May 19, 2016
We are desperately in need of compromise, collaboration, and focus on common agenda. If we continue down this highly divisive path, nothing meaningful can get done.
If only the Republicans would stop trying to simply reduce government or abolish it, and present specific proposals to re-engineer and fix our government. And if only Democrats would acknowledge the faults of government and make their own proposals for reducing the cost and waste in government, and allowing certain responsibilities to be turned over to local governments.
If only Republicans would modify their opposition to all forms of redistribution and accept modest increases in taxes on the wealthy, with proceeds used for causes which will help both wealthy and the poor, such as infrastructure and education. And if only Democrats would acknowledge that entitlements (social security, medicare, and government pensions) need to be re-structured to reduce benefits to older citizens who do not need them so much, so as to improve the federal budget.
If only the Republicans would acknowledge that carefully designed additional government spending on real projects such as infrastructure can easily be financed and will pay back in future tax revenues stimulated. And if only Democrats would get serious about reducing, eliminating and sunsetting regulations that are ineffective in protecting us and are burdensome on businesses.
If only Republicans would get serious about eliminating tax breaks for hedge fund managers, loopholes for corporations, and schemes to reduce inheritance taxes. And if Democrats would collaborate to assure that fiscal revenue gains from these would be used in a manner benefitting all–such as partly to reduce the federal deficit and debt, and partly for enhanced earned income tax credit or equivalent measures.
If only Democrats would mount programs to support those who lose jobs to globalization (re-train, re-locate, etc.) and to fossil fuel reductions. And if only Republicans would admit climate science is real and work with Democrats to find fair solutions to workers and companies to wind down the pollution of our planet. This, instead of both parties trying to solve the dilemma ineffectively–Democrats trying to abolish fossil fuel energy, and Republicans denying it, primarily to protect dying industry and the big money behind it. Isn’t the right common agenda the protection of our planet and the protection of workers? We can eliminate fossil fuels gradually and we can retrain the coal miners and move them if necessary to find work in solar and other emerging industries. Some businesses will gradually shut down, but that’s the nature of the evolution of industries–some gradually die and new born are born. Let’s just focus on helping the workers transition to the new ones.
If only both parties would make specific proposals as to exactly what they would do in Syria, Ukraine, and other global hot spots, so that we can stop battling just over words, like “being tough,” vs. “negotiating,” “leading from behind,” vs. “making America strong again.” No one really knows what these mean.
If only both parties would agree, with approval of Congress, to severe limitation of big money spent on elections, with companion media agreements to provide equal time to candidates to debate and present policy proposals.
If only both parties would realistically see the dilemma of our relationship with the rest or the world. We were the leader in pursuing globalization on behalf of our businesses. We sought freedom to invest throughout the world and for foreign companies to invest here. This has brought economic benefit to the US. Now we face strong nationalistic forces suggesting that foreign companies and foreign citizens (immigrants) have caused harm. The answer is neither to pull up the ladder and close our borders and punish foreign countries and companies, nor is it to continue without acknowledging and creating support for Americans whose jobs and wages are lost to foreign trade. We can have smarter foreign trade, and we can provide for the impact on US workers. We can do both.
And, we can then start to see that we should not, indeed cannot, turn back the clock on globalization. We can begin to treat the citizens of other countries with the same concern we give our next door neighbors.
There is much room for compromise before there is any violation of core beliefs. There is a vast lake of commonality available to us. Yet we stand on opposite shores of the lake hurling criticisms and insults at each other.
There are solutions requiring only a very modest amount of compromise. Two business people with disparate views usually can sit together for a short time and conclude a path to progress that serves both agendas to a satisfactory degree. We have allowed our political leaders to hide behind political dogma as their excuse for lack of solutions.
Americans must shift the demand on their political leaders from being faithful to an empty political agenda, to getting problems solved and moving us forward. That is the leadership we need.