News generally consists of newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events, that can serve to inform a population about events that may affect their lives. One news story is hardly sufficient to reveal the true nature or features of either a person or an organization, but when news is reported over time from different sources and considered in aggregate, even a cognitively challenged human being cannot help but get a very accurate portrayal of a story’s subject whether it is a well-known celebrity, an organization, or the Republican Party. There were two specific announcements on Wednesday that, taken on their own, were just economic news reports, but if a person had kept abreast of Republicans’ actions over the past few months, the stories were not “news” at all but the expected culmination of congressional Republicans’ economic agenda that reveal precisely why America’s economy is struggling.
First, the good news for wealthy Americans was that the stock market hit another all-time record high and, if not predicted, was an expected result of Republican economic policy favoring Americans wealthy enough to invest in speculative financial markets without affecting their wealth and income. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high of 16,580.84 eclipsing the record high close of last December 31. The S&P 500 also rose yesterday by 5 points and the NASDAQ was 11 points higher. A senior market strategist at Everbank, Chris Gaffney, asked “Who would imagine we would get a first-quarter GDP print so disappointing, and yet we’re closing the stock market at a high?” Many financial observers expected another all-time record high for the stock market, but nearly everyone knew the first quarter 2014 GDP growth was going to be disappointing.
The people who not only imagined but predicted a disappointing GDP report were the Congressional Budget Office, economists, current and former middle class Americans living from paycheck to paycheck, and Americans barely surviving poverty. Economists predicted last year that between stagnant and declining wages, job-killing spending cuts, and the Republican sequester Republicans’ practice of taking money out of the economy would begin seriously affecting GDP growth in first quarter 2014. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ advance estimate of first quarter 2014, real gross domestic product output produced in the U.S. “grew at a glacial 0.1% rate.” The 0.1% rate of growth is relative to fourth quarter 2013 when real GDP increased 2.6%; the CBO and nearly all economists warned, and anticipated, that GDP growth would be a pathetic 1.1% due to a number of factors directly attributable to Republican austerity madness. Obviously they underestimated the full effects of Republican austerity, particularly the effect on growth of Republican Draconian safety net cuts.
The weak economic growth was predicted by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, noted economists not employed by the Heritage Foundation, and Americans who observe politics on a regular basis. That growth was worse than economists’ weak predictions came as no surprise. To say the economy is finally feeling the full force and detriment of Republicans’ austerity policies is understating the results of the dangerous combination of austerity economics for 99% of the population, and willing GOP protection of the richest 1% of income earners and wealth hoarders in the country. Republicans have made increasing income inequality their raison d’être since the 1980s and Reagan’s trickle-down economics that has plagued economic recovery, killed off the middle class and jobs, and increased poverty for the masses. Another news item yesterday revealed that Republicans have no intent of stopping their deliberate assault on Americans or intent to protect and increase the wealthy’s riches.
Despite economists’ warnings austerity would hamper economic growth for the masses while corporations and the rich would continue increasing their income and wealth, Senate Republicans blocked Democrat’s attempt to raise the pitiful minimum wage. Coupled with blocking unemployment benefit extensions for Americans who immediately invest back into the economy to maintain and create jobs, and blocking pay equity for women that all engender GDP growth, Republicans reveal they intend keeping economic growth at a snail’s pace while helping the rich continue increasing their wealth. Another news item this week added to the characterization that Republicans exist to enrich the already wealthy when Republicans passed a permanent unfunded $310 billion tax cut for the rich and corporations. Add to that last month’s news the House passed another Ryan budget giving the rich and corporations a massive 15% tax cut while raising taxes on low and middle class Americans by about $2,000 annually, there is little question the GOP works solely to restrict economic growth for the masses and increase the wealth of the rich. Killing jobs by taking money out of the economy and from people who spend it immediately is a value-added bonus to hasten the next disappointing economic report.
Included in Ryan’s job-killing budget were seriously drastic cuts to social safety nets such as $139 billion in food stamp cuts, Medicaid cuts, privatizing Medicare to increase seniors’ medical expenses, and raiding military, Veterans, and public sector pensions that characterize exactly who Republicans work for; the wealthy and corporations. In fact, if one looks back on the news from the past year, the CBO and real economists predicted the disappointing the first-quarter GDP report whether it was the Republican sequester, food stamp cuts, government shutdown, pitiful minimum wages, ending long-term unemployment benefits, or pension cuts that either separately or combined kill jobs and take money out of the economy.
One news item that the main stream media never reports are increasing assertions by economists that America is entering a new Guilded Age. America is not entering into a Guilded Age, it is already there and it is entirely attributable to Republicans taking everything from the 99% and giving it to the richest one percent. In a news report three weeks ago, noted economists reported that wealth inequality in America is at 1920’s levels when a few wealthy industrialists controlled the lion’s share of America’s wealth prior to progressive and FDR’s economic, tax, and labor reforms that brought 99% of the population back from the brink of perpetual poverty an inordinate number of Americans either find themselves now or are one job loss away from. One thing the report that GDP growth is nearly non-existent failed to note is the number of jobs lost as the economy lags and Americans struggle to put a roof over their family’s heads or more than one meal a day on the table. The concept of spending on anything besides basic survival necessities is a luxury reserved for the richest Americans.
All three of yesterday’s big news items were may have been depressing and disappointing, but they were not unexpected. The wealthy have amassed an unconscionable amount of wealth they pour into the stock market without regard for depleting their riches, and there was little doubt Senate Republicans would block a minimum wage increase to keep the wealthy’s’ riches growing. The only question about how close the CBO and noted economists’ predictions of a horrible GDP growth report would be was just how close to zero Republican austerity economics would retard growth. Although most Americans winced at the 0.1% GDP growth rate, Republicans certainly rejoiced at the news prior to voting against raising the minimum wage. If there is one thing no American should regard as news, it is that Republicans have succeeded in thwarting a robust economic recovery for everyone except the people they go to Washington to serve; the rich and their corporations.
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.