The purpose of this legislative agenda-setting database, and the political organizing and consensus-building tools on this website, is to enable voters of all persuasions to:
Set individual legislative agendas;
Connect with like-minded voters;
Form winning voting blocs and coalitions with political parties of their choice;
Set common transpartisan legislative agendas that cross party lines;
Nominate and endorse common slates of candidates;
Build transpartisan electoral bases that can outflank and outnumber the electoral base of any single party;
Elect candidates to enact bloc and coalition agendas without special interest campaign funding.
The database contains 104 generic legislative options. It will also contain an expanding set of options proposed by registered members of this website.
The options composed by voters will be displayed in the Joker Pool below beneath the two decks.
To help you find and recall where different options are located in the database, the 104 options are visually displayed on cards in two decks of playing cards. The options are divided into themes.
Deck 1 has the following 4 themes:
Health, Education and Welfare
Civil and Political Rights
Deck 2 has the following 4 themes:
The legislative option described on each card contains links to online sources of information describing its pros and cons. The sources are continuously updated.
For more information about using the database, click here.
To get an immediate overview of all 104 legislative options, scroll down to the keys to the two decks below.
If you click a legislative option title that interests you, you will automatically jump to the card in the two decks below that displays the title of the option.
If you click on the title of the option at the top of the card, the contents of the option will be displayed.
If you click the option title again, the contents will disappear.
When the database is fully developed, you will be able to turn the card over and write your own thoughts on the back. If you choose to share this legislative priority with other people, they will know what you think about how it and how you think it should be implemented.
Note: You can also display or remove the content of all the legislative options at once. Just click on one of the buttons below.
A growing economy is the best way to create jobs.
And the best way to keep the economy growing is by keeping taxes low so that Americans have more of their own money to spend, save, and invest in businesses that create jobs.
Taxes on the wealthy should be kept low because they have more money to invest in job-creating businesses.The private enterprise system and free markets, not government, is best equipped to create the jobs American workers need.
Every American has the right to health care. To provide affordable universal coverage, the Government should pass a single-payer, Medicare for All program covering all essential medical services (including mental health services), hospitalization, and prescription drugs without co-pays. Every year, Congress should automatically appropriate the funds needed for the next year's expected costs, as it does for Medicare Parts B and D. This system will cost 20% to 30% less than private insurance programs.
Global climate change is causing extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy that threatens large scale loss of life. It is caused by fossil fuels and heat-trapping gases from power plants, vehicles and food production. Lawmakers must pass laws that result in large scale substitution of renewable sources of energy for fossil fuels. Nuclear power must be prevented from creating environmental catastrophes like Fukushima. The U.S. should sign and respect international environmental protection treaties.
Polls show that most Americans think special interests have too much influence in government. They also think their elected representatives are more interested in passing legislation favored by the special interests that finance their electoral campaigns than legislation demanded by their constituents. Lawmakers must stop taking money from special interests and pass laws requiring all electoral campaigns to be citizen funded. The Supreme Court's recent decision in the Citizens United versus FEC case should be overturned.
The free enterprise system and the entrepreneurial spirit made the American economy the most powerful in the world. A strong economy requires bold, innovative entrepreneurs driven by the profit motive. They must be able to build enterprises and markets free of government interference, regulations and burdensome taxation. Their businesses should be able to raise capital on advantageous terms and operate according to the laws of supply and demand in unfettered free markets.
Property ownership is vital to democracy because it gives people a stake in their communities.
Yet people with average and modest incomes, especially senior citizens, cannot afford to pay the steep increases in local property taxes that have resulted from state lawmakers' efforts to limit state expenditures by shifting costs to the local level.
Local property taxes should be reduced by increasing state and local taxes on corporations and requiring developers to assume their fair share of the tax burden.
The role of government is to "promote the general Welfare" by enacting laws that enable everyone to obtain the basic necessities of life, prosper and become financially secure. Lawmakers must intervene to solve societal problems in the public interest that cannot be solved without government intervention. If the private sector fails to provide enough jobs for those who need them, and pay living wages, lawmakers should intervene. They should also ensure that people have equitable opportunities to move up the social ladder.
The U.S. must maintain a strong military posture in the Middle East. It should use proven counter-terrorism techniques to prevent terrorists from gaining a foothold where they can plan and carry out attacks. The U.S. and its allies should help countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and their neighbors develop their capabilities to resist radical extremists. They should try to win the hearts and minds of civilian populations to enlist their help in preventing terrorists and extremists from getting control of their countries.
The first decade of the 21st century saw zero net job creation. Economic output rose at a lower rate than any decade since the 1930s. It is a primary responsibility of all lawmakers and policy makers at federal agencies like the Federal Reserve to ensure the availability of living wage jobs in a growing economy for all Americans who need them. Lawmakers and officials who fail to exert their best efforts to make these opportunities available should be voted out of office.
The best way to maximize choice, personal freedom and personal responsibility is to make private health insurance the cornerstone of American health care. By using market forces to increase competition among insurance companies, it will reduce spiraling medical costs and make health care more affordable. Government-run health care will lead to greater government control over peoples' lives, the rationing of health care and bureaucratic interference into patient-doctor relationships.
U.S. homeowners and investors have lost billions of dollars due to the fraudulent practices of large banks and financial institutions who sold worthless mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting investors. U.S. lawmakers should not bail out these banks and institutions but instead break up those that are "too big to fail". They should help homeowners who fell victim to the fraud re-finance their mortgages. Lawmakers who refuse to pass tough financial regulations should be voted out of office.
Free speech is a fundamental constitutional right. Government cannot abridge the free speech rights of individuals, advocacy groups and businesses to speak on political issues. Campaign finance reforms restricting political spending abridge these rights by interfering with the production, distribution and broadcast of political communications that cost money. Legal restrictions on free speech and expenditures on such communications should be repealed. These contributions must be reported, however.
When U.S. consumers buy more goods from other countries than they buy from the U.S., more money leaves the U.S. than comes in. If this imbalance persists, and high unemployment remains high and consumer purchasing power remains low, non-defense related economic activity in the U.S. could come to a standstill. To eliminate the trade deficit, lawmakers must act to spur the domestic production of goods and services that other countries and American consumers want to buy.
Taxing the buyers of goods and services is the fairest type of taxation.
Higher sales taxes should be imposed at the local, state and federal levels to reduce and eventually eliminate property taxes, estate taxes, payroll taxes and federal income taxes.
At the local level, sales taxes should be used to support schools instead of property taxes. A national sales tax should replace the federal income tax to eliminate all the costly paperwork and bureaucracy involved in federal income tax collection.
The best government is the government that governs least. Governments that interfere in businesses and free markets usually hamper economic growth. Governments that intrude into the private lives of their citizens and make decisions for them limit their individual freedom. Lawmakers should only pass laws that involve government in doing things that cannot be done by the free market or individuals acting singly or collectively on their own initiative.
Invading and occupying U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have proked outrage around the world by causing the deaths of innocent civilians. This outrage has strengthened terrorist networks by helping them recruit new members. U.S. combat troops should not be deployed in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. should intervene only as part of an international effort that relies on diplomacy, non-violent conflict resolution strategies and economic development assistance rather than military force.
Working Americans' cost of living is outstripping their stagnant real incomes. The incomes of the wealthiest have soared due to steep increases in prices and executive compensation. This wealth gap is largely due to lawmakers' failure to raise the minimum wage, tax excess profits and enforce anti-trust laws to prevent corporations from destroying their competition in order to jack up their prices. These laws must be enforced to ensure workers get an equitable share of gross national income.
Congress should fully fund Social Security and Medicare to avoid any future cuts in the benefits due present and future U.S. retirees. Congressional lawmakers should authorize repayment of the $2 trillion Congress owes the Social Security Trust Fund for the money they have transferred from the Fund into their General Fund and spent over the past 40 years. Lawmakers who vote to lower Social Security and Medicare benefits should be voted out of office.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its 240,000 employees are vitally necessary to protect the U.S. from terrorist attacks, secure the border, safeguard the nation's infrastructure, and assist in recovery efforts after attacks or disasters. DHS should work closely with federal, state and local authorities and use whatever means necessary to monitor and interdict suspicious activity even if these actions curtail traditional constitutional protections.
Lawmakers and officials who restrict basic freedoms like voting rights, such as by installing defective electronic voting equipment whose results can be falsified, unlawfully purging voters from voter lists, or requiring the purchase of unnecessary photo identification from voters of modest means, should be removed from office. Law enforcement officials must prosecute those who intimidate voters with false claims about voting eligibility or incorrect instructions about voting procedures.
Investment tax cuts spur economic growth and competitiveness by increasing the discretionary income and wealth of those most likely to invest it.
Although these cuts reduce tax revenues from these individuals, the cuts generate increased tax revenues from the corporations, executive bonuses and stock market profits generated by investments.
They also prevent the taxation of dividend income twice, once as corporate profits and secondly as personal income.
U.S. companies are at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy because of high corporate tax rates.
Lawmakers should cut business taxes to promote business growth, job creation and investment.
States with low corporate taxes attract and retain companies that shy away from high-tax states.
If corporate taxes go up, the increase is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, or to shareholders in the form of lower dividends or share value.
The time has come for fiscal austerity. The federal government must reduce its debt and balance its budget just like businesses and families have to do. It should not spend more money that it takes in. Right now, the debt is so high that interest payments on the debt are taking a huge bite out of tax revenues. Decreasing the federal debt and budget deficit should be lawmakers' top priority even if it means cutting entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
One of the greatest threats to Americans and American interests is a loosely-organized network of Islamic radicals operating in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Its goal is to use terrorist tactics to end U.S. influence in the Middle East and elsewhere and replace it with a radical Islamic empire.
It is also seeking to destroy Israel and develop weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. must use whatever means are necessary to stop Islamic radicalism.
The American economy will grow and create more jobs and wealth only if U.S. businesses produce goods and services that consumers here and abroad can afford, and do not cost more than those of foreign competitors.
If high U.S. labor costs make U.S. products and services more expensive than those of foreign competitors, U.S. businesses will have to outsource their jobs to lower wage areas to reduce labor costs.
Medicaid is the largest publicly-funded program in the U.S. for medical and health-related services for people with limited income. Only U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and people with certain disabilities are eligible. Medicaid pays most of the costs of U.S. hospitals and nursing homes serving these groups. Even though a majority of Americans oppose reductions, lawmakers continue to slash Medicaid funds. These cuts should be rescinded and overall funding increased to provide the care these groups need.
The U.S. Constitution gives people the right to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures". No one should be subjected to intimidation, unlawful arrest or the excessive use of force by police, self-appointed vigilantes or armed paramilitary groups. Lawmakers must prohibit these practices. Laws that permit them must be rescinded. Individuals who engage in these practices should be prosecuted.
Corporations are the driving force behind U.S. economic growth and the creation of jobs and wealth. Since they know what is needed to keep the economy growing, they should have the same free speech rights as citizens to bring their views to the attention of the public and the nation's lawmakers, especially during elections. They should be able to use corporate funds to educate the public and elect representatives who will enact laws that help rather than hurt the business sector and the economy.
The driving force behind the economic growth that is raising standards of living around the world is an interdependent global economy based on the free enterprise system, free markets and free trade.
This growth can best be sustained by government non-interference in business decisions and the workings of the marketplace so that capital can freely move across borders, and supply and demand can determine prices.
This state and locally-administered program, which replaced the traditional welfare program, does not serve all needy U.S. families. Even the benefits that are provided needy families often fail to cover basic necessities. The reason is that many state and local lawmakers divert the funds to other programs. TANF funding should be substantially increased so that it brings all needy families up to the official poverty line and provides affordable child care so parents can work.
The middle class is being squeezed by increasing taxes, stagnating real income and higher costs of living.
The Bush administration tax cuts, military expenditures and bank bailouts are major causes of the budget deficit and Great Recession.
Congress must ensure the revival of the economy and survival of the middle class by making sure the tax burden is not shifted to the middle class and the wealthy pay their fare share of taxes.
The Bush administration failed to respect U.S. treaty obligations under the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of prisoners it captured in conducting its "war on terror". Congress must compel the executive branch to treat prisoners of war, "detainees" and "enemy combatants" in compliance with its international treaty obligations. All persons held in U.S. custody at home and abroad must be informed of the charges against them and afforded due process and fair trials without delay.
Steep increases in gas and home heating prices are becoming unaffordable for millions of Americans.
These increases will continue for the foreseeable future because of lawmakers' failure to create and fund a national plan to develop alternative, renewable sources of energy to replace dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. They must act swiftly to support public and private sector initiatives to assure U.S. energy independence.
More than half of the federal budget is spent for entitlement and other mandatory programs.
More than 70% of mandatory spending goes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, a proportion that is likely to rise as more people are added to these programs.
Congress must slow the growth of these programs by restricting entitlement spending to avoid the substantial increases in taxes that will be necessary to pay for them.
Too many violent crimes are committed in the U.S. by criminals using illegally acquired guns or assault weapons that are available due to lax gun control laws.
While there are legitimate reasons to own guns, assault weapons and large magazines of ammunition should be banned. It is time for lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws.
Those who refuse to do so because they accept campaign contributions from the the National Rifle Association should not hold elective office.
The U.S. Constitution gives citizens, not corporations, the right to vote. But corporations insist that they have all the rights of natural "persons" and can use these rights and their vast wealth to increase their political influence. They argue that they can not only influence lawmakers through campaign contributions, but sway public opinion by attacking or supporting electoral candidates. Lawmakers must restrict corporate political influence to ensure government is run by the people, for the people.
The U.S. and other industrialized nations have denied the benefits of economic growth to workers by paying low wages. They have harmed developing countries and ruined local industries by forcing open their markets to low-priced goods, including government subsidized agricultural products.
Multinational corporations have increased the wealth gap by paying low wages and taxes. Lawmakers should pass laws outlawing these harmful practices.
All parents should be able to choose the schools their children attend.
Students should be able to take the funds that would be spent on them in a public school not of their choice to any school they choose, including a different public school, charter schools, faith-based schools and private schools. This system will improve failing schools when their administrators and teachers see parents removing their children to place them in schools providing better education.
"Tax and spend" politicians argue that the problems of unbalanced budgets in the public sector can be solved by taxing the rich.
Yet the wealthiest Americans, who are a small percentage of the population, already pay more than half of all tax revenues, even after recent tax cuts.
People who have more money than they need to live on will invest it, if it is not taxed away. Their investments will create jobs and increase federal tax revenues from the businesses in which they invest.
The war against terrorism is unlike the wars covered by the Geneva Conventions because the enemies are not states but nebulous, non-state global networks of militants. Convention requirements regarding the treatment of prisoners captured in wars between states do not apply to these militants.
They can be detained indefinitely without formal charges and interrogated in unorthodox ways to obtain information that can prevent future attacks.
Since the free market economy has failed to produced enough jobs to meet the needs of American workers, lawmakers must take action to spur the creation of the jobs that are needed even if it means protecting the products and services of domestic industries.
They must oppose business practices and trade policies that destroy domestic jobs without provisions to replace them with domestic jobs. They should penalize U.S. companies that go offshore to get cheaper labor and avoid U.S. taxes.
Sufficient public funds must be invested in K-12 public schools to provide all public school students the opportunity to develop their full potential and acquire the social skills they need to live and prosper in a diverse society. Instead of diverting public funds to alternative schools or programs, they should be used by public schools to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and provide all their students safe, stimulating educational environments and equitable educational opportunities.
The right of American citizens to own guns is conferred by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Laws should not interfere with the exercise of this Constitutional right. Instead, laws should be enacted recognizing the right of citizens to carry firearms for self-protection. These laws should protect the firearms industry from being bankrupted by lawsuits.
The Patriot Act enacted during the Bush administration has protected the American people from the deadly plans of terrorists dedicated to destroying the American way of life.
When Congress passed this important act in response to the attacks of 9/11, it applied existing U.S. legal principles and legislative precedents to the unique challenges posed by a global terrorist network. Congress should maintain the key provisions of the act.
The energy base of the U.S. economy must be re-engineered to rely on safe, renewable sources of energy like wind, water and solar power, instead of fossil fuels like oil, or dangerous sources like nuclear power. Lawmakers should promote public/private partnerships that induce U.S. businesses to use renewable energy sources that are not accident-prone and do not generate toxins like those generated by fracking and nuclear power generation.
Education is a key to success in American society. Yet expenditures on public school students vary greatly from one school district to another. These discrepancies contribute to discrepancies in achievement and opportunities to advance in American society.
Lawmakers must eliminate these disparities because they create inequitable educational opportunities and discriminate against students in municipalities that do not provide equitable financing for their schools.
The U.S. is the sole remaining super-power in the world. It is responsible for keeping the peace by using its military force to root out terrorists and prevent or stop aggression by nations that threaten U.S. citizens, homeland, installations, military bases and other interests. The U.S. must also dominate cyberspace and protect its air, sea and ground supply lines. Lawmakers should approve the defense budget and whatever supplemental spending its defense responsibilities require.
A vital role can be played by the World Bank in helping developing nations recover from the global recession because of its expertise in financing economic growth in war torn, developing and recovering nations. World Bank investments, loans, credit and grants provide the capital these nations need to build their infrastructures so they can exploit their natural resources, fully open their markets and integrate their economies into the global economy.
The best way for individuals to get ahead in life and create sustainable livelihoods is to rely on themselves and their own resources and industriousness.
America was built by enterprising people who took great risks to create economic opportunities, not by those who waited for others to take the initiative or depended on hand-outs from government.
People who fail usually have only themselves to blame because they do not try hard enough and fail to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.
Air, water and soil in the U.S. is being polluted with toxins that contaminate food, causing sickness and death to those who eat it. Such toxins cause 40% of all deaths worldwide annually. Lawmakers must require federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration to dramatically improve their protection of the air, water, soil and food. Farming practices and factory farms in the U.S. and abroad that produce toxins should be prohibited.
The death penalty is vital to preserving law and order. It is a just penalty for capital crimes. Former U.S. President Bush was correct in supporting capital punishment because it serves as a deterrent and helps save innocent lives. It also helps prosecutors plea bargain, protects the community by making sure convicted criminals do not offend again and provides closure to survivors of victims.
Federal and state laws authorizing the death penalty should remain in effect.
The Patriot Act's provisions authorizing roving wiretaps, surveillance of individuals not linked to terrorist groups, and searches of business records violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitute. The amendment states that U.S. citizens have the right to be safe and secure from unreasonable government searches and seizures. Lawmakers should remove provisions from the act that federal courts rule unconstitutional.
Lawmakers should tax excessive industry profits. For example, the three largest U.S. oil and gas companies increased their profits by more than 40% in recent years by raising the price of oil and gas. Global oil companies' combined yearly profits total more than the annual GNP of 100 countries. U.S. auto companies and banks have used taxpayer-funded bailouts to dramatically increase their profits, while their executives use tax breaks to pay a lower percent of their income than their secretaries.
Individuals of the same sex should be able to marry each other in marriages recognized by the states in which they live.
These marriages should confer on them the same legal status as marriages between males and females.
They should entitle same sex couples to receive the same benefits and avail themselves of the same legal protections afforded marriages between males and females.
The U.S. is the world's sole remaining superpower. It can maintain its military pre-eminence without spending more money on defense than all other countries combined. Since its primary adversaries are non-state terrorists who use small-scale weapons, it can ferret them out more efficiently and cost effectively using counter-terrorist techniques and international policing than overwhelming military force and expensive weapon systems.
The policies and practices of the World Bank have widened the wealth gap between rich and poor.
They have forced developing nations to take on crushing debts to finance huge infrastructure development projects they can ill afford.
These projects benefit the multinational companies who build and use them to force open the markets of these nations to unfair foreign competition, extract natural resources at unfair prices and destroy indigenous economies.
Rugged individualism alone will not lead to success unless a person also has a good education and opportunities to get jobs paying living wages. The 150 million Americans who are at poverty level or below show that people can be held back by circumstances beyond their control. Lawmakers must ensure that the public and private sectors work together to provide living wage jobs to everyone who needs them. They must work to reduce the wealth gap by providing equal opportunities for creating and retaining wealth.
No one should be prejudicially treated because they belong to a particular group, or are perceived to belong to a particular group. Discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or exceptional needs is a continuing blot on U.S. history. Lawmakers who advocate or support laws enabling such discrimination, or fail to act to prevent such discrimination, are hindering the health, education and welfare of the victims of prejudicial treatment. They should be voted out of office.
The death penalty violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. There is no proof it deters crime. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that imposes the death penalty. Yet it still has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Since many people are wrongly convicted of capital crimes, as shown by DNA evidence, death penalty laws should be revoked and replaced by life sentences without parole.
Terrorist threats should not be used to justify government interference, intimidation or arrests to prevent U.S. citizens from assembling in visible sites to express their views about government policies and demonstrate outside government buildings, political party conventions and other venues. Nor should terrorist threats be used to justify intimidation or incarceration of journalists or bloggers, or used as a pretext to impose restrictions on public access to government information.
Lawmakers must pass tough laws to protect American consumers from exploitive business practices. Credit card issuers, banks and financial services institutions, and insurance companies are particularly in need of regulation. They not be allowed to gouge consumers, engage in bait and switch tactics, and misrepresent the terms and conditions of credit, loans and mortgages. Insurance companies should be prevented from overcharging on premiums and underpaying claims.
Only a man and a woman should be permitted to marry. Traditional family values and children's future are best protected by having a father and mother in the home who are married. If people of the same sex marry and raise families, they will set a bad example for the children of normal families. U.S. laws should prohibit marriage between people of the same sex. Schools should not be allowed to teach that it is right for people of the same sex to marry because it will also set a bad example.
Key legislation passed by Congress frequently lacks the support of a majority of Americans. A minority of lawmakers decide what legislation will be passed in major areas like health care and taxation -- even though they were elected by a minority of the constituents they represent and U.S. voters as a whole. These lawmakers often follow the wishes of the special interests that fund their campaigns. Laws need to be passed enabling majority rule in America. Use of the "filibuster" in the U.S. Senate must be stopped.
One of the most serious causes of conflict and violence in the world is the wealth gap between the rich and poor, especially when the poor are politically and economically disenfranchised. Although middle class and even well-educated individuals join militant groups, research indicates many identify with impoverished and powerless populations and fight on their behalf. The path to peace lies in politically and economically empowering oppressed groups, and helping them create and retain wealth.
The U.S. lacks affordable housing, rentals and shelters for the homeless. Foreclosed homeowners face soaring rents. The number of homeless, approximately 3.5 million, exceeds the number of beds available in homeless shelters. The causes are cut-backs in federal aid to low-income housing and boarded up homes lost during the financial crisis and recession. Lawmakers must fund programs that provide incentives to the public and private sectors to build affordable housing for all U.S. income groups and the homeless.
America is falling behind emerging economic powers like India and China in the number of students graduating from college in science and technology.
To ensure U.S. competitiveness, lawmakers must adequately fund higher education to provide access to all qualified middle and low income students.
College students and their families should not have to borrow large sums of money to finance their education.
Millions of Americans go to bed hungry every night, as do hundreds of millions of people abroad. Yet before large agribusinesses replaced indigenous farming, most people were able to buy or grow their own food locally. The cause of food insecurity is usually not lack of food but lack of money to buy food at the prices agribusinesses demand. Lawmakers must ensure that people have enough money to buy food at prices that are not excessive. They should also pass laws that encourage local food production.
Lawmakers should respect "net neutrality" and ensure that all Americans have equal and affordable access to the Internet at the highest speeds that are technologically feasible. They must take action to protect the privacy and confidentiality of Internet users' personal information. They should place strict limits on what information third parties can collect, sell and reveal to government agencies, especially information related to political activities.
Whenever lawmakers pass laws that affect the private sector and place constraints on the workings of free markets, they inhibit economic growth and the creation of jobs. Compared to other industrialized countries, the U.S. has developed a stronger economy because government has interfered in the private sector less than their governments.
U.S. lawmakers have given trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street banks that ruined millions of homeowners and fraudulently sold worthless mortgage-backed securities. Yet policy-makers have done little to help victimized homeowners, or create jobs to replace those lost in the recession caused by the banks. Lawmakers must help state and local economies and governments generate the tax revenues needed to keep firefighters, police and teachers on the job.
The framers of the Constitution inserted anti-majority rules to prevent majorities from passing laws trampling on fundamental individual rights. They enumerated these rights in the Constitution, and inserted procedural obstacles making it difficult to change them. They also wanted to protect small states against large states. That is why each state has two senators regardless of size, and the Electoral College elects the president, not a majority of voters. This system has served the country well and should not be changed.
This independent, self-governing organization of nation-states plays a unique role in developing international trade policies that benefit developing as well as developed nations.
It is opening markets around the world and knocking down trade barriers to penetration of foreign markets.
Increased trade, especially U.S. exports to developing countries, will benefit U.S. industries and businesses, and create jobs for U.S. and foreign workers.
Fees and interest rates on credit cards and certain kinds of loans have become usurious. Many credit card issuers charge 30% and more.
Lawmakers must regulate the lending industry to protect borrowers from predatory practices that can ruin them financially. In particular, they should make it illegal for credit card issuers to breach their original agreements with card holders by changing original interest rates or lowering original credit limits.
Women of all ages should be free to choose whether and when to have a child. Government should not come between a woman and her doctor and dictate reproductive decisions. Nor should lawmakers allow religious groups to write laws interfering with women's reproductive rights. U.S. laws and U.S. funded domestic and foreign aid programs that interfere with women's reproductive rights should be rescinded.
In order to prevent future terrorist attacks like those of 9/11, it is necessary and justifiable for U.S. government authorities to apprehend, transport and detain suspected terrorists and sympathizers indefinitely without charging them with specific crimes, either in the U.S. or abroad. They should also be able to apprehend, transport and hand over suspects to government authorities in other countries for interrogation and detention.
Undocumented workers who came to the U.S. seeking livelihoods and have joined the U.S. labor force should be given the opportunity to earn their citizenship.
They should be protected from unscrupulous employers who benefit financially by paying them less than the minimum wage.
While earning their citizenship and working, these workers should pay taxes on their income and contribute to Social Security and Medicare.
It is better for the private sector to acquire ownership or management rights over natural resources such as land, water, electricity, oil.
Whenever the government tries to operate public utilities to manage these assets and use them to provide services to the public, it does so inefficiently and wastes taxpayers' money.
For-profit businesses are better qualified than government bureaucracies to develop innovative technology and use sophisticated management techniques.
State and local police should not use excessive force to maintain order. Instead, they should use proven nonviolent tactics. There is no reason for police to purchase armored tanks, use high-powered weaponry to inflict painful injuries on unarmed civilians, or employ crowd-control techniques on U.S. civilians developed for military use. Instead of breaking up public gatherings, police should help the planners and attendees ensure the safety of all. Police who wound or kill unarmed citizens without justification should be prosecuted.
In order to prevent tyranny and abuses caused by the concentration of power, the framers of the Constitution separated the powers of government into separate executive, judicial and legislative branches. This checks and balances system requires negotiation and compromise among the branches. It has created moderation and stability, and prevented any single branch from getting too powerful. This system should be maintained because it has served the country well.
WTO policies and practices impede the development of free and fair trade policies by favoring industrialized countries over developing countries.
WTO policies should not be allowed to take precedence over domestic laws as they do now. They should not allow multinationals to force open the markets of developing countries and flood them with lower priced goods and services that ruin indigenous and nascent industries.
Trade unions are indispensable to attaining and preserving living wages that enable working families to cover their basic costs of living and provide a dignified and comfortable retirement.
The decline in the percentage of unionized workers in the U.S. has been accompanied by a steep decline in wages and benefits. Countries with a high percentage of unionized employees provide far better compensation and standards of living.
Lawmakers should pass laws encouraging collective bargaining and rescind those that hamper it.
It is morally wrong for a woman to take the life of her unborn child.
If a woman is unable to care for the child she is carrying, she should put it up for adoption after it is born.
It should be against the law to terminate a pregnancy unless the life of the mother is at risk, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. No federal, state or local funds should be spent for abortions in the U.S. or foreign countries receiving U.S. aid.
U.S. and international laws should prohibit the U.S. government from detaining U.S. citizens or citizens of other countries whom it suspects may be terrorists without charging them with specific crimes in a timely fashion and giving them the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.
These laws should also prohibit the U.S. from turning over suspected terrorists to other countries for interrogation and detention without due process or lawful trials.
Immigrants who have entered this country illegally have no rights and should not be allowed to remain and become citizens.
They take jobs away from American citizens and put financial burdens on their communities for schooling and social services. Many refuse to learn English and isolate themselves from the mainstream.
Others become drug traffickers or addicts. If illegal immigrants are sent home, they will dissuade others from coming.
The public owns many resources and assets like land, water, oil, roads, bridges, tunnels, air waves and the electromagnetic frequencies that make the Internet possible. These assets should not be sold or licensed to private interests unless they make them available to the public at affordable prices and maintain and upgrade them more efficiently and cost effectively than public agencies. They should not be sold or leased to private interests just to increase revenues.
Laws should be passed and strictly enforced prohibiting government authorities from seizing citizens' private property and turning it over to commercial interests and developers who promise government greater tax revenues on the property.
"Eminent domain" prerogatives should be used to acquire private property only for public use to meet critical needs. Any property seized must remain in the public domain.
The separation of powers among the nation's executive, judicial and legislative branches has created a dysfunctional government. Instead of the three branches checking and balancing each other to prevent any branch from getting too powerful, they mostly work at cross-purposes. As a result, they are unable to formulate coherent policies that resolve crises and address the concerns of the majority of Americans. The system needs to be reformed.
The holocaust showed the world what happens when dictators are allowed to persecute ethnic and religious groups.
Like the U.S., Israel is fighting against terrorism and terrorist attacks, some of which originate in Palestine. Israel has the right to defend itself and the U.S. should continue to provide the financial and military support it needs. It is one of the only democratic governments in the Middle East and one of America's staunchest allies.
Trade unions have outlived their usefulness. They have been plagued by corruption, violence and trouble-makers who foment conflict between management and labor. Coercive practices that force all workers to pay union dues should be outlawed. So should their political organizing tactics aimed at electing pro-labor lawmakers. Among the most politicized and abusive unions are teachers' unions, who do everything they can to prevent incompetent teachers from being fired.
Economic growth and job creation is hampered when companies have to pay huge sums of money to people who win law suits claiming they sustained personal injuries due to defective products and services.
Many physicians can no longer practice medicine because they can not afford the premiums of professional liability insurance to defend themselves against in malpractice lawsuits. Lawmakers should limit the amount of money that can be awarded in these lawsuits.
U.S. bridges, tunnels, roads, levees, dams, sewers and water mains are crumbling and sickening, injuring and killing Americans across the country. Congressional lawmakers are to blame because they refuse to vote the funds needed to repair or replace them. The devastation of New Orleans after hurricane Katrina is an example. Elected representatives who do not vote for necessary infrastructure expenditures should be voted out of office.
The Bush administration opposed the use of torture, which it defined as occurring only when the pain inflicted results in major organ failure or death. Similarly, as the Obama administration has indicated, in order to force detainees to reveal information that might save thousands of lives from terrorist attacks, the president may have to override U.S. legal precedents and acts of Congress that also diverge from traditional definitions contained in U.S. and international laws.
The free market economy has failed to provide the jobs needed by American workers, and enough goods and services produced by American workers to keep the "real" economy going. This failure shows that the dominance of the economy by giant multinational corporations is undermining the quality of life in America. Lawmakers must pass legislation to develop public/private partnerships to build thriving local economies comprised of sustainable businesses and jobs.
A majority of U.S. congressional districts have had their boundaries redrawn by state legislators around voters most likely to elect their party's candidates. This is undemocratic because it gives their candidates unfair advantages, and prevents the emergence of competitive third parties and candidates. Lawmakers must use unbiased methods to redraw the boundaries of all election districts.
Foreign aid that assists developing countries create sustainable livelihoods for their populations can help eradicate desperate economic conditions that can breed terrorism.
The U.S. should increase its foreign aid because it ranks among the lowest of all industrialized countries in terms of the percentage of GNP that it gives to foreign aid, which is less than 1%. This aid should not require recipient countries to endorse U.S. policies, buy U.S. products or open their markets if doing so harms their economies.
U.S. foreign policy has been unfairly biased in favor of Israel in comparison to Palestine, whose territory is illegally occupied by Israel.
This bias is largely the result of the undue influence that pro-Israel special interest and lobbying groups exercise over lawmakers and officials who formulate U.S. foreign policy.
Countries that invade and occupy foreign territory are prohibited by international law from retaining it. The U.S. should insist on the creation of a separate Palestinian state.
Retirement pensions are vanishing as more and more employers are allowed to deny their employees the plans to which they contributed, or refuse to offer pension plans to their employees at all.
Lawmakers should pass laws imposing severe penalties against companies that reneg on pensions owed their employees, or refuse to offer pension plans at all. The Social Security benefits of U.S. retirees of 30% of full time earnings should be raised closer to the 80% received by eligible members of Congress.
The federal government should not fund research using human stem cells. Although most Americans support science and technology, many are opposed to stem cell research because they are influenced by deeply held beliefs. Like former president George W. Bush, they believe in the fundamental value and sanctity of human life and therefore oppose taxpayer funding for research that would result in the destruction of human embryos.
The World Health Organization predicts that new killer diseases similar to HIV/Aids or ebola may be on the horizon that are capable of killing millions of people. 39 new diseases have been identified that did not exist 30 years ago. Lawmakers and government agencies should place as high a priority on funding programs to prevent and fight global epidemics as they do on terrorist threats.
U.S. laws ban cruel and inhuman treatment of the kind practiced by the Bush administration. Since research has shown this treatment does not obtain reliable information, there is no justification for using it.
The U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Uniform Military Code of Justice and U.S. federal laws banning torture incorporate international laws. Breaches of these laws are criminal acts.
The products and services of locally-based businesses are unlikely to be able to compete with those produced by the large corporations that drive the global economy. For these corporations have greater know-how and access to capital, and can more easily create the economies of scale that result in high profit margins. Local businesses will find it difficult to compete with them, especially if they do not have the manpower and experience to function in a global economy.
Lawmakers should pass laws that help create public/private partnerships that spur job creation through the development of socially-responsible enterprises that serve the public interest.
These partnerships should be able to use publicly-owned assets such as land, pension funds and even state-backed venture funds to help businesses produce and market goods and services needed locally and regionally, as well as generate wealth and income that remain in the U.S.
The U.S. already gives a greater amount of foreign aid than any other country.
But its current economic and fiscal problems, coupled with the need to spend so much money fighting terrorism, require a reduction in foreign aid.
Besides, the money the U.S. has given in foreign aid in the past has often been wasted.
Either it was stolen by corrupt officials or squandered on projects that didn't work or were never completed.
The greatest threat to American citizens are weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), whether in the hands of terrorists or nation-states. The U.S. should do whatever it takes to protect the country against WMDs.