President Obama’s 27 Point Economic Plan

The Obama campaign has released a 27 point plan, just in time for the election, chock full of ideas that the president failed to get done in his first term. Entitled The New Economic Patriotism: A Plan For Jobs & Middle-Class Security the plan covers everything from manufacturing and energy to small businesses, education and taxes.

 

Lower the corporate tax rate

Obama Jobs Plan

In the plan, Obama says that his new goal is to add one million new manufacturing jobs by 2016. The first point of his five point plan on manufacturing is to lower the corporate tax rate — which now stands at a maximum of 35 percent — by a quarter for domestic manufacturers:

Reform the corporate tax code to bring down tax rates — cutting tax rates on domestic manufacturers by nearly a quarter — while closing tax preferences and loopholes to pay for it.

This would bring the tax rate for manufacturers down to 26.25 percent.

 

End deductions for outsourcing companies

Right now companies can claim a deduction on their taxes for a portion of the cost of exporting operations abroad, as the move offshore is considered a business expense.

Obama wants to end that deduction:

End tax deductions for companies shipping jobs overseas, and using the savings to create a new tax credit for companies that bring jobs home.

The new tax credit, according to the White House website, would be for 20 percent of the cost of moving business operations back to the States.

 

Fight China’ s unfair trade practices

For the third point of his manufacturing plan, Obama wants to create a new enforcement force devoted exclusively to Chinese trade by 2016.

According to the document, the president is already aggressively pursuing trade litigation against China:

President Obama brought more trade cases against China in four years than the previous president did in eight years and won every one of them that has been decided.

 

Train 2 million new workers through community colleges

One particularly unique strategy that the Obama plan has for improving the economy is to connect community colleges to companies so that the colleges serve as a training space for the employers.

 

Build 15 to 20 “manufacturing innovation institutes”

The President also wants to create a network of “manufacturing innovation institutes,” where businesses and research universities collaborate in order to design new projects.

It’s unclear what sort of model or precedent the President has in mind with this. But one example is the Los Alamos Laboratory during the Second World War, where industry and academia collaborated under the supervision of the University of California to build the atomic bomb. Other models could be any of the universities involved in the DARPA system.

 

Open up more acreage for energy resource development

Obama has opened up tracts of federal or protected land for oil, coal and mineral development over the course of his first term and is on pace to continue that throughout his second.

Point number one of his “all of the above” energy plan is:

[Open] up millions of acres for exploration and development, including undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic.

One part of this plan is to increase the domestic workforce in the energy sector. Obama specifically refers to an estimated 600,000 new jobs in the natural gas sector alone.

 

Invest in domestic energy sources

The second point of his energy plan emphasizes developing alternative energy sources, “including wind, solar, clean coal, nuclear, and biofuels. All while increasing our energy efficiency.”

 

Double vehicle fuel economy by 2025

This portion of the plan would double the average fuel economy for cars and light trucks over the next thirteen years.

According to Obama, this would drastically reduce the amount of oil imported and would likewise save the average car owner a substantial amount of money.

 

Get Congress to invest in high-tech batteries

U.S. Department of Energy

According to the plan, Obama wants to calling on “Congress to build on our success in positioning America to be the world’s leading manufacturer in high-tech batteries,” which could be used by the military as well as in civilian transportation.

To accomplish this, Obama wants Congress to extend tax credits that support clean energy manufacturing.

 

Make utility companies shift to 80% clean energy sources by 2035

The Obama administration wants to make the grid green within 23 years. Here’s the fifth and final point of the plan:

[Set] standard for utility companies so that 80% of the nation’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2035. This will help create a market for American manufacturers to make the clean energy technology we need, while improving access to cheaper, more secure energy for U.S. manufacturers.

 

Cut taxes for companies that hire

With his small business plan, Obama is appealing more to a class of entrepreneurs as a whole rather than any specific subset of the economy, so it makes sense that the plan is more a strategy that a point by point goal set.

The first is to create a tax cut for businesses that hire or increase wages, and to allow businesses to continue writing off business expenses.

 

Extend tax cuts for middle class families

Obama’s plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for middle class families is included in the Small Business section of Obama’s second term blueprint, because many small businesses are incorporated as S-corps, which means that the revenue passes through the company to the shareholders without being taxed, and then the shareholders pay taxes on the revenue personally.

In these cases, most small business owners in the middle class would see their taxes remain the same instead of rising with the cuts’ expiration. Here’s the exact phrasing:

Extending the middle-class income tax cuts which would prevent 97% of small business owners from facing a tax increase.

 

Expand the health reform tax credit

The Affordable Care Act includes tax credits for small businesses that offer employer-provided health insurance. Obama wants to expand this tax credit “to cover 50% of small businesses’ health care costs in 2014.” He also wants to provide small businesses access to group rates so they “won’t continue to pay up to 18% more than large firms for health insurance.”

 

Slow the growth rate of rising college tuition

 

One of the stated top priorities for Obama’s next term is to work on the expansive rise in the cost of going to college. The goal is to cut tuition growth in half over ten years.

Via the new plan:

We can make college more affordable by continuing tax credits to help middle-class families afford college tuition, doubling the number of work-study jobs and creating incentives for schools to keep tuition down.

 

Recruit 100,000 STEM teachers

Obama’s second-term blueprint also includes a plan to aggressively seeks to recruit and maintain Science, Technology, Engineering and Math majors in the U.S. university system in the hope that many of these students go on to become teachers in the primary and secondary education spheres.

The final goal is to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers. Via the Obama plan:

“We can out-compete China and Germany by out-educating them. The STEM Master Teacher Corps and investments in research and innovation into the best ways to teach math and science will help improve math and science education nationwide.”

 

Expand Race to the Top

The final point of Obama’s new education plan is to invest in primary and secondary education through the Race to the Top initiative.

Here’s the full quote of the plan:

Because we can’t compete for jobs of the future without educating our children, we must prevent teacher layoffs. We also must expand Race to the Top to additional school districts willing to take on bold reform. The President will offer states committed to reform relief from the worst mandates of No Child Left Behind, like incentives to teach to the test, so they can craft local solutions.

The idea is to defend unions and prevent teacher layoffs. The rollback of the No Child Left Behind program will continue on pace.

 

Cut $2.50 for each $1 in revenue increases

This portion details the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases in the Obama tax plan.

The idea is to get the right mix of government cuts and tax increases to cut the deficit without cutting essential services to the point that the economy is harmed.

Here’s the policy:

President Obama’s plan reduces the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade, including $1 trillion in spending cuts he signed into law last summer, and cutting $2.50 in spending for every $1 in additional revenue from the wealthiest families and closing corporate loopholes.

 

Implement the Buffett Rule

The second point is the boilerplate “make sure millionaires aren’t paying less in taxes than middle class Americans” — the philosophy behind the Buffett Rule.

The Buffett Rule would make the minimum effective tax rate for people who make more than a million dollars per year 30%.

 

Commit money saved from ending wars overseas to repairing infrastructure and paying down the federal debt

A construction worker makes last minute repairs to a pedestrian walkway near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Obama wants to use the money saved from drawing down U.S. troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for improving the nation’s roads bridges, airports, and schools. He would use the leftover savings to start paying off the federal deficit.

 

Keep requiring health insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions

While Romney has sworn to gut the healthcare reform bill as soon as he walks into the office, Obama’s new blueprint promises that the law will continue to go into effect during his second term. out what will go into effect over a second term here.

The most popular provision of the law — forcing health insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions — is set to go into effect in 2014.

 

Make health care exchanges operational by 2014.

The state health care exchanges mandated in the Affordable Care Act are also set to become operational in 2014.

According to the plan, this will create “a marketplace that offers group rates and new tax credits so everyone can afford insurance.”

 

Stop health insurance companies from discriminating by gender

Another near-universally approved aspect of the health care legislation is the move to prohibit discrimination on premiums based on gender.

According to Obama’s plan women now spend up to 50% more on the same policy as men. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to discriminate by gender starting in 2014.

Here’s the projected extent of the bill’s effects:

“47 million women will benefit from the health care reform provision that requires health plans to cover lifesaving preventive care that women need without out-of pocket costs.”

 

Work with hospitals to reduce infections

One novel focus that the next Obama administration would “save 60,000 lives and $10 billion for Medicare’s future by partnering with hospitals to reduce inpatient infections and needless re-admissions” of seniors on Medicare.

How Obama plans to accomplish this goal is not specified.

 

Oppose plans to turn Medicare into a voucher system

According to the plan, Obama would also “stop proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher system,” a veiled shot at his opponent’s plans to overhaul the federally-funded retiree healthcare program.

 

Oppose attempts to privatize Social Security

According to the plan, Obama will:

Oppose efforts to gamble Social Security on the stock market. President Obama will fight for balanced deficit reduction, and extend the life of Medicare and Social Security, without ending guaranteed benefits or slashing benefits.

The implication here is that failing to elect Obama would make the privatization of Social Security a possibility.

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Bloomberg Report: Cost Of College Degree In U.S. Has Increased 1,120 Percent In 30 Years

According to Bloomberg, college tuition and fees have increased 1,120 percent since records began in 1978, far outpacing the price inflation of consumer goods, medical expenses and food.

As this chart explains the rate of increase in college costs has been “four times faster than the increase in the consumer price index.” Medical expenses have climbed 601 percent, while the price of food has increased 244 percent over the same period.”

Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported the average tuition at four-year public universities had increased by 15 percent between 2008 and 2010. Private universities were also found to have had significant price increases.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Associated Press in June that lowering college costs needs to be priority for the whole country.

“As a nation, we need more college graduates in order to stay competitive in the global economy,” Duncan said. “But if the costs keep on rising, especially at a time when family incomes are hurting, college will become increasingly unaffordable for the middle class.”

 

Congress Sends Student Loan/Infrastructure Package To Obama

Congress has momentarily remembered who they work for, passing and sending an infrastructure bill in addition to a one year extension of low student loan rates  to President Obama’s desk for signature.

The House voted 373 to 52 to approve the $120 billion, 27-month bill to fund highway projects. The attached student loan extension will prevent rates from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.

The Senate approved the package in a 74-19 vote.

Republicans had insisted on including a measure to move the Keystone XL oil pipeline forward. President Obama and Democrats opposed it, though, and it was ultimately omitted from the bill.

Instead, Republicans were able to use funds set aside for “beautification, bike paths, and sidewalk lighting” for higher priority infrastructure projects such as the national highway system instead.  They were also able to keep funding at current levels.

The package also cuts the average review and permitting process for new infrastructure projects in half, done mostly by streamlining environmental reviews so they can run concurrently, something for which Republicans had also fought.

Roberto Unger, Obama’s Former Harvard Law School Professor: “The President Must Be Defeated”

One of President Barack Obama’s former college professors took to YouTube recently to rip his former student.

“President Obama must be defeated in the coming election,” said Roberto Unger, a longtime professor at Harvard Law School.

“He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States.”

Unger said that Obama must lose the election in order for “the voice of democratic prophecy to speak once again in American life.”

He says that if a Republican wins the presidency, “there will be a cost … in judicial and administrative appointments.” But that “the risk of military adventurism” would be no worse and that “the Democratic Party proposes no new direction.”

“Give the bond markets what they want, bail out the reckless so long as they are also rich, use fiscal and monetary stimulus to make up for the absence of any consequential broadening of economic and educational opportunity, sweeten the pill of disempowerment with a touch of tax fairness, even though the effect of any such tax reform is sure to be modest,” he said. “This is less a project than it is an abdication.”

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich: If These Trends Continue We’re All Screwed

Former secretary of labor and current professor, Robert Reich wrote a blog for the San Francisco Chronicle entitled “College Grads Face Gloomy Prospects“. Not exactly high on optimism Mr. Reich tells like it is:

Fewer than half of the graduates from last year’s class have as yet found full-time jobs. Most are still looking.

That’s been the pattern over the last three graduating classes: It’s been taking graduates more than a year to land the first job. And those who still haven’t found a job will be competing with you, making your job search even harder.

Contrast this with the class of 2008, whose members were lucky enough to get out of here and into the job market before the Great Recession really hit. Almost three-quarters of them found jobs within the year.

A little sliver of hope?

Overall, the unemployment rate among young people (21 to 24 years old) with four-year college degrees is now 6.4 percent. With just a high school diploma, the rate is double that.

Not so Fast:

Even when you get a job, it’s likely to pay peanuts. Last year’s young college graduates lucky enough to land jobs had an average hourly wage of only $16.81, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. That’s about $35,000 a year – lower than the yearly earnings of young college graduates in 2007, before the Great Recession. The typical wage of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, adjusted for inflation.

Presumably, this means that when we come out of the gravitational pull of the recession, your wages will improve. But there’s a longer-term trend that should concern you. The decline in the earnings of college grads really began more than a decade ago. Young college grads with jobs are earning 5.4 percent less than they did in 2000, adjusted for inflation.

The bottom line?

If unemployment stays high for many years, if the wages of young college grads continue to fall, if the costs of college continue to rise and state and local spending per college student continues to drop, and if the college-debt burden therefore continues to explode – well, you do the math.

At some point in the not-too-distant future, these lines cross. College is no longer a good investment.

That’s a problem for you and for those who will follow you into these hallowed halls, but it’s also a problem for America as a whole.

You see, a college education isn’t just a private investment. It’s also a public good. This nation can’t be competitive globally, nor can we have a vibrant and responsible democracy, without a large number of well-educated people.

So it’s not just you who are burdened by these trends. If they continue, we’re all screwed.

Congress to Legalize Propaganda

An amendment to legalize the use of propaganda against American citizens is being added to the latest defense authorization bill according to BuzzFeed.com.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, neutralizing the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987—both of which are supposed to protect the U.S. from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R) Texas and Rep. Adam Smith (D) Washington State.

Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”

The bill’s supporters claim that the propaganda used overseas is too good to not use at home, and is needed to battle Al-Qaeda’s influence online.

“Clearly there are ways to modernize for the information age without wiping out the distinction between domestic and foreign audiences,” says Michael Shank, Vice President at the Institute for Economics and Peace in Washington D.C. “That Reps Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry want to roll back protections put in place by previously-serving Senators – who, in their wisdom, ensured limits to taxpayer–funded propaganda promulgated by the US government – is disconcerting and dangerous.”

The new law would give sweeping powers to the government to push television, radio, newspaper, and social media onto the U.S. public. “It removes the protection for Americans,” says a Pentagon official who is concerned about the law. “It removes oversight from the people who want to put out this information. There are no checks and balances. No one knows if the information is accurate, partially accurate, or entirely false.”

Critics of the bill point out that there was rigorous debate when Smith Mundt passed, and the fact that this is so “under the radar,” as the Pentagon official puts it, is troubling.

The Pentagon spends some $4 billion a year to sway public opinion already, and it was recently revealed by USA Today that the DoD spent $202 million on information operations in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.

In an apparent retaliation to the USA Today investigation, the two reporters working on the story appear to have been targeted by Pentagon contractors, who created fake Facebook pages and Twitter accounts in an attempt to discredit them.

Dozens of Protesters Storm Obama Campaign Headquarters

Dozens of demonstrators calling for an end to war rushed into President Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago on Monday morning.

Led by a group associated with the Catholic Worker movement, the protest was the first of a series of planned demonstrations by groups that highlight poverty, education and environmental issues during the May 20-21 NATO summit and the May 18-19 G8 summit at Camp David in Maryland.

“We are here today to boldly proclaim our desire to live in a world where we say no to NATO and yes to community,” said Chantal de Alacuaz from Chicago. “As Catholic Workers, we serve the poor by practicing the works of mercy — feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, taking care of the sick and the works of war are directly opposed to that.”

The plan, according to the released statement was to “invite Obama and other NATO leaders to break bread over a symbolic meal to discuss how to transform NATO from an instrument of war and empire into an instrument of peace and love that embodies the biblical works of mercy instead of the works of war.”

About 100 people took part in the demonstration. Eight protesters were arrested, other demonstrators danced and sang folk songs and gospel, and handed rolls to commuters, it said.

“We see NATO as using up a lot of resources in the city and the world,” said Jesica Arents, a member of the group.

Some of the demonstrators had come from across the Midwest to join the NATO protests that will be taking place throughout the week. The group is committed to remaining non-violent.