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 Response Page - Suggestions for President-Elect Obama to include in his upcoming major addresses -      
 

 
January 6, 2009

Civic Caucus
8301 Creekside Circle #920
Bloomington, MN 55437
952-835-4549

Dear President-elect Obama and members of your transition team,

We have just polled participants in the Civic Caucus, a tax-exempt, strictly non-partisan, virtual public affairs educational organization, http://civiccaucus.org. We asked them to share in 100 words or less--a request for brevity that was not always honored, as you will see--a central message they would like to hear in upcoming major addresses by the President-elect.

We're honored to share responses with you and hope that individuals responsible for advising the President-elect will receive them. A summary is followed by the complete text of the messages. They are part of this email and also included as a .pdf attachment. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Verne C. Johnson, chair, Civic Caucus
Paul A. Gilje, coordinator
civiccaucus@comcast.net


SUMMARY OF MESSAGES TO PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA:
--Sacrifice from everyone
--A more just and humane society for all
--Cannot return to past practices
--Elected leaders should act in the interest of future generations rather than on behalf of the status quo.
--Staying on the "me first" road will continue the rapid decline of the American Republic.
--The nation needs to commit itself to maintaining a level playing field.
-- The world cannot be a better place for our children, if the fruits of their labors have been spent by their forefathers.
--Let us put a windmill in every prairie, the corn in every car and the sun in every building.
--Expand jobs for business within the U.S. and internationally.
--Express firm commitment to strengthen, maintain, and grow U.S. business leadership, including positions in technology, medical, food, key industries, and other areas.
--Confirm fiscal constraint in all budget categories.
--Take a fresh look at all entitlements.
--Schools need to be redesigned to motivate students. Teachers' roles need to be expanded. Enable states to be change agents in K-12 education.
--A forceful message of promise and hope. Americans are in this with our brethren throughout the world.
--Rescue our economy with a massive dose of government intervention and regulation that will shift the flow of money from the top 5 percent to the rest of the population.
--The message to the world community: change is coming and the U.S. intends to have a different relationship with them. Domestically: a message of hope wrapped in the reality of the problems he inherited.
--Communicate with adversaries throughout the world and rebuild the confidence of people who lost respect for us in the past 20 years.
--Periods of great investment are followed by periods of greater prosperity. Priorities and desired outcomes will be specifically identified and accountability will be attached to resource allocation.
--Upgrade workers to carry the burden of government. The outsourcing of jobs and business has led to more folks without the ability to pay taxes. Let's find ways to keep jobs here.
--The current economic crisis is providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to effect major change. Now is the time to tackle health care, immigration, national infrastructure, educational standards, regulation of the finance community, and a return to a multi-polar foreign policy.
--We are a nation, a people, who have individually and collectively been living beyond their needs. We, therefore, cannot spend our way back to prosperity.
--Two issues prohibit equilibrium in the American labor market; organized labor and illegal immigration.
--Despite our differences we want to be a unified people. It will strengthen us on domestic problems and surely will strengthen us in dealing with other nations.
--Fixing our economy must be priority number 1. If you focus here you focus our attention and support with you, even those of us who opposed you.
--The central message President Obama needs to deliver is one of hope. He must show us the roadmap. He must set the example he expects us all to follow.
--He has to engage citizens as if it were wartime and ask us to sacrifice and be very specific about how.
--End restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and on trade and travel exchange privileges with Cuba.
--The middle class cannot bear the burden of our economy.
--The Constitution, which has been decimated, must be preserved and restored, and senseless war must be ended.
--Create systemic, bottom-up policies that reestablish social and economic justice, media fairness, educational equity, and voting rights.
-- Retain a strong military but use it as a last resort.
-- Establish a culture of community; individual opportunity joined with joint responsibility to work together.
-- Tell it to us straight. No sugar coating.

MESSAGES TO PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA:
(Note - Some of the wordings are the same or similar to those suggested to Gov. Pawlenty)

Marianne Curry
We are in this together. Recovery requires sacrifice from everyone. And that means helping each other. The greed of a few does not define this nation. We can do whatever is necessary to become the fulfillment of our American ideals.

Wayne Jennings
While there are host of problems to work on (economy, debt, war, environment, medical, education, etc.) all solutions must maintain our highest mission of a more just and humane society for all.

Kent Eklund
We are all in this together and we cannot return to past practices as the basis for a sound recovery. We must rebuild a private sector based on less personal debt and possibly a lower living standard, including a more sustainable environmental economy.

Glenn Dorfman
That the citizens must depend more on themselves and their Neighbors/communities and less on government. Our Government, at all levels, must face the fact that baby-boom demographics are no longer an asset but are in transition to a major liability (Medicare and Social Security)---huge future government costs for which there are no reserves. Governments at all levels must learn to focus resources (taxes) more like a laser beam and less like "vomit." Every public program is not as important as another---police, fire, defense, transportation and k-12 are probably more important than tax expenditures to itemizers, whether corporate or individuals, farm subsidies, non-profit tax expenditures where the majority of the non-profits income is governmental. Those who oppose single payer government provided health care for all should publicly oppose Medicare or look up the definition of hypocrisy and ignorance while looking in the mirror.

The moral of this short epistle is that the American voter must be educated on the federal and state budget so that elected leaders can act in the interest of future generations rather than on behalf of the status quo. We all need to be reminded of the words of the great Frederick Douglass on the matter of reform/change, particularly Minnesotans, who avoid confrontation at all costs: "Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."

Both should argue that: (1) if taxes are necessary, everyone must pay, sacrifice. (2) if spending cuts are necessary everyone should be affected, sacrifice. We cannot afford the political games (for voter support) that most politicians have played for as long as any of us can remember. Both must engage the hearts. Both should inform (educate) the business community (who support spending cuts) that the tax expenditures businesses receive are government spending in the same way that farm price supports are spending that farm businesses and farmers receive.

Both should require that non-profit organizations that receive tax benefits (expenditures) raise over 50%(or more) of their gross revenues from non-public sources or they will lose their exemption from the property and sales tax (this non-governmental revenue was the reason non-profits originally received the tax expenditures to begin with).

Overall, we need voters to understand that personal savings is a form of insurance against unemployment, that an annuity or long-term care insurance is personally responsible behavior since it shields the taxpayer from having to pay for long-term care for all. We all must live within our means, recognize that a good education is a key to economic and personal success and that we are responsible for our own and children's education.

Change requires tolerating the mighty roars of the ocean. Politicians will continue to prey on fear ("tax increases and spending cuts") until the public is engaged enough to give elected officials permission to act for the benefit of the whole rather than parts and holds them accountable if they do not act in such a manner.

I believe that we are at one of the most significant forks in the road of our collective history. Staying on the current "me first"--individuals matter more than society--road will continue the rapid decline of the American Republic. Taking the road less traveled could make all the difference.

Ralph Brauer
As I wrote in my book The Strange Death of Liberal America, the nation needs to commit itself to maintaining a level playing field. Create systemic, bottom-up policies that reestablish social and economic justice, media fairness, educational equity, and voting rights.

David F. Durenberger
Before I switched from the Governor's race to the Senate in 1978 I went to D.C. to find out why I should from members of the Senate who had been Governors. I wanted to change the role of government and they said I might but only if I followed the money and the spending power to its national source. I became ranking GOP on Intergovernmental relations subcommittee and then chair until I left for another committee and IGR was dropped. The National Governors were a force in getting Reagan to propose a "new federalism" which failed because of the political power of counties and cities.

History is repeating itself. Obama will do a stimulus package and all the local governments in America have hired two senators (ex IL) and a congressperson to carry letters to Santa in Washington. The Tim Pawlentys of the NGA are doing little/nothing to focus the President on national purposes and state accountability and capacity.

As we are proving once again, in our historic credit crisis, one important purpose of a national government is a healthy national economy as a foundation for the income security of its citizens. In which local markets play by national rules. Full employment and realistic income protection. Tax policy that relies less on taxing income, wages, and the savings/investments they make possible than on the goods and services we produce.

Private insurance policy that uses national rules to restore competitiveness to insurance markets so as to minimize the "catastrophic" role that social insurance must play. Especially as this relates to health care access and to supportive services for persons with disabilities. Public assistance (welfare) will remain a joint national-state responsibility because of the wide variations in tax capacity and public equity commitment of the states to our citizens.

As our nation ages and the global economy changes, the northern states are gradually losing their taxing capacity to the south. Sam's Clubbers who live in these states and depend on them for access to quality jobs and public services are either dependent on more public assistance or on jobs in the south. They are left to pay off pension, health and disability insurance promises made in the healthy era to persons who "took early retirement" so they could "spend their kids inheritance" in FL or TX or AZ. That's why we need a new national income security policy to replace the antiquated promises made to the "greatest generation" before our children and grandchildren have to rely on them.

We also need better from state government. Education and infrastructure is what states and local governments can do best. Reform of education at all levels is a must public purpose of state leaders which Governors like Rudy Perpich and Arne Carlson led on decades ago. Transportation, energy/environment, public safety and recreation, and, critically today, housing policy are part of our infrastructure.

In our federal system the interstate commerce clause of the constitution does not require Congress to build highways and bridges. It does require Congress to set national policy on resource and health protection from energy production, but not how best it's achieved. Minnesota citizens spoke to that in the Legacy Amendment to our constitution this fall and to their willingness to tax themselves to assure healthier lives for us and future generations.

Catherine Anderson
Our governments have to stop spending. For thousands of good reasons, we have created thousands of programs that would be worthwhile, if we had the money to fund them. We do not and we are spending the wealth of generations yet unborn. The world cannot be a better place for our children, if the fruits of their labors have been spent by their forefathers.

To help make the point of this fundamental unfairness, each should point out that in any borrower/lender relationship, the only one who gets richer is the lender, ever increasing the disparity of wealth. In this case, it also transfers the wealth not just from future generations to the present slackers, but from Minnesota and the United States to a myriad of lender countries, rich by production, while we make our children poor by our consumption.

I will hang on every word, waiting for a politician to say "No" to the thousand constituencies who want "more".

Daniel William Sanders
As an independent candidate in the last election, I held a vision of energy independence, with the cost of fuel reducing, let us not forget that at any given time the cost of fuel will rise and send us once again into an economic crisis, I want the commitment from both the Gov. and Pres. that we must not wait, we must have a new energy policy, with the commitment of energy independence in just a few short years, With the cost of fuel reducing it is very easy to shy away from any new energy policy, we have waited for years. I am committed to having a new energy independence policy. We must do this for our children, let us put a windmill in every prairie, the corn in every car and the sun in every building, let us not pass legislation today that does not look at tomorrow.

David Broden
1. Express firm commitment to strengthen, maintain, and grow US business leadership including positions in technology, medical, food, key industries, and other areas.
2. Seek to expand markets at home and internationally. Recognize the benefits of globalization to the US and other nations. Reaffirm that the US must grow thru internal growth and growth across the globe.
3. Provide for growth thru private capital investments and link the incentives to manpower thru effective manpower training extended to all ages--"life long learning" building and strengthening all levels of education.
4. Express importance of addressing regulation of investment and financial industry but not at the risk of limiting the opportunity to take risk to achieve innovation. This must also stress the importance of individual integrity across all citizens in all walks of life.
5. Confirm Fiscal Restraint in all budget categories and measure constraint by authorization and use of the line item veto implementation.
6. Seek to communicate the importance of a "new look" at entitlements of all kinds--social security-health care-education etc. and look to public and private funding and management as a positive partnership.
.

Education|Evoloving
I'm asking the states to take the leadership on education policy. Now, let me say right away: This is not to diminish the importance of improving the schools and improving learning. Quite the reverse. This approach will let the country do more, faster. We've had education policy upside down, with NCLB. We want to see the standards set nationally and the implementation happening as the states improve schools.

We have two simple realities here.

First: The federal government, Washington, is not going to be able to give priority to the K-12 issues for quite some time. That's just a fact.

Second: Even if it could make K-12 a priority the federal government can't do what needs to be done. Change needs to come to public education just as it needs to come to every other area: We can't go on just trying to 'do better' with the old models and methods. We have to find new approaches. And in this area the states have to be the change-agents. K-12 is in state law. Congress can't change state law. All Congress can do is to give a little money with a lot of directives attached -- requirements and regulations. You don't like this approach very much; that's clear. And to be honest, beating on you about performance hasn't been all that effective.

So in my administration the federal role will be to activate a process of state law-making. I want to see change. So I want to go through the legislative bodies that have the capacity to make change. I want to see innovation; big new ideas. Technology needs to play a much larger role. Schools need to be redesigned to motivate students. Teachers' roles need to be expanded. There is lots to do.

We will help you in the states. We will also push you -- setting goals and sampling to check on performance -- especially in the groups traditionally 'left behind'. And we will report what we find.

But we need the states to take the lead: I believe in pushing buttons that are connected to live wires. So let me repeat: With this approach the country will make more progress, faster. I understand that change, progress, will be uneven. That's fine; it always is. I want to see the states begin a race to the top.

Chuck Slocum
A forceful message of promise and hope. America and Americans are in this together with our brethren from throughout the world. We face foreign and domestic challenges that rival any ever before faced. We will prevail as a beacon for the other nations of the world.

John Milton
That he is willing to throw overboard the failed theories and policies of Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, and rescue our economy with a massive dose of government intervention and regulation that will shift the flow of money from the top 5% to the rest of the population. No more "let the market decide," because that is simply class warfare at its worst -- not even a fair fight.

Roger Moe
His most important message has to be to the world community that "change is coming" and that the US intends to have a different relationship with them. As for the domestic message it should be a message of hope wrapped in the reality of the problems he has inherited.

Paul and Ruth Hauge
The President needs to continue to encourage the people to have faith in the American system but also to restore the people's faith in the American government. It is imperative that he communicate with our adversaries throughout the world and rebuild the confidence of people who lost respect for us in the past 20 years. Tell the American people that the job will be expensive and tough and don't get discouraged if progress is slow.

Shari Prest
Even in times of great stress it benefits all of us to contribute to investing responsibly in the future. History is clear: periods of greater investment are followed by periods of greater prosperity. Priorities and desired outcomes will be specifically identified and accountability will be attached to resource allocation. We will not compromise our commitments to high quality public education or accessible health care for everyone. My leadership is committed to facilitating an informed, bipartisan and shared vision that both manages today and creates a better, more equitable tomorrow—for everyone. Our greatness will be based upon our ability to share the burdens and the benefits of being one United States of America.

Ray Schmitz

This is an opportunity to dream the big dreams. We need to upgrade workers to the point that they again can carry the burden of government. The outsourcing of jobs and business has lead to more folks without the ability to pay taxes. Let's find ways to keep jobs here. Let's upgrade the buildings and other infrastructure for the energy efficient future. Let's stop the movement to the bottom among employers. The Maytag man built products that lasted. Today they break at the first opportunity. Business has proven that it will not operate in what was assumed to be the best interest of the country and itself. Good regulations provide the background of confidence. Congress is a wayward child that needs to be controlled. Running against them will give you a base for the future and perhaps force them to be open and honest.

Chuck Denny
The current economic crisis is providing a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to effect major change. Now is the time to tackle the major issues of our times: health care; immigration; national infrastructure; educational standards; regulation of the finance community; and a return to a multi-polar foreign policy.

Jim Keller
We are a nation, a people, who have individually and collectively been living beyond their needs. We, therefore, cannot spend our way back to prosperity. This involves a reduced standard of living and an actual positive savings rate; in medical care, we must control the supply of care provided as well as the cost. In tax policy, we should retain capital gains treatment - the social security tax base should be expanded to all income, rather than just wages; this is currently grossly unfair, as children and the elderly are paying tax on meager wages and millionaires pay nothing.

Terry Stone

Two issues prohibit equilibrium in the American labor market; organized labor (with a formula for better and better jobs for fewer and fewer Americans) and illegal immigration that swells the national labor pool placing downward market pressure on wage levels. Lamentably, Mr. Obama is on the unproductive side of both issues.

The national labor market responds to the free market forces of supply and demand; unless skewed by government-enabled ideas about social planning that purport to define how much we should pay for goods and how well laborers should live. No concept is more fundamental to productivity and economic recovery.

Royce Sanner
Your campaign had a strong theme of unity, and it rang a bell with many. It seems like one matter on which the political establishment is out of touch with the American people is that, despite our differences, we WANT to be a unified people. In implementing your policy goals, keep up the quest for unity in the political establishment. It will strengthen us addressing our many domestic problems and it surely will strengthen us in dealing with other nations.

Bill Hamm
As you have recognized so publicly, fixing our economy must be priority number 1. If you focus your direction here you focus our attention and support with you, even those of us who opposed you and now must support our nation and its President. If on the other hand you allow attacks on the 1st and 2nd amendments you will immediately alienate masses and further divide this country at it's worst crisis since WWII. We are looking to that promise of change to be a positive unifying thing. History will judge you as well as your predecessor. Finally, let's end the prohibition of Marijuana, (885,000+ Federal arrests, 465,000+ Federal prisoners at $65,000. each per year, 1.2 million incarcerated in all federal, state, and county prisons). Does an intoxicant have to be lethal to be legal?

Chris Brazelton
The central message President Obama needs to deliver is one of hope. People feel lost in the quagmire of this economy and have found that many of our financial, industrial and political leaders lacked integrity. We have quite a road to travel to restore the confidence in our country necessary to spur reinvestment. He must show us the roadmap. He must set the example he expects us all to follow.

Fred Senn
He has to ask all of us to do our part to get America back on track. He has to engage citizens as if it were wartime and ask us to sacrifice and be very specific about how. Reduce debt. Live within our means. Use less energy. Wouldn't it be wonderful if state leaders could work that message down to state and local levels.

State Rep. Phyllis Kahn
You should reverse 2 Bush policies on day 1. First restrictions on the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Second, restrictions on trade and travel exchanges with Cuba. Later, I would remove the federal restrictions on growing Hemp as an agricultural crop. One advantage over other suggestions is that these 3 are totally cost free.

Alan Miller
The middle class cannot bear the burden of our economy. Housing must be preserved, the mortgage market must be rectified, reasonable protections must be placed on financial institutions, and recognition of what unions have brought to the nation through a NLRB which protects workers is imperative. The Constitution, which has been decimated, must be preserved and restored, and senseless war must be ended.

Scott Halstead
Provide proper oversight/regulation of our finance and investment system. Retain a strong military but use it as a last resort. Tax fairly on the ability to pay. Invest in research, education and infrastructure. Improve performance of government.

Bright Dornblaser
Establish a culture of community; individual opportunity joined with joint responsibility to work together, to compromise our separate interests for the good of our nation; and establish mechanisms to accomplish the culture change.

Establish the principle of fairness in sacrifice and in the bestowing of governmental benefits. Establish through government policy a market for development of renewable energy.

Paul Gilje
Tell it to us straight. No sugar coating. Give us the truth on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, pensions, debt, and whatever else might be difficult for us to accept. Then give us reason for hope.

Shirley Heaton
The primary concern is for America to immediately shore up its basic economic and educational structures if it expects to continue as a leading force throughout the world.

Pam Ellison
That sometimes when times are tough, citizens need to think about more than just getting tax breaks. We have seen that our economy has been gutted, and the deficits continue to haunt the taxpayer, however, we need to realize that in order to have a good quality of life, we need to streamline the government and get back to the basics of what the government is charged with Basically, that would be providing and equal public education for all, building, maintaining and rebuilding failing infrastructure, and providing for the public safety. These issues are too important to be trumped by a cheap "re-election" promise or bribe to the public to reduce their taxes when times are tough, however, we should not be bailing out private business, no matter what the circumstances.

 

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  


©
The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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