Mr Prime Minister learn from your friend Obama

Obama Manmohan Singh
New Delhi, Dec 8: India is perceived as information technology giant and we may still not have realised the potential of Internet. During the heated debate on FDI (foreign direct investment), television channels produced meaningless sound bytes for almost a week but there was no substance anywhere.

The biggest culprit in not creating substantial argument for the FDI in retail seems to be the Congress, especially the Prime Minister's Office.

One need not be coy if one is convinced about a policy. In this regard, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should learn from President Barack Obama.

To gather support for his tax proposals, opposed by aggressively hostile Republicans, Obama went directly to the public and launched a social media campaign to raise the common Americans.

The White House website ( has material on the tax proposals of Obama, posted by the public. The issue is interactive and the President himself is answering some of the queries and concerns.

For the record, Obama's 'my2k' campaign has generated over one lakh responses till today. The average response per hour is staggering 9000 since it was launched on Nov 28, 2012.

There are scholarly articles on what it means to loss of $2000 by the middle class Americans if the tax is not raised for the rich. The recent article written by Aviva Aron-Dine, a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Jonathan Greenblatt, also a Special Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, talks about effects on charity.

Sample their argument on the White House website.

"Right now, America faces a series of critical fiscal choices that will affect the economy for years to come. One of the most critical steps we can take is to reduce the deficit in a balanced way in order to lay the foundation for long-term middle-class job growth. But we need to do that in a way that's consistent with our values."

"As part of his balanced approach to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion, President Obama proposes to raise $1.6 trillion in new revenue over 10 years for deficit reduction, including $1 trillion from the expiration of the Bush high-income and estate tax cuts. The President's plan asks the wealthy to pay their fair share by raising tax rates for the wealthiest 2 percent to the level they were at under President Clinton-39.6 percent-which was a time when we created 23 million new jobs. It also prevents an income tax increase for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses."

"Some have suggested that, rather than raising tax rates for the most fortunate, policymakers should make up the revenue by cutting high-income tax benefits - in particular, by imposing a dollar cap on itemized deductions, including charitable contributions."

"But what is clear is that proposals that take tax rates off the table would threaten donations to universities, non-profit hospitals, social services providers, arts and cultural institutions and other nonprofit organizations. This is because - to make the math work - these proposals rely on hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue that would result from drastically cutting or eliminating the charitable deduction as we now know it."

"Currently, the tax code encourages gifts to charity by allowing taxpayers to claim itemized deductions for charitable giving. But - as a new report by the National Economic Council (NEC) shows, the most prominent dollar cap proposals would effectively eliminate the charitable deduction for up to 13 million households and for as much as 60 percent of currently deductible giving."

"Solving the Nation's deficit and debt challenges will require that the highest-income households pay more. But under a more balanced approach that includes an increase in tax rates, this can be achieved without imposing major collateral damage on charitable giving and jeopardizing the vital work of those nonprofit organizations that serve the needs of millions of Americans."

One may agree or disagree with the authors but what it shows is the way the political leaders of future need to approach complex policy issues. The economist prime minister of ours is guilty of giving bland statements instead of offering scholarly explanations to public on the web on tricky subjects like FDI or need for reforms.

Obama's engagement with the voter public ensures long term benefits for Democratic Party and anybody endorsed by Obama (since Obama cannot have another term as president).

OneIndia News

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