Yes, I support that...

Have you seen the American Compact?  It's list of An Agreement with the American People lays out a Democratic message for 2006:Free public education pre-K through post-12, reflecting that a high school diploma alone is no longer the ticket to the middle class

National standards for fair federal elections including a common ballot design and common 24 hour election day (10pm EST the first Monday in November to 10pm EST the first Tuesday in November, worldwide)

Nonpartisan congressional redistricting (and at the state level, nonpartisan legislative redistricting)

Fair and Simple progressive no-deductions income and payroll tax

Fair Social Security funding (lift the income limit, add progressivity) to guarantee solvency and meet our moral obligation

Health care for every child as a step to health care for every American

Expanding, retraining and reequipping the National Guard as our "first line of defense" for Homeland Security. Return the militia to its role of protecting its community.

"For the Troops" - Spend tax dollars on the military prioritized to support the soldiers, sailors and airmen, not enrich the defense contractors

Pass legislation to enforce equal protection under the laws for all Americans as guaranteed by the Constitution

Progress toward energy independence by applying American technology for common-sense conservation and the use of government grants and incentives to encourage purchase and installation of home and community based sources of solar, wind and other inexhaustible, renewable energy.

What would you change of the above? Or, if you agree, how does it boil down into a single set of values that defines the worldview?

One of the big questions here, is whether we can distill the argument down to a core statement. Grover Norquist, when he introduces someone new to the Conservative movement, will ask "guns, babies, and taxes, where do you stand?" The irrationality of the extremists being allowed to fundamentally interpret the brand is put aside for the purpose of branding the Republicans with a consistent message to win elections with mediocre candidates.

Anyone who's paying attention to the Democrats at the state level recognizes that it's in the states with Democratic governors and state leg's that are more fiscally sound then those run by Republicans. Maybe that's why there continue to be more Democratic legislators nationwide than there are Republicans. But to become a national movement, Democrats will have to coalesque around a consistent worldview that espouses certain principles to advance.

Tags: Democrats (all tags)



something about fiscal responsibility
should be added -

"balance the freakin budget and pay off the national debt" is the easiest formulation (doesn't that speak pretty strongly to what working people strive to do every day) -

I'm sure there are some economics-professor arguments (e.g. government bonds are the lowest-risk investment option, so maybe we want to have a small amount of debt to have t-bonds on the market) - but we need to counter the trickle-down lunacy that's been around since Reagan -

by Mississippi Scott 2005-08-13 05:39AM | 0 recs
Privacy Amendment
I think Dems should push for a Privacy Amendment both to the US and state constitutions.  The benefits would be broad, its simple to wrap your head around and it would mobilze people like the Rights Marriage Amendments in the last election.  Fact is we should brace for the overthrow of Griswold/Roe and place this right firmly, undeniably as a fundamental right.

It would protect a woman's right to choose, all our rights to adult consensual sex, push back on the Patriot Act, protect us against predatory marketing, and maybe even draw the line between church and state even sharper (private beliefs v. public policy).

Has this been tried?

by Martin Finnucane 2005-08-13 05:49AM | 0 recs
In one part, no tax deductions, in another, incentives for renewable resources. The usual incentive is a tax credit. ?????

Too specific. The more specific the legislative proposal, the more people find something wrong with it.

by antiHyde 2005-08-13 06:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Disconnect
Yes, I would pass this by an economist.  Would we want no tax incentives?  And most of the breaks to the wealthy come in simply defining what income is in the first place.  We need a more sophisticated position.  We could certainly get some of the tax code simplified and modified by someone who is not already in bed with the rich and powerful.  How do you do that, by the way?
by prince myshkin 2005-08-13 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Disconnect
You are absolutely correct, usually incentives for renewable energy involve tax deductions.  The renewable energy tax deduction is known as the production tax credit (ptc). This drives down the price of say wind energy and allows it to be competitive with traditional forms of electricity production like coal.
Beyond just tax credits for renewables, I just cannot support a no deductions law in general. I cannot support it because, like everyone here has said, it encourages favorable behaviors from individuals.  
by schwompa 2005-08-13 12:28PM | 0 recs
There are ways
to encourage renewable energy by eliminating tax breaks. Eliminating tax subsidies on resource depletion would be one. Your boy sounds like he's all for it, too, though the statement I linked has more to do with mining.

The less we subsidize non-renewable energy, the more attractive renewable sources will become. Who the heck wants to be constantly drilling and mining when they can just set up a solar or wind farm that keeps on gushing?

by catastrophile 2005-08-14 04:27PM | 0 recs
I would not go beyond k-12 for free education
A reason to offer free education K-12 is that it is mandatory (OK, you can quit at 16).  Post-secondary education is not mandatory.

However, I would demand affordable post-secondary edication for everyone.  State schools should not cost $15,000 a year for anyone, even those out of school.

Also, we'll never get no deductions through.  It's interesting and I would need more reasons to support it, but in the real world it won't happen so I'm not sure I need more reasons.

I would also need to see more about the National Guard.  These appear to be national issues, and the Guards are supposed to be the province of the states except for military and other emergencies when the Feds can call them out.

by nathan 2005-08-13 06:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I would not go beyond k-12 for free education
We shouldn't necessarily be thinking in terms of "this is doable," and "this isn't doable."  

Conservatives didn't get where they are making pragmatic compromises on message based on the realities on the ground.  They got where  they are by hammering home their message for decades, whatever its popularity or feasability at the time.  

Pragmatism is something best left to bill writing  and wrangling in the congress and state legislatures, not in a discussion of overarching messaging.

by prank monkey 2005-08-13 10:42AM | 0 recs
Re: I would not go beyond k-12 for free education
I think doable is vitally important to our proposals, because there are so many doable proposals out there that we can list.  There's no need to go pie in the sky because what we can do it good enough.

I also think that Democrats need to push the message that we live in the real world, and deal with it as such.  The Republicans live in fantasy land where evolution is a religion, global warming doesn't exist and anyway it would be good for northern tourism, and blastospheres are human beings with all attendant rights.

by nathan 2005-08-14 09:32AM | 0 recs
Re: I would not go beyond k-12 for free education
I agree that we need doable proposals, and that there are many out there.

But Jerome's question here is specifically how do the items listed on teh campact boil down to a specific set of values.

Proposals and values are not the same thing.  Proposals change, the realities that make them feasible or pie in the sky change.  Values can define policy for a generation or more.  

What I'm arguing for here is a more broader characterization of eduation and the necessity of increasing its availability and giving it goernmental support.  

by prank monkey 2005-08-14 01:35PM | 0 recs
Re: I would not go beyond k-12 for free education
What reason would you give for not paying for post secondary?  There are good ones, even aside from the cost.  I'm living overseas now.  The downside in Germany of their essentially free university education is that they pre-select at the age of 11 who will have a chance.  That means that, in effect, the rich kids go to university, just like in the U.S.  In France anyone who passes the baccalaureat exam, 80% of the population, can give it a shot.  They throw them into classes of 500 the first year and give one exam at the end of the year.  If you fail twice, your university career is finished forever.  Or you could go with the American system where either you are rich to start with, or you take on so much debt that you have no choice but to work at whatever pays the obscenely high salary it takes to pay off your debt.  No room for idealists in the good U.S.of A.  And no hope for a classless society.  Take your pick.
by prince myshkin 2005-08-13 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: I would not go beyond k-12 for free education
My main reason for not wholly funding post-secondary education is that it is not mandatory.  It benefits only certain people, and not those who do not go on for advanced degrees.

Primary and seconday education are mandated by our laws, and as such you can't really expect to collect a tuition.

But two and four year college degree programs are not state mandated, and so I can't see funding them 100%.  They do, however, have a LARGE society benefit and public colleges should be heavily subsidized.  A full time courseload with housing shouldn't cost more than 10-25 percent of the average annual salary of the state in which the school sits.  Probably closer to 10 percent.

Something like the GI bill for military, teaching, charity, relief or other work would also be good.

I do wonder whether we should provide such subsidies for skills education (truck driving school, art school, mechanics, computer and networking, etc.) and/or continuing education for professionals.

However, these are all the sticky wickets of the issue.  It is because they exist that I question free post secondary education as a goal, and suggest that it be subsidized instead.

by nathan 2005-08-14 09:56AM | 0 recs
That's a nice list

I think that's "Government for the American People", or just "For the people"
by Eric Loeb 2005-08-13 06:25AM | 0 recs
Income Tax deductions
Remember that income tax deductions encourage certain behaviors:  home buying, charitable contributions, as well as allowing people to deduct state and local property and income taxes.  Do we really want to go to a gross income tax, like NJ, disallowing those deductions, and therefore removing a major incentive for home purchasing?


by billcoop4 2005-08-13 06:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Income Tax deductions
Also, think about what deductions mean.  Suppose you have a corner grocery store.  You buy $50,000 worth of stuff and sell it for $100,000.

Do you pay tax on the entire $100,000 of income?  Is that fair?  But if you want to "deduct" the cost of the goods that were sold, then we're right back to arguing about what should or should not be deducted.

So I propose instead clear ways to eliminate the purchase of tax breaks that we see happening now.  Which takes us to a bigger problem - the influence of money in our political system.  That's a different subject.

by davej 2005-08-13 02:39PM | 0 recs
I disagree with the "No Deductions" line
The problem (as several posters have already noted) is that the reason that buying a house is financially feisable for many people is the tax writeoff.  Take that away and you'll have less people owning homes.  It'll also be unpopular with people, as they like those writeoffs.  Change it to "with no loopholes" and it'll not only poll better, it'll be better.

Also, as a student, I don't know about the free-post-12.  It's a tricky thing to implement, because right now there is a certain meritocracy about college, and if we say that everyone should go, we risk lowering standards.  I agree that we should make tuition tax deductable, and make state schools tuition lower, and expand scholerships, particularly for hardship and minority cases, but I don't know that outright saying "free college" is going to fly, particularly with all the people who are still paying their loans right now.  Just my 2 cents.

by LaX WI 2005-08-13 07:27AM | 0 recs
I should note that I don't think we should talk about redistricting 'til we know where it'll get us.  We need to make sure it happenes everywhere at once, when we do it, and that it won't cost us too many seats, otherwise we could be handing the House over the GOP for decades.  We can't let CA do redistricting until we get some red states to as well.
by LaX WI 2005-08-13 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Also
I think this strategy might be just as harmful as what you are trying to prevent.  It makes it look like we don't really want electoral reform, we  want electoral reform that gives us the advantage.  That will let the Conservatives paint us as hypocritical, craven politicians looking out more for our own power than the health of our democracy.

Maybe a better way to say this might be that we want  lanaguge about fair and representative government that is accountable to the electorate.  

by prank monkey 2005-08-13 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Also
That seems like a better way.  I'm not saying I don't want election reform, but I also want universal health care, responsable foreign policy, and tougher gun laws, and that's not going to happen unless we have some control over Congress, so I'm not willing to throw everything else out to be the good guys on one issue.
by LaX WI 2005-08-13 11:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Also
I'd like to win too, but I think it might not be bad if the Democratic Party came down squarely for democracy.  When about half the people don't vote, it's because they think their vote won't count or it won't make a difference.  Stopping Gerrymandering helps with the first.  Standing for something helps with the second.  We could try both and see what happens.
by prince myshkin 2005-08-13 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Also
I worry about the "see what happens" approach, and I'd bet that party strategists would as well.  It seems like a bad idea to make a gamble that could result in huge losses for us, which would involve us losing on so many other issues, just to get this one.
by LaX WI 2005-08-13 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Also
Because party strategists  obviously know what they're doing . . .

(sorry for the snark.)

by prank monkey 2005-08-13 11:33AM | 0 recs
Yeah, they do
These people spend their lives doing this, and they're the second best in the world, and only a little behind the GOP.  We've got over two hundred house seats.  We've got 44 senate seats.  We've got Democratic Governors, and state legislators and mayors and dogcatchers.  And that's because of party strategists.  I'm sick and tired of hearing people trash them when they're doing the damnedest to win us back the House, Senate, and White House.  You think they don't want it?  They devoted their lives to getting it.  And yeah, they screw up sometimes, and sometimes they just don't have enough money, or time, or volunteers, and sometimes we just don't have the voters to make it happen.  But give the professionals a break here.
by LaX WI 2005-08-13 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah, they do
I appreciate what they've done.  Believe me.  And I'm friends with some people who strategize and organize at the national and local level for the  party and for outside groups whose work supplements that done by the party.  I know how hard they work.

I've put considerable time in myself.

I don't doubt their committment.  And I don't even doubt their strategy as much anymore now that Dean is in charge.  

But I find your attitude as undercritical as you seem to find mine overcritical.

Let's split the difference and agree that great strides forward are being made, but strategy and messaging could certainly be better.  

But there is certainly room for more improvement and some resistance to change (I'm thinking of Bob Brigham's arguement with the D-Trip.)

Anyway, I'm on a long rant here, but my main point is that the party strategists don't always know what's best (Bob  Shrum - 0-8, but hey, He's a Genius).  And I'd point out again that my comment had a little snark in it for the sake of snark.

by prank monkey 2005-08-13 03:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah, they do
Additionally, I"m not only talking here about electoral strategiest, but policy strategists as well.

BOPnews recently ran a post linking to an article in The Nation which details this far bettern than I could in a short comment.

by prank monkey 2005-08-14 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree with the "No Deductions"
As far as the home mortgage interest deduction, an economist would probably tell you that the fact of the deduction actually drives up prices to what people can bear on a cash-flow basis after the deduction, so that there's actually no net benefit once the market adjusts (which I think it has).

I would also note that the home mortgage interest deduction is more valuable the more money you make (leaving aside the AMT for the moment) because it's a deduction against income for calculating AGI.  So, it's really more of a subsidy for the well-off high earner than it is for the less-so, although the less-well off are then penalized by the higher prices generated by the median income tax deduction rates.  

There are other ways to assist people in buying homes, many of which we as a nation do.

by paperwight 2005-08-13 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree with the "No Deductions"
I don't disagree with any of this, and I think that we need to look at all the options here.  What worries me is that we have a complicated arguement (what you just said) and the GOP has a simple one ("they want to take away your home owner deduction!  They want to discourage home ownership and raise your taxes")that, while untrue, is an easy to understand sound byte.  I think we need to look at the politics as well as the policy, here.
by LaX WI 2005-08-13 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree with the "No Deductions"
Oh, the HMI deduction is here to stay, including its regressive aspects.  It would be impossible to pull it, particularly as doing so would cause a housing price collapse.

Pointing out that it's stupid policy is not the same thing as thinking that it's politically possible to get rid of it.  That would be letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

by paperwight 2005-08-13 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree with the "No Deductions"
Maybe we could do it after the housing price collapse happens -- maybe a month or so from now...


by davej 2005-08-13 02:41PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree with the "No Deductions"
Yup, we ought to have progressive credits for people at the low end, but as you said below, it won't happen in this life-time.

I'm pretty sure that you are able to take the deduction on 1 vacation property.  I know that a boat counts for that purpose as long as it has a bathroom.

by Abby 2005-08-13 01:57PM | 0 recs
Re: I disagree with the "No Deductions"
Abby -

You're absolutely right, and I was wrong.

Primary home + one secondary, as long as you don't rent out the second home.

by paperwight 2005-08-13 03:32PM | 0 recs
Me too
I agree. " No Deductions" is a loser for middle and working class Americans who rely on home mortgage deductions.  The deduction is an incentive to buy a home in the first place.  When applied to working and middle class families, this becomes more regressive than progressive.

However, a cap on the deduction may work.  Such as, you can deduct your primary residence home mortgage but not that of your (5) vacation homes.

Take that Rummy!

by bellarose 2005-08-13 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Me too
That's already the way it works.  You can only deduct interest on your primary residence. (Unless you're a landlord, in which case interest becomes a business expense, but then you're in depreciation territory, etc. etc.)

As for the political possibility, I've responded above.

by paperwight 2005-08-13 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Me too
I was wrong on this.  See above.
by paperwight 2005-08-13 03:32PM | 0 recs
election day
The second point violates Article 2, Section 1, Clause 4 of the Constitution, which states that the election shall be held on a single day, determined by congress, and that day shall be the same throughout the united states.   Midnight to midnight local time would be constitutional.
by feynman 2005-08-13 07:35AM | 0 recs
Put the national guard on the border
Instead of protecting our communities, the National Guard and active duty military should be put on the border between the US and Mexico to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing. We already have the police and other services to protect our communities for anything that is not a complete catastrophe. Of course, any action like this would be predicated on bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, which we should do anyway.
by Christopher Hitchens 2005-08-13 07:44AM | 0 recs
Free education through post-12?  First, think of the cost to tax payers for that.  With the average cost of a year of college, as mentioned in a previous comment, that would keep us in the hole.  And it devalues the high school diploma.

Here's an alternative:  set up a study to see what kids just out of high school need to know, no matter if they are entering the workforce or continueing through college.  Then simply modify each state's standards to make sure everyone gets this type of education.

Following the plan mentioned here, it lead us up a slippery slope as to how much education the government is supoed to give to a student.  How long before a PhD education is free?  

First thing to teach:  critical thinking.

by drchatty 2005-08-13 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Education
I don't quite like this as stated either. I'd like to see more details of this like how it will be paid for.

I would support larger tax breaks for college students and perhaps a federal grant fund for students who maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher. Another fund could be set up for excellent scholars who acheive 3.5 GPA.

I would support 2 year enlistment terms in the military out of high school in exchange for the GI Bill that can be drawn upon for education. Basically they can avoid full terms of service, and the nation gains a pool of inactive reservists and national guardsmen that can be drawn upon in national emergency.

The point is to keep personal initiative in the equation for the students. If it were free to go to school through a bachelors degree, it should be mandatory to attend by law to ensure return on investment. Not everyone wants to attend college so the choice to do so should remain.

Also, this would simply raise the bar imo. This proposal is well intentioned and its true a better educated workforce is better for america, but if everyone had bachelors degrees the bar would be raised by employers to seek people with graduate degrees. Actually, this is already happening with the current undergraduate rate. Anyone been applying for jobs recently? So the benefit to the middle-class is speculation I think. More competition would be created by having more qualified people applying for the same jobs.

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-08-13 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Education
The proposals I have seen advocate a pre-k thru 14 type of situation.  High school diploma plus Associates degree or two year vocational certification.  Then you can go on to Bachelors degree or more at your choice.  This would more closely approximate the schooling of other industrialized nations.  At least that was my understanding.
by Demo Dan in Dayton 2005-08-13 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Education
Kerry pushed for this during the campaign. That would be acceptable to me.

I do think that the education credits that Bush implemented should stay however, or be increased. That's one of the few things he did that I like. I got about $2500 of tax breaks for education that I wouldn't have got otherwise.

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-08-13 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Education
I think again we are getting too specific here.   the purpose ofthis posting and exercise seems to be less about thinking up policy  proposals as coming p with an overarching set of values underwhich we can encompass all our future policies.
by prank monkey 2005-08-13 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Education
Okay, what about tuition grants for students who have worked a year or two in social service?  Kill two birds with one stone.  Make a socially aware new generation and help pay for the prohibitive cost of education which is making us into a class society.
by prince myshkin 2005-08-13 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Education
I don't take issue with your  proposals. I agree with  them and think these are great ideas. But so is closing down the Family Federal Education Loan Program to end subsidies to Sallie Mae et al and reinvestingthe savings into education.  

There are lots of ways to use policy to bolster the education system, but what we should be talking about here is the reason for bolstering the education system and the lengths to which the government should be supporting education, not the specific means by which this will be accomplished.  

Specific policy proposals is a matter best left to specific elections and regions or for the negotiating table  where we may need to make pragmatic tradeoffs to get votes - that is where it will  matter whether we're asking people to perform community service or ending corporate subsidies.  

If you polled the electorate about these  specific proposals, you'd probably get a lot of folks agreeing with you.  But having solid policy proposals (which he did) didn't help get Kerry elected and didn't solve the fact that peole don't know what Dems stand for.

Until we can come up with the equivalent of Grover's 30 word summary of  conservative principle's, we'll always lose because the devil's not in the details, but the nitpicking around the details is the devil that kills us everytime.  

by prank monkey 2005-08-13 11:39AM | 0 recs
Just what I was going to say.
To steal a line from the abortion argument: The thing to do is to make college less necessary.

There's no good reason why we can't teach kids enough in 12 years to make them ready to go out and face the world. As it is, colleges are having to put freshmen into remedial courses because the K-12 systems aren't even preparing them properly for that!

If K-12 were doing what it's supposed to do, we wouldn't even need to discuss having gov't foot the bill for more schooling.

by catastrophile 2005-08-14 04:40PM | 0 recs
National Guard
I will go along with those who think we should keep income tax deductions.

I also disagree with the part about the National Guard. Dedicating the National Guard to homeland defense only would require a massive expansion of the active duty armed forces and the reserves.

A better idea would be to modernize the Coast Guard and reform other federal agencies (such as the Border Patrol and INS) that are primarily responsible for Homeland Security.

Democrats should also support ending Homeland Security Grants. We need to focus our limited resources on communities that are actually at risk of being attacked.

BTW, universal health care should be the FIRST item on the list, not the sixth. And we should support universal health care for everybody, not just the kids!

by Otto 2005-08-13 07:59AM | 0 recs
I like the election day idea
Then the polls would close everywhere at exactly the same time.  This would make the votes a more accurate view of the will of the people, since the polls won't be open on the West Coast while the East is already in the columns for one candidate or another.  A winner will be called after everyone has finished voting.
by Max Friedman 2005-08-13 08:04AM | 0 recs
Legislation to Enforce?
Well I have yet to see ANY legislation enforce anything.  The
by Demo Dan in Dayton 2005-08-13 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Legislation to Enforce?
Hit post instead of preview.  never mind.
by Demo Dan in Dayton 2005-08-13 08:13AM | 0 recs
On health care... that realistic or cringingly timid?

Seems Harry and Louise still have their tanks on the Dems' lawn!

Rather than offering a laundry list of items I suspect many voters would see as peripheral to their concerns (plus a half-measure on health), wouldn't it be more persuasive to pledge all Dem forces to achieving universal health care (and in the same period proposed for the items on the list - and is that a single Congress, or two Congresses, or aren't we saying?)?

Because, evidently, the drafters of the list think that universal health care is so damned difficult that it can only be offered as an ultimate goal (aka pie in the sky).

Besides, at least UHC is a simple concept that most people would have a snap view on: whereas I doubt whether many would venture a view on a no-deductions income tax without a heap of explanation, and some figuring of how it would affect them individually.

by johnsmith0903 2005-08-13 08:37AM | 0 recs
All except
I would support all of those except for expanding the National Guard.  What is the point of that one?  The first line of defense for homeland security should be everybody in the community as a whole, including first responders (firefighters, EMTs and paramedics, police); doctors, nurses, mechanics...but going beyond that, it should be everyone.  Our society is already too infested with a "let the professionals handle it" mentality while ordinary people are discouraged from taking an active role in helping out when there is an emergency.

Instead of expanding the National Guard, how about this proposal:

  • Non-military national service program for young adults.  Bring back the Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • Programs to train large numbers of ordinary people in such skills as first aid, CPR, EMT, search and rescue, auto mechanics, etc.  Other skills as appropriate locally (wildland fire fighting in western states for example.)  Encourage all ordinary citizens to become certified in whichever of these interests them, so they will be prepared to help in an emergency instead of the current pathetic "just mind your own business and let the professionals handle it" mindset we now have.
  • Teach classes in all of the above in high school.  Not as "vocational" classes for the non-college bound, and not in the old sexist way that shop and home economics used to be, but for everyone.
  • Community get-involved days.  For example, a litter cleanup day, a graffiti cleanup day, a park maintenance and cleanup day, a school repair and improvement day.  Encourage the whole community to get involved.

Instead of imposing the National Guard as the first role in protecting the community, I would like to see the community returned to having the first role in protecting the community.
by ACSR 2005-08-13 08:42AM | 0 recs
My thoughts on this list.
Nonpartisan congressional redistricting (and at the state level, nonpartisan legislative redistricting)

This may hurt the dems as much as the repubs but it's the right thing to do. Gerrymandering is undemocratic.

Fair and Simple progressive no-deductions income and payroll tax

Not enough detail. I'd settle for a full repeal of Bush's tax cuts and restoring taxation levels of Clinton's era. Perhaps keep some middle-class tax components of Bush's tax cuts. Clinton's fiscal policy is proven and would solve the deficit problem again.

Fair Social Security funding (lift the income limit, add progressivity) to guarantee solvency and meet our moral obligation

I really wish people would quit trying to mess with SS. Leave it alone as is. Instead, let's fix our fiscal policy and eliminate the deficit. I'm not talking just about deficit spending, but the deficit itself. If this were eliminated and we weren't paying billions daily to fund our loans supporting the deficit, SS would not have a crisis at all. Fiscal dicipline is the answer. SS works -- don't touch it.

Health care for every child as a step to health care for every American

Sounds like Hillary 1993! Actually, I have no idea what they mean because there is no detail provided. I've lived and worked in countries with universal healthcare and like our system, there are pros and cons. The problem of uninsured Americans does need to be addressed.

Expanding, retraining and reequipping the National Guard as our "first line of defense" for Homeland Security. Return the militia to its role of protecting its community.

Simply quit breaking the national guard and reserve's backs in Iraq doing the job of active duty and this problem is solved. National guardsmen and reservists are already better trained than ever before -- due to combat experience. I'd prefer to return manning levels of active duty to where it was during the Gulf War. Basically twice its size today. This would require repeal of all of Bush's tax cuts.

"For the Troops" - Spend tax dollars on the military prioritized to support the soldiers, sailors and airmen, not enrich the defense contractors

This is common sense and everyone's been saying this for decades. Realistically? I don't think it will ever happen. When I was in the military there were aircraft bolts and washers that cost as much as $15 each, yet you could go to Home Depot and buy the same thing for $0.80. Tell me how that happens? Eliminate this fleecing of the government across the millions of inventory and there would be a massive reduction of overhead.

Pass legislation to enforce equal protection under the laws for all Americans as guaranteed by the Constitution

Duh. How is this a policy plank?

Progress toward energy independence by applying American technology for common-sense conservation and the use of government grants and incentives to encourage purchase and installation of home and community based sources of solar, wind and other inexhaustible, renewable energy.

No, screw that. This is the same half-assed nonsense we don't need anymore. Forget incentives and conservation, we need a solution and we need it fast. We need an energy initiative like we needed the Space Race in the 1960s and 1970s. But this time it's not about pride but national security. I know that if this country would dedicated unlimited resources and minds to a solution like fusion, and do so with the same resolve as it pursued the atomic bomb and the moon landing, we'd have a real solution in 10 years.

I am so sick and tired of these non-solution solutions.

In summary this list needs a lot of work.

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-08-13 08:53AM | 0 recs
Election day must be a national holiday!
This way everyone can vote and not be caused to miss the chance to cast a vote because of work.  The day should be celebrated and voting should be encouraged all day on the streets exclusively.  This day should be set aside for the importance of voting.  All businesses closed like Christmas and New Years Day.  It is that important.  This will leave no excuses for people not to turn out.
by RSchewe 2005-08-13 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Election day must be a national holiday!
I like that but the problem is lazy ass Americans who don't vote would probably still not vote and just use the day to go out drinking. If you gave them a tax credit of say $100 to vote and speak their language (money), then I bet turnout shoots up to 80%. It's a bribe, but for a good cause.
by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-08-13 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Election day must be a national holiday!
People are lazy either way and possibly more so if they have to work and vote.  Besides if people are that lazy they probably never intend to vote anyway.

This would at least give a chance to those who want to vote.

I hear people from abroad tell me how this is very successful.  That is how it occurred to me.

I wonder how many democratic countries in the world actually work on election day...

by RSchewe 2005-08-13 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Election day must be a national holiday!
I'd also like to extend the voting window to 48 hours rather than one day. That would help deter those GOP tactics of slowing the line and locking out people who didn't vote before the deadline.

How about a day off AND a tax credit?

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-08-13 04:02PM | 0 recs
Who's the motive force behind the Compact?
Who or what organization drew up the Compact?

Let's find out parentage before discussing details.

[notice how quickly everything bogged down into detials?]

BTW: Calif redistricting gain us more seats than we lose if any.

Also look for a post latter, after some more data comes in, about the DCCC really muddying the waters here in the CA-48th to the point of potential costing us a clear primary victory.

by BigDog 2005-08-13 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Who's the motive force behind the Compact?
I was wondering the same thing so I did a search on the domain name. Apparently the site was created by a guy named Rich Kolker. It looks like he has posted some diaries and comments on MyDD before.
by Otto 2005-08-13 11:38AM | 0 recs
The List
Healthcare is my biggest issue.  So, I'd like to see universal healthcare.  I think this "let's insure the children stuff" is too timid.  

I'd like to work on making the high school diploma more useful, although I agree that people should probably get 2 years of post secondary education.  I think that some people aren't temperementally suited to classroom learning, and that there should be apprentice programs set up for them.

The mortgage deduction is bad policy, because it encourages people to buy excessively large houses.  I'd like to see progressive tax credits (which unliek a deduction aren't more valuable if you're in the top bracket) which phase out at the highest levels.

by Abby 2005-08-13 09:43AM | 0 recs
Needs a lot of work
I would actually delete the item about income taxes (Fair and Simple progressive no-deductions income and payroll tax) altogether.  It's oversimplified and there's no math to support such an idea.

As other posters have noted, the ability to deduct encourages things we want people to do like buy a home.

The reality is, anytime you mess around with the tax code the result is never what you intended in the first place.  Exhibit A: Tax Reform Act of 1986.  Reagon wanted to reform the tax code because he thought he paid too much in taxes when he was an actor.  If you want to learn more about what went into that, read "Showdown at Gucci Gulch," which is an excellent behind-the-scenes.

Congress has the ability to reform the tax code but then it's up to the IRS to implement what Congress does.  Exhibit B: the computer system at IRS is nowhere near where it needs to be, even after billions have been invested.

Free public education from pre-K to post-12?  Well, how would this be funded?  Again, I would try to push for more affordable post-HS education, not free.  Currently public schools are funded through property taxes.  So how could public education be free?

Needs a privacy amendment, too.

There's nothing here about supporting families.  What about guaranteeing paid parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child?  FMLA is inadequate to address those needs.

by KimPossible 2005-08-13 10:03AM | 0 recs
no deductions, not feasible
Any candidate endorsing no income tax deductions is going to lose.  Their opponent will paint them as a charity hating grinch who wants people to lose their homes.  While  eliminating deductions is probably a good idea, it's politically infeasible.  On a macro level, I really don't think it helps people buy homes since the rest of the potential buyers have the same advantage resulting in price increases.  Remove the home interest deduction, buyers won't be able to afford current prices, which will result in falling prices.  People who bought a price levels assuming the deduction, won't be able to make their payments.

Eliminating the Social Security income cap will not help solvency unless the nature of the program is changed.  Today, your benefits depend on what you put into the program.  Higher income people get higher benefits.  Tax the higher income people more, the government will owe them more benefits.  Not providing higher benefits based on these new contributions will shift Social Security towards a welfare program which will allow the GOP to eventually dismantle it.   Social Security popularity is partly due to it not being a welfare program.

by pyewacket1 2005-08-13 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: no deductions, not feasible
Eliminate the cap, and say it means everyone pays in equally.  Right now the rich pay a much smaller percentage of their income in taxes because of the payroll tax.
by davej 2005-08-13 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: no deductions, not feasible
I should have added - while the tax is NOT being used for Social Security but for the general budget.
by davej 2005-08-13 02:47PM | 0 recs
Common theme: equal opportunity
Level playing field. It all fits. Even environmental protection is equal opportunity for future generations.
by TJonBergman 2005-08-13 10:14AM | 0 recs
Election Day
It would be incredibly expensive (and difficult to find poll workers) to keep the polls open at 3am.  A better option would be to move election day to a Sat or Sunday or better yet leave it on a Tuesday and make it a national holiday with the only businesses allowed to stay open being things like emergency services and gas stations (and with workers in those areas given a guaranteed paid 2 hour leave to vote).

As for the uniform ballots and auto-recount marigins, I'm all for that.

As for the closing of the polls at the same time, that doesn't seem very possible to me without giving the time zone its based on more of an advantage.  It would make sense to have universal polling hours within a time zone though.

by Lavoisier1794 2005-08-13 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Election Day
I think jewish Americans would protest Saturday and the religious right would protest Sunday. That's their day of church/synagogue services, respectively.

I think it would help religious right turnout. The religious leaders could lead their congregations straight to the polls. I'd rather keep election day on a non-religious day.

by Vote Hillary 2008 2005-08-13 10:22AM | 0 recs
Democratic Manifesto
I have but one suggestion.  Extend the healthcare to all Americans.  Medicare and Medicaid are the most efficient insurances in the country.  GM and Ford are ready to buy into it.  All that's required is a minor tax surcharge on one and all.  It could even be "progressive".
by Docsilver 2005-08-13 10:44AM | 0 recs
Opportunity For All
...seems to be the best way to sum that up.

Another catch-phrase might be "A Compact With The People" or "Government For the People, Not the Special Interests".

Of course, the last one will require that even Democrats quit screwing everyone around and can prove they're not the same as Republicans in broad ways.

That will be harder than a national voting holiday.  I hear much too often how the two parties are the same - that really needs to change (as if we didn't already know that I hope).

As for the education portion, has anyone tried to put together a cost for post-secondary education for all?  I wouldn't knock it unless we can see why to knock it - and I doubt it will be as expensive as many think.

The health-care for every child as start to health-care for everyone may need to be filled out beyond a one-line statement.

Other than that I see nothing to add to that or what's already been said.

by David Berger 2005-08-13 11:09AM | 0 recs
The problem with the list
The list is a great set of policy proposals. The only problem I imagine with the list is that they could mean is the problem of getting them hijacked. I wrote extensively earlier about the non-partisan redistricting issue in California, and how Arnold's versions were anything but reform. The same could be true for a few of the other proposals, like health care.

Collectively here we all can spot the difference between a Republican proposal, but there should also be some mechanism that doesn't allow people like Frank Luntz to basterdize the ideas. Some health care reform isn't reform, but a give away to Insurance companies. The other portion of all this should be that none of these goals can be accomplished by Republicans.

by Kombiz Lavasany 2005-08-13 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: The problem with the list
Yes, this is a list of policy proposals.  I think that is a problem, too.  What is the underlying theme?  Wat is the long-term strategic narrative about Democrats that it ties in to?
by davej 2005-08-13 02:49PM | 0 recs
conservation vs. efficiency
This is a very minor point, but I wonder if efficiency should be included with or replace conservation in the last item, because they are not the same thing, and the application of technology is more about efficiency than conservation.

To quote Amory B. Lovins, Co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute, one of the pioneers in energy efficiency research:

"There is a stark difference between efficiency and conservation. Conservation is a change in behavior based on the attitude, 'Do less to use less.' Efficiency is the application of technologies and best practices to eliminate waste based on the attitude, 'Do the same or more with less.'"

For example, conservation is turning off unneeded lights; efficiency is switching to compact fluorescent bulbs.

One requires an ongoing change in behavior; the other a one-time change in technology.

Both are important, but not the same.

by scottmaui 2005-08-13 11:45AM | 0 recs
Speaking of efficiency... about cars that get between 80 and 250 MPG?
by David Berger 2005-08-13 12:10PM | 0 recs
Health Care for everyone now!
We have been incrementally trying to provide health care for everyone since the 60s because national health coverage failed to pass congress in the 40s. I say its high time to go for the whole thing. The majority of Americans support universal health care. Let's not retreat from this issue and say "let's first provide health care for all children."  We will never get universal health care if we do not act now. The public is on our side. If only we don't retreat on this issue and take a half-assed approach, we could provide health care for everyone. This should be priority number 1.
by schwompa 2005-08-13 12:21PM | 0 recs
Suggestion for Unifying Slogan/Theme
How about this for an overarching theme:

"Liberty and Justice For All"

by dricey 2005-08-13 01:10PM | 0 recs
I support that, too.
I certainly agree with the list, but I would boil it down to a ten or twelve-word strategic initiative or principles. I've been working through something simiar, where each pair encapsulates underlying progressive values, issue areas and policy directions. Borrowing heavily from George Lakoff's writings, I've come up with the following principles for consideration:

Strong Government
Healthy Communities
Economic Security
Open Courts
Secure Nation
Electoral Reform

Contrast with the Conservative Strategic Initiatives:
Smaller Government / Lower Taxes
Family Values
Free Markets
Tort Reform
Strong Defense

Here is a synopsis for each progressive principle:

Strong Government - Fair taxation is an investment that gives us dividends to support our country. Taxes are the way we support the common good. Balanced budgets promotes economic growth, and ensures a good return on taxpayer investment.

Healthy Communities - Healthy communities are needed for healthy individuals: A clean environment. The right to privacy, which includes a woman's right to privacy to choose abortion or delivery. Universal, single-payer healthcare.

Economic Security - Fair trade policies that protect American jobs. Retirement security. Living wages.

Open Courts - Save public protection laws that allow ordinary citizens to hold corporations accountable for misconduct, abuse, and wrongdoing. Restore citizens right to bring class-action suits their own state courts.

Secure Nation - Enforce immigration laws by sanctioning companies that hire workers illegally. Streamline immigration processes for promptness and fairness. A foreign policy that recognizes that the global society is a collection of interdependent nations, and that it is in nation's interest to promote peace, human rights, economic enfranchisement, and to eliminate hunger, disease, oppression of women and the exploitation of children. An energy policy that minimizes the need for foreign oil.

Electoral Reform - An affirmative, Constitutional right to vote. Voter-verifiable paper ballots. Instant Runoff Voting. A federal voting system standard used border to border, coast to coast.

Just an start...

by fafnir 2005-08-13 02:01PM | 0 recs
Re: I support that, too.
I agree that we need to keep it simple and fafnir's framing works.  It needs to be so simple that every PCO, every activist, every progressive blogger can reel it off and make it their own by the way they flesh it out.
by lynnallen 2005-08-13 03:49PM | 0 recs
One at a time, the first one needs focus
What America needs is a smart start. We need free healthcare, and childcare through age six. If the kids fall behind, they need tutoring - success by six.

That first point needs the focus. You don't go to college because someone pays for it. You go to college because you want to learn more about the world around you. Success by six starts kids off right.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-08-13 02:40PM | 0 recs
National Broadband
I think Democrats have a sleeper winning issue with national broadband. 1) It will pull in rural voters.  2) It will differentiate Dems from the corporatation-fawning Repubs.  3) It will pull up our economy and we will need that when we get an economic mess dumped on us in about 2009.    
by lynnallen 2005-08-13 03:52PM | 0 recs
Does the proposal for elections only apply to national elections?  What about local elections?  I have lived in Ohio and New York.  At one time, New York City elected members of various school boards.  Ohio voters vote on local real estate tax levies.  Some of these occur on common election days, some occur on special elections.  How does this apply to state and local elections during off years?
by dannynyc 2005-08-13 05:33PM | 0 recs
Tax Policy
I have worked as a Tax Accountant.  In college tax class, we learned there are two reasons for income taxes - raise money for the government and provide incentives for various activities.  

The second part of the statement is the basis of a very complex and intricate tax code because "incentives" have expanded with a great deal of "pork".  Deductions are only part of the issue.  The much larger issue is how to compute income.  This gets more complicated when applied to global corporations operating in the US.  

When considering changes to the tax code, tax policy also ties into other policies.  For example, should the entire amount of executive compensation be deductible if an executive's pay is substantially more than the average of all the corporate employees?  

When I hear simple solutions proposed for the tax system, I usually dismiss them as having no basis.  Most people involved in working in the area of taxation (accountants, lawyers, etc) would probably agree.  To have a credible policy a great deal of study is required to evaluate the many parts of the current tax code and come up with a comprehensive proposal for change.

by dannynyc 2005-08-13 05:44PM | 0 recs
Unearned Income
There must be equal taxation on unearned income (capital gains) as on earned income.
by Veritas78 2005-08-14 10:17AM | 0 recs
common theme for dem message
One tying thread can be sustainability.  This country is losing its competitive edge in manufacturing, partly due to poor college graduation rates.  This is where the K-12 education plan comes in as an enabler for sustained growth and competitiveness.  Reliance on foreigh oil is unsustainable, but energy independence is.  It is also an excellent long term strategy for national security because we won't need to put our troops on Mideast soil.  The current borrow and spend patterns of the Republicans cannot be continued.  Here is wheres fiscal responsibility in the form of payroll tax reform comes in as a sensible, sustainable alternative.  Fair elections sustain our country politically.  To distill this into a sound byte, democratic politicians could say that the Republicans are about the sprint, but we are about the marathon (or even better, a Nascar analogy).
by RichB 2005-08-14 06:38PM | 0 recs
Stakeholder Accounts
It's time for Democrats to address the disproportion in the nation's wealth distribution bluntly. We have reached a disparity that is killing personal opportunity and in turn economic growth. This is an issue that effects locally as well as nationally. The Democrats could do well seizing on the progressive proposal that's been floated around for some time of Stakeholder accounts. To quote from the New America Foundation's article The $6000 Solution: "Throughout our history, periods of unbounded market exuberance, like the one we recently experienced, have been followed by periods of far-reaching social and economic reform. From this cycle of great wealth creation (and abuse) followed by great reform has emerged a social contract that has smoothed out the rougher edges of American capitalism while making us a more prosperous society. Here's how it might work. Every one of the four million babies born in America each year would receive an endowment of $6,000 in an American Stakeholder Account. If invested in a relatively safe portfolio that yielded a seven percent annual return, this sum would grow to more than $20,000 by the time the child graduated from high school, and to $45,000 by the time he or she reached thirty (assuming that the account had not yet been used). Funds in the American Stakeholder Account would be restricted to such asset-building uses as paying for the cost of higher education or vocational training, buying a first home, starting a small business, making investments, and, eventually, creating a nest egg for retirement. It could be done in the United States for only about $24 billion a year, about a sixth of what the government gives in tax breaks to corporations every year. The American Stakeholder Act, like the Homestead Act and the GI Bill before it, would be a smart investment in our nation's future." It is a good read, and worthy of consideration in any effort to take back our country from low wage conservatives.
by throco 2005-08-15 06:42AM | 0 recs
Yet another policy proposal for democrats
There are a bazillion of these.

I'm not saying the debate is worthless, but adding another policy/values list to the heap doesn't do much for us.

See the Center for Policy Alternatives, the CPC Progressive Promise, et al.  Kos spent several days and threads kicking this can around and each thread got several hundred posts.

I don't even this the issue is about agreement or disagreement on the overall thrust of what we want, it's just that we don't consistently prioritize when  talking to people about our message.

We're not all clones, but when 100 Republicans public figures are asked "What is your vision for America?" the result is strikingly similar language and ideas. Ask 100 Democrats the same question, you'll get quite a bit more variation. Less brainstorming, more coordination. But that's not what blogs are really about, so.

by forethought 2005-08-15 08:09AM | 0 recs
I just heard...
That this had been posted.  I have enjoyed, if not agreed with, all the feedback.

If you haven't gone to the site and looked at some of the "supporting information" on each point, you may want to do so.  Some of your questions are addressed there.

As to who put this together?  Mostly me, with some help and feedback from the DFA blog.

Is this in stone?  Nope.  I was hoping what it would lead to is an effort to come up with a set of actions that could be implemented by a Democratic Congress after the 2006 selections, to be used as the basis for nationalizing those elections.  In some cases the Compact is less than what I would personally like to see (for example, in the healthcare area).  In some cases I go further than I think is practicable to move the debate (the income and payroll tax point...and don't forget that payroll tax part, because that's where income tax cuts can hurt progressivity...when the "other" federal taxes are ignored).

Again, thanks for all the feedback and Jerome, drop me an email when you're going to do this to me again.

by rich kolker 2005-08-15 08:26AM | 0 recs
First a disclosure: I'm not a lib or a Dem.  I do, however, enjoy the intellectual challenge these boards present, and view them frequently.  If this automatically results in a deletion, so be it, but I respect this board enough not to conceal this fact, and don't think this post counts as trolling.  I'm very persuadable on this issue, and just kind of want to know what is really being suggested.

Is non-partisan redistricting something that progressives want?  It seems that at best it dilutes the activist base on both sides and pushes candidates toward a mushy middle that, from what I can see, no one really inhabits.  In a sense, I think California probably has it right here -- a delegation made up of a solid majority of some very liberal Democrats, and a minority of some very conservative Republicans from Orange county and the mountain/central valley counties, with a few moderate Dems sprinkled in.  Which is probably about right for that state.  

I understand that you're trying to remove abuses like PA, MI, and FL, and the mid-decade districting in GA and TX.  There is certainly something to be said for that.  But, in the absence of partisanship, what criteria should be used?  Geographic compactness and contiguity are the obvious ones, but those standards would almost certainly dilute minority voting strength, and you'd probably end up with districts that look like MI and OH anyway.  If we allow consideration of race, ethnicity, socio-economic standards, etc., then we probably end up with entrenched incumbents again, and are really just using proxies for partisanship, anyway.  And what is the goal?  Is it that every district be competitive between the parties?  Some seem to have posted to that effect, but again, I'm not sure creating districts that favor moderates really reflects what America looks like; I'm also not sure that creating a district where half of the people are represented by someone of a different party is necessarily more democratic than lumping all the Repubs or Dems together in a district, and letting them fight out what type of Rep/Dem gets sent to Washington in a primary.  Seems possible that the latter factor results in outcomes that look more like America.

Again, I'm not trying to be combative, and I'll stipulate that the MI, PA, and FL redistrictings were abuses (though in fairness, I can think of plenty of Dem abuses in the past).  I'll admit that there is plenty of room for bad outcomes in the current system, but I haven't seen an alternative that strikes me as obviously better.

by curiousgeorge 2005-08-15 10:29AM | 0 recs


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