A Country for "the people", not just for Millionaires and Billionaires
When I used to think of myself as a "conservative" and a Republican, I had always watched Fox News and Glenn Beck. There was once a time, not too long ago, that Mister Beck had me thoroughly convinced that a Mister Anthony K. "Van" Jones was a radical left-wing anarchist from Oakland California who rioted in the streets, threw Molotov cocktails, and was attempting to destroy America. I wanted to see Van Jones burn in hell!
These days I laugh at myself and my past ignorance. What a foolish man I was for not realizing what a foolish man Glenn Beck is. Or maybe Glenn wasn't "foolish" at all, but was just deceitfully manipulative. But either way, I no longer believe a word he says anymore. Today I embrace Van Jones and his ideas. I am living proof that any moron can wake up and see the light at any time in their life. I congratulate myself for turning my warped sense of ideology around a full 180 degrees. I'm now the exact opposite.
Nowadays, I wouldn't even have to know what Van Jones' ideology was. If someone were to tell me his ideas, thoughts, and plans were the exact opposite of Glenn Beck's, I would vote Van Jones into office just on that alone.
Earlier this year Van Jones wrote a piece for the Huffington Post titled Introducing The American Dream Movement. I didn't notice it at the time until after recently reading the latest Huffington Post piece titled Van Jones Launches Movement To Rebuild The American Dream.
After reading the Huff-Po piece I visited the web site, Contract for the American Dream, which unlike the Republican's "Contract with America" (which benefited mostly the rich, large corporations and big banks), this is a contract with The People (you and I). Real people, not just rich people.
After carefully scrutinizing the web site I realized that Mister Van Jones wasn't trying to burn down the country after all (sarcasm). He is trying to
promote the rebuilding of America - - - creating a "kinder and gentler nation" (as one Republican president was once quoted.)
Watch the videos below and read some of the proposals. They are "progressive" ideas, and that's why Glenn Beck calls them "radical" (like our Founding Forefathers were once accused of being). Because instead of promoting "socially conservative" views that only benefit the rich, the proposals below benefit everyone (The People)...the poor, the working-class, and what's left of the middle-class...and even the rich too, because they'll be sharing a more civilized society with their "lesser" citizens.
After perusing the proposals below (which are REAL ideas that REAL people like you and I submitted) and after watching the videos (especially the very first one), I'll let YOU decide whether or not Van Jones is as "radical" as Glenn Beck claims - - - or if the proposals below are reasonable, fair, healthy, and good common-sense ideas for the future of this country. If Glenn Beck is opposed to any of the many proposals put forth below, then it would make me ashamed to call Glenn Beck an American.
How the Middle-Class Got Screwed - by The Young Turks (Rated AAA+)
One reason that the rich do not pay their fair share is that the tax on capital gains is capped at 15%. In the past, companies reinvested capital gains to avoid paying taxes. Now they do not need to. Hedge fund managers' income also should be taxed as income, not as capital gains, so that hedge fund managers have to pay their fair share.
Impose a tiny tax on every Wall Street trade. A tax of just 1/20th of a penny on every trade could raise more than $100 billion annually with little impact on actual investment. Speculation, "flash trading," and outrageous bonuses would be reduced and we'd have a lot more money to pay for programs that Main Street needs.
End the tax dodging that occurs when a business incorporates in a tax haven, pretending to be a foreign corporation for U.S. tax purposes. Increase disclosure by corporations and impose restrictions where money laundering and tax enforcement are a prime concern.
It is absurd that corporations literally get a tax break for shifting jobs overseas. But that is exactly what happens. We need to end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs and profits overseas.
We should add new tax brackets for the tiny slice of Americans who are making more than $1 million each year. The Fairness in Taxation Act would cost millionaires and billionaires a few cents on the dollar, but raise more than $78 billion a year to protect our public services.
End, once and for all, the Bush-era tax giveaways for the rich, which will eventually have to be paid by the rest of us, or by our kids. We should make the rich pay the fairer tax rates they paid in the 1990's. I'm willing to give up the minute tax break I got under the Bush tax cuts in order for the wealthiest people of our nation to pay their fair share. End the Bush tax cuts for the middle class as well and return ALL tax brackets to their Clinton-era rates. Use the trillions of dollars in extra revenue to pay for progressive priorities.
Oil, gas, coal, and nuclear companies should not be getting any taxpayer subsidies at all. (And eliminate farm subsidies as well)
No one has ever "earned" a million dollars a year - - - let alone 250 times the average American salary. If a company's board is paying a CEO that much, it's a gift. Whether in stock, stock options, or income, if a company gives an employee more than $1M/year, the amount over the $1M must not be deductible to reduce the company's taxes, and should be, in addition, hit with a separate gift tax.
One of the reasons why our economy is stalling is because for decades corporations have turned good jobs in the US into bad jobs in India, China, and around the world. Corporations abuse workers, hire children, poison the air and water, pay wages that keep workers in slums and still are allowed to sell their products here. We must enact and enforce ethical and fair trade laws.
Corporations receiving any kind of tax incentives or public subsidies should not be allowed to pay their highest-paid employee more than 50 times what they pay their lowest-paid employee. Workers should have the same incentive structure as executives; if the CEO gets a 10% bonus, her secretary should get a 10% bonus.
We should be rebuilding our crumbling bridges, roads, water and sewer lines, and investing in high-speed internet and a modern, energy-saving electric grid. That will create good jobs and rebuild America. We need a National Infrastructure Bank to pay for these projects as well as state and local infrastructure banks like the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank.
If we wait for the private sector, we won't reach full employment for at least a decade. That's a moral outrage. A temporary Back to Work public jobs program would help provide much-needed community services in education, child care, and health care and could help rebuild America's roads, schools, and bridges. The federal government should give local and state governments the funding to create millions of temporary public jobs now.
Put Americans to work building 21st-century transit systems that reduce traffic, get people to work faster, and cut pollution. Invest in high-speed rail, which will save energy and make travel faster. Promote and support improved bus service. Make sure that transportation is built equitably so that poor and middle-income communities benefit.
Governments and politicians should support fair minimum wages and living wages. Implement constitutional protections to protect long-standing workers' rights--including the right to organize, the right to negotiate wages, and the right to safe conditions in the workplace. Corporate assaults on these rights lower wages and benefits for all of us, and they must be outlawed and prosecuted.
Our government buys nearly $1 trillion in goods and services each year. But many federal contractors violate labor laws and pay poverty wages. Low-paid workers then turn to Medicaid and food stamps to make ends meet. So our dollars subsidize bad job creation, which further drains government resources. The president should mandate that all federal contractors obey labor laws and create good American jobs.
Every eight seconds, an American turns 65. More and more members of our communities need quality care in the home, and more and more workers need good, dignified jobs. We should create new jobs in home care and improve the job quality for the existing jobs so all care workers and the individuals and families they support are treated with dignity and respect.
With the disappearance of strong pensions, we need to make Social Security stronger, not weaker. That means increasing the already modest average benefit and making it more progressive by exempting the first $20,000 in earnings from the Social Security tax.
Health Care Reform
Lower prescription drug prices by having Medicare and Medicaid negotiate with the drug companies, which is how the Veteran's Administration gets the lowest drug prices in the nation.
The Affordable Health Care Act is a good start - but not enough. We should expand Medicare so it's available to all Americans, while lowering Medicare's out-of-pocket costs, and implementing reforms to focus health providers on providing quality care. We can save trillions of dollars by joining every other industrialized country, which pay much less for health care while getting the same or better results.
We must stop all attempts to repeal or de-fund The Affordable Care Act. And we must improve health care reform by adding a "public option", which is the only thing that will bring down the cost. Too much of what we pay for health care ends up in the pockets of insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
"Too Big to Fail" Wall Street banks have only gotten bigger since the crisis, allowing them to dominate our economy and our government. They pay out big bonuses while cheating on taxes, refusing to lend, and foreclosing on Americans. No banks should be allowed to be bigger than 2% of GDP. That would stabilize the financial sector and give Main Street banks a chance to compete.
We must reverse the deregulation of the banking sector. Smart rules that the government imposed after The Great Depression helped avoid financial crises for 50 years. The new rules passed in Dodd-Frank are a good start, but we have to go further--by reinstating The Glass-Steagall Act and repealing The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to separate investment and commercial banks, empowering the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, regulating shadow banking, and ending Too Big to Fail banks.
And what about the nominating Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?
Don't allow anonymous political influence. Campaigns that generate more money don't always win, but they certainly have an advantage. Force all political campaigns (issue campaigns and candidate campaigns) to disclose who is paying the bills. Force 100% transparency in contributions. President Obama should immediately sign the DISCLOSE Executive Order as an important first step in this direction.
We need a Supreme Court with the common sense to understand that corporations aren't people and speech isn't money. We must roll back the Citizens United decision, which gives corporations the same rights as people--by a constitutional amendment if necessary. And these judges need to be held accountable to ethics laws as well.
Pass legislation to end the overwhelming influence of corporate lobbyists. Prohibit individuals from switching between corporate lobbying and government service within a 5-year period. Close the loopholes in the current lobbying laws that hide lots of lobbying. Require online posting of attendees and content of meetings between lobbyists and government officials.
The problems in Washington start in the electoral process. Our leaders are forced to rely on big donations, often from corporate interests, and pay attention to their donors' needs, not ours. It's time to put elections back into the hands of everyday people with small donations and public financing, and let us all have an equal say in making the rules we all live by.
We spend as much as the rest of the world combined on defense. We must put all military spending and the costs of wars "on budget" and dramatically decrease our spending. That means closing unneeded overseas bases, drastically reducing the use of military contractors, and bringing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a close.
We should end the massive waste of funding wars and instead provide the funds for investing in job-creation. This would create thousands of jobs immediately.
Almost half our spending goes to "defense", and our soldiers all
over the world are pumping American dollars into foreign economies, not ours.
Robert Reich - Invest in America
* I couldn't resist. I'm soooooooooooo happy he was fired from Fox News.