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Readers' solutions to 'poof goes the middle class'

In a column and a blogpost this week, I invited readers to send suggestions for ways to stop the hollowing of America’s middle class — and they answered energetically.

Some responses were unsurprising. Conservatives proposed lower taxes, fewer regulations and voting Democrats out of office. Liberals proposed higher taxes, more regulations and voting Republicans out of office.

“Lower taxes — preferably a consumption tax instead of an income tax, which penalizes those who are trying to improve their economic state,” suggested Scott Worman of Oceanside.

“Raise taxes on the wealthy to 45%, on corporations to 80%, and you will see amazing amounts of jobs,” argued Linda Winsh-Bolard of Brea. “If someone can’t live on a million a year, too bad.”

And there were those who yawned.

“We've been watching the evaporation of the middle class at accelerating rates for the past three decades, so it wasn't really a news flash,” noted Mark Cromer of Claremont. (He’s right.)

Cromer proposed tighter restrictions on immigration, as did some others. But one reason for the loss of middle-class jobs is that they’re being outsourced to other countries, and immigration restrictions wouldn’t affect that phenomenon.

Other ideas included:

Job sharing. “Have two people share one job, each working six months a year,” wrote Aaron Landau of La Mesa.

Energy projects. Leon Bloom proposed allowing U.S. corporations to repatriate overseas profits tax-free if they invest them in energy efficiency projects. “Upgrading the electric grid might generate more than 2 million good-paying jobs,” he wrote.

Reviving the payroll tax cut that expired at the beginning of 2013. “Democrats should like the fact that most of this tax cut goes to middle and lower taxpayers,” noted John Kissinger. “Instantly higher demand would shortly be followed by hiring.”

Shortening all politicians’ terms to two years — to produce more elections. “That’s probably the only process that still creates a few jobs,” wrote Sai Akkanapragada of Brewster, N.Y. (I think that one was tongue-in-cheek.)

And, finally, organizing toward large-scale political change — for example, by forging an alliance between the tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement, proposed Marge England.

But even she didn’t sound confident that her idea would work. “As for myself, I’m trying prayer,” she wrote.

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Follow Doyle McManus on Twitter @doylemcmanus and Google+

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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