After four years of Democrats walking around in a fog, seeking a sense of political self, confused as to their goals and priorities in serving the people, it appears they may have discovered their identities. For the American people, Democrats overcoming their identity crisis is far too little too late, because now that they are the minority party in Congress, they have no chance in Hell of advancing an agenda President Obama has been calling for over the past six years; an agenda that the great majority of the population overwhelmingly support.
If Democrats had proposed any of their current populist plans last year, Republicans would have limped into the midterm elections defending their religious allegiance to the richest one-percent of income earners and their highly-profitable corporations. Instead, cowardly Democrats aligned themselves with Republicans and as Howard Dean warned Democrats; Americans will never vote for a “Republican-lite” candidate when they can vote for the real thing.
It is not as if President Obama failed to give Democrats a stellar model to follow, it is just that many Democrats were too timid to stand with the President who just two years ago won an overwhelming majority of the people’s support. It was the Democrats inability and fear of proposing bold populist policies that likely cost them control of Congress.
Over the past few months, President Obama took matters into his own hands and used his executive authority to openly “challenge Republicans to oppose populist proposals that would help working families” and lift more Americans out of the depths of poverty. Whether it is calling for paid sick leave for all Americans, raising the salary threshold to qualify for overtime pay, or proposing two-years of free college, the President has put Republicans in the unenviable position of opposing policies that are very popular among the majority of Americans; something that would have changed the dynamic in the midterm elections.
If Democrats had offered the recent tax proposal that cut taxes for over 90% of the population last year, Republicans would have had a difficult task of opposing a tax cut for nearly all Americans. The “paycheck bonus credit” is about a $2,000 tax cut for families earning less than $200,000 (the median income is $49,000), tripled the tax credit for child care, and rewarded people who could save $500 in one year.
The beauty of the plan, and obvious popular appeal, is that the $1.2 trillion family tax cut would go directly back into the economy as cash-strapped Americans would immediately spend it growing the economy and creating jobs. The other aspect that an overwhelming majority of the population, including Republicans, support is that the plan is completely funded from “Wall Street high rollers” through a fee on financial transactions and eliminating unfair tax breaks for the richest 1 percent of income earners.
Americans have complained loudly in election polls after monthly surveys that the American economy and tax code is set up to unfairly benefit the richest 1 percent. The overwhelming majority of Americans believe the filthy rich should start paying their fair share and stop getting all the tax breaks; particularly since they reaped well over 80% of the economic recovery while middle and lower class citizens watched their wages decline.
It is impossible to believe that very many Americans would oppose the Democrats’ tax plan because it benefits 99% of the population. However, Republicans dismissed the plan out of hand precisely because it does help the 99 percent. In fact, Republicans spun the $2,000 a year tax cut for the 99% as an abomination; especially Paul Ryan-types who want to raise taxes on the poor and middle class in what the GOP labels “expanding the tax base.” Ryan’s spokesman said of the plan, “Just as the sun rises in the east, Washington Democrats propose another massive tax increase. Our focus is going to be on cleaning up the tax code so that we can lower rates for job creators and help create good-paying jobs, not scaring them off with punitive tax hikes.”
Now, regardless of how logic and math-challenged the predominately stupid American people really are, even a dirt-stupid yokel would comprehend that 99% of the population getting a $2,000 tax cut is not in any conceivable way what Ryan and Republicans call “another massive tax increase.”
If Democrats had pushed this simple plan last year, especially going into the midterm elections, they would not be in the minority in the Senate because Republicans could not defend opposing a huge tax cut for 99 percent of the population. But not only did Democrats not think to propose a tax plan Republicans could oppose and win big in the midterms, a relatively high number of them were running away from the President’s agenda to help grow the 99 percent’s’ financial situation, create jobs, and continue growing the economy.
Regarding taxes, the President had to threaten Republicans and some Democrats with a veto over their proposed gift to corporations and the rich to the tune of $440 billion in tax cuts because “it didn’t do anything whatsoever for the middle class.” Now, the Democrats are proposing a real tax plan to help 99% of the population but it is too little too late. Republicans changed the rules in the House to automatically deem monumental tax cuts for the richest 1 percent, and tax hikes on everyone else as the only way to grow the economy and Democrats were powerless to stop them. That is something else President Obama will have to do himself.
Democrats also proposed some clever amendments to the authorization to build Canada’s pipeline across America that would have swayed public opinion to oppose the pipeline for what it really ever was; a gift to Canada, the Kochs, and Speaker John Boehner. The proposed amendments would have left Republicans with no defense and would have put an abrupt end to their lies about the benefit of the pipeline.
If Americans knew Republicans opposed banning the export of oil transported through the pipeline, opposed using American-produced iron, steel, and manufactured goods “to be used for the pipeline construction, operation, and maintenance,” they would see through the mountain of lies Republicans have perpetuated to portray the pipeline as beneficial to the people. Republicans would also have a difficult time defending a foreign corporation invoking eminent domain over Americans’ private property that Republican governors have granted to the foreigners. Now, with Republicans running Congress those amendments will never be included in the legislation and most Americans will never learn the truth about the pipeline. It is another thing President Obama will have to do on his own.
As far as Bernie Sanders latest Keystone amendment requiring Republicans to admit that climate change is real, if Republicans were smart, they would allow the amendment and demand Democrats vote en masse to authorize the pipeline’s construction. Sanders’ idea is to force the GOP to acknowledge climate change is real and that Congress will take steps to address it, but Republicans are liars and they may acknowledge climate change’s authenticity just to get the pipeline built. They have nothing to lose with no election for two years and it is something the dirty liars might concede and then change their tune immediately after the permit is issued. Republicans are not stupid and after telling myriad lies to get the pipeline built, one more will not affect their Christian sensibilities.
It is a true travesty that Democrats waited until after they helped Republicans win control of Congress before acting like Democrats. It is not that they lacked a leader to set the pace for bold populist proposals, they were just petrified of aligning with, or following the model set by, President Obama. It is true their proposals are very popular with the population, but the population is not controlling Congress now; Republicans are.
It is quite possible that if Democrats had proposed any of their ideas just a year ago and forced Republicans to spend ten months openly opposing, obstructing, and condemning something as popular as a huge tax cut for 99% of the population, or promoting a project that helps no-one but the Kochs, they may not be in the minority.
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.