Culleton: Next president will face immediate problems

Today is election day and you still have time to vote if you haven't done so already. The national and state contests are a bit like the World Series; very interesting to watch but we have no influence on the result, thanks to the electoral college system.

The presidential race is close, but whoever gets the nod that candidate will face some immediate problems. For example, some California members of the National Guard were paid re-enlistment bonuses in error. Repayment of these bonuses was initially demanded but was suspended by the Defense Department.


The improper payments should be written off and where refunds have already been made they should be returned to the Guard members. The highest-ranking person who approved the improper payments should have a letter of censure placed in their personnel file.

On a larger scale the war against ISIS should continue and the half-war against the Assad regime in Syria should be changed to an all-out war. His air force should be destroyed and his rebel opponents supported with air support and both food and military supplies. If Russia objects then we should offer to destroy their planes based in Syria as well. Bullies need to be bullied.

This action will slow or stop the flow of refugees into Europe and the U.S. We cannot fight wars without raising taxes. In World War II, the top personal tax rate was 92 percent and this rate was continued through the Eisenhower Administration.

In the interest of turning the annual deficit into a surplus we need to close the tax loopholes that allow big corporations like the oil companies and General Electric to pay no income tax at all.

Some allegedly nonprofit organizations pay their chief executives and board members compensations in the millions for each. They should be required to lower their total executive compensation plans to the level paid to the President of the United States total compensation ($450,000) or lose their nonprofit tax status.

Health care needs several reforms. Medicare Part D should be rewritten to allow negotiation of prices by the government. A public option should be made available on all Obamacare exchanges. This option, ideally, will be in effect "Medicare for those who choose it." The delivery side would be identical to Medicare parts A and B and the financing side would be via user and where appropriate employer premiums. The premiums should at a minimum cover the average cost of the services rendered and overhead. Medicare overhead is much less than the overhead of other health insurance programs.

In addition there should be an add-on to raise the premium of the option to a point where it is still price competitive but doesn't immediately drive all the other options off the exchanges, and also provide some additional revenue to add to the Medicare Trust Fund thus extending its life.

I can cite several instances where the requirement to use an employer health care plan instead of going on the exchange has meant that the employee was offered an unacceptable package and had to do without altogether. In one case a young person had to quit a part-time job so as to go on her parent's health plan instead. Employed people should have the freedom to choose from the exchange in such cases.

Some of these issues could be addressed by the Obama administration but the obstinacy of the congress has caused almost total inability of the government to address problems.

John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. His column appears every second Tuesday. Email him at