Six Month Economic Recovery Plan
A Plan To Safely Save The Nation
A Consumer & Private Enterprise Solution
JOB CREATION BUSINESS TAX CREDIT &
FINAL SHORT-TERM COST TO GOVERNMENT – MUCH LESS THAN ANY EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE
Dated: May 9, 2020
By: Stanley A. Harmon - In extensive consultation with Gary T. Weber1
Also see Music Video about plan at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhO-zk7Vj-w
(See note at end of footnotes as to social distancing as relates to its production.)
How can we revive the economy, quickly create millions of jobs and maintain the momentum of that recovery? Outlined below is a method to accomplish this on an expedited basis. This plan provides substantial funds to consumers as well as utilizing significant business tax credits to start the economic engine running in high gear and then keep it running. This is accomplished by the introduction of a massive influx of funds into those areas (and only those areas) of the economy which are faltering. This process would occur during a relatively short period of time in a revenue efficient manner without the need to raise taxes. In addition it provides a direct and immediate infusion of funds to those businesses experiencing difficultly as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By use of debit cards as provided by this plan funds can be placed in the hands of recipients in a much faster and safer manner. Also by use of debit cards this plan can be modified without the need to implement new systems governing the methods by which funds are made available. Merely changing what each card can acquire can be accomplished remotely by governmental rulings and then applied to each card. This also provides the ability, if needed, to have different spending parameters for different regions of the United States (“United States” as used in this economic plan includes its territories, such as Puerto Rico, etc.).
By way of background I am a graduate of The Wharton School and an attorney who had been in practice for more than forty years prior to the time that I retired. I am also the founder and until I retired was the director of what was probably the most active divorce mediation firm in New Jersey, which at the time of my retirement had twenty-two locations in that state alone; with other locations in New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. In addition, I was the attorney handling all trade regulation matters at F. W. Woolworth Co. for a period of twenty years, having held the position of Assistant General Counsel during the latter portion of that period. Currently I serve as an unpaid volunteer Board member of Action on Smoking and Health. Based upon this experience I have devised an economic recovery plan to take place over a six month period with an option for it to renew if needed.
The plan described below will force immediate spending with an avalanche like effect in a precise metered manner to only those areas of the economy where needed, bringing about prompt economic recovery in a most cost effective manner, with specific targeted funds provided to COVID-19 medical recovery as well. Furthermore, the economic effect of this plan will then become self-perpetuating. It is much like the overwhelmingly successful "cash for clunkers" program of a few years ago but on a much broader scale, thus providing significantly more far-reaching results.
It has been agreed upon by leading experts in the field that a substantial increase in consumer demand is the way out of an economic downturn in that consumer spending accounts for approximately 70% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In this regard tax credits and interest free loans for business investment are certainly worthwhile and, as noted below, are provided at a high level by this plan; however, even with those credits and loans sufficient investment will not come about unless businesses are confident that there will be demand for their products and services. The program that I put forth below remedies this problem by directly providing consumers with significant funds to spend for such products and services. The result is that this plan will bring about full employment on an expedited, and most importantly, a safe basis.
This plan is not a bailout of business nor the banks, but rather places funds directly in the hands of the public with, as explained below, substantial tax credits and immediate infusion of funds to business in order to obtain the results needed to bring our Nation back to prosperity and full health. All funds provided would reach private enterprise entities rather than large governmental projects. As noted in the title above, this plan is a Consumer, Private Enterprise Solution with funds going mainly through consumers’ hands almost exclusively to those private enterprise areas of the economy experiencing distress as a consequence of the financial downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The economy, as we all know, is in a rapid downturn free falling to levels which could easily result in a depression. Thus, it is imperative that action be immediately and focused on the problems at hand. There is no need to wait years for full employment to return. Decisive and targeted action as proposed below will assure that this downturn is stopped in its tracks and that recovery is swift, allowing our Nation to again experience prosperity and full health in the very near term to the benefit of all.
Regarding a very similar debit card economic plan (now found at EconomicPlanforAmerica.com/priorplan.html) that I authored during the last economic crisis (and which became a bill in Congress) the former dean of one of the most highly rated business schools in the Country stated; "I found your debit card proposal quite intriguing, and I admire the way you sketch out the long-term benefits for individuals, industries, and governments.". Sophisticated economic modeling under that plan demonstrated that it would have created more than enough jobs to have quickly ended the unemployment burden which the Nation had faced within a few months at no short term cost to the government.
The current plan is as follows:
- This plan shall have a term of six months but shall be renewable in the event such is needed using the same debit cards that had been already distributed. With the ability of using the same debit cards the administrative cost of such a renewal would be minimal.
- Governmental issued debit cards shall be issued to all residents of the United States, eighteen years of age or older (other than diplomatic residents) who were or are at any time unemployed, provided such unemployment commenced on or after March 1, 2020. Such debit cards shall be programmed each month with the amount of each individual’s gross taxable income received during February 2020 less any;
- taxable amount (including realized capital gain income) earned by that individual, and
- unemployment benefits
received during the preceding thirty days.
No undocumented immigrant shall be deported based upon truthful information provided in applying for or using such a debit card for this purpose; however, undocumented immigrants who enter the United States on or after the enactment into law of this plan shall be ineligible to receive benefits under this plan but for those benefits provided in Part 4 below. (Note should be made that unemployment benefits can be terminated by the government and replaced by this plan during the period of this plan, thus saving the substantial administrative cost of providing those unemployment benefits.)
- Except as provided in Part 4 below married or co-habiting couples with a net worth of $600,000 or single non-cohabiting individuals with a net worth of $400,000 in liquid assets (including freely tradable stocks and bonds) would be prohibited from using any debit card benefit provided under this plan and would be subject to heavy penalties for violation of this prohibition. If during the period of this plan such net worth falls below those levels then this prohibition would not apply unless such a reduction is a result of the purchase of;
- a residence unless a contract for such residence was executed prior to the enactment into law of this plan,
- a business unless a contract for such business was executed prior to the enactment into law of this plan,
- artwork, or
The IRS or the government agency administrating this plan would accept information reporting such violations, thus ensuring voluntary compliance and the need for very few of such reports; however, if a method of calculating the existence and the dollar level of such assets is available then such should be utilized.
It should be noted that under other plans where funds are issued by way of checks to those unemployed the expenditure of funds by those individuals with significant assets would not be prevented.
- Funds spent through use of the debit card on health care costs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic shall have no upper dollar or time limit during or after the term of this plan. Any and all future insurance payments for such costs shall be paid to the federal government directly by the insurance carrier. Notwithstanding any other terms in this plan this would apply to every individual in the United States, including undocumented immigrants. As such, all individuals who reside in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, shall receive debit cards for this purpose. At to this, no undocumented immigrant shall be deported based upon truthful information provided in applying for or using such a debit card for this purpose.
- At least 10% of the funds spent by use of such debit cards shall be spent in the acquisition of future services not presently or safely available (including vacation expenses, such as hotels, travel fares, and similar expenses) performed within the United States from those sectors of the economy where revenue is less than 70% of the level of revenue that such sectors experienced during 2019, as determined by the US Department of Commerce. (See footnote 2)
- At least 5% of the funds shall be spent on restaurant purchases provided food and beverages are delivered by the restaurant or its agent to the consumer’s residence or is ready for pickup adjacent to or outside the front door of the restaurant. (See footnote 2)
- The debit cards shall not be used to purchase tobacco products during any time period which the US Center for Disease Control determines that the COVID-19 pandemic remains present in any area of the United States. (See footnote 3 as to the important reason for this exclusion and a method to prevent anxiety among those who are no longer able to obtain tobacco.)
- If debit cards are used for the acquisition of automobiles it would be limited to new automobiles, provided that this option is not used during the first thirty days of this plan and that such automobiles are;
- acquired by way of eighteen month renewable (at the lessee's option) leases,
- manufactured within United States, provided the vehicle has a domestic brand name. A degree of flexibility could be permitted as to allowing funds under the plan to be used for the lease of foreign branded vehicles manufactured in the United States, provided foreign markets are freely opened for the sale of United States branded automobiles as determined by the US Department of Commerce. and
- not delivered until the term of this economic plan has terminated, with such automobiles required to be delivered within the first three months immediately after the term of this economic plan.
In this regard, an important tangential benefit would be the opening of Japan's and South Korea’s markets to domestically branded autos manufactured in the United States, something which, so far, has not been accomplished to any significant extent (except, perhaps, as relates to Tesla). This would substantially increase domestic manufacturing, including by manufacturers who are suppliers to the auto industry, thus helping to solve another problem facing our economy.
- Certain non-essential products not adversely affected by the economic downturn could be excluded from the allowed purchases as the need arises by remotely programming the debit cards.
- The cards cannot be used for credit purchases, i.e., could not be used for goods, services or (automobile) leases costing more than the amount provided under the plan.
- Except as provided in Part 4 above, any unemployed individual under the age of sixty-six who is medically able and has the opportunity to safely return to work would be excluded from the benefits under this plan if that individual does not return to work.
- Except as provided in Part 4 above, debit cards issued under this plan cannot be used for expenditures for services or products acquired directly from a vendor, i.e., a seller, located outside of the United States. (Face masks and similar medical products are currently and often obtained by consumers directly from vendors outside of the United States, thus allowing for the exception provided in Part 4 above.) This is a distinct advantage relative to the use of debit cards as this prohibition would not be possible with funds obtained from checks issued by the government.
- Except as noted in Part 4 above all expenditures made through the use of the debit cards must be made within the six month period of this plan or forfeited, except that up to 10% of the funds provided may be placed in bank accounts of the individual holding the card during the thirty day period after the end of the term of this or any renewals of this six month plan. Such 10% shall be reduced by the any unspent amount required to be spent by Parts 5 and 6 above. This Part 13, among other uses of the remaining funds provided by the debit cards, would help to provide individuals with the funds necessary to continue the automobile leases allowed for under Part 8 above as well as to obtain the education necessary for new work skills.
Except as relates to Part 4 above an important point of this plan is that under the plan the debit card benefits would almost exclusively be provided to low and moderate income consumers who are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a consequence, only to those who presently have very little discretionary income. This helps to ensure that only money that would otherwise not have been spent would now be channeled into those sectors of the economy where presently needed. To do otherwise would make any plan substantially less effective. Still, those receiving the benefits provided by the debit cards would comprise a vast portion of the Country's population.
In order to prevent a diminishment in sales just prior to the implementation of the plan, consumers who make purchases after May 31, 2020 would be reimbursed under the plan by presenting their sales receipts to the merchants who had provided the goods or services to them. Those merchants would then charge those purchases to the debit cards of those consumers once the plan is fully implemented.
In addition, under the plan interest free loans would be provided to businesses (including independent contractors) by the federal government in need of cash to economically survive during the pandemic, to be paid back by the funds received from consumers under this plan within one year of receiving 120% of the amount of said loans from said consumers (by way of debit card spending by such consumers under this plan). Such loans would be issued either directly or by way of government guaranteed loans issued by banks. Such loans shall not exceed 30% of the revenue received by a business during 2019. Debit cards also can be used for this purpose if it is determined by the government that such is advantageous. Subsequent regulations will govern the specifics of such loans.
No portion of such loans shall be used for the purpose of issuing dividends or stock buybacks. Notwithstanding the foregoing only those businesses which are deemed by the US Department of Commerce to, in all likelihood, receive at least 50% of their revenue from funds expended by the debit cards under this plan are eligible for the interest free loans provided above. The loans provided under this plan would cost the government little in view of the low interest rates now prevailing.
To clarify the above business loan program with an example: A business borrows $1,000. Consumers using debit cards issued under this plan then spend $1,200 at that business over a period of time. Within one year of receiving all of that $1,200 amount that business is then obligated to repay the $1,000 loan.
In order to ensure that United States based workers are hired and to ensure a continuation of the plan's positive effects a tax credit of $3,000 per employee would be provided to those businesses which retain United States based employees who had been hired during the period of the plan. This would apply only if those employees remain employed within the United States by the company who had hired them during the six month period commencing from the termination date
of the plan. Providing this tax credit to businesses would cost the government little, if anything, in that the income taxes collected from those workers (who would otherwise not have been employed) would, in effect, pay for that credit. Moreover, the government would gain by the fact that unemployment benefits would not have been paid to such employees. (See footnote 4 as to substantially increasing this $3,000 amount.)
This tax credit would be reduced by at least $3,000 for each pre-plan United States based employee terminated during the six month period of the plan, as well as during the six month period following the plan. This would prevent a business from terminating pre-plan employees as a result of this tax credit in order to obtain this tax credit.
This plan could also provide a requirement placed upon mortgagees for mortgages now in default to be renegotiated provided the mortgagee received at least one mortgage payment through the use of the debit cards provided by the plan.
The above plan would quickly provide the wherewithal for businesses to prosper and provide an urgent need for those businesses to hire personnel even if work by such employees is performed remotely from that employee’s home. Thus, further layoffs would be avoided and rehiring of those already dismissed would rapidly occur. This would have a circular effect, providing those hired with spending power to quickly stimulate the economy even further. This would then be repeated again and again, having a fast ripple effect through all levels of the economy.
The plan would, among its other attributes, have an immediate, positive and substantial effect upon state budgets beleaguered by the COVID-19 pandemic by way of the collection of funds through presently assessed sales taxes. In addition, a substantial portion of the amount spent under the plan would be recovered by the federal government through the collection of income taxes assessed upon the income of the businesses at which the funds are spent, as well as upon the income of the additional individuals hired by those businesses. In addition, income taxes could be accessed upon the dollar amount received by debit card holders (other than funds received under Part 4) to be paid by use of the debit card.
The cost of this plan would be substantially less than the two trillion dollar plan that was recently approved and be more effective than any new non-focused plan being presently considered in that a highly focused plan can only result from the use debit cards (which, by their nature, can restrict the type of spending allowed and promote the type of spending needed). In addition the velocity of money causing a portion of each dollar of the plan to be spent multiple times within a short period of time would result in significant federal tax revenue. That revenue plus the tax
revenue obtained from the increased business bought about by the plan plus the savings in not paying unemployment benefits to those previously unemployed (but now employed as a consequence of this plan) would significantly reduce the cost of this plan.
Notwithstanding the fact that this plan would pay for itself in the short run, it is certainly true that there would be an outlay of funds needed for its implementation. Where would that money be obtained? Substantially reducing the tax rate imposed upon business for repatriated corporate funds coupled with the savings that would result from troop reductions in Afghanistan should quickly bring in funds needed for its initial funding. A principal purpose of this troop reduction is to provide funds for domestic nation building, as opposed to foreign nation building, and use of such funds for this plan would certainly accomplish that. In this manner the Afghanistan troop reductions, as well as corporate funds that businesses would be only too happy to bring home would provide much of the dollars needed. In addition, federal governmental bonds can be issued to raise the funds needed at extremely low interest rates. As such, those funds would be obtained at almost no cost to the government. Thus, no new taxes would be called for to implement this plan nor would it increase the deficit for any substantial length of time.
In the event (and only in event) that it is determined that a detrimental inflationary effect would be caused by the explosive buying power of the plan, businesses could then be subject to a penalty for each good or service purchased under the plan if that good or service is sold or leased at a price above the regular price of that good or service which had existed on a specified date just prior to the plan. If needed, this would extend up the chain through to the wholesaler and manufacturer, as well.
To say the least, the plan would have substantial political backing in that it would be enormously popular with the general public. Instead of principally bailing businesses the public would perceive this plan as a "bailout of the people" (which it is) and thus would attain strong and wide support.
I am certain that Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover would be only too happy to promptly provide the wherewithal with little or no profit to such firms to assist the Department of The Treasury in quickly issuing the debit cards involved and then assisting in the implementation of this plan. This would occur more rapidly than any other type of distribution of funds by the federal government.
I realize that my plan has nothing concerning infrastructure; however, that was done purposely. Once the economy is restored then there will be an abundance of funds for infrastructure issues. The immediate problem now is providing funds for consumer necessities and to ensure businesses have the wherewithal to rehire those who have become unemployed as a consequence of COVID-19, pay its payroll and not for any other reason. It would also prevent bankruptcies and
closure of businesses. Franklin Roosevelt attempted to solve this by way of the infrastructure. That did not work after many years of trying. Only World War ll took the Nation out of the depression. I am confident that my plan will work and cost much less than any effective alternative. Moreover, after the recovery that this plan would rapidly bring about the cost to the government of this plan would shortly be recovered by the government.
This plan will not require our children and grandchildren to pay it back. It is only by taking a bold step and thinking "out of the box" will we be able to surmount the problem at hand. No recovery plan is perfect, including this plan; rather it is the ability to achieve the goal sought that is important. This plan would certainly accomplish that.
It is true that our Nation will face long-term economic issues which must be addressed; however, people must eat and stay healthy in the short term and cannot survive, in the meantime, waiting for long-term projects to bear fruit. Those other problems can, should and will be solved once people again have the necessary funds and are working again. No one has a perfect car, but a car, as with our economy, cannot move one foot unless its dead battery receives a boost.
Time is of the essence in this matter. We should not permit this opportunity to slip through our fingers and allow unemployment to continue to reach extremely high levels.
The best method to contact me is by sending an e-mail to the following: EconPlan@AOL.com
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Stanley A. Harmon
1) Gary T. Weber was Director of Area Research at J. C. Penney Company where he analyzed market based economic geography and consumer expenditure behavior. Mr. Weber performed this function relative to developing feasibility studies in support of store placement objectives. He was employed by J. C. Penney Company for a period of thirty-five years and held this position for the last twelve years of his career at that firm, until his retirement. He continues performing this function in his private consulting firm, Weber Realty Research, LLC. As a consequence, his
expertise is well founded in the area of retail consumer behavior both on a macro and micro economic level.
2) Spending in the service area could be emphasized by requiring a higher portion of the funds provided to be spent for a wider variety of services. Such would relieve the severe downturn in the purchase of services.
3) Those who contract COVID-19 and who smoke or inhale second hand smoke from smokers who are isolated at home suffer substantially worse outcomes than those who are not so exposed. Presently 42,000 people die in the USA each year from second hand tobacco smoke. If tobacco remains available during the pandemic this figure would certainly increase. Also those who currently smoke and contract COVID-19 would in all likelihood also benefit during the pandemic from this Part 7. Smoking cessation devices would be promoted to alleviate the anxiety that might be experienced by those who quit smoking.
4) This $3,000 could be a minimum amount, with that amount to be increased, as based upon economic modeling, to the highest level that would not cause this tax credit to be a cost to the government, i.e., the highest level at which it would still remain revenue neutral.
The production of the music video (a link to which is near the top) was made prior to this pandemic as that music video also relates to my prior economic plan of a few years ago (also referred to above). Thus, social distancing was not an issue during its production.