Now that the sequester is upon us, perhaps we have everyone's attention. To save Bob Woodward a year of investigative reporting, I admit upfront that this is my proposal by indelibly putting my name on it. If Gene Sperling says otherwise, he will come to regret it.
The Abrams plan (Bob, you have your scoop) is simple. We allow corporations with foreign profits to "repatriate" them to the U.S. by cutting their taxes to 10 percent on that money so long as, for each $1 million repatriated, they create a new job in the United States. We can easily measure U.S. employment numbers per company by their FICA (social security) filings. There should be heavy fines and criminal penalties for CEOs who misreport their employment numbers to take advantage of this largesse.
That should generate $100 billion in revenues. Of that, $50 billion should be dedicated to the president's infrastructure bank, and the other $50 billion should be in lieu of $50 billion of the $85 billion sequester.
Republicans get a tax cut, retain a part of the spending cut, and serve their corporate paymasters. Democrats and the American people get 1 million new private sector jobs, plus the new jobs from the infrastructure bank, and reduce the job losses due to the sequester.
Nor can this be considered "new revenue," unless all revenue derived from the existing tax structure that increases beyond the current levels is so scored. Even Grover Norquist has not gone that far. This revenue comes from cutting taxes and stimulating economic activity. To get its full effect, it needs to happen rapidly. It should expire in 18 months.
Let me be clear: this is not good economic policy. If there were not a neanderthal Congress, I would not suggest it.
It is not good. But, it is less bad. And, in these times, less bad is about as good as we can get.