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Inside Politics

Your e-mails: If I were president

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(CNN) -- So, what would you do if you were elected president? CNN.com tossed the question to readers, who sent in all kinds of ideas about how they would shape the country.

Here is a selection, some of which have been edited for length and clarity:

IRAQ

I would have a comprehensive plan for ending the war in Iraq and gradually bringing our men and women home. This conflict requires a political solution, and the U.S. government must meet all the Iraqi parties at the table and ensure they have a stable government and military.
Mike B., Arlington, Virginia

I would NOT pull troops out of Iraq. Though the violence is sectarian, any implications emerging in Iraq right now are our responsibility. And it would be unwise to leave that country in the hands of people who see American troops as the enemy... The violence needs to be controlled by any means and only then the successful handover of Iraq can be achieved.
Sam Jog, San Jose, California

I would make a comprehensive plan for getting out of Iraq the #1 priority, and then I would focus on domestic issues. I would not be throwing zillions of dollars at unwanted and unnecessary military actions while so many of our own citizens are living below the poverty line.
Brianna Vieira, San Jose, California

I would continue the war in Iraq, take military action against North Korea and Iran, and abolish welfare!
Ambrose Evans, Ruffin, North Carolina

Institute a zero-deferment draft -- no exceptions -- with mandatory infantry service and combat deployment for all persons age 18-27. The draft would start with the top 5% income households in the nation and work down... Any further votes for war must be made by congressional declaration and only combat veterans will be eligible to cast any such vote. All persons voting for a war anywhere must lead the first charge by bayonet. The next order of business will be to scrap plans for the next several bombers, carriers and submarines until our veterans are properly cared for.
Don Albares Jr., San Diego, California

I would find a way to get us out of the quagmire in Iraq, by having a limited troop deployment. Iraq would either stand up for itself, or it wouldn't... I would also ratify the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce emissions, and curb our pollutants that cause global warming.
Matt Heinz, Springfield, Virginia

I would try to End the War in Iraq and concentrate on Afghanistan. Then lower all taxes and keep our borders tight by hiring more patrol people.
Faith Hobbs, Rutland, Vermont

Our country would not be at war in Iraq now and we may not have lost one young American man or woman to the hostilities in Iraq. I would have understood that in spite of many differences of opinion about significant matters with Saddam Hussein that he understood the nature of potential chaos in his country better than me and instead of going to war with him I would have worked on getting his support for reforms in Iraq to avoid the bloodshed which has occurred.
Harold Mandel, Phoenix, Arizona

MIDDLE EAST

I would begin the redeployment of our forces in Iraq to Afghanistan and Kuwait. I would also suspend all aid to the state of Israel and employ an embargo and blockade of the country until they recognize the elected government of Palestine, agree to a fair division of land to create a Palestinian state and give up all nuclear weapons. Once these conditions are met I would propose a NATO force keep the peace until the State of Palestine has built up a sufficiently strong military to defend itself. At the same time I would move to disband the "Faith-based program" domestically and create a task force to investigate religious organizations for possible violations regarding endorsement of political organizations. Those found in violation would immediately lose tax immunity.
Henry Duvall, Spokane, Washington

ENERGY

I would make the development, production, and distribution of alternate energy the highest priority for the nation. Almost all of our problems go back to our need for oil. Terrorism, the War in Iraq, the drain on our economy -- all related to the need for oil, specifically from the Middle East.
Stan Yamada, San Jose, California

I would push Congress for higher taxes on gasoline and surtaxes on gas hogs like SUVs and RVs in order to motivate the public to consume less fuel. I would couple that with tax breaks and rebates to people who buy fuel efficient vehicles. I would also offer incentives to power companies to pursue alternatives to coal fired electricity; including solar, wind and nuclear power. These would have to be managed safely and with a minimum of impact to the environment.
Tony Hartle, Mocksville, North Carolina

I would begin an Apollo-style research program for developing an economically viable alternative energy source... We'll share our new energy technology with the entire world... I am convinced that this is the only way to beat terrorism.
Thomas Gimon, Sterling, Virginia

HEALTHCARE

Start a private nationwide non-profit health insurance company that is run by someone like Bill Gates or (Warren) Buffet. It would cover all people who do not have coverage now, and be based on income yet still affordable.
Scott New, Rowlett, Texas

I would discuss the possibility of a nationalized health care system, including the possibility of a two-tiered system.
Kevin Stumph, Sunnyvale, California

Establish healthcare for all Americans. An element of this program would have to ensure affordable access to medications but would also incorporate a large preventative care program. Preventative care that includes holistic remedies would reduce costs down the road.
Josh Maloney, San Francisco, California

EDUCATION

I would bring back the emphasis on the importance of education. When our education standards drop... we lose our competitiveness in the world arena!
Camille Olive, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

I would make education my number one priority. Pay the teachers well and hold them accountable.
Michael Weekes, Decatur, Georgia

Student loans would not exist! Education in the United States would be free for those who want it. The budget for education would be 10 times that of the budget for war!
Stephen Frieson, Charlotte, North Carolina

TAXES AND THE ECONOMY

Look out for America first, keep jobs here and have a flat tax across the board no matter how much money you make.
Joe Copeland, Cleveland, Ohio

I would eliminate the income tax and replace it with a sales tax with some exclusions such as food.
Jeff Steege, Cedar Falls, Iowa

I wouldn't spend more than the country makes. I'd make sure every vote is easily accountable once the polls close. Because it's not whether you win or lose, it's remembering this is not a game.
Bryan Rosenberg, San Francisco, California

I would listen to the common people and try to keep factories and production jobs in this country. I would not want to see only two classes of people, the rich and the poor.
Joe Casper, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

I would abolish the IRS and all Federal tax laws... They would then be replaced with a flat 10% income tax that everyone would have to pay and a 5% sales tax.
Jeff A. Lee, Midland, Texas

IMMIGRATION

I'd give illegal aliens work permit cards like a Social Security card that gives them a right to work, pay taxes and live without fear. It would not give them citizenship or entitle them to a bunch of free stuff from our government. Anyone who was hiring someone outside the system would go to jail.
Tom Bennett, Biloxi, Mississippi

I would bring home the troops from countries where they are not needed and put the military on our borders... I would enforce all of our immigration laws, especially employer sanctions... Anyone who did not comply or who was found hiring illegal aliens would be first fined thousands of dollars and the second time around put in prison.
Laura Leighton, Tuscon, Arizona

As border fence is a waste of money and a dumb idea unless they are prepared to guard every inch of it. I would penalize anyone that knowingly hires, rents a home to or in any way assists illegal immigrants.
John Plunkett, Tye, Texas

POLITICS

First and foremost, get rid of all the lobbyists. Then and only then will it once again be a government for, by, and of the people. Then I would clean house at the top of every federal agency and start all over with the best minds of the 21st century, regardless of party affiliation.
Zach Mann, Paonia, Colorado

I would eliminate all private and corporate campaign contributions. Elections would be federally funded. I would eliminate electronic voting machines and have a standardized ballot to be used nationwide for all federal elections. Finally, I would eliminate all lobbyist gifts and trips.
Elizabeth Macdonald, Redmond, Washington

I would first of all eradicate the two-party system making it unconstitutional to not have 3rd party representatives at the presidential debates and, I would set up a budget which is designed to support 3rd party campaigns. Secondly, I would terminate the Electoral College as it is an out-dated system which has now twice proven to be inefficient.
S. Skelly, Moscow, Russia

I would work to reform the way the Senate and Congress are paid and address the work ethic. Senate and Congress should be paid for days they work only. Further, the Senate and Congress should not be able to vote themselves a pay raise ever again. This might attract people to office that really want to serve.
Charlotte Richardson, Del Mar, California

I would propose a Constitutional amendment preventing the Government from amending the Constitution against any ethnic or civil minority.
Travis Diaz, Albuquerque, New Mexico

First step should be to stop dividing the country, to stop dividing the world. The world is too complex to just divide it into good and evil. By showing tolerance and acceptance again towards different-minded people and countries we should be able to reduce the mistrust, which is the first step to reduce our enemies, which again is the first (and cheapest) step to be more secure in the future.
Wolfgang Brietenthaler, Purcellville, Virginia

I'd concentrate on America's problems first. It's time to raise the minimum wage, defend workers rights and make healthcare available to everyone.
Russell Senior, Athens, Ohio

Frankly, it doesn't matter what anybody says about how they would run the country. At the end of the day, the President has the power, but he's not the end-all/be-all. The U.S. Constitution was designed to have a series of checks and balances to keep any of the three branches of government (legislative, judicial, executive) from having too much power. There was a reason for that. The founding fathers didn't want this country to be led by a single person and forget about the opinions of everyone else.
Christine Butler, Clear Spring, Maryland


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Harold Mandel of Phoenix, Arizona, says if he were president, he would push for a balanced budget "at all costs."

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