Leo Gerard: Hey, GOP: Give the 99 Percent Some Lovin’ | Radio Talk Show Host Leslie Marshall
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Leo Gerard: Hey, GOP: Give the 99 Percent Some Lovin’

Leo Gerard: Hey, GOP: Give the 99 Percent Some Lovin’

MTV needs to stop giving that creepy vampire guy and moony human girl in the “Twilight” series the “best kiss” prize in its annual movie awards because it’s Republicans who truly earned the trophy for the big wet smooches they lay on the 1 percent.

Just think of the GOP lovin’ that went into the Bush tax breaks that gave millionaires more than $125,000 a year and the middle class less than $1,000. Or the arduous embrace signified by cutting the capital gains tax to a rate lower than that on middle class income.

The GOP is a faithful lover to the 1 percent, steady and true. Last week, Republicans found themselves confronted with a choice between raising taxes on the 99 percent or on the 1 percent, and the GOP spared the millionaires. The GOP’s fidelity to the 1 percent is so strong that Republicans wavered on their promises – never raise taxes – and principles – tax cuts don’t have to be offset. As a result, the 99 percent is beginning to feel more than a little spurned by the GOP.

Since the days of the Bush breaks in 2001 and 2003, Republicans consistently have said that tax reductions stimulate the economy and the lost revenue needn’t be offset. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Senate Republican, asserted, for example: “You should never have to offset the cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.” The GOP didn’t pay for the Bush breaks, a decision that dramatically increased the deficit, which Republicans now say the 99 percent must pay by suffering slashed government services.

Similarly, Republicans have loyally upheld their solemn pledge to lobbyist Grover Norquist to never, ever raise taxes. Last year, for example, they GOP refused to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, contending that would be a tax increase, not the end of rates intended to be temporary.

To recap: The GOP vowed never to raise taxes. The GOP defines an expiring temporary tax cut as a tax increase. And the GOP believes tax reductions don’t have to be offset.

To serve the 1 percent, however, Republicans discarded all of that supposedly sacrosanct philosophy during last week’s struggle over extending the temporary payroll tax cut. Congress voted last December to decrease for one year the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, putting an extra $1,000 in the hands of 160 million workers during a recession to pay bills.

This fall, President Obama and the Democrats proposed extending the cut another year, enlarging it by dropping the rate to 3.1 percent, and expanding it under certain circumstances to employers, who pay a matching amount. That would give the average family an extra $1,500 to spend, which would, according to Moody’s Analytics, inject as much as $120 billion into the economy and create 750,000 jobs.

Initially, the GOP opposed extending the tax cut – even though that would seem to violate their principal that restoring previous rates is a tax increase. Norquist must have taken to task the anti-payroll-tax-break Republicans because by last Tuesday, the GOP changed its mind.

Still, Republicans insisted, this tax cut would have to be offset – even though that demand violates their principal that tax cuts don’t need to be paid for.

Democrats proposed offsetting the cost of the extension with a 3.25 percent surtax on 350,000 millionaires and billionaires – the 1 percent.

That confronted lawmakers with this choice: Slightly increase taxes on the nation’s richest 350,000 or raise taxes on 160 million workers by allowing the payroll tax break to expire.

In the U.S. Senate, Democrats and one Republican, moderate Susan Collins of Maine, voted to give the 160 million the break, for a total of 51 votes, more than half. Every other Republican in the Senate sided with the nation’s richest 350,000, providing enough votes to defeat the tax break for the 99 percent – not by a majority but by filibuster.

Republicans then proposed instead to leave the tax at 4.2 percent and offset the extension by freezing the pay of federal workers through 2015 and slashing the federal workforce by 10 percent – a total of 210,000 public servants.

That would spare the wealthy and instead make federal workers pay, and kill jobs during a period of prolonged, painfully high unemployment. Democrats defeated that.

The payroll tax break is set to expire Dec. 31.

Where’s the GOP lovin’ for the 99 percent?

The GOP vote against extending and expanding the payroll tax break felt like a kick in the ass to the 99 percent. The Republican proposal to make middle class federal workers – instead of the nation’s wealthiest – bear the cost of extending the tax break seemed like the GOP was once again kissing the 1 percent’s ass.

The 99 percent is beginning to suspect the GOP will never treat them any better than Newt Gingrich treats his wives. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans told New York Times/CBS News pollsters in October that they believe Congressional Republicans favor the rich.

Hey, GOP, are your right wings just too short to embrace the 99 percent?

Leo W. Gerard is the international president of the United Steelworkers union. He is a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee and chairs the labor federation’s Public Policy Committee. President Barack Obama recently appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. He serves as co-chairman of the BlueGreen Alliance and on the boards of the Apollo Alliance, Campaign for America’s Future and the Economic Policy Institute. He is a member of the IMF and ICEM global labor federations and was instrumental in creating Workers Uniting, the first global union. In 2008, he signed a merger agreement with the UK-based manufacturing union Unite, creating the first trans-Atlantic union — Workers Uniting. The USW, the largest manufacturing union in North America, has won important trade cases to protect members’ jobs, including the 2009 case that imposed tariffs on Chinese tires.