Here’s my ten point plan for a better America in 2014. It's an equality focus featuring a pro-middle class anti-poverty agenda. It's also the biggest nightmare for every Congressional Conservative.
By Ove Overmyer
In January of every year, lawmakers, corporations, civic groups, lobbyists and activists create game plans or “agendas” to re-define their mission statements if you will. This year is no different. In fact, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has already delivered his vision for the upcoming legislative session—with mixed reviews I might add.
While it’s true that I do belong to many organizations, including taking an oath of office with my union (CSEA), I have my own personal agenda for what I think might be the right path to shared prosperity for all Americans. If you know me at all, this will not come to you as a surprise— the biggest issue facing our country today is income inequality and the devastating role that poverty plays in our communities.
As soon as most folks hear the word “poverty,” certain beliefs and prejudices automatically kick in. On the political right, the word conjures notions of bad choices and personal failings-- and sometimes, racial makeup. On the left, people think more of hard circumstances beyond one’s control and the lack of opportunity.
Whatever our politics, if we stay the present course it’s less likely that we will be able to think of poverty as something that affects just the few. If you haven’t noticed folks, the middle class is shrinking very fast. No functioning democracy can survive without a strong middle class with living wage jobs—we need everyday consumers who have purchase power to buy goods and services to keep our economy moving in the right direction.
ONE: EQUALITY AND CIVIL RIGHTS
Congress must pass ENDA this year and protect the civil human rights of our global community. Moreover, we must advocate protecting United States voting rights such as access to voting, especially in places where such rights are under attack like in the Deep South. The U.S. Department of Justice should validate all same sex marriages in the United States. These families should not be held to a higher standard by enduring prolonged discrimination and paying higher taxes.
TWO: WORKER RIGHTS
Restore the rights of all working people with respect to collective bargaining, due process and protections from wage theft.
THREE: AUSTERITY DOESN'T WORK
All Americans must understand that austerity policies do not work, and only exacerbate our country’s economic woes. Federal, state and local governments must not starve municipal budgets.
FOUR: CREATE A FAIR TAX STRUCTURE
We all need to be telling a new and meaningful story about paying taxes that celebrates the concrete opportunity it offers “we the people.” The problem is, without the public systems and structures that taxes pay for, the America we know and love would cease to exist.
Let me be clear— according to most economists, there is no correlation between giving tax breaks to wealthy corporations and job growth. Do you hear me Governor Cuomo? Make the rich pay their fair share by ending unfair tax breaks. A functioning democracy should be designed to have a progressive tax structure that is in proportion to the means and ability to pay for the essential vital services we demand and cannot do by ourselves as individuals.
FIVE: BEEF UP SOCIAL SAFETY NETS
Expand and broaden Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as so eloquently explained by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
SIX: SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE
Protect people from going hopelessly into debt through the high price of receiving healthcare and medical services. The ACA has failed to put a tight lid on potential total medical costs. Eventually, we must join the civilized world with single payer healthcare.
SEVEN: EDUCATE ALL OUR KIDS
Increase federal and state aid to state-supported education. It’s absurd that poor and middle class families have to go into debt just to pay for an education. The economic disparity between rich schools districts and poor school districts should be marginalized.
EIGHT: STRENGTHEN FEDERAL REGULATIONS
Strengthen federal regulations so irresponsible companies like big oil and banks do not rob ordinary tax-paying Americans and destroy the land, water and air we breathe.
NINE: HELP THE UNEMPLOYED PERMANENTLY
Create posterity bill language to extend federal benefits permanently for the long term unemployed. Why does Congress do this every three months? This is called unemployment insurance for a reason. The only people who are eligible for unemployment insurance have met the working criteria earlier in the working life. And, let’s remember the lesson learned in the Great Depression: when the private sector can’t come up with jobs, the government must fill the void by assisting those out of work and create jobs with them in mind.
TEN: SUPPORT THE RIGHTS OF WOMENProtect the workplace, healthcare and reproductive rights of women. That’s all I need to say here.