One distinguishing trait of a good person is giving without expectation of recompense, and in government, representatives are expected to help their constituencies without expecting something extra in return for doing their jobs or causing harm. There is a saying that “it is better to give than to receive” and although government has to be adequately funded, it is supposed to take care of its citizens without doing harm. Republicans have a different mindset when it comes to their jobs, and instead of government benefitting its citizens, they demand rewards for corporations and the wealthy in exchange for basic concessions to help Americans.
Since Barack Obama has been president, Republicans have not approved anything that helps the American people unless they get something that either enriches the wealthy and corporations, or damages the economy or another segment of the population. It does not matter if Democrats asked for disaster relief or the payroll tax cut and unemployment extensions. Republicans will not help Americans without gifts for their pet contributors or harmful spending cuts to kill jobs and damage the environment. It is bad enough that Republicans cannot pass a simple payroll tax cut extension, but in order to prevent 160 million Americans from a having their taxes increased, the GOP is again holding the economy, government, and working Americans hostage.
During the Bush-Republican years, the GOP funded two wars, an expensive Medicare prescription program, and tax cuts with borrowed money and they made no demands to offset their irresponsible spending spree. The current incarnation of Republicans will not pass any legislation to help disaster victims, unemployed Americans, or working families unless they get something in return, and it is always something harmful. The argument could be made that Republicans are negotiating in good faith to help the country and its citizens, but the only beneficiary of Republican hostage taking is the wealthy, big business, and the oil industry. The problem for Americans is that Republicans negotiate to harm Americans and to give gifts to their donors.
The payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension controversy is not unique for Republicans who have spent the past year helping the wealthy and damaging the economy. Republicans passed a payroll tax cut extension in the House on Tuesday, but they tacked on unreasonable and unrelated issues that kill jobs, freeze wages, and help the oil industry. Since Republicans are holding the extensions hostage, what will the hostage payments do for the country? It turns out, as usual, that the GOP’s aid to the oil industry in the form of an acceleration of the Keystone XL pipeline only helps big oil. Republicans first claimed that fast-tracking the oil pipeline will create hundreds-of-thousands of jobs, but it turns out that the State Department’s estimation is that it will create only 5,000 to 6,500 jobs. John Boehner’s spokeswoman defended the tens-of-thousands of jobs created lie saying, “Americans need jobs, and however you slice the numbers, approving this project will create a whole lot more of them than punting on it — like the president has done.” So it is better to hold 160 million Americans’ tax cut hostage with fallacious job-creation lies than pass the extension cleanly and let the results of increased consumer spending create jobs. Republicans’ hostage demand only helps the oil industry and will not create any more jobs than passing the extensions untouched.
Republicans also included billions in cuts to healthcare, eliminated thousands of government jobs and froze federal employees’ wages to pay for the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension instead of 3.25% surtax on millionaires and billionaires. Republicans complained that raising taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Americans kills jobs but that claim is patently false. The Congressional Republicans would rather shut down the government and raise taxes on 160 million working Americans than add a surtax on income over a million dollars annually. Their hostage demand to keep the payroll tax cut in place serves several purposes; enrich big oil, cut healthcare funding, and kill jobs and if their demands are not met, the government shuts down as of Friday.
The Republican price for the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extension is more economic damage for America and its people. The only winner is the oil industry and they will not give anything back to the country for the Republicans’ gift. It is outrageous that Republicans demand something in return for helping working Americans that does nothing to help the economy or the people. The only certainty is that in Republican hostage negotiations, many Americans will be hurt and the wealthy get richer.
The American people need to demand that Republicans demonstrate and explain anything beneficial they have done for Americans during the past year. They claim they have to get something in return for raising the debt ceiling, extending the payroll tax cut, providing disaster relief, or keeping the government operating, but they cannot offer any evidence that their hostage price benefits anyone but their wealthy donors. They can compile a long list of benefits to the wealthy, oil industry, and corporations that Americans sacrificed for though, and that does not include Republicans’ vicious spending cuts. Millions of children are hungrier and living in poverty and Americans desperate for work are still unemployed all because Republicans had to get something for their favorite donors.
It is painfully obvious that Republicans have no intention of passing any legislation to help Americans unless they cause damage to another segment of the population or enrich the wealthy. The Republican Party is the party of criminals that robs, cheats, and assails good, hardworking Americans in exchange for a simple payroll tax extension that helps 160 million Americans and by extension, the nation’s economy by creating jobs and encouraging spending. One would think that with poll after poll reporting Americans agree raising taxes on the wealthy to create jobs is a good idea, that Republicans could concede that the wealthy need to share the sacrifice to help America. But Republicans do not comprehend sharing and can only take from Americans who have little left to give, and if they have to shut down the government to get what they want, then they are happy because if Americans have learned anything from the past year, it is that causing damage makes Republicans happy. If they can cause America’s working class and economy harm and enrich their wealthy masters, then they are ecstatic.
It is time for Republicans to abandon their criminal hostage taking and for once, do the right thing and help the American people without expecting recompense in the form of wealthy tax cuts, oil industry gifts, or more damage to already hungry and fragile Americans. Republicans must just pass the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefit extensions cleanly so they can experience what it feels like to do their jobs. It is unlikely though, because intrinsic criminal behavior is a disease that cannot be cured.