Debate and Communication Across and Without an Aisle – Bipartisanship

Hello. I’m Cal, and I have a topic that I hope will inspire some good discussion and hopefully turn up some good ideas.I’m persuaded, from what I read, discussions with friends, and from my own personal experience, that many Americans would like to see more bipartisanship in the actions of our leaders in Washington. And yet it seems that our leaders have largely been at loggerheads over most everything. So, I thought that it might be good for this new forum for ideas to explore the topic of working together in general: what makes an activity in governance “bipartisan”, why do there seem to be larger than average obstacles to bipartisan collaboration at present, is this a problem that should motivate the search for ways to foster bipartisanship or not, and what sorts of things could be done to improve the situation (either to encourage more bipartisan work or to derive better overall governance from a lack of bipartisan efforts)?
I’d like to suggest we begin with what constitutes bipartisanship.  To some extent, I’ve gotten the impression that some feel that it now refers only to working on those things that we all agree on.  But important bipartisan efforts have generally involved collaboration despite disagreement, and even compromise.  Is agreeing to disagree and hence do nothing a bipartisan activity?  What, in general, does it mean for one to act in a bipartisan fashion?
I’m certain that discussion of this topic, like any related to politics, could easily degenerate into an airing of grievances and finger-pointing.  But I’d encourage us all to aim for something nobler and more worthy by engaging in honest and respectful discussion. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll come up with some good ideas for improving things

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment;

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Welfare and Unemployment, and its costs, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We believe these areas should remain community based with Federal funding providing only a minimum and uniform security net.  The States may at their own expense choose to supplement these minimum benefits as they should desire, funding for the Federal benefits will be paid to the States for disbursement.

Definitions;

  1. Welfare and Unemployment, here includes only the Federal portion of the program, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. Eligible persons include all U.S. Citizens and all Legal Resident Aliens.
  3. Federal Poverty Level means the H.H.S. annually established Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia.

We propose the following comprehensive solution;

  1. Unemployment benefits to be limited to 26 cumulative weeks, during any 10-year period.
  2. Means test benefits to three times the Federal Poverty Level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.
  3. Unemployment benefits to be conditioned on proof of an ability to accept a full time, any shift job and accepting any job offered within the person’s physical, mental and educational capabilities (even if not at the level of experience, proficiency or compensation previously held within 50 miles of their place of residence) and proof of the expenditure of no less than 30 hours per week; (a) in job search efforts, educational enrichment and training; or (b) on approved community service, or any combination of the above.
  4. Eligibility for benefits to be further conditioned on proof of legal residence.
  5. Benefits for dependent children to be limited to those children existing as of the time of the initial claim.
  6. Total amount of federally funded benefits not to exceed the annually established Federal Poverty Level.
  7. Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.

All of this recognizes the fact that Unemployment Benefits and Welfare, are social costs of living in a free and caring Nation, and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own well-being, support and care, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

 

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment

Entitlements – Welfare and Unemployment;

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Welfare and Unemployment, and its costs, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We believe these areas should remain community based with Federal funding providing only a minimum and uniform security net.

Definitions;

  1. Welfare and Unemployment, here includes only the Federal portion of the program, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. Basic Medical Services include only (a) emergency care, (b) care of and for critical injuries and illnesses and (c) care necessary to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
  3. Eligible persons include all U.S. Citizens and all Legal Resident Aliens.
  4. Federal Poverty Level means the H.H.S. annually established Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia.

We propose the following comprehensive solution;

  1. Unemployment benefits to be limited to 26 cumulative weeks, during any 10-year period.
  2. Means test benefits to three times the Federal Poverty Level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.
  3. Unemployment benefits to be conditioned on; (a) proof of a ability to accept a job; (b) proof of the expenditure of no less than 30 hours per week in job search efforts, educational enrichment and training; or (c) proof of the expenditure of no less than 30 hours per week on approved community service, or any combination of (b) and (c) above.
  4. Eligibility for benefits to be further conditioned on proof of legal residence.
  5. Benefits for dependent children to be limited to those children existing as of the time of the initial claim.
  6. Total amount of federally funded benefits not to exceed the annually established Federal Poverty Level.
  7. Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.

All of this recognizes the fact that Unemployment Benefits and Welfare, is a social cost of living in a free and caring Nation, and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own well-being support and care, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

 

Entitlement – Medicare

Entitlements – Medicare

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Medicare, and its costs, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We believe Medicare is the most difficult of the entitlements to address, as it is the fastest growing segment due to the portion of the population it serves, rapid advances in medical technology and market place competition for scarce resources.

Definitions;

  1. Medicare, here includes only the Federal portion of the program, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. Medicare contributions are in fact flat, regressive taxes.
  3. Basic Medical Services include only (a) emergency care, (b) care of and for critical injuries and illnesses and (c) care necessary to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
  4. Eligible persons include all U.S. Citizens and all Legal Resident Aliens.

We propose the following comprehensive solution to the twin issues of rapidly growing coverage and cost, (Again, I guarantee no one, right, left or center, will like this but it is a serious problem and demands a serious and unfortunately painful solution);

Medicare

  1. Provide cradle to grave coverage for Basic Medical Services, for all Eligible persons.  All other medical care to be at the individual’s sole cost, with a prohibition on any combination of medical insurance or other payor providing more than an 80% of the cost of care.
  • (a) Repeal Obamacare.
  • (b) Eliminate all personal injury and medical malpractice punitive damage and pain and suffering, awards.
  • (c) Cap attorney’s fees for personal injury and medical malpractice at 20% of the net benefit to the injured party.
  • (d) Provide unlimited medical education to all qualified applicants, in return for equivalent, year for year, National Medical Service, upon graduation, through our existing military services.
  • (e) Allow all medical insurers national coverage and jurisdiction.

2.  Means test benefits to three times the federal poverty level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.  Yes, this is confiscatory if you thought there really was a trust fund you had been paying into, sorry.

3.  Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.

4.  Merge, effective immediately, all government retirement programs previously allowing employees to elect out of Medicare into the program, and yes this includes Congressmen, Senators and the President.

All of this recognizes the fact that Medicare, is a social cost of living in a free and caring Nation, that contributions made are a tax and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own medical care, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

Entitlements – Social Security;

Entitlements – Social Security;

We have a significant, current and growing problem with both the absolute amount of entitlement spending, as well as the portion of total Federal governmental spending represented by this spending category.  In this Commentary we will discuss only Social Security, we will take up the other entitlements separately.  We chose Social Security to start with as we believe it is the easiest to permanently fix (the low hanging fruit.)

Definitions;

  1. Entitlements include Social Security, both retirement and disability payments, Medicare, and Federally funded unemployment and welfare, as well as, aid and assistance to the poor. We include only Federal the portion of each program in this definition, as it is our belief that the primary governmental responsibility lies with state and local agencies.
  2. FICA or Social Security contributions like Medicare contributions are taxes, essentially flat, regressive taxes and since the 1960’s true Trust funds have not existed, will not be restored and are not needed.
  3. Basic Medical Services include only (a) emergency care, (b) care of and for critical injuries and illnesses and (c) where necessary to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

We propose the following comprehensive solution to this issue, (I guarantee no one, right, left or center, will like this but it is a serious problem and demands a serious and unfortunately painful solution);

SOCIAL SECURITY

  1. Raise the minimum eligibility to 20 years (80 quarters) from the current 10 years (40 quarters), with pro-rata benefits to be paid to those, otherwise qualifying but who have more than 40 but less than 80 quarters to their credit. For example at 15 years (60 quarters) benefits paid would be at 1/2 of the otherwise calculated full benefit level.
  2. Raise the age for early retirement for all participants presently under age 55, to 95% of the new indexed regular retirement age and provide, at early retirement, benefits at ½ the otherwise calculated full benefit level, as an intentional penalty for an early election in order to discourage same.
  3. Raise the regular retirement age to 68 for all participants and index retirement age for all new claimants to be adjusted annually for life expectancy gains. This recognizes that in 1935 when passed into law life expectancy was less than 65 and today it is 78.
  4. Raise the employer and employee contribution (tax) rates each, by 1%, effective immediately, on all employees and employers.
  5. Remove the limit or “cap” on earnings subject to the tax, similar to and parallel with the Medicare tax.  Yes, this is essentially a flat tax.
  6. Means test benefits to three times the federal poverty level with 100% of benefits being phased out between the Federal poverty level and 300% of the federal poverty level, effective immediately for all benefit recipients.  Yes, this is confiscatory if you thought there really was a trust fund you had been paying into, sorry.
  7. Provide a lien on all assets held by a benefit recipient at death (or to be gifted during life) in the amount of the future value of all payments received during the participant’s life, for that amount to be repaid to the Federal Treasury from the decedents estate, if any.  Enforce the lien by allowing a civil bounty of 20% to any person or entity successfully recapturing funds for the Treasury.  The purpose of the benefit is to help the needy not to preserve family assets.
  8. Merge, effective immediately, all government retirement programs previously allowing employees to elect out of Social Security into the program, and yes this includes Congressmen and Senators.

All of this recognizes the fact that Social Security, although originally sold as social insurance, is and has been a tax and that ultimately we are each individually responsible for our own retirement, as well as that of our families and a portion of the cost of helping those who cannot help themselves.

Immigration

We believe much of the so-called “immigration problem” is a politically loaded debate created by the deliberate use of “hot button” fighting words. Here is our attempt to define terms and suggest policy. Definitions;

  1. Legal immigrant – a person who was born in another country and is in the U.S. with the permission of and in compliance with all existing immigration and naturalization laws.
  2. Illegal immigrant (also alien or undocumented person) – a person who was born in another country and is in the U.S. without the permission of and in violation of existing immigration and naturalization laws.
  3. Immigrant rights – rights under U.S. law possessed by resident illegal immigrants or aliens. (Legal immigrants should have all rights of any other resident, irrespective of place of birth.)
  4. Non-resident alien – a person who neither resides in the U.S. or is a U.S. citizen.
  5. Immigrant – includes both 1 and 2 above.

Policy Proposals

  1. Seal all of the U.S. borders, whether by a physical fence, a virtual fence by force of arms, as needed, with written (in multiple languages) and audible notices and warnings as well as flashing lights that it is a NO GO ZONE, do not permit the violation of the U.S. borders for policy or political purposes by inaction.
  2. Permit legal immigration at a rate based on the needs of the U.S. economy and its ability to absorb immigrants – grant preferences only for needed skills or in the national interest – be color, race, ethnicity, nationality and religion blind in the allocation of those “spots”.
  3. Recognize the logistical impossibility of imposing “1” above retroactively on the resident illegal immigrant population of 10 to 20MM or more. Offer the following plan to the resident illegal immigrant population;
    1. Within 180 days all illegal immigrants must register and disclose and how long they have been resident and how and where they entered the US, as well as their method of ongoing support for themselves and their dependents.
    2. Failure to register will result in deportation, without further due process or hearing, of themselves and their dependents, and suffer a lifetime disability to become a legal immigrant. (Rights guaranteed by U.S. laws follow obligations assumed, a felon, though a citizen, may suffer a civil death, an illegal immigrant is entitled to no greater rights by virtue of his illegal activity (residency) than he would be entitled to as a non resident alien.)
    3. Within 90 days of registration the illegal immigrant must elect; (a) to either voluntarily repatriate themselves and their dependents, and complete repatriation within 90 days thereafter, (in which case they shall be under no future disability to become legal immigrants); or (b) elect to become resident aliens, with a Blue Card, disclose all of their prior earnings while in residence and commit to pay all back taxes, interest and penalties, over a period equal to the lesser of their illegal residency or 10 years, at which time they shall receive a Green Card.
    4. Failure to elect, repatriate, furnish complete and verifiable income information, or complete the payment plan on schedule, will result in deportation without further due process or hearing of themselves and their dependents, and they will suffer a lifetime disability to become a legal immigrant.
    5. Employers who are shown to have hired illegal immigrants knowingly (those who have paid less than minimum wage or have not reported wages shall be deemed to have knowledge) shall pay all back taxes, penalties and interest as required under existing law. Those who have paid less than minimum wage shall in addition to all other penalties otherwise imposed for such violation, pay an amount equal to the shortfall to the cognizant taxing authorities for the credit of the illegal immigrant employee’s account.
    6. Resident illegal immigrant prisoners, criminals (felony), those without either an adequate self-sustaining and verifiable method of support (job) for themselves and their dependents or those on welfare, public assistance, or with medical issues not covered by their insurance or ability to private pay and who do not have a sponsor who undertakes such care responsibility, will be deported without further due process or hearing of themselves and their dependents, and suffer a lifetime disability to become a legal immigrant.

The goal of these policies is to return to a rule of law with respect to immigration and naturalization, while protecting the territorial integrity of the U.S. and at the same time recognize and encourage as desirable, non-discriminatory legal immigration, in such amounts as is beneficial to the U.S. economy, recognizing that strong economic growth is the best way to move our economy forward and that the immigration of skilled, self-supporting and hard-working people is in the national interest, and no more!

On Presidential Debates

THOUGHTS ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: I just know you thought this article was going to be a “rant” about the personalities and politics of 2012, but you are WRONG!  I want to take on the process itself, which I find to be both necessary in the provision of consumable information to the electorate and ridiculous in its operational mechanics, in other words like many things our government is involved with and managing, I find it broken.

The problem is with the format and management and I believe it is easy to fix.  Hence my proposal as follows;

  1. There should be 3 Presidential debates and 1 Vice Presidential Debate, televised and broadcast without cost to the candidates or the federal government by any and all stations desiring same;
  2. The Federal government as the administrator of the electro-magnetic spectrum owned by “We the People” should mandate that each user, to which it licenses use, provide, without charge, every two years 1 hour per night of Presidential political coverage time slots to be allocated based solely on the proportion of support enjoyed by each (perhaps determined by a poll) and prohibit all other TV and Radio commercials, in order to bring the cost of politics back from the brink of the disastrous wholesale marketing of “access.”
  3. Each debate should be 2 hours long, and consist solely of questions (to be equally divided between the camps on the same basis as above) to be asked by one candidate to the other, to be preceded by the question and a statement of the asking candidate’s position on the issue, with all questions and answers to be of equal time length.
  4. Strict and equal time allocations should be enforced by turning off the “mike” automatically at the end of each person’s time.
  5. In lieu of moderators there should be a referee or judge from each camp who’s sole function is to verify the time allocations with no speaking role whatsoever.
  6. The candidates should be prohibited from talking over each other, approaching each other or otherwise being impolite by gesture or body language.
  7.  At the debates end each participant will have 5 minutes to make their case or summarize their position.