Friday, March 10, 2006

Ed's Administration: Part II (pre-9/11)

(Part I link here)

If I assume that I won the 2000 election in the same way Bush did (Florida recount, Supreme Court decision, etc.), then my actions following the electoral college would be different. I would have taken one radical step I don't think Bush would have considered: I would offer the vice presidency to Joe Lieberman (after asking my own vice president to step down for the good of the country, and assuming Lieberman accepted). Such an act would mute a lot of the "stolen election" comments from all but those on the farthest Left. It would be a good faith gesture which should get a little political capital with the Democrats.

If Lieberman did NOT accept, I could use the gesture later on the Democrats ("I tried to include them in my government, but they wanted no part of it.").

Lieberman is one of the more moderate Democrats, so I would have no problem with him as my vice president.

That being said, on to my pre-9/11 presidency. The first thing from my platform to be accomplished would be ending the marriage tax penalty. In my conversations with Congressional leaders, it would become clear that this would pass easily and painlessly. Bush got it done by March of 2001.

Next up would be the end of pork barrel spending. First, I would approach Congressional leaders and ask them how it can be done. Since the answer would be "it can't", then I would offer them a carrot: Pass legislation which will end the earmarking process in 2003 (the start of the next Congress) and also double their salaries. That is right: Double the salaries of all senators and congressmen in exchange for the end to the earmarking process. That is a deal that more than pays for itself.

Along with this, I include my idea for campaign finance reform:

1. All campaign donations will go into a central fund for each individual race, to be controlled by the FEC.

2. There are no limits to donations, and any individual or organization can contribute as much as they want.

3. In each race, the Democrats and Republicans will split the pool evenly. If a third party candidate runs, they must contribute at least 10% of the total value of the pool in order to receive an equal split with the other two parties. Otherwise, they just receive back what they contributed.

4. Contributions may go through the individual campaigns, but the campaigns must explicitly report the sources of all donations to the FEC.

5. Any funds left in the candidate's treasury at the end of the election are to be returned to the fund for the next election. No campaign is allowed to incur unpaid debts.

6. Teacher's unions are forbidden from making campaign donations. If Congress balked at this part, I would back off on it, although I would revisit it later.

I know the first question already: What if an individual or company makes an obsecenely large donation to a candidate's campaign fund? My answer is the candidate in question would not benefit as much from it, since the money would be split evenly between the two party's candidates (or three or more party's candidates, as the case may be). Also, obscenely large donations stand out like a sore thumb. That could be bad PR for the entity making the donation.

The second question: What if no one donates anything? Then the candidates have no money. That should be encouragement enough for them to raise funds.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, the Congressional leaders balk at the offer. Then I play hardball. I tell them first behind closed doors that the next piece of legislation to come to me with unnecessary federal spending will get the veto pen, followed by a press conference highlighting the more egregious examples of pork, with the earmarking senators or congressman called out in front of the national media for their attempted theft from the taxpayers of this country. This would be done regardless of the offending politician's party. For Republicans, this would be especially important since the Media loves Republicans criticizing Republicans (that's why they love John McCain).

If Congress refuses my offer behind closed doors, then I go public with it. Basically, I lay down the gauntlet.

You may ask: What if Congress fights me tooth and nail on this? Eventually, when the budget comes up in November, this could lead to a government shutdown, much like during the Clinton administration. That works in the president's favor. Even though Congress was in the right during the government shutdown, the Congress took the PR hit because they were viewed as being obstructionist. That is what I would count on.

Naturally, 9/11 will alter my strategy. But that is for part III.

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