Suggested Priorities for the Biden Administration
Mr. President - These are the issues that matter most for the country, and that will get you re-elected
Ok, so the mid-terms are over, the holidays are wrapping up, and we’re about to experience the joy of a closely divided government with a fair number of Republican House members wanting to focus solely on investigations1 & impeachment.
Here’s where I think Congress and the President should focus their efforts. And if approached right, I think in each case they should be able to cobble together a majority in Congress to pass effective legislation.
Abundant inexpensive green energy - The sole focus of this effort should be reducing the cost of energy and removing the dependence on oil as that dependence empowers a lot of bad actors from Putin to MBS. This effort must include Nuclear as well as a giant focus on batteries and transmission lines.
Yes this is important to address climate change. But mentioning that issue will reduce the chance of passing legislation on this issue.
Bring inflation back down to 2% - There are numerous causes of this and all of these need to be addressed. There is bi-partisan support for fighting monopolies (and unfortunately there is also bi-partisan support for monopolies). The supply chain is another factor. And we Democrats must own that the money fed to all citizens during COVID avoided a depression (good thing) but was also one of the causes of inflation (bad thing).
If Democrats won’t own the inflationary impact of some of the bills passed, then this becomes a political argument rather than an effort to fix things.
Fix immigration - This problem has been with us forever. And it won’t disappear. But the present situation is awful. And it needs to start with an effective border and halting as best as possible any additional illegal immigration. If we don’t have effective borders, then we’re not a country, we’re merely a location.
On top of effectively controlling the border, then we can discuss who we want to legally let in and how. We can discuss how best to handle people who show up or who sneak in and fund that adequately. And with that in place, then we have standing to discuss how to handle the undocumented presently in the country.
But to have any chance at a bi-partisan agreement, and adequate funding for what is agreed, it’ll have to be built in that order. It may feel good to want to start with the dreamers, but that won’t get you to an agreement.
Crime - Like immigration, this has been with us always. Unfortunately a lot of the response is people either reverting to their talking points and/or throwing money at the problem to prove “they care.” The voters are upset at this, rightfully so. And if things don’t change, they’re going to get more upset. And if we keep doing the same thing, only more so & harder, it’s not going to get better.
We need to be trying new approaches. Lots of new approaches.
Ukraine & Iran - These two countries are where we’re presently fighting for the future of the human race. Will we be a liberal society under the rule of law? Or will we be an autocracy under the whim of the dictators in charge. Who wins in these two countries are two gigantic battles in this war.
We need to be doing everything we can in both cases, both in what we do and in what we say. We’re doing well with Ukraine (we could do more) but we could do so much more in Iran. At a minimum, we need to publicly express support for them as much as we do for Ukraine.
Education - The third of the three perennials. The kids in K-12 took a tremendous hit due to the pandemic. If educational achievement had dropped this much due to another country, we would view that as an act of war. Granted this is a really hard problem and people are doing the best they can in most cases. But we need to open it up to try more avenues.
I do worry about “the answer” being charter & private schools. While some are great successes, others have been massive failures and a number of been a means of enriching those running it, not a means to improve results for the children.
Faster Construction Review - Every step of review for any construction, from environmental impact statements to neighborhood feedback, has a good argument for it. Unfortunately the sum of all that is an incredibly slow and expensive process. This becomes Kafkaesque when an EIS slows down transmission lines for renewal energy thereby prolonging global warming. We have a similar conflict where NIMBY housing zoning means enforced homelessness and workers priced out of living near where they work.
This is not a call to eliminate all review. It’s a call to have an appropriate level of review that balances the trade-offs of what the reviews accomplish vs. the need to actually build something. And that delay costs us - often much more than what the review gains.
Fix the Supply Chain - This is something where we are making good progress. But it needs to continue as there’s more to do. Part of it is further regulation of shipping, railroads, & trucking. Part of it is encouraging local sourcing. And local does not need to mean next door, it means as close as is reasonable.
A significant part of this is paying the cost to have backlogs of needed supplies which does cost more than JIT inventory. And it means have multiple sources, that come from different parts of the world. This raises costs, but is a more resilient system.
So what should be done to address the above issues? Well like everyone else I have opinions but I don’t know that my thoughts are any better than anyone else. But isn’t that what we elected these people to do? To figure out how to best address the issues in front of us?
So I put it to Congress & the Administration - figure out how to address these issues and then pass the legislation, implement the legislation, and fix things. That’s what we expect of you, that’s hopefully why you ran for office, to make things better, and very important to all of you - this is what we’ll be using to measure you when it’s time to vote in ‘24.
And a special message to the Democrats in Congress - if you bring forward thoughtful measures to address the above, measures that moderates find reasonable, and the Republican House kills them just because they want to be dicks - that’s a powerful argument for voters to elect Democrats.
What the voters won’t reward is no proposals. Or proposals so liberal they aren’t serious (and by serious, I mean they are moderate enough they stand a prayer of passing).
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Granted, there are several valid topics for investigation including our exit from Afghanistan, the disaster at the border, etc.