Fresh Ideas

Six original ideas for a more perfect union
1. Amend the Presidential Oath of Office to Make Habitual Lying Grounds for Impeachment
The current presidential oath of office reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

As your congressman, I will sponsor legislation to add, “I further swear to preserve the public trust by always endeavoring to tell the truth.”

In the Federalist papers, Alexander Hamilton defined the “high crimes and misdemeanors” phrase in the Constitution’s impeachment provisions to mean any violation of the public trust.

How Donald Trump’s incessant lying hasn’t been seen by Congress as a violation of the public trust is beyond me. Richad Nixon’s lying to the public to conceal his criminal activities (obstruction of justice) was one of the articles of impeachment against him.

Under the amended presidential oath, habitual, unrepentant lying — as opposed to honest mistakes or mere differences of opinion — would be grounds for removal.

2. Establish the House Honesty Caucus
According to Wikipedia, as of June 11, 2019, there were more than 500 caucuses in Congress, including the Friends of Finland Caucus and the Congressional Rock and Roll Caucus.

I will found the House House Honesty Caucus to encourage truth telling and deter dishonesty in all branches of government.

3. Publish the Annual Report of the United States
We are plagued by dueling economists and manipulated numbers. The Annual Report of the United States would offer a comprehensive dataset compiled by a nonpartisan organization.

It would provide baseline data, for example, for evaluating promises such as the number of jobs or amount of capital investment created by a corporate tax cut.

4. Implement a reality-check military draft to discourage wars
This legislation would automatically activate a broad-based military draft, and quarterly billing to taxpayers, whenever the government embarks on an elective war of aggression, such as the Iraq invasion and occupation during the George W. Bush administration.

The way to stop unnecessary and immoral military action is to require everyone to have skin in the game. That includes having to write a check for violent acts committed in our names.

When every family has to pay for a war and faces the possibility of having to fight and die in a war, we’ll have a realistic debate over whether to go to war.

5. Establish National Journalism Day and a National Judges Day
National Journalism Day is celebrated every November 17 – in India.

We don’t have a national holiday celebrating the work of journalists, but we should.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the free press was at least as important to a democracy as any army or government agency. James Madison believed freedom of the press was the freedom that protected all of our other freedoms.

As we have seen during the dark reign of Donald Trump and his enablers, journalists have been one of the few structures of society that have upheld their responsibilities in protecting democracy.

The judiciary has been another democracy defender. So, in addition to National Journalism Day, there should be a day honoring judges, courts and the rule of law.

6. Time to Rethink Employer Based Health Insurance
The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed the central flaw of connecting health insurance with employment–what do millions of people do if they are suddenly laid off in an economic crunch or cataclysmic event? By linking employment to health care coverage, employees can become trapped in jobs they do not like, or choose not to retire, just to keep their benefits. Furthermore, at a cost of  $280 billion in 2018, the employer health care tax exclusion is one of our largest government expenditures.

Let’s discuss ways we can uncouple health insurance from employment to give workers more freedom of job movement.

As noted in my health care plan, I propose introducing a “public option” and lowering Medicare eligibility to 55. This dual expansion of public health insurance would lower costs through increased competition and give consumers more choices on the individual marketplace–all while liberating workers from being beholden to their employer for their health insurance.

7. Make voting ever easier and more accurate
Voting is the most sacred civic responsibility in a democracy. Yet we accept election processes that suppress the votes and voices of a significant percentage of voters. I support many of the ideas advanced by Nevadans for Election Reform.

Voter suppression is more than requiring IDs that are difficult for some people to obtain or setting polling location and hours that make it difficult for some voters to get to the polls on time. Voter suppression is any mechanism that prevents any voter from exercising their right to vote.

Allowing a candidate to be elected with a small plurality of the votes and ignoring the will of the majority is voter suppression. Processes that dissuade a voter from voting their conscience and for their truly preferred candidate for fear of “wasting” their vote is voter suppression.

I support H.R. 4000, a bill by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) that would end gerrymandering, establish congressional districts that truly represent the residents living in them, and allow voters to vote for their truly preferred candidate without fear of being a spoiler or wasting their vote.

I urge our governor and legislators to enact similar processes in Nevada such as ranked-choice voting, a system by which voters can vote for more than one candidate in order of preference so that if their first choice doesn’t win, their vote isn’t lost but goes to their next choice. Democratic voters used this process earlier this year during presidential caucus early voting and found it easy and to their liking. Imagine if I or another of the candidates in this year’s Democratic primary won the nomination with only 15 or 20 percent of all votes cast? That’s a real possibility in a field of seven in which the winner only has to have the highest vote total. Ranked-choice voting would fix that.

I also support the Fair Maps Constitutional Amendment initiative that would end gerrymandering in Nevada and the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would commit Nevada’s electoral votes to the candidate for president who received the most votes nationally. This would effectively do away with the nonsensical Electoral College, which has resulted in two of the worst presidents in American history – George W. Bush and Donald Trump (the absolute worst)  – getting to the White House despite losing the popular vote. In Trump’s case, he lost by 2.8 million votes.

Trump was also elected by only about 25 percent of eligible voters, which is why I say Donald Trump is the price a democracy pays for apathy.