Column: What issues face the next prez?

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 13, 2007

This past week, Rudy Giuliani made a couple of campaign stops in Alabama.

With our state becoming one of many that has moved its primary up to February, we will see more and more candidates as we move toward 2008.

Already, U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been to Selma, and U.S. Sen. John McCain has made stops in Demopolis and Montgomery.

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All of this early campaigning has me thinking about who I should support for president in 2008.

It’s still pretty early, and a lot of people could self-destruct (or be destroyed by the national media) prior to the 2008 primaries.

Still, in considering my choice for president, I decided the first step should be to determine what are the major issues our next president will face. These are some of the top things on my list:

Making existing government programs more efficient. We have federal programs in place to address almost any need of an individual or family in our country.

Low-income families who want to purchase a home can get assistance with down payments. People who are too ill or disabled to work can get a little government subsidy, as can our senior citizens.

Those who are unemployed can get financial help and training while they are looking for a job.

The problem is not that we don’t have help for those who need it. The problem is that there are those who take advantage of the system and make it less manageable to those who really are in need.

For example, getting on Disability should be a simple process. After all, a terminally ill person, or those with chronic illness, have a diagnosis from a doctor.

And, truth be told, if someone is terminally ill, they are probably too sick to go downtown to the Social Security office, wait for several hours, finally talk to someone, only to find out a few days later, they’ve been turned down.

I don’t know why, but it seems policy for those applying for Disability to be turned down the first time. Of course, they can re-apply. And, to the federal government’s credit, when the individual is approved, it is retro-active to when the person first applied.

But that does little good when the first check the person receives comes after they’re dead. (And yes, this really has happened to people).

The process for helping the less fortunate among us should be compassionate. A person with a terminal illness who applies for Disability should get approved so quickly that a check is in the bank by the time they get home from the Social Security office.

Illegal immigration: This is an issue our next president will have to deal with in a much more definitive way.

To me, the solution is simple. Those who want to work and want to become citizens should be given a fast track to doing that.

Those who don’t want to work or don’t want to become citizens should be deported (remember, we’re talking about illegals).

Those who break the law should be deported immediately.

Terrorism. We will no doubt continue to face this threat, so our next leader should be willing to meet that threat head-on.

We can address more issues later. After all, we have about 19 months until the election.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.