These policy initiatives summarized below are far from exhaustive in number or intent, and many other topics deserve discussion. State Alliance affiliates and their candidates are encouraged to create additional initiatives and/or policies that are consistent with Alliance tenets as they engage with their constituents.
Alliance positions are not the same as specific legislative proposals. The Alliance created the Policy Workshop as an online forum to develop and debate specific policy proposals along a range of issues. It is a reference for Alliance candidates as they talk with constituencies and the media, and it will engage policy experts nationwide and invite the wider public to join with Alliance supporters in constructive exchanges. We expect that specific proposals and initiatives will eventually emerge from the Workshop.
Equity of Budget Consequences
We recently suffered yet another government shutdown. It’s not the first in recent years, and unless we do something about the generic problem, it won’t be the last.
The main underlying problem is that shutdowns and threats of shutdowns are political footballs in which many ordinary Americans suffer. The two-party monopoly political class doesn’t care that ordinary Americans suffer.
In order for the members of Congress and their staff to experience the personal and financial consequences of a government shutdown, we propose that during the duration of a government shutdown, members of Congress and their congressional staff must remain in Washington and in session without pay.
Make Election Day a Federal Holiday
The right to vote is one of our most cherished privileges. A more equal opportunity for all Americans to exercise that “right” is needed and justified. Make election day a federal holiday in both presidential and midterm election years.
Elevating the U.S. Teaching Profession
Equal access for all children to high quality schools and teachers is a fairness-of-opportunity issue and a priority national need if America is going to compete successfully in the global marketplace. America’s teaching force, our “future makers”, is being decimated by low pay, high preparation costs, and low professional status. The United States must put into place a professionally competitive salary schedule for all teachers; provide full tuition loan forgiveness for the completion of five successful years of classroom teaching; and create a Teacher Sponsored Innovation Fund (TSI), governed by former national and state teachers of the year that would fund new and innovative approaches to improving our public school outcomes, submitted and implemented by those closest to our education challenges, our classroom teachers.
Creating a Solvent Social Security
We’ve known for years that our demography is leading us to a Social Security insolvency train wreck—more healthy retirees and fewer workers to support them. Every expert who follows this problem agrees that at current rates of tax inflow and disbursements we have at most seven years before the entire system implodes. It’s hard to think of a clearer example of the irresponsibility of the Congress that this problem has been allowed to become so acute.
Of course, something has been done in recent years to slow the train engines, but it’s been both band aid-like and prejudicial to people who work with their bodies for a living: The retirement age for both men and women has been kicked out several years. This is class prejudicial because the data show that people who do physical labor for a living live less long than those who do not. Extending the retirement age embodies a reverse-Robin Hood: taking from the poor to give to the rich.
None of this is necessary, for a simple solution to the problem is available: Simultaneously remove the cap on taxing income and add means-tested benefits.
Means-tested benefits can be graduated so that beyond a certain threshold of post-retirement yearly income a retiree would receive, say, 80% of benefits, and then above a higher threshold 60%, and so on until above a quite high threshold benefits would be zero.
By simultaneously lifting the tax cap and adding means-tested benefits, virtually any demographic situation can be handled without fear of system bankruptcy. The relevant data can be reviewed every few years and modest adjustments to the thresholds made as required by changing circumstances. Enacting this reform would permanently fix the problem.
We believe most voters will support an initiative that will provide solvency to our critically important social security program even if it requires that some of us give more and receive less.
Pass a Voluntary National Service/Baby Bond Program
We must recreate a culture of national service that will have long-lasting benefits for civic participation, that will frontload some equity for those younger Americans who don’t experience equality of opportunity, and, above all, that will refurbish our country’s depleted stock of social capital.
Everyone understands the rationale for Social Security: We hold society morally responsible for providing a basic minimum for our elderly out of respect for their humanity and an abiding sense of basic fairness toward them. Why not do the same for our young people, who not only deserve a fair start, but whose accomplishments in the constructive lives ahead of them will benefit us all? The Baby Bond idea is not charity or welfare; it is socially selfish, for it would benefit everyone.
The Alliance will support the establishment of a task force to develop an incentive based national service program to foster voluntary participation in programs like Educore, Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, forestry and environmental remediation, hospice, eldercare, habitat for humanity, military, and hospital ship duty and others.