Approximately thirty years ago, an actor-turned-god told the American people that government was their enemy and was single-handedly responsible for their economic plight, and it started the neo-conservative movement that is ravaging the country today. Ronald Reagan convinced many Americans that if the wealthiest citizens in the country got all the breaks they would allow miniscule amounts of their wealth to trickle down to the peasants who would in turn pay more taxes to feed the wealthy’s low tax rate. When Bill Clinton was president, he raised the wealthy’s taxes to a level that is 3% higher than it is today and the economy made a recovery that has stood as the most prosperous era in recent memory. When George W. Bush took office in 2001, he immediately took the budget surplus President Clinton left and turned it over to the wealthy with repeated assurances that the rich would let some of their crumbs trickle down to working Americans who paid for his two wars and gave the rich tax breaks. Now the economy is once more near the brink of disaster and Republicans are refusing to raise taxes on the wealthy; all the while they help corporations send Americans’ jobs overseas to avoid paying taxes on the foreign income. So what is the Republicans answer to save the economy and create jobs? They are still trumpeting that tired canard that if the rich keep their tax breaks and regulations are eliminated, the job creators will get the economy working again.
The problem with telling the same nonsense story ad nauseum without positive results is that even the staunchest Republican supporters and working-class Americans become weary of being fooled and understand the conservatives are lying now like they have been since 1981. Americans are finally speaking out and telling Republicans that their plan of helping the rich at the expense of economic stability, jobs, and welfare of the people is bogus and will never improve the economy. Although the media is remiss in reporting the backlash against Republicans’ economic malfeasance, it does not mean Americans are not angry that they are struggling to survive Republican attacks on the middle class. Corporate entitlements, union busting, outsourcing jobs, and oil subsidies may work out well for corporations, but they are killing what is left of the American middle class.
Republicans began feeling repercussions shortly after Paul Ryan submitted the Heritage Foundation budget that included a Medicare privatization scam. Outraged citizens showed up at Republican town hall meetings to tell the representatives they absolutely did not want Medicare privatized, and when Republicans claimed it was necessary to trim the nation’s debt, angry people told them to raise taxes on the super wealthy and corporations. It occurred all across the country and yet the main-stream-media was silent like they were when protestors in Wisconsin occupied the state capitol building. The final straw though, is the recent debt-ceiling debacle when Republicans took the economy hostage to get the cuts they wanted in exchange for raising the debt limit.
When Congress adjourned for its summer break, Republicans who held town hall meetings proffered their tired talking points like high taxes cause businesses to move jobs out of America. In Minnesota, a legislator who tried the “high taxes kill American jobs” heard from participants that “Bush tried that plan and it didn’t work.” Undeterred, the legislator tried again to blame the lack of jobs on high taxes and another audience member said, “The tax rate today is lower than it’s been in years,” and that, “major corporations are known to be sitting on sizable amounts of money instead of creating new jobs.”
In another Republican town hall meeting, a congressman said a balanced budget amendment “is the one thing out there that can get our country back on track.” Several audience participants “criticized his position, saying the amendment won’t solve immediate problems like getting unemployed Americans back to work.” An audience member noted that Republicans “caused uncertainty because they had to make a political statement” with the debt ceiling and they “can’t even do one thing.” The man also said, “Congress ought to have just raised the debt ceiling as they were tasked to do, instead of adding to the problem through political deadlock.” Apparently the audience member read the S&P report that clearly stated the Republican’s inability to compromise and use a balanced approach is one of the primary reasons for the credit downgrade.
At a New Mexico town hall, an audience member told his Republican representative “he heard the 400 wealthiest families in the U.S. had more money than 90 percent of the population and that 80 percent of Americans support a balanced approach to balancing the budget, meaning cutting spending and raising taxes,” but the congressman “vowed that he would never raise taxes.” It is never a smart idea to ignore 80% of the voting public, but Republican’s adherence to their “no tax increases” agenda is infuriating the public that knows without increased revenues, the economy will never improve.
In Ohio, members at a rally said that Congress has not created work for those in the middle class. Speaking about Republicans they said, “They campaign on message of creating jobs and bringing America back to glory, yet not seeing that happen. In fact, we see benefits go to top 2 percent of country.” Arizona’s John McCain told an audience that cutting the corporate tax rate to 25% will create jobs and the audience booed his remark. One man asked McCain, “Why do you believe that tax breaks to the wealthy create jobs?” McCain did not have an answer to the question because there is no answer, but Americans are asking the right questions; finally. In Ohio, town hall audiences stated the obvious to their representatives that, “The wealthy just hoard the cash” and that, “The old tax rates worked well for the economy under Clinton.” One woman said that, “Big corporations and the rich have to pay their fair share; if we have to bite the bullet, they do, too. We can’t be forced to shoulder the entire burden.”
There are instances where ordinary working Americans at hundreds of town halls across the country are telling their representatives in Congress that it is time to raise taxes and spend money on creating jobs. An angry group of protestors outside of House Speaker John Boehner’s office attempted to break down the door to ask “where are the jobs” because Republicans promised to create jobs as their highest priority. Instead they have attacked women’s right to choose the reproductive health and proposed spending cuts that kill millions more jobs. Americans are also furious that Republicans are unwilling to compromise on anything and it is killing the economy for purely political reasons. The questions and statements by the town hall attendees are not Liberal or Progressive ideas, they are common sense that any householder understands about financial matters. They are, in fact, just good ideas for the country and the people. Government is supposed to work for its citizens; all of its citizens and not just the top 2% of the income bracket.
Republicans are not listening to the American people because they still parrot the same Reagan and Bush mantra that helping the richest 2% of Americans will eventually help the rest of the population. All of the prospective Republican presidential candidates are telling Americans that the deficit and high taxes are the reason there are no jobs, but after hearing the same nonsense for years, the meme is wearing thin. When people are hurting and barely keeping food on the table and a roof over their family’s heads, the last thing they want to hear is that the richest Americans need more tax breaks. The experiment of giving everything to the wealthy has been going on for thirty years and except for President Clinton’s eight years in office when he raised the wealthy’s taxes, the wealthy have not shared the sacrifice every other Americans endures. The only certainty is that Republicans will never stop the wealthy’s entitlements no matter what the public wants. Recently, Warren Buffet said to increase taxes on the wealthy and Republicans lambasted him because it is so ingrained in their psyches, that the notion of increasing the wealthy’s taxes are revolting. However, revolting or not, the American people are sick of barely subsisting just so rich people get their tax breaks.
Republicans are going to discover at the polls that ignoring 80% of America to help the wealthiest 2% is ill-advised, but they will not compromise and have promised to repeat the debt ceiling hostage taking again in November 2012. Is it going to help America? Of course not, but when have Republicans ever concerned themselves with helping America? Americans have to help America by rising up and forcing Congress to go along with President Obama’s agenda of creating jobs with a large stimulus and reining in the debt with a balanced approach. It is refreshing and hopeful that finally, Americans are waking up and speaking out; it is too bad Republicans are deaf and have contempt for the voters and America. They deserve everything they are going to get and one can only hope that it is extremely painful for them.