Every New Job Helps Our Economy

Every new job helps the economy.

Because every new job is another person shopping at local stores.

And every few new jobs mean the stores are hiring, too.

Every new job is another person not trying to take your job.

So let’s hire people to fix our roads and bridges, and teach our children.

Then, every few police, bridge-repair and teaching jobs will mean local stores will hire people.

And every few stores hiring people means a supplier hires someone.

AND our children will be educated, and our streets will be better and safer.

If we fix a bridge, it means stores around the bridge are doing more business, and will hire people, and suppliers will hire more people.

AND we will have a bridge that has been fixed!

To politicians: You know that budget cuts cost jobs and hurt the economy, no matter what you are saying in public. So any cuts you approve now mean that things will be even worse when the next election rolls around. When you are up for re-election, there will be fewer jobs and a longer recession.

So giving in to the “conventional wisdom” of the “serious people” on cutting the budget means that you are hurting yourself in the next election.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Middle Class Squeezed – I Mean Literally Squished

Two stories in the news today illustrate what is happening to the middle class. One story is about numbers showing how the middle is being squeezed. The other is about how people are literally being squished. “The new business model, apparently, is to shrink the seats, charge extra for everything and offer nothing for free that might be construed as an amenity.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Behind the Middle-Class Funk tells the numbers story,

Many economists define the middle class as those adults whose annual household income is between two-thirds and twice the national median—today, that means roughly $40,000 to $120,000. By this standard, according to the Pew Research Center, the middle class is significantly smaller than it once was. In 1971, it accounted for fully 61% of adults, compared with 14% for the upper class and 25% for the lower class.

Four decades later, the middle class share had declined by 10 percentage points to just 51%, while the upper class share increased by six points and the lower class by four. The U.S. income distribution is still a bell curve, but the left and right tails are fatter and the hump in the middle is lower.

[ . . . ] Between 1979 and 2007, on average, annual hours worked by middle-income households rose from 3,007 to 3,335—fully 10%, a larger increase than for any other income group. Some of the additional work reflects expanding opportunities for women. But much of it came in response to economic pressure and represents time that men as well as women reluctantly diverted from their children—hardly an unambiguous improvement in family well-being.

The middle class shrank by 10% and people in the middle have to work longer to get by…

Harold Meyerson illustrates this squeeze by showing how the non-corporate-rich are being literally squished. In A hard landing for the middle class, Meyerson writes about what is happening to airline passengers,

…Airline seating may be the best concrete expression of what’s happened to the economy in recent decades.

Airlines are sparing no expense these days to enlarge, upgrade and increase the price of their first-class and business-class seating. As the space and dollars devoted to the front of the planes increase, something else has to be diminished, and, as multitudes of travelers can attest, it’s the experience of flying coach. The joys of air travel — once common to all who flew — have been redistributed upward and are now reserved for the well-heeled few.

Meyerson describes the elevated luxury — and prices — for business and first-class passengers, while coach sections and seats get smaller. “The new business model, apparently, is to shrink the seats, charge extra for everything and offer nothing for free that might be construed as an amenity.”

Welcome to the new economy: More for the well-to-do, less for everyone else, and those without enough money literally are not on board.

Meyerson explains how this reflects what is happening to the whole economy,

The upgrading of business and the downgrading of coach present a fairly faithful mirror of what’s happening in the larger economy: the disappearance of the middle class. As University of California-Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez has documented, between 2009 and 2011, the incomes of the wealthiest 1 percent of American families grew by 11.2 percent while those of the remaining 99 percent shrunk by 0.4 percent. Median household income has declined every year since 2008. Profits, meanwhile, have risen to their highest share of the nation’s economy since World War II, while wages have sunk to their lowest share.

As more and more of the gains from our economy go to a few at the top the rest of us get squeezed — literally.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Repatriation Tax Mistakes

If you reward bad behavior you create an incentive for the bad behavior to continue. This is certainly the case with taxes on profits made outside the country. Rewarding multinational companies for keeping profits outside of the country has cost us jobs and tax revenue.

Today’s NY Times editorial Jobs and Taxes gets it right — and wrong. The editorial looks at President Obama’s proposal this week for “revenue-neutral” corporate tax “reform” with one-time “fees” to pay for a small bit of infrastructure repair. They correctly point out that this is a “dangerous” plan because “while the proposal would raise money for useful purposes in the short run, it would amount to an unjustified corporate giveaway in the longer term.”

Correct. But there is another danger in the idea, which the editorial gets right — and wrong. The editorial warns,

Similarly, the proposal calls for a minimum corporate tax on foreign earnings of American companies, which could be a step toward greater fairness but stops short of ending the damaging practice whereby companies defer tax on foreign profits until the cash is repatriated to the United States. The proposal does not say what the minimum tax would be. Any repatriation at less than the proposed top rate of 28 percent would encourage companies to keep stashing profits abroad.

Yes, any repatriation at less than the correct tax rate would certainly “encourage companies to keep stashing profits abroad.” The Times’ mistake is that a 28% rate would create the same incentive to keep doing it because the current tax rate is 35%, not 28%. These companies are evading a 35% rate, and rewarding this tax evasion by letting them bring the profits back at 28% just sets us up for more of the same.

In 2004 Congress gave multinational corporations a “repatriation tax holiday,” letting them return profits at dramatically lower tax rates. This didn’t work out so well for the country, economy or shareholders. Of course this incentive caused companies to start keeping even more profits out of the country. Jobs, factories and profit centers were moved to tax-haven countries because the game was defined: Congress hands out tax-holiday gifts so just wait for the next repatriation tax holiday. It is estimated that $1.7 – 2 trillion is now parked outside the country, withheld from taxation — and shareholders.

If this scheme pays off yet again the problem can only get worse. The right answer is to just end the “deferral” that lets these companies pretending the profits are not “in” the country to evade their taxes. That money is supposed the be taxed at the current 35% tax rate, and there is no reason for it to be taxed at a lower rate. End this evasion game now and watch the jobs, factories and profit centers return. And then use a sales-based apportionment system to decide where profits are made.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Not Sexist Summers, Please

Larry Summers for the Fed? Seriously? There are better choices for Federal Reserve chair; in particular, Janet Yellen is more than qualified and would do a great job.

Ezra Klein writes in, “Right now, Larry Summers is the front-runner for Fed chair,” “The word among Federal Reserve watchers right now is that the choice is down to Janet Yellen or Larry Summers as Ben Bernanke’s replacement.”

The White House is not actively shooting this down and this is just an insult to American women.

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Austerity Is Dead – So Can We Fix The Infrastructure NOW?

You might have heard that “austerity is dead.” You’ll certainly be hearing it, and with good reason: the U.S. deficit is down more than 50 percent from what President Bush left behind, projections of the rise in medical costs that drove future deficits are way down, the “intellectual foundation” that justified the push for cutting government has collapsed (as if it ever existed), and the European experiment has shown that budget cuts really just make things worse – much, much worse – and cause misery and suffering to boot. Meanwhile we have two real problems to worry about: unemployment and crumbling infrastructure. So can we hire people to fix the infrastructure now?

Economists Had Learned How To Revive A Falling Economy

Before the financial collapse economists had nailed down the way to get out of an economic crisis: Government has to spend to pick up the drop in demand caused by businesses and consumers cutting back. This investment into the economy causes businesses to hire again, which helps people to be able to spend again, and after things recover the resulting growth pays off that investment.

The Great Depression in particular had taught us that a downward spiral could develop in which a drop in demand caused businesses to cut back, lay people off and/or cut wages, and of course this caused people to have to cut back, which meant demand dropped even more so businesses laid off more people, so demand dropped more, etc.

The FDR administration tried various things to stop this spiral and found that programs that injected money into the economy, such as unemployment benefits and other assistance, direct hiring, investments in infrastructure, etc., could turn things around. And then after things turned around we had all that new, modern infrastructure driving continuing economic growth!

We also learned the hard way. In 1937 the government cut back too soon, and the economy sank into recession again. Then World War II came along, the government spent massively, and the economy grew so much that the ratio of debt to the size of the economy shrank dramatically. We had it figured out.

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Old Economy Coming Back

Borosage, in Democrats Must Overcome Clinton Nostalgia,

The sad fact is that the old economy is coming back. Austerity continues to starve public investments vital to our future. The banks emerged from the crisis bigger and more concentrated than ever. Despite the domestic natural gas explosion, the trade deficit is still more than $1 billion a day, with the deficit with China setting records.

Extreme inequality is getting worse. The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans captured a stunning 121 percent of the income growth in the first two years after the economic collapse. Everyone else, on average, lost ground. The jobs being created offer less pay and fewer benefits than those that were lost. More than 20 million people still need full-time work.

I wrote about this in Just Stop It: This Is NOT A Good Economy. We Can Fix It.

PS Borosage makes a key point: “No matter how repellant Republicans may look to these voters, they are unlikely to turn out in large numbers for a party whose policies have failed them.

Just Stop It: This Is NOT A Good Economy. We Can Fix It.

Recent stories appearing in “mainstream” opinion-leader outlets would have you think that things with the economy are going great – if you didn’t know better (and they don’t). The thing is that outside of the geographic areas and cultural circles these opinion leaders inhabit, everyone knows better. Especially “Old Economy Steven.”

better than his kids

The old economy collapsed because it wasn’t sustainable, and to put that another way, “unsustainable” means it couldn’t be sustained. And it wasn’t. It didn’t work then for 99 percent of us and it won’t work now. We can’t go back to that.

“Good News”

The economy is slowly improving. Car sales are rising, housing has “bottomed” and started back up (and is in absolute bubble-mode again in some areas), and we’re actually seeing about as many new jobs as new people entering the economy! But that’s it. And this has taken how many years?

These small gains are enough for our media opinion-elite to declare good times are rolling. All around us we are hearing that we are out of the woods. For example, at The Washington Post Neil Irwin and Ylan Q. Mui wrote Tuesday that the sequester’s austerity (which has only partially kicked in so far) hasn’t really held back the booming economy. In “The economy is holding up surprisingly well in a year of austerity,”

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“Spreadsheet Error” Economists Blame “The Left” Not “Science”

In an op-ed in the NY Times today the “spreadsheet error” economists tell us all we need to know about their research and their conclusions. In the op-ed, Reinhart and Rogoff: Responding to Our Critics, skip to the last paragraph:

“Now we are being attacked by the left — primarily by those who have a view that the risks of higher public debt should not be part of the policy conversation. “

“The left?”

I think these two words tell the whole story. All the economists and other scholars who are criticizing the errors and selective use of favorable data in work represent “the left.” Actual science that looks at the real world to see what actually happens is “the left.”

Downward Spiral

Here is the situation:

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Deficit Falling Even More Dramatically, Few Know It

Austerity is beginning to hit and the economy is slowing as a result. The most immediate effect is that flights are delayed, but unemployment checks are smaller and there are fewer things We the People do to make our lives and economy better — also called “government spending.” But hey, as Dean Baker writes in, Deficits Are Bad and the Sun Goes Around the Earth,

…many people can profit from slow growth and high unemployment. The after-tax profit share of GDP is at its highest level more than 60 years. For those who own lots of stock and are at the top of the income ladder, times are good. These people may see efforts to lower unemployment as posing a risk. With lower unemployment workers may be able to get a larger share of productivity growth. This may be good for most of the country and mean increased economic growth, but it would mean less for the one percent.

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Minimum Wage Raise Essential To Fix Our Economy

The Walton (Walmart) heirs now have as much wealth as up to 40 percent of all Americans combined, and Walmart’s sales have been slowing down. What does the first fact have to do with the second? (Hint: Sign this petition for raising the minimum wage.)

The top 1 percent now rakes in 20 percent of the nation’s income and holds one-third of the country’s wealth. Meanwhile the economy remains stagnant because the incomes of regular people are stagnant and falling – meaning they can’t buy stuff and can’t invest in their own futures.

From the post “40% Of Americans Now Make Less Than 1968 Minimum Wage”:

The chart shows that wages used to go up as productivity went up, but in the 1970s they decoupled. Productivity kept going up but wages stagnated.

Regular people’s incomes have been stagnant since the 70′s while costs keep going up. In fact, 40 percent Of Americans now make less than the 1968 minimum wage if that minimum wage had kept rising along with productivity. If the minimum wage had stayed coupled to productivity the minimum wage would now be $16.50 an hour – which more than 40 percent of Americans now make!

Instead all of those people’s possible additional income went to the top. And that plus changes in taxation is why we have the inequality we have. That is what happened to our economy and to all of us.

Now, here’s another chart. This chart shows that financial-sector and non-financial-sector compensation used to rise together, but in the late 70′s / early 80′s they decoupled. Financial-sector compensation took off, while non-financial-sector compensation did not.

It is as simple as this: If we want our economy and democracy to recover, the minimum wage needs to be raised as a core part of the solution. (But only part.)

Sign this petition calling for “the leaders of the House and Senate to allow an up-or-down vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and then index it to inflation.” While $10.10 is too low, it’s a start, and it is what is before the Congress. There are other essential things we need to do, but we need to raise the minimum wage to set a floor that is not falling out from under us.

Inequality Holding Back Recovery

The recovery from the economic crash is stagnant, and unemployment remains in emergency territory.

In January Economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote this op-ed for The New York Times, listing four reasons why the terrible inequality we face today is holding back the recovery, “Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery”:

There are four major reasons inequality is squelching our recovery. The most immediate is that our middle class is too weak to support the consumer spending that has historically driven our economic growth. While the top 1 percent of income earners took home 93 percent of the growth in incomes in 2010, the households in the middle — who are most likely to spend their incomes rather than save them and who are, in a sense, the true job creators — have lower household incomes, adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1996. The growth in the decade before the crisis was unsustainable — it was reliant on the bottom 80 percent consuming about 110 percent of their income.

Second, the hollowing out of the middle class since the 1970s, a phenomenon interrupted only briefly in the 1990s, means that they are unable to invest in their future, by educating themselves and their children and by starting or improving businesses.

Third, the weakness of the middle class is holding back tax receipts, especially because those at the top are so adroit in avoiding taxes and in getting Washington to give them tax breaks. The recent modest agreement to restore Clinton-level marginal income-tax rates for individuals making more than $400,000 and households making more than $450,000 did nothing to change this. Returns from Wall Street speculation are taxed at a far lower rate than other forms of income. Low tax receipts mean that the government cannot make the vital investments in infrastructure, education, research and health that are crucial for restoring long-term economic strength.

Fourth, inequality is associated with more frequent and more severe boom-and-bust cycles that make our economy more volatile and vulnerable. Though inequality did not directly cause the crisis, it is no coincidence that the 1920s — the last time inequality of income and wealth in the United States was so high — ended with the Great Crash and the Depression. The International Monetary Fund has noted the systematic relationship between economic instability and economic inequality, but American leaders haven’t absorbed the lesson.

Translation:

  1. Top 1 percent (a few people) taking most of the gains, income in the middle (lots of people) is falling, they can’t buy stuff.
  2. Middle class disappearing, unable to invest in education or start businesses.
  3. Tax system rigged so gains going to 1 percent not bringing revenue to government, with incomes to the rest falling, revenue to government decreasing. Government can’t afford to invest in infrastructure, research, education, health and other things the help economy.
  4. Inequality that drives such massive amounts to a top few makes even the rich feel poor so they speculate and engage in quick-buck schemes, economy becomes “volatile and vulnerable.”

Raising the minimum wage is at the center of a set of policies. It is one part of what to do if we want economy to work again for regular people and for the future. Other parts include but are not limited to:

  • New tax brackets for higher incomes,
  • restoring the estate tax,
  • restoring corporate taxation,
  • getting rid of tax incentives that encourage corporations to move jobs and factories and profit centers out of the country,
  • possibly a wealth tax to address the deficit and debt,
  • a tax on Wall Street speculation,
  • restoring government services that help lower- and middle-income people obtain affordable higher education and get job training,
  • renegotiating trade deals that pit American workers against exploited, underpaid workers in non-democracies, thereby making American democracy and wages a competitive disadvantage
  • and many other steps to address the changes brought in since the “Reagan Revolution” that drove the huge increase in inequality and decrease in government investment in our economy’s future.

Raising the minimum wage is not only the moral thing to do, it is essential to bringing the low end up and start distributing the gains more fairly.

Even Walmart’s Sales Hurting Now

After the economic crash Walmart was ascendant. More and more people were moving down the income ladder toward the bottom, they were moving from the upper-scale stores to the bottom, i.e. Walmart.

But now so many people have fallen below the bottom that even Walmart’s sales are slowing down. Seeking Alpha recommends a SELL on Walmart stock because,

WMT derives most of its revenues from domestic operations in the U.S. where it has a dense network of stores and logistic centers. However, U.S. growth has almost flattened over the last couple of years eking out a yearly growth rate of just 1 percent.

Walmart can’t just raise wages on their own because that will give their competitors an advantage, and soon we’ll all be complaining about Target instead.

Even Walmart needs someone to come along and force wages up. Who could that someone be? It’s up to government – We the People – to make all employers raise wages so they can all have customers again.

Government Needed

All businesses will tell you that if they didn’t do everything they can to boost profits, someone else will, and then they’re screwed. Business is a cut-throat game and you have to fight to survive. You have to fight as dirty as the rules let you fight. Businesses will tell you that if they don’t keep wages as low as possible, deny health insurance, cut safety costs, cheapen products, and everything else they can get away with they will be gone, replaced by businesses that will.

The key to the equation is the “what the rules allow” and the “what they can get away with” part of that dirty fight. Businesses compete on a playing field, and the rules and enforcement of those rules determine the way the game is played.

Every individual business wants to save on labor and other costs. But if all businesses do the same, the result is that no one has any money to spend and all of those businesses are in trouble. This is where government comes in. Government is the essential part of this equation, setting and enforcing the rules in ways that make up for what inevitably happens if all businesses cut wages, costs, etc. And government is essential for enforcing those rules.

From “You Can’t Have Healthy Businesses Without Strong Government”:

Imagine this, though it might be difficult: some people are greedy and want more for themselves, at the expense of the rest of us. Yes, this is shocking, but true!

Government protects us from those who would take advantage and take too much. Government does this both domestically and internationally. At home it protects us from criminals and exploiters. Government also protects us from physical and economic threats from other countries.

[. . .] When too many business reduce costs by cutting employees or paying less, the system collapses from lack of demand. Government is needed to keep businesses from laying off too many people or cutting pay. Sometimes government does this by stepping in and hiring people (or just giving them money like unemployment benefits), or buying things, thereby creating demand, causing businesses to hire.

Crucial to this equation:

When government is strong we have more enforcement of a level playing field for all of us, more education for all of us, more security for all of us, more protection of our environment, more infrastructure so our own startup businesses can flourish and compete, more parks, more promotion of the general welfare.

And when government is weak we end up with a very few greedy, ruthless billionaires and their giant corporations controlling the economy, stifling competition, scamming and defrauding us, and consuming the environment and resources for their own short-term profit.

Sign a SignOn.org petition posted by the Campaign for America’s Future calling for “the leaders of the House and Senate to allow an up-or-down vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and then index it to inflation.”

It is the nature of our current economic system that things will concentrate into fewer and fewer hands. When you let the ones with more money win the game and set the rules it is inevitable that they will increasingly set the rules to they always win the game. When the winner gets more stuff, eventually a very few winners have to end up with all the stuff.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act

The Fair Minimum Wage Act is up before the Congress. Isaiah J. Poole explains in Time To Demand A Vote To Increase The Minimum Wage:

The Fair Minimum Wage Act would increase the current federal minimum wage, $7.25, to $10.10 in three steps over a three-year period, and then index it annually to inflation from that point forward.

The bill would make an even more significant difference for tipped workers, mostly in the restaurant industry. They currently have a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour that has not increased since 1991. Under the bill, tipped workers would earn a minimum 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

… House members have in fact had one opportunity to vote on the bill in March, in the form of a motion instructing the House to add the minimum wage increase to a workforce training bill. The motion was unanimously rejected by House Republicans.

The bill, though, deserves a stand-alone vote in its own right. It’s been three years since the minimum wage went up to $7.25, and that increase did not undo the damage done to low-wage workers by decades of congressional failure to keep this wage floor from sinking.

Sign a SignOn.org petition posted by the Campaign for America’s Future calling for “the leaders of the House and Senate to allow an up-or-down vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and then index it to inflation.”

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

DC Should Talk About Fixing The TRADE Deficit

The economy is not working for We, the People. But even with $4 trillion already cut from deficit projections, a deficit drop of about 50 percent as a share of gross domestic product, and Congressional Budget Office projections that the deficit is stable for the next 10 years Washington remains focused on even more economy-killing austerity. It’s talking only about what and how to cut instead of how to meet the needs of the people of the country and grow the economy.

This fight over spending cuts led to the “sequester,” which might take us back into recession. The fight will now roll into another manufactured crisis over the continuing resolution, with a government shutdown as the hostage, and of course this will be a further drag on the recovery.

Economics 101, Europe’s austerity experiment and the experience of history all tell us that cutting government is contractionary policy. Cutting government cuts economic growth and costs jobs, which leads to to lower tax revenue and higher government expenditures. Economics 101 and the experience of history also tell us that government investment in jobs, infrastructure, education, research and the rest grows the economy, which fixes deficits. Cutting deficits and debt is important but clearly should not be done when the economy is weak. This is the time to invest, and the investment returns will pay for the investment and more.

Again: There is no real discussion or debate about what we ought to be doing to make this economy work for working people. There is only discussion of what and how to cut. This is the wrong approach to our economic problems.

CAF is presenting job-creating and economy-growing ideas that ought to be debated so we can begin to turn this economy around and make it work for all of us instead of just a few of us. Jobs and growth fix deficits.

The Vast Trade Deficit Drains Our Economy And Jobs

Recently the 2012 U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services was announced. It fell slightly in 2012 (due in part to a decline in petroleum imports), to $540.4 billion from $560 billion in 2011. But 2012 saw a record trade deficit of $315 billion with China – approaching $1 billion a day. That is $540 billion a year drained from our economy, $315 billion of that just to China.

This vast trade deficit represents the loss of millions of jobs, tens of thousands of factories and entire industries. It hits at our ability to fix our economic problems. In particular, this problem affects our manufacturing companies, which provide solid, middle-class jobs and exports that strengthen the country.

Instead of the current focus on budget deficits, Washington should be talking about how to fix this vast trade deficit. Here are some of the things they should be talking about — and doing.

Fix Currency

Countries manipulate their currency rates because a “weak” currency means products made there are much more price-competitive. China’s currency is still estimated to be at least 20 percent below “market” rate, meaning goods made in China cost at least 20 percent less than goods made here, even before you factor in other things China does to give itself a trade advantage.

Confronting currency manipulation offers the biggest “bang for the buck,” requiring no tax dollars and reaping huge returns, shrinking the federal budget deficit by between $78.8 billion and $165.8 billion over three years.

Fixing this one problem could create between 2.2 million and 4.7 million jobs and increase GDP between 1.4 percent and 3.1 percent, helping manufacturers in particular, gaining between 620,000 and 1.3 million of those jobs. It would reduce the U.S. trade goods deficit by at least $190 billion and as much as $400 billion over three years.

Reform Trade Agreements

A $540 billion trade deficit doesn’t come from balanced trade; it is the result of one-sided trade agreements we have entered into. These trade agreements exposed America’s companies, workers, factories and tax base to direct competition with non-democracies, impoverished and exploited workers and countries that do not protect the environment. That could only go one way.

We have a democracy, in which people have a say. So they say they want good wages, safe workplaces and a clean environment. When we open that system up to direct, unregulated competition from places where people have no say and are told they can’t have those things, we put our democratic system at a competitive disadvantage in world markets. We make it a disadvantage to protect the environment, pay well, provide benefits, protect worker safety and the other things that we do and others do not do. Those become just “costs” to be eliminated.

Those trade agreements could have had different terms that lead to different results that lifted working people on both sides of the trade border instead of pushing terrible and increasing worldwide inequality. They could have lifted environmental protections on both sides of trade borders. They could have increased worker and consumer protections. They still can.

Our country’s trade agreements can still be reformed to do these things, rebalancing trade and lifting people and the environment. Future trade agreements should learn the lessons.

Bring Back The Bring Jobs Home Act

Last year Senate Republicans filibustered the Bring Jobs Home Act, but the bill had tremendous public support. It should be revived.

The Bring Jobs Home Act would have cut taxes for U.S. companies that move jobs and business operations to the United States, and ended tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping jobs overseas. The bill would have allowed companies to qualify for a tax credit equal to 20 percent of the cost associated with bringing jobs and business activity back to the United States. It would have closed a loophole allowing a company moving jobs overseas to deduct various relocation costs.

Additionally, any new bill should tax the overseas income of U.S. corporations the same way domestic income income is taxed, so there would be no tax advantage to them from shifting income and jobs overseas.

Strengthen Buy America In Federal And State Procurement

There is no reason our own government should be undermining American manufacturers. “Buy America” provisions should be a mandate on federal, state and local government purchases, consistent with our trade laws. To accomplish this, our bottom line should be:

  • All federal spending should have “buy America” provisions giving American workers and businesses the first shot at procurement contracts.
  • New federal loan guarantees for energy projects should require the utilization of domestic supply chains for construction.
  • Our military equipment, technology and supply purchases should have increased domestic content requirements.
  • Renewable and traditional energy projects should use American materials in construction. State-level spending should have similar requirements, as well as strategies for getting them in place.

Many state-level procurement laws are very weak. As a result, a lot of tax dollars go to purchase goods made overseas instead of goods made in the USA. States should also strengthen their procurement policies to promote buying American-made materials.

The Invest in American Jobs Act of 2013, announced Tuesday, is a good start and deserves support and discussion. The Act strengthens Buy America preferences, closes loopholes and improves transparency in the federal waiver process.

These are a few examples of the things that Washington should be talking about. These proposals solve real problems in practical ways that help the American people.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Both Sides Are NOT To Blame For Sequester!

If you are a citizen in a democracy you need to have correct information about important issues so you can make decisions and know who to hold accountable for things they do. But you wouldn’t know anything if you follow America’s corporate news media. For example, you certainly wouldn’t know that the deficit is currently falling at the fastest rate since the end of WWII. (Only 6% of the public knows that the deficit is falling, not rising.)

Watch as NBC News (March 1 broadcast) blames “both sides” and “Congress” for the sequester cuts that could bring in a new recession:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“Congress” has left town – not that Republicans adjourned without doing allowing votes.

“No serious attempt all week long” to stop this.

“President didn’t rise above political rhetoric.”

“Both sides maintained the blame game.”