An open letter to the DC Dem establishment

Carla Axtman

Dear Washington D.C. Democrats:

If you're not listening to US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), you're doing it wrong.



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    The “sequestration” defense cuts are not just bargaining chips to trade for additional revenues; they are cuts we need to make and which the public supports. See “Public overwhelmingly supports large defense spending cuts:”

    “That’s according to the results of an innovative, new, nationwide survey by three nonprofit groups, the Center for Public integrity, the Program for Public Consultation and the Stimson Center. Not only does the public want deep cuts, it wants those cuts to encompass spending in virtually every military domain — air power, sea power, ground forces, nuclear weapons, and missile defenses.”

    The public is way ahead of the Pentagon and, perhaps, even Senator Merkley on this issue. And yes some of the defense cut savings should be shifted to education (especially Mandarin and study abroad programs) and infrastructure (but not the wasteful CRC).

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    I agree. Call their bluff.

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    Spend the rest of the year working out a plan within the party to come up with tax reform that eliminates nearly all exemptions and deductions in exchange for higher standard deductions and exemptions and much wider 15% and 25% brackets, while adding 40%, 45%, and 50% (or if 50% bothers them, 47% and 49%) brackets on the very wealthy. Obama wants tax reform; create a Democratic package that the party can support. Make it something that Democratic majorities in the House and Senate could pass, something that raises revenue by $200 to $300 billion a year over and above the post-Bush-tax-cuts baseline. And flat-out block any extension of the Bush tax cuts.

    Assuming Democrats take back the House next year, they'd be in a position to bundle several tax hikes together (income tax reform, Pete DeFazio's transaction tax, a carbon tax, maybe an increased estate tax, and raising or eliminating the Social Security payroll tax cap) with a really massive (trillion dollar plus) jobs-and-infrastructure stimulus bill and pass the whole thing by reconciliation right away. Going into November 2014, they'd be running on surging job growth and large budgetary surpluses right around the corner.

    So yeah, listen to Merkley. And use the next few months to put together a tax reform and stimulus package for next year.

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