Friday, August 31, 2012

Why We Need Government

1. National security, including the military, intelligence agencies, diplomatic efforts and development assistance, homeland defense, federal law enforcement, border control, natural-disaster response, and the area most recently added to the list by the Pentagon and the CIA, combating climate change.
2. Assistance to those otherwise unable to fully support themselves and to provide a decent retirement for seniors, including Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, aid for the disabled, food stamps, unemployment benefits, nutrition aid for newborns and mothers, and public housing.
3. Equal access to opportunity, including federal aid to education for low-income and disabled students, the HOPE Scholarship tax credits for college tuition costs, the student-loan program, Pell Grants, work-study payments, and job-training assistance.
4. Economic development, including trade agreements; financing for businesses to enter new markets; incentives to create new businesses and jobs in advanced manufacturing, clean energy, energy efficiency, and other high-growth areas; investments in basic research and development and incentives for private research and development to be done in the United States; an adequate minimum wage and support for work and childrearing, including the Family and Medical Leave law and the child tax credit; Small Business Administration guaranteed, microcredit, and community development loans to promising businesses that would otherwise be shut out of credit markets; financing and other support to help companies sell products made in America in other countries; and incentives to invest in areas of high unemployment and low incomes.
5. Oversight of financial markets and institutions to ensure transparency and honest dealing, competition, and consumer choice and to limit leverage to avoid future collapses and bailouts.
6. Protection and advancement of public interests the market can't fix, including clean air, clean water, safe food, safe transportation, safe workplaces, civil rights, access to affordable health care, and preservation of natural resources for the common good, including national parks, national monuments, and national forests.
7. Providing investments, through tax or fee revenue, for projects we all need when the costs are too great or the cost recovery period too long for the private sector to finance, including highways, airports, rails, accelerated broadband connections, a national electric grid, and critical research and development in areas from space to advanced materials to nanotechnology and biotechnology to clean energy.
8. A revenue collection system, to collect taxes and issue credits and deductions deemed by Congress to be in the national interest, including tax deductions for home mortgage payments, charitable giving, health-care payments, children, and many business expenses and deductions.

Back To Work, Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy, by Bill Clinton, Knopf, 2011, p.49.

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