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I have been interested in political issues at the national level for over a decade.For the past eighteen months I have written several columns for an online newspaper, www.yellowtimes.org.

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Expand/Collapse Item Social Security - Unique Solution...

There is a great debate over the future of Social Security focusing on privatization, using the federal surpluses to shore up Social Security financing and proposals to cut benefits and raise eligibility age. 

How to secure the trust funds for the Baby Boom generation and beyond.  To privatize or not to privatize?

I am the only person running for office in either Chamber of Congress in any of the 50 states with a unique solution to save the defined benefit nature of the Social Security Program

If elected to Congress my first task will be a Bill to secure the trust funds from being intermingled with the operating budget.  My Bill would require that FICA taxes be renamed “FICA Savings” to better reflect their defined benefit nature.  

Furthermore, my Bill would require forming a new and separate division of Treasury Department to secure our FICA Savings. Then under the ERISA Laws for pension plans, my Bill would require a "Chinese wall" to segregate FICA Savings from the operating Budget revenues. Finally, as with most private and public defined pension plans for many institutions across our country, the trustees would be required to hire professional money managers who would invest these funds in a blind trust. The trustees who are political appointees would not be privy to the exact investments, and would only be able to set some broad rules of investment strategy (e.g., 60% bonds, 40% equities), and they could only hire and fire the investment managers strictly on the basis of performance or lack thereof. At its inception Social Security was a pay-as-you go system. However, the program is very different today. The FICA system was overhauled during the Reagan Administration. In 1983, the Greenspan Commission recommended, Congress passed, and Reagan signed into law a new FICA tax system. At its inception the amount of FICA taxes paid was a total 1% on an income cap of $3,000 (the simple pay-as-you go system). Today workers are paying 15.3% on an income cap of $84,900 (2002). However, no effort was made to segregate the pay-as-you go portion from the defined benefit portion of the workers FICA taxes. 

My Bill would require that the $2.35 trillion that has been "borrowed" by the operating budget from the trust funds to date, of which $1.333 trillion is from Social Security and an additional $0.273 trillion is from Medicare (HI & SMI), must be repaid into the trust funds and invested as a defined pension plan.

If I cannot get a Bill passed in the House to reform Social Security (especially if there is a republican majority), I will, if necessary, take a mandamus class action law suit against the US Congress directly to the US Supreme Court to get them to overturn their prior ruling in Fleming v. Nestor , which basically states that Social Security payments are NOT guaranteed and can be changed at will by the US Congress.

George Herbert Walker Bush on November 5, 1990 signed into law section 13301 of the Budget Act prohibiting the intermingling of the trust fund surplus monies with the operating budget. However, there were no penalties attached to the Act, and Congress has willfully disobeyed the same. This along with the changes made under the Greenspan Commission gives me the basis to take a mandamus class action lawsuit against Congress to the Supreme Court. 

Of course, the likelihood of the Supreme Court agreeing to hear my case will be far greater if I am your representative, and not just a citizen.

I have written two position papers on how to maintain the defined benefit nature of the Social Security Trust Funds, and make the system whole for the Baby boom generation and beyond.

If you wish to further understand the shenanigans played by Congress with our federal budget you can read about it in my on-line petition at: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/nariman/petition.html (This material is dated as it was written in March 2001)

Expand/Collapse ItemModernization of the Medicare System

In order to tackle the ongoing issue of Medicare spending, I would vote to keep the current funding system, while totally revamping the payment system.  Medicare needs to be overhauled and the prescription drug benefit added as one of its intrinsic benefits.  

My plan will cost the taxpayers zero additional dollars, and would currently save excess dollars. This is a taxpayer friendly option. Both the Republican majority House and the Democrat majority Senate are each currently pursuing a prescription drug benefit, which would add an additional cost of between $370 billion to $570 billion to the federal budget over five years.  In the current atmosphere of ever-burgeoning deficits, both plans in my opinion are fiscally irresponsible. 

In order to more efficiently use our Medicare dollars my recommendation is to revamp Medicare so that the federal government is no longer the “Insurer of last resort”. Under my Bill the collection system will remain unchanged, but the payment system will be changed. Hence, the federal government will continue to collect Medicare dollars through FICA Savings (name change) of 1.45% of all earned income. However, instead of being the group insurer for our nations retirees, the federal Government should become the “Group Buyer” of last resort.  The federal government will be required under my plan to purchase group insurance for the nations approximately 40 million seniors, which will include catastrophic, physicians visits, preventative tests, prescription drugs, dental and vision.

The Trustees report (April 2000) has projected that the amount of money that will be collected through Medicare savings will be as follows:

Part A: (HI):             $189 billion in 2003
Part B: (SMI):           $119 billion in 2003
Total Medicare revenues:  $308 billion in 2003

Footnote:  HI – Hospital Insurance, and SMI – Supplemental Medical Insurance

If we divide approximately 40 million seniors into $308 billion in revenues we would have $7,700 per senior to purchase comprehensive health care insurance.

 The federal government would then distribute the risk amongst the various health insurers in each state who currently provide group insurance to corporate group employees. The Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) would be required to accept the insurance risk of our nations 40 million seniors in order to maintain their licenses.  If I get your vote to go to Congress to represent you, I will ask the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to score my plan.  I am certain that we can secure a comprehensive medical plan, including prescription drugs, dental and vision for approximately $4,000-$5,000 per senior. 

Any remaining funds must be invested in the blind trust (see following discussion on social security) to grow at a decent rate of return in order to secure the Medicare program past 2012.  We know that by 2020 the number of seniors over age 65 will double 

This plan would go hand-in-hand with my approach to  reducing the costs of prescription drugs and overall health care (refer to next issue).

Expand/Collapse Item Health Care: Addressing the high cost of prescription drugs.

            My Bill would require Congress to work with Pharmaceutical companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs.  

If we don’t reduce prescription drug costs we will all pay through higher taxes in the outer years of the program, and/ or we will pass on the higher taxes to our children and grandchildren. My Bill would be follow a three-pronged approach to reducing the costs of prescription drugs:

(1)  National Institute of Health funding: (taxpayer spending)

Most of our prescription drugs are funded through the National Institute of Health (NIH), i.e., with our taxpayer dollars. Hence, the argument put forth by the pharmaceutical companies that they have to charge higher prices in the US to maintain their R&D budgets is somewhat bogus.  My Bill will require that any pharmaceutical company who utilizes NIH funding, will be required to return to the taxpayers the same amount through lowering the cost of the drug.  For example, if Drug X has received 40% of its funding from the NIH, then the federal government will require that the pharmaceutical companies cut the cost of Drug X to the public by 40%.

 (2)      Rescind 1967 Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ruling: 

My Bill will require the reinstatement of the ban on pharmaceutical ads on television in place prior to 1997.  Pharmaceutical companies spend more on promotion and advertisements than on their R&D.  This more than anything is driving up the costs of prescription drugs.  In 1997 Federal Communications Committee (FCC) lifted a prior ban on pharmaceuticals advertising on the air.  This appears to correlate to the following increase in annual pharmaceutical costs to the nation: 

           Annual Cost

1990                    $40 billion
2002                  
$212 billion
2014 (projected) $414 billion

Approximately $300 billion in advertising costs are passed onto the consumer. Source: CNN News on 8-19-2002  

 (3)  Congress needs to institute a new maximum wage to minimum wage ratio.  When CEOs of large pharmaceutical companies and HMO’s get egregious and irresponsible compensation packages (salary, stock options, plus perks) in the hundred’s of millions of dollars, they are in actuality stealing from heir workers, shareholders, and consumer (patients).  

If elected to office I will ask the Congress to vote on a Bill to tie the compensation of the top management to the minimum wage, at say a 50:1 ratio (refer to  section on corporate malfeasance).

(4).   Patients Bill of Rights: 

I am for a strong Patient’s Bill of Rights, as it is critical to providing the patients with enforcement mechanisms against inadequate or illegal actions by Health care organizations.  The Bill has stalled in Congress after the two chambers passed different versions of the Bill.  This occurred  in the eleventh hour after Rep Charlie Norwood succumbed hour to President Bush’s persuasive arm-twisting.  While I am for most of the tenants of the McCain-Edwards-Kennedy Patients' Bill of Rights, I do have a few differences.  

I am for a bill that would provide patients broad federal rights such as  prompt access to emergency care and specialists, the right to: have their medical decisions made by a doctor; see a medical  specialist; go to the closest emergency room; designate a  pediatrician as a primary care doctor for their children; keep the same doctor throughout their medical treatment; obtain the prescription drugs their doctor prescribes; access a fair and independent appeals process if care is denied; and hold their health plan accountable for harm done.

 I am for a bill that would provide patients with adequate means to  enforce their rights.

Hence, I am for the Senate version which sets a floor of federal benefits, which the states can exceed, as opposed to the House version which would place a federal ceiling on rights for quality patient care by HMO’s, and which would overrule higher standards in their states.   In the case of life and death issues I am for immediate access to either state of federal courts, without going through arbitration, if the latter is seen as an avoidance mechanism.

 However, as opposed to the Senate Bill,  I am for capping non-economic or punitive damages in both state and federal court to a reasonable amount of $2 million. I would also like juries to award the legal fees, instead of the current system where the attorney’s fees are attached as a percentage of the client’s legal awards.   The jury would  assign payment to the attorney for reasonable and verifiable costs on behalf of the client, plus a premium of a minimum 5% to a maximum 20% of the costs based on the quality of the attorney’s case. The current system has led to attorney’s pushing for larger and larger settlements. In the end these ever-spiraling judgments are costs that are passed onto us the consumers, patients and citizens by the HMOs.  

Expand/Collapse Item Deficit: How to stop the rise in deficit spending, and get back to a fiscally sound budget?

  Before, we can discuss solutions to this problem, we really need to understand the problem.

(1) Dishonest Accounting:  The Federal governments accounting scheme would make the likes of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and Adelphia blush. These corporations hid debt in the billions.  Our Federal government is hiding its debt in the amount of $2.35 trillion!  The scheme is exposed below:

 The Operating Budget (revenues garnered from income taxes, excise taxes, and estate taxes) has two debts -- the publicly held debt of $3.85 trillion (2002), and the debt owed by the trust funds of $2.51 trillion (2002) ( an additional $160 billion and counting has been taken from the trust funds in the 21 months since Bush II took office).  In the best of circumstances the Congress plays a shell game of using their MasterCard (trust funds) to pay off their VISA bill (publicly held debt).  The total debt never goes down. It is merely transferred, and in fact it increases with accrued interest costs.  Recently, even this usurpation from the trust funds was insufficient and Congress was forced to increase the publicly held debt by raising  the debt ceiling (August 2002) by $450 billion. (President Bush had requested a $750 billion increase to the debt ceiling).  The only way to reduce the national debt (sum of both debts) is to increase operating budget revenues and have the operating budget pay off its two debts.

(2)  The Dual Pillars of a Strong Economy: Economic Growth and Fiscal Responsibility:  

The experiment called supply side economics has proved to be an abysmal failure. It is private sector innovation not tax cuts that are the real boost to economic growth. The facts are that we had the greatest rate of economic growth in our nation in the late 1950s, at which time the top marginal rate went from 84% to 91%.  We had the longest sustained period of growth, with 22 million new jobs created in the Clinton Administration, even though the top marginal tax rate was increased from 31% to 39.6%.  Both these periods in our history also saw us return to fiscally sound budgets. The Reagan-Bush administration with its deep marginal tax rate cuts at the top end, had only one component of good economic policy: In the 1980s we had a good rate of growth sandwiched between two recessions, but we also mismanaged our federal budget and increased the national debt by $2 trillion. 

Hence, it is private industry innovation that increases the GDP of our nation, and the government coffers are the beneficiary of this innovation. The innovation is unaffected by the tax rate as seen in the greatest growth rate seen in this nation in the 1950s (top marginal tax rate 91%).  However, when we cut the tax rate too low it adversely affects our ability to get in the needed revenues to keep the US as a world economic and military power.  The same people who want the strongest economy and defense, are the ones who do everything to undermine this by buying elections by promising tax cuts. 

Now, that we have understood that tax cuts play no role in innovation, we can move on to discuss how to make the federal budget operate in the black.

(1). Honesty in Accounting Act: If elected as your representative, I would put forth a Bill that states that as long as the federal government’s operating budget is borrowing from the trust funds to either:

(a)   pay down the publicly held debt
(b)   to offset a shortfall in the operating budget then Congress cannot pass any form of income tax cuts, and must rescind any previously passed income tax cuts.

In both the aforementioned situations the trust funds are being used to pay down the operating budget’s debt and deficit.  Hence, any income tax cuts, which are progressive, are indirectly coming from the trust funds, which are regressive in nature.  This is Robin hood in reverse.  I reject that this is the politics of class war fare.  Democrats are only pointing out the accounting schemes being used to manipulate the system.

I also strongly refute that this is a tax increase.  First, the tax cuts are promised and have not yet been enacted.  Second, and more importantly, they are based on a dishonest accounting scheme.  Simply put, any income tax cuts must only come from income tax revenues, and this only after all of the debt to the trust funds has been repaid, and the publicly held debt is reduced to a point where the interest costs are not strangulating our budget. Since the 1986 and 2001 tax cuts were based on an accounting scam, they must be rescinded

Expand/Collapse Item Corporate Malfeasance

Corporate Responsibility:

 While both the Sarbane’s Bill and the House Bill have gone far in restricting the accounting malfeasance of many of Corporate Americas best-known companies, both bills falls far short of what needs to be done with regard to corporate compensation, which is at the bottom of all these accounting scandals. 

If I am honored by your vote to be your representative, I will put forth a strong Bill to reign in Corporate malfeasance that has decimated our stock market, stalled our recovery, and decimated the retirement accounts of thousands of U. S. workers directly, and millions more indirectly.

 (1) Stock Options must be limited as to amount and timing. 

 Amount:  While the minimum wage lingers at a twenty year low, average CEO compensation (including stock options) as compared to the average blue-collar worker has increased to a dizzying 531:1 ratio.

The greatest reason for this disparity in income is the amount in stock options that have been given as payment to CEOs and other top management.  This is because they do not have to expense stock options like they have to regular salary.  Also, since this was seen as compensation for higher performance, most people did not begrudge the obsequious amounts paid to top management until the scandals that exposed their fiscal shenanigans were brought to light late last year and early this year.

Hence, a CEO may have a salary of $1million, but may earn $165 million in stock options.  People forget that this money comes out of the corporate coffers and could be better used to increase workers salaries, or increase shareholder profits, rather than all going to one individual.  Hence, I believe we should have a federally imposed maximum amount permissible for stock options to corporate management.

The second way to reduce this disparity in income, which is unbecoming in a society such as ours that does not believe in an aristocracy, is to expense the stock options.  There is a quarrel in Congress as to whether stock options should be either expensed at the time they are granted or at the time they are exercised.   I would recommend the latter, as options can expire worthless, hence it is only fair to the company’s books to expense them when the stock options are “in the money” and are actually exercised.

Furthermore, the expense should capture only the difference between the fair market value of the stock and the exercise price. Hence, if an executive is granted 1,000 stock options at an exercise price of $40, and the fair market value when he/she exercises his/her options are $50.  Then only the $10 per share ($50- $40) should be expensed for a total expense of $10,000 to the corporation for this individual.  The entire $40,000 that the individual makes should not be expensed. 

Expensing the stock options, along with the other regulations being put in place would require that CEOs and top management could not go on a stock option benefits spree without a consideration as to how it would affect the bottom line of the corporate balance sheet, income statement and cash flow.  

Timing:  

If we want the corporate executives to watch out for the long-term viability of the corporation, then we need to change the incentives to get them to think long term.  Hence, my Bill would require that stock options for all senior executives must be held for at least five years before they can be exercised.      

(2) Retirement Plan Security Act:  As your representative, I will ask Congress to pass a tough law on corporations banning requirements that workers hold more than 10% of their company stock in their 401-k and similar retirement accounts.  Congress may also want to protect individuals from their own bad decisions by capping at 50% their ability to hold their own company stock in their company retirement plans. 

Free Financial Advice:  Congress should also pass a law requiring that Corporations should make available to their employees at the workplace financial advisors who would help the worker with all their retirement choices.  Workers must be allowed to choose between an advisor provided by the administrators of the 401-k, and an independent advisor.

(3) Transparency in Reporting through tough new accounting standards should be instituted with an independent Accounting Board, including, but not limited to the requirement that all debt be reported as a liability, and all interest costs expensed.  The Congress should pass a law for tough enforcement of these standards by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including criminal penalties and repayment of ill gotten gains for willful negligence by corporate management.  

·          Accounting Practices:

Rotation of Accountant Firms:

Accountants should resume their role as corporate watchdogs for shareholders and the public rather than being in bed with corporations.  One way to assure this is to have a rotation scheme, whereby the Board of Directors of every publicly traded company is required by law to change the corporation’s accounting firm every three years. This will keep the accountants honest, as they will know that in three years a competitor will be looking over their books.

Conflict of Interest:

Instead of divesting Accounting firms of their more lucrative Consulting arm.  I would recommend that to avoid “conflict of interest” no consulting firm should be allowed to work for the same corporation as their Accounting division. This would set up a second barrier to corporate excesses, as it would pit two opposing firms in the role of Accountant and Consultant giving them advice.   For example, consider  Corporation ABC. Their Consulting Firm is KPMG, and their accounting firm is Price Waterhouse Coopers.  Both firms would have to dot their i’s and cross their t’s to make sure they do not suggest something to their client that the other firm would point out as illegal or suspect. 

·          Board of Directors:

Board of Directors should also be rotated every three years.  Half the seats on the board should be set-aside for regular shareholders who will be voted in by the other shareholders, and a Union member should hold at least one seat.  This will prevent the recent track record of Country club executives who play the game of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, by rubber-stamping corporate accounting excess and compensation increases.  

·          Investment Banks and Commercial Banks:

In the 1990’s the Gingrich Congress dismantled the Glass Steagal Act of 1934.  The republican Congress passed laws prohibiting the investors from suing corporations and Investment firms.  This has led to the corporate and Investment bank excesses of the 1990s. 

Investment Banks and Commercial Bankers have been complicit in the corporate wrong doings that have devastated our stock markets for the past year.  They have helped corporations hide their debt, and top officers have invested in unethical corporate schemes they have helped devised.  Investment Banks have coerced their analysts to push stocks in which they had a vested interest in selling the stocks for the client’s IPOs.

If elected to Congress, I would put forth a Bill to set up a Twenty-first century Glass Steagall Act, with Chinese walls to protect the investor and workers from corporate crimes.

·          Tax Havens:

If elected to Congress I would write a Bill that would turn the tide on corporate tax welchers.  My Bill would require a higher tax rate to be imposed on American /Multinational corporations that move to off shore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

I would also require that the 1986 Bill be reinstated, which requires corporations that accept tax credits for R& D research to actually use the funds set aside for R&D.  The current administration has finagled this law, allowing for yet another corporate accounting loophole.

Expand/Collapse ItemCongressional Issues:

 In my opinion there are two issues tied for the top spot confronting Congress today.  They are the economy (and its effect on the federal budget), and the war on terrorism. 

The Soviet Union collapsed as a world super power when they mismanaged their economy, and could not maintain their huge army after an irresponsible decade long insurgence into Afghanistan in the 1980s.  Similarly, the United States cannot continue to be a world super power without continuing to be an economic power. The current administration and Republican controlled Congress (4/2001) has also mismanaged the federal budget with the reinstitution of the failed policy of supply-side economics. This is even more apparent and urgent as we try to fund a war against al-Queda in Afghanistan, and possibly start a war on a second front, in Iraq.  The first was a necessity, the second appears to be more of an adventure, rather than a cogent policy in the best interests of the USA. 

At a time when our federal budget is bending under the weight of the additional costs for our defense department and the additional funding for Homeland security, our sputtering economy has caused less revenues to come into our federal coffers.  Short term our federal deficits are due to the economy, but long term the Bush tax cuts will break the back of our federal budget especially in the out years when the baby boomers start to retire en masse.  Hence, it is essential to go back and review the supply-side tax cuts of 2001.  If I am so honored by the voters of my district to represent them in the House of Representatives, I will be the “bluest” of Blue Dog Democrats.  I will be a fiscal hawk.  After we have again closed the “lock box” and thrown away the key, I will work to have the most efficient and tightest of budgets, so as to always be cognizant and respectful of our hard working families (taxpayers). 

 Expand/Collapse ItemTrade - Protect American Jobs Act

            The United States has lost millions of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries over the past few years because of our trade laws and policies.  If elected to office I would pass the Protect American Jobs Act. 

First, and foremost I would not have voted to grant Mr. Bush “Fast Track Authority” in the Bill recently passed in the US Congress.  I have always strongly believed in keeping a viable manufacturing base right here in the United States, and giving people a living wage.  I would vote to stop the unfair practices of countries’ that want a one-way traffic of exporting their goods to the USA, but place quotas and/ or high tariffs on our goods being imported to their countries.  I am for free, but FAIR trade. 

I also believe that the senior management of multinational corporations has a short-term and small-minded viewpoint (as has been exposed by the slew of recent corporate scandals).  They are purely profit oriented for the near term.  They look for short cuts to make a profit on the backs of workers. They pay slave wages in third world countries, and look at American citizens as mere consumers.  In the long term this unequal system will derail the global economy.   

If corporations would only think big, and long term, they would consider using a zero sum game to increase their profits by expanding the pie of their consumers.  They should be required to pay a living wage to the workers in all countries.  Then workers in Taiwan, India, Pakistan, China, Brazil, etc, etc., would be able to buy the products manufactured in their own countries, and workers in the USA would be able to make a living wage and buy the products manufactured at home (autos, refrigerators, television sets, air conditioners, fabric, clothes, etc., etc.)   This way multinationals would grow the pie of consumers, and the world economy would expand.  If elected to office, I would be a strong advocate in the House of Representatives for a Fair Trade Bill, which would keep our jobs at home and which reduces our burgeoning trade deficit. 

Expand/Collapse Item Minimum Wage - ...workers get a living wage

            The income gap in the United States between the rich and the poor has widened throughout the past decade.   I will pledge to work hard to reduce the income disparity and ensure workers get a living wage. While the minimum wage lingers at a twenty year low, average CEO compensation (including stock options) as compared to the average blue-collar worker has increased to a dizzying 531:1 ratio. This is way up from the 42:1 ratio of an average CEO’s income to an average Blue Collar worker’s income in 1980.  Furthermore, the inequality in the compensation structure in America far outweighs the CEO to Blue-collar worker income ratio in other industrialized countries: Japan has a 12:1 ratio, and Europe has a 42:1 ratio. Hence, the compensation structure of the top executives of the United States top 1,000 Corporations should be tied to the lowest paid employee in the corporation.  Since, America likes to be bigger and better than the rest of the world I would suggest a 50:1 ratio.  The next time a corporate bigwig wants to raise his income, under my Bill he/she would also have to raise the income of the lowest income worker, and the rest of the workers up the pay scale accordingly. (Small Business Owners (SBOs) with less than 100 workers will be excluded from this requirement). 
This recommendation would help kill two-birds with one stone: An equitable minimum wage tied to an equitable maximum wage for all publicly traded companies.

Expand/Collapse Item Workers Rights - The right to organize, the right to safe and healthful working environment

            The right to organize, the right to safe and healthful working environment, overtime protection, etc., have all been compromised by anti-worker business tactics and proposed federal legislation.  Here is my position on these issues: 

           The 104th-107th. Republican majority House and Senate have each passed Bills weakening workers rights with regard to their rights to organize, and overtime protection. The first action of the Bush Administration in February 2001 was to roll back ten years of worker protection laws by passing a business friendly Act to roll back OSHA’s ergonomic standards. I will fight to reinstate the highest standards for OSHA.  I will also stand up to defend the civil rights of our Homeland Security Force. 

            If elected to Congress on the democrat ticket I will work hard with my fellow democrats to safeguard the rights of workers in all areas including but not limited to the right to organize, the right to representation, the right to a fair “living wage with COLA, the right to workplace safety, the right to pension protection, the right to not be discriminated against due to race, sex, sexual orientation, or disability

Expand/Collapse Item The Workforce Investment Act

Upon going to Congress I will check the to ascertain the current funding of the Work Force Investment Act of 1998.  If the funding is below par, I will strongly advocate for adequate funding to assist disabled persons to get the training they deserve and require to lead functional, and productive lives.

Expand/Collapse Item National security:  War should be the last option, not the first...

Let’s look at the situation in a logical manner. Before, we send our young men and women to war, we need to make sure that we have tried every peaceful means possible to resolve the situation.  War should be the last option, not the first.   Furthermore, President Bush needs to make the case that we are in imminent danger of being attacked.  He has not yet made this case.  Hence, I will support U.S. action after two conditions are satisfied: a serious attempt at a peaceful resolution fails, and a specific indication of “imminent danger” to U.S. citizens is put forth by this administration to its citizens. 

Furthermore, now that Saddam has agreed to unfettered weapons inspections with no preconditions, the Bush administration has to follow international law, and allow the process to go forward.  Even if they think it is a bluff, they should call Saddam’s bluff. 

Therefore, if there was little reason for a rush to war a few weeks ago, there is even less reason now that Iraq has ostensibly agreed to unfettered weapons inspections under the auspices of the United Nations. 

Also, let us remember that Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) worked for the United States in staving off a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union for the 50 plus years of the cold war.  Saddam may be evil, but he is not mad.   He knows that his entire nation will be blown to smithereens if he ever were to attack us.  Saddam’s actions during the gulf war show that he is a pragmatist.  The Bush I administration had informed him that they were following the U.N. mandate to get Iraq out of Kuwait, but that they were not going for “regime change” as long as Saddam did not use his chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. soldiers.  Saddam did not, and Bush I kept his word and did not march our troops into Baghdad.   And for twelve years, Saddam has not fired a shot at us.  Furthermore, Saddam is a secular leader, as opposed to the fundamentalist bin-Laden who despises secular leaders in the Middle East.  Iraq went to war against Iran in the 1980s to defeat fundamentalism. There is no love lost between the two men.   

The Bush administration has not made a convincing case that these two men were in cahoots in the 9-11 attacks on our nation. 

Also, “regime change” and “preemptive strike” are not in the U.N. Charter.  As signatories to the charter we will be the outlaws if we insist in pursuing these ill-conceived ideas. 

Finally, it is important to keep our eye on the correct target.  Our immediate enemy is the terrorist group al-Queda.  Hence, if Bush takes the war to Saddam, before making every attempt at a peaceful solution, both in Iraq and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he may well unleash another major attack on our shores, by al-Queda cells that the FBI and CIA have been utterly inadequate of stopping in the past. 

Has the America has responded effectively in the war against terrorism? 

While we have made some baby steps we are far from winning the war against terrorism.  This is really a war on two fronts:  First to defeat al-Queda, and second to reform the Middle East regimes through persuasion and not coercion. 

Our first task was to kill in battle, or to catch and try in the courts the members of al-Queda.  We now know that our army mismanaged the battle of Tora-Bora, when they chose to bomb the caves from a distance, but did not chose to follow-up by launching a major ground assault.  We allowed Osama bin-laden, Ayman Al-Zahawari, and Mullah Omar with a contingent of al-Queda and Taliban to escape into Pakistan.  Hence, we still have to catch the master criminal, and his cohorts before we declare victory on that front.  We also have to locate all the sleeper cells in our country, in Europe, and around the world.   While there has been some movement in the past few weeks, right in our backyard, in general we have not even made a dent into the al-Queda network.  Finally, we need to stop the flow of illegal money to these groups.  This has proved a more difficult task than initially expected, and even here we have failed miserably.  In tandem we need to help rebuild Afghanistan, which lies in tatters after a quarter century of war.  If we don’t we will rue the day, when we are confronted with the new outlaw group in charge of the country. Second, we need to reform the Middle East regimes – not by the sword, but by an honest discourse and the power of persuasion that open secular, and democrat societies are the best form of governance. If we are not careful we may end up with the same fundamentalist regimes that took over Iran when the Shah was dethroned.  Democracy at this time of heated anti-Americanism will assuredly bring to power unfriendly regimes.  Hence, we should be careful what we wish for, we may well get it.  If the worst-case scenario comes to fruition, we will have long queues at the gas station with sky rocketing oil prices.  This in turn will lead to inflation, higher interest rates and a further economic downturn or a full-blown depression.

Expand/Collapse Item Energy Conservation

I support enhancing energy conservation by developing alternate supply sources. I believe we have been too slow to move to alternate energy sources.   If elected to Congress I will be a strong advocate for renewable, environmentally friendly, energy sources, such as hydrogen cells to power our automobiles and trucks, and solar, and wind energy to power our factories, farms and homes

Expand/Collapse Item Campaign finance reform

I am for public financing of our campaigns.  Six dollars ($6) should be taken out of each tax return (mandatory).  Of which, $2 would be used for the presidential race, $2 for Senate races, and $2 for the House races.   Incumbents and challengers would share equally in the pot of money collected in each state/ district.  Television and radio stations, which have been granted the federal spectrum for free, would be required to allow for free air time for the candidates to address the issues.  All candidates would be required to debate their opponents at least three (3) times during the campaign.  This is the only way to level the playing field and allow for the candidate with the best ideas to win the day, rather than the candidate with the most money.  Under penalty of law, no candidate would be allowed to collect hard or soft money from his or her constituents.  However, PACS and other issues /political groups, under the first amendment, could collect money for their cause, and run political ads to express their beliefs.

I believe that the McCain-Feingold, and Shays Meehan Bills are too complicated, and will possibly run afoul of our first amendment rights.  The Federal Election Commission has already manipulated the Bill to fit their philosophy.  Since, the Bill is complicated it allows for manipulation by groups who are against it, and they will find ways to get around the spirit of the new law. 

Expand/Collapse Item Election reform legislation - standards in voting machines

I am for federal standards in voting machines.   I believe if optical scanning, “touch screen”, or any other type of machines are utilized they should be required to give a print out confirmation to the voter of his/her votes, and an option to make corrections, if necessary.   I also believe ballots should be standardized, and the format should be one which allows for no confusion as to which candidate the voter is voting for.  I concur with both provisional ballots and statewide registration lists.

However, as seen in the presidential election of 2000, and the more recent debacle in the Democrat Gubernatorial primary a few weeks ago, that there is along way to go before we can guarantee our citizens that their vote not only counts, but also that it will actually be counted. 

Hence, in order to over come voting place errors, unopened polling places, malfunctioning machinery, irregular ballots, and scrubbed voter rolls this nation needs to urgently change our election day to incorporate a two-day weekend voting schedule.  

Expand/Collapse Item LOCAL ISSUES

The top issue confronting the Western New York area.

Jobs, jobs, jobs! The twin cities of Buffalo and Rochester have been mismanaged for decades, at the local, state and national level.  We have lost jobs and with it our population, which is also our tax base.   In order to keep our sons and daughters at home, we need to have a joint task force at the three levels of government – local, state and federal to develop a five-year plan to bring back business to our area. 

Businesses have a ready made work force with the graduates from two great Universities – SUNY at Buffalo, and the Rochester Institute of Technology, and our excellent adjunct colleges, Geneseo, Canisus, Fredonia, and St. Bonaventure. This area also boasts world-class vocational schools in the I.T.T Institute and Daemon College. 

My first job will be to hold community meetings and speak to the locals.  I would like to get their input as to how I can best help them improve their lives and that of their community. 

First and foremost, we need to have a business friendly atmosphere. We may need to consider offering tax abatements for 3-5 years, to get businesses to move into our area.   We also need a major advertising campaign to sell our good points and change the “Shuffle of to Buffalo” mentality in the rest of the nation. We need to sell our excellent work force, our easy access to energy, our great climate (save for the occasional blizzard), our natural beauty – Niagara Falls, and Letchworth Park to name a few -- our great schools, our close knit community, and our great sports teams. 

If elected to office, I will work hard with our two democrat senators, Senator Schumer and Senator Clinton to make this a top priority. We will work with the local and state officials to turn around this dire situation and achieve a vibrant economy in Western New York.

Local Economy/business: 

If I am elected to the House of Representatives from the 26th. District of New York, my first job on the local level would be to help struggling upstate cities. 

The Buffalo economy has been in the doldrums since the Erie Canal and the waterways into the Midwest became obsolete in the 1950s with the opening of the St. Lawrence waterway, and when rail, highways and airplanes took over as the preferred mode of transportation. Later in the 1980s we suffered job losses as the Bethlehem steel mills in Lackawanna closed down as foreign imported steel flooded our markets at a better quality and cheaper price.  Since, then we have been stuck in an economic never land. 

The Rochester economy is more of a white-collar economy.  Rochester was blessed as the corporate headquarters of some of our most stall-worth industries of the 1960s-1980s, such a Xerox, Kodak, Polaroid, and Bausch & Lomb.   Unfortunately, these giants were also caught sleeping at the switch and did not adapt quickly to the new economy. Furthermore, they had their market share eroded by cheap competition from abroad, mainly Japan, in the 1980s.    

We need to reenergize both these economies by bringing them into the twenty-first century with new innovative technologies. We also need to put in place FAIR Trade Laws to prevent the decimation of our manufacturing base at home. 

One unique idea, I would bring to the table as your representative would be to secure federal grants to have the western New York area as the test case for the new hydrogen-cell technology.  A Buffalo based company has the technology in place to start America on the road to a renewable, non-fossil fuel economy.  My proposal is that we should be the first area in the nation to get embark of the new technology of this renewable source of energy for our transportation.  Since, this would benefit the entire nation in due course, our two Democrat Senators, and I as your representative would have a strong case to ask the federal government for grants. This would bring both new blue collar and white-collar jobs to our area to reenergize our economy.

Another new technology our area should be pursuing is in the burgeoning field of genetic engineering and immunology.   SUNY at Buffalo as a teaching hospital is uniquely situated to get federal R&D dollars to get us at the forefront of this exciting new technology.  Senator Clinton has already championed this cause by bringing $2.5 million in federal seed money for the initiation of the Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics. 

Waterfront development – Commercial, recreational and residential growth of the Lake Erie/Erie Canal waterways is critical to Western New York’s future.  In the past, Western New York was a leader in the US because of its proximity to Lake Erie.  With the possibility of global warming and the increased need for fresh water, the waterfront could, again, thrust WNY into national (and possibly) global importance.  Yet, the Buffalo waterfront has not been developed.  Other northern, Easter (Baltimore) and so-called “Rust Belt” cities (Pittsburgh and Cleveland) have successfully made the transition to white-collar economies utilizing their waterfront developments.  Buffalo and WNY should use these cities as models to do the same.   

Peace Bridge – The link to Canada (our largest trading partner) is also a major concern for the WNY area.  However, as important as commercial trading is to the area, homeland security must not be compromised in order to stimulate commerce.  The Peace Bridge was built in the 1930’s.  Certainly, motorized transportation has increased many times since its inception.  Rapid, but secure movement of both individual and commercial vehicles is a must in order to stimulate economic re-development of this area.  State of the art technology should be at the forefront of any reconfiguration of the Peace Bridge and its adjacent areas.  I believe a two-bridge solution has many pluses in easing traffic congestion; for offering an alternate route if one or the other of the bridges is closed down during repair work, or during an accident; a divergence of regular traffic, and trucks with their own parking area for inspection purposes.    

Increased efficiency and enforcement at the US /Canada Border:  

While the perpetuators of 9-11 came to the United States on valid Visas, and not illegally across common borders, we do need to be vigilant about our national security.  I support the Smart Border Declaration, signed into law on December 12, 2001, with its four pillars: secure flow of people, secure flow of goods, secure infrastructure, and information sharing.  However, this should be done without unreasonable harassment of legal residents and citizens of our country.  If necessary, I would support federal funding for additional border inspectors, and more training to make sure they carry out their job in a professional manner. 

Regionalization – Many other large cities have used this concept to assist them in rebuilding their economies.  While arguably it can work, it should introduced on a step-by-step basis.  For example, consolidation of water systems might generate economies of scale, especially where cities, towns and villages have water districts that might be inefficient due to their size.  Certainly, many towns have integrated their systems into the Erie County Water Authority in the past few years to take advantage of a centralized water system.  However, large suburban towns are suspicious of regionalization because they do not want to pay for what they conceive to be the mistakes of the large urban cities. \

Advocate for funding and improvements at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station:   

I would strongly advocate for federal funds to modernize the 50-year old facility, including longer runways and modernization of technologies, so that it can support our newer air force planes. I will work with our two democrat senators, Schumer and Clinton, to bring additional funding to complete the renovations to make it a first class facility. 

Restore competitive domestic markets for members of the local agriculture industry: 

I would strongly support our local agriculture industry against unfair trade agreements with other countries, while working diligently to open up new export markets for their produce.  I will work on a Bill in Congress to stop unfair trade practices that abound from countries that place unequal tariffs, and/ or do not allow our producers to export to their markets.

Federal relicensing of the Niagara Power Project: 

I will be a strong advocate for the federal relicensing of the Niagara Power project when the current license expires in 2007.  I will work in Congress with our two U.S. Senators, Senators Schumer and Clinton, to this end.  I will work with and seek the advice of local officials to find the best way in which to use this cheap electricity to increase jobs in Niagara County.  

Revitalize the Niagara County Economy:  

Niagara County needs new manufacturing jobs, and to use it natural beauty to return to its former glory as honeymoon capitol of the world.  While the casino appears to be a done deal, it cannot be seen as a solution to the areas economy.  First, we need to bring in investors by granting them tax abatements for five years to get industries to move to this area.  We should use as a major selling point our access to cheap electricity, while the Midwest and Southwest are mired in a prolonged drought.  We need a top notch training facility to get local citizens trained in the latest technologies and ready to go to work in these industries.  Second, we need to get first class hotels and entertainment facilities into the area.  This will attract big time entertainers like Tony Bennett, Englbert Humperdink, Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds, Al Martino, Pat Boone, Bobby Vinton, etc., etc.  In order to compete with other renowned vacation spots we need to build a world-class botanical garden, a world-class amusement park, and ice rink.  We need to have an area dedicated to antique shops, and quaint cafés, where we display and sell Niagara County’s fine wines.  These improvements would bring Niagara County and Niagara Falls back to its former glory.  
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