1. President Obama and his allies explain health care to the American public. As Rebpublicans in the House say they are going to pass a repeal bill before the State of the Union, we are not hearing why it should not be repealed. Poll after poll has shown that most people want national health care, but they are beginning to think that they don’t want “Obamacare.” There are indeed many faults with the plan – particularly that it guarantees increased profits to the insurance industry. However, there are many positive things as well, and the President should be making the case for it. It’s only after most people agree that the law is a step forward that we can talk realistically about taking the next step by improving it.
2. The liberals acknowledge (and the progressives make the case) that the best way to cut the deficit is to cut the military budget. United for Justice with Peace has launched a 25 Percent Solution campaign. I hope this idea becomes much more visible in the deficit debate.
3. The important thing is not whether the federal government runs a deficit, it’s where the money goes. The Obama-GOP tax-cut compromise gives the money to the rich. Instead, we need the government to put money directly into creating jobs to meet national needs: a high-speed rail network, a sustainable energy industry, and repair of crumbling bridges and highways, to name a few.
4. We need strong, democratic labor unions. Right now the super-rich are dominating politics because it’s all about money. The country needs a strong force to stand up for ordinary working people, and labor unions are it. Only about 1 in 10 workers now belongs to a union, because both the labor laws and the way they are enforced have become more hostil to labor since at least the Reagan administration. Reviving and passing the Employee Free Choice Act would be a good start, but failing that President Obama can do a lot by appointing the right people to the National Labor Relations Board.
5. Corporations are not people, and they do not have human rights. With all the talk about going back to the original intent of the Constitution, let’s go back to the original intent of the 14th Amendment, which was to protect the civil rights of African Americans, not to say that corporations should be treated as human beings — the latter idea was created by judicial activists in the 1890s.
6. Carbon trading does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Very little carbon trading consists of buying emissions credit from a more-efficient electric generating plant. Too much of it comes from paying countries in the developing world not to cut down forests. Not cutting down forests is a good thing — but since the forests are there already, leaving them there does not reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The only way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is – wait for it! – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions! For a fuller explanation, see Annie Leonard’s video animation “The Story of Cap and Trade” for a full explanation. (And by the way, forget about “clean coal” – coal is carbon, and there’s no way to burn it without producing carbon dioxide!)
I wish everyone a healthy and progressive 2011. This will be my last blogpost until after January 15, as I am going away until then.