During eight years of the Bush administration, Republicans managed to squander a substantial budget surplus, wage two unnecessary and unfunded wars at a cost of $6 trillion over the next generation, and drove the country into a Great Recession. Along the way they destroyed Americans retirement savings, the housing industry, and successfully killed tens of millions of Americans’ jobs. For two short years after the Republican economic catastrophe ended, President Obama saved the economy, staunched job losses with a meager stimulus, and created millions of jobs and yet, by 2011 Republicans went against conventional economic wisdom and embarked on a job-killing austerity spree under the guise of reducing long term deficit they blew up during the Bush years. For the past three years, besides attacking women’s rights, Republicans have made killing jobs their raison d’être and according to a new report, their economic insanity will cost the nation immense long term economic damage.
On Friday the government reported that the country added around 204,000 jobs in October, but despite the increase, the unemployment rate rose to 7.3% over the same period. The October report took into account that 800,000 government workers were furloughed for all or part of the Republican shutdown, and although many were counted as unemployed and on temporary layoff for purposes of the unemployment rate, they were also counted as employed by the government in employment figures because they were eventually paid. Still, federal government jobs were reduced by 12,000 for the October report that certainly excited Republicans.
Likely, the unemployment rate increase is a result of the Republicans’ precious sequestration cuts that were predicted to kill about a million jobs over the next fiscal year, and Americans should brace themselves for more job losses due to, at the very least, the food stamp cuts that began on November first. There will certainly be more jobs lost due to House Republicans’ intention to cut food stamp spending by ten-fold, or more, according to Paul Ryan and Republican budget negotiations founded on austerity madness.
When Republicans swept into the House in 2011, they promised their highest priority was job creation, but they started the 112th session with budget cuts that killed over a million jobs causing Speaker John Boehner to say “so be it.” Boehner’s cavalier attitude about killing jobs was a portent of the next three years of Republican austerity insanity, and according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, “the evidence is overwhelming that by failing to respond effectively to mass unemployment, by not even making unemployment a major policy priority, austerity has done immense long-term damage to America’s economy” that Republicans claim is doomed unless they enact more job killing austerity over the next decade.
The consensus at the International Monetary Fund research conference was that by not focusing on unemployment, the Republicans’ austerity has already reduced America’s economic potential by around 7% which means America is poorer by more than $1 trillion a year. Unfortunately for the American people and the nation’s economy, the damage is not just for one year, it is long-term damage of $1 trillion a year for multiple years. Republicans have screamed that the long-term deficit poses an existential threat to America as a reason to slash domestic spending, and it is the primary reason absolutely nothing has been done about the unemployment epidemic killing the economy and Americans’ financial security.
Republicans have been successful garnering support from their jobless and dirt-poor electorate because they preach and wrap themselves under a veil of long-run economic responsibility made up entirely of holding down government debt. However, one of the main things keeping the economy weak and jobs slow in coming is the depressing effect of cutbacks in public spending. As Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says, “It is the devastating cuts in public investment, all justified in the name of protecting the future from the wildly exaggerated threat of excessive debt” that is killing jobs at the same rate as a recession. Krugman also says that the lack of investment in the private sector is lagging because of the weak economy and lack of jobs that creates more long-term damage in multiple channels. He notes that “the long-term unemployed eventually come to be seen as unemployable; business investment lags thanks to weak sales; new businesses don’t get started; and existing businesses skimp on research and development.”
It is likely that most Americans, especially those supporting Draconian domestic cuts, fail to comprehend that every dollar taken out of the economy ultimately kills jobs. The Republicans certainly understand, and next to sheer cruelty to punish Americans living in poverty, they are well aware their spending cuts kill jobs that, next to attacking women’s rights, has been their stock and trade since sweeping into power after the 2010 midterm elections.
Take, for example, the recent $5 billion cuts in food stamps that went into effect on November 1st. Not only do Republicans get to create hardship for low-wage, elderly, and unemployed hungry Americans, they are weakening the economy and killing more jobs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, every one dollar in food stamp spending returns $1.73 to the economy and that $5 billion turns into $8.65 billion taken out of the economy just in one year. Since food stamp recipients spend the money immediately to survive, farmers, grocery businesses, and food processors all benefit and keep other Americans employed. Eliminating $8.65 billion is tantamount to killing hundreds-of-thousands of jobs that is just a drop in the bucket compared to the tens-of-billions of dollars being taken out of the economy with the sequester that is slated to destroy a million jobs in the next year.
Republicans have opposed every single one of President Obama’s job creation proposals as too costly for the nation, and yet they lavish hundreds of billions in subsidies on corporate agriculture, the oil industry, corporations, and the religious industry. With every job lost, the economy grows weaker and like the IMF researchers concluded, their job-killing austerity agenda is killing America’s economy now and in the long term. The Federal Reserve researchers are very pessimistic the Republican economic damage can be reversed, and it is highly probable that the country will spend the next decade, at least, paying for the Republican austerity and job-killing of the past three years. It is economic terrorism, and literally self-inflicted economic damage.
The tragedy is that President Obama’s attempt to right the economy and provoke a vibrant recovery would have solved the nation’s financial woes, but even he fell victim to the phony “deficit reduction” scam under the guise of fiscal responsibility. With an entire year before Americans can elect Democrats to support the President’s job creation and economically sustainable agenda, it appears that there will continue to be anemic job growth and dire warnings from economic experts that America has ignored the unemployment epidemic for too long because Republicans are Hell-bent and duty-bound to hamper economic recovery by doing what they do best; kill Americans’ jobs.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.