Mr. Lo goes to Washington
My friend John made a comment the other day that he wanted to read a post explaining what I would do to fix Washington. Always being one to oblige a request (and being one that also spends way too much time thinking of elaborate scenarios just like this), I give you my multi-point plan to fix America. As usual with me some of this is a joke, but some is dead serious. You can be the judge of which is which.
First off, if I’m going to do this, I have some conditions that must be met in advance:
- I am given unquestioned and absolute dictatorial powers for a period of 2 years. No appeals, no veto overrides, no nothing. Sorry, it’s got to be that way. (Bonus points if you caught the Point Break reference there)
- Any decisions I make are binding for 20 years, otherwise, this is all for nothing.
- At the end of 2 years I will relinquish power and, despite the pleas of a grateful nation, retire to an undisclosed location to live off the measly lifetime pension that I will have setup for myself. Trust me, it will be more than worth it and you will gladly pay.
- Oh one more minor thing I forgot to mention. As another thank you, I will earn the right to ignore one law of my choosing each year when my birthday comes around.
Ok, everybody good with that? Great – here’s the JLo
12-point plan to fix what ails America:
- Every current elected or appointed member of government is hereby relieved of duty and forbidden to play any further part in public service. This includes Congress, the Supreme Court, etc. I know this an unfair generalization but you kids by and large refused to be part of the solution when you had the chance, so I can’t trust you be productive members of public service in in the future.
- Future members of Congress will be limited to 12 years of service. Congressional terms will be extended to 4 years but still subject to the 12 year limit. Senators can serve 2 terms. You guys spend way too much time worrying about getting re-elected, so hopefully this will take some of that pressure off.
- Marginal tax rates will be set at the same levels as the 1990s. Don’t give me any garbage about tax hikes damaging the economy. We’ve had historically low tax rates for a decade and a lot of good it’s done us. Everything seemed to work just fine there for a while, so suck it up. All tax deductions and breaks, except for child care and student loan deductions, will be eliminated. Oh, and any corporations who move their headquarters or main operational facilities offshore during this time period to escape the new tax policies will be banned from bidding on federal contracts. This rate and system will remain in place the the duration of the 20 year period defined above as part of our deficit reduction plan. I will decide on a reformed tax system before I leave office that will take effect at the end of the 20 year period. All models will be studied and considered, and then one will be chosen at random by me late at night before the deadline. I’m leaning toward abolishing income tax and replacing with a consumption tax, but who knows what kind of crazy stuff I’ll pull out of the hat at 4:30 AM on the day I leave office while watching Point Break and Roadhouse.
- Speaking of deficits, there are only four components of the budget that have any meaningful impact on revenues and spending: Taxes, Medicare, Social Security, and Defense. That’s it. All of the smoke screens about subsidies and earmarks and all that other nonsense don’t make a bit of difference in the end. If you don’t address and prioritize these four areas nothing we do will matter. So the first order of business is to immediately repeal the unfunded Medicare benefit cynically passed in the 2000s as Karl Roves bid to establish a permanent Republican majority. That alone will save billions of dollars over the next decade.
- Defense – Osama bin Laden is dead. The WMD threat in Iraq is non existent. It is time to withdraw troops from both of those theaters within 2 years. Whatever reasons we have for still being there no longer justify the costs in blood and treasure. We will also review the necessity of all overseas American bases and adjust troop levels there as needed.
- Health care – our current system (I’m talking about the general concept of relying on employer based insurance as the basis for primary care in this country, not any one specific policy) is unsustainable and quite frankly idiotic. There’s just enough market forces at work to ensure inequities and just enough government control and regulation to keep prices unnaturally high. The only rational solutions are to move to a market based system where individuals treat primary health care needs (routine doctors visits, prescriptions, etc) just like any other commodity and shop for the best value amongst competitive providers OR we remove all pretense and move to a single payer system. Regardless, the current system is unwieldy and expensive for employers to administer and is patently unfair to most workers. We are a compassionate society as a whole, so my gut feeling is that we would implement a combination system where primary care needs are met in the competitive marketplace while catastrophic care and all care for the elderly (subject to means testing for primary care and prescriptions) will be handled through a single payer system via a reformed Medicare program. I’m flexible on the end result here as long as the current system is abolished.
- Social Security will be reformed to recognize the current demographic realities that have changed since the program’s inception. The minimum retirement age will be raised and benefits subjected to means testing over a phased period over 10 years. SS was never intended to be the primary source of long term income for those reaching retirement age but many have come to view it as such.
- The following people will be deported as dangers to society or for just being annoying: Sarah Palin, Michael Moore, Michelle Bachmann, Keith Olbermann, Paris Hilton, Glenn Beck, Dick Cheney, Barbara Streisand, the Kardashians, any reality show producer or contestant, and Rachel Ray. On second thought, they will be set adrift on a ship wired with cameras”Big Brother” style to provide us with hours of wholesome entertainment.
- Since we will be scaling back our military presence in the Middle East and Central Asia our number 1 priority has to be reducing our dependance on oil from the region. Since we also have a glut of unemployed workers, crumbling and outdated infrastructure, and a stagnant economy, we will be investing heavily in public/private mass transit construction, alternative energy solutions, and urban infrastructure projects that promote and expand creation of pedestrian and biking options, and sensible living spaces that discourage the “flight to suburbia” model that has left us dependent upon automobiles in urban communities where that just doesn’t make sense. Investments in NASA, military R and D into adoption of alternative energy solutions, and all agencies engaged in similar research will be expanded.
- The constitution will be amended to include a “you must believe in science and hold a basic knowledge of history” requirement to be elected to public office. I don’t care what religion you are, but if you believe as matter of public policy that the world is a few thousand years old and try to deny broadly held scientific tenants as theories “with a lot of holes” based on what you remember from Sunday School, then, thanks, but no thanks. You’re not sitting in my chair after I’m gone. Before I retire into noble obscurity I’ll be creating a short, 20 question quiz that all candidates must take and pass before their name can be put on a ballot. (And I’ll give you a hint – this isn’t one of the jokes I was talking about)
- Which President did the best job ever of balancing the budget? That’s right, Dave did. Therefore I will follow his model and invite two CPAs at random to the White House and have them comb through the budget for six months to weed out wasteful spending and identify redundant agencies that can be dissolved or run more efficiently at the state and local levels.
- I reserve the right to nominate one candidate to stand in the first election to follow my 2 years of benevolent dictatorship and will choose David Palmer. Wait…what?
Ok, everybody good with THAT? No, probably not, which I think means that I’m on to something. Anything that too many people agree with completely probably isn’t going to get the job done in the first place.