What's Next . . .
Democrats Have "No Excuses Now"
The Democrats won big for the same reasons my Green vote went up. The voters want a full withdrawal from Iraq, a national health plan, an energy policy focused on clean, renewable energy sources, and an economic program that creates good jobs and a bottom-up economic recovery for the working class majority. That is now the Democrats' mandate. Granted, it was the same mandate they got from the voters two years ago and nothing changed. But they now control the presidency as well as both houses of Congress. And they also now control the governorship and both houses in New York State. The Democrats can't blame the Republicans any longer for failing to bring about the changes the people want. They have no excuses now.
Voters across America voted today for change. But the changes they want were not the changes the Democrats actually promised when you look beyond the their vague slogans to the specifics in their platform and policy proposals. The Democrats promise a partial, not a full withdrawal from Iraq, and escalation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Just as Clinton did in 1993, the Democrats plan to expand health coverage relies on public subsidies for private health insurance that will end up channeling more money and power to the insurance and drug companies and more costs to the taxpayers. Despite all their lip service to renewable energy, the Democrats have not committed to ending public subsidies for the incumbent coal, oil, and nuclear industries. Obama and Biden have repeatedly stated in recent weeks that the fiscal crisis of the federal government means they will have to slow down and cut back on their modest domestic reform program. However, they remain committed to the costly proposition of expanding the armed forces and the military budget. And they helped fast track and ram through the Wall Street bailout that has done nothing to combat the recession we are in but has definitely emptied out the treasury before they even take office.
We are extremely doubtful the Democrats will follow through on their mandate given how they have consistently rolled over for financial elites and the military-industrial complex on everything from the Patriot Act and the Iraq War early in the Bush administration to warrantless wiretapping, telecom immunity, and the Wall Street bailouts in the last few months. The record of the Democrats is to take the peace, environmental, and working class vote for granted and turn a deaf ear to those voters once the election is over. Barack Obama, Dan Maffei, and the Democrats need to remember that the voters want peace, economic security, and environmental sanity, not more bailouts, tax cuts and other corporate welfare for their rich contributors.
I'm afraid that we have already seen the first retreat by Obama and the Democrats from the voters' mandate for universal health care. Obama and his advisors are already saying that universal health care will be too expensive, that the best we can afford is incremental expansion of coverage in light of the fiscal crisis. But the reality is that the fiscal crisis means we cannot afford anything but a single payer health plan. We can afford health care for all if we are willing to eliminate the vast sums of money wasted by our system of private for profit health insurance. It will save us money, not add to our deficits. The rest of the world understands that a single payer health care system is the most cost effective way to provide quality health care for all its citizens. The US already spends more money per capita on health care through Medicare and Medicaid than any other country. The main difference is that the rest of the industrial countries cover everyone through an efficient single public payer and have far better health care outcomes as a result of universal coverage. The only issue is whether Obama and the Democrats will put the needs of the average voter ahead of the needs of the insurance industry and drug companies that have filled their campaign coffers.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be watchdogging. We will be organizing. We will be speaking out. We will be pushing the Democrats to follow through on the voters' mandate for peace, health care, clean energy, and jobs and economic recovery. And if they fail as we expect, we will be back with independent Green candidates to challenge them in the next election.
The basic issue is whether Congress will begin to support average people or continue to look after the interests of the super-rich and the giant corporations.
I will be an independent voice in Congress who challenges the bipartisan consensus for pro-corporate economic and imperial foreign policies and who fights for the interests of average people, starting with the four top priorities outlined below.
Howie Hawkins, Green Populist candidate for Congress, 25th District, New York
The US has no right to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan for oil, gas, and military bases.
Immediately cease US combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and threats of an attack on Iran. Bring home ALL US military forces and corporate mercenaries on a six-month timetable from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other states of the region.
Stop the covert war in Iran and the threats of economic blockade and air strikes. Iran poses no threat to America unless US aggression forces Iran into a wider Middle East regional war.
Howie Hawkins supports HR 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act, (Expanded and Improved Medicare For All), a bill in Congress with 70 sponsors. Democrat Dan Maffei and Republican Dale Sweetland do not.
HR 676 provides for publicly financed and privately delivered health care for all, with free choice of doctors and hospitals by patients and comprehensive coverage of all medical services, at less cost to working people and society than our existing "pay or die system of private insurance.
It's time for Congress to finally act upon FDR's 1944 appeal for an Economic Bill of Rights that will guarantee economic security for all Americans. It should include the right to a job at a living wage or a guaranteed income above poverty, Social Security, secure pensions for all workers, free full-coverage health care, free public education from Head Start through college, and affordable housing, transportation, and energy.
It's time for Economic Populism: fair trade, progressive taxation, unions, cooperatives, prosecution of corporate crime, real regulation and transparency of financial markets, democratizing the Federal Reserve, taxes on speculation and pollution, and social investment in public services and infrastructure.
It's time to for a new industrial policy that redirects public investment from the permanent war economy and from financial speculation by the super-rich and the giant banks to rebuilding the real economy of manufacturing, agriculture, and services, starting with Building a Sustainable Green Infrastructure, including renewable energy, mass transit, freight and passenger railroads, and green buildings, for jobs and economic recovery, energy security, and climate protection.
Reassert Congressional war powers and oversight responsibilities. Restore habeas corpus. End phone and email spying on law-abiding citizens, secret detentions, arrests without charges, secret "evidence, no access to lawyers, military tribunals for civilians, and renditions for torture at "black sites. Prosecute President Bush and other administration officials responsible for war crimes, torture, illegal domestic spying, obstruction of justice, and other crimes against the Constitution and laws of the United States. Our democracy is at stake: failure to prosecute will give future presidents license to commit further lies, crimes, and seizures of unconstitutional powers.