An idea list for Democratic candidates to explore - Comments?

I was just responding to another dairy and I thought this might make a good dairy in and of itself..

What can the Democratic candidates do to distinguish themselves from the GOP candidate? Show how the Democratic message is one of people helping each other and thriving together, economically.

Here are some ideas..

So many worthy young people are giving up on the dream of going to college because of finances and family debt. This is going to have a HUGE impact on the US economy because Americans simply won't have the skills we will need to remain leaders in the world. We need to revitalize the public education system. We also need to make it much more possible for older people to gain new skills, as well as share their skills. We are going to have tough economic times ahead and whatever we can do to help each other through them is a good thing.

People who have skills could teach courses. I don't know how this could be structured but I can tell that it would be a huge help for communities..

Also, tool lending libraries.. many towns have them.. The government could set up an office to coordinate efforts to get them into towns and then offer them support in outreach. For example, IR thermography equipment is really expensive, but a five minute walkthrough of your house in the winter can show you where your insulation isn't working. Why cant cities buy this equipment and offer people the opportunity to schedule a walkthrough when they need it.. the net result would be the saving of literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel oil bills in winter and summer..

Also, tool lending libraries could help people set up gardens.. many cities have community gardens. Gardening has been shown to extend people's lives by several years. They offer a way to meet other people. They provide healthy food.

Also, child care. One of the main reasons many people have joined churches is simply that they are the only source of affordable child care centers in many areas. I don't want to say that people are desperate for child care and will do or say anything to get it but the fact of the matter is that parents need to work and many childcare options are too expensive. They NEED alternatives desperately.

There's more...

Why not release Bill and Hillary's tax returns?

I would like to be able to support Hillary.
Can some one explain why she will not release her and Bill's tax returns now? If there is nothing to hide what is the big deal? She says she will release them if she is the nominee, so why not a few months earlier? Why not let us see where the 5 Million came from? Don't we need to know from who and how she earns her money?  
Can't candidates get around $2,300 dollar limit if the would be donor can just hire the candidate as a consultant and give them or the their spouse millions?
Why not just be transparent? What is the down side?
I tried to asks on Hillary's website but the moderators seem to feel this question violates their rules.

Thanks for you help here!

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Barack Obama will change the system part 3

photo courtesy of SEIU International on Flickr used under this Creative Commons license.

So far I have wrote about Barack Obama's strong stands on public financing of elections and media reform. Today I am going to talk about his work making government more transparent and more ethical. These are area's were he has gotten the most bills passed into law so hopefully this should be a interesting post.  

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Obama > Clinton on Transparency (Calling Bullsh*t)

Originally posted at One Million Strong

Today's entry from Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times is a one-sided hit job in which
Sweet obligingly calls Senator Obama a hypocrite on transparency.

After whining for days about the long-overdue grilling she got at last week's debate, Hillary Clinton
is, predictably, "piling on" to this ridiculousness -- and, in the process, trying to dodge questions
about her own shocking lack of transparency -- by linking to Sweet. The lead story on Clinton's
news site -- the cloyingly named HillaryHub -- features a large photo of Philip Johnson's Glass
House over the boldfaced headline "Obama's Glass House."

Maureen Dowd is right. Hillary Clinton has "the gift of gall."

At any rate, Think on These Things is "on it" with a handy -- and very comprehensive --
Obama v. Clinton Ethics & Transparency Comparison Chart which makes it very
clear who has the superior record on these issues.

Extremely useful.

(Note to Sweet and Clinton: Context matters.)

Obama Proposes New Era of Government on Internet?

Tucked into Obama's ethics reform package announced last week -- which he pledges to sign as an executive order on his first day in office -- is the beginning of a new acceptance of the role of the internet in governance.  There has been an endless amount of discussion about the role of Internet 2.0 in political campaigning, but what about in governance?  How do we get beyond the internet merely being a tool for greater transparency and towards being a tool for strengthening our democracy and promoting civic engagement?
So far, discussion of the role of the internet in governance has focused on transparency.  We see this in Hillary Clinton's own ethics proposal, announced in April, which would require, for example, every federal agency to post a copy of its budget on the web.  This seems emblematic of the newly accepted role of the internet -- as a public storehouse for information or as a new means of disseminating information.  The idea is to simply take budgets with hundreds or thousands of pages and post them on the web --- to throw these volumes into the public realm.
And this is great as a first step, and at first, Obama's proposal seems to be merely an extension of this proposal along the same lines: for example, (a) by having a period of five days in which he would post legislation on the White House website before signing it, or (b) by ensuring that gratuitous earmarks are discouraged by forcing them into the light of day.  And he says things like:

Building on his "Google for government" bill, which was signed into law and allows every American to  do a simple search and see exactly how federal money is being spent, Barack Obama will  ensure that any tax breaks to special interests, or tax earmarks, are also publicly available  by directing the Office of Management and Budget to post them on its website.

These are all great developments.
But the internet can play a much more critical role.  Just as political campaigns are now discovering that a website is no longer about merely posting position papers, photographs, and news articles --- but about fostering contacts between supporters, engaging them in the campaign, soliciting ideas, and creating new possibilities for interaction with their candidate, it's time that we expand our thinking about the role the internet can play in honest and open government.
I think Obama just might be applying these same lessons not only to his political campaign but to his style of governance.  Here's why below the fold:

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