Goal ideas

By Steve Kirsch  (650) 279-1008  stk@propel.com
November 20, 2002
Version 1


  • concepts for vision, goals
  • background reading

< this document is a work in progress>


Overall Democratic mission/vision

"They're for the powerful, we're for the people"

Vision "working to promote a better future for America"

"giving everyone in America the tools to compete and thrive in the new economy"

A better future for all Americans. We want to make solid progress in each of the 10 key areas described below by setting specific, sensible, meaningful, and achievable goals, enlisting non partisan experts panels to develop credible business plans to achieve the goals, and then executing those business plans.

Alternatively, it could be "the highest standard of living of any place on the planet" or something like that.

The main point is that the vision is one of a future that people perceive as a better alternative than the present. 

This contrasts sharply with what Republicans offer which is "less government regulation, pro-business, pro-rich, pro-aggression, anti-abortion, focus only on job in the present and don't worry about tomorrow because deficits and environmental devastation won't really happen" In short, they don't care if the quality of life of the average person gets worse, so long as they make it easier for businesses and the rich. The environment is completely expendable. Guns for everyone. No goals for anything (except the tax cut) so no accountability, but prioritize the creation of large government bureaucracies (Dept of Homeland Security which is just a smokescreen that will just put the government in disarray) as America's top priority.

We are concerned about the quality of life over your lifetime. They care about the quality of life of businesses and the rich today and there is no long term thinking, no long term goals. They are party today and don't worry about tomorrow. That's the difference. 

We are "business friendly" but in a responsible way that protects the public. We don't support a USDA that allows businesses to sell contaminated meat to our public school cafeterias. They do. We support tighter corporate accountability. They didn't until recently and now only marginally as they continue to appoint business friendly people to the SEC.

Our view of Bush's approach Bush is a failure as a leader. A leader sets goals in key areas and drives the creation and execution of strategies that can achieve the goals.

For example, can you tell me what the goal for education is? This was the #1 most important problem in America Bush said during the campaign. He also said he believes in accountability. So shouldn't we hold him accountable for not even coming up with a single goal he wants to achieve? "Testing" isn't a goal; it's a strategy for measuring whether you've achieved a goal. And "No child left behind" isn't a goal. It's a slogan. In short, the emperor has no goals.

In all the 10 areas listed below, we have no goal. Without a goal, you can't develop a strategy. So you get nowhere. No improvement.  And these are the 10 most important things to Americans.

America deserves better. America deserves a leader who can set stretch goals for America and hold himself accountable for achieving measurable improvement in the quality of our lives.

We have no goal for education. We just have a "testing" mandate. But what are we trying to achieve? Better test scores? By how much and by when? And how do we expect schools to magically improve?

We had a Cheney energy task force. But there wasn't any goal that came out of the report. Not a single one. Just a set of recommendations. Shouldn't we have said "We're going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 20% by 2020 and here's how...?" Bush says we should drill in Alaska, but if the problem is oil dependency, drilling in Alaska isn't a very good solution. So he just advocates solutions without thinking whether the solution achieves the goal.

Bush's vision for America is keeping taxes low even at the cost of economic disaster and unprecedented deficits, protecting the rights of your own stem cells over your right to life, securing America against terrorist attacks by aggressive use of force and increased defense spending, and allowing people to take risks with their retirement money. In his campaign, education was the most important thing in America, yet he cut the budget for his own education bill and due to his own tax cut, he cannot fund the education programs (such as special education) that the government mandates. He has no goals for education, energy, the environment, etc. His policies are consistent with protecting the wealthy and big business at the expense of the economy, your health (e.g., USDA rollbacks, environmental rollbacks), your security (e.g., privatizing social security).

Now the GOP has total control, they have total responsibility to fix the economy, win the Iraq war, defeat terrorism, fix education, figure out health care etc. They have two years to do it and if in two years America finds itself w/ a still faltering economy , a quagmire in Iraq, higher uninsured rates, higher unemployment....they'll have no one to blame but themselves and Bush will pay the price when he runs for re-election. Maybe this total GOP dominance will crystalize the issues for Americans, make the choices starker and force the Democrats to be more cohesive and present bolder alternatives. I think our job in the next two years is to educate Americans, to open their eyes to what Bush/GOP policies really mean to their lives every single day ---not esoteric, "whither America" issues, but solid ones like whether their children being sent to war, whether their food and water is safe to consume, whether they can afford to retire, whether older Americans have to choose between paying their electric bills or paying for critical heart medication.

No more change in taxes, America at constant war, economic and social disaster. In a nutshell, that's what Bush gave  you. Is that what you wanted?

Political reform

Vision Restore the integrity of the political system by enacting real campaign finance reform. Members of Congress are supposed to represent the best interests of the people they represent, not the people who fund their campaign. This is by far the most important goal to achieve since it affects all issues before Congress. In 2002, Just over 95 percent of U.S. House races and 75 percent of Senate races were won by the candidate who spent the most money, the Center for Responsive Politics found. We are supposed to elect the best candidate who can do the job, not the one who is the best fundraiser.

Paul Wellstone said:

"I start with the premise that political democracy has several basic requirements: First, free and fair elections. It is hard to argue plausibly that we have them now. That's why people stay home on election day, why they don't participate in the process. Incumbents outspend challengers 8 or 10-1, and special interests buy access to Congress itself, all of which warps and distorts the democratic process. Second, the consent of the people. The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power. Government must remain the domain of the general citizenry, not a narrow elite. Third, political equality. Everyone must have equal opportunity to participate in the process of government. This means that the values and preferences of all citizens, not just those who can get our attention by waving large campaign contributions in front of us, must be considered in the political debate. One person, one vote--no more and no less--the most fundamental of democratic principles. Each of these principles is undermined by our current system, funded largely through huge private contributions. Contributions that come with their own price tag attached--greater access and special consideration when push comes to shove. It's time for real reform. " (April 5, 2001)

Goals In 2005 or before, Pass a bill in Congress providing for Public financing of elections for members of Congress and the President similar to the clean money bills that have been passed in several states.
Key strategies  
Our view of Bush's approach He'll never support this. But we may have a great opening... from an email:

Interesting comment from Nick about consistent liabilities between Hutchinson (who Reform Voter Project helped to defeat) and George W. You may want to follow-up since you're looking at an overall strategy to defeat Bush. Best bet is to start with Nick since RVP is part of Public Campaign.


Goals Government Investment in building America's infrastructure including schools, etc. 
Key strategies new corporate malfeasance laws needed?
Our view of Bush's approach What was their plan for fixing the economy? tax cuts don't do it since we had the best economy when taxes were increased. Interest rate cut didn't do it either. What was their strategy? Prayer?

Are you better off now, than you were 4 years ago?

It's so bad, the fed cut the interest rate to the lowest level in 41 years. <insert stats from our mainstreet ad> The Republicans have no goals for the economy and no credible plan to revive it. Can we afford that?

From the New Republic:

A second, related critique is that the Democrats failed to articulate an alternative economic program. But that simply isn't true. It was Democrats who originated the idea of a tax rebate in 2001. Democrats also favored a second rebate and a temporary tax credit to encourage business investment. Last winter, the Democrats tried to use their economic stimulus plan in a straight-up fight with Bush over reviving the economy. Instead, the debate ended up being solely about Bush's proposal, which consisted of long-term business tax cuts that offered virtually no immediate economic relief. Bush and congressional Republicans lambasted Democrats for failing to support their plan, and, after Democrats saw their public approval ratings drop precipitously, they submitted ignominiously.

Edwards Offers Economic Plan, Warns of Deficits, The Washington Post, November 13 
Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) warned that "out-of-control deficits" in Washington threaten the country's long-term economic prospects and said restoring fiscal discipline will require scaling back both President Bush's tax cuts and Democrats' desire to spend more money.  (
article online)


National security

Key strategies  
Our view of Bush's approach If we don't support governments who support terrorists, then why are we doing business with Saudi Arabia?


Vision Best education system in the world.
Goals Improve achievement by 10% for high achievement, 20% for medium achievement, and 30% for low achievement students within 10 years.
Key strategies Incentive schools to involve parents (as in our DoD schools).

Incentive states to follow the policies adopted in Connecticut which proved it can be done. We should copy what works, not reinvent the wheel.

Our view of Bush's approach Why isn't there a filibuster in the Senate like this:

We seem to forget why people elect us. They don't elect us to pass legislation like the Ed bill and then not fund it so the net effect is zero progress. They don't elect us to come up with cute campaign slogans like "no child left behind" and then don't do anything to deliver on that.

President Bush said in his campaign that 1) education is #1 most important thing in America and 2) government must be held accountable.

We must support the President here and hold him accountable. He wants to cut your taxes but not fund education. He must be held accountable. 

If he's for education, why did he cut his own education bill? And why did the Republicans refuse to approve the expenditures authorized in the education bill?

Can you tell me what the goal for education is? This was the #1 most important problem in America Bush said during the campaign. He also said he believes in accountability. So shouldn't we hold him accountable for not even coming up with a single goal he wants to achieve? "Testing" isn't a goal; it's a strategy for measuring whether you've achieved a goal. And "No child left behind" isn't a goal. It's a slogan. In short, the emperor has no goals.

How do we expect to make progress on this important issue if we have no goals that the President is willing to be accountable for?

Until we fully fund the education bill Bush wanted, until we fix up our schools so that no child is left behind, like Bush promised, until we complete the war on terrorism as Bush promised and build up enough money in the treasury so we can afford to do so, until we do all of these things we must do, we cannot cut taxes.

Focus on accountability doesn't produce better results. In fact, TASP scores dropped dramatically under Bush because teachers focused on teaching to the test.


Vision Government must have enough funds to get the job done that America needs to get done. We are in favor of short-term, egalitarian tax cuts when necessary to bolster consumer spending but against a long-term, upper-bracket tax cut such as that being pushed by Bush.
Goals Operate government more efficiently and align spending with goal achievement. If we end up spending less than we tax, we can rebate that money back to taxpayers each year there is a spending surplus. 

Tax simplification. Why not eliminate the income tax and replace with VAT? or with Armey's flat tax, but with several tiers?

We have no business reducing taxes until we fund the things we promised to fund (like special ed), we repair our schools that don't meet code, and we are run government surpluses. We should rollback tax cut on the rich only, and we should cut back spending so we don't spend more than we make. 

Estate tax should not be repealed, but raise the exemption.

Key strategies
  • Reallocate funding so that we adequately fund key programs ensure we achieve goals
  • Improve government efficiency
  • Cut unnecessary government programs and programs we do not have enough money to afford to be successful 
Our view of Bush's approach Bush's tax cut for the rich is irresponsible. leaves no money to improve education, social security, etc. Cutting estate tax would decimate charitable contributions. 

From the New Republic:

One recrimination that began to circulate even before the election took place was, as former Al Gore spokesman Chris Lehane put it, "The way to nationalize an election and make it a referendum on the Bush economy was to talk about the billion-pound elephant in the room--the Bush tax boon for the wealthy." Now, no one would be more eager than I to believe that the Democrats' political salvation lies in attacking the Bush tax cut. Unfortunately, there's little evidence that this is true. After the economy soured last year, Democrats correctly understood that they had to come out for some kind of tax cut. The position most took, which seemed to make both economic and political sense, was in favor of a short-term, egalitarian tax cut to bolster consumer spending but against a long-term, upper-bracket tax cut such as that being pushed by Bush. But, no matter how hard the Democrats tried to communicate this difference to the public, the only messages that came through were either for the tax cut or against it. And so most took the sensible stance of voting against the tax cut but declining to trumpet their opposition. Those who proposed canceling the as-yet-unimplemented upper-bracket tax cuts found their position rendered as raising taxes on the middle class.

Kerry Blasts Bush "Wrong Choices" on the Economy

Kerry came out strongly for action to redress the harmful fiscal and economic effects of the 2001 Bush tax cuts.  In fact, he proposed freezing all new tax rate reductions entirely.  Kerry's treatment of the Bush tax cuts followed what he calls "three basic principles" that should guide every economic policy: "Does it make life better for people who get up and work hard everyday?  Is it fair -- helping most Americans, not just a fortunate few?  And does it work?  Does it actually create jobs and expand economic opportunity?"

another view

Clinton brought us a budget surplus, and left office with a nice surplus. When Bush took office, the economy was already headed downwards, but Bush did not have enough visioin and courage to see that his tax cut was a long-term mistake. It is still a mistake, and the country is going deeper and deeper into debt. We should restore the taxation level on the richest Americans to what it was during the Clinton years, the rich seemed to be doing OK at that time, and rather than spend that tax revenue, apply it to reduce the deficit.


Social security


Foreign policy

Vision World peace. 
Goals Work cooperatively with the UN and other countries to reduce the potential for war. We should only initiate aggression if we are directly attacked, or with the concurrence of other world powers. We must not act unilaterally except in emergencies.
Key strategies Oppose military action in Iraq unless supported by the UN
Our view of Bush's approach  


Health care

Vision Paul Wellstone's universal health care coverage? may not be a good idea.
Goals Work cooperatively with the UN and other countries to reduce the potential for war. We should only initiate aggression if we are directly attacked, or with the concurrence of other world powers. We must not act unilaterally except in emergencies.
Key strategies  
Our view of Bush's approach  



Vision Power the country on 100% renewable, non-polluting sources
Goals Reduce dependence on foreign oil by 20% by 2020
Key strategies CAFE, H2 FCV incentives for all segments

Federal RPS modelled after Texas's program (see UCS document from Julia Levin)

Our view of Bush's approach He doesn't care at all about this because the only way you can get there is CAFE and he didn't support it even though we have the technology to make a 40mpg SUV that is safer at the same sticker price today (e.g., using Amory Lovin's technology or see cover story in Nov Technology Review)


Bush Energy Department and EPA both acknowledged that more fuel efficient cars "would help strengthen national energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil." Those are hollow words coming from an administration whose policies have moved the country full tilt in the opposite direction.


Vision pristine
Goals minimum RPS similar to NY required for all states
Key strategies Create an environmental impact tax, e.g., tax household pesticides that are not water soluble or bio degradable because most water pollution is from household chemicals, not big plants! Taxes will assess the true environmental cost of the product will provide incentive for manufacturer and consumers to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives. Use the proceeds to fund cleanups.
Our view of Bush's approach  



I am thrilled to report that we have just won a crucial victory in federal court that temporarily blocks the U.S. Navy from deploying its dangerous LFA sonar system across 75 percent of the world's oceans. As I told you in a recent message, this new technology would blast hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean habitat with noise so intense it can maim, deafen or even kill whales and dolphins at close range. A federal judge has now agreed with us that the Bush administration likely violated a number of environmental laws when it granted the Navy a permit to deploy this deadly system.

Other issues

Democrats should have a uniform position/response to the other key issues facing us

Issue Our position
Stem cells This is just like recombinant DNA. The arguments are the same. There is no compelling urgency to regulate this and there is the potential for huge breakthroughs. The scientific community is overwhelming in favor of allowing this research. Do we really think our leading scientists are all unethical? If so, we have a much bigger problem than stem cells.
Cloning The scientific community is overwhelming opposed to human cloning, and overwhelming supportive of "therapeutic cloning".
Dept Homeland Security This is a wasteful reshuffling of government bureacrats that will only cause mass confusion at a time we need clarity. It was devised in a week and there is no sound study that was done that is convincing it will actually make things better rather than worse. We should be focused on solutions that specifically address the problems we had. We know for a fact that re-organizing wouldn't have helped at all the failure to communicate the threat within the FBI. I was already one department. So throwing everything in one department is as likely to make things better as make things worse.
War in Iraq ....
Corporate accountability Republicans rolled back regulation 4 years ago. Look what happened. Time to rollback the change, not mess up what is not broken (stock options).
Spam Can't make the rules just like faxes...so what would be best here?


How to win in 2004

We need to tap our best political strategists for their best recommendation of how to win in 2004, then have our brain trust (which should include Clinton) select an approach, and ensure that all the pieces are in place and facilitate their creation if necessary. Lux's organization could do this... spearhead the project and take responsibility to make sure things are delegated out and create any new entities that are needed.  Such a plan would include:

  • Should we align all the primary candidates on the New Democratic Goals and have them emphasize their agreement and offer different policies consistent with those goals?
  • How important are the New Democratic Goals and party unity behind them?
  • When do we start attacking Bush? How important is an early start here? should we start gradually and build up momentum or charge out full speed with a new plan and a new united party?
  • What will Bush's strategy be? What's the best way to parry that?
  • How should we attack Bush on his key issues: war, tax cut, homeland security? e.g. by offering an even bigger tax cut for the middle class and soaking the wealthy? Should we attack Bush on the war or support him? Homeland Security: fight or comply? 
  • How can we best leverage the Senate for PR, e.g., fillibuster on ANWR and use it to explain that reducing dependence requires CAFE and we have the technology.
  • What will be the few key "signature issues" to focus on? What's the right attack plan for this: time/money?
  • How should we best leverage Clinton? As coach to the candidate or more than that?
  • We will get progressive groups to align behind a media (ad/PR) campaign orchestrated to bring Bush down. Devise that plan so that everyone is reinforcing the same messaging.
  • How do we best select and "package" the goals to deliver to the public?
  • Timing for the Democratic Agenda Pledge?
  • Shall we start calling the president a liar? (see Eric Alterman, The Nation http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021125&s=alterman)


Election will make life better -- for the rich

Mercury News Technology Columnist

This gleaming, frenetic city pretends to untrammeled capitalism. Everyone, it seems, is an entrepreneur, speculator or both.

In reality, Hong Kong is largely a cartel economy, where essential parts of the business structure are controlled by a few powerful companies. Elites in business and government are collaborators, sometimes for the public good and sometimes to ensure their own continuing dominance and wealth.

Americans have just voted for a cartel economy, whether they realize it or not. They've reinforced the power of a corporate and political elite that serves itself first, and cares little for average people.

Get ready for some dizzying times as the members of the crony-capitalism crowd -- and the politicians they lead by the nose or who themselves are members of the club -- run even more roughshod than usual over tradition and liberty.

Hard words? You bet. But these are hard people we've put in charge. Despite some strategically moderate language during the campaign, they're preparing to shake up just about everything.

They learned how from President Bush, who also pretended to moderation in 2000. Then he showed how a bold, if deceptive, politician can take a non-mandate and pull off radical changes. Whether you like the result or not, this is leadership.

Two years ago, I said Bush's past was likely to predict his future. That column drew fury from his supporters. I was harsh, but not wrong.

``Bush considers himself a Texas-sized businessman, and he will recite fervent capitalist psalms from his new bully pulpit,'' I wrote. ``It's hardly pure capitalism that he's practiced, though. Bush amassed his personal wealth principally through inheritance and cronyism.''

Watch, I said: ``Bush will try to sell himself as a unifying force. But that would mean standing up in meaningful ways to the wealthy men and right-wing ideologues who created, financed and powered his candidacy.''

He has not disappointed his friends and patrons.

Nothing typifies the Bush approach to the economy more than tax cuts for rich people, which he has done everything in his considerable power to arrange. The way he and his allies have thwarted financial reform is also emblematic.

We're back to deficit spending in a big way, helped along by tax cuts that will largely benefit the wealthiest in our society. Big deal, say the crony capitalists, if the richest few own and control more than the bottom half.

We're practically nowhere on cleaning up a financial cesspool that has soured trust in capitalism. Bush appointed Harvey Pitt, former chief advocate for the corrupt accounting profession, to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Then the president ardently defended Pitt's bumbling and inaction until the stench grew too strong.

Pitt is finally gone from the SEC. Corporate governance and financial markets have changed only at the margins. Don't expect much more, now that Bush and the Republicans are more firmly in charge than ever.

Tell me if I'm wrong two or six years from now. I think things are going to get ugly.

America is now firmly in the hands of centralized power brokers -- large corporations, an increasingly authoritarian government and allies including ideologically focused people from the religious right. What they have in common is their utter certainty that they know what's best for everyone else, and that they can act on their knowledge with impunity.

Congress and the president will keep on finding ways to reward the people at the top of the wealth charts. They'll expand the reckless new round of budget deficits and let the rest of us (and our kids) foot the bill. Then they'll scream ``class warfare'' when common sense makes people realize the danger of these fiscal acrobatics.

They'll pass more pro-business, anti-liberty laws. Then they'll pack the courts with judges who support state and corporate power over individual rights.

The forces of central control will smile on further consolidation of vital industries. They already love the Microsoft monopoly, and see no big deal about the company's throttling of competition and innovation to preserve and extend its power. They'll be just thrilled when one or two companies control access to cyberspace data connections. Of course, every once in a while they'll nix the merger of a couple of pickle companies, just to prove how much they love competition.

This crowd, true to its roots and financial interests, won't even consider putting serious federal muscle into environmental sanity and true independence from Middle East oil. Instead of conservation and decentralized, renewable alternatives, the forces of control will push federal policies -- including military moves -- toward propping up an unsustainable, dangerous petroleum economy.

Don't look to the Democrats or their traditional allies for an alternative. What passes today for a political opposition is largely bankrupt of principle -- Exhibit A: California Gov. Gray Davis -- and new ideas, and spineless to boot. I guess it's tough to stand for something when you don't believe in anything.

Give the right-wing Republicans credit. What they stand for is wrong and dangerous, but at least they know what they believe.

History tells us that raw power spawns hubris. The people in charge today are so arrogant, so self-righteous, so indifferent to the little guy, that they will eventually frighten the vast middle of our political spectrum.

Will they have changed America so much when they're done that we can't recover? That's the scary part.


NY Times analysis on what happened

In particular, some Democratic leaders said the party had made a mistake in failing to engage President Bush on his tax cut one clear area of economic disagreement between the two parties and by falling in line behind Mr. Bush when he pressed the issue of Iraq in the midst of a fall election

"The national Democratic Party never defined the Democratic agenda," said Dick Harpootlian, the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. "Other than being sort of whiney as we got drug into the Iraq war, we never really defined our position on the economy, we never said what we would do differently."

"We have no message this year other than we're not Bush," Mr. Harpootlian said. "Well, guess what? Eighty percent of the people like Bush."

Douglas Sosnik, the White House political director under Bill Clinton, said: "I don't think that the Democratic Party gave the folks out in the states any reason to have passion about the midterms, in order to energize them to vote. That's an arduous task in the best of circumstances which this is not."


But again and again, Democrats argued that the source of the party's problems this year was that it had failed to provide voters with a reason to throw out a party in power.

"We needed to be more specific," said Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida. "To be effectively heard, you have to be both the diagnostician what is your definition of the problem and second, the prescriber, where you suggest what to do about the problem."

The main point of dispute among many Democrats was whether the party should have directly engaged the Republicans on the $1.35 trillion tax cut passed under Mr. Bush, or on the president's push for a resolution to allow him to oust President Saddam Hussein of Iraq from office. Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Daschle had decided in the midst of the campaign to agree to Mr. Bush's request for authority, a decision that some liberal Democrats criticized as a political calculation.


There's nothing at stake in tomorrow's federal elections. Nothing that affects my life, or my family, or my pocketbook, or my job.

Gephardt on Democratic goals

"As Democrats, we fought for our values - opportunity for all, a more secure America, good and affordable health care, and Social Security and Medicare that is there when you need it.  We fought for a world-class education for our kids.  We made progress on reforming campaign finances and pushing a recalcitrant majority into protecting investors' rights.  But the obstacles put in our path along the way - from an uncompromising and rigidly conservative Republican majority in the House, to deep-pocketed special interests, to a President who refused to lead on these issues - make it even more important today that Democrats remain full-throated in their fight to ensure that all of America is represented in Washington in the days ahead.


Bush Goals

Congress Daily November, 2002:

"Fleischer pledged that Bush would have a robust agenda over the next two years. 'There's a lot more to do, and the president looks forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to do it,' he said... Fleischer also mentioned patients' rights, community health centers and a human cloning ban as efforts Bush would like to press."

And from the Washington Post:

"White House spokesman Ari Fleischer enumerated the president's goals: pension protection, a Homeland Security Department with flexible workforce rules, federal help for charities of religious groups, changes in welfare rules, energy legislation including oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, a 'patients bill of rights' to govern health maintenance organizations, an expansion of community health centers to serve the uninsured, and a ban on human cloning. Some Republican strategists believe these issues are unlikely to alienate moderate voters who will help decide the 2004 presidential election."

My thoughts on Bush's goals

No vision. No leadership.

these aren't goals at all. they don't understand the meaning of the word "goal".

a goal is meaningful and measurable.

establishing a dept of homeland security isn't a goal. it's a strategy. the goal is "to improve national security by a meaningful (TBD) amount". If paying off Saudi Arabia is a cheaper way to do it than reorganizing 40,000 people, that's fine. Americans care about the goal, not the strategy.

drilling in Alaska isn't a goal either. The goal is to "reduce dependence on foreign oil by 20% by 2020" because it will improve our economy, balance of payments, environment, and national security. Drilling in Alaska would be one of the least attractive strategies to achieve the goal. You can't meet the goal this way.

this guy is a loser.

My thoughts On Energy

The creation of a realistic energy plan must be one of the cornerstones of any Presidential campaign.
Unlike the Cheney Energy Task Force document which contained a lot of "we need to look at this" without any specific goals you could hold them accountable to, we need specific visionary goals for energy and a credible strategy for achieving those goals and we need it now.
Just saying "we need an Apollo project for energy" however is insufficient.
A leader who commits to a specific set of goals, such as cutting our dependence on foreign oil by 25% by 2020 and cutting our GHG emissions similarly, and outlining the key policies, incentivies, and programs to make that happen is what is required.
For example, Hypercar Inc. is a company that has technology to increase gas mileage by 50% at NO increase in manufacturing cost. Yet, the only investor is the Hewlett Foundation ($2M) because unlike traditional venture capitalists, Hewlett has a strategic interest in the future of America.
Hypercar, Inc. only needs $5M more money.  This is the type of thing the government should be jumping all over because it is critical for our future. We spend billions on transportation security yet we don't even have a mechanism to fund those companies developing key parts of an energy security plan!!!  We used to have this before Bush dismantled it. Today, there isn't really a mechanism for the government to provide venture capital to companies with strategic technologies that are required to meet national goals (except for the CIA...and why should the CIA be able to do this and not other departments?!?!). This should be one of the key elements of the plan for energy (and for other areas as well). Other policies and programs could include incentives (such as a fuel cell golden carrot), tighter regulations such as CAFE, feebates on gas guzzlers, etc.
The time has passed for the "we need to invest more in research" rhetoric that we always hear from our elected officials. That's easy and it's not what we need and it will fail because it's like the startup company that says "we're going to do more market research on the product we should build."  That company will fail because they spend all their time doing research and no time making decisions and executing.
The right leader for America is someone who will look at the data we have now and make a decision and pick a path. In essence, you must "place your bets" specifically, then "align your resources behind your key bets."  The analogy is the CEO who looks at all the market data and says "we are running out of time. We've done enough market research. We're going to build product X and Y and our time table is Z years." It means we must say whether we are fully behind H2 fuel cell vehicles or not and how much we are going to invest.
I hope that you will consider incorporating the above in your campaign for President.  It's been lacking in American politics for too long.
In my mind, Bush gets an F for leadership. His core issue in his campaign was education, but he never even set a goal for education. There still isn't one. He just implemented a strategy of accountability. But to achieve what result? Nobody knows. He leads us nowhere. No vision. No goals. No plan. Nothing. America deserves better.


By Matthew Miller

Tribune Media Services

Marxists used to vow that capitalism's "internal contradictions" would reach the point when the system would implode. "That's when we make our move!" said the coffeehouse strategists.

Struggling Democrats face a less easily parodied but more consequential contradiction as the debate on economic stimulus heats up. It's the tension between the call by some Democrats to cut payroll taxes to boost the economy and the fact that because payroll taxes finance Social Security, touching them can be cast as "undermining Social Security."

On the merits, there's no question that temporary payroll tax relief would be a better economic stimulus than new or accelerated tax cuts for wealthy Americans.

A payroll tax "holiday" would put cash in the hands of people likely to spend it and make it less costly for firms to add jobs. Since the Federal Reserve is running out of room on interest rate cuts and growth is still sluggish, this kind of fiscal jolt (which is easy to implement fast) makes sense. Politically, it lets Democrats argue for a break for average workers, not more trickle down for the top.

But you can't cut payroll taxes without someone asking, "Hey, what about the Social Security trust fund?" As a matter of accounting, payroll tax cuts will leave the trust fund with less money than it would otherwise have. In the ordinary course of business, this is the kind of thing that Democrats love to demagogue - as when they bash the GOP for using Social Security surpluses generated by the sacred payroll tax to pay for other spending (something Democrats have done for years as well).

This political sensitivity usually keeps even fair-minded Republicans from wanting to mess with payroll taxes at all. It also conveniently lets the GOP skew public debate by focusing on the income tax - paid disproportionately by the well-to-do - as if it were the only real tax in the country.

These dynamics are disastrous for Democrats. When you include the portion of the payroll tax paid by their employers (which economists say effectively comes out of workers' wages), four in five Americans now pay more in payroll taxes than in income taxes. Rather than representing some sideline levy earmarked for pensions, regressive payroll taxes have quietly soared from 2 percent to 37 percent of federal receipts since World War II. The income tax produces 49 percent of federal revenue.

Democrats should want to do something about this. But they can't have it both ways. They can't slam the GOP for using payroll taxes for any purpose other than Social Security and then turn around and do the same thing themselves.

A grown up Democratic Party would change the debate. It would admit and explain to people that the Social Security trust fund is an accounting fiction, a pile of IOUs slated to be redeemed by raising taxes on our kids. They'd say it's time we moved past such fictions and talked about overall tax fairness in the context of paying for the baby boomers' golden years while doing the things people under 65 expect from government, too.

But Democrats can only tilt the debate in this progressive direction if they're willing to give up the usual Social Security demagoguery. You'd think they'd be ready; after all, it failed miserably in the midterm elections. Republicans Elizabeth Dole, Lindsey Graham and John Sununu will all take Senate seats despite relentless and misleading attacks on their ideas about partial privatization.

I'd like to think Democrats are ready to move to smarter ground. I'd even be willing to help them cook up some new demagoguery to replace a brand that (A) misleads voters about the need for change and (B) doesn't work anyway. But I don't think they're there yet.

These are the deeper political and policy issues lurking behind a simple-sounding debate over short-term stimulus. They'll be with us long after the economy recovers. If we do get a payroll tax cut, and deal with the trust fund sideshow somehow, it will mean an important Rubicon has been crossed. I'm not holding my breath