Six Ways to Cut Our Debt and Advance Obama's Agenda

Includes: DO, GEX, GLF, RIG, SPY
by: Ryan Pollack

The following is sure to rile up people’s emotions, whether on social issues or political issues. They will also, however, provide increased revenue to a revenue starved government that says it wants to reduce the national debt, fix the economy, and cure other ills that threaten our nation (and I do not mean swine flu). I am sure some of you have heard these items be debated while chatter about others is picking up steam.

Offshore Oil Drilling. Safety issues should not be a concern with today’s technology. Other countries, such as Norway, have overturned offshore drilling bans without incident. Not a single rig in the Gulf of Mexico caused a spill, even during Hurricane Katrina. The risk of tankers causing a spill is actually higher than offshore rigs. Tankers are also the favorite target of the Somali pirates. We would benefit by depending less on foreign oil and creating high-paying jobs at home during a time of increasing unemployment and economic distress. People would be needed to survey the ocean floor, construction companies needed to build the rigs, and workers needed to man the rigs. All are high-paying jobs that would increase consumer spending and benefit every town or city on the U.S. coast as well as the federal government through more income tax dollars. As an added benefit the U.S. brings more supply online lowering prices hurting OPEC and decreasing trade imbalances due to oil.

Invest In Green Technologies. No, I do not have short-term memory loss. I am not contradicting myself either. As much as we want green technology and alternative energy it is not cheap enough or ready for prime-time. Therefore, offshore oil drilling (along with natural gas and coal) is the gap filler until green technology is ready for prime-time. The government could provide some subsidies for incentives of traditional energy companies to evolve to green energy companies, make better products, such as a more efficient and shorter charge time for the electric car battery, and upgrading the power grid to allow for solar panels to be part of the network and a place to charge those electric cars (think charge stations with an outlet where pumps would be at gas stations). This would be the new industry where growth for our economy could come from in the future and forever put an end to bubbles in commodities.

Legalize Online Gaming. The tax dollars from online gaming companies and players could be in the hundreds of billions a year. It should also be easy to tax players as these companies could provide a version of W2 forms to players via email and keep track of player winnings (or losses). A simple tax system (is that an oxymoron?) could be set-up for players. For example, someone could deduct up to $2,000 a year for losses, winnings of $499 and under is not taxed; winnings of $500 to $1,000 could be taxed at 10%; winnings of $1,001 to $5,000 taxed at 15%; winnings of $5,001 to $10,000 taxed at 20%, etc. This would also help evolve the casino industry. Instead of building more expensive casinos the casino companies could invest in servers to run their websites and store them somewhere in the bowels of the already built casino. They would reach more customers at once than they ever could before or thought possible. The brick-and-mortar casinos will not go the way of the dinosaur because they provide amenities like shopping, nightlife, spas, restaurants, and atmosphere that the virtual casino can never provide.

Legalize All Drugs. The war on drugs has failed. If people want drugs they will find a way to get them, legal or not. Legalizing drugs would make them cheaper and safer than what the local street pharmacist provides today. The government could slap a tax on it like it does with cigarettes. Social implications are positive. Crime decreases, drug wars are eradicated, and funding of terrorist groups would be severely crippled, if not cut off altogether. Doing this would raise hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue streams for the government, make international travel safer, and defeat terrorist groups in one stroke of the pen. The government could also let big tobacco in on the ground floor and you have just got rid of the biggest lobbying group in Washington as a bonus.

Please Tax Me For Social Security. What is the biggest Ponzi scheme ever? If you said Bernie Madoff you would be wrong. It is social security. It has been around for about seventy years and is really just a way to usher in a younger, more productive workforce for society while trying to maintain living standards for the older citizens post-work. Social security is due to run out of money in the middle of the century because the older, soon-to-be-retired workers outnumber younger workers. Simply put, less inflows relative to upcoming outflows. The way to beat this is to increase inflows by higher social security taxes and getting rid of the cap. All income levels need to pay and not just on the first $85,000 either. This cap has to go. Also those making more than $500,000 a year, not $250,000, needs to be the cutoff for higher taxes. If you live in a big, metropolitan area and have a family $250,000 makes you middle-class. $500,000 a year should be enough for any family to live comfortably in any area in this country.

Please Do Not Tax Me (Much) For Capital-Gains. We need confidence and incentives for investors in our stock markets. The best way to get investors back is lower capital-gains taxes. Lower the base rate to 18% and long-term capital-gains taxes to 10%. Investors able to keep most of their gains increase spending. Lower taxes increases transactions which increases taxable income which increase government revenues. We cannot afford to have a generation, or generations, leave investing for good like what happened during the Great Depression. Lowering capital-gains taxes help prevent this from occurring.