Six Month Economic Recovery Plan
A Plan To Save The Nation
A Private Enterprise Solution
JOB CREATION BUSINESS TAX CREDIT &
COST OF THE PLAN: APPROXIMATELY $250 BILLION
FINAL SHORT-TERM COST TO GOVERNMENT - APPROXIMATELY $ZERO
By: Stanley A. Harmon
In extensive consultation with Gary T. Weber6and Fulton Wilcox7
Also see Music Video about plan at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW9t4tOIrEY
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 utilizes substantial business tax credits to keep the economic engine running in high gear once that engine is started 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 very short period of time in a revenue neutral manner without the need to raise taxes nor increase the deficit.
By way of background I am a graduate of The Wharton School and an attorney in practice for more than forty years. I am also the founder and, until my recent retirement, was the director of what is 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 for the latter portion of that period. Based upon this experience I have devised an economic recovery plan to take place over a six month period. This plan was introduced as legislation in Congress by Rep. Robert E. Andrews on December 18, 2012 as bill no. HR 6675 with plans to reintroduce it as bipartisan legislation.
The plan which I have developed 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. Furthermore, this effect will then become self-perpetuating. It is much like the overwhelmingly successful "cash for clunkers" program, 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 the current economic downturn in that consumer spending accounts for approximately 70% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In this regard, tax credits for business investment are certainly worthwhile and are provided at a high level by this plan; however, even with those credits 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 and will bring about full employment.
This plan is not a bailout of business or the banks, but rather places funds directly in the hands of the public with, as noted below, substantial tax credits to business in order to obtain the results needed and bring our Nation back to prosperity. All funds provided are then directed solely to private enterprise, not to large governmental projects. As noted in the title above, this plan is a Private Enterprise Solution with funds only going to those private enterprise areas of the economy experiencing distress as a consequence of the financial downturn.
Although many believe that the economy is in a recovery mode it is quite weak as shown by the number of jobs created during the month of February. Only 175,000 jobs were created while 150,000 new jobs are needed each month to just stay even with population growth. At the rate of job creation that occurred during the last twelve months the pre-recession level of employment would take up to a decade or more to reach (and even longer at last month's rate of job creation). It should also be noted that a high portion of all jobs created over the past year were in the lower paying sectors of the economy. In addition, the unemployment rate increased to 6.7%.
In the overall job ratio about 2.6 people are seeking work for every job that is available. This is far from normal. It should be noted that in February the labor force participation rate (the labor force as a percent of the population) was almost at its lowest level in 35 years, remaining at the same level that it was in January. In February the number of those employed increased by less than three one hundredth of a percent (.03%). Thus, the situation remains quite troubling.
In addition, in February 7.2 million individuals were working part-time who desire to work full-time, little changed from the prior month. (These are individuals whose hours were cutback or were unable to find full-time work.) Added to this are the 755,000 individuals who were not counted in the unemployment number in that they have given-up looking for work. Also, 2.3 million unemployed individuals who desire and are available for work were also not counted in the unemployment figure because they have not looked for work in the past four weeks. Thus, counting those working part time who desire to work full time as well as the discouraged workers who have given-up looking for work the unemployment rate is 12.6%, causing this situation to remain quite grim.
More significantly the number of the long term unemployed individuals (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 203,000 in February and comprise 37% of the unemployed (a percentage which also increased from the prior month). This also does not factor in the substantial number of college graduates who are unable to secure jobs above the level of jobs meant for high school graduates. In addition, wages barely increased and as a result almost no growth in spending power occurred in 2013, a most important factor in that, as noted above, 70% of the Nation's GDP consists of consumer spending. In this regard, since January 1st of this year wages have increased less than three tenths of a percent (.3%). Moreover, the average weekly number hours worked decreased in February as compared to the prior month. Certainly not a good sign.
The plan that I put forth will substantially accelerate and reinforce recovery, allowing our Nation to again experience prosperity in the very near term to the benefit of all. In fact, economic modeling has shown that in excess of 7.2 million new jobs would be created during the first year after commencement of this plan as a consequence of the plan, an average of more than 600,000 jobs per month. In February, as noted above, 175,000 jobs were created. This is not a good trend. Much more progress is needed.
As to this plan, the 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."
The plan is as follows:
Governmental credit cards (or, perhaps, better described as debit cards) preloaded with;
- $5,000 would be issued to every married couple who, jointly, had an income of $75,000 or less during the 2011 tax year;
- $3,000 would be issued to every single nondependent individual who had an income of $50,000 or less during the 2011 tax year. (1See footnote relative to slightly raising the $75,000 and $50,000 income levels in order to avoid objections by those who had earned slightly higher incomes.)
The card’s use would be limited in time and product, as follows:
- The full amount must be spent within six months, with any unspent amount forfeited.
- Purchases would be limited to;
- durable goods2,
- clothes and, to the extent needed, certain other designated non-durable goods,
- most services performed within the United States3, and
- residential home mortgage payments where the debtor is at least three months in arrears as of the effective date of this plan. (4See footnote concerning a possible requirement to be placed upon institutions receiving such funds to renegotiate the mortgages involved.)
- If used for the acquisition of automobiles it would be limited to new automobiles, provided that they are;
- acquired by way of eighteen month renewable (at the lessee's option) leases, and
- 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 opened to the sale of United States branded automobiles. In this regard, an important tangential benefit could be the opening of Japan's markets to autos manufactured in the United States by General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, something which, so far, has not been accomplished to any significant extent.
In order to encourage the leasing of automobiles an additional $500 would be added to the preloaded debit card if a part or all of the funds are used for the acquisition of an automobile.
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.
The cards would not be usable for credit purchases, i.e., could not be used for goods, services or (automobile) leases costing more than the amount provided under the plan. In addition, no more than one third of the card's value could be spent within any two month period unless such is for the acquisition of a single item.
An important point is that under the plan the debit cards would be distributed only to low and moderate income consumers 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 the economy. To do otherwise would make the plan substantially less effective. Still, those receiving 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 the effective date of the plan (but prior to its implementation) 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 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. (5See footnote as to substantially increasing this $3,000 amount and as to a bonus for hiring the long-term unemployed.)
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.
The above plan would quickly provide the wherewithal for businesses to prosper and provide an urgent need for those businesses to hire personnel. 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 also provide a time period for mortgages now in default to be renegotiated, with such occurring during a period of full employment. Moreover, payment of those mortgages would provide much needed liquidity to the overstressed banking system.
The plan would, among its other attributes, have an immediate, positive and substantial effect upon beleaguered state budgets by way of the collection of funds through presently assessed sales taxes. Thus, for example, New York State would receive over $500 million dollars in sales tax revenue as a result. 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.
Implementation would cost less than the amount that remained in the original TARP bailout fund when President Obama assumed office and, thus, is within the limit of funds which the public has learned to accept. The actual cost of the plan to the government would be zero. The velocity of money causing a portion of each dollar of the plan to be spent multiple times in 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 and the savings in not paying unemployment benefits should nearly equal or exceed the full cost of the 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? Doubling (if doubling is needed) of the reduced tax rate proposed for repatriated corporate funds coupled with the savings that will result from the planned troop reduction in Afghanistan should bring in the funding needed for its implementation. 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 the funds needed. Thus, no new taxes would be called for to implement this plan nor would it increase the deficit.
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.
The feasibility and results of this plan can be compared to the Alaska Permanent Fund whereby funds are annually distributed by the government of that State to its citizens from the oil revenue generated in that State. Those funds are then spent creating the same multiplier effect upon purchasing power that would result, but in a much more significant manner, from the government distributed funds under this plan.
To say the least, the plan would have substantial political backing in that it would be enormously popular with the general public. Instead of a bailout of business the public would perceive this 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 provide the wherewithal to assist the Department of The Treasury in quickly issuing the debit cards involved.
I realize that my plan has nothing concerning infrastructure; however, that was done purposely. Once the economy is restored, which is top priority, then there will be an abundance of funds for infrastructure issues. The immediate problem now is the economy and not the infrastructure. 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 Country out of the depression. I am confident that my plan will work and only cost approximately $200 billion. Moreover, as noted above, the actual cost to the government of the plan would essentially and very quickly be zero. This plan will not require our children and grandchildren to pay it back.
Nothing else, to date, has had a significant effect upon unemployment levels. 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 faces long term economic issues which must be addressed; however, people must eat 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 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 at its high levels. I urge you to contact your Senators and Congressman/woman as quickly as possible and ask them to support the above-noted Congressional bill (no. HR 6675) which encompasses this plan when it is reintroduced (under a different number) in the present Congress, which is expected to occur shortly. A website to utilize for this purpose in order to easily find contact information for your Senators and Congressman/woman is http://www.contactingthecongress.org/. When on that website merely click on the State in which you reside or enter your address in the spaces provided and then click on the name that you desire. In addition, it would be useful for you to forward the plan to your local newspaper for publication.
I also have a plan to increase the value of all residential property; however, that should be considered only after the above-described plan has been made effective.
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
Stanley A. Harmon & Associates, LLC
1) Under the Congressional bill that was introduced the $75,000 and $50,000 income limits extend upwards by an additional $4,999 with the dollar amounts on the debit cards diminished by 20% per thousand dollars in income as higher income levels are reached. This avoids the issue faced by those who earn slightly above the $75,000 and $50,000 limits and, as a consequence, would otherwise not receive the debit cards.
2) Certain products not suffering from the economic downturn could be excluded from the allowed purchases.
3) Spending in the service area could be emphasized by requiring a higher portion of the funds provided to be spent in this area. Such would relieve the particularly severe downturn in the purchase of services.
4) It could be required that any institution receiving such a mortgage payment renegotiate the mortgage relating to that payment, per guidelines to be established.
5) 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. In addition a bonus of 10% could be added for those hired from among the long-term unemployed as defined by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (offset by a 5% reduction in the amount provided in hiring those who are not among the long-term unemployed).
6) 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.
7) Fulton Wilcox was Director of eBusiness and supply chain solutions at BOC Group, a global industrial gases company, and previously he had been Director of Information Systems at AT&T Bell Laboratories. While an officer in the U.S. Army, he was an intelligence analyst and later an instructor at the U.S. Army Intelligence School. In these and other capacities, he gained wide experience as an analyst in systems, financial, operations and intelligence and data/transaction standards contexts. He has written and spoken extensively on how to apply technology to address novel opportunities and to enhance the achievement of business and operations critical success factors and improve quality. He has also provided non-partisan business case analysis support to members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation and to local governmental officials. Fulton presently is the Senior Partner in Colts Neck Solutions LLC.