Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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January 8, 2011

Sullivan’s Salvos 1/11/11

In this edition:

*MLK Day
*Some 2011 Punditry, Part II
*Did You Know?

*MLK Day
Next Monday marks the federal holiday celebrating the birthday of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. I am so pleased that our country has chosen to honor this great man, and I hope you enjoy the holiday in his name.

We often hear about Christians who feel that Christmas has lost its meaning, and Veterans who feel the same about Veteran’s Day. I fear that this could be happening to MLK Day as well.

America has come a long way since the 60s, and overt racism is now typically (but certainly not always) frowned upon. We still have a long way to go, but we are definitely headed the right direction. I think many Americans see MLK as the embodiment of this change, and rightfully so.

But King was a radical. America grudgingly accepted racial reforms because they were less dangerous to the status quo than the other issues King championed. King took seriously the Biblical teachings that the love of money is a sin, and that rich men will not be welcomed into Heaven. He proposed seismic changes to the political and social structures that exist in America. In addition, King was adamantly anti-war. To the status quo, he was the most dangerous man in the world.

Take some time this week to read some of the great books that are out there on Dr. King. More importantly, take some time to read the things he wrote himself. And Happy MLK Day!

*Some 2011 Punditry, Part II
Last week I shared my opinion that Democrats hurt themselves politically by failing to do the right things on the policy front in a timely manner.

So, what can Democrats do now? I think there are several things the public needs:

1.) Stimulus II: The first stimulus was a blown opportunity. We needed a bigger program, less focused on tax cuts, which made significant strides toward creating new infrastructure. Look at all the great public assets we have that date to the 1930s. Now that was a stimulus!

According to the American Association of Engineers, the US is $2.3 TRILLION behind on infrastructure spending. I believe there is an opportunity to create some type of “infrastructure bank” that funds the replacement of our most critically degraded bridges. (Other infrastructure is equally if not more important, but people understand bridges. And the need is dramatic.) It is hard to imagine many Governors turning down this type of assistance. It will create jobs while improving our public assets.

Even if tremendous job growth is not achieved (and that is hard to imagine), at the worst, we are left with important public improvements. It really is a win-win.

2.) Temporarily Extend Medicare and full Social Security Benefits to Age 62: Most of us know a dozen or more people between 62 and 65 years of age who are working for two just reasons:

First, they are waiting for Medicaid to kick in, and second, they want to draw their full Social Security. If we were to extend these benefits just temporarily, millions of people would retire.

What happens when these millions of people, now secure, choose to retire? Millions of jobs open up for younger people who are struggling to find work.

3.) Address foreclosures: We need a full-fledged attack on the foreclosure crisis. I do not have all the solutions here. I just know that too many families are losing their homes. The current situation is bad for people, bad for banks, and bad for the economy. We can and must do more.

4.) REALLY Regulate Wall Street: After the crash of 2008, the American people were ready for REAL regulation of Wall Street. What we were given in 2009 was a joke. The party rages on for Wall Street. Americans know that unbridled capitalism has caused them problems galore. The middle class is ready for a clamp down on Wall Street that sees criminals punished and effective regulations put in place.

5.) Create REAL progressive taxation: As Warren Buffet has said, 95% of his success can be traced to being born in the US in the 20th Century. Our clean water, health care, immunizations, food safety, labor laws, military, laws, courts, police, infrastructure, schools, and the rest allowed Buffet to succeed. Had he been born the same year but born a woman in Bangladesh, it is doubtful Buffet would have succeeded the way he has.

How does this translate to progressive taxation? People like Buffet owe much of their success to the US. They should put some of their assets toward creating conditions that allow the next generation to be equally successful. (I think this applies to ALL of us, not just the wealthy. I just think the wealthy should contribute more.)

Can these 5 things be accomplished? Frankly, I doubt it. But I hope Congress will try. America desperately needs these things to happen!

Unfortunately, no matter what they accomplish, Dems will not get much credit, because any legislation will have to get through the GOP controlled House of Representatives. But they must not let getting credit stop them from doing the right thing.

*DID YOU KNOW? Martin Luther King Jr. ranked second in Gallup's List of the Most Admired People in the 20th century. (First place went to Mother Teresa.)

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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