I have been thinking about what item should be the Democrat’s first priority. I would like to see Democrats focus on problems of poverty, both urban and rural. I would like to see America deal with substandard housing, substandard pay, food deserts, opportunity deserts, IT deserts, lack of supports for workers with children, addiction, and with making sure that we find a way to provide good health care for everyone. I also think a case by case reappraisal of the needs of people serving long sentences in jail for fairly minor crimes needs to result in freedom if sentences are unfair, if sentences are the result of poverty, or if sentences seem racially biased. These issues are all related.
We need to tackle infrastructure but we don’t need to make that our first priority. We can put up with a maintenance program for now. We hardly know what our infrastructure needs will be in the not-so-distant-future. But our cities and towns are in need of our immediate attentions. It would be beneficial also to put a group to work deciding and publicizing how the Democrats want to tackle climate change if they get voters to back them in 2020.
We have a big problem and our problem is money. Corporations once lived in our communities with us and they contributed to the tax base and the quality of life. We can no longer rely on absent corporations to fill these economic needs. Corporations must now be bribed to locate in our cities with tax breaks and PILOTS. We have come to count on groups like Catholic Charities and other religious charities to take care of people with disabilities and people who are poor and/or homeless.
These corporate folks just don’t seem to understand that the expenditures they made on our cities and towns were the very things that made America look so good in those old days they keep yearning for, and, further, that investing in our cities and towns once again would probably produce similar results. I don’t understand why these leaders aren’t challenged to bring their innovative minds, their education, their intelligence to bear on finding ways to get America ticking again instead of relying on one old con man to do it for them.
Republicans just cut the tax base all over the United States in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which gave huge cuts to businesses that we need to look to for assistance with the health of the American economy. The GOP gave these enormous tax cuts to the very people who have been distancing themselves from America, who have taken their profits away to tax shelters. There is no money to find new ways to tackle poverty. Everyone is pinching pennies. The states cannot invest in their citizens without funds. The cities and local government are often in even worse shape. We also have enormous national expenditures on military matters and security matters, although we are not actually on a war-time footing.
Fiscal Year 2019 Budget is pretty much a done deal. I hope the House Dems will study our federal budget very carefully along with our tax structures and find some ways to bring some balance back to the distribution of tax receipts and expenditures. Since it will be difficult to get anything through the Senate it would be a good year to knuckle down and get innovative about finding ways to get more tax dollars to local governments.
It would be a good year for designing new poverty programs to replace those that were designed for another decade when cultural realities were slightly different than they are now. Having a set of bills based on really enticing ideas for tackling urban and rural problems would be great for reelection campaigns in 2020. Showing ways that lifting up some of us would lift up all of us would be the gravy on the mashed potatoes. (Sorry it’s Thanksgiving.) I am thankful for the 2018 election results, for all the hard work of the candidates and their supporters, and for the dedication of those at the core of the Resistance. In fact our new people in Congress have local roots and could ask for the participation of the passionate Americans in the Resistance movement in generating ideas.
I know we have a lot of issues and they all seem like priorities and Dems will have to stay tuned in and react immediately to threats against immigrants, the press, and anyone who is under attack by this administration. But some good old-fashioned research, combing the practices that actually have been tried in small towns or in cities and then making lists of approaches that have worked would be time well spent. Brainstorming sessions around stubborn problems areas with someone recording the mix of ideas that emerge, both good and bad, might produce some out-of-the-box approaches.
Thinking what we can give to schools and neighborhoods instead of how we can keep them under control could offer ways to change negative attitudes, adopted for self-protection, into the curiosity and interest that young people usually exhibit when they are learning things they want to know. Let’s lavish some care on people who have been neglected, overcharged and underpaid.
Paul Krugman talked about this in today’s (11/20/2018) NYT about the urban/rural divide offers this caveat:
“We can and should do a lot to improve the lives of Americans in lagging regions. We can guarantee access to health care and raise their incomes with wage subsidies and other policies (in fact, the earned-income tax credit, which helps low-wage workers, already disproportionally benefits workers in low-income states).
But restoring these regions’ dynamism is much harder, because it means swimming against a powerful economic tide.
And the sense of being left behind can make people angry even if their material needs are taken care of.”
I’m sure that everyone has a priority list for the new Democrats in the House and I, for one, would like to oust a bad leader first of all. However we are assured that tossing out the “tosser” (Harry Potter reference) is practically an impossibility (too bad we didn’t win the Senate too) (too bad voters sent both Ted Cruz and Marcia Blackburn to harass us). Let’s hear your lists now – we have until January to solidify our priority lists. But I think I am right on this one so you will have to put forth really good arguments.
Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, Merriam-Webster
A view from the cheap seats.