A list of public policy ideas that I like

  1. Medicare for America — by and large the best of the democratic health care expansion proposals out there. It’s an incremental shift from private health insurance to a public option, leaves employer based health insurance in place, federalizes Medicaid populations so that states can’t block expansion, and gives people without employer based coverage affordable premiums and deductibles through a public option. It would likely be slightly cheaper than private insurance and by giving employers the option to buy into the public plan, most people would end up on it in the end. There would be no mandates, but instead automatic enrollment with no premiums for children at birth. Private insurance would continue to exist, but researchers estimated that due to the cost efficiency of having the government run the plan, most people would choose the public option.
  2. Reforming air travel— it would make more sense to have everyone with a window seat board first, then the middle seats, then the aisle seats rather than the current mess we have now. It would also make sense to get rid of the requirement that flight attendants teach us how to use a seat belt before every flight. It’s like, we all drove there…
  3. Re-regulating zoning laws to allow for more density and height in growing areas — I’m not saying we should put skyscrapers in rural towns, but allowing for slightly taller buildings in growing metro or small but growing metro areas would make it cheaper to build housing for low and middle income people, create construction jobs, increase property values and therefore revenue to local governmental entities, and cut apartment rental costs which would put more money in people’s pockets since rent/mortgages are the biggest part of anyone’s budget.
  4. Move federal agencies to dying Midwestern cities — the District of Columbia is jam packed to the brim and it would make sense to move large federal agencies to cities like Cleveland or Detroit. Many of the jobs with the IRS or the Department of Veterans Affairs don’t need to be located in DC and many of these jobs are professional and pay pretty well. Moving most of their operations to the Midwest would give people a greater stake and trust in their government, stimulate former manufacturing states, and allow for private companies like Amazon to move to DC. DC would take a hit at first, but it would likely recover due to the amount of talent in the area.
  5. Reducing rules and reporting requirements on public schools — I once met with a Republican leaning school superintendent and a Democratic leaning Superintendent and both said the same thing in regards to public policy and education. They would like more funding, but something that would be really helpful is fewer rules and reporting requirements in order to get the same amount of money from the state. They were saying they would like more time to do what they’re already mandated to do and many of the forms they have to fill out are duplicitous and onerous.
  6. Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies in favor of geothermal, nuclear, and energy efficiency — I wrote about this in a previous piece. The above energy sources would maintain reliability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create domestic energy jobs.
  7. Automatic Federal Earned Income Tax Credits — The EITC provides cash to low income workers with kids and states should require that all of the information that is required to fill out an Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) form be included in everyone’s tax returns. They could then scan every tax form, as they are already required, to see if they claimed the EITC and fill out an amended federal tax return on their behalf claiming the EITC. This would increase usage to 100%, put hundreds of millions of dollars in the hands of low income families, and it would all be entirely legal.
  8. Centralized jobs database — (need I say more)
  9. Reform occupational licensing requirements — the government should do a massive study on the level of education and training that is necessary to adequately get people into skilled trades. For example, it currently takes 2,000 hours to become a barber in the state of Michigan and much of that is because compared to hair stylists, they are allowed to use a straight razor. The onerous requirement is also because the barbering community doesn’t want more competition coming into the marketplace and they were the ones that wrote the requirement because that’s who the government asked for advice when writing the law. I don’t want to disparage the barbering community, but we should study whether or not that amount of time is what it takes to become an adequate barber along with other certification required tradespeople like welders, hair stylists, and physical trainers. Maybe it should take 2,000 hours, I don’t know, but the question should be asked and studied. Arizona recently made it so that the state will recognize licenses issued in other states, making it easier for barbers and plumbers to move there.
  10. Federalize and consolidate welfare programs — Instead of having cash assistance programs aimed at solving a problem, I’m a fan of having one cash assistance program with simple requirements aimed at individual, vulnerable populations. One for the elderly to keep them out of poverty (Social Security), a basic income of $12,000 a year for the disabled (people who can’t or shouldn’t be working due to illnesses or disability), a universal child allowance of $300 a month cash to every parent with a child even those with high incomes to make it politically palatable, and a cash assistance program to low income, able bodied working age adults with jobs. You could accomplish all of this by reforming the current system of welfare programs, eliminate massive swaths of administrative bureaucracy, and in the end eliminate poverty. Some people would still fall through the cracks, but churches and nonprofits could pick up the slack in these cases and since poverty would largely be eliminated, they could probably handle it. One of the main criticisms of welfare is that it encourages able bodied, working age adults to not work. If there was a work requirement for these people and separate programs for populations that can’t or shouldn’t work, this issue would be addressed.

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Casey

Amateur political analyst / anti anti-vaxxer / hater of conspiracy theories and the power of crystals. Views are mine and do not reflect those of my employer.