There are more than a few issues to deal with for whoever is running the country next term, and by running the country, I mean which party, not which presidential candidate.
I think we all know, or should know, that it's Congress that runs the country relative to laws, expenditures and such, not the president.
The Democrats, of course, want to expand all government programs to include more and more people. We're fairly broke as a nation, but that doesn't seem to matter.
The Republicans want to cut almost every program the Democrats want, especially those mostly used by the poor. Right now there are many people without jobs and without any money for food. The odd thing is, at least six of the states with the worst issues on poverty and feeding their poor, according to recent USDA data, are in the Republican strongholds of North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas. And again, with our country mostly broke, the Republicans aim to fix these issues by cutting taxes to the richest of Americans.
Health insurance issues are again raising their ugly heads as it becomes more apparent that in that 1,000-page document called The National Healthcare Act (Obamacare), lots more people than originally projected are going to be fined for not buying health insurance. And 80 percent of these people are making less than that so-called tax increase ceiling of less than $200,000. I said all along, and wrote a column about it, that I thought national health insurance was something we should have, but that I was confident the plan running through Congress wasn't what it should be.
I haven't changed my mind a bit. A stupid and unwieldy plan without any attempt to rectify the one single largest issue behind our problem, and that is the rise in health-care costs. But one would have to blame Congress for that as well, not the President. Congress wrote the bill.
Perhaps just a little more oversight to the programs and the money handed out to various other governmental agencies would be in order, before we start gutting programs that actually do a lot of good for a lot of people. We all know that Medicaid is a hugely bloated and uncontrollably wasteful program. Yet New York state has gotten away with overbilling the federal government by $15 billion for Medicaid funded programs since 1909!
And, I must point out, that's only for the Office of Developmental Disabilities! Since New York also has the most extensive and expensive program of Medicaid for the poor in the country, I'd guess another intensive audit would show much the same waste. For anyone who actually reads this column, I can only say - and take great pleasure in doing so - "I told you so!"
We need to rethink our military mission. Weapons programs, troop deployments, all of it needs to be looked at objectively with a cold and discerning eye. The expense of having troops stationed all over the globe is a huge reason our military budget is so high, and much of those deployments are leftovers from The Cold War and World War II, and even the Korean War. The United Nations, without U.S. troops, needs to be on the border between North and South Korea.
The expense of supplying and maintaining around 40,000 troops in Korea is immense! Why do we have any troops in Germany anymore? Nobody else seems to do that but the United States, and I mean nobody. Even when the U.N. is involved, we're always the large majority of the effort. Perhaps we could relocate to our Southern borders and stop that invasion.
Who is going to realize that spending money under the annual Transportation Department Bills to rebuild roads and infrastructure will create thousands and thousands of jobs and just might reignite the economy? This benefit would of course be on top of the obvious safety issues of fixing crumbling bridges and roads.
Since the DEC is a federal agency, how about creating a revolving fund to deal with all of the rules they create that are basically bankrupting local governments by adding thousands, even millions, of dollars to the operating costs for their water and sewage systems? The federal government could float bonds to pay for these improvements, paying maybe 4 percent interest, and at the same time create a sage investment forum for all of those people now needing something other than a traditional pension for their retirements, yet not subject to the volatility of the stock market. This is just a thought, of course. But then I haven't seen anyone in Congress think about anything but defeating the other party, regardless of who is "the other party" at the time. True governance doesn't seem to be at play most of the time.
I'm thinking that maybe somebody should take a long and serious look at the regulations on Banks and other lending institutions, as well as Wall Street and the Insurance industry. I mean, why should a bank that depends on the federal government have the right to say they won't handle any Veterans Home loan unless it's at least $50,000, and for some banks $75,000? That sure doesn't help a young veteran purchase an older but fixable existing home, does it? The unholy blending of what all of these organizations do has not been good for anyone other than those at the top of their respective industries. Everyone else has taken the proverbial bath. Our economy is still paying for it.
Somebody needs to do something about illegal aliens. I still don't understand why there isn't a legal mechanism for farms to get all the legitimate workers they need, and for those people to come here without hiding and sometimes dying in their attempts. Along with that, a reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment needs to address the ridiculous notion that any child born here is a legal citizen. That's just nonsense and certainly not what the 14th Amendment was for and everyone knows that.
And I think we should worry less about guns heading south to Mexico and worry more about criminals going from there to here. How about emptying prisons of every prisoner of Mexican descent and busing them back to Mexico? It would be a lot cheaper than incarceration. Mexican gangs? Round them up, bus them back. If they were born here? Send them back, let them sort that out through immigration, it'll take years.
Oh, I almost forgot, we have to fix "Obamacare." OK? Get rid of it, end Medicaid, and fold everyone into Medicare for now. Include dental and eye care, a 1 percent raise in the Medicare tax, eliminate the entire VA system and allow vets to have vouchers to end co-pays for their Medicare. There, now it's fixed and paid for as well.
Have a nice term of office!
Paul Christopher is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org