The utter unpopularity of our "chosen" candidates, and the happy reality that this blog has a modest following, inspired me to throw my hat into the ring...rhetorically!
Here's what I would do to get our economy back on its feet (or, at least, its knees). My views on foreign policy and social matters are irrelevant to this blog, beyond saying: Please, everyone...can we just live and let live? Living is challenging enough for most of us, without judging and getting into each other's business all the time.
Ok, here's what I would do if I had a super-magic wand:
- Reform the tax code, lowering rates on corporate taxes, and creating a tax amnesty to bring capital back into the US from overseas. Unify corporate and individual tax rates for small businesses. Eliminate the mass of deductions and exemptions to produce a far simpler and fairer personal income tax system. Maintain progressivity through the earned-income tax credit or a basic income transfer. Radical simplicity is the goal.
- Eliminate the myriad incentives in our tax system that favor consumption and the accumulation of debt over savings and investment, including the deductibility of mortgage interest and corporate debt expense. Change depreciation rules to allow faster write-down of assets. Eliminate the carried interest exemption.
- Get government out of the business of business. Small business is being strangled with regulations, enforcing a modern-day guild system to stifle competition and protect the big players. Create independent review boards to evaluate all regulations with the goal of eliminating as many as possible. Set business size thresholds for most regulations, to encourage small business formation. Establish the fiduciary standard for everyone.
- Embark on a major infrastructure rehabilitation program, with the goal of employing large quantities of less skilled labor. Delegate all contracting to state and preferably local governments. Conventional contracting rules will have to be modified, if not suspended altogether. Let the smallest, most reputable and fastest win.
- Means-test (and, for Medicare, fitness-test) Social security and Medicare programs. Start with young people to ensure fairness and appropriate lifetime incentives. Dramatically scale back incentives for costly and ineffective end-of-life care, with a greater focus on hospice and incentives for in-home care by family members. Extend the full retirement age for Social Security and end the duplication of benefits for divorced spouses. Eliminate the disability benefits system, which is rife with abuse.
- Create a hybrid Social Security system that supplements the current pay-as-you-go US Treasury operation with individual retirement accounts featuring diversified passive allocations to a market cap weighted portfolio. Allocations would be standardized by age and run passively by computers at very low cost.
- Add more staff to the IRS and GAO, triple the number of taxpayer advocates and government auditors. Otherwise, dramatically scale back the scope of the federal government, and delegate most activities to state and local authorities. Targets for elimination: department of education, department of agriculture, department of homeland security, department of commerce, department of labor. Streamline and reform other departments, esp DOJ, HHS, HUD. Privatize TSA.
- Create better oversight for the Federal Reserve, requiring it to follow a simple non-interventionist, rules-based monetary policy. Adopt a requirement that FOMC members represent a diversity of industries, not just academics and those representing special interests in the financial sector. The goal should be to make the Fed truly independent and boring again.
- Modernize Glass-Steagall. Throw out Dodd-Frank and initiate criminal prosecution for financiers who break the law. Break up the biggest banks. Just do it.
- None of the above will happen unless we reform our campaign finance system. Set limits on campaign spending that apply to everyone, and shorten the election season to 6 months. Require all donations to be made anonymously, individually, and under defined limits--directly to candidates, through a secure electronic system that makes it impossible for donors to exert their influence. Eliminate all PACs and other channels for corporate contributions to election campaigns.
Wanna run my campaign?!