24 Oct Leo Gerard: The 99% Seek a Just Economy, Not Just an Economy
Republicans jammed together a mess of old, failed and vague schemes and called it a jobs bill. Sen. John McCain conceded the reason for the rehash: “Part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal.”
They still don’t. This despite the fact that they promised voters during their campaign to take control of the U.S. House one year ago that they’d create jobs. That they’d focus on jobs. That nothing was more important to them than jobs.
Now, what they’ve offered instead of actual jobs is a polyglot of GOP talking points. It’s certainly no vision to move the country forward. It’s a plot to set the country back – to repeal the health care law that will soon help provide coverage for the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance, to rescind the Wall Street reform law designed to prevent another financial sector-caused meltdown, and to thwart regulations, like those that stopped distribution of listeria-infected cantaloupe that killed 25.
GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called the Republican polyglot a “pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs.” It is, in fact, a pro-business proposal to permit corporations to destroy the environment for humans.
It is another GOP ploy to appease, accommodate and absolve corporations. It is another GOP ruse to firmly establish in America an economy designed for, dedicated to and directed by corporations rather than a just economy controlled by and beneficial to the 99 percent.
Republicans offered up their “Jobs Through Growth Act” mishmash after the GOP minority in the Senate wielded the filibuster again to block a vote on President Obama’s $447 billion American Jobs Act, a measure that even Republican economists determined would create 1.9 million jobs and reduce the nation’s aching 9.1 percent unemployment by as much as 1 percent.
The Republican measure, by contrast, could hurt the economy, according to Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody’s Analytics, an independent firm whose chief economist advised the McCain presidential campaign. Here is what Faucher said:
“Should we look at regulations and make sure they make sense from a cost benefit standpoint? Certainly. Should we reduce the budget deficit over the long run? Certainly. But in the short term, demand is weak, businesses aren’t hiring, and consumers aren’t spending. That’s the cause of the current weakness, and Republican Senate proposals aren’t going to address that in the short term. In fact, they could be harmful in the short run if the focus is on cutting spending.”
Of all the Republican proposals, the most insidious, the most dangerous, the absolutely most outrageous is their demand to roll back Wall Street reform, to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act that was passed in an attempt to prevent recurrence of the 2008 financial collapse that destroyed the U.S. economy and caused the highest levels of foreclosures, unemployment and misery among the 99 percent since the Great Depression.
Go back, the Republicans are saying. Go back to 2007 when Wall Street financiers sold worthless mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting investors, contending with a straight face that these were assets. Go back to 2008 when these firms made hundreds of millions betting those securities would fail. Go back to 2009 when the banksters, bailed out by taxpayers, awarded billions in bonuses to the executives who’d gotten the firms and the U.S. economy into so much trouble. Go back to early 2010, the Republicans are saying, before Obama signed the Dodd-Frank reform act, and allow Wall Street to do it all over again. Reprise unfettered, irresponsible Wall Street, the Republicans demand.
For Republicans, it’s all about enforcing freedom for the few – allowing corporations and millionaires to do whatever they want. No matter what that means to the freedoms of the 99 percent. The GOP demand for repeal of health care reform is another example of that. Already, this law has expanded health coverage for a million young adults because it allows them to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26. It has also helped 1.2 million senior citizens afford their prescription drugs by beginning to close the “donut hole” during which they must pay.
Still, Republicans want to get rid of that law. They want to regress to those free-for-all days when health insurance corporations could make unlimited profits from illness, deny coverage to those with chronic illnesses and terminate coverage when policy holders got sick. They want those young adults dropped. They want senior citizens to pay more for their prescriptions again. For Republicans, it’s all about enforcing freedom for the few – allowing health insurance corporations to do whatever they want. No matter what that means to the freedoms of the 99 percent.
The Republican rebuke of any attempt to control the 1 percent is highlighted in their “jobs bill” by its call for a regulation moratorium. No new rules! The country is in the midst of the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years. Twenty-five people are dead. A total of 125 people in 26 states have been sickened by listeria-poisoned cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo. One sickened woman suffered a miscarriage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says more illnesses and deaths may occur over the next several weeks.
If the Republicans got their way, the FDA would be unable to write new regulations to prevent another such incident. It’s fine with the GOP that Jensen had hired its own inspector, a firm that certified the Jensen packing plant fine and dandy just before listeria-tainted cantaloupes killed 25 and just before the FDA found numerous, obvious violations.
That’s because the Republican precept is: an economy just for the 1 percent.
Leo W. Gerard also 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. Follow @USWBlogger