We the People: Meaningful action versus vague and worrisome plans

Mayor de Blasio hosted a town hall meeting at Fort Hamilton High School and answered questions that concern our community. Hizzoner was engaged and well prepared to respond to all the questions asked. He and his staff talked about transportation, safety, sanitation and education issues. When informed that a guest at the Prince Hotel on 93rd Street had just died of a heroin overdose and that the hotel has been an epicenter for trouble for decades, Mr. De Blasio apologized and promised action.

The hotel has many violations and owes thousands of dollars in unpaid fines to the city. The very next evening, the sheriff of New York had deputies confiscating funds to be applied in partial satisfaction of the fines owed. This will not bring the property into compliance but it puts appropriate pressure on the owner to obey the law and to make the business operate legally or encourage him to put it to a different use.

The mayor’s effective action in response to a problem contrasts starkly with the sideshow being foisted on American television viewers called the Republican presidential debates. The candidates talk about how great they are and how their rivals are liars. The vague plans they share raise concern instead of confidence in the electorate.

Ted Cruz proposes a bunch of things that should worry most Americans. He shouts “the IRS is broken” and he will “abolish” it and reduce the tax system so an income tax return can be “filled out on a postcard.”

He says a flat tax where everyone pays the same rate would be wonderful and experts agree that it will be wonderful … for the wealthy. A flat tax would make the poor and middle class pay more taxes while the wealthy would pay less. A senior fellow at The Brookings Institution stated “a flat tax would not be simple and it would not be flat, unless it massively distributed tax burdens from the rich to people of modest means.”

You cannot relieve the people who have been paying more of the taxes from that burden without having other taxpayers pick up the slack! He doesn’t explain who would collect taxes or how he, as president, could eliminate an entire federal agency but the devil is in the details.

Cruz supports passage of a Constitutional amendment to require Congress to pass a balanced budget which would eventfully eliminate national borrowing and the national debt. As president, he would not have the power to make that happen and requiring the government always to balance the budget no matter the economic conditions is just a bad policy. It would force the government to hike taxes or reduce spending whenever the economy slips into recession which is the opposite of what the government should do if it wants to avoid a depression.

Cruz would use the power of the office to repeal “Obamacare” even though it is proving to be more of a success than critics and doubters believed possible. Cruz and conservatives refuse to acknowledge that health care spending growth has slowed since enactment and the ACA has reduced the number of people without health insurance, which will lower the cost of delivering healthcare in the long run. He crusaded and filibustered against the ACA and suggested federal workers should be forced to buy health insurance without government support while he enjoyed the coverage of a Congressional healthcare plan and a $20,000-a-year insurance policy from Goldman Sachs.

The GOP candidates’ remarks reflect that they care more about making a splash than actually making a difference. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has been getting audiences worked up when he promises to “attack” the greed of Wall Street while the GOP candidates rail against the Dodd-Frank Act which was passed to prevent the speculation and the “too-big-to-fail” standard that mega-banks created in America.

We need to keep the banks from being too big and to make sure their trading does not become too complex where it defies regulation. The Dodd-Frank Act increased capital and liquidity requirements for banks, which should keep them from going over the cliff when we endure the next international financial crisis.

If Mr. Cruz is elected, you can be sure he will abolish this “harmful” regulation too. That should please Goldman Sachs, one of those too-big-to-fail banks that employs his wife, Heidi Cruz. Mrs. Cruz downplays her job and describes it as “helping people who have achieved the American dream.” As long as they have a net worth of $40 million.
We need to dream big.

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