Idea- We NEED to pass a law where a lack of a budget forces a national shutdown, without option. That would force all politicians to the table to deal with each other. My take is that people are either part of the solution or part of the problem. Until we get politicians to deal with each other, deal for the American peoples best interest and long term success- they are part of the problem(not them, but the inherent weakness of politicians in general). Until they are forced to come to the table and resolve issues, they will not do so.
Idea- Why not make a deal with all the overseas profits by US businesses? The number being tossed around is about 2 Trillion dollars in money looking to be repatriated back to the US. Instead of taxing those corporations 35% to bring it home- why not make it 17.5%? Take 10% in true taxes, 5% as a “start up fee” send directly to the SBA, and earmark 2.5% to be spent by a mandated date on large capital expenditures by their own company above and beyond what they currently spend? This would inject roughly 200 Billion dollars as true tax money, provide 100 Billion in new business start up money (to drive small purchases and employment), and provide 50 Billion in additional spending on large Cap Ex.
Idea- Why not promote the Treasury SmartExchange program (buying of US Savings Bonds directly from the Treasury) more than now? Direct investment into future of America, gets a better return than on buying 10 year notes, electronically done and managed. IF you believe in America and believe in our future, why wouldn’t you? How about take this current program to a new level and make it pre-tax to a certain level? But knowing about that program is critical. It is completely undersold to the American taxpayer because there is not vested interest in talking about it.
Debt and Deficit-
Idea- The only guarantee that our future politicians will not put us back in the same mess is a Balanced Budget Amendment. It should have some latitude from year to year, given we will have years we run a surplus and years we run a deficit based strictly on market fluctuations. That “give and take” needs strict parameters, predetermined priorities, and the overall package is one to be voted on by the American people. When it comes to a 15 Trillion dollar pile of debt, a run rate of 1.7 Trillion per year, and an economy of 14.3 Trillion overall in the balance- how could you not at least put it in front of the American people and let us decide?
Idea- Remember the idea about repatriating profits from overseas? Remember the 100 Billion dollar injection to the SBA? My idea is to shove that liquidity away from random spending on other issues or pet projects and put it right in the hands of people dealing with Americans in need of startup capital. Think about it as the loan the banks can’t or won’t give. Think of it as the push that ideas need to become entities, before they can qualify for large venture capital (and all the associated strings that come with VC). Think about it as a way to renew hope in the dream of American capitalism.
Idea- Why didn’t we take the uncovered and roll them strategically into the Medicaid/Medicare system, ask them to pay a “fair” token amount plus co-pay for that, and then work with the Health Care facilities on using economy-of-scale to reduce pricing? Why aren’t we leveraging the HUGE amount of Federal buying power into cost savings? Why aren’t we pressuring the big Pharmaceutical companies into reducing American costs, and increasing the breaks they give other nations who pay far less than we do for the very same drugs?
Idea- Why not create incentives for healthy living? Give tax credits for living within a range of your ideal body weight to lessen obesity, same for non-smokers. What about mandating blood testing and MRIs every 2 years for all adults 30 years and older (all costs pre-covered by health care packages)? We would catch huge amounts of issues much earlier than we do (similar to annual pap and breast exams for women currently). And similarly, why don’t we penalize people who fail to get these things done by paying a tax surcharge? Currently what happens is people wait until it is too late, then have high cost treatments, and we all have our rates go up to pay for it. Why aren’t we ahead of the health curve as opposed to reacting to it (and being caught in the high cost end of it)?
Idea- Why don’t we extend the exclusive rights of the big Pharmaceutical companies for drugs they create? IF someone invents a “gadget”, they get rights forever through the patent office. IF someone writes a book, they get 50 years past the lifetime of the author. IF someone develops the “next best drug”, they get 7 years- then everyone can copy it as generic and make money off their idea. Why? The R&D money was spent, and needs to be recouped. By getting them 3 extra years, they could amortize the costs over more years and price the drugs even cheaper. THIS idea, couple with higher prices abroad and large purchasing power discounts under Medicaid and Medicare, would go a long way toward reducing costs of health care in the US.
Idea- My two sons were brought into this world by a wonderful physician who did what was right for my wife and kids, and many more before them. The tragic part is he has literally stopped delivering babies- the rate increases of malpractice insurance just made it not worth his while. He gave up something he was good at, and something he loved doing- for all the wrong reasons. What about limiting malpractice awards to a sane dollar number ($5 Million maximum). No one wants doctors to get off scot-free, nor do you want incompetency even practicing medicine- you just cannot keep punishing good doctors with the broad stroke of “everyone could make a mistake”. ALL doctors will make mistakes. They are human, not robots. They need to be put in a better position to succeed, not pushed out when they are good. How does our Health Care system get better by forcing out competent doctors for the wrong reasons based on the cost of insurance?
Idea- Change our current Gasoline Energy Tax from a set dollar amount to a percent, both at the federal and state level. Seems simple right? The idea is this- when the price of Oil went up to about $150 per barrel a few years ago, it took about 7 Trillion(yes, Trillion) dollars out of our economy. The price-of-a-barrel increase on our usage, plus the loss in that money cycling through our economy, is devastating. WOW- how we stayed afloat then is beyond me. But since we did, why not change it to a percent, so as the price went up we could keep money here- remember other revenues go down so this would help offset it.
Idea- Build refineries here in the US- the last was built in the 1970’s and several have actually closed. As the US Gov’t has military bases throughout the country, my idea is simple. Build, with the help of private money and technology, current and state-of-the-art facilities on several of these bases. It would keep the bases operating, give them something to protect in this current geo-political climate, create thousands of high paying jobs (let alone the construction jobs initially), eliminate the “not in my backyard” argument and allow is to refine more cheaply and cleanly the oil we need. Control is key in this battle for energy independence.
Idea- What about eliminating the 87 octane gasoline at the pump? It would allow refiners to maximize profits making less types gas, it would help improve gas mileage, and it would help carbon emissions.
Idea- What about setting an annual increase in a cars minimal MPG? IF it underperforms, the model gets hit with a tax surcharge at purchase (and at every tax filing during ownership). Think it through- the people who drive low mileage vehicles are putting pressure on all of us by using more gas/oil. This increased demand (unnecessarily) increases the price at the pump. The use of tax surcharges simply asked the ones with poor behavior to pay their fair share and lighten the load on the rest of us. And vice-versa, what about tax credits for people whose primary car is a top-end MPG vehicle? Punish the bad, reward the good- what is more American than that?
Idea- The single largest purchaser in the world is probably the US Gov’t- so why don’t they get the most bang for buck? Why aren’t they leveraging that purchasing power into savings for the US taxpayer? My idea would be to buy very high mileage vehicles as part the US fleet. Why wouldn’t our tax dollars benefit by buying electric cars, using less fuel, and lowering the cost of eco-friendly vehicles in the process? Also- think about the reduction in fuel demand and the impact that would have on oil and gas prices. Also- think about how technology needs to be embraced to save our money in other ways- put GPS on these cars and track where and how they are used. Government vehicles should be for government use- not personal cars for personal use at the price of the American taxpayer.
Idea- You know what got me about the entire BP oil fiasco? A couple days later Venezuela had a leak, yet shut it off with remote sensors and had no damage. Really? I have always considered America the best country in the world(since Super-powers should lead by example) and our goal should be to be the best at everything. We should spend the extra dollars to have the best safety equipment, not in hindsight- but because that is how we build things. Every remote sensor costs about $500,000, which on the balance sheets of oil companies is complete peanuts.
Idea- The premise is based on the origin of Social Security when created. IT was designed for the people who could not take care of themselves, not as a blanket retirement perk for all Americans. Having said that- the new model would involve a tier system of ages to receive corresponding benefits. The First tier would be ages 60 and above. They would receive partial benefits at age 60, and full benefits at age 70. My definition of partial would be 50% of full, not the current 25-30% reduction in benefits. They would receive the current maximum benefit, but would not receive any COLA(cost of living adjustment) ever. The Second tier would be ages 45-59. They would receive partial benefits at age 60 and full benefits at age 65. The new full benefit level would be 15% less than now, and partial would be half of that. This would be a fixed benefit and only be increased by a set 1% COLA. The Final tier would be age 44 and under. They would receive partial benefits at age 55, and full benefits at age 60. Their benefit level would be 15% less than the second tier, and partial would be have of that amount. This would be a fixed benefit and only be increased by a set 1% COLA. The Second and Final tier would receive a minimal COLA (say 1% a year) on Full Benefits only.
**Critical to this idea is also 3 qualifiers- you could not receive SS benefits while 1) fully employed 2) having a Net Worth higher than $500,000 or 3) making more than $40,000 per year in total income (earned or unearned). The point of these qualifiers is to get the money to those who NEED it, not to those who are "ENTITLED" to it. The people who have enough would retire earlier, opening up employment opportunities. People who didn't immediately qualify would qualify eventually as their wealth or income diminished, or they retired (some minimal part time work would still be allowed). Also, the total "credits" needed to qualify for benefits needs to be radically raised. The current figure of 40 credits (takes about 10-12 years employment to hit that) is far to low. We should raise that level to about 60-70, keeping people employed longer to qualify for full benefits. Anyone not reaching that level would still receive partial benefits after hitting a lower threshold.. Lastly, upcapping the contribution level from the current $106,800 level to unlimited (similar to Medicare in 1993) and opening up additonal legal contributions to 401K(and IRAs) for the Second and Final tiers would help offset the benefits they would no longer recieve.
Idea- What about providing a set dollar amount in coverage a year and if you could spend less than that, and do some simple preventative things like not smoke, stay within a modest weight range, etc- you would get an annual reward(whether a one-time true check or a tax credit to ensure a rebate). Remember right now this is a drain on our budget, and there is no reason for these individuals to change. THAT needs to be a focus of debate, not with them as victims or villains- but with them as a piece of our new reality that needs to be dealt with fairly and compassionately.
Idea- One of the most critical ideas about solving the Medicaid and Medicare involves the purchasing of pharmaceuticals(prescription drugs). The US Gov’t should use their intense size and reach to broker deals with the Pharmaceutical companies which lower the cost of drugs. The Bush Administration actually gave away this leverage, again a sign of our governments misguided focus on the wrong things (not protecting and benefitting the American taxpayer) based on the wrong priorities (usually their donors).
Idea- Make what they do and what they could do much more transparent than it currently is. Where do they have their money? How big is their balance sheet? What options are on the table or could be? Who holds them accountable and how?
Idea- Make the tiers of regional banks underneath the Fed abide by the policy directions given out. Why would the Fed be in charge of spurring job growth, but not be able to push new business development lending at the lower levels of banking? Why would banks be able to sit on huge amounts of capital, benefit by the lending spreads to their profitability, without actually doing real banking activities? The primary focus should be in supporting new business and capital expenditure outlays; with the understanding they make smart strategic safe loans within the parameters of the time.
Idea- The government (yes, I said it) could actually do some good- either directly or indirectly. They need to mandate the demolition of some of the housing glut. That is right- tear them down literally. By removing excess inventory (say 1 in 20 on banks books) the housing prices would stabilize at current or higher levels. The inventories would need to be accounted for, so as not to impact banks capitalization overall. The demolition could be considered an anti-infrastructure play. It would create demolition jobs, help home prices(start to relieve some pressure on underwater homes sooner), eventually create new jobs in construction at a much sooner point in time, remove some blights in neighborhoods(condemned buildings, vandalized homes, eyesores which are unkept, etc.), and create tremendous certainty earlier in time moving forward.
Freddie and Fannie-
Idea- Since the Government keeps coming up with ideas to help people in almost in foreclosure, people underwater, people about to default- which rewards the bad timing/bad decisions/hard luck of their life, I have a different thought. Why not make a onetime “refinancing” available to ALL Americans? This would help those in need, and not penalize those who are still OK. It would help with liquidity at the household level and allow for higher spending (helping economy) or higher savings (helping banks capitalization requirements and loan availability). Right now, the banks get to “make money” on the increased spread between old loans and new lower lending rate from the Fed.
Idea- What about raising the value of trade schools or entrepreneurship? Whatever happened to apprenticeships? What about increasing the breadth of military recruiting to increase the talent of all branches and give young adults a time to settle out on what they want from life (none of us truly knew at 18 years old what we wanted to do for the rest of our life)?
Idea- We should revamp the recruitment process, size and scope, individual capabilities/talent, and possibly consider a 2 year national mandated program for all Americans at 18 years of age. It would not be a combat oriented program, but an introduction to the military culture, training, systems, discipline, physicality, and opportunities of all branches. Each person would rotate through a 4 month program or each branch (Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, Coast Guard) - then finish with a 4 month stint in the branch of their choice (priority based on level of individual performance. THIS is where the recruiters would spend the bulk of their time- since these people have performed well, have chosen that specific branch, and are a known quantity based on performance evaluations from all services. Our future military service would benefit, Americans would benefit, and our national pride and security would benefit.
Idea- Why not hire all future police, fire, EMT based on prior military training? Basically they are predetermined to understand chain of command, understand right vs. wrong, understand the need for discipline and loyalty. Isn’t that who we want? Granted not every soldier would make a good cop- but why not take the ones that would as a priority first, then offset that with secondary hiring? It would be a huge reward for having served your country. It would be a huge recruiting tool going forward if this was known. It would benefit communities who need to hire and reduce overtime which is killing local budgets both in pay and benefits.
Idea- I would suggest that the EPA makes suggestions about how to do things more eco-friendly. Be the leader, instead of the nay-sayor. IF you want a pipeline or want to drill offshore- the EPA should show how best to change your recommendations to help fit what are in the best interests of the US. THAT is becoming part of the solution, not part of the problem. You cannot stand in front of America and say “don’t use oil” since our world would stop- literally. You also cannot look the other way as companies blatantly destroy the planet- the truth is in the middle and in working together. We all need to provide solutions, based in reality and within budgets, as part of a national plan of what is best for the country. As an example, we should help to reduce or eliminate foreign oil use, but at what price? But to just say NO simply penalizes the wrong people, sends a futile message, kills jobs and true competitiveness, and is not part of a cohesive overview that builds for a better tomorrow. This is also true for all other environmental topics.
Idea- What about a “Right to Work” national initiative? Why should we allow labor to hold business hostage? Why not let them have a venue to get fair wages and affordable benefits, but not at the price of losing our competitive advantage, and therefore pushing jobs overseas for all the wrong reasons? The best idea is when Companies and Labor meet in the middle and do what is best for the business- not what is best for one party or the other. In good times, all should benefit. In tough times, all must be willing to give something up. When someone does something bad, they should be held accountable. When someone is not as productive they should be dealt with, not lost based on lack of seniority.
Idea- IF Unions are part of the solution, not part of the problem- why don’t they self-police? IF a member does something which threatens the company and labor(drinking on the job as an example), why wouldn’t the Union deal with it? IF a member is underproductive, why wouldn’t the Union deal with it and retrain or remove them for everyones’ benefit? Currently, the opposite is true- the stronger the Union the more security you have, and that translates into poor habits and behaviors in the workplace.
Idea- Educate all high school students on the time value of money. Incentivize all Americans to get into 401K’s much earlier than they do. Drop the entry age from 21 to 16 years old. Why not? This only promotes savings earlier, allows them to lower their tax burden, and starts engraining best practices at an early age. The upside is huge and there isn’t a downside.
Idea- STOP paying overtime- period. Why would you consciously under-employ, pay overtime(by design) which is a waste of money, use that as part of pension calculations, and then be on the hook for even more money that you don’t have. The goal should be to HIRE PEOPLE, lower overtime to zero, pay fairly and within budget, lessen the cost burden of waste, and to get away from pensions and move to a 401K with matching situation.
Idea- Raise the annual amount both in percent and real dollars that one can contribute to 401Ks. Why not? You get social security tax now anyway, you maximize bank capitalization which allows them to loan, you build an inherent umbrella of safety for all who participate faster and confidence goes up. So again, why not?
Idea- Amnesty, with a twist, is the best policy. Not because it rewards bad behavior (although that would happen incidentally), but the simple truth is these people currently fill a role in our culture or fabric of society. We cannot tear apart out without hurting surrounding pieces of that culture. The best solution I can think of is to streamline a way to get them legally into our culture, let them pay for the benefits they receive, expect them to behave in the mainstream of our society, and penalize them with loss of citizenship for failing to stay in that norm. If someone who is illegal becomes legal, why can’t we put a “lien” on that status that holds them accountable for their behaviors? IF they behave illegal (felony convictions), don’t prosecute sentence to jail time- revoke their status and deport them. Even a temporary lien (say 5-10 years), this would balance the equation of rewarding the bad behavior of coming here illegally with the incentive to have solid habits that support our culture without the pain tearing them out of the fabric of society.
Idea- ALL costs should be put back into the hands of the States to decide. ALL mandates should be from the state level. ALL costs should be paid for from tax revenue collected. When did we decide that we should pay property taxes to fund schools, pay for a laundry list of back to school items(some of which are for the class to benefit, not the individual childs need), pay for special trips above and beyond that, and then have to do fundraisers beyond that? LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS.
Idea- When you vote for approving or denying a school budget, there should be a couple things that happen. Why is school money spent putting signs up campaigning for the budget to be approved? Think it through, we pay tax money to buy signs to campaign to get more money from us. Really? What about let it pass on the merits. I don’t mind a letter home to explain, but it should stop about there. Also if a budget fails, the result should be to freeze it at current levels. THAT would force school districts to make tough decisions and be creative. If the economy goes down and school budgets fail, the current system is to give a small increase as opposed to a big increase. How is that fair or just? So the school teachers and administrators get pay increases no matter what kind of economy there is?
Idea- What about using technology to save us money? Using an E-reader for text books would save tremendously. Use a states buying power to lower the per unit cost of one, put one in the hands of each child at a certain age(say 4 grade), put all the respective “books” on there for far less than buying texts outright cost, update yearly for even less, child is responsible for the return of the unit, and think about all the storage space and trees you would save in the process.
Federal Trade Commission-
Idea- My answer is really simple- break them up. When AT&T was this huge monopoly back in the early 80’s it was split into about 7 separate entities and lived happily ever after. It could still compete- just differently. Why not do that with banking? Take the top 15 banks and break them up- the mid level tier of banks for get a boost since the field would be leveled, the top banks would be forced to become lean and compete, the marketplace would benefit by true competition, and the consumer would benefit by better choices by banks much more responsive to what their needs are.
Transportation Safety Board-
Idea- Mandate the age of a fleet of planes stay under a certain range. Period. Mandate reinvestment in structures like rails and roads. Period. Go talk to ALL the businesses within your jurisdiction and find out their ideas and solutions- these BEST PRACTICES should be implemented system wide- both to streamline and protect the public that they serve. It isn’t a burden, it is great business. Let them be part of the solution. Why? It is because their costs would go down due of it. It is the nature of this wonderful idea called Capitalism.
Idea- What about bringing back Blue Laws? Remember back in the day when Sundays were truly a day of rest? Wouldn’t that help bring some time back into the family plan? Some rest for the productive? Business would still make their money on different days, save on the outlay on that day, and churches just might benefit by it in the process.
is available, in full, from Amazon.com in E-reader or paperback format.