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I thought I would let my Congressman know MY ideas for addressing the deficit, since I don't like many of the ideas currently under consideration.  Below the fold are the points I made in my letter to him - please add your suggestions in the comments and I'll send them on to him.  Feel free to do the same!

My suggestions (in a somewhat random order) for addressing the deficit without causing undue hardship for those already struggling:

1.  Implement a financial transactions fee or tax of .1% on sales or purchases of stocks, bonds, hedge funds, mutual funds, options, commodities trading, etc.  By this I do not mean checks written, money taken from a bank account by debit card, or otherwise accessing one's own money.  European countries have already implemented such a transaction tax; in my opinion it would cut back on the "computerized gambling" that large companies employ in the stock market and the "skimming" done by firms like Goldman Sachs, while supplementing the Treasury at the same time.

2.  Do not allow companies to take a tax deduction for any salaries, bonuses or other payment to executives over $1,000,000 per person.  Currently companies can deduct such pay if it is based on specific performance goals.  Of course, these goals are written so as to be easily achievable, as could be seen by the huge bonuses collected by bank executives while their companies were taking down the economy.  Most of us don't expect to earn over $1,000,000 in a lifetime, much less in one year, and I honestly don't believe any one person's time is worth that much relative to the rest of us.  We should not be subsidizing their bonuses through our tax dollars.

3.  Change the law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating drug prices with the drug companies.  All other organizations, such as the health insurance companies, pharmacies and even the Veterans' Administration, are able to negotiate substantial discounts on drugs, but Medicare is required by law to pay full retail.  This means, for example, when a senior citizen has a prescription filled at WalMart, WalMart may only pay $12 for the drug but then charges Medicare $40.  It is outrageous that the taxpayer is subsidizing the excess profits of these companies while politicians talk about cutting benefits in order to keep Medicare from going bankrupt.

4.  While interest rates are so low, perhaps the government ought to buy buildings for its agencies and make "mortgage" payments rather than pay rent.  Eventually the government would own the buildings rather than paying rent indefinitely.

5.  Government agencies ought to use the Postal Service when at all possible rather than UPS, FedEx or other such delivery companies.  It has been my experience that the Postal Service charges are less for letters, overnight mail and small packages than the others, but I recently received an overnight letter from the Department of Labor sent FedEx.  We should support the Postal Service, especially since it is in the Constitution.  A bit off-topic, but the law requiring the Postal Service to pre-fund its retirement for 75 years should also be repealed.

6.  Cut back on defense contractors, such as XE and Haliburton, and use our own soldiers, marines and other military members more.  During the Iraq war, and probably still today, our military was used to guard contractors making deliveries.  Our soldiers were put in harm's way to protect them as they drove on dangerous roads, yet the contractors were often paid five to six times as much as the soldiers.  Since the soldiers were driving the roads anyway, why not let them make the deliveries?   The soldiers are well aware of the discrepancy in pay, contributing to loss of morale among the troops.  We should also be using our own military to guard embassies and other State Department locations rather than contractors.  And there's nothing wrong with having our soldiers on KP.  They have a vested interest in the quality of their food and are less likely to cut corners.  Many might welcome a stint of peeling potatoes after time in the field under fire.  My father-in-law had great tales to tell of his time on KP during World War II.

7.  While I'm on defense, there were many suggestions in "The People's Budget" for cuts to defense that would not negatively affect our readiness or capabilities.  We could halve the number of nuclear weapons in our stockpile and still have enough to destroy the world multiple times.  There are weapons systems in development that can and should be eliminated, particularly ones that the Dept. of Defense does not want but some member of Congress does want.  There is a tremendous amount of waste and pork in the Defense budget - cut that rather than Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security or other social programs.

8.  Close 2/3 of our overseas military bases.  We can no longer afford to be policemen to the world, nor should we be.

9.  Put solar collectors on most government buildings, parking garages, etc.  While this will entail an up-front cost, the benefits will far outweigh the cost, both financially and environmentally.  Germany currently produces more power from solar energy than the US, despite being much farther north and a small fraction of the size.  Along those same lines, set the temperature no higher than 68 in government buildings during the winter and no lower than 80 during the summer.   Those are not unreasonable temperatures if one dresses appropriately for the weather (yes, that means short sleeves and no suit coat for men in the summer).  In Australia it was so hot last week that air conditioners would not work at all, so let's be proactive before the US reaches that point.

10.  Close Guantanamo.  It is a blot on our country and should be abhorrent to all people of good conscience.

11.  Do away with privatized prisons and have federal employees run them.  I believe they would be more accountable and do a better job at lower cost since there is no profit or shareholder dividends involved.

12.  Legalize and tax marijuana.  The reasons are numerous, including way too many poor young folks in prison.  This would save quite a bit of money from the "War on Drugs" and incarceration costs, while bringing in taxes and cutting down on the number of people whose lives are diminished by forever being branded "felon".  At a minimum, marijuana should be reclassified to the level of PCP.

13.  Do away with the oil subsidies.  The big oil companies have consistently been the most profitable in the world over the last decade.  They do not need (although they do want) taxpayer subsidies.

14.  Tax carried interest at the same level as earned income.

Obligatory note:  this is my first diary after years of lurking; I really am interested in feedback on my suggestions as well as additional ones.  Thanks!

Originally posted to Lujane on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 09:26 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (130+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, WheninRome, Free Jazz at High Noon, BlackSheep1, blueoasis, Purple Priestess, VetGrl, The grouch, TRPChicago, fixxit, Twoflower, howd, SD Goat, Roadbed Guy, nuclear winter solstice, petesmom, Words In Action, deha, Ohkwai, CanadaGoose, Mrs M, MKinTN, opinionated, dull knife, genethefiend, Tom Anderson, night cat, jasan, kfred, oakroyd, pateTX, some other george, Andrew F Cockburn, willyr, Hawksana, IDrankWhat, enufisenuf, Mentatmark, zerelda, Texknight, Creosote, CroneWit, MPociask, arizonablue, nzanne, la motocycliste, Tracker, soaglow, rantsposition, wonkydonkey, j7915, Rockydog, J M F, Buckeye Nut Schell, mconvente, Hollowdweller, annrose, phonegery, roses, Jersey Girl, DRo, BusyinCA, rodentrancher, prettygirlxoxoxo, envwq, cordgrass, nominalize, rexymeteorite, midwesterner, fiddlingnero, hooktool, FloridaSNMOM, addisnana, cotterperson, JDWolverton, doroma, Glacial Erratic, Copp, blue aardvark, Chaddiwicker, JayDean, Catte Nappe, greycat, Lorikeet, tofumagoo, Australian2, Blue Bell Bookworm, limae, filby, Sean Robertson, sargoth, Nova Land, glitterscale, blue muon, Gustogirl, HeyMikey, Calamity Jean, BldrJanet, NoMoreLies, flowerfarmer, dotsright, TexDemAtty, david78209, eyesoars, Happy Days, Matt Z, chimene, radarlady, wdrath, Haf2Read, Desert Scientist, Robynhood too, dannyboy1, noemie maxwell, milkbone, antirove, UFOH1, side pocket, Mayfly, TheDuckManCometh, Aaa T Tudeattack, DisHeartenedMom, Steve15, DamselleFly, Lily O Lady, marina, wretchedhive, asindc, gypsytoo, chicagoblueohio
  •  Legalize hemp too. (30+ / 0-)

    Single payer rolled into Medicare, Medicaid and VA. There is no reason to have large bureaucracies doing the same thing basically for the same species. Specialization can happen with the practitioners.

    I like all of your suggestions.

    •  Great suggestion - hemp has so many uses (13+ / 0-)

      that I think it's really foolish for it to be illegal.  I'll include that in my next letter.

      And it never hurts to suggest Single Payer and if they don't like that, maybe they'd consider lowering the age for Medicare.

      I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

      •  Not single payer (11+ / 0-)

        The proper sound bite should be allow buy in to Medicare.

        Also allow buy in to cover what is now covered by private supplemental insurance. Given the overhead of the insurance companies, either a direct supplemental from Medicare should be 25% cheaper or else at the same cost completely cover the Medicare deficit.

        •  Medicare option... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane, midwesterner, FloridaSNMOM

          The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

          by Words In Action on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:48:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There's no deficit problem, there's a jobs problem (7+ / 0-)

            The deficit in 2008 was   3.2%
            The deficit in 2009 was 10.9%

            As Robert Pollen writes :

            Fact #3: Current large government deficits are due to the recession, not out-of-control spending.

            This is so obvious it should be barely worth mentioning. But simple facts are ignored repeatedly in the fiscal deficit debates. No doubt during the Lew hearings, there will be more discussion about the current crisis being due to the 47 percent freeloading population who, as Mitt Romney put it after his defeat, “want stuff” from the government. As we see in Figure 3, the government’s fiscal deficit spiked at 10.1 percent of GDP in 2009, immediately after the onset of the recession.

            Don't get me wrong, love your ideas, but don't believe the deficit hype, don't buy that frame.
            •  Typo - make that "10.1% " n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lujane
            •  deficit dropped from 10.1% to 8.5% in 2012 (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lujane, Calamity Jean, NoMoreLies

              because of a slight improvement in the economy.

              Austerty cuts will push us back into recession.

              Cutting govt spending,  cutting SS/MC, it's all austerity.

            •  I agree - we actually need more spending (5+ / 0-)

              in the short term to stimulate the economy and should deal with the deficit longer term.  But the reality is that politicians are going to address the deficit whether we like it or not, so I'm trying to get some suggestions out there that are not as harmful as the ones being proposed.

              I wish more people like you were in Congress!

              •  Yes, but it helps to also be able to undercut (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lujane, JerryNA

                deficit hysteria.

                And go directly to the major sources of the inequality of expectations of We The People vs. Banks.

                The banks get free reserves from the Fed Reserve all the time, in it's role as lender of last resort.  If the fed didn't do this, then our financial markets couldn't work in the way they do.

                When it comes to We The People, we're all of a sudden out of the numerical system out of which free liquidity points are given to the banks as a matter of policy.

                It seems only the Public Deficit matters, even though We The People create free liquidity points out of thin air, and so can never go broke.

                Private debt?  That's no problem.  We can always afford more.

              •  Lujane, thanks for reccing my previous comment, (0+ / 0-)

                but all suggestions for saving Public Money should start with why, when we have a fiat currency, it's good for the Public Sector to save for Public Spending, but not for Private Sector Bank spending.

                Because neo-liberalism relies on convincing the little guy we're going broke, while spending it's unlimited liquidity points for the big guy.

                It's difficult to save up infinity, and doesn't actually happen.

            •  This is why it is difficult for me to support (0+ / 0-)

              some of the progressive agenda.  Yeah, deficits run over a 30 year period that has lead us to $16 trillion in debt and trillion dollar deficits over the last several years isn't a problem.  Totally sustainable.

              IMO, it's the left wing's version of the right wing's insistence that AGW and peak oil is a hoax.  Not very reality based in my opinion.

              We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

              by theotherside on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 04:09:08 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Speaking of Medicare... Just listening to Eugene.. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lujane, antirove

            Robinson on Morning Joe... I think he is supposed to be one of the more "liberal" pundits/columnists.

            Mike Barnicle brought up "entitlements" ... how do we survive without addressing them? Eugene?

            Eugene kind of yammered and stuttered on about on how entitlements MUST be addressed, and how the idea of raising the medicare eligibility age needs to be "on the table." It's a "legitimate" argument. It's either "get less or pay more." He makes no call there for the "get less" or "pay more" people to be tapped from the wealthiest among us, for whom the extra they'd pay or lose would be a mere drop in the ocean.

            He apparently needs a good rousing discussion around the table to find out what passes the ethical smell test and what doesnt.

            It took a blond British woman with a slight lisp whose name I dont know (Financial Times reporter?) to challenge him by reminding him that, as she put it (to closely paraphrase) But Eugene, business has come out for raising the eligibility age to 70, when all the data shows, "rich people live a LOT longer than poor people, to put it crudely... It will punish poor people over the rich." Do you think the President can afford to adopt a policy like that when his base will be absolutely hated by many people on the Left, in the Democratic Party?

            Eugene?

            His (closely paraphrased) response:

            I uh uh uh think that would be uh uh difficult, I really do... I think that would be a real controversy within the party... but you have to look at entitlements in a way that makes them sustainable... if the President focuses on the issue with that in mind... blah blah blah

            I could only think, since he seems to be one of so many MSNBC regulars who deeply fans Obama, he is probably getting ready to make excuses for when Obama does another Nixon goes to China type move on entitlements (Is anybody super confident he wont?). The sort that does hurt those who are not among the wealthy.  

            •  Correction: British reporter said: (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Bronx59, Lujane

              But Eugene, business has come out for raising the eligibility age to 70, when all the data shows, "rich people live a LOT longer than poor people, to put it crudely... It will punish poor people over the rich." Do you think the President can afford to adopt a policy like that when his base it will be absolutely hated by many people on the Left, his base in the Democratic Party?

        •  and hemp is a viable crop in otherwise marginal (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane

          farmlands. worn-out land, scarce water -- don't bother hemp much.

          one of the reasons the Founding Fathers promoted its cultivation! (well, also for home sourcing of cordage materials for rigging military & commercial sailing vessels).

          "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

          by chimene on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 11:54:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Hemp does have a lot of uses but (0+ / 0-)

        let's not fool ourselves that it is as great as it's most ardent supporters say.  Sure, it can be used in a great many different ways but does it actually compete economically with the various alternatives?  In some areas, yes.  In many others, not so much.

        That is why in the countries that hemp is legal they have a decent hemp industry but it is no where near as viable as many supporters claim.

        With that said, of course it should be legal.

        And pot should be sold by non-profit agencies not by drug cartels, big business or the government.

        We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

        by theotherside on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 03:41:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm very interested to see how things work out (8+ / 0-)

      in CO.  Medical marijuanna brought in about 20 million if I remember correctly.  I don't smoke, but I love the tax revenue when times are tough.

      "If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin." Charles Darwin

      by Rockydog on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:21:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll quibble: the VA's patients are a different (11+ / 0-)

    cohort than Medicare's -- far less geriatric, nowadays.
    Lots more post-trauma, too.

    I like a lot of these proposals.

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

    by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 10:45:14 PM PST

  •  suggestions (7+ / 0-)

    1.  Not sure why you are including mutual funds or if similar proposals in the past have done so.  It doesn't make sense to me.  You can't day trade mutual funds[at least the ones I own].  Mine take almost 2 days to buy, and there is a warning that if you buy/sell/buy more than once in a six month period they can cancel all your transactions and refuse your business.  It is the very definition of a long term investment.  And the mutual funds will be taxed when they invest in the other things in the list.

    4.  How many buildings does the federal government actually rent?  I'm sure they rent office space for some things or temporary space, but I'm not sure that use is amenable to buying.  I'm skeptical that the federal government uses an entire building on a permanent basis and rents it.  And the mortgage would be the national debt[doing otherwise is really silly, you'd essentially be paying a higher interest rate for accounting purposes], so really let's be honest; it's never going to be paid off.

    5.  Anything is possible, but I like to give the government credit and are not completely incompetent and think they have analyzed the various shipping options available to them.

    9. 68 in the winter and 80 in the summer doesn't seem comparable to me.  You seem to like it hot.  I think 64/76 is closer to comparable temperatures.  Personally if I had a limited climate control budget for the year, I'd rather go 60/74.  It's currently colder than 68 in my room, and I am essentially naked as I am getting ready for bed.

    Most of your other points I agree with, though a number of them I am skeptical of how much money they'd save.

    •  Good points. (13+ / 0-)

      Your point is well-taken on the mutual funds - if they pay the transaction fee when they buy, it makes sense not to charge it again to the people who buy into the fund.

      I live near Washington, DC and the federal government has both buildings it owns and others it rents.  All these agencies aren't going anywhere so with a depressed market and low interest rates, I would think that it's a good time to convert some of the rentals to owned property.  Other uses, as you mention, are more temporary and renting is appropriate.  I put "mortgage" in quotations because the debt would actually be part of the public debt, not a real mortgage.  But I hope it will be paid off someday.

      As far as the temperature goes, your suggestions are fine, too.  We keep our house at 64 during the day in the winter and 57 at night; in the summer we only turn the air conditioner on when our kids are visiting.  I wouldn't want to impose those conditions on all government employees though.  However, I used to work for the Dept. of Transportation and the building was so cold in the summer that I was chilled even wearing long pants and a heavy sweater over a shirt.  It really was geared toward the comfort of men wearing suits.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    •  Regional variations in temps (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, Lujane

      In our dry heat in AZ, 80 in the summer is quite comfortable, but let it get humid and the same temp quickly becomes unpleasant. Additionally, those of us who have lived here for a while have adapted to the warmer climate, and don't endure cold temps as well. So the 68/80 thresholds would likely work for us, while the 64/76 might be preferred by those in the Northeast. Perhaps we could just establish a mandatory 12-14 degree span for seasonal heating/cooling in those office buildings.

    •  We have a fiat currency, free reserves out of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antirove

      thin air.

      How does the ISSUER of an infinite supply of computer key strokes, save infinity?  That would be a really BIG safety deposit box, wouldn't it?

      The Treasury borrows from the Fed Reserve, which issues free liquidity points.  From thin air.

      They give free reserves to the banks as  a matter of policy, in their role as lender of last resort.

      Why do We The People get a rationed, while the banks get infinity?

      QE is for banks, my friend.

      Seems we can always afford more private debt.

  •  Selective service? (12+ / 0-)

    Are we still paying "retired" politicos to serve on the Selective Service commissions even though we haven't drafted anyone in decades? (We were during Bush.) It's one of many politically untouchable areas of the budget that are completely useless.

    We have duplicate agencies, duplicate inspections. When I was involved with a project with USDA, I had to watch carefully to see if there was meat on a picture of pizza. FDA does meat pizza, USDA not...or the other way around! I couldn't remember, and half the time neither could they.

    There's lots of room for cutting budgets, but the only place it will really count is defense. That's why Hagel (who is willing to cut) has a target on his back.

  •  I think you pretty much nailed it, Lujane (9+ / 0-)

    By all means we should tweak the tax loopholes that Mr Romney assured us would be all we need to cut our debts and deficits. But, in my thinking, the Defense Department and the mentality that keeps the US involved around the world propping up dictators needs to stop. Along with, as you point out, munitions and systems that are not wanted or needed, there's more than enough to balance the nations budget, and if we 'turn swords into plowshares' could provide prosperity here and around the world.
    Great list Lu, rec'd and tipped.

  •  correction/addendum (6+ / 0-)

    1. "European countries already have such a tax". What? No they haven't! And I live there :-) Do you have a source for this statement?

    14. In fact, tax all capital gains at the level of income.

    •  Yes, and if were true (5+ / 0-)

      the diarist's opinion would not be needed:

      in my opinion it would cut back on the "computerized gambling" that large companies employ in the stock market and the "skimming" done by firms like Goldman Sachs,
      IOW there'd be empirical data if this approach worked if it was already being tried somewheres . ..

      What I think would happen is that these trades would simply and instantly be moved someplace else (Hong Kong, Singapore?)

      •  Even if the trades moved someplace else (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phonegery, Lujane

        It would still be a net benefit to Americans, as the stock market would return to a place where people could infrequently trade based upon the valuation of a company, and not a place where companies that own whizbang computers make hyper-frequent trades based upon micro-movements in computer algorithms.  

    •  Correction: one European country already (6+ / 0-)

      has such a tax, but others are strongly considering it.  France has just implemented a .2% transaction tax.  According to Wikipedia

      Given 10 EU member states already have a form of a financial transaction tax in place, the proposal would effectively introduce new minimum tax rates and harmonise different existing taxes on financial transactions in the EU. According to the European Commission this would also "help to reduce competitive distortions in the single market, discourage risky trading activities and complement regulatory measures aimed at avoiding future crises".
      I have not yet found which are those ten countries, or how their "form of a financial transaction tax" differs from what France has done.
      From the same article:
      In October 2012, after discussions failed to establish unanimous support for an EU-wide FTT, the European Commission proposed that the use of enhanced co-operation should be permitted to implement the tax in the states which wished to participate.[3][4] The proposal, supported by 11 EU member states, was approved in the European Parliament in December 2012.[5] The formal agreement on the details of the EU FTT still need to be decided upon and approved by the European Parliament.[6]
      So there are likely other countries who will be instituting the tax but haven't yet.  Perhaps they are waiting to see how well it goes in France first.
  •  wow. agreed on all points. and the postal pension (11+ / 0-)

    pre-pay is not a small deal. The other day I noticed a tv commercial in which UPS offered "mailboxes" so I think we're being pushed in that direction regardless of if it's in the Constitution.

    •  On privatizing post offices (4+ / 0-)
      To see just how the USPS can transform itself, some analysts have turned to European countries to observe what can be done differently. In a May cover story for BusinessWeek, journalist Devin Leonard reported on the kinds of models that have emerged in Sweden, Germany and Finland. The Swedish service, Posten, and Germany’s Deutsche Post have minimized their participation in the national postal market, allowing them to work as smaller and more streamlined organizations. Posten runs only 12 percent of Sweden’s post offices, while Deutsche Post runs 2 percent of those in Germany – the rest are handled by other businesses. The U.S., in contrast, runs all of the post offices in the country.
      http://www.pbs.org/...
      The Postal Service, which has proposed closing 3,700 offices, is setting up services inside small grocery stores as it tries to maintain service while trimming billions of dollars in costs.
      Last October, the Postal Service contracted out services to Nixon’s Grocery, a store known primarily for its produce and fresh meats. Although it does not provide the full range of mailing services, residents can mail letters, buy stamps and send packages. There are also 20 post office boxes for rent
      http://www.nytimes.com/...
      The U.S. Postal Service announced the concept of the Village Post Office in July 2011 as a way to continue providing convenient access to postal products and services in more rural communities across the nation.

      The first Village Post Office (VPO) opened in Malone, WA, in August 2011. On Dec. 19, 2012, the100th VPO, located in Linden, IN, began operations.

      http://about.usps.com/...

      "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 11:17:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is a return to the past. (3+ / 0-)

        I can even remember when one post office around here was in a small burg and was housed in the same building [sort of a shack really] as small appliance repair. Another post office was run out of an addition to a village home. They offered full service and also had rural routes. Both post masters operated their home/business and the postal duties. The areas have since boomed and we have regular stand alone post offices which cover the areas and they fudged the zip codes around a bit, redistricted the service areas.

        •  Just today there was a headline in a local paper (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lujane

          that said "Change in ownership of local store may affect Post Office within." Now in this case I did not go read the article, but you never know- it might be a good thing because once when I was in a hurry to get my credit card bill out I left it with them at the window and they lost it.

  •  I'd like to see capital gains taxed as income (16+ / 0-)

    Even if it were also modified to take inflation into account, would still be a big revenue gain, I believe.

    I think in addition to legalizing marijuana, there's a lot that could be done to reduce expenditures on the police / prison side of things.  Decriminalizing drugs in general, a bigger focus on rehabilitation / half-way houses for minor/non-violent offenders, particularly those without much of a criminal record.

    Also think that we need to take a careful look at why the US spends so much more on medical care than other nations even though it covers fewer people.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/... has an interesting list of where government spending goes, and how it's increased over the years.

  •  put congressional raises (8+ / 0-)

    up to a popular vote.  that'd save some money!

    Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

    by Cedwyn on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 06:04:45 AM PST

  •  Great suggestions (6+ / 0-)

    While I have seen a number of your other suggestions proposed before, I don't recall seeing suggestion #2 before

    It would nice to see this suggestion being picked up by the liberal media.  

    And maybe you should start a petition on we the people to get it some exposure.  

    •  Agree - Might try the Whitehouse petition site. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, Lujane

      Can't find a link at this moment, but it's useful.

      Issues could be grouped, or all gathered under tax reform - as long as you have a succint and strong description in the first dozen words or so.

    •  Most people don't know about this unless they (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      night cat, WheninRome, flowerfarmer

      take the time to read proxy statements put out by corporations.  Just as an example, Robert Niblock had a salary of $1,155,000 in 2011 as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Lowes, yet his total pay for the year was $11,642,743.

      Similarly, CEO of Citibank Vikram Pandit's salary was $1,671,370 for 2011 but his total pay was $14,857,103.

      And John Havens, who is also an executive with Citibank, only had $500,000 in salary but his total pay was $12,984,481.

      All subsidized by us taxpayers.  Maybe a petition is a good idea - I've been bugging my Congressional representatives about it for years and that hasn't helped.

  •  What about the infrastructure (6+ / 0-)

    We could generate money by building the infrastructure regarding our rail system for one.  China is leading the way with its new ideas about a train system and building them.  

    What we need is a rail war.  We seem to have a war on everything else that pours money into the abyss, why not declare war on the rail system and put the money into good use.  We could then fight that war with vigor and I am quite sure, it would be one that could be won.  Good for the economy and good for the lungs.  When we have the Trans-America high speed rail system finished, we could dust off the "Mission Accomplished" banner and wave it high.

  •  Great first diary, Lujane. (3+ / 0-)

    Really good ideas, some known and others not-so-much.

    "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

    by nzanne on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 07:32:25 AM PST

    •  I'd like to see the cap for paying into Social (6+ / 0-)

      Security go UP (incomes up to a million paying into it);

      LOWER the availability age for Medicare to 55 --this would help a lot of people get preventive care earlier;

      Let people opt INTO receiving Social Security earlier rather than later...say, at 58 or 60, with the option to make some part time $ on the side (up to a limited number, say $1,000 a month) so they can retire and open up jobs for younger workers.  It's hard enough getting (and/or keeping) a full time job at this age in many fields, why not make it easier for people to retire/semi-retire earlier and free up jobs?

      Also, a while back, someone did a diary mentioning the fact that a lot of government IT work is shipped overseas....bring these jobs home!  I believe the diarist mentioned that this could result in a few million hires, right here at home.  

      “The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

      by soaglow on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 07:56:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you. Many great suggestions in the (0+ / 0-)

      comments as well, which was my hope in writing the diary.

  •  I had no idea we are leasing gov't buildings (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, Lujane

    So foolish.

    AGREED.

    McDonald's isn't in the burger business.  They are in the real estate business.  They own prime commericial real estate in every town in America.

    I'm a bit surprised about this one as I always thought the gov't owned the land underneath.  Any more info anyone has would greatly be appreciated.  

    "If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin." Charles Darwin

    by Rockydog on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:02:43 AM PST

    •  Not leasing all buildings (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane

      Certainly not those that are labled "Federal Courthouse" etc.
      A little Google research yields:

      GSA, the nation's largest public real estate organization, provides workspace for more than 1.2 million federal workers through its Public Buildings Service.  Approximately half of the employees are housed in buildings owned by the federal government and half are located in over 8,100 separate leased properties, including buildings, land, antenna sites, etc. across the country. An updated listing of this inventory is posted after the 15th of each month at Monthly Lease Inventory. Its downloadable excel spreadsheet contains 29 data elements per lease including the information most requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
      ....
      GSA leases space in diverse locations when leasing is the best solution for meeting federal space needs. More than 50 percent of GSA leases are for 10,000 square feet or less, so owners do not have to be corporate giants to compete for lease contracts.
      http://www.gsa.gov/...

      For those who really want to dig deep
      http://www.iolp.gsa.gov/...
      You can even get a list of property by Cognressional or Senate district.

      "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 11:30:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Solar panels. Yes. Yes. Yes! (5+ / 0-)

    We're still recovering from the dark ages in renewable energy policy under the Bush years.

    Solar panels by any means necessary!

    "If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin." Charles Darwin

    by Rockydog on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:08:26 AM PST

  •  Its so frustrating that Medicare (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, Words In Action, Lujane

    and their non ability to negotiate prices is still haunting us after all these years.

    "If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin." Charles Darwin

    by Rockydog on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:14:10 AM PST

  •  I love your suggestions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, Lujane, blue muon

    You should do one of those online petitions and let us all sign it!

  •  Single Payer system (4+ / 0-)

    will cut medical expenses in half.  

    HUGE savings for us.  

    And, we get better healthcare to boot.

    "If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin." Charles Darwin

    by Rockydog on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:23:08 AM PST

  •  Eliminate farm subsidies for corporate farms (6+ / 0-)

    $15-$35 billion annually, most of it just pads corporate profits.

    http://farm.ewg.org/

    http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/...
    (Yes, even the CATO institute agrees!)

  •  Make birth control and abortion... (5+ / 0-)

    FREE to anyone.

    The savings would be immeasurable.

    Abortion Clinics OnLine, the world's first and largest source for online abortion clinic information. Join my DK Abortion Group.

    by annrose on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:36:30 AM PST

  •  Eliminate Congressional pay... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, BusyinCA, Lujane

    ...once one's term is served. Why we're still paying any politician their salary after they're out of office is ridiculous. Most of these people came into office as wealthy people already. They could have served their country for free (I don't hear any wingfucks volunteering to do that).

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:44:48 AM PST

  •  Just a few more suggestions :o) (10+ / 0-)

    Tax Cap Gains the Same as Earned Income except for the first $500K on the sale of a primary residence.

    Tax hedge fund manager income the same as everyone else.

    Establish additional tax brackets at $800K (+3%) and $2M (+6%). Establish higher Alternative Minimum Taxes on these and the $400K bracket.

    Establish higher estate tax brackets at $10M and $100M.

    Reduce and then shut down offshore tax shelters over a 4-6 year period.

    2.5% transaction fee on derivatives until they are fully regulated, at which point the fee will be dropped to 1%, which will pay for the regulation.

    Create comprehensive derivative regulations over a 4 year period. Require regulations on all new derivatives before trading begins. If a derivative is too complex to regulate, it's too complex to trade.

    Gradually eliminate all child tax deductions for more than one child over a 15 year period to avoid over-burdening existing families but influence future family planning.

    Raise the Social Security cap to $200,000.

    CLIMATE REALITY/RENEWABLE ENERGY

    Create a carbon tax and use proceeds to fund:

    - massive MASS TRANSIT maintenance, repairs, expansion
    - large incentives (rebates) for SOLAR AND WIND ENERGY equipment sales and leasing, especially domestically manufactured equipment.
    - large incentives (rebates) for ELECTRIC AND SOLAR vehicles, especially domestically manufactured vehicles.
    - Climate Reality EDUCATION/AWARENESS
    - Climate RESEARCH
    - RECYCLING

    Provide further funding for the above renewable energy and climate programs through a 1% FEDERAL SALES TAX on:

    -- Low-occupancy guzzlers such as: private jets and airplanes, yachts, speed boats, RVs, and vehicles that get less than 15 mpg.

    -- Two-stroke and other highly polluting small fossil fuel engines for mowers, snowblowers, snowmobiles, ATVs, etc.

    -- Homes over 1,500 sft per occuprant; tax deduction for homes less than 400 sft per occupant.

    -- All items sold for $1,000 or more.

    -- 2% on CONSUMER ELECTRONICS, which have exceptionally high embodied energy costs.

    -- Plastic

    -- Wood and paper products

    -- Imports transported by non-renewable-energy-powered methods.

    Also related to renewables and climate change:

    -- Federally create model building codes and zoning regulations to encourage the development of micro-housing and housing built with natural and/or reclaimed materials (e.g., adobe, cob, straw bale, rammed earth, domes, round homes, yurts, shipping containers, etc.)

    -- Tax incentives to states/municipalities that permit  the development of micro-housing and housing built with natural and/or reclaimed materials.

    -- Tax incentives to states/municipalities that subsidize mass transit and meet specified low-rate parameters.

    -- Prohibit sales taxes on all items sold second-hand (e.g., reclaimed, recycled, etc.) -- also helps low income...

    -- Significant tax break for second-hand retail establishments.

    JOBS and Public Health/Safety

    -- Fund INFRASTRUCTURE maintenance and repair of existing bridges, roads and on same plus expansion for water and sewer pipes and treatment facilities, etc.
    -- Increase taxes on jobs OUTSOURCED.

    EDUCATION

    -- Close corporate tax loopholes and increase state-level grants for Public Education to:
    ----- reduce class sizes
    ----- improve poor facilities
    ----- fund classroom supplies, learning aids
    ----- fund under-funded or non-existent Music, Art and P.E. programs.

    -- Close loopholes that disadvantage traditional schools vs. charter schools.

    -- Prohibit public education funding vouchers for private schools.

    WHITE COLLAR/FINANCE SECTOR CRIME

    Expand and enforce white collar crime laws, especially for the financial services sectors. Increase financial penalties and incarceration. Use proceeds to increase funding for the SEC and IRS, to increase audits on returns with gross income of $500K of more.

    DEFENSE

    Get out of Afghanistan NOW and collect the peace dividend.

    VOTING/ELECTIONS

    -- Create uniform federal voting laws on where, when, how and by whom votes may be cast. Same for vote counting. Create draconian punishments for voter suppression tactics such as misinformation and voter challenges and mass roll purges. Out of fairness, do the same for REAL voter fraud.

    -- Create a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United and drastically limit "corporate personhood".

    -- Create uniform federal laws for drawing districts, outlawing gerrymandering.

    GUN CONTROL

    Increase sales taxes on weapons and ammo to pay for adequate enforcement of laws to prevent sales of guns to the wrong people, get guns out of the hands of the wrong people and reduce gun violence and trafficking.

    LOW INCOME

    -- Increase the minimum wage .50 per year for 8 years, then index to inflation for annual adjustments thereafter.

    -- Increase enforcement of labor laws, especially those affecting low-wage earners.

    -- Prohibit state/local sales taxes on individual items sold for less than $20.

    -- Tax incentives for constructing affordable housing using natural and reclaimed materials (e.g., adobe, cob, straw bale, rammed earth, domes, round homes, shipping containers, etc.)

    -- Additional funding for non-profits that provide services to the poor.

    PUBLIC HEALTH

    -- 1% federal sales tax on refined sugar. Use proceeds to fund obesity awareness/prevention.
    -- Increase CDC, NIH and HHS Funding
    -- Increase Mental Health Funding
    -- Grants for water and air quality improvement
    -- Fracking-related health research

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:45:18 AM PST

  •  We need better public training on USPS services (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, Lujane

    As much as railing on the Postal Service is a traditionally Republican thing to do, the USPS really can do much better at educating, organizing, and training the general public on the services they have.

    As much as I love living in NYC, about the only thing I liked about living in suburban NJ was the local USPS branch experience. Less population density means for better service.

    With respect to training, they need to do a much better job with the user experience, graphic design, and organization of all the service options.

    This is a personal anecdote, but last Saturday I had to ship something to Canada, but I filled out the wrong customs form because both of them were in the same plastic container thing. Of course, I found I had used the wrong one after I waited in line to drop off my package.

    Better outreach and training would do much in the ways of not only reducing costs (less forms wasted because of customer mistakes, less time explaining nuances vs more time to process more customers), but also increasing customer satisfaction.

    If I had unlimited money, I'd ship every non-letter UPS because I've used their services a bunch of times and they've proven they can deliver (no pun intended).

  •  "speculation" instead of " transactions" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, blue muon, NoMoreLies

    nice list

    re point 1: "financial speculation fee" sounds best IMO

  •  I'd change the title as there is revenue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Calamity Jean

    in your list as well, not just savings.

    I see what you did there.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 10:04:56 AM PST

  •  If the federal government had a live person (4+ / 0-)

    on the phone rather than a machine with instructions in every federal facility..There would be more jobs...So many older folks do not hear well enough or understand all the button pushing.  Say what you will but the automated press one or two and then just get another machine is extremely frustrating.   Creating jobs just by manning phones would help.  
    The VA now supposingly more efficient has my healthy vet which may be the case regarding younger returning veterans but what about the older ones?  The same for social security offices.   The whole beauracratic system is automated and to me is not more progressive or efficient.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 10:29:05 AM PST

  •  These aren't money saving suggestions but they (5+ / 0-)

    will close the deficit and reduce the debt dramatically and they are both due to Citizens United.

    Citizens United says basically Corporations are People.

    Therefore Tax them all at the top rate for Individuals ( close to 40% )  if they make over $400,000 per year and also if they break the law lock up the board and all senior executives for the amount of time that an individual would receive who broke an equivalent law.

    That would include the Boards and the Major Executives of 12 large banks right now.

    •  Wouldn't we all love to see that! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue muon
      Therefore Tax them all at the top rate for Individuals ( close to 40% )  if they make over $400,000 per year and also if they break the law lock up the board and all senior executives for the amount of time that an individual would receive who broke an equivalent law.

      That would include the Boards and the Major Executives of 12 large banks right now.

  •  You have solved the deficit -- be prepared to be (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Calamity Jean, david78209

    ignored. Not that you deserve to be.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 10:53:27 AM PST

  •  I'll rec this diary if (0+ / 0-)

    you can correctly explain what a "carried interest" is, how it's created, who is eligible to own them, and what portions of it are already taxed as ordinary income.

    14.  Tax carried interest at the same level as earned income.
    And no, I'm NOT a rightwing troll.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 11:20:29 AM PST

    •  There is a very good discussion of that by (0+ / 0-)

      the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute here.  To quote a bit from their site:

      Carried interest is a right that entitles the general partner (GP) of a private investment fund to a share of the fund’s profits. Typically, the GP contributes 1 to 5 percent of the fund’s initial capital and commits to managing the fund’s assets. In exchange, the GP receives an annual management fee of 2 percent of the fund’s assets plus a "carried interest" of 20 percent of the fund’s profits that exceed a certain "hurdle" rate of return. The individual partners of the GP, not the GP itself, are taxed on these payments.

      Carried interest constitutes on average about one-third of the payments that GPs receive, and the management fee the remainder. Under current law, the management fee is taxed like wage and salary income, with a top tax rate of 35 percent, whereas the carried interest is taxed as investment profit, which often faces a lower tax rate. In particular, any portion of the carried interest that represents long-term capital gains of the fund is taxed at a top rate of 15 percent. Many commentators believe it would be fairer and more efficient for carried interest to be taxed like wage and salary income, but others disagree.

      To simplify, carried interest is the part of the profits from an investment fund that its investment manager receives in excess of the funding that the manager puts into the partnership.  This is generally between 15% and 25% of the fund's profits, but can be as high as 50%.

      The linked article goes on to discuss the issues with taxing carried interest, both for and against.  It's a pretty interesting read.  From this quote:

      The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that taxing the compensatory share like wage and salary income would raise about $15 billion in revenue over five years.
      it's clearly not a huge source of income but to me it's partly an issue of fairness, since this is the compensation the manager receives for performing her/his job.  Apparently about a third of Mitt Romney's income in 2010/2011 was from carried interest, on which he paid a very low tax rate.
  •  May I borrow these (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane

    to submit to my own congresscritter? He probably won't read them, but I'd feel better.

    Being "pro-life" means believing that every child born has a right to food, education, and access to health care.

    by Jilly W on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 11:40:23 AM PST

  •  Require hedge funders and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean, NoMoreLies, Lujane

    speculators to pay taxes at the point of sale, just like they do at the race track. If you win over $600 at the track, they take the taxes out of your winnings right there on the spot.

    •  Make the hedge funders and speculators (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WheninRome, Lujane

      pay the same tax rate as on winnings at the race track, or the lottery, or at the casino. Each of those is taxed at the highest possible tax rate. To me, hedge funds, commodity speculation, and other such "investments" are simply a more sophisticated and prettied up version of PowerBall or MegaMillions, and should be treated the same as those in the tax code.

      Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

      by NoMoreLies on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 04:14:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Regarding #6 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane

    I do a lot of work for the government and contractors are a real problem.  For example, my company won't even consider contracting a person to a government agency for less than $225 per hour.  I can assure you that at the very most that employee is making ~$88 per hour including all benefits and that is very generous.  So, our government pay an extra $135 per hour not to hire an employee.  What makes things worse is that most of the government employees are strictly management and manage the contractors.  Because of this the government employees don't know how to get the work done, they rely on contractors.  These contractors are trained by the government and the government invests large amounts of time and money getting these contractors to a level where they can do the work required of them.  Unfortunately, these contractors have no reason to stay at their position and they will leave in a second if another position opens up and pays slightly better and when they leave they take all their knowledge (that the government paid for) with them leaving the government high and dry and stuck training another over priced contractor.

    A simple way to solve this is to start hiring these people as employees, it will save millions of dollars by not paying a middle man and maintain the governments intellectual capital.  Trust me if you offer a contractor the same pay with government benefits, they will jump at the chance.  The only problem is Lockheed and SAIC and all the other government body shops would loose a ton of money.

  •  stop paying ex- Congressmen and Senators a yearly (0+ / 0-)

    salary until they die. I haven't seen any of them leave office without becoming rich during the time they were in Washington. And make them get rid of their "special health insurance" and get on board with the rest of us. I bet we'd see some great changes in in our universal health bill pretty quick with that!

    Life... is like a grapefruit. It's orange and squishy, and has a few pips in it, and some folks have half a one for breakfast. -Douglas Adams

    by mahytabel on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 08:33:55 PM PST

  •  excellent...unfortunately... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane

    your ideas make too much sense and don't do anything to line the pockets of those corrupt Grand Old Prostitutes, who love to claim to want to "reduce spending," but who really want to redistribute the wealth of this country from the middle class and poor to their filthy rich puppetmasters and to eliminate programs like Social Secuirity and Medicare.

    Now...if we could just get a national consensus among Democrats on a few of your ideas (letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, for instance, and eliminating the massive amount of fraud, waste and abuse by defense contractors who are a giant black hole for taxpayer money, and eliminating weapons systems that the Pentagon says it doesn't need nor want)...then we could focus like a laser and shame Republicans into supporting some of these things, if we can get their constituents to force them to do so. Those three alone would pretty much balance the budget over the next ten years.

  •  I won't comment on the specifics (0+ / 0-)

    and we do need to have this basic conversation BUT.....

    The problem I see is that if most people make up a list similar to yours they invariably ask for cuts or tax increases on other people.  We almost never want to give up the things that benefit us.

    Instead I would like to see people identify the things that they receive from the government that they would either give up or would be willing to pay more for.  Kinda like "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

    Unfortunately, a politician can never make that case (in this day and age).  So there has to be a few citizens that don't expect others to make up for the large gap of what we demand from our government and what we are (apparently) willing to pay for those government services.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 03:26:13 PM PST

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