These thoughts are inspired by Pope Francis’ address to the joint session of Congress on 9/24/15. How neat would it be if our grandchildren could spend their lives living in an America that would look like this?
I’m excited. Tomorrow is Election Day, the day when we decide on who will be our President for the next eight years. We will all be able to go to the polls, because Congress finally decided to make Election Day an official national holiday after eliminating Labor Day as an anachronistic remnant of a bygone era. The expectation is that this action by Congress will boost turnout by at least twenty-five percent. It will make the election outcome more reflective of the popular sentiment.
This will end the intense three months campaign by the candidates of the three national parties, the Democrats, the Republicans and the Centrists. People will have a clear choice: left, right or center and chances are that none of the three parties will get enough votes to forge a majority in the House of Representatives or the Senate. But only one of them will get the main prize: the White House.
I can still remember the days, not too long ago, that Presidential election campaigns started two years before the next election. How disruptive was this process at the time that Presidents could run twice for four year terms! They were barely in office before they had to go back on the campaign trail. I can’t tell you what a relief I feel that by banning private funding of election campaigns, we have eliminated the influence of special interests and pressure groups over the outcome of the election process and by doing so we have restored the unfettered relationship between the voters and their elected representatives. Yes, we are paying the members of Congress handsomely, but we have closed any avenue for members of Congress to accept money of any kind from outside sources, for as long as they are in office. And, given the term limits imposed on them, we will pay each of our elected officials only for a limited time.
We can now confidently declare that these changes in our political system were not made simply for the sake of change, but they are producing the results the American people were looking for but not getting:
· First, our administrations are now bound by a new constitutional amendment, the 28th, that calls for a National Strategy that sets priorities to be achieved along a five and ten year time horizon. Congress no longer has to wonder what to work on, the priorities have been set. How to implement the strategies is left to be decided by Congress with the outcome largely depending on the balance of power in the executive and legislative branches.
· No less liberating are the changes made in the budgeting process. The White House, because of the balanced budget requirement, will no longer have to do the best it can with a given revenue stream, but is now required to first propose a plan for the implementation of the National Strategy and budget the expense required for the implementation, followed by a tax plan that provides the path towards strategy achievement within the balanced budget imperative. Continuity in fiscal policy is achieved by making the budget process a rolling three year, rather than a year to year, discipline. We are now first stating what we want to achieve and then figuring out how to pay for it. By doing so we have been able to bring the National Debt back from more than 100% of GDP to 72% of GDP and we have brought our entitlement programs on a sustainable footing in the process. Yes, we now pay a VAT consumption tax, but we are getting real value in return from a streamlined and much reduced bureaucracy and our personal income tax rates have been slashed. We make ends meet by making sure that everyone, individuals and corporations, pay their fair share.
· We have finally put our partisan debate over healthcare to rest by keeping the good and tossing out the bad from Obamacare. The reconstituted Health and Human Services Administration now has the authority to negotiate drug- and medical services pricing directly with the manufacturers/providers and copays or deductibles for preventative health care are things of the past. Smokers, alcoholics and drug users are now forced to pay huge premium surcharges for their health insurance.
· We have retaken control of immigration into the USA by requiring from every legal resident to carry a forge proof biometric identity card and by streamlining and broadening the legal immigration process. We are now welcoming people from all over the world who are willing and able to contribute to the growth and prosperity of America, with special privileges to foreign students who completed their studies at American universities. We have accommodated foreign workers who had entered the country illegally by giving them guest worker status and we are providing their children a path towards citizenship.
· By decriminalizing the use of recreational and medical marijuana, focusing on rehabilitation rather than penalization and by abolishing the death penalty we have made some major changes in our criminal justice system. We have also succeeded in making it color blind. Our prisons and jails hold less than half the number of prisoners we had just twenty years ago and convicts who have served their time are helped to reintegrate with society and become productive citizens again. Everyone gets a second chance.
· By thorough educational reforms we now live in a country where the best and the brightest, regardless of parental income or social status, have unfettered access to higher education at our top universities and colleges at a cost that is commensurate with their (or their parents’) capacity to pay. America has become a true meritocracy and the social mobility that had gone AWOL at the turn of the century has been restored in full force and effect.
I look forward to tomorrow when we get to rebalance our democracy. We now have a renewed, world class, infrastructure. America is at peace and it is the envy of the world but it does not get complacent nor does it abandon its core democratic values. It feels good to be American!