Since the Reagan Revolution, America has been slowly dying. Democrats must focus like a laser on three things to breathe new life into our country. They are Education, Healthcare, and a Green New Deal.
Student debt pretty much didn't exist before the Reagan Revolution. When I went to college in the late 1960s I paid my own tuition and room-and-board working part time pumping gas at the local East Lansing Esso station, and washing dishes at Bob's Big Boy chain restaurant. My wife, Louise, put herself through college as a "waitress" (the word at the time) at north Lansing's Howard Johnson's restaurant. Neither of us borrowed a penny.
Reagan's education policies changed all that, and the twist Betsy DeVos added was to devastate our primary schools as well as making college more expensive. As a result, two generations of young people have gone into life saddled with debt, rendering it difficult to buy a home and raise a family and impossible to start a small business like Louise and I did in 1970.
If all of America's student debt were wiped out overnight, it would cost less than Donald Trump's 2017 tax cut for billionaires. It could be paid for, in fact, by reversing Trump's tax cut. And it would liberate tens of millions to get on with life and pursue the American Dream.
The most important of all the various parts of a nation's infrastructure is its intellectual infrastructure. From an educated and enlightened populace flow invention, innovation, and a functioning democracy.
Reagan's goal of turning education into a for-profit "industry" has gutted America's intellectual infrastructure: we no longer lead the world in innovation, novel patents and the creation of new businesses.
We must rebuild our intellectual infrastructure by launch an Eisenhower-style program to rebuild our public schools while making college so affordable a part-time job will pay for it.
American's pay about twice as much for healthcare as any other developed country in the world. Much of that money goes to executive salaries and dividend payments to stockholders in our for-profit insurance industry.
Dollar Bill McGuire, the former CEO of UnitedHealthcare, took over a billion dollars in compensation and stock from that company, and his successor made hundreds of millions. "Obscene" only begins to describe taking money from working class families and then denying them healthcare to boost CEO's income.
This is also, essentially, a massive tax on working class Americans, who pay thousands a year more for healthcare than the people of any other developed nation in the world.
And our lack of universal coverage means people stuck in dead-end jobs with health insurance benefits are afraid to move to better jobs or start their own entrepreneurial ventures. If you wanted to design a system to slowly strangle an economy from the ground up, this is it.
On top of that, tens of thousands of Americans die unnecessarily and/or prematurely every year because of how uneven both access and quality of healthcare are distributed across the country.
Every other developed country in the world has figured this out, but the health insurance industry leeches attached to our backs don't want to stop sucking our blood; thus, they'll fund ads, social media troll posts, and "protest groups" like the Tea Party to scream "socialism!"
It's time to marginalize and ignore them. Extending Medicare to every American regardless of age will save our economy just short of a trillion dollars a year, save lives, and spur an entrepreneurial boom.
The Green New Deal
Our planet is dying, and it's costing America lives, money and our children's future.
While AOC's Green New Deal is, at this moment, still conceptual, it's component parts are clear.
Rebuild America's physical infrastructure, from housing to transportation to energy systems, in ways that maximize "free" energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal (among others).
Encourage a transition from fossil-fuel powered cars, trucks and home heating to electricity, while reinventing our national power grid to be green-source fueled, solid-state managed and highly localized to eliminate transmission-line and transformer power dissipation (which account for the loss/waste of over 20% of the power we generate now).
Promote innovation in all these areas both by direct government support and tax policy (and by educating our young people â€” see "education").
We've done this before; our government funded the development of the internet, the thousands of innovations that came out of JFK's space program, and medical discoveries and new classes of drugs.
We created the best-educated populace in world history in the 1950-1978 era. And we built the world's first intercontinental transportation and energy systems.
We can do it again, and better this time.
Originally posted at thomhartmann.medium.com.