Instead of focusing our energy solely on pushing Obama to end the Bush Tax cuts, which have a high likelihood to lead to "disappointment", would it be smarter and more productive to grab hold of the the Tax Reform banner, take it away from the conservatives and start trying to influence what happens there starting NOW.
To be sure, tax reform is fraught with difficulties, massive obstacles and so on. However, smart work by the tax law experts here and elsewhere in the blogosphere and "professional left" could surely start identifying key items to support and those to oppose.
I am not a tax expert or economist, so I invite all comments (positive or negative), especially from those kossacks who are experts, to see if we can make a strategic effort to at least help frame the debate and possibly make an impact on what surely is Obama's preferred route to a deal and will have a huge effect on the economic future of this country and its people.
Join me after the squiggly for my admittedly, non-expert opinion.
In my work and personal connections, I am exposed to a lot of financial experts with a wide variety of opinions and positions. Most are fairly neutral politically (at least in their public statements), but I usually find common themes between them all. My understanding of their collective thoughts and one idea at the center form the basis of this diary.
First, we could start by supporting efforts to make the "super congress" as public and transparent as possible. I'd also recommend becoming familiar with the Simpson-Bowles "non-report" as many ideas for reform (good and bad) that will be put forth in the coming weeks and months will come from it so it makes sense to be prepared for them.
One really interesting idea I haven't heard from anyone else comes from a chief investment officer at a major financial firm I know. He's generally left of the mainstream politically, but pragmatic in an annoyingly reasonable and smart way. He regularly pisses-off the "masters of the universe" (aging myself) and usually ends up correct in the end. I generally like him because while he is focused on getting things done, he measures the results, not whether it was accomplished or not. To quote him, "a deal with no results is not a deal."
His belief, given that the FED is clearly out of options at this point, is to
push for a trillion dollar stimulus but with the requirement of a reasonable plan to lower the deficit and reform the tax code so that there is more revenue for the government.His primary focus for reform is in terms of loopholes, out-dated and ineffective laws and other methods of tax evasion. I agree that is absolutely necessary, but I don't believe that's enough and that some tax increases combined with progressively adding a number of tiers above 250k should also happen. He also believes that corporate tax reform should include incentives (with goal and time based limits) for developing solutions for problems that individual companies or even industries cannot raise enough investment money to accomplish effectively on their own, like renewable energy and climate change (yes, he is not a denier).
So the sound-byte version is "responsible stimulus" or perhaps "cut, stim, and grow"? Awful, I know. I am not much of a sloganeer. So that's just one idea in my opinion that could be something I could get behind. Massive stimulus, responsible budget and tax reform.
Of course, this results of this need to be real and not just another confusing deal with hidden windfalls for corporations and the wealthy. That is why it makes more sense to me to take the clear signal from Obama on his intentions and fight where we might be able to make a difference in the results of those intentions, build awareness of the goals of what tax reforms could do, expose any failures, capitulations and dirty deals, and not get stuck fighting for a symbolic or pyrrhic victory. Oh, and get a giant stimulus (that's hopefully in the form of jobs, not tax breaks) in the bargain.