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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 AllTo get back to a fiscally sound federal budget:

To stop using the sleight of hand accounting practices of the federal government, whereby the under the hocus-pocus of the “unified” budget the government hides the true deficit and debt of our federal budget.     

Expand/Collapse All To secure the trust funds of Social Security and Medicare:

I plan to for once and for all stop the practice of politicians looting our trust funds by enforcing Section 13301 of the Budget Act signed into law by George Herbert Walker Bush on November 5, 1990.    

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My first Bill before Congress would be to rename FICA taxes as FICA Savings (words matter). Thereby, ensuring under ERISA laws that these trust fund surpluses are maintained as the national  “defined benefit” pension program that they are by law.  Furthermore, this will ensure that these trust fund surpluses are not misused to hide operating budget deficits, or to pay down the operating budget’s publicly held debt.  (Both parties have in the past misused these funds, though the Clinton-Gore presidency brought us back to federal budget surpluses). 

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Next, to tie the Gordian knot on the trust funds my Bill will require that a newly named division of the Treasury Department secure all the FICA taxes (Savings).  Thereby, separating FICA Savings from the operating budget revenues (income taxes, excise taxes, and estate taxes) legally by imposing a “Chinese wall”.  Whereby, never again can these two sources of funds be intermingled by usury.

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The trust fund trustees will be required to hire money managers to invest the surplus as in a group pension plan in a blind trust.  Furthermore, the trustees who are political appointees will have no control or knowledge of the individual investments.  They will only have the duty to write the policies as to the broad nature of the investments: w% cash, x% treasury bonds, y% corporate bonds, and z% equities, etc., etc.  The trustees would also be required to hire and fire the money managers based solely on their performance. (This is different from the President Bush’s proposal to have individual private account, which would bust the defined benefit nature of the current Social Security System, and adversely affect the most needy amongst us in retirement).

Expand/Collapse AllMedicare Reform:

Currently both the Republican majority House and the Democrat majority Senate are each 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. 

We currently have a purported $168 billion federal budget deficit.  In actuality, this is the so-called “unified” budget deficit. The actual “operating budget” deficit is approximately $320 billion and counting. Our Federal government uses the same accounting tricks of hiding the federal deficit, as has been exposed recently in the news, by companies such as Enron, Tyco, Xerox, Adelphia, etc., etc.  And, under the new Corporate Accountability Act that Bush will sign into law on July 30, 2002, if the Congress and the president are held to the same standards they wish to impose of corporate CEOs they would all get a 20 year jail sentence and have to pay fines of $5 million each.  

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.

·           In order to use more efficiently our Medicare dollars my recommendation is to revamp Medicare so that the federal government is no longer the “Insurer of last resort”. Instead, the federal government will continue to collect Medicare dollars through FICA Savings (name change) of 1.45% of all earned income, and become the “Group Buyer” of last resort. The federal government will 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: (Hospital Insurance):
                           $189 billion in 2003

Part B: (Supplemental. Medical Insurance):                            $119 billion in 2003

Total Medicare revenues: 
                          
$308 billion in 2003

        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.

             The remaining money must be invested in the blind trust (see above) 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. 

 ·           My Bill would also 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.     

Expand/Collapse AllCorporate 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. 

 · 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. 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.  America likes to be bigger and better than the rest of the world so I would suggest a 50:1 ratio.  The next time a corporate bigwig wants to raise his income, he will also have to raise the income of the little guy in the workshop.  (Small Business Owners (SBOs) will be excluded form 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.
      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.
     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.   
      

Expand/Collapse AllNEW YORK STATE ISSUES FOR UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

1. Trade: The United States has lost millions of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries over the past few years because of our trade laws and policies. What would you do to Protect American jobs?

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 have 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 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.

2. Social Security: 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. What is your position?

I am the only person running to either Chamber of Congress 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 ERISA Laws currently in place, my Bill would require a “Chinese wall” to segregate FICA Savings from the operating Budget Taxes. 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 could hire and fire the investment manager strictly on the basis of performance or lack thereof.

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. This earlier ruling is misused by the republicans and Conservatives to tout their position that there are no trust funds. There are two problems with this argument: First, the Fleming v. Nestor argument was during the McCarthy period when Nestor, a Communist was denied his Social Security payments even though he had paid into the system with his FICA taxes. Second, at the time FICA taxes were strictly a pay-as-you-go system, whereby current workers pay for current retirees. Hence, it was considered a tax and thereby could be commingled with the operating budget.

However, the situation is very different today. The FICA system was changed 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). As late as the 1970’s it was 8.10% on an income cap of $25,900. However, the Greenspan commission recommended a two-phase system - the original "pay-as-you-go" system plus a new component, a "defined pension plan", whereby current workers for the first time would be required to put away money from their paychecks for their OWN retirement by paying 15.3% (Employer & Employee) in FICA taxes, of which 12.2%, on an income cap of $51,300 (with an automatic COLA), was for the Social Security or OASDI system. Today workers are paying 15.3% on an income cap of $84,900 (2002). Unfortunately, the plan was incomplete due to the fact that Congress forgot to lock the barn door before they let the horses out. This is the usual unintended consequence of poorly written Bills. No effort was made to segregate the pay-as-you go portion from the defined benefit portion of the workers FICA taxes. Furthermore, under this pretext, Ronald Reagan was able to drop the top marginal tax rate from 70% to 50% in his first term, and 50% to 28% in his second term, while usurping all the excess funds collected through FICA taxes. Hence, the working class had imposed on them a regressive tax (FICA), while a progressive tax cut was given to the affluent. Hence, Reagan not only borrowed every dime of the newly raised FICA taxes (in complete contradiction to the purported purposes --defined benefit plan -- for which they were raised), but he increased the publicly held debt to $2 trillion for the first time in our history.

George Herbert Walker Bush had coined the term "Voodoo economics" to denigrate the "Supply-side" economics being touted by his opponent , then Governor Ronald Reagan, during his run for the presidency in the 1980 elections. Bush, Sr. had the gumption, for which the "so-called" conservatives never forgave him, to raise the top rate to 31% (still far short of USA's top marginal rates of 84% in the 1950's, and of 91% in the 1930's), and 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 law suit against Congress to the Supreme Court.

I abhor and reject the terminology used by the republicans to deflect the blame, and to suggest it is the democrats who are playing "class warfare" or the politics of the rich against the poor. I am no different, and as innocent, as the bystander who upon seeing a robbery take place points out to the officer, "Sir, that is the man who stole the old lady's purse, and ran down the street." Democrats are only pointing out the reverse Robin Hood tax schemes of the republicans.

The Operating Budget (revenues garnered from income taxes, excise taxes, and estate taxes) has two debts -- the publicly held debt of $3.4 trillion (2001) (now at $3.85 trillion in 2002), and the debt owed by the trust funds of $2.35 trillion (2001) ( an additional $160 billion and counting has been taken fro 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 transferred, and in fact increases with accrued interest costs. In the worst of circumstances the Congress adds on additional debt by increasing the debt ceiling (August 2002) by adding $450 billion to the publicly held debt, and borrowing from the trust funds NOT only to pay off the publicly held debt (The MasterCard -VISA scheme), but to pile on additional debt by borrowing from the trust funds to pay for operating budget items. 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.

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)

(3) Pensions: The recent spate of Corporations who over-reported earnings, etc. and filed for bankruptcy have destroyed the retirement plans of many Americans. What would you do to protect workers pensions? 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. ? 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. 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. ? 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 at least one seat should be held by a Union member. 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 Steagal 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. I would require a higher tax rate to be imposed on American /Multinational corporations that move to off shore tax havens. (4) Medicare: Seniors and disabled persons are in dire need for assistance in obtaining and maintaining their prescription drug regimen. What would you do to provide prescription drug coverage? Currently, both the Republican majority House and the Democrat majority Senate are each 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. We currently have a purported $168 billion federal budget deficit. In actuality, this is the so-called “unified” budget deficit. The actual “operating budget” deficit is approximately $320 billion and counting. Our Federal government uses the same accounting tricks of hiding the federal deficit, as has been exposed recently in the news, by companies such as Enron, Tyco, Xerox, Adelphia, etc., etc. And, under the new Corporate Accountability Act that Bush will sign into law on July 30, 2002, if the Congress and the president are held to the same standards they wish to impose of corporate CEOs then those who voted for the Bush $1.3 trillion tax cut and Budget in 2001 would all get a 20 year jail sentence and have to pay fines of $5 million each. 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. ? In order to use more efficiently our Medicare dollars my recommendation is to revamp Medicare so that the federal government is no longer the “Insurer of last resort”. Instead, the federal government will continue to collect Medicare dollars through FICA Savings (name change) of 1.45% of all earned income, and become the “Group Buyer” of last resort. The federal government will 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. The remaining money must be invested in the blind trust (see above 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. ? My Bill would also 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 based on two facts: (1) 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 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) My Bill will require the reinstatement of the ban on pharmaceutical ads on television in place prior to 1997. 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 pharmaceutical costs: 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 (5) Minimum Wage: The income gap in the United States between the rich and the poor has widened throughout the past decade. Coupled with the increasing gap between CEO pay and the workers pay, what would you do to ensure workers 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. (6) Workers Rights: 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. What is your position? 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. These actions have been stalled for the time being with the defection of Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont from the Republican Party to an Independent voting with the democrat majority. However, the 2002 elections are crucial in keeping the Senate under democrat control and increasing their majority, and for the first time in eight years to return the House to Democrat control. 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.

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