I’ve got an oped in this AM’s NYT on four big ideas that I see Democrats, and not just traditional progressives, but also centrists, converging around.
–a universal child allowance;
–a $15 minimum wage;
–a large expansion of the EITC;
–direct job creation.
Here are some responses and pushbacks. Much of what folks raised are policy ideas omitted from the piece, which is partly a function of space. For reasons I can’t explain, the NYT insists that other opeds have to be on the page today too:
That’s too redistributive an agenda!: This one doesn’t bother me. Read Dean Baker’s “Rigged,” which documents the extent of upward redistribution embedded in today’s operative policy agenda, and add on top of that the Ryan/Trump fiscal/tax agenda.
What about payfors?!: Yep–didn’t have space to get into that, but the minimum wage increase has virtually no budgetary cost. The direct jobs program is hard to score. It’s very sensitive to scaling and economic conditions. An employer subsidy program can be in single digit billions (as was the TANF EF e.g. I cite in the oped) while a direct job guarantee can be a lot more expensive. I’ll have more to say about this in forthcoming posts.
The big, ongoing costs are the child allowance (CA) and the EITC. I would fold the current Child Tax Credit into the CA, which would net ~$60bn/yr. For the rest, here’s where I’d start. http://prospect.org/article/were-going-need-more-tax-revenue-heres-how-raise-it
Advocates of the CA argue that we should tax back that part of it that goes to wealthy households, or, less preferable in their view, have it phase out at high levels–“less preferable” because they correctly point out that raising kids is expensive for everyone. I’m congenitally against complicated policies, of which give-it-to-them-then-tax-it-back fits the bill. But the CA advocates believe its universality is a great selling point, even with the tax-back. This needs more thought, but the main thing is to get the discussion going.
BTW, there was a link in an earlier draft to this pro-CA work by libertarian policy wonk, Sam Hammond, which I found to be a smart, thoughtful take on the issue, though I certainly wouldn’t rob from Peter’s SNAP budget to pay for Paul’s CA.
What about single payer health care?! I would like to have added something about this idea but didn’t have the space. Ben S and I tout it here, ftr.
But to make this list, the policy must not only be progressive; it must be something a majority of Congressional Democrats are warming to (the child allowance may sound like a bit of a reach by that metric, but in fact, many D’s, I believe, support a Child Tax Credit that starts at zero and doesn’t necessary depend on earnings; which amounts to the same thing).
I don’t know if D’s are coalescing around single-payer, though I’ve seen some evidence to that end. I do think there’s some very positive energy around the idea of Medicare for All, or if not “All,” then a slow reducing of the eligibility age. Re payfors, this would have to be matched with higher taxes, though that would be a cost-shift from private premiums.
Other stuff I left out!: More bargaining power, stuff to boost entrepreneurialism, anti-monopoly. All good ideas, and the latter two might meet my criterion above re D coalescing. But re bargaining power, anyone who knows even a fraction of my work knows that’s at the heart of my model of how the world and markets work. I wish I could say this met my political criterion, and no question, many D’s get this point. They understand the importance of unions, for example, and recognize the deep, structural costs of their diminished strength.
But my experience when I worked in government was that R’s hated unions more than D’s loved them, and therein lies the problem. Not sure if that has changed much, though I certainly hope so. Had the union movement remained strong, we might well not be in the mess we’re in today.
I’m still not sure what to do to boost entrepreneurs and tend to the think this is more organic and wave-like than policy oriented. However, it’s connected to pushing back on monopolistic competition, which everyone, left and right, should be for.