The Two Big Issues: Jobs and Health Care Reform.

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Sunday in October and Congress is back and pundits are shouting over one another on the morning talk shows. Even married political-pundit couples who sit before cameras and the husband says something and the wife contradicts him, regardless of whether what she has to say is true or based on earthly reality. It proves that political punditry is just a job. Pick a side and start talking.

The Sunday political programs have turned into a hodge-podge of disagreeable people talking platitudes. The fact is that life in America today is very simple. Short term we need two things. First we need jobs. We need to find ways to put people back to work. And there are ways. Of course, there will be people who object virtually any plan that involves sacrifice. And those people would be the same ones who have been making millions per year for the last twenty years. Second, we need to pass health care reform. And here is what it must be. We need a plan that forces the big health care insurers to compete with more companies. We need a government option that will offer an insurance plan that Americans can fall back on, almost like an extension of Medicare, if they need it. Without this kind of hammer, private health insurance companies who have simply consolidated, taken more profits and denied and rescinded coverage will not broaden coverage and reduce costs.

Jobs

We need a targeted stimulus that will focus on manufacturing. The main need in this country right now is to replace the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on imported oil from foreign countries. We could simply fill this need with funding programs for small businesses. We can support the  growth of new or existing companies in electric car technology, battery technology, hydrogen energy, wind energy and solar.

How do we pay for it? It is very simple. There are a lot of ways. But most of them require a little bit of sacrifice by the top ten percent of American earners. Alan Greenspan says that we are reaching the upper limits of our capacity to borrow…or will if we are not careful.  So let’s not borrow from China. Let’s do something we don’ t like to do but that anyone with common sense would do. Let’s tax the people in this country who have benefitted most from the last 25 years. Let’s tax the top 1%  who have enjoyed incredible wealth with virtually no taxation for the last twenty five years. Or,  better yet, let’s not borrow at all. There is another way.

We now import about $2.6 trillion of goods per year. Who  benefits from that $2.6 trillion? Owners of petroleum companies who pay their departing CEOs $400 million in parting gifts, while you pay $4.00 a gallon. WalMart, a company that makes billions a year by forcing prices down. They do offer excellent prices but does it really make a difference whether you pay $1.00 for something or $1.10 if another million Americans could be employed? And other corporations that hire foreign workers to make products that Americans used to make. We recommend that we attach a very small duty on every product, 2% or less, on everything that comes into this country that is imported here by American companies.

Will it reduce the sale of some items? Probably not. On the other hand, would 2% of $2.6 trillion dollars help jobs? It would enable $53 billion dollars…$1,000,000 per company for 53,000 companies to get started. In six months we could be employing an additional 1,000,000 people in good, long term jobs. And there would be three service jobs for every one manufacturing jobs. Three million employed. Just like that. And next year we could do the same thing. Recession over.  It is time we stopped worrying about free trade when the only thing that is free is the ability for anyone to come here and make money at our expense.

The only people who would object are the big corporations who do not like anyone doing anything to interfere with their profits. The top one percent of Americans and the largest corporations are those who might be affected. They will say that prices will go up. But the fact is that, in a recession, consumers have the upper hand in controlling prices. The corporations have to decide how much they want to eat into sales if they raise prices. The same kinds of people who worry about tariffs are the same kinds people who have spent over $400 million since the beginning of this year to try to defeat health care reform. Greedy people.  We will solve an entire host of problems if we begin to charge corporations a fair amount for doing business in the largest, most dynamic market in the world. We certainly have the right to charge a very small toll to let people in on the golden highway called the American Market.

Health Care Reform

This one is easy. Just back the Democrats. The Republicans don’t have a program at all. Just put the House Energy and Commerce committee and the Senate Health Energy, Labor and Pensions committee plans together into some form into law. Problem solved. These things are not big problems. The big problems are the lobbyists and the Republicans who are spending a fortune trying to stop them.

Don’t be concerned about health care. There is only one thing to remember. We now spend about $14,000 per family on health care insurance. Everyone else in the world who has universal coverage spends about $7,000 per family. The reason they do is that they are already doing what we are about to do. When we have health care for a few years, it will cost less per capita than it does now. And health care delivery will be better. Drugs will be less expensive. Health insurance will be less costly. There will be more family practitioners. Greater security, because they won’t be able to turn you down or deny a claim. And the public option will mean that no matter where you live or whether you leave a job or a geographic area, you will still have health insurance.