A letter I recently sent to my Democratic Pennsylvania Senator and to Democratic Party leaders:
Dear Senator Casey:
I am growing more and more concerned about the future of our society and the Democratic Party. We must change course. I hope these proposals about healthcare and tax reform, top issues for you at this time, will be helpful.
Automation and artificial Intelligence are eliminating more and more jobs. Making that worse, the profits are going only to the wealthiest of us, and many of our middle and lower income citizens are being impoverished by medical expenses.
We can eliminate that financial ruin with insurance for both the currently healthy and the sick. Covering every American will also avert a looming Federal debt crisis because that system is much more efficient.
We can best do this is by extending Medicare. It is an established and popular system that is far less complex and costly than other plans being proposed.
And we must finance it in a way that mitigates our fast growing disparity of wealth. The very stability of our society is threatened if we allow that trend to continue.
Here’s how we can overcome both huge problems:
Replace Medicare’s 80/20 percent sharing of costs with a progressive Co-Pay amount based on income. That is the only change for the already retired.
Authorize Medicare to negotiate drug prices with providers to cut costs.
Have working people: (1) continue to pay a progressive payroll tax to cover their Medicare participation when they retire, and (2) also pay a progressive payroll tax for their current medical care, with a progressive Co-Pay amount.
Note: The tax for current medical care would be less than we pay now for private health insurance because (1) Medicare system costs are lower and (2) costs could be subsidized by other taxes described below.
Allow employers to pay some or all of this tax to attract employees, but not require them to do so. They would continue to pay their half of the tax for their employees’ retirement medical care.
Additional funding for this universal health care would come from tax system changes to reduce income and wealth disparity.
Specifically, tax all Personal Income including investment profits in the same way, and return marginal taxes on high incomes closer to where they were in President Eisenhower’s time, perhaps 50% for amounts between $5 million and $10 million, 60% between $10 million and $20 million, and 70% for amounts above that. The bottom three brackets could be cut by 5% each.
Cut the top Business tax on profits to 25% to encourage re-investment in business instead of taking the money out for personal use where a much higher personal income tax would have to be paid.
Change the Estate tax so distributions are treated as ordinary income with an exclusion of up to $5 million from each person’s share of the estate. This will reduce wealth disparity over time.
Tax Stock Transactions to reduce High Frequency Trading and increase government revenue.
Eliminate all Tax Expenditures (tax breaks/loopholes) after a five year period during which Congress could individually re-instate any believed to be beneficial with a 2/3 vote from each house.
Drastically cut government expenditures for so-called Regime Change and Nation Building. We must stop trying to re-invent other nations in our image and destroying them in the process.
Under this Medicare-For-All plan, Medicaid would be eliminated because all citizens would have coverage regardless of their financial situation. If they were out of work or working a low paid job, they would continue to receive coverage, but their payroll tax and co-pays, based on their income, would be low or possibly zero.
Non-citizens would have to buy their own coverage for the length of their stay, or the companies they work for would have to provide coverage, or there might be reciprocal coverage programs arranged between their country and the U.S.
Does all that sound too radical? It’s not. We must take a bold new approach. Opposition to Trump and the Republicans is simply not enough. We must win a mandate for sweeping positive change.
We must tell voters what big changes we will make so no American is bankrupted by medical costs. We must show voters how we will reverse the flow of riches only to the very few.
I hope these ideas can begin to reinvigorate the Democratic Party to be not just a focus for unspecified hope or reflexive opposition, but the agent of great beneficial change.