GOP shows its focusWritten by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The true focus of the newly re-empowered Republican majority is quickly becoming apparent. Recently, the GOP blocked the extension of unemployment benefits for 2 million long-termed unemployed because they are “concerned” about the $12.1 billion that a one-year extension of benefits would cost and its adding to the deficit. In times of economic malaise, when there are five unemployed workers for every available job, they feel it is more important to “rein in the out-of-control spending” that is destroying our country.
Let’s look at the current state of affairs. Exit polls showed that the top concerns for voters were far and away jobs and the economy. The Republicans ran on promises to create jobs, in Ohio and nationwide. After the election, the focus is right back to the same old crap they have been shoveling for the past 10 years: Tax cuts for the rich, smaller government, less regulation and now, repeal of the health care law, blocking cap and trade and, basically, blocking anything the Democrats and the Obama administration try to do.
Add in defunding NPR for firing Juan Williams for good measure.
Nowhere has any kind of plan to create jobs appeared on the radar screen of these great saviors of democracy. You see, the campaign is over. Now it’s back to business as usual. The main concern is to look out for those poor millionaires and billionaires, who may lose the great benefits they received from the Bush tax cuts. The fact it would cost us $830 billion during the next 10 years, money that would most probably have to be offset by borrowing from the Chinese, seems to create a blind spot in the Republicans’ deficit concern.
The paltry $12 billion by comparison to extend the benefits for the unemployed are much more of a threat in Bizarro World. The fact that the spending from those unemployment checks have been shown time and again to be much more effective in getting the economy going isn’t even a consideration to them. The aristocracy takes precedence.
Hundreds of the beneficiaries of this beneficence have called for letting these tax cuts expire and for the Obama plan to keep them for families earning $250,000 or less. United for a Fair Economy, a group made up of hundreds of people in the top 5 percent, is calling for the fair taxation of the wealthy. Billionaires like Warren Buffett, arguably one of the most well-heeled in the world, is calling for the end to this madness. For more than four decades, they have received the lion’s share of the economic pie, and even they recognize the danger of the widening gap in income disparity.
The GOP talking heads would have you believe that this is the way to prosperity and creating jobs. The New York Times reported that American companies just posted their most profitable quarter ever, earning at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion. This was the highest ever recorded. Unfortunately, it had virtually no effect on jobs in the real world. But these are the poor souls who we need to focus on first, according to the Republicans.
Another report came out that pointed out the wealth of members of Congress. Their net worth increased by 16 percent through the meltdown of the economy and most have a net worth that puts them in the top 5 percent. Think there’s a connection here? One of Ronald Reagan’s famous campaign slogans was that “It’s morning in America.” We’d better wake up and smell the coffee, folks!
Bob Herbert pointed out in a recent column, “There is no way to bring America’s consumer economy back to robust health if unemployment is chronically high, wages remain stagnant and the jobs that are created are poor ones. Without ordinary Americans spending their earnings from good jobs, any hope for a meaningful long-term recovery is doomed.”
So here’s my plan: From the time the new Congress, both national and state, take office, every day I’ll ask “Where’s the jobs?” Let’s see if enough of us can actually hold these guys accountable to do what they promised us they’d do. Keep repeating it until they start to pay attention to us, the members of the other 95 percent. That goes for members of both parties. Remember, “Where’s the jobs?” It’d make a nice bumper sticker, don’t you think?
E-mail columnist Don Burnard at email@example.com.