*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
If such a large percentage of the American people weren’t plagued with willful ignorance and inherent stupidity, or an inability to recognize the ineptitude of Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, it is highly likely the GOP would cease to exist. There is no area where Republicans are systematic failures more than economic policy, but not because they don’t know what works best for the American people and the nation as a whole. Republicans, all Republicans, just have no interest helping the people or the country be prosperous or financially secure; their interest focuses on the already rich.
After over thirty years of basing their entire economic policy on giving everything away to the richest Americans at the expense of the people, Republicans still persist in pushing the failed trickle-down economic disaster with yet another pledge that it is the key to correcting Democrat’s economic successes like another bit of news that the Obama economic success slashed the poverty rate according to the Census Bureau.
If there were not already real living examples of how Republicans are able to deliberately and with malice aforethought decimate the economy, send millions into poverty, and deprive the government of revenue, one might excuse a vote for a Republican; but the examples are numerous, ongoing and blatant.
Even forgetting that the “grand conservative” economic experiment in Kansas has all but destroyed the state And killed jobs and growth, there is the George W. Bush era that resulted in the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression; a disaster that blew up the poverty rate and one Republicans appear desperate to repeat with a Republican in the White House and controlling Congress.
Now, after President Obama and Democrats waged a monumental war against congressional Republicans to lift millions of Americans out of poverty, there is tremendous news from the United States census. Last year millions of Americans climbed out of the poverty ranks for the first time in well over a decade if not longer, and made inroads into the middle class. This is not the kind of economic news Republicans want to hear and it seems that Democrats and the media are willing to pretend didn’t happen.
If America had a responsible media, which it does not, this great news would have dominated at least on news cycle; particularly during a general election year. But since Donald Trump controls all broadcast, print and cable American media, most Americans will never learn that when Democrats do the exact opposite of what Trump and Republicans intend as economic policy, the results are wildly successful, there is a higher median income, millions of jobs are created and the number of Americans living in poverty is reduced drastically.
According to the latest census data, there were over 3.5 million fewer Americans drowning in poverty in 2015 than the previous year according to the latest data. As noted by an independent business economist in Chicago, Diane Swonk,
“It all came together at the same time. Lots of employment and wage gains, particularly in the lowest-paying end of the jobs spectrum, combined with minimum-wage increases that hit some very large population areas. Another hidden benefit was lower prices at the pump. People who couldn’t afford the commute before could now afford to accept a minimum-wage job.” As a side note; the Republicans’ bosses in the oil industry deliberately cut domestic oil production to drive up prices at the pump.
What Ms. Swonk was most likely referring to in citing “it all came together” was part of earlier good economic news that overall, the median income rose 5.2 percent in 2015 as the poverty rates fell. That increased consumer spending “compelled” employers to dig deeper into pools of untapped labor, create more retail, restaurant and hotel jobs, and they were forced to pay higher wages to attract more employees. Experts noted that an additional aid in reducing poverty was that some employers had to meet some states’ new minimum wage requirements. What the new data did not show, as expected, was that businesses suffered due to paying higher wage or that employers stopped hiring as Republicans typically claim.
One giant factor noted by the New York Times in reducing the number of Americans in poverty was that overall there were 2.9 million “more jobs” created from 2014 to 2015 aiding millions of unemployed Americans to finally “cross over into the ranks of regular wage earners.” In fact, it wasn’t just nearly 3 million new jobs, but many, many part-time employees’ number of hours worked increased substantially and their wages, when adjusted for inflation, climbed as well.
Republicans are wont to claim higher wages kill jobs and businesses and send more people into the poverty ranks, but according to Sheldon Danziger, president of a social science research organization, the Russell Sage Foundation, “There are different roads out of poverty; today one of the most promising is to go somewhere where they raised the minimum wage.” It is noteworthy that Republicans want to eliminate the idea of a minimum wage and their big-time wrestling celebrity standard bearer, Donald Trump, regularly tells audiences Americans’ wages are just too damn high to compete with poverty-ridden population in China.
One of the more encouraging signs was that he poverty rate fell in 23 states, while the remaining 27 stayed flat; even better yet was that no state’s poverty rate grew. There is also evidence that this was not a one-off because the improvement in poverty reduction is continuing thus far in 2016 even though the data is not complete to demonstrate the growth is as robust as last year; a full year’s worth of data will be more conclusive but the trend is toward poverty rates continuing to fall.
For the richest nation on Earth boasting one of the only robustly recovering economies after Republicans nearly destroyed it worldwide, and the lion’s share of that recovery going straight to the filthy rich, poverty in America should be falling much faster. There is little dispute that if Republicans cared in the least about the poor and middle class as they do the rich, the poverty rate would be falling much faster. Conversely, if Republicans controlled all facets of government and succeeded in their scorched Earth attack on the people, social programs, and wages to further enrich their wealthy donors, tens-of-millions more Americans would be in poverty.
Democrats have an abundance of good economic news, government data, independent reports and analysis to crush Republican claim that their economic policies are successful and there is no excuse for them not hammering conservatives mercilessly.
A declining poverty rate is exactly what real economic experts expected and asserted would result from higher wages and job creation that created higher median income the nation has experienced for the first time in literal ages. Coupled with the total Republican-economic failures in states like Kansas and Louisiana, any American remotely aware of these statistics who still supports a Republican must be deranged.
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.