Monday, December 11, 2006


What Do The Democrats Want For Christmas?

There are at least four "grinch" factors that will work to lessen the positive impact of any new policies enacted to support American workers. One, the economy is potentially slowing. Two, according to the Christian Science Monitor, "Because the size of the government in the United States is relatively small compared with that of most other industrial nations, changes in government policies can have only limited impact on the distribution of income." (Perhaps this is because the brains of our political leaders also tend to be disproportionately smaller, but still. I don't really see how the size of a government would necessarily limit the impact of its economic policies, unless we needed to have government employees out there enforcing those policies or unless governments generally aid workers by hiring them. I would like to see that statement qualified...) Three, at least $150 billion are earmarked for the war in Iraq next year, so there will be little left over for other programs no matter how far-reaching they might be. Four, George W. "Stay The Course" Bush still has veto power, and may use it to play anti-Santa to the American people.

If the Democrats are able to accomplish some progress despite the above, this is what they would like to do:

1) Raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 by 2009. This would immediately increase the incomes of 5.5 million workers. Eventually, through a sort of "trickle-up" effect, it could also raise the incomes of 7 million more. Neo-cons claim that this could, for instance, shoot up the price of a fast food lunch. Then again - those increased prices could deter obese Americans from gorging themselves on junk food, and that wouldn't be all that bad, would it?

2) Expand the No Child Left Behind school program - and provide more support for student loans.

3) Improve Medicare prescription-drug assistance and expanded health care, at least for poor kids.

4) Allow recent federal estate tax cuts to expire after 2010, which would alone raise $40 billion in revenue.

5) Increase 15 percent tax rate on capital gains to conform with the tax rate on other personal income, which would also bring in more money - especially from that one percent who own nearly 60 percent of all investments.

6) Raise the maximum personal income tax from 35 to 39.6 percent. According to Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, "There is absolutely no evidence (that a tax hike) will damage economic growth." All of these tax hikes, in fact, would help shrink the deficit.

7) Make it easier for trade unions to recruit new members, and give shareholders more say on CEO compensation.

Again - these are nice-to-haves. Whether we'll get any of them before Bush leaves office in 2009 is another thing altogether.

"The Democrats' economic wish list" from the Christian Science Monitor

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