I've been involved of late in a running Facebook debate generally about immigration reform and specifically about the Arizona immigration law. Facebook is probably not the ideal place for discussion matters of substance, but that is perhaps a debate for another time.
As part of that ongoing discussion, I was asked for my suggestions. I thought to myself, why stop at immigration reform. So, here are some of the things I would do if I were suddenly in charge. Not that anyone asked me about these other areas, of course.
1) Institute a tax credit for companies creating new jobs in America. The size of the credit would be based on the number of new, above minimum wage jobs the company creates, with extra credits going to those companies that create jobs in areas with unemployment rates above 10% and those companies creating new jobs in fields involving renewable resources.
Such a step would reward companies who step up to help the economy while leaving out those who seem intent merely on sending jobs overseas in order to boost profits.
2) Simplify America's income tax code. I would have two, maybe three tax rates, say 15 and 25% (or 10, 15, and 25%), with those having family incomes under $30,000 a year exempt and those with family incomes of $200,000 or more a year paying 25%. In addition, I would eliminate all tax deductions with the exception of allowing a deduction for charitable contributions for individuals of up to $5,000 or 5% of gross annual income, whichever is greater, without creating a negative tax balance. I would also leave the Earned Income Credit in place and perhaps expand it to include a scaled credit for child care for people earning up to $75,000 a year.
3) In line with that, I would create a tax credit for people who spend at least 100 hours a year in volunteer service.
4) Institute a 25% corporate income tax, again eliminating all deductions, with the exception of a deduction for charitable contributions of up to $1,000,000 or 2% of gross annual income, whichever is greater, again without creating a negative tax balance.
5) Institute a corporate tax credit for investment in infrastructure: new buildings, equipment, training programs, etc. of up to 25% of the cost. Companies would only be eligible to take such a credit once every five years.
6) Make all earned income subject to Social Security tax, with perhaps a sliding tax scale, say 2.5% on income up to $30,000 a year, 4.5% on income of $30,001 to $75,000 and the current 6.2% of income of $75,001 or more. Rich people collect Social Security regardless of their need; I think they can afford to help fund it a little better.
7) Speaking of Social Security, I would again make the Social Security fund off limits for all uses except the funding of Social Security payments.
8) Since the Facebook discussion had to do with immigration reform, here is what I would do in that area: Impose a fine on businesses caught and convicted of hiring illegal immigrants. A first offense would net a fine of $1,000,000 or 1% of gross revenues, whichever is less. A second offense would result in a fine of $5,000,000 or 5% of gross annual revenues, whichever is less. A third offense results in the seizure of the company's assets, a sort of corporate "three strikes and your out" program.
9) On the immigrant side of the equation, I would institute a temporary amnesty for any illegal immigrant, to last only for the extent of that person's application for citizenship. Under certain documented instances, such a person might be allowed to continue to work (if the person is the sole support for a family that includes one or more underage children, for instance) while the application process is underway.
Such people would not be denied citizenship solely on the basis of entering the country illegally. However, their fingerprints would be taken and, if they are caught re-entering the country after having an application for citizenship rejected for other reasons (previous criminal record or caught committing a crime in this country), they would be automatically deported with no right of appeal.
10) Finally, I would push to have a voting Representative for the District of Columbia. My reasoning is that, as things now stand, residents of Washington, D.C. are subject to "taxation without representation," one of the concepts that helped to galvanize the colonists prior to the American Revolution.
I'm sure I could come up with some other ideas if I were king, but that's a start.