WASHINGTON – Your year’s end political forecasts tend to be relatively easy. Powerful people and momentum are behind predictable events. This menu is different. It’s a scattershot of regional and national problems that ought to be cleanly resolved, but won’t be.
The first is a natural, but just as mythical as the film of the same name acted out on the diamond of the now extinct Rockpile:
1.) Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature should dissolve the Buffalo Board of Education on grounds of moral and professional bankruptcy, and turn its operations over to the state.
2.) Twenty states in America have open presidential primaries. That is, any registered voter can play in any party’s presidential primary election. New York, of course, is not among them. It does not even allow open primaries for local elections. This is the biggest reason for voter apathy, low turnout and the state’s eternal political corruption.
3.) New York is among a majority of Eastern states whose legislatures hold an iron grip on all laws and procedures. It does not allow voter-created initiatives and referendums. It ought to.
4.) Locally, one glaring mess produced by this tangle is the Peace Bridge – a span owned by New York State and the Canadian federal government. The agency that owns it was created when powerful Americans who built it with private money got the governments to bail them out – crony capitalism in the Great Depression.
It’s almost 90 years old. When it was only 70, public-spirited men sought a modern replacement for it. That noble goal is still in a state of becoming, but frustrated by the zeal of bird huggers and neighborhood health problems created by idling diesel trucks waiting to clear inspection.
A decade of grandstanding and political connivance has blocked the most obvious solution to the bridge’s truck overload and diesel pollution, which is construction of an inexpensive, cars-only crossing at Bridgeburg, Ont., and Black Rock – to use the historic names for underutilized neighborhoods in Fort Erie and Buffalo.
5.) The state’s statist election laws and the permanent incumbency in Albany also prevent the consolidation of redundant school districts, towns, villages and cities. Cuomo needs to get behind a constitutional convention to advance modernization. Such a convention ought to also consider regionalizing the state’s labor laws, considering the elevation of a dedicated leftist, Bill de Blasio, to the state’s second highest office, mayor of New York.
6.) Congress should end the agony of Obamacare. It might have been a great idea, but its goals of extending insurance coverage to all but a handful of Americans cannot be attained under this formula. Its only solution is to radically ratchet up premiums for the middle class to pay for free care for young families who don’t want it. It should be replaced by the patient protections against people who were dropped from the rolls for costing too much and barred for previously existing ailments.
The White House is showing a bitter, mean streak against Catholic institutions by insisting they obey the contraception mandate while exempting millions of others from Obamacare laws because of political resistance and computer snafus. Yes, Pope Francis, it is important.
7.) The Supreme Court should overturn the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling that opened the gates to massive secret political donations. The court is considering expanding political secrecy in a new case, McCutcheon v. FEC.
8.) The Supreme Court should also declare the massive collection and storage by the National Security Agency of electronic messaging by innocent Americans unconstitutional. These are tests of whether we are headed in the direction of more statism or democracy.