Let me begin by declaring that I tend to take a more conservative view of the world than the majority of my journalism cohorts—most of them are liberal. But I did not vote for Donald Trump. Nor did I cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton.
I state this truth so that I can argue without obvious ideological bias for what President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress should do beginning Day One.
Republican candidates at all levels campaigned against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They vowed to scrap Obamacare and replace it with something better. This is a false, unrealistic promise.
Neither Trump nor the GOP has an alternative plan so this pledge won’t happen. A wiser option would be to objectively analyze the ACA then fix what is broken and keep what works. The fact that millions of Americans now have insurance should be something we can all embrace. So let’s start from this success and move forward on addressing the other health problems.
Coverage for the previously uninsured is good. But rising insurance premiums, coupled with scaled back treatment and care options for millions, continue to cripple what should be the best health care in the world. But it isn’t.
Too many people have limited access due to uneven distribution of health services. The best health facilities are in urban areas where most practitioners prefer to live and work. Transportation to such facilities for the poor and elderly is virtually impossible and many small communities can’t attract physicians and equip medical clinics.
I have long argued that America should have a mandatory public service program for every citizen. And that would include a requirement that every medical school graduate spend a minimum of two years working with patients in small towns and rural communities. In return part of the medical student debt would be forgiven.
Congress was on the eve of passing a bipartisan immigration package when one of its key proponents Republican Sen. Marco Rubio decided to abandon it for the sake of his presidential hopes. And the House refused to consider it. That was a regrettable mistake.
Virtually every immigration proposal introduced by either political party contains the same basic ingredients. Undocumented workers in the United States could apply for permanent worker status. That would include a fine for their illegal entry into the United States and evidence that they have committed no felonies. Such persons would be permitted to remain in the country as they progress toward eventual citizenship. This would assure that families remain intact and make American-born children eligible for educational and other citizen benefits.
Most of the reform packages introduced by both Democrats and Republicans have virtually identical ideas. Let’s just pass one of these and be done with this issue.
And let’s stop this talk about restricting immigration based on one’s religion, country of origin or any other discriminatory barrier. It’s stupid and an affront to America’s promise of equality for everyone.
America needs new jobs and new workers. The next president and Congress should convene a consortium of business, educational and government leaders to develop concrete plans for educating young people for tomorrow’s jobs. This consortium would take steps to retrain unemployed workers abandoned when industries folded or moved abroad.
Our infrastructure is crumbling. The consortium should also forge a rebuilding plan for America’s highways, upgrade our antiquated water and electrical grids, equip every school with necessary supplies, and renovate rundown city buildings and convert abandoned factory buildings for new businesses.
This corporatist approach to rebuilding America requires an honest nonpartisan assessment and agreement by business, educators and government on where this nation needs to go and how to get there. The newly-elected Republican administration should take the lead. But it would be a nonpartisan endeavor by both the public and private sector to get the country moving again.
I favor a Job Corps similar to Depression-era program that put idle people back to work. I advocated that during President Obama’s first term in office as a better and more equitable approach to improving the economy than giving money to wealthy banks and financial institutions. Let’s resurrect a well funded and well-administered jobs programs using the joint expertise of business, educators and government.
I’m a realist. I know that the next government is not going to cure all of America’s ills. But this nation has failed for too many years under Democrats and Republicans alike to address the problems that are all too apparent to everyone. Let’s stop the blame game. That excuse for inaction is intolerable.
If our nation’s leaders are sincere about improving America, now is the time to step up and prove it. The next Congress and President don’t assume office until January. But this work can begin immediately by creating a new agenda for tomorrow.