in the Senate being two-fold, voting on the nomination of Sonya Sotomayor for the Supreme
Court and voting for two billion additional dollars for the "cash for clunkers" program. The
first is a foregone conclusion; the second should be.
Sotomayor will get at least 65 votes, as at least five Republicans will vote for her.
In her nomination hearings she said all the right things and didn't commit any blunders.
The hearings were a farce, of course, because she was coached on how not to answer; and
Senators were more interested in scoring points than they were in really exploring her
judicial record. With six Catholics on the Court now, it would have been informative for
some Senator to explore her relationship with the Catholic Church. Does she agree with
the Church that abortion is a grave evil? Does she agree with the Church that birth control
is immoral? Does she believe that homosexuality is intrinsically evil; and does she believe
that marriage should be just between a man and a woman? Other questions could have been
asked about stem cell research and cloning. These are not trivial issues and they can say
a lot about her own values. Does she believe in heaven and hell? Would she put her soul
in eternal danger and go against the Church?
None of those questions were asked nor were lots of others that should have been.
In fact, there are a chorus of voices calling on the Senate to end these hearings and just vote
on the nominee up or down after he or she is nominated. It's a Kabuki dance now with
everyone playing their roles and there is no benefit for the American people at all.
As for the second item, the "cash for clunkers" program is a huge success. The
one billion dollars appropriated was thought to be enough to take the program through
November, and instead it didn't last a week. Ford is reporting a sales increase for July
that is better than one year ago. The clunkers program put them over the top. Old gas
guzzlers are being traded in for more fuel efficient cars. Ford reported the the Explorer
was the most frequently traded-in model, and the compact Ford Focus was the most
popular new purchase. Think about all those Explorers and Expeditions off the road and
replaced by the Focus. Not only is this selling new cars and reducing inventory, it will
result in less gasoline being used and slightly less dependence on foreign oil. It is an
extraordinary phenomenon to observe. The Senate is asked to add two billion dollars more
this week to extend the program. If they fail, they should not return to Washington after
the recess. This is one idea that is innovative and successful and deserves to be continued.
Think about the impact of one million Explorers, Expeditions, Navigators, and other gas
guzzlers off the road replaced by the Focus, Prius, Corolla, and other compacts. It boosts
the economy, reduces fuel demand, and decreases the pollution as new cars are more
efficient than clunkers.
Now since we have seen this simple idea work so well, let me propose a couple
more simple ideas that would also work as well. First, eliminate the age requirement to
receive Medicare. By eliminating one line of text in the law, all Americans, all of them,
would immediately have health coverage. Employers would no longer have to pay to cover
employees. The savings could be passed along in the form of higher wages which would
stimulate the economy, increase tax revenues, improve the fiscal health of state and local
governments, and guarantee health coverage to 100% of all Americans. No new bureaucracy
would be needed. President Obama's priority of reducing healthcare costs would be realized
because Medicare has very low overhead, and a low percentage of annual cost increases.
With it's buying power, Medicare would force big Pharma to reduce the price of prescription
drugs. Second, how about forgiving all student loans for anyone in college or who graduated?
The average American college student is graduating with loan debts of $25,000 to $50,000,
and some much higher; and the percentage is growing. They are graduating with the
equivalent of a first mortgage hanging over them before they can even get a job (if they can
find one). Many of these loans were taken out by their parents. Forgive those too! It would
be better than a tax cut. It would increase disposable income and increase consumer
spending at a time when the economy needs it. It would reward those who borrowed for
education; and it would return more to the treasury than it cost in the long run. (If we can
bail out AIG, Goldman Sachs, et al. to the tune of almost one trillion dollars, why not bail
out American families and students?) Finally, I propose a "cash for domiciles" program.
Anyone who has lived in their home for the last five years, have made consistent mortgage
payments, and agrees to live in the home for another five years at least, has the mortgage
reduced so that it requires no more than 20% of gross income to make the mortgage
payment. This is so simple, and would do more for the economy than ten stimulus plans.
It would end most foreclosures. It would stop huge numbers of foreclosed properties from
being dumped on the market, forcing prices down. It would preserve neighborhoods. It
would increase property tax revenue for local government. It would encourage people
to fix up their homes; and this increased spending in a variety of industries from appliances
to furniture to solar panels would benefit state and federal governments.
Taken together, my three simple proposals would guarantee healthcare coverage
for all at less cost, college graduates and their parents would benefit with more money in
their pockets than any tax cut could give them, and people would be able to stay in their
homes, thereby increasing tax revenues and bolstering the economy. Unemployment will
drop as more people are needed to work in the healthcare industry, construction industry,
manufacturing and other service industries. Consumer spending would increase; and since
2/3 of the economy is generated by consumer spending, the nation as a whole would begin
As Congress goes on it's recess, ask yourself why these simple ideas can't pass or
even be proposed. Ask yourself why "cash for clunkers" works so well. Ask yourself what
it is about this country that makes it easier to spend billions on wars and bailing out Wall
Street, while Main Street is left to fend for itself. Ask why we still have hearings for our
Supreme Court nominees, when they are an insult to any rational person seeking true
knowledge of a nominee's positions on the issues.
If you have any answers, please let me know. Maybe it is time for recess to be
over, and for someone to get to work providing simple solutions to simple problems.
What do you think? Please send your comments and rebuttals to email@example.com