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Priorities for America

The $1.9 trillion Covid Relief bill has passed Congress and for many of us our $1400 checks have arrived in our bank accounts. So now what do we need to do? We have a million things broken in the country right now so you could literally start anywhere and likely do some good. For me, in my opinion, these are the most important things on America's plate.

It all starts with the passing of the two voting rights bills currently in the Senate. Restoring the voting rights act of 1965, through the John Lewis voting rights act bill, along with the HR1/S1 voting rights bill, are the most important legislation in our country's history. The ability for every American to vote safely, easily, and fairly, is foundational to democracy. The fact that in 2021 we are still fighting over this most basic of American's rights is ridiculous.

HR1/S1 has three buckets it addresses. Expanding voting rights, implementing campaign finance reform, and beefing up the ethics laws for members of Congress. Where this bill has some pushback are the second and third parts. For me the ability to vote is too important to mess around so why not combine the John Lewis bill, with part one of the HR1/S1 bill, and work out the other issues later. I believe if Congress does this the bill will pass easily in both houses. Who wants to be on record for voting in favor of voter suppression?

With the exception of Native Americans, our families all came from someplace else. We have a giant mess on our Southern border, along with antiquated and obsolete, immigration laws that need to be fixed. The solution is not to put children in cages or rip them from the arms of their parents. The solution is to have a policy that quickly, and fairly, reviews each case and either lets them in, or sends them back home. Immigration is fine and welcome. Illegally entering the country is not fine, so fix things to stop people from being so desperate that they believe it is their only solution.

We need to get more people vaccinated, quickly. If we don't start getting shots in the arms of more people we are in danger of, once again, being overrun by the Covid virus new strains. We have suffered enough, and enough people have already died, to not get a full court press on the holdouts to getting vaccinated. Open it up to everyone and get as many people vaccinated as we can, in the shortest amount of time we can do this. When it is your turn to get your shot, do it.

We need to get schools and businesses open once again. In order to do this safely we need the above to happen first. There is no way of knowing, until down the road, what the closing of schools has meant to the education, and socialization, of children, but I'm going to say it hasn't helped. We need kids back in school but we need them, and teachers, to be safe.

As for the business community, the financial devastation has been enormous. Owners and workers will never make up the lost revenue of this past year plus. However, everyone needs to be safe in order for them to reopen. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, and stay socially distanced from others until the virus is under better control.

If you've driven on a road, seen flooding due to broken pipes, and noticed concrete falling from bridges, then you know we need to start fixing our infrastructure. Add in outdated airports, train tracks, and crumbling dams and we are on the path to total destruction of travel and living in this country.

This has been talked about since the Carter administration and yet we have done nothing except put a band-aid on a problem that requires stiches. I'm going to help the President and Congress get this kick started. Start referring to this issue as a jobs creation package. Who is against jobs?

While we argue over whether or not climate change is real, (it is an undeniable fact that it is real), we need to start getting a process in place to reverse the damage done, and limit future damage. At some point, maybe when Miami or New York City go under water for good, people will wake up to this being a worldwide issue. Let's at least start discussing solutions.

Remember middle class? Good times. How about we stop putting an unfair burden of paying taxes on the middle class, while the super rich continue to receive tax breaks. If we want this country to get back on its solid foundation, then we need to allow people to earn a decent living, and stop making them pay an unfair share of the tax load.

While we are at it we need to raise the minimum wage. I don't know what that number is, and it is probably different in South Dakota than it is in California, so let the states work it out, but I do know that nobody can live on $7 something an hour. The American dream is not about getting food stamps to feed your family.

Finally, the health care system in this country is a complete mess and totally out of control. As I age, and spend more time in it than I ever wanted to do, I can see, first hand, that it is broken. We need to make it affordable. We need to make it easier to get help. We need to force drug companies to be as competitive here as they are around the world. We need to reduce lawsuits. We need to do a better job of taking care of seniors. In short, we need a complete overhaul. The Affordable Care Act was a good first step but it had flaws that need to be corrected. Start there and move on to a complete fix.

Once again I have given our leadership a roadmap to what they need to focus on. One of these days they will actually listen to what I'm saying and things will improve. Until then, it is our responsibility to let our representatives, the local, the state, and the national, know that we are watching them and we need them to start working for all of us.

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