Burnard: Who is serving the people?Written by Don Burnard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Republican Party has left no doubt it is bought and paid for by its corporate masters (Disclaimer: Several Blue Dog so-called Democrats also fall into this category). The Super-Special Save the Country Committee was a colossal failure, as expected by just about everyone.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who ran for office to supposedly bring his expertise in monetary matters, proved to be just what I thought he would be: another corporate shill.
During his recent Toledo appearance he presented his seven-step plan to boost the economy. It was a rehash of every Republican wish list since Ronald Reagan: We need lower corporate taxes so that the largesse will trickle down to the little people; we need more free trade agreements to increase our exports and lower trade barriers; less regulation because it will cost jobs; yadda, yadda, yadda. The only problem with all this is it has been tried for the past 30 years, and it does not work! So now we’ll go back to looking out for the “job creators,” as Republican strategist Frank Luntz has trained them to call the rich. Wage earners need not apply for relief — unless it benefits, say, the oil industry, even more. Look no further than the failure to pass the middle-class tax extension and unemployment benefits extension. The Repubs just can’t bring themselves to pass a simple bill that will help an estimated 160 million people without larding it up with gifts for the 1 percent. Couple that with the cavalcade of clowns running for the GOP nomination and we’re left wondering just what the hell these guys are thinking.
They are deliberately trying to set up a massive failure of government so that the corporate interests can sweep in and “save” the country. There is no other rationalization that even begins to make sense. Ohio representative and Speaker of the House John Boehner and his minions were outed as having played an instrumental role in the egregious congressional redistricting map that’ will most likely be the subject of the next major referendum. Another possibility is that they know that they have so thoroughly bollixed things up with their obstructionism and political pettiness that they could quite possibly be in the political hinterlands for another 30 years, and they want to endear themselves to the moneyed class in hopes that they will have a lucrative position after leaving government “service.” After all, it worked for John Kasich and myriad other politicians. The Occupy movement and its numbers are starting to make the Tea Party movement look like, well, a tea party in comparison. The only thing they have still working in their corner is the ingrained ineptitude and lack of courage exhibited by the Democratic Party. A third party candidate or an independent could fare well in 2012.
Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s secretary of labor and chancellor’s professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, pointed out a number of fallacies in the GOP’s economic policies. First, that tax cuts for the rich trickle down. Under Reagan and Bush II, taxes for the rich were sliced. Wages began to flatten under Reagan and actually went down under Bush. The Half In Ten Campaign, a group of experts studying how to cut poverty, did a study that showed in the past 36 years real wages, adjusted for inflation, grew by an incredible $1.23/hr, or 8.4 percent, from an average of $14.73 in 1973 to $15.96 in 2009. The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report that said that between 1979 and 2007, income grew 275 percent for the top 1 percent and by 18 percent for those at the bottom. If there’s any trickling going on, it’s up, not down.
Higher taxes on the rich would hurt the economy and slow job growth. From the end of WWII to 1981, the rich had tax rates of 70 percent or above. Under Eisenhower, the top rate was 91 percent. Even with those high rates, growth was much higher than it is now. And, as Reich and others have pointed out, only about 2 percent of the vaunted small business owners would be affected by the higher tax rates that have been proposed.
Shrinking government will generate more jobs is another fallacy. Wrong again. It means fewer teachers, police, firefighters and social workers at the state and local level, and fewer safety inspectors and military at the federal level.
It’s time the so-called government servants start serving the people they were elected to serve.
Email columnist Don Burnard at email@example.com.