The stock market fell another 600 points and the people are looking to the President for a plan to bring us out of this mess. They don’t expect miracles but from all polling results they have already given up on the Congress to get us out of it. Barack Obama is the President and he needs to tell the American people and Congress what his plan for jump starting the economy and producing jobs is and he can no longer say that it’s up to the Congress and sit back.
The President needs to be bold and passionate when he explains his plan to the American people. He needs to explain what is needed to rebuild our economy, reduce the deficit and put them back to work. He needs to say to the American people that if the Congressional super-committee set up by the debt ceiling agreement doesn’t propose a similar one and have Congress pass it, he will campaign against candidates who don’t support it and call on the people to ensure that in 2012 we elect people who will pass it in the next Congress.
While many of us aren’t experts in economics we are rational and considering those who claim to be the experts our thoughts could prove just as valuable. If Standard and Poor’s can make a $2 trillion math error, give Lehman Brothers and others A ratings just before they went bankrupt, anyone has the right to state their opinions and be considered legitimate.
As a nation we need to face our problems head-on and those problems, contrary to the Tea Party, won’t be solved without both cutting spending and raising revenue. We must look at entitlement programs but not from the Ryan (R-WI) viewpoint of making them private, but from the point of view of making them stable. We need to look at revenue enhancements from the perspective of history and with the understanding that simply cutting government programs and jobs won’t solve our debt crisis.
When the President presents his plan he needs to remind the public that the administrative cost of some government run programs like Medicare are better than private ones. Medicare administrative costs are about 1.5% while private insurance companies have administrative costs of 10-15%. He begins with the public already agreeing with him that people who can afford it need to pay more taxes. The President needs to include in his plan a way to stabilize social security and Medicare for years to come. He needs to discuss healthcare options and how as we trim costs we need to increase revenue to pay for the healthcare people want and an aging population will need. He should remind people how the Social Security Commission set up by Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil in 1983, nearly 30 years ago, succeeded.
The President’s plan should include an incremental increase in the 1.45% people now pay in Medicare taxes and indexing the cost of services based on income in a way that doesn’t have a detrimental impact on the lives of those who have high incomes after age 65. He must recommend that it is time to raise the retirement age and do it incrementally over the next 30 years. We need to increase to $200,000 the amount of income on which we collect social security taxes. The plan should include the expiration of the Bush tax cuts which if left to expire after 2012 will bring in approximately $1 trillion over the next ten years. He should call for the end to tax loopholes for oil companies and others who no longer need them. He should recommend the taxing of the trillions of dollars that companies make in the US and have stashed offshore. He should call for tax credits for every net job a company creates in the US. He should recommend cuts in programs from defense to agriculture that are no longer needed, are duplicative or have proven not to work. These cuts are crucial and with increased revenues will allow the nation to fund research, education and infrastructure improvements which are all job producing programs. Each new program should be measured against how quickly it can produce jobs and what the benefit is to society as a whole.
The deficit wasn’t created by Obama. It was created over the last ten years and some of it because of programs in place long before that. It can’t be blamed on one party or the other but people need to demand that all our elected officials act like adults and come together on the solutions needed to fix it. One additional part of the President’s plan should be to insist that we never again fight a war that we don’t ask the American people to pay for. Keeping the cost of war off-budget was an outrage. If a war is worth fighting the American people have to be asked to pay for it when it is being fought and not leave it to our children and grandchildren to pay for.
Despite the downgrade by Standard and Poor’s and the state of our current economy, the United States still is the country that people around the world look to when buying government bonds. Despite the shameful way the Congress handled the debt ceiling increase, they did finally approve it. We are a nation with the ability to correct and solve our own problems and it is time for the President to step forward and present his plan on how to do that to Congress and the nation. If the plan is fair and balanced I have full confidence that the people will respond and support it, and him.