Even through there is nothing more important to citizens of the U.S. than the economic crisis in general and jobs in particular, as of yesterday afternoon you could not read the news I have for you today anywhere in mainstream media.
On Tuesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus led by its chairman, Arizona Representative Raul Grijalva, introduced H.R. 3638, the Restore the American Dream for the 99 Percent Act.
The Economic Policy Institute says the bill would create 5 million jobs over the next two years and reduce the budget deficit by $2 trillion over the next decade.
H.R.3638 contains the kinds of provisions that would get the country moving forward again. You know, stuff Congress should have been enacting during these past four years instead of lining the pockets of the already rich while American family budgets are circling the drain. And it aligns with much that the #occupy movement has brought to the nation's attention.
I want to say that this bill is brilliant, creative and forward thinking, but it really is not. In an economy this bad for this long, it is only common sense and it is pretty much exactly what many Democrats and progressives have been calling for all along while being pointedly ignored by the people who can do anything about it.
Although it's fairly long, this summary of the bill's of provisions is a quick read (or, the pdf is here). And there is a related holiday surprise/treat for you at the bottom of this post.
After repeated efforts by conservative Washington politicians to reenact the same failed policies, Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) took action. CPC Members traveled across the country listening to the American people.
Americans told us they want work and that cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and education is unacceptable; they want big banks to clean up the mess they made and millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.
KEY JOBS CREATION PROVISIONS
• Emergency jobs to put America to Work: creates 2.2 million jobs through on-the-job training and direct hire programs for cops, teachers, firefighters, construction and maintenance workers for schools, parks and public land workers, work study jobs for students, health providers including nurses and assistants and a new Community Corp to take care of our neighborhoods.
• Buy America: requires materials for government contracts are manufactured in the U.S.
• Infrastructure bank: creates an infrastructure bank that will allow private sector partnering with regions, States and localities to create infrastructure projects
• Protection of our wounded veterans: ensures that our veterans are not discriminated against in the workplace for time spent receiving treatment for injuries
• Investment in infrastructure and transportation: provides $50 billion to fix our crumbling roads, bridges, rail lines, sewer systems and to upgrade power lines and mass transit systems
REVENUE INCREASES AND SAVINGS
• Fairness in taxation: requires people that make over $1 million a year to pay their fair share, raising $800 billion
• Defense spending: A rare consensus has emerged among a wide range of policymakers, deficit reduction plan must tackle Defense spending. Ending unnecessary programs saves $280 billion
• Unchecked war spending: restricting spending in Afghanistan to planning and executing a responsible troop withdrawal saves ≈ $1.2 trillion
• Oil and gas industry and polluter taxes: the oil and gas corporations are among the most profitable on Earth; ending tax giveaways and requiring polluters to clean up their mess will raise over $60 billion
• Wall Street and speculators tax: The financial sector shattered the global economy – this 0.03 percent tax disincentivizes dangerous speculation by slightly raising the cost to trade which raises $350 billion
• Making Work Pay Tax Credit: this progressive tax refund that would put money into the pockets of those that need it most to boost the economy would be extended for 2 years
PROTECTING MEDICARE, MEDICAID AND SOCIAL SECURITY
• Public option: allowing a public option to operate with private in the health care exchanges saves $88 billion
• Negotiate drug prices: allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical saves $156 billion
• Enhancing Medicaid rates: the fastest way to support state governments would be to restore the increased federal Medicaid matching rates
• Scrapping Social Security cap: Social Security by law cannot contribute to the deficit; however people making over $106,800 do not pay taxes on the additional income. To ensure long-term solvency, this requires anyone making over $250,000 to pay the normal social security tax on their upper income
There is much more detail about how all this would be accomplished here.
If only Congress would take this seriously. So sad that it will not.
Now for that surprise I promised. This Halleluijah Chorus with new lyrics written especially for our economic predicament. It is titled Hallelujah - A Musical Tribute to Corporate Excess. The YouTube page states:
Hallelujah was conceived, rehearsed and filmed in Tamworth, NH, a small town with a population of 2556 that has as its backdrop Mt Chocorua, the most photographed mountain in America. Tamworth is part of Occupy The Mt Washington Valley. Tamworth was the summer home of President Grover Cleveland.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Wounded Woodpecker