Letter to the Editor: Make America equal

To the editor:

Rep. Greg Walden encountered ferocious opposition over his support for Trump’s health care plans in local town halls last month. And Bernie Sanders is now America's most popular politician, according to polls.

The time has come to pursue a bold economic agenda in the United States.

It is one that combines elements of social democracy, with the progressive-populist tradition of both Roosevelts. In the 2018 and 2020 elections, we should field candidates who support much or all of this platform:

  1. Raise the federal minimum wage as close to $15 as possible, over a 6-7 year period. If need be, provide temporary tax credits for certain small businesses, to help them adjust.

  2. Begin the transition toward a single payer (Medicare for all) system. Medicare taxes will replace private premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Over the long term, this could greatly reduce total health care costs, especially if preventitive care is emphasized. The net savings to employers might even mean higher wages for some workers.

  3. Introduce a carbon tax that will raise $2 trillion of revenue in its first decade. All of this should go toward the country's infrastructure: roads, bridges, bike paths, airports, earthquake protections, and grid updates for the budding solar and wind energy industry. After the first decade, part of the revenue can be offset by income tax cuts for working Americans.

  4. Rather than slashing corporate tax rates, let's instead collect more revenue by finally closing the various loopholes. This could pay for reducing or eliminating tuition at public universities.

  5. Sharply increase the estate and inheritance taxes, to a top rate of 80 percent for fortunes larger than $2 billion. Use this to fund capital grants, for groups of workers who would like to start cooperatively owned businesses.

Building a sizable sector of employee-owned companies may be key to creating an economy based on shared growth, rather than runaway inequality.

Anger over our unequal system was one of the forces that propelled Donald Trump into the White House.

In other words, what we really need to heal the nation, is to make America equal again.

Eric Gross

The Dalles

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