Ten goals for America

Prepared for Howard Dean

Here's my simplified version for public consumption (the actual goals would have dates and numbers/percentages)

  • Reduce our dependence on foreign oil
  • Balance the budget
  • Pull out of Iraq
  • Restart the economy
  • Provide health coverage for every citizen
  • Provide our public schools the resources and incentives to be the best in the world
  • Make the world a safer place
  • Significantly reduce the amount of air and water pollution every year
  • Change the way we fund elections so that people running for office can be judged on their ability to serve the people who elected them, and not on their ability to raise money

Here's another version:

  • Reduce our dependence on foreign oil 
  • Pull all our troops out of Iraq and establish a new foreign policy that is based on peace and international cooperation rather than colonizing nations and hunting down every terrorist
  • Create 5M new jobs 
  • Restore every one of the 520 environmental protections that were eliminated under the Bush administration
  • Join with other nations in support of agreements that reduce the threat of global warming
  • Provide the resources and incentives our schools need to be the best in the world
  • Reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the US and worldwide
  • Balance the federal budget so that we won't have to raise taxes or cut services
  • Provide health coverage for every working American and their family
  • Change the way we fund elections so that people running for office can be judged on their ability to serve the people who elected them, and not on their ability to raise money
  • Ensure that there is adequate funding for Social Security

Here's the detail:

Area Energy
Vision An America powered 100% from clean, renewable domestic energy sources
Top Goal Reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 20% from 2000 levels by the year 2020.
Key strategies I will name a nonpartisan panel of our top 10 energy experts and task them with putting together a practical business plan on the best way to achieve this goal. I will then implement the programs and policies that the panel comes up with through executive order and legislation in Congress. 

Key elements of the strategy will include incentives to increase efficiency (such as incentives for purchasing hybrid vehicles) and placing a big bet on hydrogen technology, rather than spreading our focus. I will also establish a $1B reward fund for any US auto manufacturer that sells more than 25,000 hydrogen fueled zero-emission vehicles by 2010. After all, isn't it time we started investing in our infrastructure, instead of Iraq's? By picking a single technology, we can focus our efforts in a single direction, rather than scattering our resources in many directions and not getting much done in any single direction. That's not to say that we won't continue to explore alternative energy sources; we will. But 95% of our energies will be focused on reducing our dependence on foreign oil today through efficiency and moving to a hydrogen economy as quickly as we can economically do so. It's a strategic bet and the one that is the most promising at this point in time.

vs. Bush We couldn't be more opposite. Bush is increasing our dependence on foreign oil by providing tax incentives for businesses to buy the most fuel inefficient cars available today. I want to decrease it by eliminating the government incentives to be inefficient and instead provide incentives for the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles. I want to move to technologies that will clean up our air; President Bush wants to incentivize technologies such as clean coal that will make our air quality worse than it is today. Under Bush's plan for supplying oil from ever increasingly expensive domestic sources, gas prices will rise. Under my plan, demand for oil will fall and prices will fall. So if you want dirtier air, higher gas prices, and you want to help support Arab nations that fund terrorist groups, you want to vote for Bush. But if you want cleaner air, lower gas prices, and $100 billion invested in building America's energy infrastructure instead of Iraq's, then you should vote for me. If you want to see the government create American jobs in America, you should vote for me. If you think America should be focused on helping Iraq, vote for him.
Commentary This is a much more sensible approach than what do today. Today we don't have a goal. Without a goal, there can be no plan. Without a plan, you get nowhere. The current "energy bill" is a patchwork of pork projects with no coordinated or articulated goal that Congress can be held accountable to. Cheney's energy task force produced a document without a single energy goal. The wrong people were involved: politicians instead of subject matter experts. 

Why we don't put our best minds to come up with a plan and implement it is a mystery to me. If we believe in the goal, this is the way to achieve it. If we don't believe in the goal, then what we are doing now (pork barrel politics) is just fine. 

But we should not be inconsistent like we are now...everyone talks about reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but nobody has taken the first logical step to get there, namely, define the short term goal and task the best minds in America to tell us how to achieve it.


Area National security
Vision An America where we can feel safe in our homes and in our communities
Top Goal Reduce the hostility foreign nations have towards us by at least 50% by 2008 as measured by "sentiment" polls in foreign countries
Key strategies The more we fight the terrorists, the madder they become, and the worse the problem becomes. It's a death spiral. 

If we want to fight terrorism, we have to look at the cause, not the symptom. The cause of terrorism is that a lot of people don't like us. This is not one or two people. This is a lot of people. They feel so strongly that they are willing to spend hundreds of million of dollars and sacrifice their lives. At a minimum, we have to do is stop acting in a way that is offensive to the world community and start acting in a way that is supportive friendly and helpful to other nations so that they want to work with us, rather than being forced to work with us.

Let's take Iraq for example. Turn the tables for a second. Suppose Saddam Hussein invaded the US and chased President Bush out of the country and then said Iraq was in control of our government and refused to turn over control to the UN. Now does anyone in this room think that there wouldn't be terrorism? Of course there would be. And it would be far worse than it was before the invasion. And that's exactly what we have today...more and more Americans being killed every day in Iraq. A situation that is far worse than it was before we "fixed" the problem and a situation that is getting worse every day, not better. Extrapolate it out. That's our future under Bush...more and more people killed by terrorism each and every day. That's the path he's leading us. It's very clear.

We need to turn over to the UN and to Iraqi people. We need to focus on partnership and friendship with other countries. We should be a good guest and enter a country when we are invited, and leave when we are asked to leave. We should meet with our enemies and at least try to understand what they are trying to achieve and why and to explore what we can do to work together instead of killing each other. We need to start with a dialog with our adversaries, not an escalation of forces.

vs. Bush We couldn't be more opposite. Bush wants to fight the symptoms of terrorism, and it has the side effect of making things worse. I want to fight the causes of terrorism. So if you want to live in fear for the rest of your life, vote for Bush. If you want to put an end to this nonsense, I need your vote.

Look at  Israel, for example. There is a terrorist incident almost every single day. Is that the kind of future we want for our nation? That's the direction we're headed under Bush. If you want to live that way, support Bush. If you want to take our country back, vote for me.

Commentary Bush has completely misinterpreted the key lessons of 911. The lessons of 911 is that you can never stop terrorism. If you act in a way that is belligerent, there will always be a way for people to express that anger no matter what you do to stop them. That was the lesson of 911; despite all the airport security we had over the years, we are still vulnerable. Increasing security is only marginally effective. Your best defense is to change the way you treat people.

Let's take the Hatfields and the McCoys. Say we're the Hatfields. Should we spend our time plotting on how to eliminate the McCoys? That's exactly what Bush is doing. Do you really think that will work. I don't.

I'd like to have a dialog with our attackers. I'd like to find out why so many people are so mad at us they are willing to sacrifice their lives to kill us. And I'd like to spend a lot of time exploring alternatives. Is that "negotiating with terrorists"? It would be if it were a single person. But there are a lot of people who do not like us. We need to understand and listen to them. That's the first step. We can then make intelligent choices based on what we hear.