As America struggles to extricate itself from a stagnating economic morass, Republicans have cut programs that benefit all Americans while refusing to cut military spending or raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy. The madness cannot go on forever though and if the current trend of transforming America into a third world economy continues, corporations and the wealthy will not have anyone to buy their products or services. Republicans have made some critical budget moves that will increase unemployment by cutting programs as a means of reining in spending, but are still giving oil companies tens of billions of dollars in subsidies.
Republicans voted yesterday to continue oil subsidies for the five largest oil companies while they complain that the government can ill-afford to keep paying out more than it takes in. The Republican solution to the budget deficit is cutting programs that primarily benefit the poor and working class Americans because they must protect the oil industry and the wealthy. Between 2005 to 2009, the largest oil companies have made a combined $485 billion in profits prompting John Hoffmeister, former CEO of Shell Oil to say that the “oil industry doesn’t need subsidies because of sustained high oil prices.” Republicans in Congress though, are stuck in a “big oil entitlement” rut that prevents them from looking out for the American people and the economic health of the nation.
Republicans are not feeling overly generous to the oil industry; they are protecting future campaign contributions and pacifying their corporate masters like the Koch brothers and conservative think tanks who control the media. It is much easier to cut services for the poor and gut programs that protect the environment than to raise the ire of conservatives. There were 12 Democrats who voted with Republicans to continue oil subsidies, so in fairness, selling out to big oil is not limited to Republicans; there are sleazy politicians on both sides of the aisle. However, every Republican voted to extend the subsidies much like most Republicans are attempting to eliminate collective bargaining arrangements with unions. If states were as cash-strapped as they claim, they would not continue giving tax breaks to corporations that add to the deficits. Republicans cannot even make compromises by rolling back corporate tax breaks and eliminating some programs that are redundant or wasteful. It is just not in Republicans’ mindset to raise taxes on the wealthy or corporations.
There is no reason why taxes for the wealthy cannot be raised. During the 1950s under the Eisenhower Administration, the wealthy paid 91% in income taxes and they continued getting rich while the government used the increased revenue to build an interstate highway system; the economy soared. Republicans either do not or cannot comprehend that when Americans earn living wages, they buy more durable goods like cars, televisions, homes, and spend on services that in turn stimulates more jobs and revenue from taxes. At the rate the country is going now, the disappearing middle class means less spending on goods and services that will eventually sink corporations. Unfortunately, as the middle class disappears so does tax revenue; that means Republicans can cut more services to the increasing ranks of the poor.
This past week another economic report showed that Republican spending cuts will eliminate 700,000 jobs. The job losses mean the government will lose tax revenue and millions of Americans will lose access to services like community health programs, housing aid, and reproductive health assistance. Republicans like to talk about shared sacrifice, but they are unwilling to guarantee that all Americans sacrifice equally. Besides giving subsidies to oil companies and tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, Republicans refuse to cut defense spending that is causing more economic trouble for the country. It is easier for Republicans to make seniors, crime victims, disabled people, and people at risk of suffering sacrifice than the wealthy, corporations, and defense contractors. If Republicans have their way, the majority of Americans will live in poverty so the richest 1-2% can realize more income. Conservatives would love nothing more than to see every aspect of the government privatized to further enrich corporations and the wealthy. However, it comes at a price now for the poor and middle class, and in the not-so-distant future it will hit the wealthy.
Conservatives must understand that if they continue driving more Americans into poverty, businesses will suffer and the economy will die. In the past couple of years there were about 4 million less cars sold because people are either out of work or too poor to afford a new car. It is true that cars are a major purchase, but when the majority of Americans begin struggling to put food on the table or afford housing, even a new television is out of the question. When Republicans finally kill the middle class, no corporation or oil company will survive in America. A conservative pundit claimed that when that does happen, American corporations will just move to take over another developing economy. That is an unlikely scenario because stable economies (and there are fewer than one might think) are those that value the middle class for their purchasing power.
Americans are beginning to understand that the wealthy and corporations have to pay their share to sustain the economy. A recent poll said that 61% of Americans think corporations and the rich should pay more in taxes than they are paying now to help the nation’s budget deficit. Another 23% said that cutting defense spending is appropriate to solve the deficit problem. Apparently Republicans who claim to be doing the will of the American people did not read the poll. It is likely that corporations are incapable of looking past quarterly earnings reports to see the trend in spending by Americans is diminishing by the day. Republicans are too worried about the next round of campaign contributions to do the fiscally responsible thing and increase revenue to grow the economy. However, that may be their plan for the next two years.
The GOP is so intent on making President Obama a one-term president that they appear to be willing to send the economy into the gutter. Along the way, they may find that Americans have had enough of their destructive policies. The protests in Wisconsin have shown that although the teachers were willing to give in on every concession Governor Walker requested, he will not concede or negotiate anything. The public is also aware that Walker and Republicans in general continue giving tax breaks to the oil industry and corporations while cutting services like education. It is curious that corporations are willing to let their customer base disappear just to make profits in the short-term.
Republicans could care less about the economy or they would increase revenue and cut defense spending as a means of deficit reduction. Instead, they cut services causing more unemployment and give Americans’ tax dollars to the rich. There are only two outcomes for America and its precious corporations; increase revenue and create jobs that will increase consumer spending, or continue their current path and watch the country’s economy die. Apparently Republicans have made their choice. Americans will suffer, but along the way, Republicans will kill the corporations they serve by eliminating their consumers. But for Republicans, as long as they get campaign contributions they could not care less about Americans or corporations. They should enjoy it while it lasts.