Actions 2016

At the start of 2013, 2014 and 2015, I published a list of actions that would solve the health care crisis in the United States, improve the economy, and create better government. I am continuing that tradition. Unfortunately, as 2016 starts, all these actions still need to be enacted, and some new ones have been added. Here is the updated list.

  1. Enact single-payer health care system.
  2. Enact an economic stimulus bill. Debt is not the main concern now, jobs are. We can start by rebuilding infrastructure.
  3. Remove the debt ceiling. The cost to the economy is too great if the government shuts down, and the debt ceiling is unconstitutional.
  4. 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. This is a solution for the short term.
  5. Establish a negative income tax. This would be the long-term solution for funding poverty programs. A negative income tax guarantees everybody a minimum income. Anybody below the minimum is given money until their income reaches the minimum level. As their income rises, one dollar is taken away for every two dollars made. This guarantees that income remains stable and gives people an incentive to find work so their income will increase. It is a long-term solution to the multiple poverty programs that currently exist.
  6. Businesses that do not pay living wages should be fined three times the amount of the living wage. This gives businesses an incentive to pay living wages. For example, if the living wage is established to be $30,000 per year and a business pays only $15,000 per year, then the business would be fined $90,000, and these fines should not be tax deductible.
  7. 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 increase this goal. Provide public funding for students through at least the undergraduate level of college. Start education for another language in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten with the goal of making everybody in the U.S. bilingual.
  8. 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.
  9. Make gun safety laws stricter by enacting the following requirements:
  10. Require background checks for anybody buying a gun.
  11. Require training in gun safety.
  12. Make straw man purchasing of guns illegal. Require valid gun registration to buy ammunition.
  13. Abolish the restriction that prevents the federal government from sponsoring research on gun violence.
  14. Create a gun registration database and allow researchers and law enforcement officials to use the gun registration database to track guns in crime.
  15. Get rid of corporate welfare and prohibit special tax breaks—technically called tax incentives–for individual companies.
  16. Make the following changes to the tax code:
    1. Enact a financial transaction tax.
    2. Change tax laws so that only amount of income determines tax rates, not source of income.
    3. Change tax laws to remove loopholes so profitable companies must pay taxes and remove tax breaks on foreign profits.
    4. 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.
    5. Tax income made by businesses in foreign countries the same as income made in the U.S.
  17. Require complete disclosure of all financial donations to politicians and political campaigns.
  18. Require that all lobbyist meetings be documented with a summary of issues discussed the actions and legislation the lobbyist requested. These should be posted every week on the Internet by the lobbyists and politicians.
  19. The source of any legislation must be clearly documented. If a lobbyist was the primary author, then the law should state who wrote the law and what organizations lobbied for the legislation. If a legislator or staff member drafted the bill, then that should be clearly stated.
  20. 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.
  21. Automatically register citizens to vote when they become 18.
  22. Abolish the requirement for photo identification for voting. The only purpose of these laws is to prevent people—especially poor people—from voting, and there are documented cases of people who have been denied their right to vote because of these laws. These laws are also a backhanded poll tax, and there is valid reason for this requirement.
  23. Research and support clean, renewable energy.
  24. 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.
  25. If the government does shut down, then all members of Congress should lose wages just like other government employees.
  26. 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 also the executives responsible should be prosecuted, and if found guilty, required to spend some serious time in jail.
  27. Develop programs to develop trust between law enforcement and the general public, especially minority communities.
  28. Change the law so that contracts for services such as Internet, phone, television, and other consumer contracts do not force consumers to relinquish their right to sue. If arbitration is required as a first step, then the consumer should have the right to choose the arbitrator.

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.

(The action list for 2015 can be found here. The action list for 2014 can be found here, and the action list for 2013 can be found here.)