This strategy is a complement of the Blue Republican strategy, founded by Robin Koerner. Koerner has eloquently described the very obvious ways that Ron Paul appeals to independent, moderate, libertarian and progressive Democrats. The Blue Republican Facebook page is a place of hospitality and ideas unlike so many highly partisan pages on the net.
Koerner is a classical liberal Brit on his way to becoming an American citizen. His form of liberalism looks very close to Ron Paul’s libertarianism, and like that of Ron Paul’s, is totally consistent. I have yet to find any disagreement he has with Ron Paul on policy.
Koerner and I have been carrying on a friendly debate. We agree that Ron Paul is right on ending the wars and occupations we are in and bringing home troops from bases around the world. We also agree that Ron Paul is the only major Republican candidate who has taken very seriously the farewell speech warning of President Eisenhower concering the dangerous threat of the military industrial complex. We believe that we are spending far too much on needless and often counter-productive weapons and weapon systems and that this is causing tremendous harm to our economy and to our constitutional representative democracy.
Finally, we agree with Paul that the Patriot Act is a menace to a free society and anything but patriotic. Civil liberties and constitutional rights have been greatly diminished under both Bush and Obama and its time for the American people to take those liberties and rights back from the corporate political duopoly which has stolen them.
Where we part company is on economic issues. While progressives like myself and Dennis Kucinich are in agreement with Ron Paul that the Federal Reserve has got to go, we want it replaced by congressional control of the creation of money and of the regulation of our monetary system. We also agree that we need to do something about national, business and personal debt but we think that the private banking system is a major part of the problem and that deregulation in general (though maybe not in all details) plays right into the hands of the usury factory and debtor slavery paradigm.
Koerner and I have talked very little about taxes. With other libertarians in general, I have yet to find much common ground on taxes other than we agree that the majority of Americans are paying too much. Libertarians, unfortunately seem to think the top 1 percent need more tax reductions; we progressives think they can weather a minor increase and still not go out of business or start laying off more workers than they already have.
It concerns us progressives that Ron Paul does not like Social Security or Medicare but it relieves us to know he does not want to end full benefits for those already in the system and that he is willing to take money out of the military industrial catastrophe’s several empire building and maintenance budgets and use it to shore up entitlements and the social safety net too many have become dependent upon. But here is is precisely the place that the Green Republican strategy diverges from the Blue Republican strategy (although I have yet to hear either Koerner or Paul reject this idea outright):
Ron Paul wants to shore up entitlements and social safety nets with savings from cuts in spending on militarism for two important reasons. First, he is a moral human being and he knows that, despite his philosophical objection to a system of government entitlements, pulling the rug out from under people who are dependent upon programs they have paid for with their own hard earned money would be morally indefensible.
Second, Ron Paul wants to transition our economy and our entitlement system. He knows this cannot happen overnight and so he has put forth an opt out proposal which will allow people 25 years and under to not pay payroll taxes and not receive social security, medicare and medicaid benefits.
Ron Paul is to be commended for being honest about the need to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent and for proposing a fiscally responsible way of paying for it. He also deserves to be commended (and his libertarian enthusiasts need to hear this) for his willingness to compromise. That’s a dirty word for many libertarians and progressives, but Ron Paul has demonstrated by this example that one can compromise on policy choices without compromising one’s principles.
Having set that precedent, the Green Republican strategy asks Ron Paul to modify his compromise. His opt out proposal should get a fair hearing in congress and before the American people, but we object to it strongly because we believe that it will ultimately undermine the long standing covenant we as a country have made with seniors and persons living with disabilities. We have no doubt that this opt out proposal, being paid for, would not in the short term undermine the government’s ability to pay beneficiaries their full benefits.
However, if young people respond to this proposal myopically, as it is almost certain many of them will, many of them will also live to regret it, and our society will have a huge price to pay for their inability to take care of themselves if the economy suddenly tanks just before they retire. Progressives believe it is far better to have a mixed economy system for retirement than to have all one’s eggs in either only the social security basket or in only the private investment basket. Far wiser and safer to have both!
We also believe that given a full airing of the risks and benefits of Paul’s opt out proposal, it will not make it out of congress to his desk for signature. Ron Paul needs to tell us and his base what he intends to do if this proposal fails to become law. He has promised to put half of the savings from reductions in spending on militarism into shoring up these entitlements and social safety nets.
What happens if there is no opt out provision? Will these funds still be channeled into entitlements? Believe it or not, progressives would probably agree with libertarians that such action would actually overfund entitlements. I do not think Ron Paul wants that to happen. I am almost certain that Paul would prefer, in this likely scenario, to direct those funds to deeper tax cuts and more debt reduction. We might be able to stomach a little of that if the debt reduction does not involve more cuts in domestic spending and the tax cuts are heavily weighted towards the bottom and middle, but we ain’t gonna swallow the whole enchilada.
The Green Republican Strategy would be to redirect those funds toward building, repairing and greening our transportation, energy, environmental, educational and communication infrastructure. We realize that also may be an enchilada too big for Ron Paul to swallow. So here’s the Green Republican compromise: send that money in the form of block grants back to the states according only to each state’s population and with only one requirement: clearly and publicly report in print and online where every dollar goes. If some states want to use that money to give tax breaks to oil slurpers, let them. If some states want to use that money to fund single payer health care and high speed rail, go ahead. Let the state laboratory experiments begin.
I think that with agreed upon reductions in corporate welfare and military adventurism, we can free up at least 400 billion annually with half being used for debt reduction and half being sent to the states. We could probably add at least another 200 billion to this 50% formula by negotiating real tax reform and consolidation of cabinet departments.
Putting 300 billion or more annually into the hands of state and local governments may not be ideal from ether progressive or libertarian perspectives, but it would definitely be better than what either Obama II or Romney I is offering.
Politically speaking, if Ron Paul were to accept the Green Republican proposal, it would be a very minor adjustment in his platform but a gigantic political move. Doing this and promising to hire a real coalition cabinet would mean millions of progressives flooding his way overnight. Both major parties would tremble and their establishment leaders would go into full panic mode. Principled leftists would be without excuse; they would have to endorse Ron Paul or drop the adjective. The GOP convention would have to reject or nominate a candidate who has won a clear plurality and perhaps even a majority of primary votes.
Ron Paul entitles one of his books, Revolution. This modest proposal of the Green Republican Strategy will make it happen. Every progressive, independent and libertarian American who’s half awake knows we need one. And yes we can, with just a little principled compromise, do it.