Posted: September 13, 2011
The President’s jobs plan: too little, too late?
Pragmatism needs to trump ideologyJohn Heckers
Last Thursday, we heard a rousing speech from President Obama on the way to turn around the critical level of unemployment in our country and get people back to work. While the speech contained some good, if vague, ideas, it is simply too little, too late. If the unemployment problem is going to be resolved, we need bold and comprehensive action as a nation. Here are a few ideas.
1). Appropriate enough money to actually fix infrastructure. The President's plan is a start, but America is crumbling. How many people have to die when a bridge collapses before we see that fixing our crumbling highways, bridges, and other infrastructure should trump austerity measures? Many of our schools are a disgrace, as well. Our kids need a decent setting in which to learn and a variety of equipment. These opportunities should be available to all children, not just those of the well-off.
2). Tax the wealthiest Americans and mega-corporations. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 90 percent, and America was very prosperous. We are now faced with a travesty where many of America's largest corporations pay little or no tax, and our wealthiest citizens are often paying a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than their office staff. And, yes, there IS class warfare going on. The wealthiest Americans and mega-corporations have decided to wage war on the working class and middle class. It must stop.
3). End the wars. One way we could begin repairing our nation and getting people back to work is to stop our endless wars and bring our troops home. We simply cannot afford to be "America: World Police" anymore. We spend billions a day in wars which have highly questionable results and only vague goals.
4). Small business payroll tax holiday. The temporary payroll tax reduction proposed by the President does not go nearly far enough. Small business drives jobs and most of the economy. We are the true "job creators." The mega-corporations are the "job offshorers" and "lay-off kings." It would help encourage many of us to hire new people if we didn't have to pay any of the payroll taxes on new hires for a year. This gives new hires a chance to actually become productive, rather than a drain.
5). Make discrimination against the unemployed illegal. Then enforce it.
6). Require banks to work things out with homeowners who want to stay in their homes. A large part of what is driving the recession is housing. They aren't going to work out anything with homeowners unless they are prodded.
7). Directly support start-ups. Many seasoned businesspeople have great ideas that can directly result in jobs - if they could get funded. But investors are generally not investing in pre-revenue companies. As a nation, we should be investing in these true job creators, rather than letting America's future die on the vine. A start-up investment fund, giving grants and loans to start-up businesses would create hundreds of thousands of future-looking jobs. We could also give private investors a year-long tax moratorium on returns from investing in start-up, pre-revenue businesses.
8). Make it harder to lay-off and offshore. Executives are often given obscene bonuses when they lay-off workers - many of whom could have been paid for with their bonuses. Companies that offshore get immense tax advantages. We should immediately end both practices. Heavily tax companies that offshore, and heavily tax bonuses given to any executive in any company that is laying off workers.
9). Protect the vulnerable. I don't know when being poor got to be a crime. We must protect our elderly, the disabled and the poor among us. It is immoral not to do so, even if the wealthy need to help pay for it. We cannot afford for the money they spend (money which is immediately spent) to be taken from the economy. Unemployment insurance should be immediately extended, and we must stop cutting the programs that protect "the least of these."
10). Level the international playing field. Many countries support their businesses with massive grants and other assistance. We need to help our smaller businesses to be more competitive.
Pragmatism needs to trump ideology. We are in the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. If we want to restore the economy and bring back jobs, we need bold action on the part of the community and government. The time for partisan ideology, timidity and austerity has long-since passed.
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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.