Open letter to the new President

Good Morning Mr. President,

As an avid consumer of the ebb and flow of political events I still find myself surprised at what humans are capable of.  The polarity of views currently in vogue is clearly based as much in perception as it is in fact.  Under these conditions the framing of the message often becomes more important than the actual content, as you well know.  It is within that area that I humbly offer the following alternative narrative you might use. Its introduction can be managed without any investment and the narrative’s function will sustain the contrast between you and them. Additionally it will put you on an unassailable foundation.

The current focus on government spending to create jobs appears, under conservative spin, to be more welfare.  At the least it perpetuates the impression of Government largess. Argument is made that it didn’t work before, it’s just more of the same and other rubrics that work so well when repeated often enough at full volume.  I suggest that you modify the direct focus on jobs and, taking a page from Eisenhower’s handbook, focus on how investments in infrastructure can enable businesses to become more productive and encourage entrepreneurs to prosper.

Use examples of well-known cases of successful government projects that enabled growth, of which there is an endless supply.  Use the big ones, like Hoover Dam and the Tennessee Valley Authority, both of which triggered growth and brought wealth to areas of the country that had been poverty stricken backwaters.  Use the basics, the road network, upon which the salesmen ride to their customers, and trucks use to deliver the products to be sold, to the firemen and police who create the stability that allows for prosperity. In the largest sense, the Army and Navy protect our borders every day.  Nobody does it alone.

Go further to create specific examples of government investment such as Darpa, whose work enabled the internet, or how the Race to the Moon enabled the microchip revolution that made desktop computers possible.  What might Bill Gates or Steve Jobs lives have looked like if that investment had not enabled computers when it did?

The government has neglected the wise legacy of our grandfather’s investment.  The infrastructure they built, from education to a first class road and power net and more, enabled our prosperity, and we have allowed it to fall into disrepair.  We owe our predecessors the respect they earned, and we owe our grandchildren to come the investment in the future that will enable them to create their own prosperity.

Investment requires funding; Eisenhower resolved this by using a top tax rate of around ninety-two percent for the top earners.  I would not suggest anything so radical.  Rather, in keeping with the focus on “Investment in America”, include in the enabling resolution a leveling of the playing field.  As in all things political, these suggestions are starting points.

With the stated intention of increasing equality and the unstated intention of discouraging obscene wealth, lower the income tax rates to one level, say for example twenty-eight percent, for income up to one million. Everybody would pay the same tax, would be the battle cry.  But within this offer include all income, including capitol gains.  Above one million the tax could be graduated, but that would be easy to defend, with the investment in America the Enabler at stake.  Offer to simplify the corporate tax rate by offering a flat rate lower than it is but without deductions, and then collect it.

Resolve Social Security funding by removing the income cap.  This can be offered as insuring that everyone has “skin in the game” as the conservatives are fond of saying.  All income of any kind is taxed equally, including capitol gains and carried interest.  Everyone’s income would be taxed at the same rate.  This program, never an entitlement but rather an earned benefit, would tax all equally under this proposal.

Sales taxes should apply equally to all sales, including sales of securities.  This is another issue that defines the contrast, and whose resolution would create benefits.  All transactions, including financial transactions, would be taxable, with modified rates as appropriate.  This would require far greater levels of transparency and oversight than currently applied, to insure there is no corruption.

This language may provide an umbrella that the entire party could move to; the focus is entirely on America and her long term health. The jobs will follow without being the centerpiece. That investment would be spread over several decades through your Infrastructure Development Bank and a specific schedule of work that extends decades into the future. The dedication of investment would provide the kind of security that businesses depend on; without it we could well descend into decades of chaos.

Our world is crumbling around us; if we are to sustain our leadership we must invest in those things which helped makes us into a leader in the first place.  We all do better when we all do better.

This alternative narrative replaces indigent people in need with an America we all love sadly in need of repair.  The nation is the house we all live in together, and repair and maintenance benefits us all, not only the workers directly involved.  America needs to be drawn back on a successful track and reinforcing the message that we are all in this together is a good place to start.  This single unified theme enables people who disagree on so many things to agree on this one thing; each of us needs the nation to be strong, so that we all may prosper.

I make of this narrative a gift to you, with my wishes for the best of luck.

Sincerely, Steve “Fred” Abrams

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