I'm working to bring new solutions to the people of Maryland and the nation as a whole, including greater economic security and an end to poverty with a Universal Dividend, access to healthcare for all Americans, and complete and total reform of our criminal justice system.
I have a vision for America, a new era into which to bring the nation with these reforms. An era in which none go without food or homes; in which every American has access to healthcare; in which our crime rate falls dramatically, our prisons are more-humane, and our sentences are shorter. I see a future in which Americans face lower taxes, have cleaner air and waterways, and work shorter hours.
This is the new deal for our nation, the great effort for which I will work to bring to the people of Maryland and the United States as a nation. We can pass several groups of policies in parallel, although issues of poverty, taxes, and healthcare must come in sequence after the Universal Dividend or else we can't fund them without great burden on the American people or severe and unsustainable deficit spending.
- Poverty, Taxes, and Healthcare
- Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform
- Worker's Rights and Shorter Hours
- Clean Air and Waterways
Poverty, Taxes, and Healthcare
Our nation faces enormous challenges with hunger and homelessness. 682,000 In Maryland alone—nearly an entire Congressional district—face food insecurity, and a third of these don't even qualify for Federal aid programs such as SNAP. Nearly 100,000 receive housing assistance, and yet nearly 30,000 experience homelessness throughout the State.
Maryland is just one state in a nation with 41 million facing food insecurity and over half a million going homeless on any given night. Maryland's point-in-time homelessness in 2016 was 7,352 of the nearly 30,000 across the year; and HUD measures 550,000 on just one night, out of two million Americans experiencing homelessness each year.
It's time we end this problem once and for all. The direct approach—increasing funding for HUD, SNAP, and other programs—creates a bigger fiscal disaster than the disastrous 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which is why nobody has done it yet. We need a better approach: a program to directly reduce poverty, lightening the load on these programs by reducing the number of Americans in need. Such a program reduces taxes over time while also reducing poverty.
That program is the Universal Dividend, and its fiscal effects pave the way to forever guarantee Social Security's solvency and bring healthcare to all Americans.
A Universal Dividend: Ending Poverty, Lowering Taxes, and Protecting Social Security
The Universal Dividend supplies the foundation of my economic policies. We must repeal the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), replacing it with a new tax policy funding a new Social Security benefit: the Universal Dividend.
The Dividend creates no new deficit spending compared to pre-TCJA policy, and lowers the tax burden on Americans by over $500 billion. It primarily benefits low-income households, then the middle-class, with less of a benefit as household income increases. The Dividend doesn't raise taxes on the top income households, and can even provide a slight rate reduction on the top bracket.
Because the Dividend raises the income of low-income American households, it reduces their eligibility for aid programs such as HUD and SNAP. These programs can reach farther with their budgets and bring more families out of poverty and into homes, utterly eliminating homelessness and hunger in the United States. The Dividend grows faster than the cost of living, further reducing the load on these systems, and eventually reducing their costs at the Federal, state, and local level.
The Dividend also provides a new foundation for Social Security's retirement and disability insurance benefits. By taking some of the load, the Dividend reduces the cost of these programs while eliminating the pressure for benefits reductions and retirement age increases. Since it grows faster than Social Security's other benefits, it causes a reduction in the FICA tax without raising other taxes, directly benefiting all Americans over time.
Like others in the Democratic party, I am not unsympathetic with the need for lower corporate income taxes; I simply believe we cannot reduce these taxes unless our policies are socially, economically, and fiscally responsible. In the long term, I fully support reducing the corporate income tax slowly, when we can do so without increasing the deficit, and when the American people are the first in line to reap the benefits of our productivity gains and lower taxes.
Healthcare For All
The reduction in tax burden provided by the Dividend creates a lot of room for a public healthcare option—a Federally-funded health insurance system providing coverage based on an individuals income with no premium. Covering every uninsured American with zero out-of-pocket cost in 2016 would have required $200 billion in additional Federal spending, less than the savings provided by the Dividend itself.
Congress and Federal Employees will receive no special healthcare, being covered by the public ACA Bronze option. Any American can pay a premium to buy up into better care; lower-income Americans automatically receive higher care options, up to and including a zero out-of-pocket cost option. If we in Congress dislike our healthcare, we can fix it for the American people as a whole.
Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform
The United States needs a complete reform of the criminal justice system on the state and Federal level. I will push for incentives to drive changes at the state level, and Federal statutes to make Federal changes. I plan to drive State and Federal legislation proclaiming mandatory minimum sentences non-binding to the Courts, and to operate our prisons on a model of Restorative Justice as practiced in North Dakota and the model system in Norway.
To help drive prison reform in particular, I will develop legislation allowing sanctuary cities to keep their immigrants if they process and detain them as they would anyone else they arrest and house them in more-humane prisons moving in earnest to the new model. This will drive new, humane prisons and reduced crime rates in these cities, and will discourage them from releasing dangerous criminals into our communities simply to avoid inhumane deportation policies. In time, I hope they will open up to working with Homeland Security when holding suspected terrorists during their investigations, and will monitor those we cannot provide evidence enough to detain beyond their normal sentences. These new prisons may even deradicalize those on the path to insurgency, reducing the threat to our nation.
Finally, I will push for full legalization of any substances with less harm potential in recreational use than alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. That extends well-beyond legalization of marijuana and THC, and shifts our focus onto illicit opioids and amphetamines. We must provide treatment for addicts and abusers with mental health disorders, and minimally enforce general abuse; the supply chain—the system of bringing large amounts of illicit drugs into our nation's cities—will become our main target.
Worker's Rights and Shorter Hours
We need stronger worker's right and shorter working hours. To start with, we must strike Title 29 U.S. Code § 164(b) and replace it with the following text:
No State or Territory may make prohibited the execution or application as authorized in this subchapter of agreements requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment, except in that a State or Territory may require exemption of the membership requirement for those individuals whom the labor organization has ejected or refused to admit membership for reasons not to include non-payment of dues.
Minimum wage commonly rises with the cost of living, keeping the poorest working man exactly as poor while the rest of us enjoy the wealth of our nation's productivity gains. I aim to create a growth-based minimum wage by raising it whenever the Dividend exceeds one-half of the annual minimum wage.
I will work to provide basic national policies for time compensation, including comp time and earned sick leave. These policies will be reasonable, rather than comprehensive, leaving States and unions free to pursue stronger policies. We must continuously review whether an expansion at the Federal level would provide reasonable policy, rather than be satisfied with our initial, careful probe of new policies.
Finally, I will pursue a path to a seven-hour work day or a four-day work week to improve the health of the American people. Such a change has complex economic considerations, and we can accomplish it readily by careful and focused effort. This change must come in small steps, allowing the American economy to grow into a shorter work week rather than cutting into the economy to the point of injury.
Clean Air and Waterways
Americans deserve clean air and waterways, and the economic resources of waterways and the Chesapeake Bay are of great economic importance. I plan to deliver new subsidies for solar power over parking lots, where large open spaces receive much sunlight, and deregulation of manufacturer dealership rules specifically where manufacturers have no dealership presence or believe dealers are not driving electric car sales enough.
I also plan to establish a USDA grant to research wooden and plant-derived resin high-rise construction. Such research will focus on fireproofing, insulation with plant-derived foam insulation, and disposal of demolished buildings to sequester carbon and absorbed toxic compounds permanently. Reduced construction costs will provide economy to remodel or rebuild structures, allowing more-rapid turn-over of wood farming.