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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,942
November 8, 2018
An Agenda for the New Congress
By Mike McManus

After winning control of the House, Democrats should surprise the Trump Administration by proposing initiatives that could win its support. The temptation to investigate crimes that could lead to impeachment, for example, should be set aside to allow time for thorough investigation into such matters and to avoid looking political.

While the Democratic House might also be tempted to pass a measure that would strengthen the hand of Robert Mueller, for example - the wiser course is to let him finish his investigation and make recommendations that can be considered by the Congress as a whole.

What initiatives might win the support of the Democratic House, the Republican Senate and the Administration? I have ten suggestions.

First, I believe Democrats and Republicans can agree on the need for infrastructure investment, for example. America's roads and bridges are in great disrepair. Both parties can see the need for increased funding for roads, airports and mass transit - that have been neglected for decades.

Secondly, both parties can concur on the need to raise the minimum wage, which is only $7.25 an hour and has not been raised in a decade. That figure is so low, a worker earns only $15,080 a year - not enough to live on. Some states have raised it to $10 to $12, such as Arizona and California. How about pushing it nationally to $10 over several years?

Third, I believe both parties can agree on several gun control initiatives. In just 2015, the year of the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 children plus adults, there were 142 more school shootings and 150 mass shootings elsewhere.

Even three-quarters of gun owners and 97% of Americans believe there should be universal background checks for purchasers. Sadly, 40% avoid background checks by buying at gun shows. Three-fourths of Americans want to bar the sale of assault-style weapons like the AR-15. A three-day waiting period for gun purchases would reduce suicides.

Fourth, let's strengthen the Affordable Care Act, to guarantee that every American will get needed health care that covers pre-existing conditions. While Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act - which was defeated by the single vote of John McCain - many Republicans on the campaign trail this fall said they favored covering pre-existing conditions.

Fifth, a bill is needed to grant legal status to the immigrant children known as "dreamers" who were brought here by their parents. The Trump Administration did just the opposite - separating children from their immigrant parents, and sending them to ghastly barbed wire camps. It later recognized its error, and reunited several thousand families - but not all of them.

In addition, tens of thousands of teenage immigrants have crossed the border without their parents. All of these "dreamers" could be given a guaranteed American future.

A sixth important initiative that can win support from Democrats and Republicans is to strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Some Republicans, such as Brian Kemp of Georgia, have allegedly suppressed voter registration - especially of minorities.

As Robert Klaine put it in a Washington Post column, "The greatest democracy in the world should not be the one where it is hardest to participate in the democratic process." In fact, a smaller percentage of Americans vote than in most European countries.

Seventh, let's take initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. California has shown that it is possible to make drastic reductions of coal, oil and gas consumption to keep the planet from warming to excessive levels. It set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and has already hit that goal. Its aim is to use solar power to produce 100% of its electricity by 2050. Every state should follow its lead.

My eighth proposal is to accept Obama's goal to increase average gas mileage to 30 mpg by 2020 and 36 mpg by 2025. Trump has proposed eliminating those goals. I believe both parties might agree to aim for 50 mpg by 2040.

Ninth, let's prohibit federal subsidies to cohabiting women who have children. Unmarried women need the $25,000 for welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. But cohabiting women have the benefit of their partner's income. America's unwed birth rate is now 40% - 20 times the 2% rate of Japan. Fewer subsidies would cut unwed births.

Finally, America must cut its federal deficit. In two years it has jumped from $587 billion to $750 billion. It's soon expected to be $1 trillion. Let's aim for a balanced budget with a zero deficit.

Let's work together to solve America's problems.


Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.

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