The President has claimed that his administration are 'fierce advocates' of the free market. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, in a "I got your back Wall Street, screw these clowns" sort of way. I myself am an advocate of free boating; let everyone take boats wherever they choose to travel. However, if the boat begins to sink it becomes a question of humanity. You save the people and you don't worry about the boat. Screw the boat.
The President, in his State of the Union speech, proposed a $100 billion jobs bill. Apparently this shrank in the Washington snow and was reduced to $85 billion in the Senate's bipartisan compromise jobs plan. This was crafted by those ever-so-capable and concerned legislators, Max Baucus for the Democrats and Chuck Grassley for the Republicans. Then Harry Reid came in, riding in on a white armadillo, to announce that the Baucus/Grassley plan had been watered down yet again to a $15 billion plan. What's next, a discount card for Value City?
"This is a simplified, focused bill that addresses our core priority: putting millions of Americans back to work," Reid said.
I read this and was reminded of the Bonus Marchers, tens of thousands of veterans who marched from all over America to Washington, DC in the depths of the last Great Depression for a peaceful redress of grievances against their government. They were asking for the early payment of a war bonus that wasn't due until 1945. The bonus was their goal but misery was their motivator. Many had lost everything and hung on only to their faint hopes for a new start on even just a piece of the bonus.
Tens of thousands of Americans were rallying on the steps of the Capitol Building on the last day of the Senate calendar, and the Senate voted down the measure. When the vote was announced the Bonus Army became quiet. They took the tongue of the dead because they were lost. All of their hopes and dreams had rested on the comfortable, reasoning assurances that certainly their government, seeing their misery and distress, wouldn't just say to them, "Get off the lawn."
So, what would a real Democratic administration and Congress do?
Do away with the withholding cap for Social Security. People live longer and there is no limit on benefits, so why do we discontinue withholding for the affluent after $106,000?
Cut the $159 billion budget for the Department of Boogeymen Security in half with an eye towards phasing it out entirely. It was a creation of the Bush administration with the purpose of consolidating power in the hands of the executive branch. As the recent ball sack bomber so aptly illustrated, these guys couldn't catch Grandpa playing Santa Claus. Travel restrictions might hurt the airlines' business but wouldn't hurt America. Do you think Cubans and North Koreans hopscotch across America's skies? This is a job for the Customs Department, just like every other country in the world.
Cap the defense budget at $500 billion. No kidding, no fooling, $500 billion and that's it. If you can't defeat your nameless, faceless enemy on half a trillion dollars per year then you will have to find another way. Try bake sales, no one here signed up for perpetual war and a decade is long enough, so get over it.
Roosevelt's Home Owners Loan Corporation refinanced fifteen-year loans to thirty years. They consolidated fees and second mortgages into a single note at a below market interest rate. We should do the same thing now, extending new loans to forty or even fifty years with a 3% interest rate. These loans would be non-assumable and the dollar value of the property for the new mortgage would be based on an independent market appraisal.
As it stands today the banks are borrowing new money at .25%; they earn a maximum of $1,500 on each mortgage bailout. The banks hold every card in the deck and the homeowners are at their mercy, and when the bank can borrow a million dollars for $2,500, they ain't got no mercy. The loans would then be rebundled and sold through the Treasury and would cost us less than the lose-lose Treasury Bonds issued every day.
Contact every state parks director and national parks director in the country. Ask for a list of low-cost projects like cleaning trails, clearing fire roads, picking up trash. Then offer thirty-hour per week jobs paying $10.00 per hour tax-free. Not enough to keep anyone from a real job but enough to maybe keep their car or pay their rent or utilities. You could expand that program to feed the workers lunches and continue expanding it by setting up feeding stations for the public.
You use these workers to reopen libraries shuttered by budget cuts. You pay them to offer tutoring sessions to students at these libraries. You begin a new Tennessee Valley Authority and where the first TVA was focused on hydroelectric energy, this one will focus on renewable energy of wind and solar.