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Madam Secretary: We Have Some Questions

04/26/2015 04:10 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2015

Liberals are confronted with a dilemma: They are deeply troubled by the candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but she is the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Further, Clinton's comments in support of middle class America represent a decidedly populist tenor, and those noises she's making sound awfully good to battle-weary political junkies desperate to oppose the presidential spokesmen of the wealthy elites in the Republican Party. On the other hand, both Clintons appear to be captives of the same economic class Liberals seek to contain, and the sourcing of funds for the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State becomes more scandalous by the minute.

In addition, Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq and is on record as being more "hawkish" in pursuing foreign policy than President Obama. She has favored the financial elites over common folk in previous incarnations; and, she is a latecomer in objecting to the militarization of police in the U.S., as well as the not so latent racism practiced throughout the country. Clinton appears to be paranoid and secretive, voting for the Patriot Act in 2001 and again in 2005.

In the meantime, despite all of the well-deserved cynicism in regard to their candidate, Liberals are advised to take advantage of Clinton's campaign initiative by trying to pin down her progressive "creds" as much as possible at a moment in time when it is clearly in her interest to allow them to do so, because it is at this point in the campaign maneuvering that Republicans will do everything possible to tear her down before the campaign begins in earnest.

Answering policy questions might actually be a welcome respite for her. So, while we listen to the issues of political dynasty and every misdeed the Clintons have committed -- slavishly pursuing money, the issues surrounding the Benghazi tragedy and the erased emails from her personal server, Liberals may well be able to burnish their own policy concerns.

So what are the questions, and how should they be posed? Starting with her professed desire to help the middle class in this country means changing the tax code to resort the deck on income distribution. The following questions apply, and they can be asked at any forum at which she appears and by anyone who chooses to reprint this list.

Candidate Clinton, would you?

Income Inequality

1. Remove the earnings cap on Social Security payments?
2. Impose a transaction fee for securities (including derivatives) trades?
3. Place the same tax rates on investment income as ordinary income?
4. Remove the carried interest classification for earnings?
5. Increase the tax rate and reduce the exclusions for estate taxes?
6. Limit the home interest deductions with caps on primary and secondary homes?

The "Hollowing Out" of the Middle Class

1. Support a national $15 per hour minimum wage?
2. Provide mandatory paid sick leave, maternity leave and minimum three weeks' paid vacation?
3. Impose surcharges on executive pay in excess of 25 times that of average worker pay?
4. Require that corporate bonuses be shared with all employees, not just the executives?
5. Establish a "sustainable living" standard (currently considered to be a minimum of $15 per hour wage) and penalize corporations that underpay by increasing their tax rates?
6. Require gender pay equality and paid maternity leave?
7. Increase Social Security benefits?

Economic Growth and Stability

1. Reinstate Glass Steagall in order to re-separate commercial banking and investment banking?
2. Review and remove unneeded corporate subsidies, specifically for oil companies and corporate farmers?
3. Enforce anti-trust provisions and break up international corporations that unfairly use globalization to outsource jobs and avoid taxes?
4. Require large corporations establish "work councils" which include labor, educators and management to determine work force requirements and training?
5. Oppose NAFTA type trade deals, support trade with Europe? Specifically, change the TTP to require national commitment to job training and eliminate corporate rights to bypass governments in claims pursuits?
6. Commit to major infrastructure building programs, especially those targeting education, transportation and public service needs?
7. Require labor representation on corporate boards and broaden shareholder voting rights to include enforceable rights over compensation?

Social Welfare and Health Care Issues

1. Publicly supported education through college K-16?
2. Establish a path for Obamacare to migrate to Medicare for All?
3. Allow government to negotiate rates for drugs, regulate prices?
4. Retarget medical payments for outcomes not procedures?
5. Increase R&D for medical research?

Civil Liberties/Civil Rights

1. Encourage and protect whistleblowers?
2. Assure internet neutrality?
3. Stop domestic spying by restricting all metadata collections by NIA, NSA, CIA, FBI, etc.?
4. Support campaign finance reform by establishing public support and eliminating private contributions?
5. Establish a free standard national voter ID built on an expanded Social Security card system?
6. Declare Election Day a national, paid holiday for all?
7. Create programs to demilitarize police by retraining them for community assistance and safety?
8. Create a national database for racial profiling?
9. Disengage from private prisons, address mass incarcerations by making use of community-based justice and restitution programs?
10. Reestablish fairness in broadcast and cable media with an "equal time provision" and news requirements for FCC licenses?

Foreign Policy

1. Reframe the national policy in the Middle East to containment, not involvement?
2. Realign with Europe?
3. Redefine foreign policy for a post-Pax Americana world by shifting more global responsibilities to international organizations? Audit those organizations and demand efficiencies?
4. Require accountability and reduce military spending and increase foreign aid to support education and American business interests?

Government Over-Regulation

1. Create an open architecture for efficiency and simplification?
2. Create a permanent civil commission to address waste and red tape overkill?
3. Establish harsh penalties for corruption?

Environmental/Energy Policy

1. Place a moratorium on fracking until ground water and water usage issues are resolved?
2. Extend renewable energy credits?
3. Support R&D efforts for energy sources and energy savings?

Campaign Finance Reform

1. Restrict political officials from easily migrating to/from lobbying firms?
2. Outlaw PACs as a part of election reform?
3. Limit campaign periods?
4. Propose publicly supported campaigns for all elections to national office?
5. Require that independent bodies propose redistricting for Congressional seats?

If You Really Want to be Progressive

1. Nationalize pension systems to include all American workers (Social Security for all) beginning at age 65?
2. Regulate the health care industry as if it were a public utility?
3. Transition veterans care into the Medicare program, allowing them access to the entire health care system?
4. Declare terrorists an FBI and police issue, and withdraw the military, NIA, NSA, CIA, etc., components?
5. Re-establish the nuclear disarmament policy and engage China, Pakistan, India, Israel and Russia in the forum?
6. Create universal service for all post high school aged Americans?
7. Develop a Satisfaction Index to track the Consumer Price Index, and use it as a measure to determine government policy?

The list may be long, and there may be little time or opportunity to confront Clinton with policy questions, however, the more she is given the opportunity and shown the need to define a vision for America that approximates the Liberal agenda, the better off she, and we, will be in the ultimate campaign against a candidate mouthing sound bites to cover commitments to wealthy donors. Since Clinton is the commanding frontrunner -- and should she win -- Liberals need to do the best they can to define her in ways that become policy.