An Offer to the President

Photo: White House Photographer Pete Souza

Mr. President, we heard what you said last week in Kansas – about the dangers to our economy and democracy of the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top.

We agree.  And many of us are prepared to work our hearts out to get you reelected – as long as you commit to doing what needs to be done in your second term:

  • Raise the tax rate on the rich to what it was before 1981.  The top 1 percent has an almost unprecedented share of the nation’s wealth and income yet the lowest tax rate in 30 years. Meanwhile, America faces colossal budget deficits that have already meant devastating cuts in education, infrastructure, and the safety nets we depend on.  The rich must pay their fair share. Income in excess of $1 million should be taxed at 70 percent – the same rate as before 1981.
  • robert reich Raise capital gains taxes to the same level.  It’s absurd that the 400 richest Americans – whose wealth exceeds the wealth of the bottom 150 million Americans put together – should pay an average 17 percent tax on their incomes, the rate day laborers and child-care workers pay.  That’s because so much of the income of the super-rich is considered capital gains, now taxed at only 15 percent.  Close this loophole.
  • Tax financial transactions.  A tiny tax on every financial deal would yield billions of dollars more.  It would also slow speculators and reduce the wild gyrations of financial markets.
  • Use the bulk of this money to create good schools, give our kids access to a college education, and build a world-class infrastructure, so all our children have a chance to get ahead.

  • Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, that used to separate commercial from investment banking.  It was put in place after the Great Crash of 1929 to prevent financiers from gambling with peoples’ bank deposits.  But it was repealed in 1999 – and its repeal contributed to the Crash of 2008.  Wall Street lobbyists have made sure the new Dodd-Frank law has enough loopholes to allow financiers to continue to gamble with other  peoples’ money.  The only way to stop this is to bring Glass-Steagall back.
  • Cap the size of Wall Street’s biggest banks and break up the biggest.  They were too big to fail before the bailout.  They’re even bigger now.  And because of their huge size they get preferential treatment from the Fed, giving them an even greater competitive advantage over smaller banks.  Cap their size and break them up before we have to bail them out again.
  • Require the big banks that got bailed out to modify the mortgages of millions of Americans now under water, who owe more than their homes are worth.  It’s not their  fault the banks created a housing bubble that burst, causing home values to plummet.

robert reichMr. President, we know nothing good happens in Washington unless good people outside Washington are organized and mobilized to make it happen.

So here’s the deal:  We’ll reelect you.  We’ll stand behind you. We’ll give you a mandate to do all this – and more – in your second term.

As long as you stand behind us.


Robert Reich
Robert Reich’s Blog 



  1. Frank Amon says

    Great list, Mr. Reich. I agree completly. Each of these would help narrow the distance between the 99% and the 1%. Collectively, WOW!

  2. Itzamirakul says

    I hate to say just how disappointed I am with this President, but I can’t help but think that if I am this disappointed, how must Michelle Obama feel?

    I am a senior citizen now and never before have I felt so endangered because this is the first time I have known a Democratic President to behave in such a GOP manner.

    Please ask President Obama to tell us exactly what he has done to help HIS PARTY and why we should even CARE if his is re-elected? While he is so busy being the PRESIDENT TO US ALL, the GOP Presidents have done all they can for the members of their party. From Pres. Reagan on through Bush Jr., the GOP has helped its members become millionaires while causing the rest of us to move from Middle Class to Poverty. Then come Obama who continues to help the GOP. Frankly speaking, I am disgusted with him.

  3. says

    PLEASE read this article ( and then SIGN the petition ( located on the White House’s “WE the PEOPLE” website to stop foreclosures on mortgages made to individual homeowners belonging to the bottom 99%. Also, please help this go viral! It needs 150 signatures to be publicly visible on the site, and 25,000 by January 2, 2012 to be guaranteed a response.

    Stopping foreclosures is not a bailout. It is a consumer protection. It can be structured in the form of a forbearance so people don’t accrue massive fines, legal fees, and credit problems. Payment on existing debt and interest is postponed, extending the life of the mortgage, and resumed once the person is gainfully employed, or once the person decides for himself to sell (rather than having his home stolen by his mortgage holder). No good can come to a society that throws people hit by hard times on the street. This will make it ever more difficult for people and their families to recover, and then they will become a permanent welfare problem.

    Stop foreclosures on mortgages made to individual homeowners belonging to the bottom 99%.

  4. Scott Peer says

    It’s really sad that all of those things, and more, need to be done; and that is just to get back to a better place we once had. It’s especially sad that not one of them will be done by the president or congress in this term or the next. Even worse is that if we judge them by their actions rather than their words, the majority of elected officials of both parties oppose most or all of the items on the list.

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