How the tea party can 'agree' with Occupy movement's demands

Given the somewhat amorphous slogans of the Occupy Wall Street movement, members of the tea party may be wondering if they should join the fray. Depending on how the Occupy Wall Street agenda is actually applied, many of the protesters’ calls for change resonate pretty strongly with tea partiers. University of Denver law professor Robert Hardaway suggests how the tea party might “agree” with five of the Occupy movement's top demands – in its own way:

1.No more bailouts

Occupy Wall Street protesters (left) in New York City. A tea party rally (right) in Flagstaff, Ariz. (Reuters)

No more taxpayer bailouts for big companies like General Motors and the big unions they support just because they are “too big to fail.”

Let these corporate fat cats dissolve if they can’t compete in the open market so that their assets can be bought up by more cost-efficient and nimble companies that can compete in the world market and thus provide more secure long-term jobs for Americans.

No more corporate welfare

No more massive taxpayer subsidies for companies like solar firm Solyndra just because these companies are chic, politically seductive, or give campaign contributions to favored politicians. Instead of forcibly extracting billions from homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages in order to finance this kind of corporate welfare, use the money instead to lower taxpayer-homeowners' income taxes so they can pay their mortgages and avoid foreclosure.

Stop subsidizing corporations like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which act as transit points for securitizing loans, rewarding banks that market them, and thereby inflating the housing market to levels unaffordable by the average American.

No more economic oppression

No longer should half of all Americans be permitted to not pay a dime in federal income tax while many collect massive government benefits from the other half who works and pays taxes to support them. Give everyone a stake in their government by expanding the federal income tax base so that a disproportionate tax burden is not placed on the top 1 percent and 10 percent who pay the bulk of all income tax revenue.

Stop assuming that raising the marginal tax rate on “the rich” will definitively increase overall revenues. In fact, when John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan reduced the marginal tax rate, government revenues skyrocketed, and the percentage of income that the “rich” paid increased dramatically because of tax simplification and elimination of deductions favored by the rich.

Don’t repeat the mistakes of the Hoover depression of 1929 by trying to raise taxes. That era was followed by the Roosevelt depression of 1937 (which made the depression of 1929 look like a picnic). Instead, replace the billions, even trillions, of dollars of purchasing power American consumers lost in the great Freddie Mac housing bubble collapse by reducing taxes, not by printing money for not-ready-for-shovel government “projects.” This would create demand for actual goods and services instead of government paper-pushers.

No more debt for college education

Government must stop printing billions of dollars for student loans, which ultimately inflates college costs beyond affordability. Rather, limit loans in a way that reduces student debt, and reward colleges that cut costs for students rather than raise them far above the general rate of inflation. Don’t increase students’ college debts by making American students borrow money to subsidize the education of illegal immigrants, or by depriving American citizens of the right to in-state tuition while awarding it to illegal immigrants.

Give us jobs

Stop throwing America’s unemployed under the bus by “outsourcing” over a million American jobs to illegal immigrants just so big corporations and millionaires can exploit them. Stop pushing down wages of the poor by flooding the market with cheap foreign labor in order to increase the profits of big corporations and lower the cost of maids and gardeners for millionaires.

Instead, prosecute greedy corporations and millionaires who hire illegal immigrants, letting wages rise to levels at which legal immigrants and other Americans can earn a decent standard of living. Stop claiming that Americans won’t do dirty work (like garbage collection or yard work) if wages for those jobs are allowed to rise to decent levels at which a worker can support a family.

Stop pricing the most vulnerable workers out of the job market by raising the minimum wage. (When companies get squeezed with having to pay employees higher government-mandates wages, they may either lay off workers, stop creating jobs, or send jobs oversees to cheaper labor. Finally, stop paying people not to work with extended unemployment benefits that curry favor with voters.

Depending on what the OWS slogans really mean, maybe Occupy Wall Street and the tea party could find some common ground.

Robert Hardaway is a professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the author of 16 books on law and public policy.