We are in the middle of the budget process. The Republican Controlled Congress has their blueprint for where the budget should grow and where it should be cut. As I wrote yesterday, Congress, or at least House Republicans, want to cut the Amtrak budget by one-fifth.
As usual, I heard from some conservatives that all I want to do is spend money. That is not true. But, I do want to spend money on things that will actually help the economy, our safety, and our people. So, let our conservative friends digest these ideas for budget cuts, and/or laws that will make it all happen.
First on the list is subsidies for gas and oil companies. I have never understood why a company like Exxon/Mobile who makes about $20 Billion per year in Profits needs subsidies. But I will allow that maybe they do. However, I propose that all subsidies to gas and oil companies be cut by 60%. I don’t know the exact figures of what the government allows for these subsidies, but I do know it is in the billions of dollars. The saved subsidy monies could be put into the Transportation Maintenance fund which is about to run out.
Second on the list is farm subsidies. I am not talking about taking away subsidies for family farms. We would need to put a maximum on the amount of acreage to determine who gets and who doesn’t get farm subsidies. For example, we could limit farm subsidies to about 100 acres. I don’t know, but I believe it would protect all of the family farms. Yet, it would eliminate all of the “corporate farms.” Family farmers need the subsidies in order to survive against gigantic corporate farm operations. But, I don’t see a need for corporate farm operations receiving subsidies.
Third on the list is Transportation and Corporate Taxes. Today, every person who spends money at the pump pays a transportation tax. There is also a large cry from the right to cut Corporate Taxes. The tax we pay at the pump is where the government gets its money for repairing our road infrastructure. However, by driving more fuel-efficient vehicles, that fund isn’t doing as well as before.
The Corporate Tax is said to be too high. There has been many calls to reduce the Corporate Tax to 25%. I could go along with that as long as there is something that includes corporations paying their fair share of the Transportation Tax. Most companies do not have their own truck fleet. They use contractors. Yet, it is their products that are being shipped by truck thus causing damage to our roadways.
So, I propose that maybe the Corporate Tax be cut. We can then add a 3% Transportation Tax on corporations who use contract trucking companies to ship their products. Again, that money should be put into the Transportation maintenance pool. If a corporation does not ship products, they wouldn’t have to pay this tax. In order to protect small businesses, we could also put a limit on either tonnage that is shipped, or on the profits of the company. Since the government pays for our roadways, it is only fair that corporations pay a fair share in maintaining this portion of our infrastructure.
Fourth on the list is government subsidies to large retailer and food chains. We would need a secondary law to enforce this part, but it would save the government billions of dollars. It comes in two parts. The first part is to require all large chains like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Burger King, Big Lots, etc. to provide health insurance to all of their employees regardless of whether or not they are full-time or part-time. This health insurance would not cost the employee anything in terms of premiums.
Again, in order to protect small businesses, we could place a limit on the number of employees or on their annual income. For example, we could limit the free insurance to anyone who is paid less than $30,000 per year. That way only the needy actually gets these free benefits. By forcing these companies to provide health insurance, we would reduce the Medicaid rolls by millions of people. It is estimated that each of these companies receives approximately $1.5 Billion per year in profit subsidies by forcing their employees to apply for Medicaid.
These profit subsidies also hurt these companies competition. So, it is obvious that allowing companies to “dump” their employees into Medicaid, we are providing profit subsidies to them and allowing unfair business practices against their competition.
The second part of this is to require these companies to pay back the government up to 60% of all social safety net expenditures like SNAP and WIC. Again, these companies receive up to $1 Billion per year, according to reports, in profit subsidies by allowing their employees to get needed assistance from the government for food and living expenses due to their low wages.
This alone would cut over $40 Billion from the SNAP program, which seems to be the Republican’s favorite number for cuts to SNAP. Again, this policy would only affect companies who are using government programs to subsidize their profits. If a company paid their employees a livable wage, they wouldn’t have to worry about paying the government back.
The fifth item helps the electric grid. Homeowners should be allowed to deduct the entire cost of converting their homes to “green energy.” For example, if a homeowner desires to install solar panels on their house and thus take their home off of the electric grid, the entire cost for this conversation should be deducted from their taxes on year one.
The more homes that are “off the grid” helps the electric grid by reducing demand. Thus ensuring more energy for those companies and homes that decide to stay on the grid. It would also make it less strenuous during peak times, especially in the summer when air conditioners are running full blast.
These are just five ideas that would help reduce the deficit, ensure infrastructure safety, and most likely grow the economy. All things the Republicans claim to stand for. They are also things that will help protect small businesses, like Republicans claim they want to do.
So Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, I eagerly anticipate seeing you introduce these measures in your next budget process. It is good for the country. It is good for Americans. It is good for your party. Unless of course you are more worried about campaign contributions than the American people. Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath until you do.