Putting Congress To The Test
Here are some facts of life in the United States today. Wealth inequality is getting worse and has proven deleterious for both our economy and our people. The rich are establishing inherited ultra-rich dynasties while the poor continue to live in spreading poverty. Social and economic mobility has flagged and is now less than that in royal Britain. The poor do not have the same opportunity for good education needed to prepare them to succeed in life. Few Americans are satisfied with the cost of health care delivery; most sense that the convoluted system of for-profit insurance-based coverage is driving up costs and reducing quality.
In all these areas -- wealth inequality, upward immobility, unequal access to education and health care - experts have suggested fixes that have the support of the majority of Americans. Yet our Congress will not pass legislation that addresses our needs.
To have our needs addressed and to live in a better America, we need to change the Congress. We must carefully select new members of Congress who truly represent our views and will address our needs. Presently, more than half of our congressmen and women are millionaires; They mainly represent moneyed interests. Congress has an incumbency rate of about 90%. Thus, if we do nothing, we shall end up with basically the same Congress once again.
Below is a set of seven questions that should be publicly asked of each candidate for Congress. The public answers to the questions, would give us, the public, a clear idea about whether or not we should elect him or her. The seven questions are:
1. Do you agree to support the institution of a graduated income tax of up to 70-80% on those earning over one million dollars a year?
2. Do you agree to support a graduated estate tax for up to 90%?
3. Do you agree to support a tax on the sale or exchange of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments?
4. Do you agree to support an inflation-proof national minimum wage?
5. Do you agree to support a single-payer healthcare system?
6. Do you agree that we need more equalized access to the educational system in the United States from kindergarten to University?
7. Would you support legislation that would eliminate the private funding of elections?
The political affiliation of the candidate, whether Republican, Democrat or Independent is not important here; what is important is whether he, or she, will help institute laws that will reflect our desires and needs for a better life.
These questions may seem simplistic and superficial but they really go to the heart of the matter of what we need our new Congress to do to ensure a better America for all of us. All of the issues involved have been discussed at great length and the answers that best serve our interests are well known.
If a candidate answers "Yes' to five or more of these questions, that should be a signal, powerful enough, to vote him or her into office. If he or she answers "Yes' to fewer than five of the questions, we should not vote for him or her. Their in-office records will reveal whether or not they answered honestly; if their records do not reflect their votes, we shall get another chance to vote them out.
We need to reduce wealth inequality. We need to increase the taxes on huge inheritances to equalize the opportunity of newborn Americans. The huge sums of money being made by the wealthy in the financial markets are taxed at a lower rate than are the hard-earned incomes of average Americans. We must ensure that the working poor in America can make enough to live on. We are all entitled to a uniform healthcare system and equal access to better education.