A Common Sense Approach: Here’s What I Wish Our Presidential Candidates Were Promising To Do

dept-of-common-senseWhat bothers me the most about primary season are the lies and unrealistic promises that are often told. It’s candidates saying and doing anything they feel gives them the best chance at getting their party’s nomination. Bold promises are made, usually with no realistic plan as to how they would actually accomplish these lofty goals.

It saddens me that the word “compromise” has suddenly become a bad word in politics. If our government gets to a point where it’s only comprised of far-left or far-right ideological fundamentalists, we’re doomed.

But that also takes an American public willing to be happy with winning some battles and losing others with the understanding that getting 70% of what you want around half the time is better than getting almost nothing of what you want almost all the time. That’s essentially the system we have now.

So, I thought I would list a few stances I would take as a candidate if I were running for president. Not that I would ever want to run (in fact, that’s a “hell no”), but you tell me what you think. Personally, I think it’s time we start discussing real solutions that address some of the concerns by both sides, which is the only way I think we’ll ever improve this nation.

Health Care: This is an area where I really don’t see a “compromise” – this nation needs universal health care. We’re just about the only developed country on the planet without it. While some champion the United States as a country that provides “the best health care in the world,” that title is meaningless if people can’t afford that care. And the truth is, if our health care was really “the best,” we would be leading the world in average life expectancy, but we’re not. And we’re not even close to the top.

There’s no reason why this nation can’t provide universal health care for everyone with an option for people to purchase private insurance if they want. Seems like a win-win to me.

Prison Reform: I would push for a complete reversal of the absurd private prison system. It’s absolutely insane that we have for-profit companies running some of our prisons. The goal of any nation should be to have a prison population of zero – not to create prisons that require capacity levels to be deemed “profitable.”

Not only that, but we must stop treating addicts like criminals. It’s ridiculous we’re ruining people’s lives because of drug addiction. Putting someone behind bars because they’re struggling to overcome a psychological addictive disorder to substances makes absolutely zero sense. Think about how much taxpayer money we could save by helping these people become productive members of society by investing in programs that help them overcome and fight their addictions. We need to help turn these people into success stories to inspire others – not life-long statistics within our prison system.

Student Loan and Education Reform: It is insane that someone can be found guilty of tax evasion and have an easier path getting out from underneath that than a hardworking individual struggling to pay off their student loans. We need to stop allowing the government to profit off the backs of students taking out government loans to get an education. It’s ludicrous that these loans are relentless and nearly impossible to get out from under. Someone can pay for 5 years flawlessly, fall on hard times for a year or two, unable to make payments, and because of interest rates they could almost end up right back at square one.

I say we offer a program that lets students forgive a certain percentage of their debt (say 60%) while consolidating the remaining amount into an agreed upon payment plan with the government at an interest rate of around 2.5% to help cover the costs of running the program itself.

However, I’m actually not in favor of “free college for all.” I believe community college should be free with reforms to keep the cost of public universities at much more reasonable levels. I think if someone knows they have some sort of financial investment in school they’ll value it more and are much more likely to take it seriously. Giving someone two years to prove they’re committed to getting an education not only opens the door for many Americans to attend school who wouldn’t have been able to afford it otherwise, but the lessened fear of graduating with crippling debt, I believe, will also serve as a motivating factor for more people to attempt to get a four-year degree.

But at the very least, more Americans would have access to two-year degree programs where they could learn some sort of skill or trade that can help them find better jobs and stay off government programs.

And we can all agree that fewer Americans on welfare is a good thing, right?

Welfare Reform: We don’t need cuts to programs, we need reform. Simply by implementing common sense reforms we’ll end up spending less on these programs. I believe we need more oversight concerning who’s getting these benefits and verifying that they’re only using them until they find a job – not as a way to simply live off the government. But we also have to create better programs to help those on government benefits get jobs; we need to provide daycare for impoverished parents who want to work but can’t afford daycare; and help these people find reliable means of transportation so when they find a job they have a way to get there.

If we cut out the abuses and get serious about helping people find gainful employment, that will save taxpayers billions.

Immigration: I fully support providing a path for citizenship for those who are already here and in good standing. But we also need to streamline and simplify our immigration system so it encourages people to come here legally. Though on the other side of it, I’m in favor of beefing up border security and installing a provision in any immigration reform package that states this is the last time we do this.

Taxes: While I think tax rates on the rich should be around 45%, that does us absolutely no good if there are so many loopholes in our tax code that many individuals and large corporations almost never pay what they’re supposed to. While Bernie Sanders often champions raising taxes as his solution to just about everything, I think closing tax loopholes is far more important. We could keep rates exactly where they are right now, but drastically increase the revenue coming into this country, simply by eliminating these accounting tricks that are often used by the rich and big corporations to avoid paying the tax rate that they’re supposed to pay.

I’m also in favor of setting up incentives and offering tax breaks for companies that show they’ve invested a good chunk of their revenue into creating more jobs, bringing jobs previously sent overseas back to the U.S. and increasing wages. I have no problems giving companies tax breaks when they’re actually using them to create jobs and increase wages.

Tax cuts create jobs, you say? I say let’s make these companies prove they’re going to create jobs, then give them their tax breaks.

Alright, I’m stopping it there. In fact, I think I’ll do a “Part 2” eventually to address several other issues I didn’t get to in this one such as war, guns, veterans, the minimum wage, the homeless, and entitlement programs.

But I would like to hear from everyone as to what issues they would like me to address, so hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know which topics you think should be included. I’ll do my best to include as many as I can.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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