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Four Issues

1. Bring our nation’s merchandise trade accounts back into balance. Restore its manufacturing base and therefore the opportunity for good, long-term jobs. There are two aspects to the solution:

(a) Impose a tariff upon goods imported from low-wage countries to offset the cost advantage from high-priced U.S. labor, at least partially. The tariff should be employer-specific.

(b) Reduce the cost structure of goods produced in the United States. Two types of cost are important.

(1) The high cost of health insurance. This cost would cease to burden U.S. employment if health insurance were decoupled from holding a job. But then the burden would be shifted to individuals who might not be able to bear the cost. Ultimately, we must try to reduce health-care costs, not expand insurance coverage to pay for an overly expensive system. I propose that the federal government provide certain health-care services to all residents of the United States free of charge. Government-provided health services can then compete with the expensive service provided by the private sector. See additional information.

(2) The rising cost of petroleum. Through subsidies and tax reductions, the federal government should promote the rapid development of alternative energy, including electric cars, and help finance infrastructure to ease traffic congestion in large cities. For more information on this question, click here.

 

2. The federal government should spend up to $50 billion a year to provide free health services to all residents of the United States. Prospectively, such services should include:

(a) a free annual physical examination provided free once a year to each resident consisting of services that stay within the cost guidelines.

(b) a free genetic test given once in a lifetime focusing on susceptibility to disease and the probable response to medications.

(c) access to a web site in which the examination results would be posted, including an interactive feature that would allow people to report suspected health problems and receive general health advice.

More than offsetting this extra cost, I would propose that the federal prescription-drug benefit be abolished.

 

3. The United States spends $600 billion a year on petroleum imports. This amount should increase as oil producers increasingly sell us refined petroleum products, not just crude oil. This problem can be addressed by using natural gas instead of gasoline to power automobiles and by developing new-generation cars powered by electricity, hydrogen, and biomass fuel. Federal aid to promote development of alternative energy might focus on wind farms in rural Minnesota. New technologies should be developed to transport this energy efficiently to markets in the cities. Also, the transportation and communication infrastructure should be strengthened in rural Minnesota to create more job opportunities outstate.

 

4. Reduce military expenditures. The Iraq war was a mistake. It would be an even bigger mistake to attack Iran. We cannot pull out of Iraq immediately since we have an obligation to fix what we have broken. Having said this, however, I think the United States should give up being an empire or a policeman for the world and scale our military operation back to what we can afford. We need to close some of our 800 military bases around the world. History is strewn with the wreckage of nations that have overreached militarily. Read about the plans to attack Iran as they appeared in 2006.

If the world requires a policeman, the United Nations is the perfect candidate for the job. Where this organization is broken or ineffective, fix it. Fix the outmoded voting mechanisms. Establish a reliable means of funding. Create a rapid response force to meet security emergencies. Stop bashing the UN as Senator Coleman does, recognizing that corruption and ineffectiveness plague government at all levels - maybe even the city of St. Paul.

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