Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Introduction to "Plan Kerry"

Over and over, I keep reading and hearing the complaint that there's no compelling reason to support Kerry / Edwards, aside from the fact that they're not Bush / Cheney. Even as closely as I follow the election runup, there are times when my rabid support for Kerry seems more based on the fact that he's the candidate running against Bush than anything else. And that's worrisome - not worrisome because my vote will or could change; it's worrisome in that Kerry still hasn't presented a publicly compelling case beyond ABB to Ma and Pa Trailerpark.

I don't want "Bush Lite" (as the Nader camp is characterizing Kerry) in the White House anymore than any other liberal or progressive. What I want is a change in direction. The change can be incremental - that's fine - step change rarely works anyway.

The Kerry campaign has put together a very credible plan to address the issues that most Americans care about, and it outlines a path for change. But I wonder how many people, progressives and conservatives alike, actually have or will read it? It's worth a read and a re-read, because there's some really great policy stuff embedded in the 200+ pages. Click on the book cover above to directly download the Adobe file on the Kerry plan. I'll be discussing it much more in the days to come.

Even with the clear path presented in Kerry's plan, there's a few obvious holes that need to be closed between now and election day:

  1. (Page 15) I want a defined timeline and strategy for exiting Iraq. I want goals established that will tell us when it's time to start pulling out of Iraq. In other words, what are the performance indicators (good and/or bad) that will trigger a withdrawal? I'm under no false illusions that the U.S. can "cut and run", particularly this deep into the game. But we need some signposts that tell us we're heading in the right direction.

  2. (Page 63) I want John Kerry to stand up and say that everyone who works a full time job should be guaranteed a living wage for working 40 hours a week. What's a living wage? One that lands on the other side of the poverty line - $18,400 for a family of four, which translates to a $9.20 / hour minimum wage (based on a 40 hour work week; 2000 hours per year). So what's the plan for getting there from here over the course of the next four years?

  3. (Page 98) I want more definition and meat on the bones for his healthcare plan. For example, Kerry's plan doesn't address covering catastrophic illness for the uninsured without bankrupting people in that unfortunate situation (44 million, at last check). I want Kerry to emphasize his commitment to rolling out a viable healthcare recovery plan in his first 100 days, as he's promised - and tell me how he's gonna do it.

Ok, so I'm picking on some holes. But what I'm trying to communicate is that Kerry's plan does distinguish he and John Edwards' approach from the failed policies of the Bush administration. The answers that Kerry and Edwards provide are somewhat superficial, but necessarily so in a planning document. What "the plan" outlines is a roadmap. If you take the time to read it, it's a good roadmap.

So, starting today, I'm going to begin writing about Kerry's plan and stances, because I want you to have a compelling reason to vote for John Kerry, not just against George Bush. Just as importantly, we all need to be able to intelligently discuss the Kerry / Edwards vision with friends, coworkers, and family.

I'll try to be succinct, and not just re-publish sections of the plan. And be forewarned, as important as this stuff is in distilling the essence of what Kerry / Edwards administration would be about, a lot of the policy statements are simply not sexy.

Make no mistake, I'm doing this as much for me as anyone else. I want to work through this thing myself over the next few weeks, and drag you along for the ride, so that we're all well-armed for the final push in September and October. And hint - simply skip over any post titled, "The Kerry Plan" if you're not interested. We'll still have our usual collection of snark and political ephemera on a daily basis. ;)