, improve the economy, and create better government. Unfortunately, as 2014 starts, all these actions still need to be enacted, and some new ones need to be added. Here is the update list.
1. Enact single-payer health care system.
2. Properly fund programs for SNAP (food stamps), housing, etc. for people in need. Increase spending for food programs and housing programs so everybody has enough to eat and adequate housing. Extend unemployment insurance for those in need.
3. Commit to education fully. Let’s establish that class sizes should have no more than 20 students though high school and work to increase the number of teachers to achieve this goal. Provide public funding for students through at least the undergraduate level of college.
4. Address income inequality by requiring that top executives pay increases or bonuses must be less than or equal to the increases or bonuses paid to employees.
5. Make gun safety laws stricter by enacting the following requirements:
- Require background checks for anybody buying a gun.
- Require training in gun safety.
- Make straw man purchasing of guns illegal. Require valid gun registration to buy ammunition.
- Allow researchers and law enforcement officials to use the gun registration database to track guns in crime.
6. Enact a stimulus bill. Debt is not the main concern now, jobs are. We can start by rebuilding infrastructure and allowing the debt ceiling to increase automatically.
7. Get rid of corporate welfare and prohibit special tax breaks (incentives) for individual companies.
8. Make the following changes to the tax code:
- Enact a financial transaction tax.
- Change tax laws so that only amount of income determines tax rates, not source of income.
- Change tax laws to remove loopholes so profitable companies must pay taxes and remove tax breaks on foreign profits.
- Change tax law to remove separate taxes on wages. Have only one federal income tax and allocate percentages to pay for Social Security and Medicare.
9. Require complete disclosure of all financial donations to politicians and political campaigns.
10. Require that all lobbyist meetings be documented with a summary of issues and what the lobbyist requested. (These should be posted every week on the Internet.)
11. Only allow citizens who are eligible to vote in an election or who can register to vote in an election to contribute to campaigns. This would require overturning Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission either by the Supreme Court or with a constitutional amendment.
12. Research and support clean, renewable energy.
13. Get rid of the debt ceiling. The cost to the economy is too great if the government shuts down, and many experts consider the debt ceiling unconstitutional.
14. If the government does shut down, then all members of Congress should lose wages just like other government employees.
15. Increase penalties to at least three times the profits made via fraud or other criminal acts. Too often firms engage in illegal activity and are hit with minimal fines. Not only should fines be increased, but the executives responsible should be prosecuted, and if found guilty, required to spend some serious time in jail.
Too often it is unclear what actions need to be take to improve the U.S. These actions provide a starting point for reforms that would significantly improve the quality of life in the U.S. and provide a government that is more accountable.