The most frustrating aspect of modern American politics is the complete divorce with reality in both major parties.
Republicans deny climate change and technological unemployment and ignore income inequality; while wasting tax money to protect America from imaginary threats such as Iranian nuclear weapons. Democrats oppose free trade; even though 57% of Americans support it, and embrace the Jobs Guarantee the most dangerous and unrealistic social policy proposed in generations.
Magical thinking abounds on both sides of the aisle. Republicans think the market can solve all of America’s problems. Many Democrats believe that putting a union-card in every American’s pocket will create utopia.
Meanwhile, problems like the high cost of healthcare, the housing crisis, income inequality, wage stagnation, and poverty get worse. The lifestyles of average Americans deteriorate while the children in Washington play with their magic wands.
A New Agenda for America
Both major parties would be well advised to adopt a new and more realistic agenda. Below are my proposals for such an agenda. Both parties should consider these ideas because they would generate lots of votes:
- Create a national single-payer healthcare system (Medicare for all). The system should have no premiums, no deductibles, and no copays. Instead, healthcare would be financed by 3% tax on all income. All Americans would pay the tax, but nobody would be forced to buy health insurance they did not want. Everybody would be able to participate in the single-payer system regardless of age or income.
- Add a basic or basement level to Social Security. That is anybody eligible for Social Security or Social Security Disability with an individual income under the poverty level would receive $2,000 a month. This would provide a safety net for the coming collapse of the pension system, and ensure that retirement income is available for persons that did not pay into Social Security.
- Eliminate the cap on the Social Security Tax. Currently, the maximum income that can be taxed for Social Security is $127,200 a year. That means the world’s richest man Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, (who is reputedly worth $100 billion) pays $7,886.40 a year in Social Security taxes; if he pays the typical employee rate of 6.2% rate a year. If Bezos had to pay Social Security tax on his full net worth, he would be sending Social Security $6.2 billion each year.
- Have the federal government encourage education by making a direct cash payment to all public school teachers. My suggestion would be $1,000 a month sent straight to the teachers’ bank accounts. This would encourage more people to enter teaching and support public education without expanding bureaucracy or allowing local school boards and school administrators to waste the money.
- Offer free college for all. Have the federal government cover all tuition costs at universities, community colleges, and trade schools. An advantage to this is the government would be in a position to force down tuition costs. Use U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) Robin Hood Tax on investment sales to pay for it.
- Implement a $15 an hour minimum wage nationwide.
- Embrace free trade because it helps average Americans by keeping consumer prices low.
- Invest $5 to $10 trillion in infrastructure nationwide as President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) has suggested. Projects to consider include interstate highway expansion, a national Hyperloop, high-speed rail, airport expansion, commuter rail, and more mass transit in our cities.
- Commit the federal government to spending $1 trillion a year on research and development. It currently spends around $176.8 billion.
- Implement MIT Economics Professor Andrew W. Lo’s suggestion for bonds to finance healthcare research. Lo’s CancerCures bonds would finance research at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and pay a 5% interest rate. Similar bonds can be issued to finance research in other fields. For example, a space bond to finance NASA.
- Have the Federal Government issue high-interest school-construction bonds to finance the building and remodeling of public schools.
- Have the federal government sell high-interest bonds to finance the construction of low-income housing.
- Offer a no strings attached housing voucher or housing tax credit to all Americans that make less than $50,000 a year. This might be $500 or $1,000 a month.
- Offer a basic income of $500 a month to all Americans that less than $60,000 a year. This would include most people because the median household income is $59,039 a year. It would ensure that most Americans participate in the economy and share its benefits. One advantage to basic income is that it would reach those left out of our current economic boom; including African Americans, rural residents, the working poor, single mothers, and the elderly. A major flaw in today’s economy is that many are not participating.
- Create a uniform national payments solution like India’s United Payments Interface (UPI) to distribute federal benefits to all Americans. Such a solution can be operated by the Federal Reserve and double as a low-cost payment app that all Americans can utilize.
- The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI); which operates under the authority of the Reserve Bank of India, can serve as a template for a national payments organization. The NPCI is the organization that operates the UPI. The NPCI and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) even teamed up to offer a next-generation payment app called Google Tez for Indians. The Federal Reserve Board can serve as the board of directors of this organization perhaps called America Pay and appoint its CEO.
- Create a United States cryptocurrency offered by the Federal Reserve – Fed Coin to put the United States at the cutting edge of financial technology. One use of Fed Coin would be to raise fund for the Fed by mining, transferring, and selling digital cash. Fed Coin can be operated by America Pay.
- Create a United States Permanent Fund to pay the basic income to all Americans. The permanent fund would be financed by royalty fees on oil, gas, and mineral extraction, corporate taxes, income taxes on the wealthy, and taxes on finance and technology companies. The Permanent Fund would invest part of the money it administers in the stock and other financial markets to increase the nation’s wealth.
- Models for the Permanent Fund include the Alaska Permanent Fund and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund. Such a fund might accumulate several trillion dollars that can be used to improve the lives of average Americans. The Federal Reserve Board can serve as the Board of Directors of the Permanent Fund and appoint its CEO.
The idea behind this agenda is a simple one to create an economy that shares the benefits of capitalism with all Americans. If we do not do the hard work necessary to build such an economy, America will face serious political and social unrest.
That will lead to a situation in which many politicians both Democrats and Republicans will lose their cushy jobs. One has to wonder just how many bums will need to be voted out before we get real change in America.
This agenda is just for domestic policy, watch Market Mad House for ideas on foreign policy and elections.