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The Green New Deal is an aspirational list of ideas of ways we can improve the environment and lift people's standards of living.
Do we need a Green New Deal? Is it doable? Can we afford it? Democrats are asking those questions seriously while Republicans pretend the GND would mean an end to hamburgers, milkshakes and airplanes.
The best thing about the Green New Deal is people are forced to talk about climate change and the environment. The topics now have a place at the political table. The more politicians and others talk about them, the better the chances we'll do something to address them.
On another front, some Democratic presidential candidates are advocating for Medicare for All. Others are calling for a private/public partnership which guarantees health care for everyone.
What's the best way to deliver health care to the most people? How will we pay for it? Democrats are holding a vigorous debate on the topic while Republicans make another stab at killing Obamacare and claim to have a plan of their own, something which they've been talking about for years but have yet to unveil.
This is another issue which no presidential candidate can avoid talking about. Like the environment, health care has a seat at the political table. It cannot be ignored, and that's a good thing.
Kamala Harris, Democratic candidate for president, has pulled another chair up to the table, this one for teachers. Harris says teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated, and she wants to increase their salaries using a combination of federal and state funding.
Should we increase teacher pay? Can we afford it? What's the best way to do it? Thanks to Harris, every Democratic candidate will have to address those issues, and Republicans will have to figure out how to fight against a salary increase without sounding like they hate teachers and children. The discussion and debate will increase the possibility that teachers around the country will see a substantial pay increase sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Thank you, Kamala Harris.
The details of Harris' teacher salary proposal are less important than her making it one of her signature issues. Still, the specifics are important. Here is what she proposes. (You can read Harris' statement in her op ed
in the Washington Post.)
First, the federal government will fund a 10 percent raise for teachers across the board.
Next, for every dollar a state puts into raising teacher salaries, the federal government will put in three dollars.
Special consideration will be given to teachers working in schools whose communities are most in need. Harris wants to make sure teachers in those communities are paid more than other professionals whose educational qualifications are similar to teachers'. That bears repeating. Right now, teachers make significantly less than their counterparts in other professions. Harris wants teachers working in needy communities to make more. Be still, my heart.
According to Harris, these investments will bring more people into teaching at a time when we're suffering from teacher shortages, and it will encourage people who have the talent and inclination to be great teachers to enter the profession and stay there, knowing they can make a decent living for themselves and their families on a teacher's salary.
How will Harris pay for all this? I'll let her do the talking.
We will pay for this plan by increasing the estate tax for the top 1 percent of taxpayers and cracking down on loopholes that let the very wealthiest, with estates worth multiple millions or billions of dollars, avoid paying their fair share.
Harris joins the chorus of Democratic candidates singing the praises of increasing taxes on the rich. It's yet another issue that has found a place at the table this presidential election.
We're going to have a whole lot of stuff to talk about this campaign season.