1. President Obama ran on a platform of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and I would stick with that as a starting point. As soon as the GOP would agree that Obama has a mandate to raise tax rates, then I would set forth additional considerations.
2. I would immediately ask Congress to change the tax code to allow the following changes;
a). Either lower student loan interest rates to those offered for mortgages (under 3.5%) and/or make all interest deductible on federal tax. This will encourage students to make affordable payments back for student loans and to make them reasonable. Student loans affect more than students, they also affect their families and the economy that misses the money these debtors pay back rather than spend on normal consumer items.'
b). Immediately establish a reasonable needs based income test for recipients of Medicare. In the event a citizen has an annual income, even in retirement of at least $500,000 or more, they are not eligible to receive Medicare benefits. Instead, they will be eligible to invest in premiums for insurance that would cover their medical needs. There is no need to provide health benefits under medicare for those making so much income, even in retirement.
c). Immediately eliminate eligibility for Social Security benefits for children of retirees under the age of 18. In the event someone elects to have a child within 18 years of retirement, the rest of us should not be subsidizing them. I know of several instances where folks have remarried and had children. In those cases, the parent (father) had the use of both the Social Security and benefits for their children under the age of 18. What did the parents do with the money? They stockpiled it to buy a second home and saved for their children's college education. Why should these folks have Social Security provide these types of benefits while other citizens struggle to afford a home or pay for their children's education? Provide the benefits only if the parent has passed away before the children reach the age of 18.
d). Immediately curtail any subsidies to the petroleum and/or petrochemical industries if they have net income of over $1 Billion annually. For decades, the taxpayers have been subsidizing petroleum companies while they have been enjoying tremendous profits. If they can make $1 Billion in net income, they certainly do not need any form of corporate welfare!
e). Immediately reduce, limit or curtail home mortgage interest deductions for second homes where the mortgage exceeds $1 Million. There are enough Americans struggling to afford one home, we should not be subsidizing those that can afford mortgages that exceed $1 Million for second homes. Also, no deduction should be available for Boats or RV's that currently qualify as "second homes."
f). Complete audits of the Defense Department to ensure we are the strongest, most flexible and best trained fighting force in the World equipped with the most technologically advanced weaponry. In the event this can lead to a savings, make the cuts as needed. Do we really need as many bases Worldwide? Plus, we must scrutinize who we give military and financial support to Worldwide.
g). Cut taxes on those making less than $200,ooo per year.
h). Freeze estate taxes for estates valued under $6 Million. There is no valid reason to protect estates valued over $6 Million from taxation (especially in light of the fact that legal mechanisms already exist in the form of trusts to insulate estates from taxation).
i). Eliminate all deductions for campaign donations of any kind. Under the Citizens United ruling and the current tax code, Super PACs may seek tax deductible contributions. If Billionaires can afford to spend Millions on political campaigns, they can afford the tax on their income that otherwise would be reduced by making political contributions. Instead, maintain deductions for legitimate charitable giving.
j). Set aside $1o0 Billion to rebuild our infrastructure. We have a crumbling highway system originally designed and built under the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations. We need updated highways, bridges, high speed rail and ports. Along with these, we must include our computer wireless network to improve connectivity. Think of the jobs those projects would create as well!
k). Pass a new form of Glass-Steagall separating commercial banks from investment banks. This is the only way to safeguard against commercial banks dealing with risky investments that has recently caused so much pain to the public (with the financial safety net provided by the Government - see TARP under Pres. Bush).
If I had the time, I might even be able to come up with more ideas. So, sitting on my coach I can come up with a list of ten (10) things we can do to move this country forward. Any guesses how fast interest groups would be lobbying Congress to ignore these suggestions? Perhaps Congress should sit on my couch?