Note from Dan: The regular known here as ‘dave’ has put together this fiscal-cliff Christmas wish-list, which he included as a comment on a thread Monday. Here it is, lightly edited and checked twice by yours truly, in a more prominent position. Good stuff!
We have to reduce the deficit responsibly over a 10-year period. And we need to ask EVERYBODY to participate in solving the fiscal mess. Here is, I think, a sane approach to doing that.
1. Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for incomes over $300,000.
2. Increase the capital gains tax back to 25%.
3. Eliminate subsidies for oil companies, and giant agribusinesses.
4. Get out of Afghanistan and reduce foreign aid by 40% with no money to anybody for weapons of any kind.
5. Change the Medicare prescription drug program to allow for negotiation by medicare for prescription prices.
6. Increase ALL Medicare premiums immediately by 5% and index future increases to the cost of living index.
7. Add a means test to Medicare that increases premiums on a graduated scale for seniors whose total annual income including Social Security exceeds $50,000. Increase by 5 percent at $10,000 intervals up to $100,000 in total income.
8. Extend the Social Security payroll tax to incomes up to $150,000.
9. Increase short-term spending over the next five years for infrastructure and education and training to create jobs, get people trained for today’s jobs, and put more people back to work, thereby generating more revenue.
10. Put an end to tax shelters which allow corporations to move their money to offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes on it.
11. Institute credits for businesses that hire more employees in the United States and end all credits of any kind for businesses that move jobs to China, India, or anywhere outside the boundaries
of the United States.
12. Reroute and build the Keystone Pipeline to satisfy the environmental concerns of the midwestern states that oppose it and with the qualifier that 50% of the production from the pipeline must be refined and sold in the United States instead of being shipped to China or elsewhere.
13. Cut the military budget immediately by $50 billion and maintain that level of spending for the next ten years at a savings of $500 billion.
14. Institute a national sales tax of one-half of 1 percent, with the proceeds statutorily required to be used to pay down the debt (not the deficit). That gives everyone some skin in the game. It is regressive but it would go a long way toward showing the markets that we are serious about getting financial control and restoring confidence in the system, which I believe would loosen purse strings and get business moving again.
All of these things should be done and presented to the American people as the kind of sacrifice we must all make to end trhe crisis and bring us back to a position of financial strength.
I do not believe we should raise retirement ages for eligibility for Social Security or for Medicare. Raising them would make no difference to me. I am already there. But I believe there are occupations whose physical and mental demands are tough enough for the people who do those jobs and they should be able to retire with dignity while they are still able to enjoy some of its benefits..
This program requires some sacrifice from everybody but enables us to maintain the safety nets and get control of the deficit. There also needs to be a thorough reexamination of all government programs at the state and federal levels to eliminate duplication, determine where economies of scale are feasible, and eliminate as much corruption and waste as is possible in any large organization. There will always be some. That happens in any undertaking of this size just due to the difficulty of coordinating so many different aspects and the work of so many different people. The same is true of the giants in the corporate world. But with the possibilities presented by today’s digital information systems, I think we can do a much better job than we are yet doing.