John Delaney in The Right Answer

On Principles & Values: The enemy is hyper-partisan politics

The hard truth is that we're living in an era of hyperpartisan politics, and it's destroying our country. Particularly since the 2016 election, this rabid partisanship has been pulling communities apart. Worse, it's preventing us from seizing the large-scale opportunities that await the next generation, and it's making it impossible for us to address the urgent problems that are threatening our quality of life. Instead of rebuilding our country, we're tearing each other down.

The cost of doing nothing is not nothing. The longer we delay addressing these problems, the worse they become. The longer we delay leading our country into the future, the more opportunities slip away.

But the enemy is NOT the person on the other sid

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 4 May 29, 2018

On Government Reform: Presidential press briefings are just propaganda sessions

[The president should] engage in open, televised debates with members of Congress. If you've ever watched the Prime Minister's Question Time in the British Parliament, you will understand what I am proposing. Once a week, the prime minister appears in the Commons Chamber and, for 30 to 45 minutes, takes whatever questions the members of Parliament want to ask. There's no hiding, no obfuscating. The give-and-take is chaotic but genuine.

Compare this to current system of White House press briefings. The president's press secretary in theory, answers questions. In reality, these press briefings have devolved into propaganda sessions.

What I'm proposing is, as president, I would engage once a quarter, for 2 or 3 hours, in a televised open debate with members of Congress. The American people deserve to hear a real debate about real issues. Transparency is the greatest tool for getting at the truth and bringing forth new ideas, so let's open the door to real debate and let the light shine in.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 17-8 May 29, 2018

On Technology: Maintain and invest in 21st-century infrastructure

Not only is infrastructure the biggest public investment our country makes, but it also has the second-highest return on investment of any government expenditure. (Research is the highest.) And I knew that over the past few decades, although our investment infrastructure had gone up in absolute dollars, when expressed as a percentage of our economy it had actually, and shockingly, been cut by half. You could see the ramifications of this neglect everywhere.

Our world-class infrastructure was one of the most important drivers of our competitive economic strength throughout the twentieth century. It allowed companies to grow, boosted their productivity, and, as a result created higher living standards for our own citizens. But the failure

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 30-1 May 29, 2018

On Health Care: Let 55-year-olds buy into Medicare

The ACA, in my view, has two good parts and one good idea implemented badly. The first good part is that it has expanded Medicaid for some of our poorest citizens.

The second good part of the ACA consists of adjustments that were made to improve coverage and change incentives. One excellent example is the rule that people with preexisting conditions can no longer be excluded from coverage.

The crucial mistake was the way the health care exchanges were structured. If you're individually insured, or uninsured, and you don't qualify for Medicaid, you can buy insurance on the exchange. But in an effort to protect people between the ages of 55 and 65, the ACA mandated that the exchanges could charge them only up to three times the cost of the cheapest policy on offer. Did someone forget to do the math? Health care costs for people in that age range are, on average, six times what they are for young, healthy people. My solution would be to let people over 55 buy into Medicare.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 39-41 May 29, 2018

On Health Care: Allow Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical pricing

I would allow the government to negotiate pricing with pharmaceutical companies on drugs purchased for Medicare. Think about it: one of the largest purchasers of medication on the planet, the US government, cannot negotiate prices for the drugs it buys. This is utterly ridiculous; can you imagine how Walmart would respond if told it couldn't negotiate prices with its suppliers? But thanks to the relentless lobbying by powerful drug companies, that's the situation we find ourselves in. As a result, the government is transferring billions of dollars each year from the American taxpayer to the shareholders of the pharmaceutical companies.

This scandalous arrangement is unacceptable, and the sooner we change it, the better. We should add more "pay for results only" regimes for newly innovative, very expensive drugs. This would allow a handsome payment if a drug worked on a patient, and nothing if it didn't.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 42 May 29, 2018

On Education: Reach students when they are young, with pre-K

We can't wait until students reach high school before helping them. We've got to start when they are very young, with pre-K. The current data on children and education overwhelmingly suggest that providing pre-K for kids is one of the best investments we can make, because it changes the entire trajectory of their K-12 educational experience. Kids who go to pre-K are more prepared for school, they tend to score higher on tests than those who don't, and they're only half as likely to end up in special-needs programs down the road. Significantly, pre-K helps children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds succeed. And pre-K particularly helps kids from bilingual backgrounds, such as those from Hispanic or other immigrant families, to improve their academic performance.

Pre-K has been on the rise for years, but we're still a long way from full government funding, which should be our ultimate goal.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 54 May 29, 2018

On Jobs: Public-private training partnership to address skills gap

When young people can't find work after twelve years of schooling, they suffer, and the country suffers, too. At the end of 2017, U.S. companies had SIX MILLION jobs they couldn't fill because they weren't able to find qualified workers. Yet even at a moment when our nation's unemployment is remarkably low, millions of high school graduates still can't find good jobs. That's an unacceptable state of affairs.

This skills gap, as it's called, is a huge problem in our country, and it's likely to grow. Yet even though that all the sides agree that we need to close that gap, we've done absolutely nothing about it. Some who've studied this problem believe we should create public private partnerships for workforce training, and such solutions can be essentially bipartisan. But these ideas aren't particularly innovative, which is one reason Congress hasn't yet supported them.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 59 May 29, 2018

On Welfare & Poverty: 1970s EITC ended disincentive for poor people to work

Good things happen when people behave in ways that benefit not only themselves but society as a whole. This is what we should focus on in government: How can we incentivize the population to behave in ways that help ALL Americans?

One way to do this is by expanding the earned income tax credit, or EITC. Before the EITC was established in the 1970s there was a disincentive for some people to work as they could end up actually pocketing less money, because of taxes, than those who collected welfare. This was a terrible situation and it essentially encouraged people to stay at home rather than get a job. The EITC changed that by giving a tax break to poor people who worked and earned money, thus giving them an incentive to continue working and earning more income.

The EITC is an excellent program. Every year, it helps keep millions of Americans from falling into poverty, and, like many successful programs, it has bipartisan support.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 79 May 29, 2018

On Families & Children: Broaden EITC eligibility to include childless workers

The earned income tax credit, or EITC, established in the 1970s with bipartisan support, gives a tax break to poor people who worked and earned money, thus giving them an incentive to continue working and earning more income.

The main drawback of the EITC is that it doesn't reach enough Americans. We need to expand the program and increase both the number of people who are eligible and the amount of credit given. Right now, the EITC benefits primarily people who have children; we should broaden the eligibility rules to include childless workers, too, a simple fix that would have great impact. We should also expand the amount of the tax credit, thereby easing the path into the middle class. That's the kind of incentive that really motivates people to work: the promise that they'll be compensated for their labors in a way that makes getting and keeping a job truly worth their while.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 79-80 May 29, 2018

On Energy & Oil: Align incentives so creators of CO2 emissions pay for them

Putting a price on carbon emissions, is a free-market approach that would incentivize the private sector to innovate and thus provide a path into a clean energy economy. Currently, the incentives to reduce emissions are misaligned: the negative impact of the emissions falls on the world as a whole, rather than on the people creating those emissions. If we want to change behavior, we need to realign the incentives by making sure that the people who create the emissions are the ones paying for them.
Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 82 May 29, 2018

On Corporations: Founded Leddel Health with fellow law school student

While in law school, I got to know a fellow student named Ethan Leder. A very small home health care company was for sale for just $15,000. The company had 6 employees, and it was struggling financially, but Ethan and I didn't care because the price was right. Our little company, which we renamed Leddel Health, based on a combination of our last names, was the worst home care agency in the city. We were truly the last call of resort; people turned to us when they couldn't get anyone else to come.
Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 89 May 29, 2018

On Corporations: Early adopter of healthcare "capitation" business model

[I founded Leddel Health with Ethan Leder]. We became one of the first home care companies to switch its business model to "capitation", charging a flat monthly fee rather than a per-patient fee. By streamlining in this way, we managed to persuade Kaiser Permanente to give us a contract for $35,000 a month to provide its home care in the area. This was a huge boost; it stabilized the business and allowed us to hire more people. Still, by that time, Ethan and I had learned enough about home health care to realize that there was a better business opportunity than the one we'd been pursuing. It was related to an emerging industry called home infusion therapy.

This was the early 1990s, a time when intravenous medicines were increasingly being delivered in the home, mostly for patients suffering from HIV/AIDS or cancer. Ethan and I pivoted and started our own home infusion company, which we named American Home Therapies.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 90-1 May 29, 2018

On Corporations: Founded HealthPartners Financial; sold for $500M in 1999

Small to midsize health care companies had a real need for financing, and very few financial institutions were willing to fill that need. In 1993 we decided to start our own health care financing company. I had just turned thirty.

We set up shop, named our fledging firm HealthPartners Financial Corporation (later changed to HealthCare Financial Partners), the business took off.

On the day of our initial public offering, in September 1996, Health Care Financial Partners was worth $86 million.

We kept on growing the business, hiring people, and financing hundreds of health care companies. In 1999, we sold our company to Heller Financial for $500 million.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 92-4 May 29, 2018

On Principles & Values: No persuasive data to suggest embracing socialism

My policies are often progressive, but I'm also a businessman. To my mind, the way to advance our ideals is not by fighting against the private economy but by working with it. In purely pragmatic terms, doing so will make us stronger both financially and politically.

For those who suggest that the Democratic Party should move farther left and embrace socialism, I would argue that there's no credible evidence that this evolution would win us more elections or gain more support. There are also no pragmatic data suggesting that any other nation has a better economic model than ours. Using the wedge of the private economy to split our party into two opposing factions is the last thing we should do, because now more than ever we need to be unified.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p. 97 May 29, 2018

On Technology: More money into R&D, to enable entrepreneurial risk

How can we encourage a more entrepreneurial America? Here are some steps I believe we should take that would help. I'm convinced that taking these four steps will help Americans, and our government, become far more innovative. I'm also convinced that if we don't learn how to become more innovative, our economic system and our very democracy will soon be at risk.
Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.124-6 May 29, 2018

On Health Care: Costs would rise too quickly in a single-payer system

In late 2017, I met with a group of Democratic Party activists in Mason City, Iowa. One of them told me straight up that "any Democrat who will not commit to a single-payer health care system is not going to get my support."

I took a few minutes to explain my concerns about a single-payer system--in my view, costs would rise too quickly, and such a system might actually result in patients having worse care than they would have otherwise. I went on to describe my fix for the health care system, which begins with allowing Americans over the age of 55 to get Medicare.

"There's no question every single person in America should have health care," I told her. "That should be the uncompromising values statement of the Democratic Party, but we need to have a really thoughtful debate about how we get there." This point had exactly zero impact. For her, single-payer was a litmus test, These kinds of litmus tests are a real impediment to progress.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.130-1 May 29, 2018

On Energy & Oil: Gas tax has fallen since 1993, due to inflation

For years the U.S. government has imposed a small gas tax at the pump. These revenues go into a big pot called the Highway Trust Fund, which then doles out the money to states for surface transportation projects. Ninety percent of our country's roads, bridges, and transit projects are funded in this way--and for a long time, the fund was self-sufficient, meaning the gas tax covered the cost of maintaining and improving our transportation infrastructure.

The gas tax isn't indexed to inflation, however, so the value of the revenue it brings in goes down over time. And because we haven't raised the tax since 1993, a quarter century ago, the Highway Trust Fund now runs at a shortfall, which means that every five years, Congress has to scrape together some additional money to subsidize it.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.132 May 29, 2018

On Homeland Security: National service program, plus community & veterans' service

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.141-4 May 29, 2018

On Gun Control: Seek solutions to gun violence in schools

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.142 May 29, 2018

On Crime: High rate of incarceration is a tragic situation

We need to undertake effective criminal justice reform. The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country on earth, a tragic situation that ruins lives, costs billions of dollars, and disproportionately affects African American men and communities of color.
Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.143 May 29, 2018

On War & Peace: Debate new AUMF; eliminate nuclear proliferation

We need to create a comprehensive national security and defense strategy that will keep us safe from all those who wish us ill, particularly in the context of emerging technologies around weapons systems; to debate a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force; to support our key allies; and to preserve our leadership role in the world. We must continue to lead the effort to eliminate nuclear proliferation, the greatest existential threat to every person on the planet.
Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.144 May 29, 2018

On Government Reform: Gerrymandering corrupts our democracy; get rid of system

Gerrymandering is an unusually divisive topic: for obvious reasons, many politicians love it, but the vast majority of Americans hate it. In my view, it's the clearest example of how representative democracy is failing. Moreover, it's worth pointing out that Democrats are usually on the losing end of gerrymandering. Question: Why do we want to keep playing a game we're bad at? Why shouldn't Democrats take the lead in getting rid of this dishonest system altogether?

The problem is that nobody wants to unilaterally disarm. As long as the federal government fails to pass legislation cleaning up redistricting, in most states the party in power is free to do what it wishes. Gerrymandering corrupts our democracy, but because no party wants to give up power willingly, this cynical practice continues.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.153 May 29, 2018

On Government Reform: Independent redistricting commission to end gerrymandering

The Open Our Democracy Act would end gerrymandering by requiring every state to create an independent redistricting commission. It makes no sense to allow the party in power to unilaterally draw districts, because it will always try to redraw them to its advantage. Creating an independent bipartisan of judicial committee would ensure that redistricting wasn't driven by partisan goals.
Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.153 May 29, 2018

On Social Security: Social insurance programs have cut senior poverty by 50%

Social Security, which became law in 1935, is a shining example of a smart, progressive policy that accomplishes an important social justice objective. At the time it was implemented, about half the senior citizens in the US lived in poverty. Over the next 50 years, it helped cut that number by more than 50%.

There's nothing about the accounting that's tricky or complicated. If you look at the system like a ledger, we simply need the income line to be equal to or greater than the expenditures line-- not always, but most of the time.

If Social Security were to remain insolvent over any length of time, it would then correctly be labeled an "entitlement" program, as opposed to what it actually is, a "social insurance" program.

The program's finances are reasonably good for the near term, but the best estimates show that it will become insolvent by 2034--just 16 years from now. If we make a few small adjustments soon, we can fix the problem. If we wait, the fixes will be vastly more painful.

Source: The Right Answer, by Rep. John Delaney, p.159-62 May 29, 2018

The above quotations are from The Right Answer
How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation

by John K. Delaney
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Page last updated: Jul 03, 2019