So far, the Daily Kos community has submitted hundreds of ideas in the comments of our campaign kickoff post yesterday, and also through our online submission form. If you thought the executive branch had only limited options to improve the economy without Congress, you might change your mind after taking a look at what has been proposed.
Here is one idea:
Require all federal purchases down to pens and toilet seats be of products made in the USA by union labor.
There were a lot of variations on this call to buy American. Hiring American was one of them:
Any bases overseas... must have all services fulfilled by US personnel.
Another common plan was to end the wars, and then use the defense budget to spend more money in America:
Use the defense budget to pay for domestic transportation repairs, since the troops need highways and bridges. How are we going to move equipment around the country to meet defense needs if our bridges are crumbling?
It can certainly be argued that or power grid is susceptible to attack. Use the ample defense funds to upgrade our power grid with diversified solar and wind farms and a smart power distribution network.
There were also many proposals to use executive powers to expand investments into green jobs:
Use the EPA to crack down on CO2. That will get banks (sitting on $4 trillion in idle cash) to loan to utilities to invest in green jobs. Details.
Here is a particularly concrete example of what can be done to create green jobs:
Direct the federal power agencies, Bonneville and Tennessee Valley, to work with their electric utilities to develop a no-down-payment home weatherization and efficiency program with initial loan to be repaid on monthly utility bill.
Housing was the topic of many submissions:
Immediately stop all foreclosures and give everyone the option to refinance via fannie at very low interest rates.
[C]hange policy of the federal agencies that back mortgages so that those who have been foreclosed on or forced to sell short could buy a new, smaller house and get a new mortgage on the house without waiting several years.
Here is another great thought on housing, although as the link notes that ship may have already sailed:
SPENDING the $30bn in unpsent HAMP funds might be a good idea.
There were several proposals to help small businesses, including:
Require all government contractors to pay all their vendors and suppliers on standard net-30-day terms. The recent trend to slower 60- and 90-day payment hurts small businesses and their payrolls, who don't have the working capital to float large contractors.
Make it easier for very small businesses to get loans from SBA so they can grow their business.
In a forum on this very subject last October, Lloyd Chapman presented another solid idea on helping small businesses without Congress:
Issue an executive order that would keep his campaign promise to, “end the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants.” Economists agree that the best way to stimulate the economy is to direct federal infrastructure spending to small businesses. Ending this abuse would infuse the nation’s middle class economy with billions of dollars a month in existing federal infrastructure spending.
Here are four of the many thoughts on how the executive branch can configure some of the non-military aspects of foreign policy in order to improve the American jobs market:
Eliminate visa requirements for vacationers from South America.
Order that each and every item coming into american ports must be inspected for bombs etc, this will be paid by the manufacturer, not the gov't. Obama can cite national security, and I believe can do this as commander in chief, without congress. It will create jobs for inspectors and infrastructure and decrease savings they think they make on foreign labor.
Phased Reducuction # of H1B Visas
Use the customs service to suppress Chinese imports until China revalues its currency.
This next proposal didn't fit into a broader group, but mergers do pretty much seem to be excuses to fire workers:
Have the DOJ issue a 2 year moratorium on approving mergers on anti-trust grounds. Each merger results in thousands of employees being fired to finance the cost of the merger.
Some commenters pointed to ideas proposed by others, such as Jack Balkin:
Build on the suggestion of CNN contributor and Yale law professor Jack Balkin: coin money and pay down the debt; inflation will make US exports more competitive and will pressure Congress to pass real stimulus.
Or Brad Delong:
Quantitative easing does not have to be done by the Fed: the Treasury can use residual TARP authority to take tail risk onto its own books as well, and should be doing so as much as possible.
Expansion does not require that the federal government spend: using Treasury (and Fed!) money to grease the financing of infrastructure and other investments by states would pay enormous dividends.
For the Treasury Secretary to announce that a weak dollar is in America's interest right now would not only boost exports, but it would immediately lead to a shift in monetary policy in Europe toward a much more expansionary profile--which would be good for the world.
As well as an extensive forum on this subject at Fire Dog Lake.
The cornucopia of possibilities becomes apparent when you consider that every idea listed above is in addition to the proposals detailed in the campaign kickoff post yesterday:
In June, the White House Council on Jobs released a series of recommendations on how to increase employment without new legislation. Just last week, President Obama directed "several federal agencies to identify 'high-impact, job-creating infrastructure projects' that can be expedited now, without congressional approval." Additionally, last year Robert Kuttner discussed how high-road contracting and tougher enforcement of labor laws could improve many existing jobs without Congress doing anything at all.
Please, keep submitting your ideas in the comments or through our online form. We have the makings of a powerful list of executive branch actions to create jobs and otherwise improve the economy. Once we have the list finalized, we will submit it to the new White House We The People tool, acquire the necessary signatures, and receive an official analysis and response. None of our proposals may be adopted in the end, but working with the executive branch still feels a lot more viable than trying to get Eric Cantor to realize the benefits of Keynesianism.
Note: please remember that "without congressional action" means "without congressional action." Also, the Federal Reserve does not serve at the pleasure of the President.