Earlier this week, various progressive organizations led by MoveOn.org and by 9/11 Truther Van Jones unveiled something called the Contract for the American Dream. The plan, which reads more like a set of talking points than a platform or a manifesto, is set of bullet points its proponents believe will revive the American economy. In summation, the plans all involve increased government spending, more welfare, and higher taxes especially on the so-called rich. If this plan is adopted by the Democratic party and implemented after 2013, it will complete the transformation of America from a nation that believes in the free market, individual liberty, and limited and decentralized government into a European style centralized, corporatist state where the rights of the collective take paramount over individual freedom. The plan will result in the largest increase in the size and scope of the Federal government in its history and will make this country significantly poorer and less free. In addition, this plan is fiscally irresponsible and will result in national bankruptcy if adopted.
The preamble to this new declaration of dependence is thus:
We, the American people, promise to defend and advance a simple ideal: liberty and justice . . . for all. Americans who are willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to find a decent job, get a good home in a strong community, retire with dignity, and give their kids a better life. Every one of us – rich, poor, or in-between, regardless of skin color or birthplace, no matter their sexual orientation or gender – has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is our covenant, our compact, our contract with one another. It is a promise we can fulfill – but only by working together.
Today, the American Dream is under threat. Our veterans are coming home to few jobs and little hope on the home front. Our young people are graduating off a cliff, burdened by heavy debt, into the worst job market in half a century. The big banks that American taxpayers bailed out won’t cut homeowners a break. Our firefighters, nurses, cops, and teachers – America’s everyday heroes – are being thrown out onto the street. We believe:
America is not broke
America is rich – still the wealthiest nation ever. But too many at the top are grabbing the gains. No person or corporation should be allowed to take from America while giving little or nothing back. The super-rich who got tax breaks and bailouts should now pay full taxes – and help create jobs here, not overseas. Those who do well in America should do well by America.
Americans need jobs, not cuts
Many of our best workers are sitting idle while the work of rebuilding America goes undone. Together, we must rebuild our country, reinvest in our people and jump-start the industries of the future. Millions of jobless Americans would love the opportunity to become working, tax-paying members of their communities again. We have a jobs crisis, not a deficit crisis.
Sounds good right..I commend these guys for putting together pretty paragraphs. But the problem is, this is nonsense. Hosni Mubarak had a better grasp on reality in his speeches during the Egyptian uprising than these guys do. America is the eleventh most indebted country in the world according to the IMF with a debt to GDP percentage of 92.7% in 2010. That puts us right below Ireland, which has already been bailed out once with a debt percentage of 93.6%. Greece, the Western world’s economic basket case has a debt percentage of 130.2% of GDP for a little perspective. Portugal which was just bailed out, had a debt that was 83.1% of GDP. These percentages are not counting unfunded liabilities such as promised Social Security and Medicare benefits down the road. We are nation that is running budget deficits of $1 trillion annually and are projected to do so for the near future. America may not be technically be broke, but we are damn sure getting close to it.
The first part of the contract calls for massive New Deal type public works programs:
Rebuild our crumbling bridges, dams, levees, ports, water and sewer lines, railways, roads, and public transit. We must invest in high-speed Internet and a modern, energy-saving electric grid. These investments will create good jobs and rebuild America. To help finance these projects, we need national and state infrastructure banks.
The first problem is that many if not most of these projects are the sole responsibility of state and local governments. Secondly, there are projects on here that are the sole responsibility of private companies, such as high speed Internet and building a modern electric grid. Third, this will not create jobs in a timely fashion because these projects have to be designed, bid out, awarded, and only then can people be hired and the jobs started on. Fourth, this will be paid for with borrowed money for the most part which make our financial situation worse. Finally, this infrastructure bank will likely be another means to reward political contributors and political allies.
Second thing these brain trusts want to do is create “green jobs”
We should invest in American businesses that can power our country with innovative technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, hybrid and electric cars, and next-generation batteries. And we should put Americans to work making our homes and buildings energy efficient. We can create good, green jobs in America, address the climate crisis, and build the clean energy economy.
In other words, they’re going to take money out of the productive economy and give it to unproven, money losing companies and technologies (in most cases). This is government picking winners and losers. What we need to do is have a true free market in energy, no subsidies for anybody, let the best energy sources and solutions win. Not to mention this proposal will likely come at the expense at the oil, gas, nuclear, and coal industries and will result in job losses. You cannot build an economy on this weak of a foundation and through government programs.
The third idea is to throw more money at public education.
We should provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. A high-quality education system, from universal preschool to vocational training and affordable higher education, is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now.
Notice anything related to accountability and rewarding or punishing results is missing. In addition, school choice is missing and tax credits for those parents who do not want to subject their children to the failed government school system. This is throwing money at government contractors, teachers unions, and educrats while short changing the kids. In other words, more of the same educational mediocrity this country has been receiving for 50+ years.
The next idea is they want to give “Medicare for all”
We should expand Medicare so it’s available to all Americans, and reform it to provide even more cost-effective, quality care. The Affordable Care Act is a good start and we must implement it — but it’s not enough. We can save trillions of dollars by joining every other industrialized country — paying much less for health care while getting the same or better results.
The biggest problem is that they have no plan to pay for it. Adding at least a hundred million new beneficiaries to Medicare, a program already on the road to bankruptcy by the end of the decade, without increasing taxes to pay for it will speed up this program’s bankruptcy. Not to mention, this will result in lost jobs in the insurance industry as entire companies may have to close their doors. Finally, when they talk about “reforming Medicare”, they have no plans for it.
Next up is “making work pay”
Americans have a right to fair minimum and living wages, to organize and collectively bargain, to enjoy equal opportunity, and to earn equal pay for equal work. Corporate assaults on these rights bring down wages and benefits for all of us. They must be outlawed.
First of all, there is no “right” to a “living wage”. An employer does not have the obligation to hire anyone in the first place, let alone pay them anything more than a wage agreed to by employee. If the employee wants a “living wage”, they can find a job that pays one. If people want to form a union, fine but the employer has every right to refuse to deal with them and employees have every right to refuse to join one. This is a recipe for fewer jobs as the cost for employers to hire goes up.
These guys also want to “secure Social Security”
Keep Social Security sound, and strengthen the retirement, disability, and survivors’ protections Americans earn through their hard work. Pay for it by removing the cap on the Social Security tax, so that upper-income people pay into Social Security on all they make, just like the rest of us.
There is a giant sucking sound starting…..more on that in just a second.
And of course, no progressive policy manifesto would be complete without taxing the evil rich:
End, once and for all, the Bush-era tax giveaways for the rich, which the rest of us — or our kids — must pay eventually. Also, we must outlaw corporate tax havens and tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. Lastly, with millionaires and billionaires taking a growing share of our country’s wealth, we should add new tax brackets for those making more than $1 million each year.
That giant sucking sound we started hearing earlier is the massive capital flight that would result if this policy, along with most of the others is ever implemented. Capital can now flee countries with a few taps of a keyboard and millions if not billions of dollars will flee this country for countries with lower tax rates and regulations. That will result in fewer people employed and less tax revenue for the government. The rhetoric about outlawing “corporate tax havens” is an admission that America under this proposal cannot compete with the rest of the world, so we must cripple the rest of the world. Finally, companies won’t need the tax breaks for outsourcing outside the US because they’ll already have plenty of incentives to do so under this tax plan.
The anti-war movement finally makes a comeback
Our troops have done everything that’s been asked of them, and it’s time to bring them home to good jobs here. We’re sending $3 billion each week overseas that we should be investing to rebuild America.
Amen to ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but what about ending the wars in Libya, Yemen, and God knows where else Barack Obama is bombing? Also, I think you’ll need more than $156 billion dollars a year to pay for this corporatist welfare state you’re trying to build.
And of course, they’re going after hoarding kulaks on Wall Street:
A tiny fee of a twentieth of 1% on each Wall Street trade could raise tens of billions of dollars annually with little impact on actual investment. This would reduce speculation, “flash trading,” and outrageous bankers’ bonuses — and we’d have a lot more money to spend on Main Street job creation.
So these thieves want 0.05% of the amount every time a worker contributes to their 401(k), buys stock options in their company, and again when they cash out. Do these people have any decency? For a $50 contribution every two weeks to a 401(k), these thieves want $2.50 of it or $65 a year. This will destroy the financial services industry as more capital flees the US and corporations will have a harder time raising money to expand and grow or just stay in business.
Finally, these guys are big on democracy
We need clean, fair elections — where no one’s right to vote can be taken away, and where money doesn’t buy you your own member of Congress. We must ban anonymous political influence, slam shut the lobbyists’ revolving door in D.C., and publicly finance elections. Immigrants who want to join in our democracy deserve a clear path to citizenship. We must stop giving corporations the rights of people when it comes to our elections. And we must ensure our judiciary’s respect for the Constitution. Together, we will reclaim our democracy to get our country back on track.
This is a bunch of silly and empty slogans with no relation to each other, let alone reality. Public financing of elections will be a disaster because government can pick winners and losers, which campaigns are funded and which aren’t, and it will be able to micromanage campaigns. In addition, it is a clear regard of the 1st Amendment which equates political donations with speech. I have my own ideas to curbing America’s representative deficit, but these are simply silly.
There is a culture war in America between those of us who love liberty and those of us who love security. I clearly lean on the side of liberty. I understand my opponents have nothing but good intentions, for the most part, but they are absolutely wrong. This contract will make America poorer and less free. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and this manifesto only proves it.
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