Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Dazzlingly Simple Bailout

What we need is A Dazzlingly Simple Bailout: A $10,000 Credit Card with an Early Expiration Date sent to American Citizens will cause immediate spending and thus immediate re-hiring.

In addition to jobs for green energy, infrastructure and education Congress should divide the next mammoth bailout the Senate Finance Committee is considering among American Citizens, by sending each a combination credit/debit card (let’s call it the Uncle Sam Congressional Card or USCC card) with an early expiration date to force spending now. Depending on formulation this could give $10,000 or more to each American family.

Who would get the Uncle Sam Congressional Card (USCC card)?
1. Every American family earning less than say $300,000 in taxable income would get a USCC worth $10,000 and each individual earning less than say $200,000 would get a USCC worth $5,000. (Congress will decide who will not get the USCC card; however, a cut off of $250,000 is much too low because if families earning $250,000 have kids and live in a big city they can barely afford rent, school, food, etc. Therefore, they deserve to share in this bailout, especially if they have lost their job/s). People earning over $300,000 should not get the card.

How would the USCC card be given out?

1. The Federal government gives Food Stamp Credit Cards to the poor and unemployed. The IRS has taxpayer contact information and with computers one can merge all taxpayers’ contact information with the Food Stamp Credit Card data base.

2. To save mailing costs, taxpayers can pick up their USCC cards at:
a) Banks; or
b) Post Offices; or
c) Automobile registry offices; or
d) Wherever Congress mandates.

3. Those who earn so little they do not have to pay taxes would also get the USCC card.
Food Stamp recipients are already given a Federal credit card so it should be easy to give them the USCC card, and to expand that program.

How the Uncle Sam Congressional Card (USCC) Would Work
1. The card must have an early expiration date to stimulate spending immediately.

2. This credit/debit card (USCC) should allow the taxpayer to buy whatever he/she wants up to the amount on the card. This will stimulate sales and thus hiring, immediately.

3. This USCC card should be in addition to funds for green energy, infrastructure, education, etc. because those bailouts will create jobs over the long term whereas this card will help the recovery, and stimulate hiring, instantly.

Uncle Sam Congressional Card would be the Most Efficient Bailout

1. Giving taxpayers the money will result in the most efficient recovery possible, and the fastest.

2. With this card in hand each taxpayer will be able to get a loan since the card will represent collateral backed by the US Treasury. The banks should be prevented from refusing to lend to someone wanting to borrow as long as the card can be debited to pay off the loan.

3. Small businesses can use the card to get small loans, to pay off debts, to hire, etc. and small business would benefit because we would all have money to spend.

4. Design the USCC card so that monthly loan, rent, credit card and other payments can be automatically deducted from it, if the taxpayer so desires.

5. An expiration date must be on each card. (I suggest an expiration date of one year to speed spending and the recovery.)

To Prevent Fraud with the Uncle Sam Congressional Card (USCC)

Do exactly what is done to prevent fraud with the Food Stamp Credit Card.

In sum, the Federal Government can just expand the existing Credit Card program used for Food Stamps to include taxpaying Americans. The stimulus effect will start the minute people have money and are able to buy things again.


  1. Genius idea! For more on the "light side" of the bailout blues, you might enjoy this video at

  2. Dear Leslie,

    assuming that bailout is a good idea at all, your version is great! (I will even suggest a slight modification at the end of this letter). At this moment I will cautiously abstain from judging how sound is your idea (I'd need more time for this). But it is a WONDERFUL illustration of the "Art of Agreement", which states that society should not rush into voting and making decisions without first spending some time and effort on CREATIVE THINKING, possibly on the level of the best PhD theses on mathematics and theoretical physics. It's sad to see the extremal lack of imagination and pathetically low intellectual level in the political world, which after all makes so important decisions. People don't realize the potential of thinking. Hardly anybody understands that difficult problems require new notions, often new vocabulary, to solve them well. It's done for scientific and technological breakthrougs but not for the vital social and economic challenges.

    (I do not have a political temperament, hence I've written very little of what I have on my "Art of Agreement"--it has to be developed by many people anyway; if I get some positive feedback I may write more; see

    or right away:

    You already have the idea though, and now it's just the question of priorities).


    Modification: the $5K should be spent according to a very simple schedule; for instance: the first $2k-$3K should be spent within the first 3 months, and the rest withing the next 3 months. For instance, if during the first 3 months you've spent $2200, then next you may spent within the next 3 months up to $2800 (if you spent during that time only $2600 then you forfeit $200, what a pity). But if during the first 3 months you have spent less than $2K, say $1600, then during the next 3 months you may spend only up to $3K, i.e. you lost a chance to spend $400 of the original $5K.


    I am very impressed with your proposal, it's a zilion times better of what is proposed "up there" (read "down there").

    Best regards,

    Włodzimierz Holsztyński