It’s widely acknowledged that OWS is asking good, tough questions. But even among supporters, the chief criticism has been the movement’s lack of focus. Yes, health insurance is too expensive and unemployment is too high. Sure, it would be nice if the financial-real estate complex hadn’t wrecked the economy (with an assist from a captured government). But America was a deeply unequal country even in 2007. What ideas would solve these problems?
One can imagine a list of long-term, long-shot ideas: Guaranteed long-term unemployment benefits (not the kind we have now, which can be held hostage every year or so); universal, low-cost health care; low-cost, public higher education;* more rental housing assistance; and more money for food stamps. It goes without saying that we need to keep Social Security and Medicare in something like their current form, or else things will only get worse when people turn 65.
The problem, though–leaving aside our do-nothing Congress, which I’ll come back to–is that these things cost money. Therefore, the first step toward solving the problems raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement should be to let the Bush tax cuts expire.