It is difficult to believe that any American might think, even for a nano-second, that Republicans serve anyone other than the rich and corporations, and it is why they are hesitant to lay out their true agenda heading into the midterm elections. Yesterday President Obama touted the economic growth the nation has witnessed during his tenure in office, and assailed Republicans for not having “the courage to lay out theirs.” Although the President has a point, Republicans have laid out their “ideas to create more jobs and grow more wages,” but because they know their ideas will not, have not, and cannot do either, they only reveal their true ideas to their corporate and wealthy supporters. Americans are not the smartest people on the planet, but they are aware that Republicans’ failed economic policies do not create jobs and increase wages because they just experienced a Great Recession founded on Republican failed policies.
The President duly noted that after laying out his ideas for more jobs and better wages, Republicans took a stand for the rich and blocked policies that would help the middle class and lift the poor out of poverty such as “raising the minimum wage, enacting fair pay, refinancing student loans, or extending unemployment insurance for the unemployed.” He also explained Republicans have sort-of backed off the fear mongering about the out-of-control deficits they created during the Bush years, and relaxed the fright-fest related to the Affordable Care Act. The point of the President’s speech was that the midterm elections should be “a referendum on two starkly different visions” for the economy, and he could have pointed out that there has been some very good economic reports in spite of Republican obstruction.
First, economic growth in the second quarter of 2014 was at its highest levelsince 2006; two full years before Republicans created the Great Recession. The promising report was in spite of Republican claims that the only way to grow the economy is more tax cuts for the rich and eliminate banking, workplace, and environmental regulations. It is precisely the same thing they claim will create more jobs, so it was curious the President was silent that for the first time in 14 years, economists reported that “initial jobless claims can’t go much lower,” and that “job creation is occurring at the strongest pace since the recession ended.” All this in spite of a tax increase on the richest Americans and regulations holding firmly in place.
The president said Republicans should “have the courage to lay out” their ideas for creating job growth, and assailed their ridiculous trickle-down economics platform. He said, “If there were any credibility to the argument that says when those at the top do well, eventually everyone else will do well, it would have borne itself out by now.” The President is absolutely correct about tax cuts for the rich and corporations never producing prosperity for anyone other than corporations and the wealthy, but he is wrong that Republicans have not laid out their “ideas for creating job growth.” In fact, just last week House Speaker John Boehner presented Republicans’ five-point plan to create jobs and grow wages during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that, although a plan, is precisely what the President criticized and not one Boehner is willing to present to the voters.
Boehner 5-point GOP “plan to create jobs, boost wages, and bring good-paying jobs home” includes in part eliminating corporate taxes to stop inversions, and then “get workers off the sidelines by building a culture of hard work and responsibility around them.” First on Boehner’s list is drastically slashing taxes for corporations and the rich (trickle-down economics) he said will create a job bonanza and increase wages. Boehner said the GOP plan was crucial to “resetting the foundation of our economy for the next two or three generations, provide a stream of good-paying jobs, and provide more security straight through retirement.” When Boehner said “resetting the foundation of our economy,” he meant revisiting the Bush-era tax cuts and deregulation that were partly responsible for increasing the deficit, the Great Recession, and more profits for the rich.
His second point was “to rein in the regulatory system.” He particularly noted the Dodd-Frank banking reform and said that if America stopped regulating banks and Wall Street, there would be a jobs boom and Americans’ wages would increase. It is more of the Bush-era deregulatory frenzy that created the Great Recession President Obama warned was not sustainable. The President said “to have an economy where growth was based on inflated prices and bubbles that burst, and the casino mentality on Wall Street where the recklessness of a few” would threaten us all is not defensible. “That was not a formula for sustained growth.” Except that it was a brilliant formula for Wall Street that has grown by leaps and bounds as well as taken the lion’s share of the recovery which is why Republicans are anxious to “rein in banking regulations.”
Boehner’s third point was “reforming our legal system” and cutting awards for corporate malfeasance. According to Republican ideology, it is unfair for corporations, large and small, to pay damages to victims that Boehner claimed just drives up prices to the consumer and kills potential and existing jobs. He said he is all for “taking care of people who have been injured,” but within “reasonable limits on damages and compensation” because the current system is too costly for big business and their bottom line.
The fourth point of the Republican plan was once and for all solving “our spending problem” on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid entitlements. Of course, Social Security is self-funded and does not, and cannot, take any money from the government, but Republicans want to cut benefits, raise the retirement age, and hand the Trust over to Wall Street for administration and disbursements. Boehner failed to reveal how making drastic cuts to, or privatizing, Social Security would create a job explosion or increase working Americans’ wages, but he did note that since Americans are living till they are 80, the retirement age must be increased and benefits must be cut. It makes no sense as part of a job creation and wage increase economic plan, but no more than the fifth point in a plan meant to increase the wealth of corporations.
It is unbelievable really, but Boehner said enacting a comprehensive privatized school initiative across the whole of America was an integral aspect of the plan to create new jobs, boost wages, bring jobs home, stop inversions, and build a culture of hard work into Americans “standing on the sidelines.” Apparently, Boehner thinks that giving parents an opportunity to find “the better (read more costly and underperforming) schools they need and deserve” is part of helping them get ahead and “not just get by.” Interestingly, Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus reiterated Boehner’s “privatize America’s schools” plan and said it was economically prudent and a civil rights issue parents are desperate to see implemented.
Maybe President Obama saying Republicans should “have the courage to lay out their ideas for creating jobs and growing wages” was to bait them into telling the people their intent is returning to Bush-era economics and more recessions. It is worth noting that Republicans have laid out their economic agenda, but they have been very careful to reveal their plans primarily to their wealthy donors and corporate think tanks, but not the public. Remember, Mitch McConnell told the Koch brothers’ billionaire cabal that if Republicans gain control of the Senate they will “go after all of the federal government,” including Social Security. Paul Ryan admitted Republicans can hardly stop Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps without a Republican Senate, but they are not campaigning on those issues for obvious reasons; they would never get elected.
It appears it is up to President Obama to expose the Republican job creation and wage growth agenda and show the stark contrast between his successful policies that lifted America out of the Republican recession the GOP will return to with a vengeance if they control Congress. The President was right to imply Republicans are cowards for concealing their plans that will not create jobs or grow wages, and now he has to take the next step and reveal why their cowardice prevents them from telling the people their only plan is creating more wealth for the rich and corporations at the expense of the poor and middle class.
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.
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