At the Huffpost today, a group of 50 progressive economists released a letter for public consumption endorsing specific Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party platform proposals to increase economic growth and reduce inequality.
They are a set of moderate proposals that should be non-controversial on the Democratic side of the aisle.
"Informed progressive observers will recognize many of the letter’s signatories, starting with Stephanie Kelton, a University of Missouri-Kansas City economist who has been a top adviser to Sanders."
As a progressive-progressive, and a follower of Professor Kelton, I recognize that none of this goes far enough, and the financial sector seems to be missing from the discussion. But we have a long way to go and it's a good start and this is better than nothing. So I'm not here to tear anything down. However, it's important that as we compromise politically, we never concede scientific principle.
I've added comments below the proposals listed.
--Raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and make it easier to organize and join unions.
Set the minimum wage in the economy via a federally funded 'transitional' Job Guarantee for every American able and willing to work at $15/hr and encourage the proliferation of democratically derived unions that make us proud to be Americans by protecting the rights and negotiating position of workers.
Jacking the minimum wage up statutorily to $15/hr without a Job Guarantee could be very disruptive to individual businesses upon implementation. While still beneficial to the economy as a whole in the long run, it's inefficient. A Job Guarantee led $15/hr minimum wage would help offset this disruption by driving additional sales in the economy and attracting more workers into the workforce. This raises the quality and quantity of entry level employees available for private sector and 'normal' government employment. A payroll tax holiday on both employees and employers would greatly aid the introduction of a $15/hr minimum wage economically and politically, as it would help to raise spending, while reducing the costs of production. The combination of a payroll tax holiday and a 'thrown together' Job Guarantee utilizing existing federal agencies at $15/hr could restore massive shared prosperity in less than 90 days. There are virtually an unlimited number of things that $15/hr JG workers could do to serve and better their communities. We should be debating those choices.
--Establish equal pay for women.
Obviously. It's 2016.
--Invest ambitiously in improving our infrastructure—roads, bridges, water, airports, energy, and rail systems, creating tens of thousands of well-paying, middle class jobs.
We should be arguing over what we will build and how that process will be managed, not if we are going to build anything at all. But the point of building things is not to create jobs, that's a residual. The point is to build useful public infrastructure that we need to support growing standards of living and higher productivity.
--Make the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, including a surtax on millionaires.
The funds to pay taxes and buy government securities come from government spending.- Warren Mosler
Any progressive saying that the federal government has to tax the rich to acquire funding for the Democratic spending agenda is unknowingly paralyzing that spending agenda. It's more important that Uncle Sam spends to help the poor than what Donald Trump pays in taxes. Taxes regulate inflation and have other public purposes. Regulating inequality may be a legitimate use of taxes, but it's highly inefficient. Changes to government regulation and support for the financial sector and the government's abandonment of full employment fiscal policies have driven the largest transfer of wealth upward in human history. Taxing the rich more can't possibly 'claw back' all of the income gains from government distortions in their favor. Higher taxes are more favorable to rich people than reforms to limit government to public purpose and not their ends. Hence, the Democratic position and the mainstream progressive position on 'higher taxes for rich people' is actually in the service of protecting the rich from further reforms by distracting the public from the real issues driving inequality.
Hillary Clinton 'wants to go to where the money is at'? Can someone escort the Secretary to the computers at the U.S. Department of Treasury and explain to her that U.S. dollars come from keystrokes on government computers?
--Develop a national strategy to combat poverty, including more federal resources for communities that have been left out and left behind.
A federally funded universal Job Guarantee for every American able and willing to work at $15/hr would be the all-time greatest anti-poverty program in human history and unleash an economic boom the likes of which has never been seen. All kinds of stuff that these workers could do to serve and better their communities.
--Guarantee universal pre-school education.
Why not pre-k through doctorate education?
The burden of proof is on those to explain otherwise.
Education enriches our lives and promotes higher standards of living. It should be a public good provided to 'qualified' students. What we need to talk about is academic standards, education policies, and our practical limits. Those things are way more important with respect to the economic efficiency of our education output than the funding mechanisms. For our government, they can always create the funds for education spending. The question is if the resources are available for the government to guarantee lifetime pre-k through doctorate education, and how those resources could be most efficiently utilized. That's the discussion we need to be having.
--Provide relief from crushing student debt and make tuition-free public college for families earning less than $125,000 a reality.
What's the problem with wealthy children getting educations provided through public funding? Shouldn't we want to encourage the exposure of rich and poor to each other through our education system?
Congress could tell the Department of Education to forgive all student loans, even retroactively. They might want to spread out the forgiveness payments over a number of years if inflation could be an issue. But that's the only issue.
--Fight to guarantee health care for every American by working for a public option and extending Medicare for those over 55 years old.
Healthcare should be provided to all Americans who need it through the public funding of providers of their choice. And the moral hazard issues of people over utilizing healthcare can be dealt with separately, in a manner that creates incentives for healthy living and lower utilization of healthcare.
--Develop a green energy strategy that drastically reduces carbon emissions, creates new jobs, and makes the US a world leader in renewable energy.