This is the second part in a three-part series taking an in-depth look at the Prosperity For All recommendations.
To refresh, Prosperity for All is a list of recommended policy changes that would help bring our nation out of financial ruin, lifting up the middle class and restoring the American Dream to everyone. The Prosperity for All campaign is broken into three main parts: Growth, Security, and Democracy. In this section we will look at the Democracy recommendations.
In this section we will look at the Economic Security recommendations.
Economic Security: “Security for workers and their families, the environment and government finances“.
Ever since we were in grade school we have been taught about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This is the theory that before we can become the ‘self-actualized’ person we have to meet the our other needs first. The most basic of all of these needs is the physical. This would be food, water, breathing, and sleep. The second level is ‘safety / security’. This is security in employment, finances, health, and property.
With our economy so unstable many people have been concerned about just meeting these most basic human needs. People have been forced out of work. People have lost their homes. Some have lost their health care due to being laid off or being forced to change jobs. This creates a mountain of uncertainty in their lives and we need a solid foundation if we plan to build.
Property for All has come up with some policy recommendations to help with this area.
1. “Build on the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option with the clout to push back against insurance companies so everyone has access to affordable, quality health care“.
Healthcare is a must. While millions of American are lucky enough to receive healthcare from their workplace, there are millions who go without. The Huffington Post reported that only 44.6% of Americans get health benefits from their employer. The worse part is that this number continues to decline every year. This leaves 17.1% of Americans with no healthcare at all. Millions are one broken bone away from financial bankruptcy. To add to this stress, most of the people without healthcare avoid seeking medical advice due to the cost leaving them more apt get preventable diseases.
2. & 3. “Increase public investment in research and development for clean energy technologies by $15 billion per year” and “Take action to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases to mitigate climate change.”
I am not expert on the environment or greenhouse gases however I do believe the research that global warming is real and we need to work to reduce our carbon based emissions to slow these effects. By investing in ‘green’ energy we will put people to work and help save the planet at the same time. The Obama for America website says the current investments in solar energy alone have helped to create 12,500 jobs and power 1.3 million homes.
4. “Provide a simple, universal mandatory pension for all that would guarantee a lifetime benefit to provide real retirement security to workers, and strengthen and expand Social Security.”
Retirements and pensions have become one the biggest fights between workers and business owners in the last few decades. People want the security of a defined benefit plan and companies are pushing people to a defined contribution (401k) style plan to save money. For example in 2007 only “21 percent of all private-sector workers were offered traditional pensions” while “70 percent of private-sector union workers successfully negotiated for solid retirement benefits”. Once again the process of collective bargaining works to help employees.
The problem with 401k style retirements is that there is no guaranteed monthly income and there is a risk in losing your retirement. 401k plans take your savings and invest in the stock market in hopes of a huge reward. However as we have seen in the last few years the wall street gamblers are not always right. This could lead to you losing your retirement savings in a stock market crash. The combination of a strong social security program would benefit everyone. For those millions who are not even offered a retirement it allows them to retire with dignity. Add that to the your 401k savings and rest assured your needs will be met for as long as you live.
The rest of the Economic Security recommendations talk about changes to the financial markets and tax structure.
5. & 6. “End the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. The Bush tax cuts are the largest single contributor to our current revenue shortfall” and “Implement a financial transaction tax to discourage short‐term speculation and reduce the chance of financial crises. The tax would be invested publicly and fund job creation.”
Both of these are currently being evaluated in Congress. The Bush Era Tax cuts just passed the US House and will move to the Senate where it will likely fade away under the Democrats control. These Bush Era tax cuts do offer some relief to middle class families however the ultra wealth are the ones who are reaping the benefits. To help pay for all of these things we must do to move our country forward we must end these tax cuts to the top 2%. By ending the tax cuts to the top 2% the middle class would be protected from a significant tax increase.