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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's those reasonable people! They're the problem!

The US Federal Debt Crisis of 2011 proved to all reasonable Americans that US legislative processes are crippled by the loud and powerful voices of the fringe, both left and right. How can the majority win back our country, win back reason?

We populate the center left and center right quadrants of the political spectrum, away from the fringes. We are the voices of reason, soon to be leading a more rational debate. Our core belief? Progress for all.

Centrist Beliefs


Who are American Centrists, and what do we often believe?

  • We are Republicans, we are Independents, and we are Democrats.
  • Like most Americans, we generally populate the center left and center right quadrants of the political spectrum.
  • If united in purpose, we can become our country’s most powerful force.
  • We are voices of reason. We are centered. We see a bigger picture.
  • We are not afraid to vote against our party on important issues of our day, when our conscience tells us that the party is on the wrong side of real progress.
Does that sound like you? Want to know more?
  • We understand that single-issue litmus testing is often the weapon of the self-interested, the often over-invested.
  • We do not fear the future. We learn from the past but do not yearn for it. Instead, we are inspired by the promise of tomorrow.
  • We understand that moving to a better tomorrow requires compromise during the process. That way, more can participate in building that better tomorrow.
  • We want debate, not to win, but rather to find best ideas and solutions, often formed through spirited conversations that inter-mingle issues and ideas from many sides, that when brought together, create better solutions.
  • We do not serve to glorify ourselves, our name, our family, or our own personal legacy. We serve our country, and all its citizens.
  • Narcissists are not welcome in our house. They will find no comfortable place or role here, nor should they be in positions of leadership in our nation.
  • We support candidates based on their demonstrated good character, and rational, collaborative approaches to solving society’s greatest issues. Such rational approaches must include effective listening and even compromise during debate. Inability to compromise stalls forward movement, harming all, the antithesis of good governing.
  • We dare to envision a profoundly different and better world for all. We believe that great change can occur. Great changes have occurred throughout time. We seek to bring about great change in this, our time; not to stand still or step backward.
  • We believe America to be that greatest beacon of liberty, of human rights, of cooperative government and goodness. Many of us believe that it is by this beacon that the world is moving to an extended time of peace.
  • All people, regardless of country, color or creed, want these things of which America is so proud - freedom, liberty, opportunity, hope. America’s promise has made it harder and harder for the cruel, the ruthless, the narcissists, the treacherous, to rule. The Soviet bloc is long dead. The Great Spring is upon the Middle East. The days of the ruthless are numbered. Our beacon of liberty and goodness must continue to brightly shine to show the way for all nations.
  • We understand that change is constant. Our world, our institutions, our thinking, must evolve in positive ways. The voices of reason must be loudest of all. Our voices must lead change. 

Defining the Centrist Movement


A Singular Belief - Progress
Most Americans who consider themselves somewhat left or somewhat right on the political spectrum share at least one thing in common: we believe in progress. This certainly does not mean that most would define themselves as a “Progressives.” However, those who do not seek general progress - advancement - in our culture and society, in politics, and in economics, together, are surely not represented among us.
Progress is that singular issue that most of us are able to rally around; where we take our stand – our litmus test. Our passion is to improve lives, over time, in a responsible and sustainable manner. Improving lives includes assuring freedom, safety, dignity, and opportunity.
We further believe that progress is not an entitlement. We are all called to work hard to justly deserve that which is given to us. It needs to be earned, not given.
We believe that real progress is driven by gifted leadership. We believe that the great leaders seek progress for the many, not just for those sharing similar belief systems, or social or cultural backgrounds.
Our leaders are called to lead all people. Can this not be the case?
We seek to create a better tomorrow, without fear of what tomorrow will bring. We do not wish for things to remain as they are, or to move backwards. The world is ever changing. New generations replace old. New challenges loom that must be dealt with smartly.

There are personal traits that must stand the test of time, span the generations, and must define our generation and America’s leaders, chief among them honesty, integrity, character, respect for self and others, fairness, wisdom.
Americans like us likely understand that to achieve the great things, people and groups must come together, bound by a greater purpose and vision, and unbound from the evils of self-interest.

Deficit reduction plan - centered, sensible, reasonable

Updated November 29, 2011

Deficit reduction plan

Common Sense: A Centrist Approach to Reducing Our Deficit to Create a Stronger America
What is a family to do?
Let’s look at our American family’s budget for next year. The Federal government’s revenues (e.g., taxes and other income generating sources) are estimated to be $2.6 trillion. Its budget (how much it is budgeted to spend) FY 2012 is $3.7 trillion. This means that we are planning for a $1.1 trillion shortfall next year. This is how far out of line is our American family’s budget, and this is why it is essential to look at the expense side and the revenue side to begin to develop a realistic plan to balance our books.

We must lower the amount that government spends. Significant cuts should take effect in the very next fiscal year, and ongoing. The markets will react favorably to real action. We must make government smaller. We proposal $2 trillion in cuts in a most reasonable, sensible fashion, below.

Likewise, tax hikes should be levied on all tax payers, including individuals and corporations, social security holders, and excise taxes, with allowances for citizens who have been underemployed or unemployed during the fiscal year. Revenue generated must go toward paying down our debt. We propose $2 trillion in revenue increases, including across the board 1% tax hikes on all wage earners, and a 1% VAT on certain items, below. 

As we begin to get our fiscal house in order using all means at our disposal, the markets will respond favorably. Market risk and uncertainty will be reduced. Companies will invest. The unemployment rate will finally drop. Revenue will increase further. Our bond rating will return to where it belongs. Your retirement vehicles and other investments will show favorable returns.
Deficit Reduction Plan - (Updated 11/29/11)
The basic premise of this plan is to reach or exceed $4 trillion in debt reduction and smaller government by 2020 through approximately $2 trillion in reduced spending and $2 trillion in increased revenue (all going to pay down the debt). 
Like the agreement reached in early August, 2011 this proposal reduces during its first stage federal discretionary expenditures by $917 billion (over 10 years), including $420 billion in defense spending. During a second phase, this proposal would make further steps to reduce the deficit by an additional $750 billion, or one-half the amount that a joint committee of Congress was asked to accomplish (but failed to do). The focus of that second phase would be primarily on removing major corporate tax loopholes, not by reducing programs for the poor, or middle class, or wealthy Americans. 

 Result: $1.667 trillion in savings over 10 years.

The government will take in $2.6 trillion in 2012 from all sources – income taxes, social security taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes. This proposal would increase tax rates on all tax payers by 1%, including individuals and corporations, social security holders, and excise taxes, with allowances for citizens who have been unemployed during the fiscal year.  

Result: $650 billion over 10 years.

Further, we should institute an across the board 1% Federal Value Added Tax (VAT) on individual item goods and services purchased having a price of $100.00 or more, each year for 10 years. The VAT would exclude food, tuition and related education and job training costs, and medical services. VATs are utilized in over 130 countries around the world as revenue generators. Proceeds from the VAT would go toward deficit reduction only. 

Result: approximately $450 billion over 10 years.

Net debt reduction: $2.767 trillion -
We should reduce the size of government further, by at least $1.233 trillion more to reach our $4 trillion debt reduction goal. This can be achieved by allowing the $1.2 trillion across the board cuts in federal spending that have kicked in due to the failure of the Super-committee to agree on anything. One option, therefore, is to just let the legislation enacted in August take its course. It makes deep and painful cuts across government, regardless of program. You may feel that this is best for America.

Alternatively, consider this original idea. The President should order his department Secretaries (e.g., Department of Energy, Transportation, Treasury, EPA.... not including Defense) to outline cuts in their own departments. This would be done by designating each program within a department with one of three priority ratings: 

- "A" priority programs (receive the lowest required percentage reduction in their budget); 
- "B" priority programs (receive a higher percentage reduction than "A" priority programs)
- "C" priority programs (receive the steepest cuts of all). 

Each department program must be given an A/B/C priority designation. 

A, B, and C prioritized programs would be proportional, based on budget dollar amount. In other words, one-third of the DOE programs from a funding perspective would be designated "C" priorities, while one-third would be designated "B" priorities, and a final one-third, "C" priorities. 

The President can make adjustments as he sees fit, adjusting some program priorities up, however, he would need to then adjust a proportional amount down, to keep the one-third funding allotments equal.  He would then provide the priority list to the Office of Management and Budget, which willonly then determine the exact percentage cuts associated with all A, B, and C priority programs, that together will meet the $1.233 trillion budget reduction goal. Once the percentage reductions are determined, the President will require the A, B, and C priority programs within the respective departments to reduce their budgets by the percentage amount identified for the coming fiscal year.

This method enables the department Secretaries themselves to trim their own department budgets. It is a simple and effective way to reduce the size of government based on the knowledge and expertise of the various department leaders themselves.

Total debt reduction: $4 trillion

What do you think? You might have other ideas. Let us know. Let's collaborate!

Email your ideas to 
 
ideas@americancentrist.us.     

A platform for our future







Most citizens somewhat to the right or to the left of center respect the central role that religion plays in so many of our lives and in our society. We demand a just society, with safe cities and towns, and more opportunity for a well educated, well prepared workforce (at all levels). We understand the importance of American leadership in science, in technology and in business, including advanced design and manufacturing, and we know that innovation leads to more and better jobs. 
We are likely to believe in the vital importance of the Arts to assure a well rounded, vibrant and creative society. We understand the critical role played by America’s infrastructure, and understand how important it is to maintain and to improve our roads and bridges, water ways and water resources, and produce cleaner energy while meeting long term energy demand.
We understand the importance of a strong national defense to protect our vital interests and to defeat those enemies that seek to destroy America. We understand the important role that America plays in the world and seek over time to create sustained peace and greater prosperity for all people.


Supporting faith-based organizations and other non-profits



Government’s partner as we care for the sick and the marginalized in a time of necessarily smaller government. Our citizens will need to become even more generous with their time and money in our communities, and not expect (smaller) government to do more. Good people, good families, and good institutions, not government programs alone, are the solution for the care of some of our most marginalized or neediest populations.

We recognize the enormous importance and reach of religious and other non-profit organizations, and see them as partners in providing for those in need and deserving of support. These organizations will need greater funding through more generous private giving by corporations and citizens to make up for what government will surely remove. 

Faith-based organizations and other non-profits should have greater presence and exposure in our communities. 

Many centrists believe that we all must support the resurgence of these organizations in our society and even in our own lives.

Sensible energy policy



Sustainable, clean, rational. We recognize the vital role of energy production for our country, our quality of life and our long-term global competitiveness. Many of us seek a national energy policy that ensures meeting long-term energy demand while at the same time reducing dependence on harmful fossil fuel. 

National energy policy will require that a rational mix of cleaner (natural gas), base load clean (nuclear), and renewable (wind, solar, hydro) energy be employed as we retire our aging fossil fuel plants and meet future demand. A sensible mix of all of the above is essential as we move from polluting to cleaner and clean energy sources. Implementing such new strategies takes years to plan and construct. We need to start now. 

Our sustainable planet




Preparing ways for humans and nature to thrive. Most centrists likely recognize that climate change is a vital concern impacting both America and the planet. Regardless of its cause (human created, naturally cyclical, or both), most of us realize that we must reduce carbon emissions that are harmful to nature, and just as harmful to ourselves. 

Many citizens whose political affiliations are somewhat left or right of center want to see our leaders develop long term strategies to assure a sustainable planet, where those who govern, and those who consume, do so respecting the central role of all of nature; that we can no longer indiscriminately consume, alter, pollute, and destroy out of ignorance or indifference.

A new vision for America's armed forces

Bring to this world a great peace in our time. Our chief enemies’ armies (terrorists) are scattered and in decline thanks to our brave citizens in uniform. Nazi Germany is dead, thanks be to God. The Soviet Union is a memory. China is not now nor will ever will be our mortal enemy, how intertwined is their economy with America and the entire world. The Arab Spring saw corrupt nations overthrown by their own people seeking freedom and dignity.North Korea and Iran are pathetic and failing states, nations with short life expectancy in an historical context, with tremendous systemic weakness... The United States of America has been that beacon of liberty and strength that has helped all of this come to pass.
As long as there is evil, as long as there is greed, narcissism and men with mental illness who crave power, there will be conflict. However, the role of the military can change as the enemy changes. The best strategy to win the battles of tomorrow will be to win the hearts of the downtrodden in those lands ruled by the ruthless. The best offense is to create opportunity for improved lives. We can change the role of the armed forces over time from war fighting to building bridges of opportunity for people everywhere. We can do this while continuing to defend America and our vital interests from our vanishing foes.
Our citizens join the United States armed forces based on their fierce patriotism; to protect our nation, to keep the peace, to do great things with their lives and for others, and to find and create opportunity for themselves and their families. Many centrists hope that our brave soldiers in uniform can bring to this world a great peace in our time, and we believe that they will be up to this most noble cause. What better mission could there be?

Ilegal Immigration

No end in sight, with enormous and mounting social and monetary costs – Many Centrists believe that such high levels of illegal immigration is due to the lack of opportunity at its source – from where the immigrants flee. We should partner with our neighbors particularly to the south to create greater opportunity in their own countries. People do not decide to leave their families, communities and countries lightly, risking life and limb. 

If lives at home are good enough, most will remain where their family, their culture and traditions live proudly. Many Centrists would feel that we should address this problem directly at its source.

Racism

The root of so much misfortune, with huge and burdensome associated social and monetary costs. Prejudice rears its ugly head in many ways, principal among them: racism. Many centrists will believe that black Americans are often unable to fully advance and contribute in America because of continued prejudice against them based on ignorance, fear, and silent indifference. But, our greatest potential as a nation lies in improving the opportunities and possibilities for all of our citizens. 

We should not turn our eyes from continued human injustice. We should instead seek transformative solutions to improve our entire society. We must act. Many believe that such transformative investments at the source of the problem offer far greater potential returns than the ongoing indifference that simply ensures a downward spiral of (a) hopelessness, leading to (b) expensive social programs, to (c) violence-related costs, to (d) addiction-related costs, and to (e) incarceration- related costs. Our American States will be crippled by such costs until we find transformative solutions.

Missing today: vision






Most citizens somewhat to the right or to the left of center respect the central role that religion plays in so many of our lives and in our society. We demand a just society, with safe cities and towns, and more opportunity for a well educated, well prepared workforce (at all levels). We understand the importance of American leadership in science, in technology and in business, including advanced design and manufacturing, and we know that innovation leads to more and better jobs. 
We are likely to believe in the vital importance of the Arts to assure a well rounded, vibrant and creative society. We understand the critical role played by America’s infrastructure, and understand how important it is to maintain and to improve our roads and bridges, water ways and water resources, and produce cleaner energy while meeting long term energy demand.
We understand the importance of a strong national defense to protect our vital interests and to defeat those enemies that seek to destroy America. We understand the important role that America plays in the world and seek over time to create sustained peace and greater prosperity for all people.

Government broken


Most reasonable citizens believe that the relationship between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government is now fundamentally broken. It is time to blame both parties.
The voices of the far right and the far left are heard loudly today – fringe elements who have in recent years achieved much fame and power, and who today rule debate. Reasonable voices have been silenced. Demands and threats by leaders whose duty is to represent the many - but who in fact today represent a relative few - have overpowered the voices of reason, dismantling the greatest system of government the world has ever known.
During the failed debt ceiling debate of 2011, both parties crafted their own unimaginative plans, after “negotiations” failed. A posturing, offensive, take-no-prisoners mentality took over the day; vision, true duty and service forgotten. A date, known months in advance, was met as the clock struck twelve. Careers were on the line – the future of a President and his ability to lead the nation that elected him; a House Speaker, a Senate Majority leader, top aides and lieutenants, wannabe presidential candidates looking for their angle; lobbyists, the media... what political theatre! The result is a failure of historic proportions - a train wreck.
The silent middle has been overwhelmed by the boisterous rabble of the fringe. Political animals. Well organized. Well- funded. Self-interested. Over-invested. And most of all, not particularly interested in you or your well being.
It is clear that history will not speak well of this time. Civility is dead. Self-interest now rules. The system is broken. Our America has entered a dark period in her history.
She surely calls upon reasonable citizens like you to rise up, and to be heard.