While the Bush Administration continues to focus on its faulty and bungled foreign policy agenda, domestic issues are mostly being ignored. The most critical domestic issues are:

1. Rising fuel costs. The need for a realistic energy policy that addresses global warming. The need to seriously commit funds and expertise to alternative energy research and development (John Kerry has suggested a Manhattan Project type commission devoted to this problem). The need to put the onus on auto manufacturers (and provide incentives for them) to improve fuel economy, emissions standards, etc.

2. The rising cost of health care. We need a system that keeps costs in check and reins in the pharmaceutical companies. We need a system that provides a safety net for children in poverty, the unemployed, the underemployed, the temporarily employed, and the contract employed. We need a system that lowers the burden on business (particularly small business). We need a system that provides some form of health care access to all. We need a system that seriously focuses on health maintenance and disease prevention rather than solely on diagnosis and treatment—that means having a system in which doctors can actually spend time with their patients.

3. Education and the need to seriously address declining literacy rates and stagnant test scores. The need to adequately fund higher education so that all have access to it. The need to provide more funding to programs that have proved successful, such as Head Start and the Higher Education Opportunity Program. The need to provide more funding to schools in districts with a low tax base and to more equitably distribute state funds. The need to adequately fund mandates that require more training for teachers and higher accountability for schools districts.

4. The need to shore up the country’s critical infrastructure—that means, for example, building proper levees and having an emergency management system that really works. The need to adequately fund public transportation systems and provide adequate security for them. The need to provide enough police in the inner cities.

5. The need to reduce poverty and homelessness and all its associated ills, such as substance abuse and child neglect. The need to improve mental health and substance abuse treatment and access. The need to look to the homelessness reduction programs that work and use them as a model for nationwide implementation. The need to raise the federal minimum wage.

6. The need to properly regulate industry, which has had a free ride for the past six years. The need to make the coal industry accountable for maintaining safety standards. The need to require the agriculture industry to produce a high quality and healthy product and to treat farm animals humanely. The need to properly regulate the use of feeds that cause diseases. The need to reduce factory farms and genetically-engineered products and encourage the consumption of locally produced organic products that come from family farms. The need to encourage and subsidize farming methods that are better for the environment and the eco-system.

7. The need to properly fund and care for treasures that cannot be replaced–our national parks, our cultural institutions, and our endangered species.