If you are a Populist, you should not think that the elections on November 6, 2012 solved anything. We elected a President and Senators and House members. But they were not all Populists. Until we elect officials who are dedicated to the will and the common good of the People, much remains to be done.
In the early part of the 20th Century, Republicans were populists. Some Republicans were even called Populists and Progressives. Today, the votes from the former Confederate states are dominated by what used to be Segregationist Democrats. These new Republicans are the un-reconstructed descendants of segregationists and the few remaining Segregationist Democrats who have turned Republican.
Populists are those who are concerned for the people, those who consider that all legislation, laws, rules, and government decisions should be accomplished first and foremost for the good of all the People. For Populists, November 6, 2012 was a major victory for Populism.
It was indeed a substantial move in the right direction. But it was not a final victory. The House is in the hands of the obstructionist Republicans and the Senate is still Both the House and the Senate still operates without enough Democratic and Independent Senators (60) to override the filibusters of the Republican Senators who have blocked progressive legislation over 350 times.
Hundreds of millions of dollars was spent in this election by hugely wealthy individuals and corporations in the Right Wing to try to cancel your civil rights, to incorporate their religious views into law, to prepare to send more military forces abroad, to curtail the vote and to reduce or totally eliminate a system of affordable national health care and to weaken a subsistence-level retirement support system.
Both of the latter, Medicare under the new reform laws and Social Security, are called entitlement programs only because we have all paid into them since we began working. These are basically insurance programs. You pay into an insurance plan of any kind for 40 years and unless you are a Neo-Fascist Republican you expect that the insurance plan you paid for will be there when you need it.
The Republicans simply believe that we should have lower taxes, especially for those who pay the largest tax bills, i.e., those who have the most money, and if that means the money is not there when you retire, you should then be asked to pay your own insurance for retirement and buy your own health insurance at a time when it would be most expensive to you. If that sounds fair to you, then you probably should be a Republican.
So, regarding the 2012 elections, we cannot deny that it was a victory for Democrats at most national levels. Governorships stayed about the same. But even though the money spent by the billionaires…some estimate as much as one billion dollars…did not succeed in most cases, the threat posed by Citizens United has not gone away. Serious problems remain.
We need to rally around the Democratic Party for the 2014 elections and do so now. We need to find good Democratic, Independent and even Republican candidates (if they can break free from the Neo-Fascism of the Right) who will work for Liberal and Progressive causes.
Tens of millions of people are still unemployed. The number of unemployed is double any reasonable figure. The Neo-Fascist Republicans, spurred on by greedy industrialists, by the inheritors of great wealth and by fanatical Fundamentalist and Catholic leaders who want their personal agendas made national are doing nothing to encourage investment in jobs.
Furthermore, these same Right Wing groups are supporting a political party that is deliberately obstructing job growth, hoping to persuade the people that it is instead the President and the Democratic Party that are at fault. That propaganda did not win on November 6. That was a victory for those who have been telling the truth and urging the end of obstructionism.
But now it is time to push the other way. We stopped the growth of fanatical, irrational policies from people like the Tea Party in its tracks. Some still remain in Congress but others were defeated. In most rational districts of the country we rejected the more hard-line corporate-funded Tea Baggers and Fundamentalist Christians. But many still remain in the House and Senate.
We must inform and persuade voters to respond in 2014. We need a major victory in 2014 against the forces of totalitarian government…against lies and propaganda and rule by the rich and their corporate-owned media.
In the 1930s, Americans were beginning to understand the importance of their vote and how it could changes their lives, even save their lives. A. Philip Randolph, the head of the Pullman Porters Association, a powerful union made up of African-American railroad Pullman car porters asked President Roosevelt to initiate legislation to end segregation. He was surprised by Roosevelt’s answer. FDR said, “Make me do it.”
In other words, the people, in large enough numbers, with reasonable demands, cannot be denied by politicians. Roosevelt was saying: create the will of the People to do it and it will force the President to act.
We cannot wait for another four years. We must work to change the House and the Senate in 2014, starting today. It is that urgent. We need to break the back of this gigantic problem, these fanatic legislators, propped up by the wealth of corporations and the anti-tax lobby, before they can do more damage. And we need to tell the super-rich for once and for all that they will now stop looting this country and using their tax breaks and multi-million-dollar tax-free incomes against the American Middle Class.
We must move rapidly to the Left. Here is an agenda.
There are many reasons to create millions of jobs in temporary positions in the public sector. First, because it is the more rational and more humane way to take care of the population that is out of work. People, despite what the Neo-Fascist Republicans say, do want jobs rather than unemployment or health care. Clinton proved that when he took Tommy Thompson’s welfare-to-work program and made it into a usable system to return many people to work who had been stuck in the welfare system for generations.
Second, even though the cost of jobs at a modest income, say $40,000 per year would be more than welfare, it would not be that much more. But the economic benefits would be substantially greater. Five million jobs would cost us about $200 billion. That could be borrowed from the Treasury. By raising income taxes so that these individuals paid approximately 20%, about $40 billion would come back immediately, and there would be an immediate exchange in revenues and costs.
In other words, instead of various kinds of welfare, we would exchange it for jobs that would pay more and have the advantage that people could move into similar jobs as the economy improved. Public jobs create service jobs and both pay taxes. If we created meaningful infrastructure projects, we could raise more funds from private investors through government bonds, also increasing interest levels, inflating the economy slightly which would be good, and advancing GDP. All positive results.
The next thing that it would do is show movement to the rest of the world. It would show sovereign funds worldwide that we are taking positive action. Let’s remember this. The Reagan economy expanded on borrowed money. From 1982 to 1988, we reduced taxes and borrowed about $2 trillion to pay for government. This not only expanded government as a percentage of the economy but simultaneously put it into greater debt. Of the 16 million jobs that were created, it was done by deficit financing.
Here’s how it worked. Reagan cut taxes which put more money into the hands of individuals and corporations. That in itself did not create jobs. But he also quadrupled defense spending and other spending in the government created the $2 trillion deficit over 8 years. In other words, the Reagan era economy was not funded by the results of tax cuts.
The Reagan economy was funded by borrowing money from government to finance what was not financed because the people, and especially the rich, received tax cuts. The average citizen was handed a bill for government that had previously been paid for by the real wealthy. It was income redistribution, plain and simple…take money from the Middle Class. Give it to the rich in the form of tax refund checks and charge everyone else for it That created deficits in the hundreds of billions every year since, except under Clinton.
We can do the same thing now. What goes down can go up. Here’s how you do it. You say to Democrats…no tax cuts. We want tax increases that will be more than 39% on the really, really rich. So, for example, you raise the rate to 39% on anybody making over $250,000 up to $2.5 million a year.
But over $2.5 million a year all the way up, as high as incomes go, you pay 50%. No exemptions on that portion of your declared income over $2.5 million. So if you can deduct enough, great. If not you pay 50% on every dollar over the 2.5 million bucks. That’s where the real money is.
Now, why is this under jobs rather than taxes? Because we would take all that money and use it to create jobs or start large co-op corporations with massive job numbers or public-private investment to do infrastructure and alternative energy and retrain some people…again, with cooperation from industry to fill existing jobs.
TAXES AND TARIFFS
We cannot simply go back to the tax rates under Clinton. We need to at the very least add back the $200 billion we will use to create jobs. But we also need to reduce the old deficits without harming either Medicare or Social Security. As was previously said…these are paid-in programs of insurance that must be kept and secured for the People. Costs will come down over time for Medicare as overall health care costs come down—which they will now for certain after the health insurance lobby lost this election.
All of the lies and propaganda by the health industry surrogates, Newt Gingrich and others, will make no difference now. The American People voted for modestly priced health insurance for the elderly and that will continue and will continue to come down in cost. And everyone will have a chance to do what people in Massachusetts currently do…buy inexpensive health coverage with a minimum of what is included in the package. (90% plus popularity)
So we need a 50% top rate. If Linda McMahon, the overwhelmingly underwhelming candidate who tried to buy herself a Senate seat in Connecticut had been paying a 50% top rate she may have thought twice about spending $91 million dollars trying to buy herself a Senate seat.
The Citizens United ruling didn’t work for the billionaires. So they will try again. What now know is that we need an objective, honest supreme court, one that will do the opposite of what this court did…try to slant the election for the rich and powerful. Now we know that people like Scalia and Thomas and Alito are not objective and honest. They are partisan corporate hacks, or just hacks.
A higher tax rate and more people working will create a stronger economy, not a weaker one, as the rich Neo-Fascists would have you believe. When we can come closer to a balanced budget…which will only come with higher tax rates…our economy will take off. The national debt right now, despite the fact that it is only a third to a fourth of what other major countries now have, is a constant reminder that we are undertaxed and underserved by government. We waste too much money on unnecessary wars and giveaways to major corporations…corporate welfare.
Tariffs are taxes too. And while they should not replace a higher tax rate…the super-rich will keep a billion of every two billion they make over $250,000…that’s not bad…income taxes are not the only way to fix our economy.
Too many jobs go overseas unnecessarily. Profits are not only good things, they are necessary things. But it is not necessary to create obscene profits by hiring slave labor in China versus modestly paid labor here in the United States. Sensata Corporation, owned by Romney’s Bain Capital, is one such example.
Here is what Bain said about Sensata in its own press release. “Both 2011 net revenue and Adjusted net income(1) represent record levels for the company.” That is their earnings record while having employees at Sensata, Freeport, IL. Sensata is a worldwide organization with revenues of $1.8 billion and 11,400 employees worldwide.
They are laying off about 225 workers and closing Sensata in Freeport. How much do you think that will affect their bottom line? They already get almost 40% of their revenues from the Americas but they are going to give the jobs—rather than to the people who have helped earn those revenues—to the Chinese. So much for patriotism.
So here is what we could and should do. For every piece of equipment that comes from China, made in China by a U.S. Corporation…or anywhere else outside the United. States…that company should pay a tariff of 5%. That would be a “U.S. Marketplace Tariff.” In other words, if you want to sell in the best market in the world, which the U.S. market is…by far…using foreign workers, then you must do what other foreign countries do….pay a tariff to participate in the marketplace.
The actual tariff may not be 5% but the point is that every time a U.S. corporation sells a million dollars worth of goods here using foreign workers, the United States Treasury earns $50,000 to put into a giant pool for the development of U.S. jobs or guaranteed long-term loans to U.S. workers for retraining.
THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM
The banks caused our recent and current Depression. The attitude of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in sending Chris Cox, a violent opponent of any kind of regulation, to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, resulting in the resignation of huge numbers of regulators, and the layoffs of many others.
In Congressional investigations in the House of Representatives, Cox sat silently while Republican Congressmen asked one softball question after of securities executives. Cox was known to tell attorneys for the SEC to pass up many cases of serious securities fraud while literally tossing other case files into wastebaskets.
Republican Congressmen, who took huge campaign donations from Wall Street, looked the other way while Goldman Sachs and others sold worthless securities to pension funds and to funds in other countries caused the worst economic crisis since 1930. Now we need to push back.
Dodd-Frank is a complex financial regulatory law that Republicans participated in only to try to make it more cumbersome than necessary to see it defeated. But it did not work. Many Republican legislators were forced by public opinion to vote for it. But, once it was enacted, they tried and are still trying to defeat it using those very same amendments that they introduced as an excuse. So here is the solution.
Return to Glass-Steagal, the New Deal era legislation that kept banks under control for 70 years until the Reagan Republicans, the Conservatives, blew it up and voted to repeal it…leading to all our problems. Next, we need to keep the consumer protection division of Treasury that was set up by Dodd-Frank. It has already, in a very short time, saved U.S. consumers billions of dollars from fraudulent lending practices.
And finally we need to invoke the Volcker rule immediately. In other words, banks cannot trade stocks and banks must have a certain amount of capital as a ratio of the funds that they lend. Banks will do banking and investment firms will sell investments and never the twain shall meet. No more meltdowns.
THE UNION MOVEMENT
People need the right to organize. Individuals cannot negotiate with corporations for better wages and benefits. If they want to organize as a group, in one location or thousands of locations, they should not be prevented from organizing. We don’t need rules about that. People will do what they will do. Leave employers alone and leave individuals alone. However they want to organize they should be allowed. However corporations want to fight against it, they should be allowed.
The only things that should not be allowed on either side are violence and intimidation. If proved by either side, they should be hit with “doomsday’ penalties. For example, if a union is proved to intimidate a worker, that should end organizing in that company for a decade. Same thing for corporations. If it intimidates a worker, the workers should be automatically granted a union over the company’s objections and negotiations, perhaps with arbitration and a timetable, should commence immediately.
We have a decade’s good experience at what happens when workers are not allowed to negotiate in a group. Wages have steadily gone down and the workers’ share of benefit costs have gone up. Companies shut down at will and lay off workers with little or no compensation. Mass layoffs occur, followed by new factories or outsourcing in other countries. Workers have virtually no protection.
It is not an isolated series of unrelated incidents. The organization ALEC, sponsored by a huge number of giant corporations, has sponsored legislation in many of the 50 states in which it has Republican state legislatures working for them. The laws are everything from union busting to simple right-to-work laws that go as far as federal restrictions will take them in breaking up collective bargaining.
When workers lose the right to bargain, they lose control of their destinies and, no matter what corporations say or how they spin it, this is what they want. They sometimes use the term…bad for business and bad for workers. That is wrong. What is bad for business, as it relates to employment and wages, is never bad for workers. If workers negotiate their business out of existence, that is bad for workers. And it would be stupid. But if they do not negotiate it is worse. So, intelligent negotiation by organized groups can benefit both sides, but seldom does. It is better if workers can negotiate rationally. That has led to the largest periods of mass prosperity this country has seen.
Farming is enough of a business now and rural areas of this country need to be settled with 21st Century technology. So, what we should do is institute legislation that will break up the gigantic corporate farms, return to large family farms and cooperative food systems. We need to insure that our food is healthy starting in the fields and that can best be done by local farmers with good incomes but personal interests in the quality and the reputation of the local produce, poultry and grains. Our food is now controlled, just like our oil. We need to take a hard look at why we are putting so many chemicals into or meats and produce.
Make it legal and regulate it. Tax it and limit the amount that can be made and distributed by any one corporation. Make sure that it is as healthy as that kind of product can be and study it to see that it does not produce any consistent health hazards. It could be a new and large cash crop that could be a fine small business for hundreds of thousands of people around the country. But it must be heavily and carefully regulated.
Another key element in the move to bring fairness and openness to American political life is the need to end the many voter suppression laws that have been enacted in a number of states. In Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Florida and many other states, laws have been written in such a way that people who are either poor or elderly who do not know have an identification card, like a driver’s license or a passport, will be forced to get one.
This adds a burden to a number of people whom the Republicans say should already have a photo ID as a normal part of life. But, if that is the case, then we need a law that says that all people must have an ID and there must be a national law to see to it that those people who do not now have one can be authorized and delivered one, or that a certain amount of time will be allowed…years…for them to get one.
But of course because the laws that were enacted were simply for a group of people, large mailings were sent out to the poor, the elderly, the African American or Hispanic…all groups who were likely to vote Democratic in the 2012 election.
In Pennsylvania or Ohio one public official said that this was done to virtually guarantee the election of Mitt Romney. Now, first of all, we must find a way to insure that people such as this person can never be elected. But in the long run, we need to legislate nationally to insure that states cannot initiate such laws and give strong penalties if they try to do so. 4
MAKE CHANGES TO HOMELAND SECURITY
We need to take another look at the Patriot Act and the federal activities that surround our homeland protection. After 9/11 we took measures that were as drastic, if not as visibly discernible as the internment of the Japanese in the early 1940s. We allowed the investigation into people’s private lives…their video store rentals, the books they took from the library, their private phone calls….that violate our basic civil rights.
We need to take another look at that and make some modifications. Our national security organizations are better coordinated today than before 9/11. It is time to take another look at the legislation and insure that we have security but that no corrupt or partisan effort can intrude into our private lives unnecessarily.
MORE TO DO
We cannot slow down after this election. The mid-term elections in 2014 will bring more governorships into play, more congressional seats and more Senatorial elections. We need to win these elections to return this country to sanity. We can take the reins back from the big industrialists, the media moguls and Wall Street. But we need to organize the people, each of us in his or her own way, participate in whatever way that makes us comfortable….to win. Winning isn’t the best thing, as Lombardi said, it is…especially in today’s politics of hate and division…the only thing.