Issues

“Essential Eight” Issues

1) Agriculture Revitalization

I support smaller scale agriculture, an increase in the number of farmers, a reduced reliance on chemicals in agricultural enterprises, and a greater diversity of crop and animal in Iowa. I encourage further research and development of annual crops (including sweet sorghum) rather than relying on a single perennial in providing Iowa’s ethanol.  I favor increased hardwood tree planting, an expansion of acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and a significant increase in acres planted with vegetables in Iowa.  I support independent producers as the core of America’s agricultural system and would favor laws prohibiting agribusinesses from having contract farmers. I encourage retiring farmers to sell/lease/give their land to 3 or 4 farmers (with one farmer ideally being a beginning farmer) rather than continuing the consolidation of agriculture to larger and larger producers.  The hygienic practices and treatment of workers in meat-processing plants need significant improvement. The next farm bill should consider either paying for federal crop insurance for all farmers or establishing a production subsidy system that more fully supports smaller farms at a set acreage level (subsidy payments would decrease as the acreage size of the farm increases). It would be useful to do some trust busting in the seed business so that farmers could return to using their own seed rather than be dependent on large seed companies for their seed.  The continued building of concentrated animal feeding operations (cafo)  needs to be reevaluated due to water pollution, air quality concerns and odor, insect pests, and influenza outbreak hazards.

Recommended Readings
Berry, Wendell.  Bringing It to the Table:  On Farming and Food, 2009.

Berry, Wendell.  The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture, 1977.

Conkin, Paul K.  A Revolution Down on the Farm:  The Transformation of American Agriculture Since 1929, 2008.

Despommier, Dickson.  The Vertical Farm:  Feeding the World in the 21st Century, 2010.

Imhoff, Daniel, Editor.  CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation):  The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, 2010.

Kirby, David.  Animal Factory:  The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment, 2010.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects, 2016.
Online at https://www.nap.edu/read/23395/chapter/1/

Rieff, David.  The Reproach of Hunger:  Food, Justice, and Money in the Twenty-First Century, 2015.

2) Campaign Finance Reform

It is imperative that donor disclosure is complete and transparent for any established political action committee/entity where contributions are sought and received. The legal rulings that a corporation is a “person” and that the spending of money is viewed as “free speech” need to be revisited by the U.S. Supreme Court. Public financing for primary and general elections in federal races needs to be allowed for federal candidates if such candidates desire to receive public financing. Each state may set public financing  amounts and have such limits codified.

Recommended Readings
Hasen, Richard L.  Plutocrats United:  Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections, 2016.

Lessig, Lawrence.  Republic, Lost: Version 2.0, 2015.

Post, Robert C.  Citizens Divided:  Campaign Finance Reform and the Constitution, 2016.

3)  Education

The U.S. Department of Education will continue to revise and improve Common Core, a national curriculum standard, so that states may adopt and utilize as they deem appropriate.  The U.S. Department of Education will also provide guidelines and best practices to improve instruction by teachers and effective ways to improve teacher and school morale.  Critical thinking skills, vocational education, civics education, and service-learning opportunities will be fostered in Pre K-12 pubic education at the appropriate developmental level. Loans provided to students enrolled in institutions of higher education will have low rates of interest during repayment so that generous repayment plans result for borrowers.  AmeriCorps workers in national service in education will be increased as a way for recent graduates to reduce level of debt acquired during matriculation.

Recommended Readings
Boland, Ed.  The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School, 2016.

Goldstein, Dana.  The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession, 2015.

Keizer, Garrett.  Getting Schooled: The Reeducation of an American Teacher, 2014.

Kozol, Jonathan.  The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, 2005.

Ravitch, Diane.  The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, 2010.

Sahlberg, Pasi.  Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (2nd edition), 2014.

Tyack, David and Cuban, Larry.  Tinkering toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform, 1997.

4)  Environment

Legislation will be drafted mandating that any product manufactured in the United States will either be recyclable or biodegradable; a significant reduction of waste will then occur within the one year allotted for compliance to the mandate.  I support legislation providing reasonable incentives for the continued growth of renewable energy in the form of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power.  The surface waters of each state (rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, and ponds) will be monitored daily for a 2-year period so the chemical pollutants are identified and the pollution time frames for the 20 most serious chemical pollutants for each state will be ascertained.  The federal government will assist a state in reducing the levels of pollution in that state with a 50/50 financing allocation. Environmentally sound practices will be followed in respect to public lands being leased by American citizens. An expansion of AmeriCorps will occur in order to provide needed maintenance and repair of America’s national parks.

Recommended Readings
Abbey, Edward.  The Journey Home: Some Words in the Defense of the American West, 1991.

Carson, Rachel.  Silent Spring (40th Anniversary edition), 2002.

Kirby, David.  Animal Factory:  The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment, 2010.

McKibben, Bill, editor.  American Earth:  Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (Library of America), 2008.

Leopold, Aldo.  A Sand County Almanac:  With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River, 1970.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Protecting the Health and Well-Being of Communities in a Changing Climate: Proceedings of a Workshop, 2016.
Online at https://www.nap.edu/read/24846/chapter/1/

Reisner, Marc.  Cadillac Desert:  The American West and Its Disappearing Water (Revised edition), 1993.

Williams, Terry Tempest.  The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, 2017.

Wulf, Andrea.  The Invention of Nature:  Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, 2016.

5) Government Spending

The federal budget will be seriously scrutinized for waste and inefficient spending. A competitive bidding process shall be implemented with any governmental contract or purchase utilizing federal funds.  Any federal spending not utilizing a competitive bidding process will lead to sanctions placed on the governmental body in noncompliance. An income tax cut will not be allowed in an election year since such tax cuts are basically legalized bribery for votes.  Revenue lost from tax cuts will not be offset by spending cuts in order to have a balanced budget.

Recommended Readings
Chantrill, Christopher.  U.S. Government Spending: History, Facts and Charts of Spending, Taxes and Debt, Federal, State and Local, 2017 edition, 2017.

Kramer, Mattea.  A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget, 2012.

Wessel, David.  Red Ink:  Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget, 2012.

6) Healthcare

The Affordable Care Act will either be improved (federal government will negotiate volume discounts on medications with pharmaceutical companies; mental health and dental health will receive full health coverage) or I will work to have Medicare for All established as a single payer system for U.S. citizens. Healthcare is a right for all not a privilege for just the wealthy in the United States.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) finds that a quality healthcare system is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable.  The Century Foundation and The Milbank Quarterly offer below some detailed ways to improve the ACA.
https://tcf.org/content/report/key-proposals-to-strengthen-the-aca/   
https://tcf.org/content/commentary/analyzing-bipartisan-ways-improve-affordable-care-act-marketplaces/                                                                           https://www.milbank.org/quarterly/articles/might-democrats-try-improve-expand-aca-2017/ 

Recommended Readings
Brill, Steven.  America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, 2015.

Cohn, Jonathan.  Sick:  The True Story of America’s Health Care Crisis–and the People Who Pay the Price, 2009.

Emanuel, Ezekiel J.  Prescription for the Future: The Twelve Transformational Practices of Highly Effective Medical Organizations, 2017.

Emanuel, Ezekiel J.  Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act Will Improve Our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System, 2014.

Farmer, Paul.  To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation, 2013.

Gawande, Atul.  Being Mortal:  Medicine and What Matters in the End, 2014.

Gawande, Atul.  Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, 2008.

Gawande, Atul.  Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science, 2003.

Groopman, Jerome.  The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness, 2003.

Kalanithi, Paul.  When Breath Becomes Air, 2016.

Kidder, Tracy.  Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, 2003.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Future Financial Economics of Health Professional Education:  Proceedings of a Workshop, 2017.
Located online at https://www.nap.edu/read/24736/chapter/1/

Nuland, Sherwin B.  How We Die:  Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter, 2014.

Reid, T. R.  The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, 2009.

Rosenthal, Elizabeth.  An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, 2017.

7) Social Security

In order to make Social Security solvent the taxable minimum will need to be raised so that all a person’s wages are subject to the Social Security payroll tax, not just the first $127,000 of a person’s wages. A thorough examination of increasing the retirement age to 69 and indexing COLA to CPI minus 1% will also have to be seriously considered if we are serious about the long-term viability of Social Security.  A significant expansion of the American workforce in the next 17 years would also lead to additional revenue for the Social Security trust fund. The Social Security trust fund will run out in 2034 and benefits reduced by 21% if nothing is done.
See the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s link below for more options in making the Social Security trust fund solvent.
http://www.crfb.org/socialsecurityreformer/  

Recommended Readings
Altman, Nancy J.  The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble, 2009.

Altman, Nancy and Eric Kingson.  Social Security Works!: Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All, 2015.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: Implications for Federal Programs and Policy Responses, 2015.
Online at https://www.nap.edu/read/19015/chapter/1/

Laursen, Eric.  The People’s Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan, 2012.

8) Tax Reform Tied with National Minimum Wage Increase

There is a great need for tax simplification of the federal income tax form for individuals and couples.  I am advocating a one page form (just the front side) that takes about 30 minutes at the most to complete.  I also will sponsor tax reform legislation that removes the bloated system of itemized deductions while keeping a standard deduction (single, joint, and head of household) for all taxpayers. It is imperative that we all participate in a shared sacrifice by not having our favorite deductions if we aim to tread on the path of real reform. I am also supporting the following income tax rates below for the new system of ten income tax brackets for single, married, or head of household filers. It is possible that other tax reform would also be enacted in the future. I have included the similar brackets (10%, 15%, 25%, and 35%) of the seven tax brackets utilized in 2017 as a point of comparison for single, joint, and head of household of filers below as a point of comparison with my proposed tax bracket plan. 

My Proposed Tax Brackets
Tax Rate               Income Level
0%                           $0-15,000                              Present 2017 Tax Brackets

5%                       $15,001-30,000        Single                  Joint                      Head of Household
10%                     $30,001-45,000        $0-9,325              $0-18,650                 $0-13,350
15%                     $45,001-60,000        $9,325-37,250     $18,650-75,900       $13,350-50,800
20%                     $60,001-125,000
25%                     $125,001-300,000   $37,250-91,900    $75,900-153,100     $50,800-131,200
30%                     $300,001-500,000    Tax brackets of 28% and 33% appear in 2017
35%                     $500,001-750,000   $416,700-418,400  416,700-470,700   $416,700-444,500
45%                    $750,001-1,000,000
55%                         $1,000,001+         Top tax rate of 39.6% appears at $418,400+ (S),                                                                                            $470,700+(J), and $444,500+

I would like to see the corporate business tax abolished and replaced by a value added tax of around 10-15% at the federal level.

A national minimum wage increase initially to $12.00 per hour of work (from the present minimum wage $7.25 per hour of work) combined with a graduated increase over the next 10 years to $15.00 per hour of work is my proposed plan.  A national minimum wage increase can only happen with the implementation of tax reform at the same time.

Recommended Readings
Reid, T. R.  A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System, 2017.

Thomakos, Dimitrios D. and Konstantinos I. Nikolopoulos, editors.  Taxation in Crisis: Tax Policy and the Quest for Economic Growth, 2017.

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