Sunday :: Sep 5, 2004

Standing With John


by pessimist

A poster in another thread challenged us here at The Left Coaster to present something poitive that can be discussed rather than continue with the Bu$h Ba$hing.

OK - I am. Here is a sample of what I consider positive about John F. Kerry's proposals that I feel are better than continuing with the Warmonger.

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[These are the proposals of John F. Kerry's that I support or agree with. I have mostly kept these to taxes, employment, and education issues, which I consider job related]

The measure of a strong economy is a growing middle-class where every American has a chance to work and an opportunity to succeed.

[My two college seniors are concerned about future employment prospects. Part-time jobs don't make it.]

In America, a rising tide is supposed to lift all boats. But today, Americans are working harder, earning less, and paying more for health care, college, and taxes. Corporate profits are soaring, the government keeps expanding, but the opportunities for our middle-class are shrinking.

[I'm not working harder than I have been for several years, and my pay is just fine - for now. I am, however, paying more for health care - $1500 this year to date. Will be $2000 by year's end. Last year at this time it was 40% less. I am also paying more for college tuition for my seniors, as both got his with 40% increases (Thanks, Ahnoldt!). While my Federal taxes are down a noticeable amount, it was offset significantly by increased state taxes (Thanks, Ahnoldt!). My $800 Federal refund almost completely went to California.]

It's time to bring those opportunities back. John Kerry and John Edwards know that we're stronger when we create good-paying jobs here, not ship them overseas.

[I feel that trying to save current jobs is a lost cause because the exodus has gone on far too long. Their proposals to promote new technologies, however, I believe is the only way we can go in this country.]

They want to expand the reach of opportunity, not the size of government. And they want to lead an America where we work together to invest in the jobs of tomorrow.

[This is where there is hope - if implemented correctly and not left open to savaging by industry like Carter's alternative energy programs. Remember Wyoming oil shale?]

John Kerry and John Edwards have seen the faces and heard the voices of struggling middle-class families. But they've come away convinced more than ever that we're a country of optimists - a country that can do better and think bigger about the challenges we face.

[I believe this to be somewhat true, but we have had twenty-four years of Reaganomics and its descendents. Those attitudes have to be retired.]

We can grow our economy by strengthening our middle-class. And we can make America richer by giving everyone a chance to build a better life for their families.

[Clinton's economic programs provide that model. For you Reagan fans - if that swill worked, how come it took a Democrat to spread the prosperity to the lower 90%?]

Cut Middle-Class Taxes To Raise Middle-Class Incomes

[Raise NET incomes. Then we can afford to go back to Wal-Mart!]

When John Kerry is president, middle-class taxes will go down. Ninety-eight percent of all Americans and 99 percent of American businesses will get a tax cut under the Kerry-Edwards plan.

[And the top 2% aren't going to feel any pain! They will still make more money than they did this year through the increased economic activity from the rest of us, so they can kwit ther bitchin!]

Make Washington Live Within A Budget

John Kerry will cut the deficit in half during his first four years in office. He will end corporate welfare as we know it, roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and impose a real cap to keep spending in check.

[This is where John Kerry will demonstrate whether he's a true leader or not. Congress will have to be convinced to go along with his proposals, and we can count on the Republicans to be obstructionist all the way.]

And when John Kerry puts forward a new idea, he'll tell you how he's going to pay for it.

[This is vital! American taxpayers are tired of this deep, dark hole that all of the tax revenue goes into, only to magically appear somewhere else - like Dick Cheney's Halliburton dividends.]

Invest In The Jobs Of Tomorrow

Today, businesses are harnessing new technology to manufacture energy-efficient cars, high-grade steel, advanced plastics and other new products. And this requires a bigger, skilled labor force to make them. John Kerry and John Edwards believe we should invest in these jobs and invest in the people who will fill them.

[Another vital issue! We WILL become a third world (if nuclear-armed) economy {see: } if we don't get ahead of the technology curve again. This will require training and investment - something the Republicans have gutted since 1980. More profit for the few in outsourcing?]

Cut Middle-Class Taxes to Raise Middle-Class Incomes

John Kerry Will Cut Taxes for 98 Percent of American Families and 99 Percent of Businesses. In addition, he will:

Propose At Least $250 Billion In Tax Cuts For Health Care, Child Care, and Education - Without Increasing the Deficit By One Dime. As president, John Kerry will close corporate tax loopholes [DETAILS!] and use some of the money gained from repealing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans - families making over $200,000 a year - to pay for tax credits without increasing the deficit by one dime. The Kerry-Edwards tax cuts include:

A tax credit on up to $4,000 of college tuition
A tax credit to help small businesses and vulnerable workers pay for health care and buy into John Kerry's new Congressional Health Plan.
A tax credit on $5,000 of child care expenses

[These proposals aren't going to help me very much, but my adult children will be needing these. I might need the small business assistance if my job goes away - a realistic prospect in the forseeable future.]

Create a New Jobs Tax Credit. Research has demonstrated that new jobs tax credits increase employment.

[Cite the research!]

The Kerry-Edwards New Jobs Tax Credit will cover an employer's share of payroll taxes for net new jobs created in manufacturing, other businesses affected by outsourcing, and small businesses. The credit will be available in 2005 and 2006. For example: a medium-sized manufacturing company employs 1,000 workers. If this company hires an additional 100 employees at $40,000 each - bringing the total number of employees to 1,100 - it would receive a tax cut of $3,060 per worker, or $306,000 total. This would roughly offset the additional cost of health care premiums, which have risen about $2,700 under President Bush.

[This would have to pass Congress. Seems Ok otherwise.]

Lower Energy Prices. By investing in new energy sources and technologies, John Kerry and John Edwards will help America move toward energy independence while lowering costs, spurring job growth, and protecting our environment.

[This is a long-term goal, but we are already overdue to start.]

Cut Tuition Costs. Average tuition and fees at public four-year colleges increased by 35 percent over the last four years. Because of tuition increases, an estimated 220,000 young people could not afford to enroll in four-year public universities last year. As president, John Kerry will offer a fully refundable College Opportunity Tax Credit on $4,000 of tuition for every year of college and offer $10 billion in fiscal relief to states that restrain tuition growth. And he will launch a new National Service Plan that will allow young people to pay for college by serving their country.

[I would like to hear more about the National Service Plan, but generally I support this - pending a specific explanation of where the funds will come from.]

Ensure Equal Pay for Men and Women

On average, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. John Kerry and John Edwards believe that we must make equal pay for equal work a reality, not a slogan. They will ensure greater transparency and fairness by improving enforcement and disclosure about companies' payment practices.

[The improving enforcement part is not going to happen. Employers will dig in, and deep, and they will kill this proposal - just like they do every time.]

Raise the Minimum Wage

Today, the minimum wage is currently worth only 33 percent of average American wages - its lowest level since 1949. John Kerry and John Edwards understand that today's eroded wage no longer meet the needs of American families. As president, John Kerry will increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.00 by 2007. That will give 7 million Americans a raise, and help millions of families pay for basic needs like education, food and health care. With this increase, parents working full-time will not have to raise their children in poverty.

[See previous comment.]

Help All Americans Balance Work and Family

Today, more parents are working longer hours and fewer parents are at home full-time than ever before. Yet today, high-quality child care costs more than tuition at a public university. John Kerry and John Edwards will put the government on the side of families that work hard to get ahead. They will increase the child care tax credit and make it partially refundable to moderate-income families for the first time ever, while also expanding after-school programs to serve 3.5 million children and keep schools open until 6 pm. As president, John Kerry will also expand the Family and Medical Leave Act.

[The after-school programs will require funds and oversight. I want to hear more about this proposal.]

Protect Wages And Workplace Rights -- Including Overtime Pay. As president, John Kerry will reverse recent changes made by the Bush administration that will deny overtime pay to six million workers, and oppose efforts that allow employers to create company organized and controlled employee organizations aimed at replacing unions under the TEAM Act.

[Good Luck! Now that employers have the power, they aren't going to surrender it lightly! I wish them well in their efforts.]

Extend And Improve Unemployment Insurance. Unemployment insurance is the nation's principal safety net for people who lose their jobs, but the program has lagged behind economic changes. Half of all unemployed workers received benefits in the 1950s, but only about one-third do today. John Kerry believes that unemployment insurance should be reformed to cover more people, to provide sufficient benefits to people between jobs, and help laid-off workers gain the workforce training skills that they need to get working again and get ahead. John Kerry supports reforms that help workers and has consistently supported efforts to extend benefits to unemployed workers during recessions. In addition, the Kerry-Edwards health plan will help ensure that workers between jobs have access to affordable, high-quality health insurance.

[Let's hear the details.]

Protect Worker Safety. Ergonomics injuries - the nation's biggest job safety problem - are caused by heavy lifting and repetitive work and affect more than 1.8 million American workers each year. John Kerry strongly supports implementation of a mandatory ergonomics safeguards to improve workplace safety. As a senator, he opposed legislative efforts to block these safeguards.

[I work in such an environment. Employers have been very active in putting all of the responsibility on the worker for safety while making it almost impossible to use safe practices. Complaints rarely get heard which prouce changes. The stock answer is "Be more careful next time." Enforcing these rules will be strongly opposed.]

Ensure Strong Whistleblower Protection. As a senator, John Kerry wrote and led the fight to pass a law that prohibits airlines from firing or otherwise discriminating against employees who provide information to the federal government about possible airline safety violations. As president, John Kerry will enforce and strengthen whistle blower protections to ensure that no American is ever unfairly persecuted for speaking truth to power.

[The catch here is proving that any employer action against a worker isn't for other reasons as the employer will claim. Enforcement will be opposed strongly.]

Protect Workers' Right To Organize A Union. John Kerry believes that the card check and neutrality system is the fairest and most equitable way for employees to establish their desire to form a union and for employers to recognize the union and begin negotiations. As a senator, John Kerry strongly supported the right to organize for many Massachusetts workers. John Kerry supported SEIU Local 254 in their efforts to organize janitors in the Boston area, UFCW Local 791 in their efforts to organize the Star Market employees in the 43 stores in Massachusetts, UFCW Local 1445 in their efforts to organize the employees of Kayem Foods in Chelsea, and CWA Local 1365 in their efforts to organize the employees of Lucent Technology. John Kerry also worked with Polaroid retirees to recover benefits that were lost as a result of the Polaroid bankruptcy filing. John Kerry is supporting UAW workers at the Sainte Gobaine plant in Worcester who have not been able to get their first contract due to the union busting tactics of the company. As president, John Kerry will continue to forcefully protect workers' right to organize a union.

[It isn't the formation of a union that's so hard (not that it's especially easy, either!) - it's getting the employer to recognize the union and bargain in good faith. There is no law that requires an employer to negotiate with - or even recognize - a union. Until there is, organized labor will continue to decline.]

Make It Easier To Balance Work And Family. As a senator, John Kerry cosponsored the original Family and Medical Leave Act, which has given millions of American workers the chance to take time off for the birth of a child or to care for a sick child or family member. John Kerry believes that we should not only protect Family and Medical Leave but should expand it to help more Americans balance the needs between work and family.

[Sounds good, but employers will fight hard. They only recently (Thanks, George!) managed to weaken the act significantly.]

Expand Trade Adjustment Assistance Programs. We need to expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs to provide immediate relief for manufacturers, workers, and communities hurt by manufacturing imports, and integrate these programs with other workforce training programs. John Kerry supports expanding TAA to service sector workers who lose their jobs because of outsourcing.

[Funding details are a must. So is the need for such a program.]

Close Loopholes In International Tax Law That Encourage Outsourcing. Today's tax law provides big breaks for companies that send American jobs overseas. Current "deferral" policies allow American companies to avoid paying American taxes on the income earned by their foreign subsidiaries and encourage them to keep their profits parked overseas, not reinvested in America. As president, John Kerry will end deferral that encourages outsourcing and will shut down other loopholes to make the tax code work for the American worker, not provide tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

[Tough battle ahead.]

One-Time Tax Holiday For Companies To Re-Invest Their Foreign Profits In America. At the end of 2002, American companies were keeping more than $639 billion in profits abroad. John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to bring those profits back home. For one year, they will provide companies with a special low tax rate of 10 percent on any foreign profits they re-invest in the United States for companies with a domestic re-investment plan. (This rate will apply only to repatriations in excess of average repatriations over a base period.) Combined with their plan to end future incentives for keeping foreign profits abroad, this plan will help jumpstart job growth and strengthen the American economy.

[Room for abuse here. Details are vital.]

Establish Manufacturing Business Investment Corporations (MANBIC). The Kerry-Edwards MANBIC initiative is modeled on the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC), a program John Kerry has strongly supported in the past and will champion as president. SBIC provides venture capital and start-up financing to small businesses, many of which have grown into large corporations employing millions of Americans. Companies like Intel, America Online, Apple Computers, Staples, Federal Express, and Sun Microsystems all got their start with help from SBIC. MANBIC will create added incentives for venture-capital investment in medium-sized manufacturing firms, which are crucial in developing and sustaining new products, new production methods, and new markets.

[This could be important to America's future, as the examples demonstrate. Financial details would be nice.]

Lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 33.25 - a 5 percent reduction.

[This will help.]

Cut taxes for over 99 percent of tax-paying companies. The Kerry-Edwards international tax reform will increase hiring and investment in America by American companies. An analysis of IRS data shows that more than 99 percent of corporations paying corporate income taxes would see their taxes reduced under the Kerry-Edwards proposal.

[If true, this will also help.]

John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to make health care more affordable for America's families and for America's employers. Their plan includes tax credits to help small businesses pay for health insurance, and a swap in which the government will assume most of the cost of catastrophic healthcare (care costing above $50,000) if companies agree to extend high-quality health care to their employees. The Kerry-Edwards plan will cut premiums by up to $1,000.

[The HMOs ain't gonna like this one!]

Cut Energy Costs and Move America Towards Energy Independence. John Kerry and John Edwards support a comprehensive agenda to advance the use of renewable energy sources and new energy technologies, and promote more energy-efficient cars and buildings - a forward-thinking plan that will reduce pressure on businesses over the long run.

[Other countries, most notably Japan, have already done this. We NEED to.]

Support Jobs In America Through "Buy American" Guidelines. John Kerry and John Edwards believe that whenever possible, federal contracts should be performed by American workers. John Kerry and John Edwards will support stronger "Buy American" guidelines for defense and homeland security, which will help retain and strengthen domestic manufacturing capabilities in strategic manufacturing industries.

[Remember the recent bullet shortage? Of 14 companies in America, how many got contracts to make bullets for Uncle Sam? - 1. How many foreign contracts were issued? 2. This proposal is vital to the national security.]

Double Funding For the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). America's 350,000 small manufacturers account for over half the total value of U.S. industrial production. They employ 1.1 million people in high-skill, high-wage jobs, with production employees earning 50 percent more than retail employees. In 2003, the MEP helped small manufacturers create or retain 35,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in sales. Yet George Bush has proposed slashing 90 percent of the MEP budget. As president, John Kerry will double the funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership based on its year 2000 level, speeding adoption of new technology by small and medium-sized manufacturers.

[This is a must. Funding issues apply.]

Improve America's K-12 Math And Science Education. America will only prosper in the global economy if we give every child a world-class education. Education in math and science is especially crucial in increasing America's national security and high-tech competitiveness. But today, more than half of America's high school students are being instructed in the physical sciences by teachers who don't have a college major in the subject they're teaching. In low-income urban schools, the situation is even worse. As president, John Kerry will give states and school districts the resources they need to help schools meet high standards for our children and retain high-quality teachers. He will also provide current teachers with the professional development they need to excel, and extend a new bargain to America's teachers that offers more but asks for more in return.

[This is a must. Funding issues apply. Math and science knowledge suck in this country. 'It's too hard!' Put down the Nintendos and get that homework done. Do you think that the guys who designed and built those Gameboys did NO studying? Care to try that answer again?]

Establish a National Education Trust Fund. As president, John Kerry will establish a National Education Trust Fund of approximately $200 billion over ten years to fully fund No Child Left Behind, get schools on track to meet the Federal government's commitment to special education, provide tax credit bonds for school construction, and invest in everything from college preparedness to reducing class size and dropout rates.

[They also need to attract teachers who have math and science credentials! Anyone who does can make more in industry than they can teaching. Another issue is coming up with a way to allow kids to progress at their own rates, whichmight cut down on some of the student disciplin problems, but then that is more the responsibility of the parents than it is the Federal Government!]

Move Towards Universal Broadband Access. During the Bush administration, the United States has fallen from 4th to 10th in terms of adoption of broadband. Not only that, other countries such as South Korea and Japan are now deploying networks that are 20-50 times faster than what is available in the United States. At the same time, America has lost more than 1 million high-tech jobs. John Kerry and John Edwards will fight for a national broadband policy that will speed the deployment of this essential infrastructure, including a broadband deployment tax credit. The widespread adoption of broadband could add $500 billion to the U.S. economy, generate more than 1.2 million jobs, and transform the way we learn, work, and deliver digital opportunity throughout the country.

[I generally support this, but the net result will be more Spam and virus attacks! Have I ever told you about how much I ABHOR Windows???]

Restore Funding For the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). The Bush administration has proposed eliminating the ATP, the only federal program designed to promote civilian technological innovation whether or not it is linked to government missions such as defense. As president, John Kerry will reform the ATP so that it supports the growth of high-technology "clusters" that spring up around research institutions and funds the university-industry consortia that benefit broad sectors of our economy.

[A MUST!]

Develop 21st Century Manufacturing Technologies At The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In the past, investments in defense research have helped America's armed forces achieve their current superiority. Investments resulted in innovations like stealth technology, precision-guided munitions, and night-vision goggles. This year, the Bush administration has proposed cutting the long-term portion of the defense research and development budget by 15 percent. John Kerry and John Edwards will increase investment in long-term, high-risk defense research through agencies like DARPA and the Office of Naval Research. Some of the increase will be targeted to advanced manufacturing technologies, such as flexible manufacturing, that can provide custom products in low volumes at competitive costs. This will benefit U.S. manufacturing as a whole, not just Defense Department suppliers.

[Much of this work has already been sent offshore. Only the Pentagon can affect that scenario.]

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There is so much more to go over, but those issues will have to wait for other posts.

Comments?

pessimist :: 3:52 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!