November 7, 2020
For months, I have been telling people you’ll win, and we’ll win! I have supported you and other Democrats along the way and have given money generously to help make this happen.
I want to respectfully make an urgent recommendation to you as you prepare to start your term: Please make inequality a top priority issue for your administration.
Economic inequality has steadily increased since Reagan.Since Reagan, I have been disappointed with our Presidents, both Republican and Democrat. None have done justice to our underprivileged. We now have the highest inequality in the developed world.
I don’t give our Presidents a pass because of Congress being divided, because no one even made inequality a priority. I hope you will be the first to do so. Just make it a priority and measure it. Measure poverty, inequality, jobs, living wages, etc. Talk about it in all your Presidential addresses. Insist on steady improvement.
I urge you to create a series of local commissions in your first 90 days, including both Conservative and Progressive leaders, from Congress, from local governments, from local educational institutions, and from local businesses. Start these local commissions in a dozen of our cities. Insist on recommendations in three months and proceed from there. Don’t allow it to languish.
We do not seek total equality, nor should we. We will always have inequality and our poor will always be with us. We don’t want to kill or suppress motivation and innovation. We should continue to reward those who succeed. But what you must seek is a major swing of the pendulum, a move to significantly reduced inequality and poverty. Research has shown that inequality at high levels slows economic growth, increases health risks, increases mortality, crime, drugs and a host of other problems that diminish what America is and stands for.
You can make it clear to your Conservative friends that the goal is a nation with living wage jobs for all who can work. The goal is not to moderate inequality only with welfare, taxes, and increased national debt.
There are many levers for you to pull to advance this critical agenda. Some progress must come from tax reform: reducing taxes for the middle class and below, raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, raising capital gains taxes, etc. But we should not overly burden corporations and wealthy. We do not want to kill or suppress motivation and reward for hard work and innovation.
Another lever is education. Free college for all is probably not the best solution for now. But you must find the way to make good academic and vocational education at all levels accessible to all who are able to study.
Another is housing policy. Rule and regulations prohibit the construction of affordable housing nationwide. NIMBYs resist. You must knock down those regulations and permit large scale affordable housing throughout our nation.
Another is health care. We may not be ready for Medicare for All, but more needs to be done in extending the reach of the ACA.
Perhaps the most critical lever is in creating a reformed capitalist system which provides opportunity for our workers to obtain jobs with decent wages, or to start businesses with substantially less red tape and with government supported training. This is the charge you must give the commissions—find the avenues, which may differ from one region to another. Then, provide government incentives to accelerate promising programs.
If you insist that the goal is not socialism, just a more moderately aligned inequality, not for more welfare, but for a better way to enable opportunities for more people to hold good jobs, pay taxes and support our government, you can navigate the pressures from both sides. You’ll need to deny some Progressive proposals and support some Conservative proposals. It’s about “possibilities,” using your own terminology.
You can constantly remind everyone that success in this is not just for our underprivileged, it’s for everyone. It’s for a better society with less poverty, less homelessness, and eventually, less welfare. It’s good for taxes and good for the economy, and thus it is also good for our corporations and our wealthy. We don’t really prosper by having CEOs earning 300 times their average employee wage, and we don’t really need the nations’ 400 wealthiest billionaires owning more wealth than the bottom 60 percent of Americans. Something more moderate will be more than adequate for billionaire ownership of national wealth and for CEO motivation. I am among the privileged of our nation, and I am willing to sacrifice to make the collective better for all.
If you don’t somehow manage to address and improve on this major problem, I won’t be alone among loyal Democrats becoming critics of this administration, as I most certainly have been of others—both Democrat and Republican.
If you succeed, you’ll join a very small number of American leaders who have made a real positive difference.
Please let me know how I can help.