Article II of the Constitution of the United States charges the President with executing the Law and administering the resources provided for running the Government.
The President DOES NOT have the right to make the Law. Article I of the Constitution assigns that responsibility to Congress.
According to Article III of the Constitution, interpreting the law … based upon the Constitution and legal precedent … is reserved for the Courts; NOT the President and his Administration.
I would remember that, in my oath of office, 1 I promised to support and defend the Constitution; not attack the basic rights guaranteed to all persons under its protection. The current Administration has attacked the 1st, 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, … so far.
I would select members of my Cabinet without regard for party affiliation or lack thereof. I want the best person for each position. I want only the very best possible performance and advice from my Cabinet. We would have a lot of work to do.
I would tell the Congress that I would give more consideration to bipartisan bills than to those supported by only one party. This is not to say that I would automatically sign bipartisan bills into law nor automatically veto others. Bipartisan bills can become more filled with political “pork” than substance. I believe that the American People are in much need of healing the ideological gulfs that have grown during the past 2 or 3 decades. True Congressional cooperation would serve as a good example … AND, the best political decisions are those based on honest and respectful compromise.
I would, at all times, do my best to supply accurate and unbiased information to the people. I would not make absolute statements unless I am absolutely certain the statements are true. 2 I would not cherry-pick and twist statistics in order to deceive the public. 3I would insist that those in my Administration do the same.
Upon my election, I would send a Tweet thanking the country for supporting me, then disable my personal Twitter account until I am out of office. 4 In personal Tweets, it’s too easy to “shoot off your mouth without loading your brain”. Even when written calmly and deliberately, it’s easy for a 280 character message to be misconstrued.
I would do my best to make decisions in a timely manner relative to the circumstances. Some Presidents have tended to “shoot from the hip” most of the time. Others have deliberated so long that the time for decision passed them by. 5 When necessary, I can make decisions quickly, but I prefer taking the time to examine a problem’s parts and the implications of various solutions. Whenever possible, I would seek the advice of my Cabinet, real experts, 6 and other trusted advisers.
Before signing or vetoing any bill passed by Congress, I would prefer to have read it in its final form. The Constitution allows only 10 days for this process. The length 7 of some bills makes it impossible for one person to read and comprehend them within that limit. Finding trustworthy advisers to help with reading and summarizing the sections of a long bill would be essential.
I would work to restore the originally-intended balance of power among the three branches of the Federal Government. Bit by bit, through most of the 20th Century and into the present, Congress has ceded its authority to the President. This trend has accelerated dramatically in the 21st Century. We now have a President who seems to believe that his word is the law and a Congress so bound by infighting that it is almost totally impotent. 8
Article I of the Constitution defines the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government … Congress. Not only is it the first, it is also the longest of the seven articles … over 50% of the combined length. Article II defines the Executive Branch and is about 21%. It seems obvious that the Framers of the Constitution believed that the bulk of power should be in the hands of the most direct representatives of the people … Congress.
The Supreme Court has devolved from a co-equal branch of the government into a political football. If I had the opportunity to appoint anyone to the Court, I would look for the most qualified candidate; not the one who agrees with the politics of my administration nor those of the Congress. A candidate’s politics would be neither a qualification nor a disqualification. I would favor candidates who were neither strict originalists nor extreme revisionists.
I would push for real tax reform that rebuilds the tax code from the bottom up. This approach would not be easy. Getting it right may require two or three years of really hard work, but I believe it’s necessary. To determine what might be required … and possible …, I created a chart 9 that combined data on U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across 34 years with data from the Office of Management and Budget on Federal Expenditures over the same 34 years.
Here’s a comparison of the last 17 years of the 20th Century and the first 17 years of the 21st Century.
We can see that the percentage of Real GDP 10 needed to cover our Federal Expenditures has averaged about 20% in this century. It is equally clear that the same average has grown by about 46% since the end of the last century. What’s disturbing is that the change in the growth of Federal Expenditures relative to Real GDP has increased by a factor of 6.1.
There are two “simple” ways to slow and eventually stop the growing disparity between the Federal Government’s expenses and income … reduce expenses and/or increase income. We all want to cut government expenses … until the cuts get too close to us. The income side is a mirror image. We all want tax exemptions when they apply to us, but become suspicious of exemptions that go only to others. Is there a way to address both concerns? There must be. Our tax code is a dysfunctional Rube Goldberg Machine bloated with exemptions that are either obsolete or made no sense in the first place.
I think we need to rebuild the tax structure from the ground up. We can start with a graduated tax scale 11 that produces an average rate of 20%. Then, we can start adding exemptions very carefully. A personal exemption would be a reasonable first addition. Something for businesses should be next … maybe a schedule of deductions subsidizing a small portion of the cost for the first couple years of newly-hired employees. 12 Another reasonable personal deduction would be mortgage interest or portion of the rent on a primary residence … paired with a schedule of depreciation deductions for businesses. 13 From there, we’d have to follow 2 rules:
As exemptions eat into the available GDP remainder, adjust all levels of the graduated tax scale to reflect the changing Expenses/GDP ratio.
Maintain a balance between exemptions that favor individuals and those that favor business. 14
I would press Congress to enact a measure to remove the time limit on ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.) to the Constitution. Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. After Congress passes a proposed amendment by a two-thirds vote in each house, three-quarters of the states (38) must ratify it. 37 states have ratified the E.R.A. Although the Constitution make no specific mention for a state to rescind its ratification before an amendment has passed, 4 have done so. At most, 5 state ratifications are needed to make the E.R.A. the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.
There have been recent efforts to give new life to the E.R.A. by removing the ratification deadline. To that end, a Senate Joint Resolution (S.J.R.) was introduced to the 112th Congress in 2012. It died in Congress without coming to a vote. The S.J.R. was reintroduced in the 113th Congress and, Congress took no action. Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland introduced it in the 114th Congress and again in the 115th. The 115th Congress is rapidly drawing to a close. 15 It seems likely that the current S.J.R. to make ratification open-ended will be stillborn as well.
Hopefully, a new S.J.R on removing the E.R.A. ratification deadline will be introduced to the 116th Congress … and acted upon. There is hope in the long run. It took 202 years, 7 months, and 10 days for the 27th Amendment to be ratified because it was forgotten for most of that time. The E.R.A. won’t be forgotten. In 2017, the state of Nevada approved ratification of the E.R.A. in anticipation of the deadline being removed … and to keep the ideals of the E.R.A. alive.
I would not have a plan that will “eliminate the national debt in 8 years” … because it’s a practical impossibility. As I write this, the national debt is … according to the the US Debt Clock … $21,673,131,316,835. Our debt is increasing at a rate of about $1,315,808 per minute … $21,930 per second. Except for the year 1835, the United States has had a national debt since March 4, 1789 … when our Constitution went into effect. Our current National Debt has been accumulating for 183 years. That’s an average of $118,432,411,568 per year. Even to the infamous 1%, the National Debt is a mind-boggling amount. If the net worth of the 400 richest people in the U.S. were added together, it would cover only 11.1% of the National Debt. Unless we impose a special tax of $177,880 on each taxpayer or $65,958 on each citizen (regardless of age), we’re not going to recoup that anytime soon. This graph shows what’s happened since 1977. 16 Our debt has been increasing, but began increasing at a noticeably faster rate in this century. The best we can do for the foreseeable future is reduce Federal deficient spending …, but I would not promise to eliminate that in a single Presidency. We have a lot of obligations … and they’re not just those obligations that so-called Conservatives like to call “Entitlements” nor the Federal pensions sometimes decried by Progressives. The largest part of the military budget is related to personnel … salaries, benefits, deployment, etc. The same is true of the other side of our efforts to promote peace and personal dignity in the world, the State Department. We see this problem over and over in our ever-expanding debt. We could print more money to pay off our creditors, but the effect of something like that has a name … Inflation … and we already have more than enough of that. The only true light at the end of the tunnel may be the revolutionary change in National and World economy that I’ve described in my article “What Will We Do When The Jobs End?“.
There is one tiny glimmer in this otherwise bleak scenario. The United States is responsible for 25% of the economy of the World. As a ratio of debt divided by output, the “Largest National Debt in the World” falls squarely in the middle of the list of the World’s countries.
I would make every effort to restore a good relationship with our North American neighbors. I would work with the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada to make sure that that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is equitable to all concerned and benefits the growth of all three economies. Our economies are inextricably intertwined and we are all better for that connection.
Those who have read my earlier articles … “Immigration” and “Immigration and Racism” … will not be surprised to learn that I would prefer the borders between Canada, the United States, and Mexico to be open. On the other hand, I understand that there is a lot of fear in our country. 17
Nevertheless, I would encourage freer movement of people among our three countries. We share a common background. Most of us are the descendants of Western Europeans. This picture shows which Western European countries laid claim to the continent during the early 18th Century. White Nationalists would like to believe that they are somehow “better” than our neighbors to the South; that the United States belongs to them by some inherent “right”. Unfortunately for their spurious belief system, the Iberian Peninsula which contains Spain and Portugal is part of Western Europe. Before the American Revolution, the ancestors of today’s “Hispanics” had explored and claimed a larger part of what is now the United States than the French and the British combined.
We have several co-cities that function as if they were a single city straddling the border between two countries. Here’s a list:
It’s true that the co-cities have found ways to deal with their peculiar situations. It’s true that a U.S.citizen can get a relatively inexpensive passport card designed specifically for travel to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. 18 But, is it really necessary for the co-cities to deal with this nuisance of geography? Should one … even theoretically … need a passport to get a book; go to the other side of one’s home; have a drink at the local pub; or visit one’s neighbor across the street or river? There must be a better way. There must be a more practical way. There must be a more humane way.
Tariffs are occasionally useful, but not very often. Most of the time, they are counter-productive and just plain stupid. The Trump Administration’s tariffs fall into the “just plain stupid” category. I would eliminate all Trump tariffs that he based on “national security” but were, in fact, protectionism. Protectionism generates chaos in the short run and are ineffective in the long run. 20 Tariffs are taxes. Who pays those taxes? Importers. Who are those importers? U.S. citizens and businesses. What must the importers do to recoup at least some of the increased cost of the tariffs? Raise the prices of their final products and.or sales. Who pays for the final increases? We do.
For example, County A makes high quality towels that cost the consumer $12 dollars. Country B is able to make equally high quality towels that can be sold in Country A for $10. To create a balanced playing field, Country A slaps a 20% ($2.00) tariff on all imported towels. Sounds fair, right? It is … unless you’re a consumer who can’t afford a $12 towel and have to settle for a $10 towel of lower quality … a towel that used to be imported from Country B at a cost of $8.33.
Now, suppose Country A wants to go a step farther, not just protecting Country A’s towel industry but giving it a domestic advantage. Instead of a 20% tariff, Country A imposes a 30% tariff. Now, the lower quality imported towel … that originally cost $8.33 … costs $10.83 … $0.83 more than the original cost of the high quality imported towel.
This is, of course, overly simplified. It also implies that Country B does nothing in the face of sales lost to Country A’s protectionist tariffs.
Protectionist policies imply that we cannot compete with other economies. I believe that the United States is fully capable of competing in the world market. We must compete on our own terms … 21st Century terms … rather than those of any other country or any other century. We should not be looking backwards. The “Good Ol’ Days” weren’t that good for the adults who were living them. It’s not hard to see possible paths to future competition. There are so many of them. They are not based on sweat, but on creativity. In the long run. we are not competing with each other, but with a past that crushed the human spirit. We must move forward and invite others to join us. Those who do would help build a more equitable world. Those who don’t would become footnotes in future economic history.
In spite of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA); in spite of Republican attempts to repeal and replace it, Health Care remains a major problem in the United States. Nobody should be denied needed health care. Nobody should be required to have health care he or she doesn’t want. Nobody should be required to pay for somebody else’s heath care surreptitiously 21 … especially if the “someone else” chose to (or was forced to) ignore his or her own health care.
This is possibly the most difficult problem facing us. We’ve been discussing Federal Health Care programs for more than 100 years. The discussion increased dramatically during the Great Depression and with the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Presidential Administration. Since then, Health Care has been one of the central foci of dissent in the United States.
More than half (59.7%) of the World’s countries provide “free” 22Universal Health Care. Fewer than one fifth (19.4%) of the World’s countries have Health Care that is neither free nor universal. Guess which group contains the wealthiest country in the World
The most common approach to providing free and universal Health Care is some variant of a single-payer system. The single-payer is, of course, the government. The United States already has single-payer systems … Medicare and Medicaid …, but both have as many cons as pros. They’re not entirely free; access to them is limited to certain groups; their “fee-for-service” model can lead to test and specialist inflation; they don’t control costs nor shortages of medical personnel and services; they cannot be sustained financially in their present form.
I do not have the answers, but I believe that answers exist. I would appoint a commission composed of medical experts, economists, politicians, and some randomly selected “ordinary citizens” who are willing to serve. I would charge them with presenting semi-annual reports of their progress and an improved national Health Care plan within three years.
Education and Training are not the same thing. They are different aspects of an effort intended to promote personal growth and extend a culture’s knowledge and values. The primary purpose of Education is to transmit knowledge and develop the learner’s ability to think. Training’s focus is skill development. Both are necessary and complementary. To acquire knowledge and learn to think, one must acquire certain skills (e.g., “readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmetic“). To develop a skill, one must be able to distinguish the various components of the skill and gain insights into how they fit together.
Our schools have too often focused on disseminating information rather than developing knowledge and critical thinking. Too often skill training has remained peripheral or non-existent. I would direct my Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to focus on improving and enhancing both Education and Training at all levels and in all parts of the country. I would ask Congress to provide Federal funding for schools that lack the local tax base for adequate Education and Training. I would use the “bully pulpit” to encourage businesses and philanthropists to create new programs and endowments for two-year colleges and trade schools and scholarships for needy students in four-year schools.
Employment goes hand-in-hand with Education and Training. As I explained in my article, “What Will We Do When The Jobs End?”, there will come a time when one’s “work” is no longer a function of a need for “earning a living”. Since the first creatures used rudimentary tools to move beyond their physical limits, technology has been transforming life on our planet. Today, technology is transforming our lives faster than most of us can imagine. Until we reach the singularity that disconnects work and subsistence, most of us still need jobs.
There is no such thing as unskilled labor. It’s hard to dig a hole if you don’t know how to use a shovel. Some jobs just require more and/or different skills from others. Even jobs that once were accomplished using only manual labor use machines now. One can still dig a hole with a shovel, but digging a big hole efficiently requires skill with using powered machines. There are more open jobs right now than there are workers to fill them. Skill sets that don’t match job requirements keep workers and available jobs apart.
Many Federal Executive Departments are directly or indirectly involved with the job market. I would direct my Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, and Education to create a extra-departmental group focused on uniting workers, skill training, and jobs. They would also be charged with a national publicity campaign designed to inspire and encourage skill learning in those who might otherwise feel left behind. This committee would report to the Vice President who, being charged with presiding over the Senate, could maintain regular communication between this Executive committee and Congress.
I would not be caught in a lie denying some past error or indiscretion. That is not to say that I am “without sin“. I am human … and, like most of us, there are things in my past I’m not proud of. I wouldn’t be caught in a lie about any of it for two reasons … 1) I have a better than average memory … and 2) I’m a really lousy liar.
I would not talk about things in my past which now embarrass me, but if asked point blank about them, I would not deny them. Unlike many of our politicians, I consider such behavior to be dishonorable, counter-productive, and basically just plain stupid. Denying what one considers to be the truth just doesn’t work.
The Foreign Policy of the United States is in a shambles. The current Presidential Administration has decimated the State Department. Having no concern for human rights, the President embraces despotic and murderous regimes while openly disrespecting and opposing countries many of whom have been our allies since World War II; some of whom have been our allies since the 19th Century or even earlier.
President Trump has little respect for negotiation … unless he’s the one who is negotiating. He has no concept of agreements in which both sides win. Let’s face it, he is a real estate salesman … and not a very good one at that. His formula for success is have a successful grandfather and rich father; scam the government out of as much capital gains tax as you can; bully your adversaries; self-promote; believe that you’re better at everything than anyone else; and expect absolute loyalty while returning none.
He has backed away from agreements and treaties … most of which were initiated or strongly influenced by previous administrations … because they didn’t fit his warped view of reality or had, as intended, a limited focus. The United States once led the World. Under Trump’s Administration, it has become a laughing stock.
Cleaning up Trump’s mess would be, of necessity, a major focus of my Administration. After rebuilding the Department of State by filling it’s many vacant positions, I would direct them to reaffirm our pre-Trumpian commitments. I would rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, affirm my administration’s support of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and take action to undo any other mess made by the Trump Administration. I would make it clear to World dictators that we oppose their behavior, but are ready to help them should they ever decide that the welfare of their people is the real source of the authority, respect, and adoration they so desperately seek.
If I could confirm anything about Unidentified Flying Objects, I would tell The People … unless P’lod, Bat Boy, or some similar personage convinced me that the Peace and Survival of the Country and the World depended upon keeping it secret. I would not deny the existence of these entities and their crafts. As much as I’d hate doing so, I would feel compelled to fall back on not discussing the subject because of National Security concerns.
My election would be one of the great anomalies of the country’s political history.
Since I am not now … nor do I intend to be … affiliated with any political party, my only support would come from individuals. My retirement income and my savings would not even fund a campaign within my home county. I would be one of the poorest persons ever elected to the office.
If I were elected on November 3, 2020 and inaugurated on January 20, 2021, I’d be the oldest person to ever take the office of President. 24 On election day in 2020, my age will be 75 years and 220 days. Inauguration Day in 2021, will be 68 days before my 76th birthday.
I would be the second President born in Pennsylvania. James Buchanan was the first. In terms of the states in which I’ve lived, I’d be the the 5th President from Massachusetts and the 6th from Virginia.
Like Buchanan, I am not married. I, too, would have to enlist a friend or relative to perform the formal duties normally performed by the “First Lady”. 25
Almost every President in our history has been confronted, at some point, with unexpected events that have diverted or radically changed the direction of his administration. The Presidents of the 21st Century have been no exception. Who could have anticipated the events of September 11, 2001; the murder of little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School; the rise and atrocities of ISIL; then intensity and destructive power of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, and Michael; 26 or the Great Recession?
I would do the best I could to deal with the unexpected events of my administration and would begin every day reminding myself that the job is not about me. It is about the People of the United States and, ultimately, the People of the World.
The Presidential Oath of Office
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. Return to Point of Reference
President Trump seems to make decisions re-actively with little deliberation. President Obama seemed to deliberate forever. Optimal timing for most decisions lies in the middle ground between “Shoot from the Hip Trump” and “No Drama Obama”. Return to Point of Reference
There are a lot of people who claim to be experts on any particular subject who are only repeating what they’ve been taught or read. A real expert takes what she or he has learned and processes it with thought and experience. Return to Point of Reference
A graduated tax scale is more equitable than a flat scale because, as income rises, maintaining a comfortable existence consumes a diminishing proportion of the total. When income drops to a certain point, remaining fed, clothed, and housed consumes all of it. Return to Point of Reference
A business deduction schedule for the first two years of the cost of a new-hire might look something like this: …1st 6 months of employment = 0.125% deduction of the employee cost …2nd 6 months of employment = 0.25% deduction of the employee cost …3rd 6 months of employment = 0.5% deduction of the employee cost …4th 6 months of employment = 1.0% deduction of the employee cost
The deductions start small and double every 6 months up to 2 years to encourage employers to keep the employees for that 2 year period. After 2 years, one would hope that the value of the employee would pay for itself. Return to Point of Reference
Things depreciate at widely differing rates. Even with the best maintenance, computers become obsolete within 2 to 4 years. A well-maintained building can actually appreciate annually during the same interval. Return to Point of Reference
For an economy to grow, you need a balance between the production of goods and consumers who can afford to purchase and use those goods. Return to Point of Reference
In some ways, Al-Qaeda and ISIL have beaten the world’s democracies. The attacks of 9/11/2001 and the continuing atrocities have dramatically exacerbated xenophobia, nationalism, and questionable policies claiming to protect us. Return to Point of Reference
I would have sworn that the Republican Party believed in free trade. The Republicans who currently control the Congress and Whitehouse seem to have a different opinion. Return to Point of Reference
Before the “Affordable Care Act”, far too many of us had no other health care than going to an emergency room when a health problem became too difficult to ignore. Emergency rooms are required to help whether or not the patient can pay for it. When a patient cannot pay, the rest of us share the burden through increased medical costs. Return to Point of Reference
In all countries of the World, Health Care is free only insofar as individuals don’t pay for it directly. Taxes of one sort or another pay for it. Return to Point of Reference
With no initial campaign fund and political anonymity, collecting those 860,000 signatures seems impossible. I’d need either a miracle or to generate a national write-in landslide by election day. Return to Point of Reference
I’m 442 days ( 1 year and 77 days) older than President Trump.
If the Democratic Party were to nominate Joe Biden, I’d ask my supporters to give him that honor of oldest person ever elected … at 77 years and 349 days. Joe’s 860 days (2 years and 129 days) older than me … and much more experienced. Return to Point of Reference
Hopefully, one way or another, the term “First Gentleman”, “First Spouse”, “First Partner”, or some such “First …” will seem ordinary someday. Return to Point of Reference
I began my site in November of 2014. I retired after November 30, 2015. At that time, my age was 70 2/3. I'm trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
Today is August 31, 2016. I've been writing articles for this site for 1 5/6 years. The site is called "My Less Than Humble Opinion". While my opinions remain the site's primary focus, some ramblings have joined the rants. I have every intention of maintaining that mix.
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