Let me see if I got this right. Americans were mad at Obama for not focusing on jobs, so they voted in a bunch of new representatives who are assiduously focused on—oh, wait—NOT jobs.
Of course, looking back, nobody ran on a jobs platform, this being made abundantly clear by John "Orange you glad you voted for me?" Boehner's admission that he and his House won't be able to do much about jobs; they (meaning Republicans in general and Tea Partiers in particular) ran on the deficit, that same deficit which didn't seem to bother them so much through the Bush Years, only to become Public Enemy #2 to be blamed on—who else?—Public Enemy #1, Barack Obama, who has, in fact, far from being a socialist turned out to be any good Republican's wet dream of what a Democratic president ought to be once they figured out that that seeming obsequiousness demonstrated in various bowing and scrapings concealed—oh, wait again—revealed a genuine and fawning obsequiousness which they could play like a ƒ®üקñ Stradivarius, thus landing us in such a place where the jobless must sacrifice their benefits until the rich get their tax cut, nevermind the concept of "shared sacrifice" to which those jobless might sardonically reply, "I gave at the office (at which I once worked)."
OK, enough of the one sentence rant, much as I love to write them and you love to read them— a few of you even loving to diagram them—this is serious and here is the heart of the matter: Jobs as a national priority has been derailed—AGAIN. The peril of long term unemployment, not just as a personal catastrophe, but as a societal one gets shoved aside yet again. We ought to be mad as hell, but we ought to also think this through. What has been voted for is a giant steaming pile of same-o, same-o. There is not one original though coming from this new crop of representatives, so I thought I'd contribute some ideas of my own.
Deficit. OK, fine, let's work on the deficit. If letting the Bush tax cuts expire is onerous, one possibility is a tax increase, but with an expiration date. The same fat cats who yammer "don't pass debt onto our grandchildren" know that one way to prevent that is to PAY UP. Why not raise the marginal rate to 50% for incomes over 1M for five or ten years, or until some benchmark is met? Consider, too, that the wars have never been paid for. What fairy-land were we living in where tax cuts finance a war? Again, where were these angry freshmen representatives when this tab was run up?
Another idea: Lest one think that a high marginal rate (and this isn't even that high—see the Eisenhower years*) is a job killer, consider this: The current low rates seem to have proven a disincentive to create jobs, since there is no penalty for letting one's money sit. Surely the tax code can be written to give tax credits to jobs created. In other words, permanently raise the marginal rate for incomes over $1M, but write the tax code in such a way that here is a substantial tax credit for job creation.
As far as jobs go, I am squarely with Gov Rendell; we have to get back to making things. He said it much better than I ever could, in this video interview with Vanity Fair, as Milwaukee Sentinel Journal columnist Eugene Kane excerpts:
"And not just infrastructure: we built things for the entire world. American manufacturing is teetering on the brink of extinction, except for a little bit of high-tech manufacturing. If we become a nation whose economy is solely based on services, I think we're finished as a world power.
"The whole mania that's gripped the body politic and the public in the last twenty five years: it's wrong for government to spend, we don't want to borrow, we'll borrow ourselves into debt, we're going to leave our children and grandchildren with debt. Instead, we're going to leave our children with roads that are so congested nobody's going to get anywhere, with a light rail system that's a joke, with airports that are clogged and increasingly dangerous, with bridges that fall down.
"Is that what we want to leave our children?"
"We need to to grab the American public. We need to tell people that this is government spending that's going to improve their safety, improve the quality of life, create jobs - one billion dollars of infrastructure spending creates twenty five thousand well-paying jobs that can't be outsourced. It's been lost or subsumed in this mania about the deficit."
Mania. Interesting choice of words. On one hand, the issues that matter are derailed; on the other, we're on a crazy train.
* Note—of course, as noted in subsequent comments, the marginal income tax rate is basically a fiction, since the very richest can seemingly justify any earning as a capital gain, subject to a 15% rate. My solution, First $100,00 of capital gains @ 15%, the rest at the same rate as wages. One more example of how the Right is at heart disdainful of work itself. (7/28/2011)