Thirty challenges Facing the New President in 2021
Joe Go Bold or Go Home, revised
Challenges Facing New President
Dear Joe and Kamala
In looking at the upcoming election, I believe that there are thirty challenges facing whoever wins the election. that of these are tremendous challenges, fundamental challenges that must be addressed. I have divided them into 15 domestic and 15 international challenges. For each challenge, I offer a few suggestions on how to deal with the challenge. Many of these challenges overlap and all will require thought, and strategic thinking to solve, and most will involve reaching out to both Republicans and international allies, we cannot solve them by one party. They require both a whole of government approach and an appeal to the entire country. But I am sure that you are up to these challenges. Shall we get to them?
15 Domestic Challenges
This is both a short-term and long-term challenge. Short-term we must ensure that the vaccine is developed and deployed and reaches most Americans as soon as possible and that most Americans get the vaccine. The vaccine must be made available and must be free with the cost fully covered by the government. You must combat anti-vaxers. Enlist celebrities in PSA announcements encouraging everyone to get a vaccine. Also, until the vaccine is fully deployed, Americans must continue to “mask up” and practice social distancing.
Once the pandemic is under control, the new President will have to work at building up our public health infrastructure to make sure we are ready for the next pandemic, knowing that there will be another one coming. We need to be better prepared as a society for handling these public health crises. This will also include beefing up public health spending, research and development and rebuilding CDC and the NIH. I would at a minimum restore the NSC position dealing with pandemics and make the COVID task force a permanent standing body.
Health Care Crisis
We must move to universal health care coverage for all. The crisis was made so much worst because so many people are afraid of going to the doctor because they could be facing financial ruin because of high medical bills. The solution is to come together with all stakeholders and embrace a plan for universal coverage which will have to include an individual mandate. Treat health insurance as we do car insurance, it only works if everyone takes part. I would embrace a few of the Republican favorite positions because they make sense–tort reform limiting malpractice claims and damages, allowing insurance companies to work across state lines, for example. I would open the federal health care insurance programs to all Americans with subsidies to make insurance premiums affordable. I would let associations offer health care to their member firms. For example, the restaurant association could offer insurance to all their restaurant members. I would merge the Obama exchanges with existing insurance companies, as many of them are not financially viable on their own.
I would expand Medicare to cover anyone over the age of 55. I would offer the open season every six months and make insurance as portable as possible. For example, as people move to a new job or location, they should be easily able to update their insurance status, which would become part of in boarding for all new hires. For illegal aliens, I would let them buy into insurance. This may be controversial but must be part of the ultimate package. Immigrants and non-immigrants must provide proof of traveler’s insurance before entry. I would ban DHS from accessing health care information on illegals. Again, the goal must be 100 percent coverage. The homeless will have to be covered somehow.
Coupled with this would implement mandatory paid sick leave. Employees should be able to stay home when they are sick or being time off to go to the hospital. For many hourly employees going to work sick is an economic necessity putting everyone else at risk. And no one should be fired because they had to miss work due to an appointment.
Finally, I would challenge the Republicans by saying that what you are proposing is something that every other country does and not having sufficient health coverage puts everyone at risk. Even the billionaire class can get sick and die if their employees do not have health coverage and come to work sick. Challenge the nation to come together and finally guarantee health care coverage for all.
Regarding the costs, be upfront, there would be some increase in costs, but everyone will benefit if everyone can afford health care. It is a price most people would be willing to pay. And point out that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives because of inadequate health care. Saying that seriously ill people can go to the ER and face financial ruin if they get sick, is no longer an acceptable policy for the richest country in the world. And this violates our deep-seated American values derived from our faith traditions.
address gun violence as a public health emergency. enact universal background checks. ban assault weapons.
The U.S. is going to be facing a fiscal cliff. We can not sustain these high levels of debt forever. There are three things that the U.S. government needs to do to avoid going off this fiscal cliff:
First, the federal government must become much more efficient and wiser in how they spend money,
second, there must be new revenue coming in,
And third, the federal government should reduce non-essential spending starting at DOD but throughout the government. This problem cannot be solved by cutting government spending only nor can it be solved by simply raising taxes only. You must do both and increase the debt limit.
There are a few proposals that the Republicans have championed over the years that are worth considering.
One is restructuring federal agencies in a more logical and efficient manner. Another is to move a lot of federal agencies outside of Washington, leaving the headquarters functions in DC.
I would revise the re-inventing government programs and have each agency in charge of constantly reviewing and updating how they do they do things with the buy in of the agency workers and the public. The public should be able to log in and review how the government is re-inventing itself and offer concrete suggestions. We should appoint a panel of outside experts to all agencies with Agency heads required to respond to both the public and expert’s recommendations. The re-inventing government exercise cannot be just a gimmick but must be made into a fundamental reform that will transform how the government works. The President must embrace these efforts, and the Government must show results to the American public.
The end goal should be the government should spend less money because they are spending their money efficiently eliminating non-essential services. For example, how are golf courses on military bases around the world fundamental to the military’s core mission?
Finally, there are trillions of dollars in unspent money sitting in various accounts. These dollars need to be liquidated and spent. Re tax reform see below for my thoughts on that.
There is an urgent need to reform how the federal government is budgeted. I would shift to a two-year budgetary cycle, including shifting the fiscal year back to the calendar year. I would devote the first year of the congress to passing the budget for the next two years, I would devote the second year to oversight and supplemental budgets. Second congress will be mandated to pass the budget by the end of the year. In the rare event we cannot pass a budget on time, there would be an automatic CR. There should never be a government shut down again. That is just pure craziness. Reforming the budgetary process would go a long way to making the government much more efficient and effective. And will reduce the partisan bickering that is so destructive.
Related to this is the need to reform our tax system with the goal that most government spending should be spend using tax dollars, we should limit borrowing to large-scale projects such as infrastructure, military weapon systems. Day-to-day spending should be done through tax revenues. The tax code should be radically simplified with most deductions eliminated. I would eep mortgage deductions, business travel deductions, perhaps state and local taxes, and add in medical and education expenses. We should eliminate everything else. The top rate should be 25 percent, but an AMT should be instituted, so that everyone pays their fair share. For most people there may be a slight increase in taxes and the super wealthy will pay their fair share. Gone are the days when millionaires get by paying almost no taxes. Same thing applies to corporate taxes. I would penalize companies for off shoring employment. The bottom line is we must increase tax revenues with the minimal economic distortions possible. And we must call upon the 1 percent to embrace the Warren Buffet principle that they should pay at least if not more in taxes as their lowest paid employees do.
When the Republicans claim that we cannot ask billionaires to pay more in taxes than challenge them–how is it just that a CEO who makes millions a year pays almost nothing in taxes? How is that just? How is that fair to the millions of other taxpayers? Tax reform that simplifies taxes, raises most of the revenue that the government needs and is much fairer will be a winning issue for the new President.
Automation–Jobs are Not Coming Back
This is a huge issue that needs to be addressed. Within a few years, self-driving cars will eliminate many jobs. AI systems will eliminate many jobs. Factories will continue to become more automated. We need a national strategy to deal with the onset of automation and AI. I would put Andrew Yang in charge of coming up with a plan and put him in charge of the Department of Labor, which must be overhauled to make it once again the Department of Labor working for the entire labor force. The bottom line, the jobs are not coming back!
High school education needs to be reformed as does college. We should shift HS to something like the way the British do it. At age 16 people will graduate from high school, like the British O levels. Those who do well academically will go onto two years of college prep, like the British A level. We should do this through the community college system. Those not academically inclined would go into apprentice training programs ending with a certificate and job placement. You need to get the labor unions and corporations involved in re-inventing both high school and college, ensuring that every child graduates ready to go to work.
The future colleges will be a mix of in-person and on-line education. Many marginal colleges are going to go under. That is the reality facing us, and again we need a national plan. Appoint someone at the Department of Education to oversee the transition to both a new high school system and a new college system.
For anti-nepotism reasons, I would not offer the Department of Education to your wife, but if she wants to help by working with them on long range planning activities that would be acceptable and appropriate given her background.
Time to Embrace National Service to Pay for College
To pay for college for all who qualify, I would set up mandatory national service. All American citizens and LPR’s would serve two to three years (including training time) in service to the country. There would be no exemptions. All will have to serve two to three years. While in service they will receive minimum wage, housing, and medical care and a round-trip ticket home every year. At the end of the service obligation, they would receive educational benefits including housing subsidies to allow them to finish college. Most of their in-service training would be transferable into college credits. For most people, they would only need to spend three years going to college as opposed to four or five. Most people would do their service in the military but some will serve in an updated civilian conservation corps working in the parks and national forests, or serve as adjunct fire fighters, assistant police officers, or assist the border patrol agency or work in federal state and local offices. Those who serve a second enlistment would receive additional educational benefits to pay for graduate school.
At the end of enlistment, people would compete to become NCO’s or officers or civilian employees. Officers would go to ROTC programs or the service academy, NCO’s would go through a community college degree program and the NCO service training. Most though will complete their service then to go to college or technical training programs.
Finally, I would set up two new service academies. One would train federal law enforcement officers, the other would train diplomatic and intelligence officers. The service academies will all only take those who have completed their service obligation.
If we shift to this model everyone wins except predatory lenders. People will graduate from college debt free with significant work experience behind them. An important fringe benefit is that everyone would develop an appreciation that we are in this together as everyone will serve regardless of one’s social and financial status.
Challenge the Republicans who will say we cannot afford this. Challenge them to explain how the current system which makes college unfordable for most people and cripples’ young people with colossal debt is not sustainable. It is not and they know it and the public knows it. This is another winning ticket, I believe.
Climate change—Transition to Green Energy
This needs to be an urgent national priority. The recent fires out west and hurricanes and tornados elsewhere show how urgent a crisis this is. I would start by beefing up the Department of Energy, tasking them with coming up with the plan to transition the U.S. and the world to 100 percent renewable energy. I would set a goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewal energy by 2030. It can be done and must be done.
A small but hugely symbolic step would be to put solar and wind turbines on top of all USG facilities world-wide, starting with the WH and the Pentagon, and encourage large retailers like Walmart to follow suit. I would also embrace energy-saving technologies across the US government and throughout society. The US should at a minimum rejoin the Paris climate change initiative, and the US should become the world’s leader in combating climate change.
Re-building Crumbling Infrastructure
This is another urgent issue that would draw bipartisan support. Everyone knows that the U. S needs to spend trillions of dollars to rebuild our crumbling third world infrastructure. We should once again be the world’s leader in transportation–with high-speed trains including hyper loop and maglev trains providing state-of-the-art fast intra-city transportation, with 90 percent of intra-city travel being done on high-speed trains like in Europe and Asia. We need to build the next generation aircraft. This should become a huge profitable business opportunity for American companies. This is the one area I would say that we should pay for through borrowing.
Task the department of transportation with coming up with the plan. Focus on shovel ready projects at first. Work with the States to fund their essential improvements.
Get METRO in DC to become the nation’s best mass transit system doubling the number of lines within ten years including two new bridges over the Potomac river and extending Metro to Richmond through Ft Belvoir at least.
To those who claim we cannot afford it, challenge them by saying that we cannot afford to continue to let our infrastructure fall apart. And we can create a new export industry as we gear up to rebuild America and the world. Why should we let China lead the world in transportation infrastructure spending and development?
Solving Housing Affordability crisis. As part of our review of infrastructure, we need to address the issue of the housing affordability crisis. This will require overhauling local zoning as well as encouraging building a lot more affordable housing.
Social justice issues
This is an urgent national priority. Much of the work will have to be done at the state and local level, but the Federal government can take the lead in transitioning to a society where everyone is treated fairly by the criminal justice system. Police departments need more funding but must reform themselves. I would reverse Trump’s rescinding of racial sensitivity training.
I would also work hard at reforming the prison system. I would call upon States and the Federal government to release non-violent offenders into alternative service programs. We should reserve prisons for hard core violent offenders. I would legalize marijuana nationwide and release prisoners who are serving time for marijuana possession. I would also outlaw private prisons.
The immigration system is broken and has been for decades. I worked for years as a visa officer and am aware of how broken the system is. I would simplify the process as follows.
There should only two categories of immigrant visas. Employment based and family based. The number of legal visas should be dramatically increased. We should eliminate the worldwide quota. The family-based visas should be limited to spouses and children under 18 of the principle applicant or spouses and children of U.S citizens and permanent residents. We should eliminate the parent and sibling category. But those in line should be allowed to immigrate and given two years to process the paperwork. No one should have to wait for more than a year to immigrate. I would add an English language requirement. Anyone wishing to immigrate to the U.S must learn English prior to their interview. If it is a requirement for the visa people will study ESL before taking their interview and once, they get to the U.S be much better equipped to find productive employment and become productive members of society.
Non-immigrant visas should also be simplified to short-term visitors–tourists and business travel, student visas including exchange visitors, diplomatic visas, and short-term employment visas. We should discontinue the diversity visa lottery program. Student visas holders should be able to transfer to employment-based visas if they wish to stay on in the U.S. after graduation.
We should rescind most of the extreme vetting measures that Trump imposed. We should increase the number of refugees and once again welcome asylum applicants. Finally, I would expand the number of visa waiver countries. And rescind the Muslim ban.
To gain some bipartisan support, I would embrace E-Verify programs and also announce that illegal aliens working illegally will still be subject to deportation but deportation would be waivable on a case-by-case basis – we don’t want to deport parents of U.S citizens for example. Deportation should be focus on violent offenders.
A final point, I would reverse the various zero tolerance policies, and let immigration officers at the border allow those with minor immigration or visa infractions to enter.
Ending the War on Drugs and Drug Abuse
I would convene a national task force to look at how we can combat the scourge of drug abuse nation-wide. I would increase spending on drug abuse prevention programs nation-wide. I would revamp the war on drugs to become focused on the dangerous drugs out there and legalize marijuana as mentioned above.
Healing the nation’s wounds
This is an urgent national priority. I would offer a presidential pardon to Donald Trump, and his immediate family members and allow them to retire to Florida. I know that this would not play well with the Democratic base out for vengeance but would be an important step towards healing the national wounds caused by the most divisive President we ever had.
I would also meet early on and often with the Republicans in congress and in that State House. Your message should be we need to come together and solve our nation’s problems. I will listen, and if your ideas are useful, I would consider implementing them. As I mentioned earlier, some Republican proposals particularly in health care have some merit.
You should not act like Trump did–denouncing everything your predecessor did. There were some things that Trump and the Republicans did that are worthy of continuing. And to accomplish your goals, reach across the aisle and put the country’s needs ahead of the party’s needs and your personal needs. I know that you can do this and I hope you will continue to show your willingness to work across the partisan divide for the good of the country, the American people and the world.
Space Exploration Race to the Moon and Mars Bonus issue
A final challenge. We need to return to space in a big way and think big. At a minimum, we need to set up a lunar base and send humans to Mars with the goal of having both lunar and Martian colonies functioning within ten years. And more long term we need to have colonies around the moons of Jupiter.
Rise of China
The biggest challenge will the rise of China as a rival superpower and how to combat Chinese influence and maintain US lead in the world. I would meet Xi in China and invite him to the U.S. Tell him we stand ready to work together where we can, but we will not let China take advantage of us.
The other big international issue is how to deal with Russia and its malign influence in the world. I would meet Putin in Russia and invite him to the U.S. Tell him we stand ready to work together where we can, but we will not let Russia take advantage of us.
Iran will continue to be a challenge. I would offer talks with the Iranians with the goal of recognition, and reestablishment of relations with Iran. This is something that the Iranian people desire and deserve. I would go back to the agreement and renegotiation with the Iranians. How to get to that is the problem.
North Korea will continue to be a tremendous challenge. I would continue to meet with the North Korean. I would offer sanctions relief in return for North Korean opening and disclosing its nuclear weapons programs. Ending nuclear weapons in North Korea may not be possible. The best we can hope for is a freeze. Long term we should offer to normalize relations and establish trading relations with the North. I would also offer USAID and Peace Corps help as part of the package. I would invite Kim to visit the U.S. provided sufficient progress has been made and I would go to Pyongyang for a trilateral summit. Revising the six-party talks is also a good idea, I think.
Middle East including Saudi Arabia, Israel
The Saudis are not our friend or our ally. But they do not have to be our enemy either. We need to work with them on regional security issues but need to be wary of their long-term intentions. Re Israel, we should recognize that the UAE-Israel peace treaty is a step forward and should encourage the other countries to recognize Israel. And we need to continue to insist that a two-state solution is the only lasting solution to peace in the region. I would suggest that Israel consider a land swap giving the Palestinian state a land bridge linking Gaza to the West Bank to create a viable Palestinian state. Israel will have to give up some of its territorial land grab in the West Bank.
Venezuela will remain the biggest challenge in the western Hemisphere. We must encourage a transition to a democratic successor state.
Brazil and Latin America
Brazil remains a challenge. We must work to reverse the slide towards authoritarianism, and we must work with them to preserve the Amazon for the benefit of the entire planet.
Another area of concern- China’s entry into Latin America. We ensure that Latin America remains friendly to the U.S. and not fall under Chinese influence through neglect.
We need to continue to work with moderate governments in the region to check on the development of authoritarian governments of both left and right in the region.
Afghanistan remains an immense problem. There is no simple solution. Keeping troops there forever is not however an option. We should welcome and encourage the ongoing peace talks and help in rebuilding Afghanistan, including sending back the Peace Corps once the situation stabilizes.
How to remain friendly with both India and Pakistan is a huge issue. The two countries must downplay tensions. The U.S has a lot of potential influence in India. I would offer to return the Peace Corps to India and to Pakistan and Bangladesh once the Peace Corps can resume operations post COVID.
One of the biggest and most important challenges facing the new president is the urgent need to rebuild alliances across the world that have suffered from Trump “Go It Alone, America First” foreign policy and his insulting treatment of our allies. I would revise the annual summit of the Americas by hosting the first one in the U.S then committing to an annual summit every year. And why not an annual African Summit, an Asia Pacific summit, and a European summit? The President should represent the U.S in these annual summits.
Rebuild the State Department
I would rebuild the State Department, make sure that our embassies are fully staffed and that the State Department resumes its role as the chief foreign policy department in the U.S. government. As a retired FS officer, I have been most dismayed by the hollowing out of an institution that I served proudly in for almost 27 years.
Rebuild the Peace Corps and USAID, Promote Democratic Values Again
I would rebuild the Peace Corps once the COVID crisis allows for them to return to service. As an ex-Peace Corps volunteer, I know that the Peace Corps can make an enormous difference in human lives around the world. I would expand service to India, Pakistan, China and elsewhere as conditions warrant.
I would also rebuild USAID.
I would also restore democracy promotion as one of our core international values. One radical idea I would advocate is having our annual human rights reporting include a chapter on the U.S.–written by independent organizations or the UN. When I did human rights reporting, foreign governments would usually dismiss our reporting as self-serving and hypocritical. Having our human rights record included in the annual report would go a long way to restore human rights as a core value for the U.S. State Department and government, and show to the world that we are committed to upholding democratic values everywhere including at home.
This is both an internal domestic issue and an international issue. Internationally the president should announce that the US will take the lead in transitioning the world to a new green energy future. Rejoin the Paris accords and lead the world again.
This will continue to be an issue. There is also a domestic component–the rise of right-wing antigovernmental militias in the U.S. with international ties to extremist groups around the world. Be prepared for bioterrorism, and chemical weapons as well as rogue nukes.
Arctic Ocean Issues
The Arctic ocean will emerge as a challenge as the global ice melts, opening the Artic to both transportation and resource exploitation. The key is to ensure that it remains open to all nations especially the U.S. and that we do not through neglect let Russia dominate the Arctic ocean space.
Africa is a continent with tremendous opportunity. We should work with Africa on a whole range of issues. I would visit Africa early on, revise the annual Africa leaders’ summit, and increase USAID to Africa. Africa is the future in many respects, and we should embrace moderate African states as allies in building a more prosperous and democratic world.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on these challenges.
I am a retired US foreign service officer living in South Korea. I grew up in Berkeley, California, where I went to Thousand Oaks Elementary school a few years before Kamala went there.
Jake Cosmos Aller
Retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer
Seoul (Incheon) South Korea
Bonus: How to Deal with Trump’s Tweets
I have a few words of advice for the campaign. First how to deal with Donald Trump’s tweets. First, ignore them. Second mock them. Third challenge them when needed. Here’s how it would work in practice. Donald Tweets something that is obnoxious, a lie or insulting. Tweet back,
“there he goes again. Tweeting nonsense when he should be doing his job as President” or “there he goes again, revealing yet again that he does not know what he is doing” or “Mark Twain once said, if you want people to think you are an idiot, open your mouth (or in this case) tweet and remove all doubt.” That is all you have to do.
Re the debate, don’t take the bait don’t spend your time constantly fact checking. Stick to your points but fact check a few points here and there and again mock him, belittle him and reveal to the world how much of an idiot he truly is.
Bonus 2: How to Address the Hunter Biden Story
Go out front and address this before Donald Trump unleashes the mud onslaught which is coming…
Hold a press conference. Have Hunter there. Have Hunter apologize for the controversy he caused by being naïve and not knowing how others would try to take advantage of him and his family’s status. Apologize for being an idiot.
Then address the country. Man up and apologize for the appearance of a conflict of interest. State that Hunter will not be working in my administration because I do not believe in nepotism, which is illegal, inappropriate and wrong. I challenge my opponent to join me in making this pledge, our relatives will not be working in the government when I am president. Then fire Javed, and Ivanka and Donald and Eric and Laura. And finally, Hunter Biden is not running for President. I am. Donald Trump will you fire Javed, and Ivanka?
That should stop the Hunter Biden onslaught. Hilary could have stopped the email nonsense if she had simply said, I am sorry. What I did with the emails was stupid and I have learned my lesson. A little humility and an apology of misdeeds goes a long way in this world. That’s my final word of advice for you.