Obama’s post-sequester blueprint

The president needs to reframe public debate about austerity economics as a plan to achieve broad-based prosperity

Topics: RobertReich.org, Barack Obama, sequester, Republicans, Build America's Future, ,

Obama's post-sequester blueprint (Credit: AP/Isaac Brekken)
This originally appeared on Robert Reich's blog.

What should the president do now?

Push to repeal the sequester (a reconciliation bill in the Senate would allow repeal with 51 votes, thereby putting pressure on House Republicans), and replace it with a “Build America’s Future” Act that would close tax loopholes used by the wealthy, end corporate welfare, impose a small (1/10 of 1 percent) tax on financial transactions, and reduce the size of the military.

Half the revenues would be used for deficit reduction, the other half for investments in our future through education (from early-childhood through affordable higher ed), infrastructure and basic R&D.

Also included in that bill — in order to make sure our future isn’t jeopardized by another meltdown of Wall Street — would be a resurrection of Glass-Steagall and a limit on the size of the biggest banks.

I’d make clear to the American people that they made a choice in 2012 but that right-wing House Republicans have been blocking that choice, and the only way to implement that choice is for Congress to pass the Build America’s Future Act.

If House Republicans still block it, I’d make 2014 a referendum on it and them, and do whatever I could to take back the House.

In short, the president must reframe the public debate around the future of the country and the investments we must make together in that future, rather than austerity economics. And focus on good jobs and broad-based prosperity rather than prosperity for a few and declining wages and insecurity for the many.

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His new movie "Inequality for All" is in Theaters. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org.

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