Over the past year, as I have tried to discern President Obama's actions, I have had a lot of time to think about what a Wufacta Presidency would look like. Yes, I know it's a fantasy, but we can all dream.
Without further ado...
The Daily Video
I would have a video crew follow me around and tape as much of my professional day as possible, and then at the end of the day, assemble a 5 to 10 minute video summarizing my meetings and actions each day, and post these to my website. All people I meet with will be documented and they will not appear on the video speaking unless they consent to sign a release form. I will also release my daily schedule and a brief outline of each meeting I am at and a summary of the purpose, with discretion of national security events.
The Personal Fundraising Report
I would assemble a list of my fundraising events, and I would ask large donors not only to write a check for me, but to write a brief statement about why they are giving money to me. If they refuse, I will have my staff give a brief summary of the event at which they donated to me and the general purpose of the event. For all my fundraising events I will have my staff write a one page summary describing the event, the types of people present, the purpose of the event and the speech I made at the event. I will at my discretion give a personal statement about why I am raising money at a particular event. I will disclose all conference calls given in response to large donations. If this results in fewer donations for me, so be it.
Those large donors to me with compelling personal statements and who themselves are voluntarily open with their reasons for supporting me will be rewarded with highlighting on my website or with personal recommendations.
The Congressional Lobbying Report
I will attempt to keep tabs on all Congressional lobbying and fundraising efforts. This will be focused on the lobbying firms, who they represent, what they are lobbying for, and on certain occasions the people who they are lobbying. I want to make this report as effective as possible, but admittedly I do not want to include everything if it means alienating key Congressmembers. But if any members of Congress are blocking legislation I want, particularly reform legislation, because of Lobbyists, I will use this site to highlight the Congressmember, the Lobbyists' names, and the names of their bosses and the companies they represent.
I will also include on the Congressional Lobbying Report a link to the Boards of Directors and shareholders' organizations of all companies that have lobbying on Capitol Hill, so if you see a Lobbying firm client and would like to send them a message, you can e-mail the Board of Directors yourself and shareholders' organizations yourself. I will also try to find a way to allow you to state or prove that you are a shareholder in said company, if that is the case.
The Congressional Database
I will create a database of all members of Congress and all people running for Congress / might be in Congress, which contains as much information as possible, including all statements by the member, as well as any non political information that might come in handy, such as personal interests, tastes, friends, etc.
I would also offer to Congress, Congressional staff, my staff, and members of the press, and other trusted individuals access to an "anonymous suggestion box" where they can make a suggestion or give a tip to me without revealing their own identity.
The "Eyes and Ears on the Ground"
I would assemble a political team with outposts in every region of the country who would be my "eyes and ears on the ground" as to what people are thinking and saying. These days, polling is great for finding out where people fall in response to certain questions, but it doesn't tell me the more complicated story of public opinion. Pollsters don't always ask the right questions, and even if they do, they can't measure intensity, and they can't delve more deeply into the reasons behind why people feel in certain ways. I would hire community leaders, bloggers, or anyone who has a lot of social networks to be plugged into my Political Team. These people would be able to tell me if, for example, there is a grassroots movement afoot to oppose a policy of mine or if there is a lot of rage that I'm not picking up.
Campaigning Against My Own Congress
If I see Congress doing something that is bad policy due to lobbying efforts, I will highlight this rather than just negotiating to get a deal done. The final goal is still to pass legislation, but sometimes passing legislation that is too watered down is not much better than no legislation. And if it fails in the short term, it can still succeed in the long term if it is good policy and popular.
Regular Listening Tours
I will schedule a regular listening tour each quarter in which I travel the country town hall style for several days to listen to people's concerns. I would encourage people of all political stripes to attend these events, even though there will inevitably be some element of a political rally. Some of the events would be more rally-like while others would be more neutral.
Governing by Consensus
I would try to build consensus or at least overwhelming majority around all the issues I champion. There would be exceptions, but the only exceptions would be in areas where I felt there was very little general knowledge, or that I was absolutely convinced that one path was the right policy and that it would soon be shown to be true. I would not attempt to be very partisan.
The "People's General Fund"
As part of any Wufacta economic stimulus, I would ask Congress for a fixed sum-- say $100 billion, that is not directly allocated but that goes into the "People's General Fund". The General Fund would be then spent over some time through a process of direct democracy. I would ask each state to solicit in their own state a set of proposal outlines (precisely worded and no longer than one page each) for spending stimulus money. Each proposal should be limited to no more than $3 billion. Each proposal would be required to gather signatures, at least 10,000 signatures, but preferably as much as possible. The top 10 proposals for each state would then be circulated in every possible form and would be voted on up or down. Every person would be able to vote up or down on each proposal. The proposal with the highest percentage of up votes then goes to the national lottery. A list of 50 total proposals would then be summarized, cataloged, indexed, and published by the government. Each person would then have an opportunity to vote up or down on each proposal.
The top 3 proposals would be highlighted, and then put through a final round. Before this, a panel of experts will give some estimates such as the ideal cost, the estimated time taken, the estimated jobs created, etc. At this point the threshold is 50 percent. Any proposal that gets more than 50 percent is spent.
I would hire large numbers of people in order to get elections scheduled more frequently than normal to vote on these proposals. Then approved proposals would then have expedited status over other government projects, with targeted rapid deadlines for completion. The running of this direct democracy would require a new organization that would be a stimulus in itself. But it would be justified in that government money is best spent how the people want it to be spent.
Emphasizing Government Effectiveness and Cutting Red Tape
I would create a task force to explore how the government can be more efficient and effective. I would solicit recommendations from federal employees as well as the general public, and those people whose ideas save significant money and are adopted will be rewarded by receiving a prize. The task force would include a cross country comparison program that benchmarks the US government's efficiency in performing certain tasks such as military procurement, construction spending, administration, etc. with those of other countries doing similar things. I would invite university academics to join in and present their analyses and ideas.
I would move to reduce the time taken to complete regulatory reviews, reduce the time for court challenges, and reduce the time for bureaucracy. Agencies would also be benchmarked to each other on how long they take to complete paperwork.
Vague Promises on Policy
I would not get too specific in my policy promises because it depends on what I could get through Congress. But I would present a general outline of some of my ideas.
Reforming the Tax Code
I would adjust the tax code so that much higher taxes hit the rich, raising the maximum federal tax bracket to 50% except for small business owners. I would adjust the Alternative Minimum Tax so that it no longer hits the middle class. I would re-instate the estate tax and raise it to 25% for the wealthy. The definition of wealthy would be adjusted for cost of living expenses.
I would aim to eliminate the federal deficit in 5 to 10 years and continually push policies in this direction, even though the chances of getting Congress to cooperate are difficult. I would attempt to end the fee-for-service model of health care delivery. For health care, I would push for a national insurance exchange that is open to all Americans, including those who get insurance from their employers. In turn, I would offer the Republicans tort reform and competition across state lines to try to win their support. I would also support importation of prescription drugs.
I would create a task force to draw up a long term, 30 year plan for where the American economy may be at that time. The task force would identify growing sectors based on technological change and extrapolate the consequences of technological advance in each area, including biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, renewable energy technology, and cutting edge fields. It is here where I need the brightest minds to say where the technology is going. Once the task force has technology projections, it will attempt to predict how each sector is in or against the interests of the US economic strength and the American worker. Those technology that are promising, the task force will analyze how it can be supported by federal money or laws.
Foreign policy would be guided by realpolitik with an aim towards reducing America's footprint in the world. I support some continued US troop presence in Afghanistan, but with a limited timeline, like President Obama, and as with Iraq. I would defy Congress and put heavy pressure on Israel to come to the negotiating table with Palestinians, going so far as to veto further aid to Israel and no longer defending Israel at the United Nations.