Thursday, November 04, 2004

My Hope for the Next Four Years

Time for me to put my wish-list together for the next 4 years. With the President having a majority Republicans in the House and the Senate, he should be able accomplish a lot of good things. Here are the items I hope he pursues.

1. Finish the job in Iraq and Afghanistan - This is huge. Afghanistan is off to a good start but for the next few years we will need to keep a close eye to ensure the Taliban and Al-Qaida do not regain a foot-hold. Iraq is going to be a tougher job. I believe that once the last terrorist strongholds are destroyed the security issue will rapidly improve. I do not believe there will be problems with January elections in Iraq. Once the elections are out of the way the outlook for Iraq will greatly improve and it will be much easier to get more international support once the terrorists have been defeated. I believe both countries have a bright future but it will take some time.

2. Get bin Laden – I don’t believe that OBL really has much influence left to conduct terrorist operations but he is an important figurehead for the movement. Capturing him will help reinforce to the civilized world that the US is really focused on battling terrorism.

3. Overhaul the tax system – This could be the most important thing President Bush can accomplish in his second term. I would love to see the IRS dismantled and the income tax abolished. I think a VAT type system or a national sales tax is the way to go. The income tax system is open to abuse and influence peddling. It is an unfair system because the upper income people can afford to hire accountants to avoid paying their taxes. There are better ways to collect revenue that are fairer and involve less bureaucracy.

4. Cut the deficit by getting government spending under control – With the ongoing GWOT there will huge budget challenges for the next several years. This is the prime opportunity to get rid of some of the more wasteful and outdated government programs. We may need to rethink the Medicare drug program since it seems unpopular with seniors.

5. Fix Social Security – The time is now to correct this looming problem. I am not against the idea of allowing younger works alternatives to paying into the system but this must be carefully thought out. We cannot continue with a zero sum approach to SS. There must be some interest earning potential on the money that is collected. I don’t know the best way to fix this one but it must be a priority.

6. Immigration reform – We must find a way to allow people into the country who want to work or go to school but we have to secure our boarders. We can no longer stand by while hundreds of people die every year in the Arizona desert just to work. We need to make it easier for workers to enter the country so that only the criminals and terrorist will attempt to enter illegally. This will allow our security forces to concentrate on the “bad guys” and not on people who want to work. It will also reduce the cost associated with illegal immigration. We also need to punish companies that knowingly hire illegal aliens. If there is no market for illegal aliens AND it is easier to enter legally then there will be less illegal immigration. This means fewer people dieing to work and a savings to the taxpayers.

Here are a few things that I am concerned about and hope that the President DOES NOT put a huge amount of time into:

1. Gay marriage – This was a big issue during the election and many people feel very strongly about. I fear that this issue has the potential to be an unnecessarily divisive issue that can have very negative consequences for Republicans in the future. I do not support a constitutional amendment on this issue nor do I think there should be a federal law about this. I believe that states should be allowed to manage this issue as their constituents see fit. The real problem for me with this issue is not gay marriage but with the implications for other social issues such as polygamy. This has the potential to turn very ugly and now is not the time.

2. Abortion – This is a no-win issue for either party right now. I do support the ban on partial-birth abortions and this should be protected but the larger issue of abortions is a no-go.

3. The draft – There is NO indication that the President would ever consider this and that is the way it should stay. This issue would destroy the military and play into the hands of the President’s critics. Plan all military actions around an all volunteer force to ensure that the morale of the troops and the nation stays high.

These are some of my real dream issues that I have no hope of this administration, or any, of ever doing:

1. Abolish the Department of Education – Sorry all you teachers out there, but I do not see any compelling evidence that this is anything other than a huge waste of money. The only reason it is still around is because the teachers union is so powerful politically. I think that the Congress should set education standards and then award grants to states for the purpose of education. Each state should be able to determine the best way to achieve the education goals set by Congress.

2. Get the Department of Defense out of the nation building business – The DoD is totally unprepared for the job of peace-keeping or nation building and they should never be called on to do the job. The DoD should go back to being the Department of War and be concerned only with warfare. The job of nation building should belong to the State Department and they should be equipped to do this job. Forget the crazy idea of a Department of Peace that is the job of the State Department and it is time they have the tools to do the job.

3. Get out of the UN – This was an important tool of the Cold War but those days are gone. The UN is completely unwilling to take meaningful action when the need is obvious. They soak-up huge amounts of money and are filled with corruption. It is time for it to go and at the very least it is time for the US to get out. We can accomplish more good through direct negotiations and alliances than the UN could ever hope of doing.

There are so many more things that can be done or should be done; I cannot list them all and I doubt that anyone can. I addition each person will have a different list of priorities including completely different ideas. Certainly tort reform is a big deal that will get a lot of attention, as well as rebuilding relations with our allies. Judicial nominations will be huge over the next few years and I hope that the President can nominate judges that will protect the Constitution but are not so radical that they cannot be confirmed. We should consider lifting the ban on Canadian cattle. How should we deal with Iran and North Korean? The next 4 years will be very interesting and I hope that we can join together and deal with some of these and other important issues. Tell me what is important to you.

6 comments:

Shelley said...

What do you consider the outdated government programs? I am assuming you don't just mean the Dept. of Educ. Just curious....

Drunken Samurai said...

Shelley, thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comments.

Here are a few examples of the types of programs that probably should be cut. It is by no means an exhaustive list and there is no way I, as a private citizen, could make specific suggestions in this regard. I do believe it is safe to say that there is a lot of stuff the government does that it does not need to be doing.
• Close down failed or outdated agencies, programs, and facilities, including:
1. The U.S. Geological Survey9 (2004 spending: $841 million, discretionary);10
2. The Maritime Administration ($633 million, discretionary);
3. The International Trade Commission ($61 million, discretionary);
4. The Economic Development Administration ($417 million, discretionary);
5. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program ($1,892 million, discretionary);
6. The Technology Opportunities Program ($12 million, discretionary);
7. Obsolete military bases;
8. The Appalachian Regional Commission ($94 million, discretionary);
9. Obsolete Veterans Affairs facilities;
10. The Rural Utilities Service (-$1,493 million,11 mandatory); and
11. Repeal Public Law 480's non-emergency international food programs ($127 million, discretionary).
• End low-priority programs that should never have been created in the first place, including:
1. The Denali Commission (2004 spending: $56 million, discretionary);12
2. The Conservation Reserve Program ($1,879 million, mandatory);13
3. The Commission of Fine Arts ($8 million, discretionary);
4. The Historic Whaling and Trading Partners Exchange Program ($9 million, discretionary);
5. The Office of Navajo and Hopi Relocation ($14 million, discretionary);
6. AmeriCorps ($324 million, discretionary);
7. The National Endowment for the Humanities ($131 million, discretionary);
8. Farm subsidies for wool, mohair, lentils, and chickpeas ($28 million, mandatory);
9. The Marine Mammal Commission ($3 million, discretionary);
10. The East−West Center ($20 million, discretionary);
11. The Legal Services Corporation ($341 million, discretionary);
12. The protectionist programs of the International Trade Administration ($364 million, discretionary);
13. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs ($105 million, discretionary);
14. The National Commission on Libraries and Information Science ($1 million, discretionary);
15. The U.S. Institute of Peace ($17 million, discretionary);
16. The Agriculture Department's wood utilization research ($6 million, discretionary);
17. The National Endowment for the Arts ($112 million, discretionary);
This information is from this article http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/bg1733.cfm It covers a large number of items that can be changed or eliminated in an effort to get the budget back under control. I am sure that if you take some time you can find a huge number of programs that should go.

Thanks

Bradley said...

I was going to click through, but I started to read, thinking that your hopes for the next four years would be rooted in fiction. Boy, what a surprise when I found out that a)your dreams were realistic and b) they were well said.

Good job.

-Brad

Beach Bum said...

Samurai-

Great article. I would add one more item to your list. That is some sort of Health Insurance for all. Actually, I am not a big supporter of nationalized health care, but this issue is going to happen one day. I would rather see this issue passed with by conservative means that liberal ones. As W said, "No one washes a rental car." Keep up the good work, I'll be back often.

Drunken Samurai said...

I am not a big fan of the feds getting involved in most things in life, healthcare is no exception. The state of Arizona has it's own healthcare program for low income and uninsured Arizonans.

http://www.ahcccs.state.az.us/site/

This program is far from perfect and abuse of this program was a major factor in the passage of prop 200, which limits benifits for illegal immigrants.
I really think that most states can solve these issues without a huge federal program.

Anonymous said...

Yes, everyone having medical insurance for all is a fine and lofty goal, but so is world peace, ending world hunger, the Arizona Cardinals winning the Super Bowl and last but not least, Sam Donaldson getting a new rug for his head. Frankly, I feel that the idea of insurance for all is counter-productive having a recovering economy, as it is more likely to lose jobs than it is to create new ones.

I do not feel that all jobs should qualify for medical insurance, for instance jobs making minimum wage. The majority of these jobs are meant to be temporary in nature, such as the fast food industry, with little expected of the worker in question (showing up and working is of course preferred). Asking a small business (franchise/company) to afford the expense of benefits would most likely cause their prices to raise along with their costs, as well as lowering the business' expected income, as fewer people are likely to afford the raised cost of the item in question. After all, how many Big Macs would a person buy if the on sale price of a Big Mac was $4?