After the Japanese launched a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is alleged to have said, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Americans have been under a sustained attack by conservatives for 30 years and since President Obama has been in office, they have escalated their assault on the people for the sole purpose of enriching the wealthy and their corporations. The Occupy movement represents the initial stirring of the sleeping giant that, like a hibernating grizzly bear, is slow to awaken but once fully conscious, will transform from a groggy, sedate giant into a ravenous carnivore. Arrogant Republicans appear to be oblivious to the increasing poverty and deplorable conditions their policies have inflicted on 98% of America, and instead of amending their agenda of preferential treatment for 2% of the wealthiest Americans and their corporations, they are continuing to assail the rest of the country unabated.
At the CNBC Republican presidential debate on Wednesday, the assembled candidates laid out their vision for America that is an expanded version of Bush-Republican policies that tanked the economy and contributed to the income inequality America suffers from today. The American people are waking up to a GOP plan that includes more deregulation, increased tax cuts for the wealthy, and elimination of crucial social programs and federal departments of education, commerce, EPA, and energy. The Republicans cannot give any positive benefits of their agenda to the American people, but they give away their intention every time they utter the words job creators that is not-so-subtle code for rich people.
The Occupy movement is calling attention to income inequality that is, in part, responsible for 47 million American families (14.3%) living in dire poverty in 2009 according to Census Bureau statistics. That figure translates into one in six Americans living below the poverty threshold ($22,400 annually for a family of four). Within the 14.3% are 19 million people living in extreme poverty that includes the bottom half of those below the federal poverty line, and a third of the extremely poor are children; more than 50% of children under the age of six living with single mothers are included in the extremely poor category. The prospects for decreasing the number of people living below the poverty levels are not good. A Brookings Institute study and projection reports that without an upswing in the economic picture, by 2014 the poverty rate will grow to nearly 16% by 2014 and the child poverty rate will increase to nearly 26%. The dismal figures do not affect Republican’s agenda and instead of working frantically to bolster the economy by creating jobs, they are proposing giving the extremely wealthy bigger tax cuts.
Over the past 30 years, the top 1% of Americans saw their incomes increase at a rate that nearly equals the losses of the bottom 80%. The Occupy movement recognizes this moral economic issue as the reason for the increasing poverty numbers and decimation of the middle class, but Republicans are undeterred and are forging ahead with their plans to hand corporations and the rich all the wealth in America. When the Republicans campaigned for the 2010 midterm elections, they promised to make job creation their highest priority. Instead of jobs, the Republicans spent the first three months of the 112th Congress concentrating on important legislative goals such as curtailing abortion rights, defunding Planned Parenthood and NPR, investigating American Muslims, declaring English as the official language, and reaffirming the “In God We Trust” motto. Since April, Republicans refused to increase the debt ceiling without offsets to social programs, blocked or obstructed numerous job creation legislation, and intend on eliminating regulations that protect every American to reward corporations for their campaign donations.
The Republican presidential candidates plan to increase entitlement spending for the wealthy in the form of tax cuts. Willard Romney’s economic plan is indicative of conservative’s mindset that the GOP exists to reward the wealthy and corporations with $6.6 trillion in tax cuts that adds $6.5 trillion to the deficit. To add insult to injury, Romney’s plan calls for cuts to Social Security, privatizing Medicare, and cuts to Medicaid that are deeper than the Heritage Foundation’s budget plan proffered by Paul Ryan. To further punish 32 million Americans, Romney’s first goal is repealing the Affordable Health Act. Romney laid out his plan before a crowd of wealthy Americans at a “Defending the American Dream” conference hosted by the Koch brother’s group, Americans for Prosperity.
Romney’s plan is typical Republican disregard for 98% of the American people who are finally awakening to the fact that Republicans have no intention of helping them with jobs or a strong economic landscape that allows them to prosper. The Occupy movement is in its infancy, and as Americans (ignorant why their incomes are declining as the wealthy thrive) learn the Occupiers are speaking in their behalf, it will become a serious populist movement that can alter the course of the nation’s love affair with the wealthy. Entertainer and activist Graham Nash likened the movement to a monster that has been roused and he is not far off the mark. Americans who are hurting financially, starving, and homeless with no hope of ever escaping poverty are going to see there are courageous Americans braving inclement weather and police brutality to challenge the Republican-caused status quo that created the obscene income inequality. When they realize Republican policies are responsible for strangling the life out of 98% of Americans, they will embrace the Occupy movement with religious fervor.
Republicans are never going to acquiesce to President Obama and Democrats’ attempts at helping Americans who want nothing more than a level playing field and an opportunity to have a home, decent job, security in old age, affordable medical care, and a decent education that FDR proposed in 1944. It is apparent that Republicans are frightened of the Occupy movement and they have good reason. Besides protesting the immoral income inequality Republicans caused with their thirty year assault on the 98%, the Occupiers are feeding and welcoming homeless who are disadvantaged because of conservative policies.
One would think that at least one Republican presidential hopeful had the wisdom to see the Occupy movement as a portent of disaster in the next election, but they are too focused on impressing their wealthy and corporate donors. It is just fine though, because while they are counting their campaign contributions, the monster that is the 99% is shrugging off the effects of a thirty year sleep and when they are fully awake, they will take out their rage on Republicans who gave absolute power to industrialists, Wall Street, and corporations to send increasing numbers of Americans into poverty and desperation. The election on Tuesday was a preview of what happens when the American people realize their hope of prosperity is threatened by conservative’s immoral economic policies, and it is owed in part to the Occupy movement that is fully awake, ravenous for change, and anxiously anticipating being joined by the rest of the 99%.