The Public Consensus

The Public Consensus Project is an effort to identify the consensus policy positions that emerge when citizens have the opportunity to get informed about and hear both sides of key policy issues foreground for the Federal government. The following positions are based on the results of in-depth Citizen Cabinet surveys in which respondents went through a process called a policymaking simulation. In a policymaking simulation, the respondent is given a briefing on the issue, presented policy options, evaluates pro and con arguments, and only then is asked to provide recommendations. In the cases of the discretionary budget, Social Security and Medicare, respondents were also given immediate feedback about the impact of their choices on the deficit or the related shortfall. The content of the simulations is vetted with Congressional staffers from both parties and with outside experts across the spectrum of views.

Criterion for Inclusion and Definition of Notations

A: The position is supported by 56% or more nationally and majorities of both parties (53% or more)

B: The position is supported by 56% or more nationally and one party is divided (less than 53% support and less than 53% opposed)

** Support is over 60% nationally and for one party

*  Support is over 60% for both parties

SOCIAL SECURITY

– A –

Addressing the Shortfall

  • ** Raise the full retirement age to 68
  • ** Raise the payroll tax rate from 6.2 to 6.6 percent
  • ** Reduce benefits for the top 25% of lifetime earners
  • ** Raise the cap on taxable income to $215,000
  • Eliminate the cap on taxable income entirely

– B –

Raising Benefits

  • Raise the minimum benefit for those who have worked 30 years or more from $800 to $1,216 per month

MEDICARE

– A –

Options for Addressing Shortfall

  • Encourage use of generic drugs by lowering costs for generic drugs and raising them for name brand drugs
  • Require drug companies to accept 17% less money for drugs that go to people with modest incomes
  • Reduce payments to hospitals to equalize them with payments made for the same services when conducted in doctors’ offices
  • Raise the Medicare payroll tax on current earners by 0.1% from 1.45% to 1.55%
  • Increase Medicare premiums that cover outpatient services for those with incomes over $85,000 ($170,000 for married couples) by 15%

Discretionary Spending

– A –

  • *Reduce spending on military operations in Afghanistan and against Islamic state in Iraq
  • Reduce subsidies to agricultural corporations
  • Reduce spending on intelligence agencies
  • Reduce spending on space program
  • Reduce spending on aid to countries of strategic interest
  • Reduce spending on military aid

– B –

  • P Reduce base defense budget

TAXES

– A –

  • ** Tax carried interest compensation like ordinary income
  • ** Do not adopt proposal to give S Corporation owners the option of paying a fixed rate of 15%
  • ** Increase income taxes by 5% on incomes $500,000 and up
  • ** Charge a tax of 0.01% on trades of stocks, bonds and derivatives
  • ** Increase tax on alcoholic drinks from current 8 cents to 25 cents per ounce of alcohol

– B –

  • * Increase income taxes by 5% on incomes $200,000 and up
  • * Increase top tax rate on capital gains and dividends from 23.8 to 28%
  • Increase tax on alcoholic drinks by 25 cents an ounce of alcohol

DEFENSE SPENDING

– A –

  • **Do not increase spending on nuclear weapons
  • **Do not increase spending on missile defense
  • *Do not increase spending on air
  • *Do not increase spending on ground forces
  • *Do not increase spending on naval forces
  • *Do not increase spending on Marine Corps

– B –

  • Reduce the defense budget (majority specifies $500 billion)
  • Maintain bases in Afghanistan, while educing US troop level to 5,500
  • Reduce spending on developing new nuclear weapons.
  • +Do not increase spending on Special Operations Forces
  • Develop a a new long range bomber
  • Reduce aircraft carrier fleet from 11 to 10

FEDERAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS

– A –

  • Providing Federal subsidies for health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for low-income people.
  • Retaining the current requirement that health insurance companies cannot charge more than three times more for older people as compared to younger people.
  • Not allowing health insurance companies to consider pre-existing health conditions in accepting insures and setting their premium levels.

FEDERAL POVERTY PROGRAMS

– A –

  • **Set federal poverty line higher.
  • **Set SNAP benefits significantly higher
  • **Do not allow SNAP benefits to be used for sweetened sodas or candy
  • **Provide discounts on fruit and vegetables bought with SNAP benefits
  • **If a company under a government contract is found guilty of not paying wages, the company should lose the right to bid on government contracts
  • **Have ready to go if economic conditions get worse, a variety of federal jobs programs
  • **Congress should set up a commission to develop a plan to reduce child poverty by half in 10 years and as close to zero as possible in 20 years.
  • *Raise the minimum wage over a two-year period from $7.25 to $9.00
  • Give states the option to receive federal poverty program funds in the form of a block grant

– B –

  • *Index minimum wage to annual inflation P Make pre-kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds in low-income families and expand the availability of Early Head Start programs
  • Do not allow SNAP benefits to be used for cookies, cakes and doughnuts
  • Raise the maximum amount that unmarried workers can make and still be eligible for EITC from $14,820 to $18,000
  • Establish now a federal jobs program for young people to work on conservation project

ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY

– A –

Reducing Carbon Dioxide and Other Air Pollutants

  • **Tax credits for upgrading energy efficiency of homes and businesses
  • **Tax credits for building new energy efficient homes
  • **Tax credits for installing wind and fuel cells micro-turbines
  • *Require higher fuel efficiency standards for light cars and trucks
  • *Require higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty vehicles
  • *Require electric companies to have a minimum portion of their electricity come from renewable sources

Reducing Other Greenhouse Gases: Methane and Hydrofluorocarbons

  • **Tax credits for building biogas facilities on farms, reducing methane
  • **Require businesses to gradually replace hydrofluorocarbons with alternative refrigerants

Clean Power Plan

  • **Adopt Clean Power Plan if government provides assistance to help coal workers who lose their jobs
  • *Government providing assistance to help coal workers who lose their jobs, if CPP is adopted. However, the option of the government subsidizing the development and building of new technologies for sequestering carbon dioxide is not supported

– B –

International Climate Agreement

  • *The US being part of the international Climate agreement negotiated in Paris and signed in New York, and thereby adopting the goal of reducing its greenhouse gases approximately 2% a year

Clean Power Plan

  • *Adopt Clean Power Plan (without government assistance to coal workers)

POSTAL SERVICE

– A –

  • **Reduce requirement that USPS prefund health benefits from 100% to 80%
  • **Allow USPS to offer a wider range of products and services
  • **Allow USPS to close up to 5% of unprofitable post offices each year
  • **Eliminate Saturday letter delivery
  • **Require that most door-delivery mailboxes be converted to curbside or cluster boxes

– B –

  • Require that in the event of labor disputes, arbitrators always take into account the Postal Service’s long-term financial stability