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Thursday, April 28, 2011

An open letter: 10 ways for Ron Paul to get many more progressives on board

Dear Dr. Paul,
While progressives are skeptical of your economic agenda, we find ourselves in agreement with much of what you are advocating, especially restoring American respect and strength in the world through immediately drawing down our overseas military commitments and cutting wasteful, counterproductive and unnecessary military and security spending. We are disappointed with President Obama and are looking to send him and future presidential candidates a message. Challenging him in the 2012 Democratic primary would yield disastrous results. Your candidacy, however, offers us another option. We appreciate your willingness to work with progressives like Senator Sanders and Representatives Frank, Kucinich, and McKinney. For this you have earned our respect and deserve our thanks. We believe that you can and should do more to reach out to disenfranchised progressives. You can help your cause by appealing more to progressives. We acknowledge that you have been doing this consistently; we just want you to amp it up. Your greatest appeal is in your reluctant but pragmatic and humanitarian willingness to allow for current or greater levels of spending on domestic programs and projects if progressives are willing to have a net cut in overall spending. The net cut will come primarily from reductions in military spending and ending overseas commitments. We believe that you can maintain your ideals and your integrity and still get more progressives on board by clarifying the details of your grand compromise and doing the following:

1.) Specify the amount of cuts in defense and other empire building and maintenance you want to make over the next 10 years.

2.) Specify the amount of net cuts and the level of the total budgets over the next 4 years. In other words, tell us how much we progressives can expect to spend on domestic programs and projects in each of the first 4 years of your presidency and how much has to be cut from the overall budgets of each year from 2013 to 2016.

3.) Tell us what excise taxes you want congress to put on legalized drugs like marijuana, heroine and cocaine and how much revenue you would expect to raise from these taxes over the next 10 years. Rates comparable to those on tobacco and alcohol products would be very appealing.

4.) Let us know what other tax revenues you would add. Upping the Trump ante on tariffs on Chinese products in exchange for reductions in domestic spending and income taxes might be doable, especially if you implement number five on this list. A comprehensive plan to base tariff rates on the country of origin's human and civil rights, and labor, environmental and consumer protection policies would be wildly popular with Americans across the political spectrum, especially if you add democracy fees to the purchase of US treasury notes and up the tariffs more for countries who refuse to float their currencies on the open market.

5.) Propose a progressive consumption tax to take the place of the income tax.

6.) Lower the rate of payroll taxes while raising the cap in a revenue neutral way.

7.) Tell us you are willing for states to devise their own health insurance plans and that you will not interfere with states wanting to create single payer and public option systems and to compact with other states in doing so.

8.) Promise to appoint progressives to at least 40% of your domestic cabinet. Naming them in advance of the primaries would work well for progressives. Naming all of your cabinet in advance of the general election would work well with independents, progressives, libertarians, conservatives and all who like to know what they are getting before they get it.

9.) Endorse progressive Democrats, Greens and independents in 2012 House and Senate races against non-libertarian and neo-con Republicans. Urge progressives to vote for you and other libertarian candidates in the 2012 GOP primaries and caucuses.

10.) Promise to pardon all non-violent drug offenders within the first 100 days of your presidency.

Admittedly, this sort of outreach risks sending short-sighted libertarians into the arms of Gary Johnson. It is an unconventional and bold strategy but you have proven yourself to be the type of person who is willing to do the right thing for your country even if it drives the status quo oligarchs crazy. Radical problems require radical solutions. For such a time as this, we need you, Ron Paul, to step forward in a bold, decisive, clear and engaging way.

Yours Truly,

Progressives for Real Change

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"But if we cut military jobs, there will be huge unemployment..."

"But if we cut military jobs, there will be huge unemployment." So reads one of the comments on another board. I think this is a very good point. Libertarians will have to prove you wrong. I am good with them being inspired to prove that the private sector can do alone more than what the government and the private sector does now. I think that we would get some bounce in the private sector simply by bringing national debt down and by getting our forces out of oil rich countries. I think the problem hits when armament factories shut down. This is where progressives step in and offer a peaceful green jobs plan. I think we win the argument in this situation but we don't get to have that argument if the neo-cons and corporatists put their permanent war economy in place. In fact they already have it in place; they just need to expand the wars we are in now. Here is where Obama is vulnerable to neo-cons. He thinks that the previous stimulus was enough or all that he can get now. The latter is probably true. The problem is he will not get a great deal of jobs growth by cutting domestic discretionary spending while maintaining current defense spending. The political environment is all about cutting spending. Progressives have to make sure that the cuts are from the MIC,not Medicare, Medicaid and social security. Ron Paul seems to be willing to make that deal as long as we get a net cut in overall spending. When all is said and done, Obama gets us at best 7% unemployment rate at the end of his second term. People will not stand for this, and the unending war Keynesians will fill the void (while using their predictable free market rhetoric). Progressives need to bite the bullet (so to speak) and make this deal with a lesser devil in 2012 in order to get what we really want in 2016. We progressives, like it or not, have only one way to be relevant and that is to get a Ron Paul nominated and elected. I wish it could be different. Had the president been less compromising and insisted on including a universally available public option, immediately going all out in building the green economy and completely getting  out of the current wars, we would not even have to consider this alternative tact. Now that he has failed our agenda we must pick ourselves up and make a new plan. Unfortunately the plan has to take a longer view or else, short and long term, we all lose to the permanent police state war economy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Absurd but...

To me any thought of cutting spending or raising taxes when 25 million Americans are needing and wanting full time work is absurd. However, if all that is going to be done over the next 10 years is to cut spending then Ron Paul's determination to roll back wildly excessive military spending by ending the wars and all other empire building and maintenance is a much better alternative than what the President or the Republicans are offering. The fact that he is willing to do this while paying for Medicare and social security is maybe the best we can expect. Progressives need to face the reality that the president folded on taxes once and he will fold again because the he will not have the votes. All talk now is about cuts. We have to choose who is going to cut in the right places rather who will raise taxes or invest in what we need. My outlook is not optimistic but it is realistic. The sooner progressives get on board with Ron Paul's transitional fix the sooner we will be able to get a real progressive to the top of the 2016 ballot. Continue to deny that the president is anything other than a corporatist, and we get a Romney clone versus Obama and a stalemated congress for another 4 years.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Conflict to compromise to synthesis: Tax Policy

In the coming days I want to make some proposals about bridging the gap between the two ideologies of progressivism and libertarianism. Of course we already have much in common and i don't want to go over those agreements here. Instead what I would like to focus on are the issues where we don't seem to find common ground. Mostly this will be about economic policy but from time to time we might explore some cultural, defense and foreign policy issues.
Today, I want to offer up an idea on tax policy and solicit your responses. I do this not to be argumentative but to develop ideas which will strengthen an emerging coalition which Ron Paul has already begun.
Ls think we Ps love taxes, as if we derive some kind of masochistic pleasure from filing our taxes. The truth is we long for simpification as much as you do. And believe it or not we would rather our taxes be lower. Of course, we do differ in other respects. Ls tend to prefer flat consumption taxes while Ps tend to prefer progressive income taxes. What if Ps could let go of their desire to tax income and Ls their desire not to tax bigger somes of money at higher rates. The result is a progressive consumption tax, a tax advocated by liberal economist, Robert Frank and approved by conservative economists:  http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/11/inequality_and_executive_pay

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Bottom Line

Ron Paul can win both the Republican nomination and the general election if he can persuade his followers that economic policy compromise is necessary if the libertarian cause is to be advanced at all, and if his followers, in turn, can persuade enough progressives that Ron Paul will really make necessary economic policy compromises once he is elected president.  If either of these conditions are not met, his campaign will be a flop and the libertarian agenda a dead relic forever.