Getting very little press, President Obama's PERAB (President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board) is where Obama's economic wunderkind Austan Goolsbee was stashed away after the election, working under Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman for Presidents Reagan and Carter.
PERAB is an advisory-only panel designed to review input and ideas from across the country and from all quarters, including the financial sector, industry and average American citizens just like you.
Since it's first fully-transparent official meeting with the President (full video, full transcript), PERAB has opened their doors to leaders in business, labor and policymaking to discuss investment in infrastructure, green jobs initiatives such as home retrofitting, the role of community banks and credit unions, manufacturing and healthcare.
But PERAB is also going further, soliciting public and private input on a spectrum of tax reform proposals including filing simplification, shoring up enforcement and retooling our tricky corporate tax codes. PERAB is not, however, considering changes that would raise taxes on families making under $250,000.
The board will be compiling recommendations into an "almanac" of options that will be presented to President Obama, representing a broad range of viewpoints. Hundreds of suggestions have already been submitted by individuals, business groups and advocacy organizations, available for public viewing here.
Just this week, grants were distributed for 51 strategic transportaion projects including roads, rail, bridge repairs and more, demonstrating that PERAB initiatives do (eventually) find their way into real legislation. Last month, Goolsbee's white paper became central to the White House proposal to limit risk-taking by banks who were recipients of bailout funding, curbing proprietary trading, hedge fund activity and more.
Whether you align with Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, Ronald Reagan or the Tea Party movement, this is your opportunity to chime in, becoming a part of the process of reform and contributing to the recovery.
Many do not realize it was then-governor Reagan who helped develop the Earned Income Tax credit as he successfully sought to incentivize work-over-welfare in California. But as president, Reagan would later adopt "trickle down" incentives, lowering tax burdens for the rich in the expectation they just might create jobs and not just pocket the cash.
Tempered by Newt Gingrich's Congress, it was President Clinton's expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit that saw a record number of millionaires created in the U.S. while reversing the growth of the deficit dramatically. CBO projections then calculated that the deficit could be fully repaid by 2009.
But after 2000, President Bush reinstated tax cuts for the rich alongside unprecedented levels of debt spending and ill-advised industry deregulation. Again, income levels flat-lined as work hours increased, benefits were cut and the dollar weakened. By 2008, job losses soared and the economy was in a state of disaster by any measure.
Obama's current proposal for a direct tax credit for the creation of each new job is preferable to the "supply side" method which devastated the American middle class both times it was tried. We should all hope America's working and small business class can be revitalized by a more equitable distribution of tax breaks, seeing through the ruse of trickle-down theories, and rewarding ONLY those businesses who create jobs in their communities.
But regardless of where you weigh in on today's economic debates, you all have a chance now to be a part of the process and let the President's Recovery Board know what YOU think. You can submit your ideas here using this web form, or directly email PERAB at firstname.lastname@example.org.