In the 1950s, with a top marginal tax rate of about 90 percent, we had the necessary revenue to help veterans attend college, to create good jobs, to create and grow a middle class.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics today reported an addition of 171,000 jobs and an unemployment rate that inched up slightly from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent. Both numbers are good; the slight rise in unemployment rate is reflective of returning confidence of job seekers in the improved job market and they are reentering the labor force.
Regarding the election, this news isn't likely to have much of an impact. There are very few undecided voters left and as this change was no shocker in either direction, it won't likely change any minds right or left. Obama can rightly crow at improved economic numbers in recent months: consumer confidence up; employment up; gas prices down; economy expanding modestly. In other words, the trend is in the right direction under his leadership.
But, let's be honest. As tough a row as Obama has had to hoe -- inheriting a deep recession and a giant deficit -- our nation knows how to create jobs at a much greater pace and grow our economy more equitably, creating the kind of society we want to be. In the 1950s, with a top marginal tax rate of about 90 percent, we had the necessary revenue to help veterans attend college, to create good jobs, to create and grow a middle class. There was continued rampant racism at that time that especially excluded African-Americans from benefiting from the riches enjoyed by the whites in our country. However, the progressive revenue structure was such that --political, social and cultural will aside -- could have brought most of this country's residents regardless of race, sex, ethnicity or economic status, into a middle class.
The same is true today, even more so as we are an even wealthier country now. We can greatly improve our jobs picture with a fair and economically sound approach to our federal budget priorities and long-term debt reduction, rather than cow-towing to corporate interests masquerading as political ideologies.
If we cut wasteful spending in the Pentagon budget, bring our top marginal tax rates back up to a place where they were under Ronald Reagan, close corporate tax loopholes, end tax breaks that benefit only the wealthy, end subsidies to polluting oil and gas companies and impose a tiny tax on speculative Wall Street transactions, we will have the revenues we need to create good paying public sector jobs that rebuild our infrastructure, create sustainable energy sources, quality public education and healthcare, and build a sustainable economy and decent standard of living.
Then, not only will we see an expansion in our economy, but the right kind of expansion -- one measured by something like a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), rather than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) -- that shows not only an expanding economy but one that expands in a way that improves the quality of life for all of us.
Either Obama or Romney can do this. Either a Democratic or Republican Congress and Senate can do this. This isn't politics. This isn't ideology. This isn't rhetoric and this isn't short-term analysis of monthly jobs numbers. This is common-sense, this is historical knowledge, this is the transformational approach we need and this is the right course for America. Recent jobs numbers have been modestly better, but we know how to make them absolutely terrific.