General Question

marissa's avatar

What policy/law/regulation would you like to see on the federal level for the United States?

Asked by marissa (2675points) September 29th, 2008

I am looking for answers that not only say what they would like (for example ‘health care for everyone’), but how they would implement it and/or pay for it. I am especially interested in ideas relating to things you don’t hear much about in the news.

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25 Answers

marissa's avatar

Here is mine, as an example:

I would like to see a tax credit given for those that volunteer with a registered nonprofit. I think that for every hour that a person volunteers they should receive a $5 tax credit up to the amount of their tax bill, but not beyond. So if I have a tax bill of $4000, if I volunteer for 200 hours in a year, I would be able to take $1000 off of my tax bill. However, if I had a tax bill of $500 and I volunteered for 200 hours, I would only be able to take $500 off of my tax bill. I would not be refunded the additional $500.

wundayatta's avatar

Funny. I was going to say single-payer health insurance for everyone. It would be financed by taxes. The goal would be to make it revenue neutral for individuals who are already paying for insurance (i.e. through work). So whatever increased taxes people had would be offset when the employer passed on the savings resulting from no longer providing health insurance.

Interestingly, I had a strategy meeting this morning about the issue, and one idea that popped up was universal coverage for Dental care. It’s a kind of foot in the door thing; difficult to screw up with cost shifting (hospitals charge more to fully insured patients to make up for lost revenue in care provided to people who can’t pay).

Dental care is very much more important that people thought. It actually helps prevent heart disease and other diseases. So the savings resulting from better health for all of us due to access to dental care might make this a very good investment.

marissa's avatar

I’m not sure what you mean by ‘single-payer’ health insurance? The idea sounds very interesting, is medical care still privatized with that plan?

BTW, I find the idea of dental care coverage very interesting too, you don’t hear much about that, what about eye exams/glasses? Would that also be a possible ‘foot in the door’ option?

EnzoX24's avatar

I think that people who drop out of Xbox Live matches should be shot in the mouth.

BonusQuestion's avatar

It really bothers me that they waste so much money campaigning for public offices. I wish there was a limit for that, but then it sounds it could limit Free Speech, so I am not sure how that can/should be addressed appropriately.

marinelife's avatar

I think there needs to be significantly greater regulation of credit card issuers and banks regarding banking fees. What is occurring now is that credit card issuers take on huge risk by offering the cards to poor credit risks. Failure to pay back is then paid for by the other consumers through the huge interest rates and fees that are being charged—leaving us to pay for their poor judgment and their profits untouched.

Banks, who used to make their money by prudent investing and lending now make the bulk of their money off an inordinate number and type of fees to consumers.

I would like a complete revisit of the Patriot Act and roll back of provisions that erode our slender privacy even further.

I would like privacy laws to get increased scrutiny. I want companies like Google and others to be reined in as to the type and amount of data they track and store on individuals. Just because you can does not mean that you should.

I would like corporate executives to held criminally accountable for criminal acts of the companies they run.

I have a whole bunch more, but I am tired of typing.

tWrex's avatar

Federally mandated funding for Veterans Care complete with real doctors – instead of students – with a full revamping of all VA Medical facilities and a board of Veterans to make judgments on disability claims. I also think that all VA facilities and the leadership should be run by Veterans. Also, there should be fair funding for every state with a true look at cost of living.

How to pay for this. A 2% cut in every Congressperson and Senators pay should more than suffice. Also, instead of them receiving private healthcare they too should have to use the VA facility as their primary care facility. That way they can truly understand what those facilities are like. Those two things alone would take care of the cost for that and you’d have some left over to be able to fund No Child Left Behind. Two birds. One stone. I rock.

BronxLens's avatar

Consistent surprise audits of home appraisals. If an appraisal is off by more than 2% (or a more realistic %) then impose a fine + jail term to the 1st time offender. Bigger fine and 6 months jail for second offense. Fine, jail & revoke license for 3rd offense.
We have to show that somewhere a lesson was learned!

boxing's avatar

Now off my head, I would like a new regulation to require all food products to label where they get their main ingredients from.

augustlan's avatar

I have a new soap box issue, and I’ve mentioned it in other threads, so sorry for the repeat. I would like to completely change the way we elect our leaders. Do away with the electoral college and the two party system. Invite all qualified people to run. Voting would be done “blind” advertising by the contenders. Walk into the voting booth and find a ballot with a list of the issues facing the country. You will then see each candidate’s policy on each of the issues, but they will not be labeled with a name or a party affiliation. You would vote on each of the issues/policies, based on what you think is best for the country. Whichever candidate received most of your policy votes, would “win” your vote. That way, we could all get beyond party loyalty and rhetoric, and vote for policies instead of ideologies and personalities.

As an added bonus, think how much money this would free up for other uses!

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

I’d like to see more aggressive oversight of the telecom industry. Most of the people I know dislike their cellular carriers and hate their cable companies even more. These companies should be required to publish the true cost of the services they provide. Contracts for cellular service should be eliminated, to facilitate more competition among carriers. They would have to provide better service if it were easier for their customers to switch.

Cable companies should not be permitted to limit customer access to the Internet, as Comcast is doing now, or they should be required to open up their infrastructure to access by competitors. This was done with land-line telephone service in the 1980s.

fireside's avatar

@Augustian – i love that idea, so no worries about the repeat. I was trying to reference it the other day and couldn’t remember who had said it or where.

marissa's avatar

I’m seeing some great suggestions here, thank you everyone!

boxing's avatar

You know what I really want to see? A change to the tax code and welfare benefits.

When you file tax return, if you don’t need to actually PAID any income tax AND if you also own a home, you are not entitled to a tax credit/refund.

Also, deny any welfare benefits to anyone who owns a house.

These would go long way plugging a loophole where many cash-earning folks disguise their real income.

Am I wrong?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@boxing, do you have any stats as to how many welfare recipients own property? I doubt if you would find many in the inner cities. I would expect to find more such individuals among the rural white population, who make up the majority of welfare recipients.

boxing's avatar

I don’t have statistics, but I know quite some people in New York City myself. In rural areas (hey, this has nothing to do with color), it is quite hard to have a job that earns cash. In the city this is more likely. Welfare recipients are everywhere, but my impression is that they concentrate in city areas, for ease of transportation and availability of apartments.

wundayatta's avatar

Here’s some data, Boxing, that suggests otherwise:

From the Rural Poverty Research Center

Persistent Poverty Counties are those that have had poverty rates of 20% or higher in every decennial census between 1970 and 2000.

340 of the 386 (88%) Persistently Poor Counties are nonmetro.
18% of nonmetro counties are persistent poverty counties, versus only 4% of metro counties.
The nonmetro South, with over 40 percent of the U.S. nonmetro population, has a significantly higher incidence of poverty. 82% of the nonmetro persistently poor counties are in the South.

From Rural Poverty at a Glance

Of the $1.275 trillion in Federal, State, and local government transfers to individuals in 2003, $243.4 billion went to nonmetro residents and $1.031 trillion to metro residents. However, nonmetro residents received slightly more per capita ($4,923) than did metro residents ($4,275).

boxing's avatar

Notice your quoted stats, metro residents received 4–5 times more in total while slightly less per capita, that means there are roughly 4 times more welfare recipients in metro areas.

wundayatta's avatar

True, but that’s meaningless. We need a rate of people on welfare, and given that poverty is higher in rural areas, it seems likely that they also have a higher rate of welfare participation.

boxing's avatar

But there is no argument here about percentage…you can also argue about “per sq foot” stat too.

What I am saying, is that it is easier to earn cash in the metro areas, or, let’s even forget that geographic reference, people earn cash only and some of them are understating their income. This is really not bothering me either, since individuals and corporations in all levels have their way of cheating.

But, many of them are also receving government benefits such as food stamp, health care, housing subsidy, day care, college tuition… and around my circles I know quite some people are doing just that. In the mean time, they can buy a nice house and drive luxury cars. They also get a nice check from the government (earned income tax credit) every year.

Due to some big favor I owe to someone, I personally wrote a check for a person who gave me cash in exchange. He needed the checks to purchase a house. And we all know he is very rich in cash.

I know my suggestion is too simplified, just an idea subject to discussion.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

I’d still like to know how many welfare recipients own the property they live on. If it’s more than 5%, I’d be shocked. We have a horrible budget deficit, and the drop in the bucket this would provide doesn’t seem worth the effort. If the issue is unreported cash earnings, it’s a problem for the IRS. Changing the regulations would not help with that.

boxing's avatar

One statistics I could find, is that 37 million people (about 12%, 15.4 households) are under poverty line, and 43% of these households own homes. The question is that how many of these 37 million (or 13 million households) receive government benefits? The only thing I have is, that in 2001, 17.3 million people (7.4 million households) receive food stamp, but I think food stamp already has asset maximums. I guess if I dig around I would find some more data related to other programs. The biggest issue is probably in Earned Income Tax Credit.

I just feel that it might be worth SOME effort to think about how to minimize waste.

But, one can argue the bigger effort should be spent on how to recoup the unreported cash earnings. I have no suggestion on that at all. It just seems too easy to hide.

boxing's avatar

15.4 million is correct above, not 13 million.

Zaku's avatar

* Repealing the “Patriot Acts”.
* Removing changes the Bush administration made to bankruptcy laws.
* Federal program to offer education money to states which remove harassment laws about seat belts, bike helmets, pot smoking, etc. Teach people why not to do some things – don’t illegalize them.

dizzydvl85's avatar

i agree with repealing the patriot act. I would also bring back habius corpus.

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