Thursday, November 03, 2005

Campaign Issues

Here are the main issues that will drive this campaign. More complete issue lists and position statements will follow on our permanent website, as we move forward with this campaign.

Basic Approach

I am a progressive conservative. Huh? Yeah, you heard me right.

"Progressive" means two things: 1) government has an important role to play in meeting human needs; and 2) those with more, have a responsibility to those with less.

"Conservative" means four things: 1) government has to pay for the good it does, with balanced budgets; 2) government should only do what works, and should do it well; 3) markets often work better than government in meeting needs; and 4) government has constitutional limits on its powers.

All of my campaign policies are driven by progressive values, tempered by conservative means.

Major Issues

When you send me to Congress, I will vote to:

1) End The Iraq War
2) Balance The Budget
3) End Our Dependency On Foreign Oil
4) Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

These are all solidly progressive positions. It is my observation that many conservatives share many of the values we have as progressives. They simply have a different philosophy about how to pursue them, and which institutions can best attain them. We can work toward common ground.

1. End The Iraq War

We have tried killing our enemies. And have learned -- that only makes more enemies. For every one we kill, we create ten more. It is time to try something else.

We now understand that peaceful diplomacy, not aggression, is the key to our security. Bush's disaster in Iraq (where my son now serves) has taught us this.

I will vote to bring our troops home, and take care of them when they get here.

2. Balance The Budget

Our government is piling up an endless stream of crushing debt on the "credit cards" of the next generation.

Deficits are taxes. Passed on to someone else. Politicians always say we need more "tax relief" to "stimulate the economy."

I guess they think the economy will take care of itself in the next generation? What we need is "tax relief" for two-year-olds. Let's end these deficits. We owe it to our children and their children.

I will not vote for an imbalanced budget. I will not vote to extend the debt limit. Period. No matter which party is in power.

Moreover, I support a balanced-budget amendment. History has made it clear that Congress and the Administration, and the Republican and Democratic parties, all lack the discipline and integrity to be trusted with our money any other way.

They are too busy giving it to their corporate sponsors in exchange for campaign contribution kickbacks. It is a dirty wash cycle, that never comes clean.

3. Ending Our Dependency On Foreign Oil

Our dependency on foreign oil and dirty fuels is wreaking havoc with our security, our economy, and the environment.

It is funding terrorism, and leading us into unjust war. We simply cannot continue on this course.

I support an aggressive development program for alternative energy technologies, similar to the Apollo space program that put a man on the moon in less than ten years.

In doing this, we must be vigilant to not let it become another form of corporate welfare for political favoritism, or let it get tied up in a bureaucracy.

We have some experiences to learn from -- the NASA program, the NIH, and others -- both, for what has worked and what has not. We also have a rich history of venture capital and university laboratory development and licensing programs.

The core technologies that come from this project will be owned by the people of the United States, for licensing to businesses on a royalty basis. This will be our oil, our national wealth.

4. Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

We have a serious national crisis in our healthcare system. It is a moral and practical failure for us to have uninsured neighbors. One that is damaging to both, our business and our humanity.

Look around us. One out of every six of our neighbors lacks healthcare coverage. It is no accident that "The Good Samaritan" parable was about taking care of sick and injured neighbors.

We must begin with a firm commitment to equal healthcare coverage for every citizen. How we achieve it, is open to debate.

I lean toward a plan of mandatory health insurance (like we have for auto insurance), based on the ideas of "universal coverage, universal responsibility." This plan shares premium costs between employers, employees, and (where needed) government.

It is an extension of private insurance coverage to everyone, not a government program. However, I am open to other approaches as well. The main thing is to get it done, and do it right.

Our current lack of universal healthcare coverage is one of the many reasons why the recent bankruptcy law changes were so hostile to family values and human life. Medical bills and lost jobs are the two biggest reasons people file for bankruptcy. Any one of us is a "pink slip" and a diagnosis away from financial ruin.

A Note On Trade:

Everyone agrees that trade is good. It is good for our economy, our security, and our humanity.

However, as a society, we need to carefully look at every trade policy, treaty, and deal -- to see who bears the costs, as well as who reaps the benefits from them.

I oppose NAFTA, CAFTA, and any approach to trade which fails to take into account any standards for labor, the environment, human rights, critical industries, or our balance of trade.

It is not enough just to get cheaper goods for those who have a job and can afford to buy them, or for businesses that are politically well-connected or big enough to profit.

We have to look at the costs to our society as a whole, and balance these against the benefits, as well as how we insure that these costs and benefits are fairly shared by all.

This requires an open process, with full representation from all interested groups at the table.

A Note On Reform:

Our democracy is drowning in dirty money. We snicker at developing countries where bribery is part of doing business. Here, we do it in the light of day, "in front of God and everyone."

The corporate two-party duopoly has given our government a "bipolar personality disorder." A dysfunctional government turns out bizarre legislation harmful to our long-term interests. People are so divided, they can't think straight, can't talk to each other.

We have to clean up the system and open it to all. With a little creativity, and a lot of resolve, we can do this in ways that still uphold our 1st Amendment free speech rights.

We need to move to a healthy, multiparty democracy, with guaranteed voting rights, equal ballot access, instant runoff voting, and real campaign finance reform.

This will invigorate our democracy and open it to broader participation and higher quality debate.

The Republican and Democratic parties do not like these reforms, because it will end their monopoly on our political system. But, it is our democracy, not theirs.

Electoral reform and media reform go hand in hand. The same corporate interests that own the parties, also own the media.

An informed public is the only sure base for a healthy democracy.


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