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What Obama Should Do Now

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Posted on Mar 5, 2013
The White House/Pete Souza

By Robert Reich

This post originally ran on Robert Reich’s Web page.

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%) 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.

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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 B. Reich, chancellor’s professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, was secretary of labor in the Clinton administration. Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including the best-sellers “Aftershock” and “The Work of Nations.” His latest, “Beyond Outrage,” is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.


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