Please note- my more recent post: Why I voted for Senator Barak Obama
I am endorsing former John Edwards for President. For months I have been in a quandary about who I wanted to support for President. I think any one of the three leading Democrats- Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and former Senator Edwards- would be acceptable. There are things to like about all of them and things that are somewhat problematic but they are all smart, committed public servants. My endorsement of John Edwards has to do with a mix of his stance on issues and some of the problems I have with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. At the outset, I think that any one of the three would make a good President; I just think that Mr. Edwards would make a better one.
Why not a Republican?
Why not endorse a Republican? The obvious reason is that I am a Democrat, but I would cross party lines if there was someone who resonated with me. Congressman Ron Paul appeals to many Independents because of his stance on the war in Iraq. I agree with his stance on the war in Iraq, but his über Libertarian views would ultimately decimate any safety net for the poor in this country and that is unacceptable to me.
The rest of the Republicans are parroting the Bush doctrine – which shocks me, nevertheless they are. Former New York City Rudolph Giuliani seemed like a social moderate/liberal. He seemed pro-choice, pro-gay rights (after all he relied on the kindness of a gay couple and lived with them when he was going through his last divorce), and anti-gun (although he has pandered to the NRA too). Giuliani always had ego and hubris, but it has simply gone amok. He has capitalized on the tragedy of 9/11 both politically and financially (through his consulting firm) that I find him immoral. That immorality was completed when he welcomed an endorsement from Pat Robertson. Doesn’t he remember Robertson and Falwell waxing philosophic about the cause of 9/11 being the gays, lesbians, pro-choice Americans and the ACLU? Rudy is just a reprehensible hypocrite who plays fear almost as good as, if not better than, President Bush.
The other front running candidate- Mitt Romney is just a hack. He has no moral compass and will say anything and promote any policy if he thinks it will get him elected. He rails about Senator Clinton’s health care plan- but it is eerily like the one he signed into law when he was Governor of Massachusetts. He courted the gay community when he was running for Governor of Massachusetts and now he villifies us.
Both Romney and Giuliani talk about their management skills and how Senator Clinton, in particular, and Senators Obama and Edwards have never run a city, state or business. Remember the last MBA President we had— or should I say have? George W. Bush, has a Harvard M.B.A. (do you think Poppy had anything to do with his getting into either Yale or Harvard? But I digress) and is a former Governor of Texas. How’s that workin’ for the country? Hmmmmmmmmmm?
The only one in the ragtag crew of Republicans that I admire is Mike Huckabee because he has integrity and seems to have a sense of social justice. However his view about gays and lesbians is something I just would never be able to reconcile.
Why not Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton?
As I stated either of them would make a good President; I just think that Mr. Edwards would be better.
Mr. Obama shows a lack of experience and reticence that makes me a little nervous. I don’t know if he has the gravitas to be President right now. He brings a fresh face to politics, but I haven’t really seen a lot of substance behind the rhetoric. I think that 8 years from now he would be an awesome candidate. I just don’t think he is quite ready yet. But I will reiterate that I think he is a better choice than any of the candidates in the other party.
Mrs. Clinton is brilliant. She is disciplined and would also make an excellent President. I was actually leaning towards Mrs. Clinton for months. I feel that at the moment the gridlock that is Washington would not change. It might if Congress overwhelmingly had a Democratic majority, but barring that- Mrs. Clinton is viewed as too partisan. I think it is an unfair characterization because she has proved as a Senator from New York that she can work very well across the aisle. But in the Presidency- it is policy and leadership. Leadership is a mix of reality and perception and in the perception arena- Mrs. Clinton has some problems. If she becomes the nominee- I will vigorously support her, but I think that Mr. Edwards is running a campaign about change and I believe him. I also thinks that he embodies – more than the other two- my values and is a true defender of those that have no voice in our society.
The case for John Edwards
On every issue that matters to me, Mr. Edwards makes compelling arguements and has sound policy positions. While this may seem tedious, I want to address each issue and Mr. Edwards’ way of addressing each one.
There is no military solution to the chaos in Iraq. Instead, the Iraqi people must solve the problem politically by taking responsibility for their country. By leaving Iraq, America will prompt the Iraqi people, regional powers, and the entire international community to find the political solution that will end the sectarian violence and create a stable Iraq. We must show the Iraqis that we are serious about leaving by actually starting to leave, with an immediate withdrawal of 40,000-50,000 troops and a complete withdrawal within nine to ten months. We should leave behind in Iraq only a brigade of 3,500 to 5,000 troops to protect the embassy and possibly a few hundred troops to guard humanitarian workers.
We can only achieve these steps through legislative action. Edwards strongly supports the supplemental spending bill passed by both Houses of Congress and vetoed by President Bush that funds the troops with a timetable for withdrawal. He has called for Congress to respond to the President’s veto by sending back the same bill—and doing this as many times as it takes for the President to end the war. Edwards supports the following specific steps:
- Stop the Escalation and Immediately Start the Drawdown
Edwards opposed President Bush’s “surge” and supports immediately drawing down 40,000 to 50,000 combat troops.
- Require Troops to be Ready
We should prohibit funding for any new troops that do not meet real readiness standards and that have not been properly trained and equipped. American tax dollars should be used to train and equip our troops, not to escalate the war.
- Clarify the Lack of Legal Foundation for the War
The 2002 authorization did not give President Bush the power to use U.S. troops to police a civil war. Edwards believes that Congress should make it clear that President Bush exceeded his authority long ago. The president now needs to end the war and ask Congress for new authority to manage the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence and to help Iraq achieve stability.
- Withdraw Combat Troops within Nine to Ten Months
Edwards believes we should completely withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within nine to ten months and prohibit permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. After withdrawal, we should retain sufficient forces in Quick Reaction Forces located outside Iraq, in friendly countries like Kuwait, to prevent an Al Qaeda safe haven, a genocide, or regional spillover of a civil war.
- Take Additional Steps to Stabilize Iraq
Edwards believes we should intensify U.S. efforts to train the Iraqi security forces. He would also step up U.S. diplomatic efforts by engaging in direct talks with all the nations in the region, including Iran and Syria, to bring a political solution to the sectarian violence inside Iraq, including through a peace conference.
John Edwards believes it is of the utmost importance that we prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a politically unstable leader and an open supporter of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons could also set off a regional nuclear arms race in an unstable region in the world, which would directly threaten US interests. As president, Edwards would take aggressive steps to resolve the situation and to protect the United States and our allies.
- Uniting the International Community
We must do everything in our power to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions through diplomatic measures that will, over time, force Iran to finally understand the world community will not allow it to possess nuclear weapons. Every major U.S. ally agrees a nuclear Iran is unacceptable. This is a positive sign, and we should continue to work with them to isolate Iran.
- Directly Engaging Iran
We need to engage Iran directly. As president, Edwards will negotiate with Iranian leaders who have met a number of criteria, such as recognition of the international rule of law, recognition of the rights of Jews and the state of Israel, and a commitment to the promise of diplomacy.
- Marginalizing Extremists
Thousands of young and moderate Iranians are natural friends of America and the West and want to see Iran succeed economically. Edwards will take steps to expose Iran to democratic culture and ideas and will use diplomacy to separate extremists from leaders more inclined to stabilize Iran’s relations with the world.
- Leverage through Increased Pressure
Stabilizing Iran will require the use of both “carrots” and “sticks”—pressure and incentives. While the sanctions already in place provide some leverage over Iran, they have had limited success. As president, Edwards will pursue a new course of targeted sanctions both for American companies and for foreign companies.
- Encouragement through Incentives
The United States has more leverage than many think over Iran through incentives that could encourage Iran’s leadership to abandon extremism and comply with international rules. As president, Edwards will draw Iran into compliance through incentives including increased refinery capacity, modification of the embargo, membership in multilateral organizations, and the creation of a fuel bank.
- Direct Negotiations with China and Russia
China and Russia both recently voted with the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran. As president, Edwards will reach out to China and Russia to work on reaching their economic objectives through alternatives that do not assist Iran’s military nuclear capability.
John Edwards was the first presidential candidate – Democratic or Republican – to take on the big insurance and drug companies and propose a plan for quality, affordable health care for every man, woman and child in America that offers everyone the option of a public plan. Today, John Edwards builds on his plan for true universal health care with specific proposals to lead the fight against HIV/AIDS at home and around the world. He will include a comprehensive new national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS, including:
• Guaranteeing health insurance for every American – including HIV/AIDS patients — the care they need when they need it and expanding Medicaid to cover HIV-positive individuals before they reach later stages of disabilities and AIDS.
• Fighting the disease in the African American and Latino communities, where the harm is now greatest.
• Calling for universal access to HIV/AIDS medicine across the world, investing $50 billion over five years to meet that goal.
• Changing the policies that protect big drug companies, at the expense of people dying of HIV/AIDS in developing countries.
- Fighting HIV/AIDS At Home
HIV/AIDS is still a crisis in America, particularly in African-American and Latino communities. The number of new HIV infections in the U.S. has not fallen in 15 years. As president, Edwards will help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in America. [CDC, 2005]
- Guaranteeing Treatment for Everyone with True Universal Health Care by 2012
People with HIV/AIDS who don’t have health insurance or who have inadequate insurance are significantly more likely to die from the disease. That’s the tragedy of the two health care systems in this country today – one for people who can afford the very best care and one for everyone else. True universal health care must be the foundation for a national HIV/AIDS strategy. Edwards’ plan will ensure every person in America living with HIV/AIDS gets the care they need, when they need it. His plan will also transform chronic care with a new patient-centered “medical home” approach where a primary care physician will make sure patients are getting effective treatment from a coordinated team, including palliative care. [Bhattacharya, 2003] Edwards supports the Early Treatment for HIV Act which will expand Medicaid to cover HIV-positive individuals in every state before they reach later stages of disability and AIDS. Currently, in most states, individuals must receive an AIDS diagnosis to receive services under Medicaid even though research shows that the sooner individuals living with HIV receive treatment the better the outcomes. [Porco et al., 2004]
- Creating a National HIV/AIDS Strategy
In 2001, the CDC set a national goal of reducing the annual number of new infections in half by 2005, but the actual number of infections has barely budged. A 1998 presidential initiative set a goal of eliminating racial disparities in HIV/AIDS by 2010, but disparities are as bad today as they were then. Our disappointments can be explained in part by the failure to create a national strategy, backed by necessary funding and with clear and bold goals, specific action steps, real accountability and broad participation and buy-in from stakeholders both inside and outside of government. As president, Edwards will develop a National HIV/AIDS Strategy through an honest, comprehensive and fast-tracked process that involves stakeholders from the public and nonprofit sectors. The National Strategy will coordinate the various agencies within and outside of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that affect HIV/AIDS policy. He will hold his HHS Secretary accountable for issuing an annual report on HIV/AIDS that charts progress towards our national goals, and he will appoint a strong director of the White House office of AIDS Policy to keep these issues visible at the highest levels of government. [CDC, 1999, 2001, 2007; HHS, 1998]
- Focusing on Disparities
About two-thirds of all new HIV/AIDS cases are diagnosed in African Americans and Latinos. African Americans are infected at nearly 10 times the rate, and Latinos at more than three times the rate, of white Americans. A 2005 study of African-American men who have sex with men in selected cities found that almost half are infected with HIV, and 67 percent do not know they have the disease. Latina women are six times more likely than white women to have HIV/AIDS. Any serious effort to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic must begin in the African-American and Latino communities, including among the incarcerated population, and address their prevention and treatment needs. We must also continue to work intensively with important overlapping groups like gay men. [CDC, 2007; KFF, 2007]
- Supporting Ryan White CARE Act Programs and HOPWA
Enacting true universal health care will ensure patients have access to care, but fully funding the Ryan White CARE Act will remain essential to ensure that culturally-competent care is available for the special needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. These programs include outpatient HIV early intervention services, support services like transportation, case management, substance abuse and mental health treatment, nutrition, family-centered care for children, access to clinical trials and delivery to hard-to-reach populations. Maintaining delivery of outreach and treatment services to the LGBT community, for example, is dependent on these programs. Edwards will also put an end to waiting lines for HIV drugs — for example, more than 300 people with HIV/AIDS are on a waiting list for medication in South Carolina – and increase funds for the Housing for People with AIDS (HOPWA) programs, only federal program that provides comprehensive, community-based housing for people with HIV/AIDS. [NASTAD, 2007]
- Preventing HIV/AIDS with Scientifically-Proven Strategies, Not Political Ideology
The CDC has identified the three most reliable ways to prevent HIV/AIDS infections. Yet the Bush administration focuses on only one of them – abstinence. As president, Edwards will promotes all reliable prevention strategies, including comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education to ensure young people learn all the facts about preventing HIV/AIDS and harm-reduction programs that provide high-risk individuals with access to clean syringes. He will lift the ban on federal funding for needle exchange initiatives. In addition, Edwards will support community and public education that encourages testing. [CDC, Undated; Bush, 2005]
- Strengthening America’s Research Agenda
It used to be that more than four out of 10 requests for National Institutes of Health grants were approved. Now less than two out of 10 are approved, and existing grants are being cut back. One of those rejected requests might have led to a breakthrough on HIV/AIDS treatments. Edwards supports substantial increases in funding for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, including for microbicides, as well as measures to ensure transparency in funding decisions, accountability for results and aligning research with outcomes. [NIH, 2007]
- Fighting HIV/AIDS Around The World
While the Bush administration initially increased funding for the global fight against HIV/AIDS, funding has now flat-lined. We must do more, and do it better. The fight against HIV/AIDS is a fight for people’s lives, but President Bush’s way has us fighting with one hand tied behind our back. One-third of prevention funding goes to abstinence-only education that has been shown not to work. The U.S. has also refused to fund medicine approved by the World Health Organization, even though requiring FDA approval means the U.S. sometimes pays up to three times more for drugs. This means fewer people receive treatment, as the profits of drug companies are protected. [Goldberg, 2007; Carpenter, 2007; Love, 2007] To restore our moral standing in the world, Edwards believes that America must be a global leader in the fight against poverty and disease. Fighting global poverty and addressing global health crises is a moral imperative, but it is also a security issue. As president, John Edwards will fundamentally transform America’s approach to the world and bring high-level attention to the fight against global HIV/AIDS by:
- Providing Universal Access to Treatment Globally
A $4 dose of medicine can help prevent a mother from transmitting HIV to her newborn at childbirth. In developing countries, HIV/AIDS medications cost as little as $140 per patient a year – but, by mid-2006, fewer than one in four people who needed it had access to treatment. As part of a comprehensive plan to also fight TB and malaria around the world, Edwards has set an ambitious goal of providing universal access to preventive and treatment drugs for the three “killer diseases” by 2010, investing $50 billion over five years to meet that goal. This includes fulfilling our moral responsibility to help strengthen public health systems and health care workforces in developing nations. While we can make current spending go further by being more aggressive with the pharmaceutical industry, Edwards will ensure the U.S. contributes its traditional fair share toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has proven itself as an innovative, effective model to fight disease. [UNICEF, 2005; U.N. Millennium Project, 2005; WHO, 2007]
- Using Trade Policy to Save Lives
Edwards will enact trade policies that save lives, rather than protect the profits of big drug companies. He will ensure that U.S. bilateral trade agreements respect the rights of countries to access and use generic medicines consistent with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health. We must expand poor countries’ right to safe, affordable generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. The increased distribution of generic drugs has been a step in the right direction. However, as millions of people develop resistance to these drugs, we must be prepared to facilitate access to more effective medications. As president, Edwards will support efforts to increase the importation and production in developing countries of second-line and pediatric drugs. He will also re-assess the Bush policy that forces us to pay higher prices for drugs that have been approved by the FDA, when less expensive drugs have already been approved by the WHO and their safety is reliable. WHO safety standards are relied upon by leading international organizations, including the Global Fund.
- Expanding the Role of Multilateral Organizations
America’s reluctance to engage the world through multilateral organizations under President Bush has hurt our ability to combat poverty and fight HIV/AIDS. Edwards believes multilateral institutions like the Global Fund can be far more efficient at using taxpayer dollars than bilateral agencies like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, with far lower overheads. As president, Edwards will support efforts to increase the role of multilateral institutions like the Global Fund in distributing funds to fight HIV/AIDS, rather than just bilateral aid agencies and their contractors.
- Rescinding the Global Gag Rule
In 2001, President Bush signed an executive order barring U.S. family planning aid to foreign non-profits that offer abortions, except in the case of a threat to a woman’s life or incest, that provide abortion counseling or that lobby to make abortion legal. This “gag rule” stifles free speech and forces non-profits to choose between vital U.S. funds and providing essential health services. The “gag rule” has hurt efforts to ensure access to contraception methods that can prevent the spread of HIV. Edwards will overturn this order and restore support for effective family planning.
- Creating a Cabinet-Level Post on Global Poverty
Despite its importance to our national security and international standing, America still lacks a comprehensive strategy to fight global poverty. Our foreign aid programs are fractured and uncoordinated, delivered by over 50 separate government offices. As a result, bureaucrats fight over overlapping jurisdictions and resources are not tied to any government-wide priorities. As president, Edwards will create a new cabinet-level position that will coordinate global development policies across the federal government and be a voice for the fight against global HIV/AIDS.
- Promoting Women’s Rights and Universal Education
Strengthening the rights of women and increasing education will help change social roles that underlie the spread of HIV in many countries. Reducing violence against women and expanding education are both proven means of preventing HIV. Edwards will aggressively support political and economic rights for women where they do not exist and support efforts to reduce violence against women and children. He will also lead the world toward a primary education for every child, endorsing the goal of achieving universal basic education by 2015. As part of a significant increase in overall funding for poverty-focused development assistance, Edwards will lead a worldwide effort to raise $10 billion to fund this cause. [UNAIDS, 2005; World Bank, 2002]
- Supporting Debt Cancellation
Debt owed to Western lenders prevents many poor countries from making the kinds of investments in health and education that can help prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases. Edwards will take the next step on debt relief by eliminating bilateral debt owed to the United States by the world’s poorest countries, freeing up resources for these countries to invest in health and education. He will also call on other lender nations and agencies to follow our lead.
Gay and Lesbian Issues
Edwards believes that all couples in committed, long-term relationships should have the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities, whether they are straight couples or same-sex couples. He supports civil unions to guarantee gay and lesbian couples the same rights as straight couples, including inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, equal pension and health care benefits, and all of the 1,100 other legal protections government affords married couples. Edwards supports the full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. He also believes same-sex families should be treated in the same manner as other families by our immigration laws. Edwards believes the right president could lead the country toward consensus around equal rights and benefits for all couples in committed, long-term relationships and he opposes divisive Constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriages.
- Workplace Discrimination
Workers should be judged by the quality of their performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. While in the Senate, Edwards cosponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He also believes that stronger enforcement is necessary to prevent employment discrimination by federal agencies.
- Military Service
Edwards opposes the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians serving in our military. The military ought to treat all service members equally and in a way that promotes national security, without regard to their sexual orientation.
Edwards believes that gay and lesbian parents should be able to adopt children just like any other parents. There are over 120,000 children waiting for homes in our nation’s foster care system. Adoption placements should be decided by judges and adoption agencies based upon the best interests of the children. Both members of a same-sex couple raising children together should be able to form a legal relationship with their children.
- Hate Crimes
Everyone is entitled to live in dignity without fear of violence. We should strengthen the ability of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute hate crimes based on race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity. While in the Senate, Edwards cosponsored legislation to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.
John Edwards has a bold plan to transform America’s health care system and provide universal health care for every man, woman and child in America.
Under the Edwards Plan:
• Families without insurance will get coverage at an affordable price.
• Families with insurance will pay less and get more security and choices.
• Businesses and other employers will find it cheaper and easier to insure their workers.
The Edwards Plan achieves universal coverage by:
• Requiring businesses and other employers to either cover their employees or help finance their health insurance.
• Making insurance affordable by creating new tax credits, expanding Medicaid and SCHIP, reforming insurance laws, and taking innovative steps to contain health care costs.
• Creating regional “Health Care Markets” to let every American share the bargaining power to purchase an affordable, high-quality health plan, increase choices among insurance plans, and cut costs for businesses offering insurance.
• Once these steps have been taken, requiring all American residents to get insurance.
Securing universal healthcare for every American will require the active involvement of millions of Americans
In a speech at the National Press Club, Edwards called poverty “the great moral issue of our time” and challenged our country to cut it by a third in a decade and end it within 30 years. To get there, he has proposed major new initiatives to reward work, break up high-poverty neighborhoods, help families save, and encourage families to act responsibly. In his vision of a “Working Society,” everyone who is able to work will be expected to work and rewarded for working. Edwards also called on communities to discourage the reckless behavior that threatens the future of many young people.
End Poverty by 2036- Edwards believes that ending poverty should be a goal our nation actively pursues. A national goal will rally support for the cause and help us measure our progress. In 1999, Tony Blair announced a 20-year goal to end child poverty in Great Britain and he has already reduced child poverty by 17 percent. Today, Edwards called for a national effort to:
• Cut poverty by one third within a decade, lifting 12 million Americans out of poverty by 2016.
• End poverty within 30 years, lifting 37 million Americans out of poverty by 2036. [Census Bureau, 2007]
Reform the Poverty Measure- The poverty measure excludes necessities like taxes, health care, child care and transportation. It also fails to count some forms of aid including tax credits, food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing. The National Academy of Science has recommended improvements that would increase the count of people in poverty by more than 1 million. Edwards believes we need to measure poverty honestly, evaluate our performance, and hold politicians accountable for policies that change the number of people suffering hardship. He supports revisions along the lines recommended by NAS. [Census Bureau, 2005; NAS, 1995]
Creating a Working Society
Edwards has outlined a Working Society initiative to lift 12 million Americans out of poverty in a decade and beat poverty over the next 30 years. In the Working Society, everyone who is able to work hard will be expected to work and, in turn, be rewarded for it. The initiative includes major new policies in the areas of work, housing, education, debt and savings, and family responsibility.
• Make Work Pay: Edwards will increase the reward for working by raising the minimum wage to at least $9.50 an hour by 2012 and then indexing it, tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for adults without children and cutting the EITC marriage penalty. In 2001, a $1 increase in the minimum wage alone would have lifted an estimated 900,000 people out of poverty. [Sawhill and Thomas, 2001]
• Create One Million Stepping Stone Jobs: Every American should have the chance to work their way out of poverty, but some willing workers cannot find jobs because of where they live, a lack of experience or skills, or other obstacles, like a criminal record. Edwards will create a million short-term jobs to help individuals move into permanent work.
• Create Opportunity in Rural America: Nearly 90 percent of America’s poorest counties are rural. Edwards will invest more in rural community colleges, link training to actual business needs, and support rural small business centers. [Rural Poverty Research Center, 2006]
• Strengthen Labor Laws: Union membership can be the difference between a poverty-wage job and middle-class security. Federal law promises workers the right to choose a union, but the law is poorly enforced, full of loopholes, and routinely violated by employers. Edwards supports the Employee Free Choice Act to give workers a real choice in whether to form a union.
• Enforce Workplace Protections: To help protect workers, Edwards will create a new Labor taskforce to target the industries with the worst abuses of minimum wage and overtime laws. He will step up enforcement of the misclassification of employees as independent contractors and strengthen workplace safety rules.
Overhaul Housing Policy:
• Create a Million New Housing Vouchers: Our current housing policies concentrate low-income families together, isolating willing workers from entry-level jobs and children from good schools. Edwards will create a million vouchers over five years to help low-income families move to better neighborhoods. At the same time, he will phase out housing projects that tie families to certain locations and are often lower quality and more expensive than private sector alternatives.
• Revitalize Devastated Neighborhoods: Edwards believes that it is better to invest in struggling neighborhoods than abandon them. He will reform and expand the HOPE VI program to replace dilapidated housing in areas of concentrated poverty.
Fight Abusive Lenders and Help Working Families Save:
• Create New Work Bonds: Edwards proposed a new tax credit to help low-income, working Americans save for the future. The credit would match savings up to $500 per year.
• Expand Access to Bank Accounts: As many as 28 million Americans don’t have bank accounts. Edwards will subsidize bank accounts for working families. [Federal Reserve, 2007]
• Defend Homeowners against Predatory Mortgages and Foreclosure: Edwards will pass a strong national law to prohibit the worst abuses in the mortgage market. The law will strengthen underwriting standards to ensure that borrowers receive affordable loans suited to their means and reach non-bank lenders and mortgage brokers. To help the estimated 2.2 million families already facing foreclosure, Edwards will create a Home Rescue Fund to help families get into more affordable mortgages and let families shed excess mortgage debt that exceeds their home’s value through bankruptcy. [Center for Responsible Lending, 2007; New America Foundation, 2007]
• Protect Families from Abusive Financial Products: Families need someone on their side to help them get a fair deal from lenders and investment companies. Edwards will create a new Family Savings and Credit Commission to protect consumers. It will review all financial services products marketed to consumers and oversee all types of financial institutions, whether chartered under federal or state law. [Warren, 2007]
• Limiting Irresponsible Credit Card Practices: Edwards will restore balance in the credit card market through a Borrower’s Security Act that creates a late payment grace period, limits penalty interest rates to new purchases, and ends the practice of universal default. [Demos, 2003; GAO, 2006]
• Banning the Most Abusive Payday Loans: After the Pentagon concluded that exploitive payday loans undermined military readiness, Congress capped interest rates on payday and other loans to military families at 36 percent, a cutoff that many states use to prevent loan sharking. Edwards will extend this cap to all payday loans, which now average over 300 percent APR. He will also encourage states, local non-profits and responsible lenders to offer low- or no-interest emergency loans. [Center for Responsible Lending, 2006
Strengthening Our Schools:
• Strengthen Public Schools: Edwards proposed expanding access to preschool programs, investing more in teacher pay and training to attract good teachers where we need them most, and strengthening high schools with a more challenging curriculum.
• Promote Economic Diversity: Our nation has two school systems, segregated by race and economic status. While not a substitute either for racial integration or improving schools in every neighborhood, Edwards will promote economic diversity within school districts and across district lines by giving bonuses to middle-class schools enrolling low-income students and double current federal magnet schools funding to attract middle-class suburban students to high-poverty urban neighborhoods.
• Create Second-Chance Schools for High School Dropouts: As many as one-third of all students drop out of school, and the rates are even worse for poor and minority students. Large majorities of recent dropouts regret their decision. Edwards will create second-chance schools to help former dropouts get back on track. [Civic Enterprises, 2006; Manhattan Institute, 2006]
• Expand College Opportunity: Edwards will enact a College for Everyone program to pay public-college tuition, books and fees for students who agree to work part-time during their first year at a school. Additional student aid can make the greatest difference in the first year of college. [Dynarski, 1999]
Support Responsible Families:
• Encourage and Reward Responsibility from Fathers: Welfare reform required mothers to work and helps them find jobs, but it failed to do the same for fathers. Edwards will help fathers find work, require them to help support their children, and increase child support collections by more than $8 billion over the next decade and use those payments to benefit children.
• Fight Teen Pregnancy: The U.S. has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized world. Edwards believes we should have more support for teenagers struggling to beat the odds.
• Home Visits for New Parents: Home visits improve prenatal health and the quality of care-giving after birth. Children receiving nurse visits are cognitively more advanced, have fewer behavioral problems, and are less likely to be abused or neglected. John Edwards will invest in home visits by registered nurses to low-income new parents, providing matching grants to states to serve 50,000 families. [AAP, 2004; RJWF, 2006; NFP, 2006]
• Invest in Family Literacy: Thirty million American adults have very limited literacy skills; the children of functionally illiterate parents are twice as likely to be illiterate themselves. John Edwards will restore funding for family literacy programs, which address the educational needs of both parents and children, and give them the support they deserve. [National Center for Family Literacy, Undated; National Even Start Association, 2007]
America must do whatever it takes to defeat terrorism, but securing a lasting victory will take moral as well as military strength. President Bush’s failure to respect the Constitution and our commitment to the fundamental rule of law has badly damaged our security and our standing in the world. President Bush has sent a message that torture and other human rights violations are acceptable, creating a precedent of disregard for the law that is being exploited by terrorists and repressive governments across the world. We must restore our moral leadership in the world, and we should begin here at home. If we want to spread democracy abroad, we must strengthen democracy in America, including our constitutional freedoms and the rule of law.
- Say No to Torture
The Bush-Cheney Administration has undermined our standing in the world and endangered our own troops by sanctioning the use of interrogation techniques long considered torture. Edwards will protect our troops and our values by upholding the Geneva Conventions anywhere American security forces—military or civilian—are engaged. He will issue an executive order setting clear guidelines for interrogations and prohibiting torture. He will also ban the shameful practice of outsourcing torture to other countries through “extraordinary rendition.”
- Restore Habeas Corpus and Shut Down Guantanamo
The Bush Administration has claimed the power to seize and indefinitely detain anybody it labels an “enemy combatant” with no due process and no lawyer, even if they were seized here in America. It built a prison at Guantanamo Bay outside the reach of our courts, creating a symbol that galvanizes our enemies and alienates our allies. As president, Edwards will shut down Guantanamo and work to resolve the status of the detainees, hundreds of whom have been held for years without being charged. He will also restore the writ of habeas corpus to reinstate judicial review of detention, rather than allow unchecked executive power.
- Protect Americans’ Privacy and Freedom
Our government should protect the privacy, communications, and personal records of Americans—not spy on them without court supervision as the Bush Administration has done. Edwards will end the warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phone calls and e-mails and the data-mining of Americans’ communications and personal records, restoring judicial review to surveillance of American citizens. He will fix the Patriot Act by restoring important safeguards to the provisions most susceptible to abuse: the “sneak-and-peek” delayed-notice searches, National Security Letters, and the business and library records provisions. He will also end racial profiling by law enforcement.
- Defend the Constitution
Edwards will end the practice of issuing presidential “signing statements” that claim the administration can ignore the law. He will respect the proper roles of the Congress and the courts. He will not shroud the actions of the White House in secrecy. He will not abuse the executive privilege to hide information from Congress and the courts. And he will not interfere with the professional judgment of attorneys at the Justice Department or impose a partisan agenda on their interpretation of the nation’s laws and Constitution.
President Bush’s record and his approach to terrorism have been disastrous for our relationships with other countries and have made America and the world a less safe place. As the recent National Intelligence Estimate showed, Al Qaeda has remained entrenched in Pakistan and the Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan. Terrorist cells are multiplying throughout Europe. And a recent study by the New York City Police Department demonstrated that even individuals in the U.S. are increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by radical extremists. [NYPD, 2007]
We must replace the so-called “war on terror” doctrine with a real strategy to unify our intelligence and security efforts through closer international cooperation. As president, John Edwards will enact a comprehensive strategy to ensure that intelligence is used to root out and shut down the scourge of terrorism and to unite the world against violent extremism. We must match 21st century threats with 21st century tactics and replace Cold War thinking, designed to defeat a single, implacable enemy, with new world thinking for a multi-national, diverse, and often hidden foe. Edwards will put in place a counter-terrorism strategy that is strong, fast, and hard enough to stop terrorists, but also smart, honest, and prescient enough to draw people away from terrorism in the first place.
THE EDWARDS PLAN
John Edwards suggests that we must be prepared to respond militarily to terrorist threats in progress. But he believes we also must root out and shut down emerging terrorist threats. The synergy between intelligence and partner cooperation are central to this goal. America cannot root out and shut down terrorist cells alone. We face the threat of homegrown radical extremism here at home, and we and our allies are also under threat from cells abroad, whether located in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, or Europe. Repairing our strategic partnerships and strengthening cooperation between U.S. law enforcement and national security agencies and those of our friends and partners around the world is key to effective counterterrorism. Edwards’ plaform on terrorism is:
- Lead a new global compact against terrorists
Terrorist cells are multiplying throughout the world, both in friendly countries and in those with whom we have challenging relationships. The entire world community of nations has an interest in defeating terrorism and restoring legitimate government. As president, Edwards says he will create a modern-day equivalent of NATO for terrorism: the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization (CITO). CITO will focus on high-level political and diplomatic engagement between a wide range of nation partners on all dimensions of the problem of terrorism, and operational programs like intelligence-sharing and cooperative security operations by partner nations. It will also allow the creation of a new international alliance of partner nations who clearly state that terrorism is unacceptable, and the identification and isolation of those nations who refuse to join this cause.
CITO’s national and multilateral partners will include partners in all continents, including Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, who will cooperate on sharing and improving intelligence and security against terrorist cells, while respecting individual nations’ sovereignty and security interests.
Going beyond institutions designed for an earlier age like NATO, the U.N. Security Council, and Interpol, while finding areas for progress, CITO will build on these institutions and meet today’s new threats by providing members with much more complete interconnection and sharing of intelligence, financial, police and customs and immigration data than currently exists, enabling member nations to track down terrorists nodes of support, travel, communication, recruiting, training and financing.
CITO will establish allied response cells comprised of security professionals from member nations to work on intelligence and security assessments and that can take action against imminent terrorist threats.
Improve human intelligence
The U.S. needs to be able to root out terrorist cells both here and in other countries using increased human intelligence capability, both to support American operations and to support the operations of our partners and allies. Here at home, Edwards will establish 1,000 new two-year $20,000 annual scholarships to improve language skills, through expanded programs for teaching Arabic and Middle Eastern dialects, of students who agree to go into careers in intelligence or diplomacy.
Bolster support for foreign counterterrorism
According to a recent GAO report, many U.S. agencies lack guidance on how to support counter-terrorism operations in other countries. There also are very few standards in place to judge the effectiveness of these support operations. Within six months of taking office, Edwards will direct the Secretary of State, working with the Attorney General and other national security officials, to launch comprehensive “Counter-Terrorism Support Strategies.” He will further professionalize our corps of ambassadors and place them in charge of the implementation of these Support Strategies, as well as the coordination of all efforts of law enforcement, intelligence, and civil and military programs with operations in their countries. [GAO, 2007]
Shut down WMD transfers
Any international transfer of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or unauthorized material that could be used to create WMDs is unacceptable. As president, Edwards will strengthen multilateral efforts such as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), U.N.S.C. Resolution 1540 to improve cooperation to identify and interdict weapons of mass destruction being transferred from hostile nations to terrorist organizations, and the Comprehensive Threat Reduction program. He will also accelerate efforts to provide states-in-need with financial and technical assistance to safeguard their nuclear facilities and nuclear scientists, and well as to improve their border controls.
- Escalate efforts against homegrown radical extremism
We must also work hard here at home to ensure that extremist ideologies do not take hold among in our own Muslim communities—and we must do so in a way that respects diversity and civil liberties and avoids practices like racial profiling against both Arabs and Muslims. We must encourage American Muslim participation in public life. As president, Edwards will work toward these goals with new resources to engage the American Muslim community, empower local mosques to counter extremist ideas, and work hand-in-hand with Muslim communities to identify and isolate threats before they materialize.
- Make our domestic agencies as effective as possible
A recent report revealed that if our agencies had cooperated better before 9/11, the attacks could possibly have been prevented. We have recently taken some steps to correct the flawed system that failed to uncover the 9/11 attacks. But we must do more. As president, Edwards will hold the Director of National Intelligence accountable for taking concrete steps to integrate and transform our intelligence community. And Edwards will strengthen cooperation between federal, state and local agencies on domestic threats by creating a Deputy Director of National Intelligence responsible for coordinating information-sharing and joint operations between federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. [CIA OIG, 2007]
- Achieving energy independence
Reducing our reliance on oil from instable parts of the world will force Middle Eastern regimes to diversify their economies and modernize their societies. Fighting global climate change will reduce global disruptions that could lead to tens of millions of refugees and create massive new breeding grounds for desperation and radicalism. As president, Edwards will lead an effort to achieve energy independence through creating a new energy economy fund, investing in renewable energy, transforming the auto industry through higher fuel economy standards and innovation, and opening the electricity grid to competition.
Energy and the Enviornment
The Edwards Plan halts global warming, achieves energy independence and jumpstarts a new energy economy by:
• Capping greenhouse gas pollution starting in 2010 with a cap-and-trade system, and reducing it by 15 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, as the latest science says is needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
• Leading the world to a new climate treaty that commits other countries—including developing nations—to reduce their pollution. Edwards will insist that developing countries join us in this effort, offering to share new clean energy technology and, if necessary, using trade agreements to require binding greenhouse reductions.
• Creating a New Energy Economy Fund by auctioning off $10 billion in greenhouse pollution permits and repealing subsidies for big oil companies. The fund will support U.S. research and development in energy technology, help entrepreneurs start new businesses, invest in new carbon-capture and efficient automobile technology and help Americans conserve energy.
• Meeting the demand for more electricity through efficiency for the next decade, instead of producing more electricity.
John Edwards proposed what he refers to as smart trade policies: insisting on pro-worker provisions in new deals, holding trade partners to their commitments, investing more in dislocated workers and communities, and ensuring that imports are safe. He believes that the U.S. should not enter any new trade deals that do not meet these tests. His agenda is based upon three principles:
• Help Workers as Well as Corporations: Trade agreements like NAFTA and the WTO include special privileges for corporations, such as strong remedies for commercial rights and unprecedented rights to challenge environmental and health laws. Edwards believes that trade agreements should be judged by their effect on regular families and include strong rights for workers.
• Lift Up Families Around the World: Building the global middle class will promote balanced trade relationships and, by reducing poverty, make us safer and more secure. Edwards supports trade and foreign aid to ensure that workers around the world share in the gains from trade.
• Build on Other Efforts to Share Prosperity: Trade policy alone will not address the needs of American workers. As president, Edwards will also lead the country toward universal health care, better schools, stronger unions, and investments in innovation and skills to improve competitiveness and create new jobs in industries like clean energy and the life sciences.
More specifically, Edwards deals with the current account deficit exceeded $850 billion in 2006, which is 6.5 percent of our economy. An estimated 5 million jobs have been sent offshore under President Bush, and economist Alan Blinder estimates that 30 million to 40 million jobs are potential candidates to be sent offshore in the coming decades. Even when jobs are not moved offshore, competition from cheap labor overseas holds down wages and benefits in the United States. [MarketWatch, 3/14/2007; Wash. Post, 5/6/2007]
• Be a Tough Negotiator, Unafraid to Reject Bad Deals: The American position in trade negotiations has been formulated behind closed doors with help from corporate lobbyists. Under the “fast track” procedure, Congress could not amend the resulting deals. Not surprisingly, trade deals include special privileges for American multinational corporations but not protections for worker rights. For example, while the core NAFTA agreement failed to include any labor standards, its Chapter 11 gave corporations sweeping rights to challenge national laws in secretive tribunals, putting investor profits ahead of American sovereignty and protections for health and the environment.
o Insist on Benefits for Regular Families: Edwards believes that the true test of a trade deal is not its reception on Wall Street or contribution to the gross domestic product. Instead, his primary criterion for new trade deals will be simple: considering its impact on jobs, wages and prices, will it make most families better off? He rejects President Bush’s use of trade agreements to encourage countries to support his foreign policy, rather than to strengthen our economy.
o Demand Strong Labor Laws: Many overseas workers work 12 to 16 hours a day in dangerous conditions for poverty wages, without the right to form an independent union. Requiring our trade partners to adopt and enforce basic workers’ rights will prevent a global race to the bottom and help build a global middle class. Edwards believes that all of our trade partners should be required to enforce at least the core labor rights defined by the International Labor Organization: the right to organize and bargain collectively and prohibitions against forced labor, child labor, and discrimination. Edwards will pursue these goals through linkage to U.S. trade preference programs, any new bilateral trade agreements, and future World Trade Organization negotiations.
o Require Environmental Standards: Edwards supports strong environmental standards so multinational companies cannot profit by exploiting weak environmental laws and enforcement in some countries. For example, after the U.S. has capped its greenhouse gas pollution as Edwards proposes, trade policy could be used to encourage similar commitments by other nations.
o Fight Currency Manipulation: Some of our trading partners intentionally manipulate their currencies to keep the price of their exports low, putting American businesses at a great disadvantage. Edwards believes that other nations like China and Japan must make meaningful progress toward ending currency manipulation. Future deals must include strong, clear language on impermissible currency practices. Edwards will also make it easier for the Department of the Treasury to act against unfair trade practices by removing the intent requirement and allowing a range of responses, such as suspending government purchases from the foreign country to taking a case directly to the WTO.
• Demand a Level Playing Field for Trade: America’s trade with the world has accelerated greatly in the past 15 years. Technology reduced the cost of trading goods and services, large countries like China, India and the former Soviet bloc joined world markets, and the U.S. cut its average tariff in half. In that time, imports have increased by more than 50 percent as a share of our economy and our leaders in Washington have failed to ensure that overseas markets are open and that American workers and companies can compete on fair terms. [ITC, 2006; BEA, 2007]
o Prosecute Violations of Trade Deals: Too often, Washington has looked the other way while other countries have broken trade laws and failed to live up to their commitments to open markets to U.S. goods. The U.S. Trade Representative is currently responsible for enforcement, but often neglects trade deals as soon as the ink dries. As a result, trade violations like subsidies are overlooked, unsafe products enter the country, intellectual property is pirated, and goods are counterfeited. Edwards will assign top prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice to the job of enforcing trade laws, including the stronger labor and environment standards he will negotiate. He will also go after illegal trade subsidies and insist that China and other countries move toward ending manipulation of their currencies, seeking WTO sanctions if necessary.
o Eliminate Tax Incentives to Move Offshore: The U.S. tax code encourages multinational corporations to invest overseas by allowing them to indefinitely defer taxation on their foreign profits. A recent $90 billion “tax holiday” for multinational corporations failed to create jobs, as President Bush promised, and many of these companies laid off employees instead. The effective tax rate on foreign non-financial income is less than 5 percent, which is well below the U.S. statutory rate of 35 percent. In some cases corporations actually receive subsidies to invest overseas through a “negative tax.” Edwards will eliminate the benefit of deferral in low-tax countries, ensuring that American companies’ profits are taxed when earned at either the U.S. rate or by a foreign country at a comparable rate. [NYT, 7/27/2007, Grubert and Mutti, 2002; Altshuler and Grubert, 2001; Treasury, 2000]
• Revamp Trade Assistance to Help Dislocated Workers and Communities: The economic upheaval of globalization is no longer limited to certain jobs or communities. American workers today are more likely to lose their jobs, look longer for a new one, and then take a significant pay cut. Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) helps only a select group of manufacturing workers and unemployment insurance (UI) fails to help most unemployed workers. [EPI, 2007; Blinder, 2006; NELP, 2007]
o Create a New “Training Works” Initiative Tied to High-Wage Jobs: While training alone is no substitute for good trade policies, we must do more to help workers get skills and move ahead in their careers. Edwards will make an aggressive, multi-pronged effort to help workers advance by:
Building career ladders that help low-wage workers gain skills and move up into well-paying jobs that can support their families. Edwards will support industry labor-management partnerships that work with community colleges and educators in industries like health care and manufacturing to expand opportunities for tailored, industry-specific training.
Supporting quality on-the-job and customized training for responsible businesses that agree to hire and train previously jobless workers.
Extending unemployment benefits to allow workers to enroll in long-term, quality training.
Supporting unemployed workers who have promising business ideas with entrepreneur grants, mentoring, and continuing unemployment benefits through the business start-up phase.
Investing in trained, professional career counselors, which is a proven, cost-effective approach to helping workers identify quality job and training opportunities.
o Help Communities Recover from Mass Layoffs: When communities lose a major employer, there is a predictable downward spiral: retailers lose customers, home foreclosures depress property values, and falling tax receipts force cuts in public services. For too long, the federal government has stood by while plant closings devastate entire towns. And yet, which communities will struggle under new trade deals is usually predictable. Edwards will require the independent U.S. International Trade Commission to study which communities will face stiffer competition under new trade deals. When a plant closing appears imminent, Edwards will immediately deploy technical assistance and recovery specialists to work with affected employers, unions and local officials just as the government does for areas facing a military base closing. New resources will be available for shoring up the local tax base, attracting new family-sustaining jobs, and helping local businesses expand.
o Strengthen the Safety Net for Workers Who Lose Their Jobs: Our unemployment insurance program has not been improved in over 70 years. Americans today are more likely to lose their jobs and less likely to receive unemployment benefits. TAA excludes millions of service workers facing trade-related competition. Edwards will help states provide UI coverage to 500,000 more workers a year, particularly low-wage and part-time workers. He will help the long-term unemployed by creating a standard 26-week extended benefit and expanding options for benefits during job training. He will also expand TAA’s extended unemployment insurance and training benefit to all workers dislocated by globalization, regardless of their industry, making an estimated 600,000 workers a year eligible. Edwards’ universal health care plan will ensure that workers who lose their jobs will not lose their health insurance. [EPI, 2003; CBPP and EPI, 2002; Rosen, 2007; NELP, 2006]
While the tax code favors wealth over work, regular families struggle to save and pay for necessities like child care. Only 27 percent of households within 20 years of retirement have adequate retirement savings. Child care costs more than rent for a family with two children. A single worker at the poverty line pays more than $800 in federal income and payroll taxes. [EPI, 2006; NACCRRA, 2006; CBPP, 2006]
Edwards will overhaul the tax code with new tax breaks to strengthen the middle-class pillars of saving, work, and family:
• Savings: A new “Get Ahead” tax credit to match up to $500 a year in savings for families earning up to $75,000—that could be used for retirement, college education, buying a home, investing in a small business or during a financial or medical emergency, and new “Work Bonds” to offer additional targeted savings incentives for low-income families. The credit will be refundable to benefit low-income families and the size of the credit will be reduced for families with higher incomes. All families earning up to $75,000 will be eligible.
• Families: Expand the Child Care Credit to pay up to 50 percent of child and dependent care expenses up to $5,000 and make it partially refundable, and allow stay-at-home parents to help pay for child care for newborn infants.
• Work: Triple the Earned Income Tax Credit for single adults and cut the marriage penalty.
Nothing better reflects the problems with our tax code than the lower tax rates for capital gains. As Warren Buffett says, there is something wrong when he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. As president, Edwards will:
• Raise the tax rate on capital gains to 28 percent for the most fortunate taxpayers – taxing the investment income of the wealthiest Americans similarly to the wages of the middle class.
• Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the highest-income households and keep the tax on very large estates (above $4 million for couples).
• Declare war on offshore tax havens by cracking down on tax shelter promoters, cooperating with allies to fight tax havens, and closing the “tax gap” by improving IRS customer service, simplifying tax filing, auditing more large corporations and high-income individuals and requiring more third-party reporting.
• Close unfair loopholes like the tax breaks for hedge funds and private equity fund managers and unlimited executive pensions.
On all of these issues, I believe that John Edwards is on the right side of the debate. Moreover, he has issued plans to address many of the problems we have with detail and candor. My final words- John Edwards for President!