Any time you have a problem, you have to boil that problem down to its bare essence. And the problem that progressives have, right now is not that the President totally opposes them. It’s not that Congress opposes them. It’s not the voters, it’s not “fake news,” and it’s not racism. All of those things are problems, but they are surface-level problems. They’re not the heart of the issue.
The heart of the issue is this: the GOP is now in a position to control the financial resources of the federal government. In doing so, they will drastically reduce the benefits we have worked so hard for. They will institute massive, destabilizing tax cuts, because after all that is what they have promised to do.
The progressive goal has been to restore pre-Bush-tax-cut levels of taxation and to use that extra money for additional social benefits. Education, health care, etc.
As soon as you strip away all of the rhetoric, and you realize that this is the essence of the problem, the solution becomes simple. Haven’t found it yet? Well, let me give you one more point of data.
There are states in this country that are “givers.” That is, these states contribute far more to the federal system than they receive back. There are also states in this country that are “takers,” wherein the reverse is true. And take a quick guess at the political affiliation of the “giver” states and the “taker” states? Did you guess that there tends to be a correlation between the progressiveness of the region and the amount of tax dollars it pays? Then you are correct.
So, here are the contours of our problem, in bullet-point format:
- Progressives want to pay for more social benefits.
- Conservatives want to cut taxes and have less social benefits.
- Progressives tend to control the states where more tax income is available.
- Conservatives control the federal government and therefore the federal tax rate.
The solution should now be blindingly simple.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, then let me take you through a step-by-step proposal for how the progressive states could salvage things out of this mess.
Step 1: Recapture the lost taxes at the state level
The federal government is not the only government in this country capable of taxation and spending–states can do it too! So, step one is drafting a uniform code of taxation that creates a new layer of income tax at the state level – a tax designed to recapture that federal tax you would have paid before Bush’s corporate tax cuts. We’d also want to draft this code to be flexible and recapture any taxes lost to Republican tax cuts.
Step 2: Pool this money together for participating states
Progressive states then take their additional tax dollars and create a new fund.
Step 3: Fed 2.0
Progressive states agree to form an interstate agency to manage these funds for the purpose of providing quasi-federal benefits on a quasi-federal level. These benefits flow only to those states who have opted in to Fed 2.0. Elected representatives from each state control the funds in Fed 2.0 in much the way Congress does; the interstate contract for Fed 2.0 would essentially be a second Constitution, operating slightly underneath and parallel to the current Constitution. This Constitution could condition participation in Fed 2.0 on any number of social justice issues as well as contribution of tax dollars. Abortion? LGBTQ rights? Women’s Equality? Racial Equality? Religious separation? All built in to the constitution of Fed 2.0. Remember, states are always free to create their own laws and handle anything the federal government doesn’t want to or have the authority to.
Here’s the potential results:
1. Progressive states receive more bang for their buck on progressive benefits.
Remember that chart? The one that said (and I’m generalizing and paraphrasing here) that red states tend to be leeches off the blue state’s contributions? Well, if the benefits are only flowing to the blue states from the red states, the more we can stretch the dollars staying in the blue states.
2. Progressives in the federal Congress can propose massive tax cuts with no ill effect.
Now, every tax cut in the current federal government just means a shift in funds to Fed 2.0, which is entirely controlled by progressive states. So in Fed 1.0, progressive start voting in massive tax cuts. Guess where that leaves the GOP? Well, the GOP can either vote to cede power to an entirely progressive secondary body, or the GOP can vote against a tax cut. This is a lose-lose proposition, and it would place the Republicans into a nasty little Hobson’s Choice. After all, the only thing Republicans would have to do to absolutely kill Fed 2.0 would be to raise federal taxes back to pre-Bush-era levels, ensuring that there was no lost tax for Fed 2.0 to recapture. Anyone want to place odds on whether they do that?
3. The stemmed flow of benefits into the red states is going to put serious pressure on the red state poor to join Fed 2.0.
Now, rednecks will be rednecks. But the more this system proceeds, the more you’re going to see a lifestyle difference between Fed 2.0 member states and non-Fed 2.0 member states. And that difference is going to be more pronounced the farther down the chain you go. It won’t be immediate, but the money is going to continue to flow to Fed 2.0. And as the education of Fed 2.0 begins to completely outpace the education of non-Fed 2.0, this spiral is only going to get bigger.
4. Power shifts to the progressives.
In one of two ways. Either the federal government itself re-aligns in a progressive fashion, thus obviating the need for Fed 2.0, or Fed 2.0 becomes a purseholder in its own right to the point where it wields more financial power than Fed 1.0. Either way, the progressive agenda ends up drastically ahead, because we were willing to pay for it.
Now, here’s the thing. I’m just an author, and a mid-listed author of fantasy novels. I’m just a county public defender who has an idea. If this is going to happen, much bigger people than me are going to have to have the political will to pull it off. This is the move; the question is whether we can find leaders who will actually pull the trigger on it.