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This is an open letter to President Obama, or to anyone who has an interest, that offers 10 suggestions concerning our nation’s current economic predicament.

Few Americans will be enamored at these suggestions because they represent a sacrifice that will be somewhat painful, but not nearly as painful as a total breakdown in the economy.
For America to move forward we need instilled a sense of willingness to sacrifice and the confidence that it will work, as opposed to the current demoralizing "gotcha partisanship".  The USA can not afford to keep our currency printing presses running overtime without instituting policies that provide some offsetting level of fiscal restraint.  

How do we change our country's psyche from "more for me" to one where we are willing to sacrifice for the greater good?  The sacrifice must be shared and fair and viewed as necessary for long term security, and a belief that it will help to put the country on a more responsible financial footing for future generations.  Perhaps these future generations will then look back upon us as a greatest generation, instead of the generation that frittered away our nation due to debt and greed.  

Here are the 10 suggestions of which some would be painful to implement.  

The new millennium has not been good for America.  Times are different and our country is on a track to economic destruction unless our leaders and we the people begin thinking outside of the typical partisan talking head political box.  Whether we like it or not it is going to take major sacrifice.  Will it be proactive on our terms or will it be reactive with unknown effects?  The objective is to make our sacrifice fair and provide something to all citizens in return, such as economic security even at a less affluent level.  The details and percentages are provided only as examples to clarify the concept.

  1. Reduce all government wages but offer job security.    Reduce government wages but offer security in jobs for 5 years.  Freeze increases and COLAs for 5 years.  All government employees (including local, state and federal – elected officials,  bureaucrats, judges, military, teachers , national guard, etc)  to have a sliding wage cuts such as 10% of all income under 50K, 15% of income of 50-100K, and 20% of income over 100K.  Only military serving in a combat theater would be excluded.   The private sector is already in that mode and will follow at all levels.
  1. Reduce social security and all government pensions with means test.    Reduce social security and all government pensions by 5-10%, and freeze all cost of living increases for 5 years.  Government pensions have become far more lucrative than those in the private sector and are unfair and they actuarially will break the country.
  1. Reduce Medicare payouts.  Cut hospital, physician and pharmaceutical Medicare payouts by 3% for each of the next 5 years.   These are essentially forced price controls to drive down health care costs with the intent of forcing improved efficiency.   Provide heath care scorecards on all providers.
  1. Re-establish the 1950s era inflation adjusted top end marginal tax rates.   Increase tax rates to 1950s era levels in yearly increments such as 25%.  Inflation adjusted the top marginal tax rate would apply to incomes of over $2.7 Million but incomes above 250K would also face higher taxes.  Income taxes on those earning under 250K should either be reduced or remain flat.   The wealthy and ultra rich have fared far better than average Americans over the last 25 years and it is time for sacrifice by all.   The USA economy under these higher rates in the Eisenhower era thrived and we had a healthy country.
  1. Provide a health/consumption tax on cigarettes and alcohol.    Establish a health tax on cigarettes and alcohol such as 25% that would discourage their use and would supplement future health costs expected from the use of these products.  Dedicate the revenue to health care and the Medicare trust.  
  1. Mandatory offshore tax haven penalty.  Provide a mandatory multi year prison sentence for first time offenders for any individual or corporate officer found guilty of hiding funds and using off shore tax havens.  Second offense would be double the incarceration.  Provide more aggressive IRS enforcement against tax cheats also.  
  1. Create a USA Recovery Savings Bond.  It would offer attractive interest rates such as 4% and be available to only individual USA citizens.  It would serve to fund these bailouts and keep the dollar strong.   It would encourage secure savings, provide senior citizens with a secure income,  and most importantly reduce our debt held by foreign countries.  Non-US only citizens purchasing these bonds would forfeit all interest.  
  1. End most foreign aid.   Since we would be expecting all Americans to sacrifice, we need to end or drastically reduce all foreign aid, especially the billions sent to more affluent countries such as Israel, Egypt, Jordan.  
  1. Guaranteed unemployment compensation but with work fare.    Ensure that jobless benefits will be available and extended for at least 2 years for American citizens.  Also provide a basic high deductible health care policy to all to avoid bankruptcy.   Recipients of unemployment compensation and other government programs will be required to participate in significant public work projects or participate in retraining.   Such a work requirement will ensure that these benefits provide for continued job discipline as well as encouragement to seek out job opportunities.      
  1.  Punitive tax on corporations that outsource.   Provide strong tax disincentives to all US domiciled corporations that move production and employment outside of the USA.  At the same time provide incentives to hire US workers.

And as a PS:

  1.  Hold accountable those responsible for this financial crisis.    We must institute a culture and justice system that demands accountability.  Unfortunately for America it has become as American as apple pie to hold only the little average person accountable.   Accountability for those of power and affluence has generally been missing.  Those found criminally guilty must spend major prison time commensurate with the damage they have done to the USA.  These crimes are far more serious than those convicted of shop lifting and drug use that usually get sent immediately to prison.  These affluent white collar perpetrators need to be punished as a discouragement to future greed.    

Originally posted to dailykozzer on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:22 PM PST.


Are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good if it was done fairly?

66%44 votes
27%18 votes
6%4 votes

| 66 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why Should Ordinary People Sacrifice (9+ / 0-)

    when all a rich people have to do is forgo a vacation, yacht, etc. I suggest you think this through again.

    •  91% tax rate should help. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karl Rover

      I'm the first to state that the rich should pay dearly for this mess that they created, which is why I suggested that tax rates should go up to the 1957 era rates and that tax fraud needs punished.

      In 1957 those earning over $400K paid 91% in taxes.  Today inflation adjusted that 400K is about $2.4 million.  As Obama said those above 250K need to pay their fair share also.  These high rates would catch the mega overpaid athletes, CEOs, entertainers, etc that have been escaping paying a fair share.    Too much of America's wealth has gone to too few.

      Thanks for commenting.

      •  They wouldn't really care (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        There is always a way to get around paying income taxes. The wealthy need not take any income, they just need to have the right to use company cars, planes, and real estate. They do not need to legally own anything, just have access and permission to use. All perfectly legal and not taxable unless they have exclusive use. Any clever tax lawyer can shield anyone from tax liablity, legally. Even if you were able to raise income taxes on the wealthy they would just work the additional costs into the price of products they produce. All income taxes and payroll taxes are taxes on production and are just another cost that effects the price of every product or service in America. Even profit margins are inflated to account for income taxes because profits are the business owners taxable income and they live on the take home pay just like the wage earner.
        Hundreds of Billions in American wealth flows offshore into tax shelters to avoid income taxes every year. If you really want the wealthy to pay their fair share and keep our wealth home, tax consumption instead. Weathy consume many times more than the adverage wage earner and currently have about the same tax liability. We cannot win as long as we keep the existing structure in place.

        •  Consumption tax (0+ / 0-)

          Interesting because I'm a big believer in consumption based taxes too.  It provides a level of control for everyone,  especially with the elderly (as a substitute for property tax) and it encourages savings instead of spending and consuming and it can't be hidden.  

          I'm a registered Democrat but actually I'm independent and more enamored with the candidates (Kucinich, Nader, Paul) and not with Party.  Oddly most Dem politicians in my state don't like it because they say it is regressive for those of lower income.

          I'd like to see a tax on all Wall Street transactions, but that could be a declining income stream as Wall Street has cut their own throat and taken us with them.

          Thanks for responding.      

          •  Income taxes are built on deception (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, I totally agree. I was a supporter of the Fair Tax but I think that it can be improved so that the rates are much lower than they are suggesting. They also insist on repealing the 16th admendment which is really not necessary. The 16th admendment does not make income taxes constitutional as popularly believed, it just closed a loop-hole so that income from capital gains was included. All that really needs to done is expose the fact that income taxes do not really apply to most people. Income taxes are totally voluntary and by signing the return you are declaring that your income is indeed taxable eventhough it's most likely not.
            I think we should modify the Fair Tax act to include all comsumption (including used items) and capitol gains tax on all income from gambling (including stock and commodity markets) over a certain amount like $7000/yr per household. That rate should be tied directly to the poverty level so it is, and remains progressive. By adding this extra revenue the Fair Tax rate could be below 10%. Everything should be taxed at the same rate.
            The payroll taxes and income taxes are already being revealed as based on improperly constructed or only implied laws and need to be replaced before the Federal government loses most of it's revenue source.

            •  Turned out as I figured (0+ / 0-)

              where many have staked out their opinions and will never offer to sacrifice one iota.  Too many Americans still have "more for me" as their core philosophy.  Thanks for the insight.

              What?   Me've got to be kidding.  I'm already on disability,  or I'm old, I'm poor, or I'm making a billion a year employing many people, or I'm on unemployment, or my family has already sacrificed.   It's the same ole story, someone else should do it but not me.  

              The rationale is always the same .....I'm the victim and it is always others who need to sacrifice, and it goes on forever.  

              At least the poll turned out respectably where most Americans would sacrifice as long as its fair.

              God bless Obama as he has his work cut out.   It is enlightening that greed extends from the political spectrum from left to the right, and it is always someone else who should sacrifice.  

              •  But I do sacrifice (0+ / 0-)

                I still pay my income taxes eventhough I know that my income is not really taxable and I have the knowledge of how to legally not pay. I believe it my duty as a citizen to do so. I believe the current system is not fair because the burden is too heavy on the wage earner. By moving to a consumption based tax system it would include many more taxpayers that are currently paying less than their fair share (if any). By spreading the cost fairly over much larger group making most peoples real tax burden much less.

  •  My family and I (10+ / 0-)

    among other Americans, have already sacrificed jobs, health care and years of savings to this mess. Never mind those who have lost their lives and health in a trumped-up war that has contributed mightily to this crisis.

    Take the ********* IMF-type suggestions and stuff them. And soak the ********* rich for a change.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  •  I'm not getting social security yet, but... (12+ / 0-)

    this is not an appropriate area to monkey around with.
    Many folks have planned for their retirement and have included projected social security benefits as part of their income. Not a good idea to switch this horse in mid-stream. If there ever was a time to include cost of living increases to SS benefits, this is it.

    I would have liked your diary better if you had included ideas for having the ultra rich contribute more.

    •  Especially since some of them have debts which (4+ / 0-)

      were calculated based on that fixed income.

      Unless you really want the banks to deal with refinancing or repossessing the cars Americans getting Social Security payments owe money on.

      The diarist wants up to possibly an entire month's worth of Social Security income to go away. What's someone who does meet the 'means test' supposed to do with this everybody reduction? What to cut: the food, the roof, the power, the car to the doctor's, medication after the donut hole?

      Some of them aren't even managing to scrape by NOW.

      Can you see this inaugural, Dr. King? Did you see this?

      by Cassandra Waites on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:55:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Can't agree more on military cuts. (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for your comment.  

      That is what the suggestion of going back to 1957 era income tax rates would do.  Back then someone earning $400K which is equal to 2.4M? today paid a marginal tax rate of 91%.   That should put some significant sacrifice on the rich and discourage their high salaries.  Also tax law needs aggressively enforced for these people.

      I agree the USA needs to cut the military budget in half and get out of all these countries where we have imperialistic fantasies. We spend as much as the entire world combined on military, and that is money we can't afford.  Our absurd foreign policies create the need for more military.

    •  I receive SS Disability income (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b, BardoOne, thebluecrayon

      and subsidized Medicare.  Would you have an income test for those in my position?  My income is less than $1000 a month, including food stamps, which went down $20 because my SSDI went up $50.  I realize for example that John McCain receives SS in addition to a military pension and his salary as a Senator.  A freeze or cut will not subtantially hurt him, but it will hurt me.  I'm just crawling out from under the debt that built up when I could not work, and actually making it through the month without borrowing or having my checking account in the red.

      If not me, who? If not now, when?

      by ramara on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:31:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The top 1% of income earners should sacrifice (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lovo, Clio2, haruki, awcomeon, Toon, BardoOne

    Millions of middle class and poor Americans have sacrificed a lot, since 1981.

  •  I suggest we sacrifice $799 billion (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    debedb, Ms Citizen, awcomeon, BardoOne

    of the $800 billion we piss away annually on war toys.

    "All wars end with talking." - CKendall.

    by haruki on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 01:59:16 PM PST

    •  50% cut (0+ / 0-)

      I agree.  We've spent our nation into oblivion with our imperialistic militarism.  We spend more than the rest of the world combined.  Get our troops out of all these countries like Germany and Japan.  Thanks for the comment.  

  •  Talk to most Americans (4+ / 0-)

    Most of Americans have sacrificed these past 5 years (take a look at median income as opposed to "average" income levels for 2002-2006 if you don't believe me).

    "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

    by Mister Gloom on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 02:00:23 PM PST

  •  Nice diary for Redstate or LGF or FreeRepublic. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BardoOne, palestinian professor

    A nice list of Republican ideas, wrapped in a Rebublican view of government as a problem, and an idealized Republican view of government social programs as excessive, the first place to make cuts. Where's your cuts in defense? Why do I bother even asking?

    Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

    by doinaheckuvanutjob on Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 03:54:30 PM PST

    •  May I ask why (0+ / 0-)

      you say these are Republican ideas?  Specifically what do you think is Republican?  Social programs wouldn't be cut they'd be expanded.   Taxes increased substantially for the rich.   Corporations would face punitive taxes for outsourcing.

      Government jobs and pensions would be cut in exchange for job security.  Would you rather have a secure job at 10% less or be laid off?  

      Obama has a tough job and if he doesn't find a solution that somehow most Americans with different ideologies can buy into, things are going to get bad for us all.  Get your survival gear ready.  

      Thanks for replying.      

  •  When I see (0+ / 0-)

    the SUVs and BMWs and Ford F150s parked on my street replaced by Honda hybrids or Toyota Priuses, I'll consider sacrificing for the greater good.

  •  Five and a half suggestions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ms Citizen

    I don't like your proposal. I'll suggest my own:

    1. Quality free health care for all.
    1. Guarantee access to quality housing for all.
    1. Guarantee  quality free school education for all.
    1. Guarantee quality free higher education for all.
    1. Firm social security net for all.      

    It's done well in France, Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the civilized world. And they're kind of happy with it. In fact, the recession seems to be missing some of these countries even though their poor are taken care of by their rich.

    For the sake of exceptionalism I suggest the following, but can accept that it's difficult to implement.

    5.5 Jail the investment bankers.

    •  I'm willing (0+ / 0-)

      I'm a believer that neither capitalism nor socialism can be stand alone philosophies.  Unfettered capitalism ends up turning into crony corporatism and fascism.  The elites and rich get richer and manage to finagle more political power which strips power and opportunity from those with less.  We end up with what we have now.

      But this is all abstract discussion that does nothing to fix the current problem of a government that is far to deep in debt and spending far too much and taking in far too little and country that is losing confidence.  

      If this situation starts cascading downwards where we lose credit and the very fragile supply chain, you might as well get your firearms and survival rations ready because that's all you are going to have to survive on.

      I'm suggesting that it is going to take sacrifice by all,  and not everyone but me to change this momentum.  

      I'm far from rich, I've never lived high on the hog, never use credit except for 25 days, have been in my paid off home for 20 years and contributed nothing to this problem.  I'm willing to live on less even though my family contributed nothing to the current problem, as long as I'm in it with all others and if it helps the country.

      Thanks for replying.  

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