Thursday, December 15, 2011

An Offer President Obama Can't Refuse?

Robert Reich, speaking for many progressive-thinking Americans, offers to support the President and work hard for his reelection if, in return, Obama will commit to doing what needs to be done to address "the dangers to our economy and democracy of the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top."

Here's the list of demands:

—  Raise the tax rate on the rich to what it was before 1981.  The top 1 percent has an almost unprecedented share of the nation’s wealth and income yet the lowest tax rate in 30 years.  Meanwhile, America faces colossal budget deficits that have already meant devastating cuts in education, infrastructure, and the safety nets we depend on.  The rich must pay their fair share.  Income in excess of $1 million should be taxed at 70 percent – the same rate as before 1981.
—  Raise capital gains taxes to the same level.  It’s absurd that the 400 richest Americans – whose wealth exceeds the wealth of the bottom 150 million Americans put together – should pay an average 17 percent tax on their incomes, the rate day laborers and child-care workers pay.  That’s because so much of the income of the super-rich is considered capital gains, now taxed at only 15 percent.  Close this loophole. 

—  Tax financial transactions.  A tiny tax on every financial deal would yield billions of dollars more.  It would also slow speculators and reduce the wild gyrations of financial markets. 

—  Use the bulk of this money to create good schools, give our kids access to a college education, and build a world-class infrastructure, so all our children have a chance to get ahead. 

— Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, that used to separate commercial from investment banking.  It was put in place after the Great Crash of 1929 to prevent financiers from gambling with peoples’ bank deposits.  But it was repealed in 1999 – and its repeal contributed to the Crash of 2008.  Wall Street lobbyists have made sure the new Dodd-Frank law has enough loopholes to allow financiers to continue to gamble with other  peoples’ money.  The only way to stop this is to bring Glass-Steagall back. 

—  Cap the size of Wall Street’s biggest banks and break up the biggest.  They were too big to fail before the bailout.  They’re even bigger now.  And because of their huge size they get preferential treatment from the Fed, giving them an even greater competitive advantage over smaller banks.  Cap their size and break them up before we have to bail them out again. 

— Require the big banks that got bailed out to modify the mortgages of millions of Americans now under water, who owe more than their homes are worth.  It’s not their  fault the banks created a housing bubble that burst, causing home values to plummet.

 As Reich says, we can get Obama reelected and provide him with a mandate to accomplish all this if he will stand behind us.  Do you think he'll go for it?    


Anonymous said...

In a word, no.

Bottom line: Barack Obama is *not* a liberal. And frankly, if we must -- for lack of a liberal candidate -- end up with a centrist President, I'd rather it be someone who has the courage to take on the TBTF banks. So if Jon Huntsman runs as a third-party candidate, he will get my vote.

lonbud said...

There is not a snowball's chance in Hell that Obama will do ANY of these things. It's why the Republicans can run a race comprised of clown-car candidates--they are secretly FINE with Obama.

Like Sgt. Phil Esterhaus used to say at the end of the Morning Brief on Hill Street Blues: Be careful out there.

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