Guest Opinions

Aaron Swisher: A new economic approach is needed in Washington

The Idaho Statesman asked the candidates in major statewide races to submit guest opinions explaining their stances and why they should earn your vote. Their columns will run throughout this week. Read opponent Mike Simpson’s guest opinion here.

A new economic approach is needed in Washington so that we have an economy that isn’t reliant on government assistance.

From 1948 to 1973, productivity grew by almost 96 percent. Over that same period, hourly compensation grew by roughly 91 percent. In other words, as the economy grew, workers shared in the prosperity. From 1973 to 2017, productivity rose by 77 percent but hourly compensation rose by only 12.4 percent. To put it bluntly, workers no longer share in the prosperity that they are helping to create.

Economists don’t have a solid explanation for why the prior trend was broken in the ‘70s. What should be obvious, though, is that there are steps the government can take to ensure that our country’s gains are distributed fairly.

We can establish a floor under wages with a livable minimum wage, so that full-time workers don’t need government assistance.

We can create trade that is fair to American workers. In some instances this may be free trade, in others it may include tariffs. The goal with our trade policies should be to ensure that American companies face the competition they need to stay sharp, while not encouraging them to outsource our jobs.

We can ensure that our immigration policies take our economic needs into account while also being humane. This includes stopping illegal immigration with a secure border, preventing work visas from undermining skilled American labor, and ensuring that America’s agricultural industry has the temporary and full-time workers that it needs.

When it comes to taxes, our government can garner more of its revenue from carbon-based fuels – driving efficient use of these resources, slowing the move to automate jobs, creating energy independence, and protecting the environment without regulation. It can create a simpler tax system, with low, flat rates on the majority of income and a higher marginal rate on income over a million dollars a year. This would reward work, but it would also deter the greed and corruption that has endangered our economy and added volatility to our equity markets. Finally, we can reform corporate taxes in a way that encourages companies to hire the appropriate number of workers for the level of demand that they experience.

Our government should create a fair economy for working Americans, and it can do so without creating cumbersome government assistance programs. It will require, though, that our representatives refuse the corporate sponsorship that has overtaken our political system.

Idaho Democrat and economist Aaron Swisher is running for U.S. House in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.

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