This will short and to the point. This is a simple plan to handle a simple problem.
Yes, it is not as complicated by a factor of 1000 as the Neoconservative Republicans in Congress and all their Right Wing radio commentators and corporate-sponsored lobbying “think tanks” like Cato, Heritage, AEI and others too numerous to list…would have you believe.
First of all—the problem. We have an economy that is performing at half speed. This means that a very large number of people are out of work and others are barely getting bye and still others have literally fallen from middle class wage earners into poverty in a matter of less than 24 months.
Let’s be very clear about what caused it, because it is very clear, almost transparent. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney took office, were appointed by Cheney’s friend Judge Antonin Scalia, and immediately made it known that they would do at a minimum four things. They would:
1. cut taxes for the rich and corporations,
2. take care of oil men by raising gasoline and other energy prices;
3. hire Halliburton and similar by invading Iraq; and
4. help all large corporations, including mining companies, natural gas companies, logging companies, pharmaceutical and health industry companies and Wall Street by firing and restricting activities of as many supervisors of government regulations as possible.
What did they tell the people? They said that taxes were too high. Of course it was a lie. They said that we needed an energy plan. What they didn’t say was that it was a plan for the oil and energy companies, not the People. They said that Saddam Hussein (whom most people did not know from Osama Bin Laden) was going to attack us. A lie.
And finally they said that government was overbearing and the corporations could not make money and would cut jobs. As big a lie as was ever told. Corporations were making more money than at any time in our country’s history during the Clinton years. That’s just a fact.
All those things, promulgated by shrewd, very greedy and somewhat evil men (if you feel that a deliberate plan to impoverish the American Middle Class is evil) caused the collapse of the economy, the huge national debt and the misery of at least a full ten percent of the people in America. Another ten percent spend every day worrying about tomorrow because their outlook, their financial prospects, range from bleak to downright death-threatening. If some people lose their jobs, health insurance, homes…those with certain illnesses could die. Statistics say that about 45,000 annually do.
So let’s just say that there is extensive evidence for all of this and it is not some political excuse to beat up on a guy who would otherwise probably be someone beloved rather than hated by many in society.
And that’s a shame because George W. Bush, while a shill, and a shill who did indeed get his $22 million pieces of silver and not end up as a retail clerk, would have been someone who seems pleasant enough, the guy down the street, the neighbor–not too bright but someone we would all be pleased to know, with a fairly pleasant and enjoyable demeanor. An everyman. But he became the peddler of his father’s name and a front man for the oil industry and international corporations and rich oil sheiks and arch conservative, white racist billionaires.
Admiration you don’t deserve from people you don’t know and who don’t know you makes you cynical about human nature. George W. Bush became cynical at an early age. When he took the bait…began trading on his father’s name…he was doomed as a human being. The only thing that stands there when he speaks is a facade of what was in all likelihood a once-decent human being.
So here we are, with $13 trillion in debt and at least 15 million out of work. Are we in desperate straights? Yes. Can we work our way out of it? Absolutely and make our country the light of the world in the process. Here is the Populist Economic Recovery Plan.
1. Immediately create 5 million jobs. We can do it the quickest way by surveying all the work that needs to be done by each government department and deciding on how many people can be hired and trained the fastest.
Then we take the next level, those whose functions need to be employed to make government work but need a little longer to get going, and then the next group who might take even longer, perhaps more technical training involved…until we have filled all 5 million jobs. That will take us to an expanding economy. Five million jobs will kick start an economy that is 80.6% service businesses.
2. Raise tax rates to a top level of 70%. Can’t do it? Wrong. Reagan did it the opposite way and the only thing that changed was that the government lost half its revenues. That is exactly what will happen now.
CBO report on taxation and the economy says clearly what the Neocon Corporatist Senators and their rich supporters don’t want you to know. Taxes have only to do with how much money the government has to spend. Either enough, too much or too little. Right now it is too little. Tax rates, CBO says, have little effect on the economy either way.
Five million jobs will kick start a service economy and it will grow and the people at the top who would now pay 70% can either pay those taxes or invest that money in the economy to make an even larger, if deferred, amount of money on the part they invest, paying only 20% on the eventual profits in capital gains.
Let’s be clear about taxes. Taxes may have economic effects as incentives. But the effect on government is always only the same….more money or less money. The results of the incentives do not pay for the costs of the incentives in reduced taxes. The incentives make lives or businesses work better, have more money to spend, or less, or create some opportunities for jobs. But the government does not earn back the full costs of those discounted rates. If you raise taxes, the government gets more money. If you reduce taxes it gets less. That is the only equation.
3. Bring all manufacturing back to the U.S. Make enough products here to cover our domestic consumption, which was the case until…guess when? You got it. Until Ronald Reagan took office. You could simply write a law that would say…no manufacturing outside the U.S. Or you could write a law that would say…you can’t outsource jobs to India or China or anywhere else.
But that’s not the point. The point is to get new industries going here. So the idea would be to use some of the excess profits being made by cutting wage costs from $17.00 an hour to $.50 an hour to start new industries.
Tax all products brought into this country by U.S. Manufacturers made in foreign plants and production facilities. Similarly place a surtax any foreign offices of U.S. manufacturers that employ segments of their fully functioning staffs. It won’t cost the government anything. It will, depending on how you do it, raise between $26 billion and $40 billion a year in funds that could be used directly to stimulate new green energy and other manufacturing businesses.
4. Enact a health care program that is effectively “Medicare for All.” Simply expand Medicare immediately to cover everyone down to age 50. Make Medicare fees the same for everyone regardless of age over 50. People who reach 75 shouldn’t suddenly be hit with increased rates simply because they get older. They don’t get richer. If anything, they get poorer.
Tax health insurance companies one-half of all their policy increases to pay for it. Health insurance companies are clearly now like tobacco companies. We see how they are too often causes of death rather than assisters in maintaining life. They are extraneous. We need a single payer system to work directly with doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Offer a solid public option for all citizens as an alternative to private health plans as early as 2012. That’s plenty of time to plan it. If not, hire some of the unemployed statisticians, and accountants to help get it ready.
5. Pass the damned Employee Free Choice Act. When we had 25% of our workforce in labor unions we had the greatest period of prosperity ever. Now the Neocons have effectuated a reduction to 7%. How is that working for us? How many people must work long hours with no overtime pay? How many American workers are displaced by foreign workers who came here or remain here illegally? How many people lose their jobs just for discussing the idea of organizing a union?
Unions result in better working conditions, better health care, safer workplaces and more power for U.S. citizens to purchase products made in the U.S.A.
6. Convert Social Security over time to a minimum pension plan, a fail safe plan for citizens. Use budget surpluses…which we can create with this Populist Economic Recovery Plan…to pay down the amounts which the Neocon Republicans stole and moved into the military budget and into tax cuts which eventually ended up in the pockets of the rich.
Take 10% of all payroll or business revenues and put it into a national retirement program that protects the citizen from destitution. That is the idea of Social Security in the first place. Allow whatever levels over 10% people want to put in. Let people take it out at a graduated rate starting at 55.
7. Change our military policy. We no longer have large scale enemies like the Communist Soviet Union, the Communist Eastern bloc countries or even the Chinese Communists. We need to bring down our military expenditures to no more than is absolutely necessary and put two levels of supervision over them. One is a budgetary committee made up of all parts of the political spectrum. The other is a fiscal committee, like that of the Peterson-Pew Committee, made up of non-military and independent citizens.
We spend $600 billion on defense…equal to or more than the total of what the entire rest of the world spends combined. We need to cut that at least in half. We need to leave the Middle East. There is no reason for us to be there. And we need to close many of our 70 international military bases and bring those personnel home.
So all these programs will result in a three step resumption of a strong economy. First, we will get people back to work and restore confidence among community banks that they can invest in small businesses. The “pay to play” import duties on products made overseas will create the funds for resumption of manufacturing jobs.
These things will raise revenues back up to where they were before the Great Bush Recession. As we are cutting expenditures we will be raising revenues. As the recession subsides and domestic incentives kick in, we will return to a strong domestic economy.
A strong domestic economy and greater tax revenues will result from a more equitable tax system, where the government has more money and the middle class now has an opportunity to contribute more in tax revenues because it will have a higher share of the economic activity…i.e. more and better paying jobs.
This will eventually result in an economy where revenues and reduced expenditures will meet and allow us to bring down the national debt in large hunks over twenty or thirty years, just as we did in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
At present the top 1% have a disproportionate share of an economy that they are trying to preserve. This plan will give them a smaller percentage of a much, much bigger pie and allow them to actually contribute more a rapidly expanding domestic economy and to an American society that will have a broader base and a much brighter future for all its citizens.