When I heard President Obama announce The American Jobs Act, I mistakenly thought the Republicans wouldn't dare vote against "American jobs."
For the first time, the Democrats had come up with a title for a bill that borrowed the successful Republican tactic of naming legislation in a way that makes it politically impossible to vote against. You probably remember some of the good ones. The Republicans aggressively triple-dog-dared members of Congress to vote against the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act. After all, who would be idiotic enough to go on record as having voted against the "USA" and "patriotism", especially when it's shouted in all-caps during the aftermath of 9/11?
Only one senator, Russ Feingold, voted against it. One.
The Bush years also gave us Orwellian titles like the "death tax", the Healthy Forests Initiative and Clear Skies Act. Incidentally, the Clear Skies Act was a cap-and-trade program that was fully supported by the Republicans and the Bush White House. Weird how that works.
Pollster and Fox News Channel contributor Frank Luntz is often credited with popularizing the use of tricky opposite-day titles. In fact, he's often credited with coining the pejorative misnomer "Democrat Party" in lieu of the correct "Democratic Party" title in order to emphasize the "rat" syllable and to strip the party of its association with democratic politics. (It's also worth noting that Luntz urged Republicans to use the less dire term "climate change" instead of "global warming." Today, I often hear even far-left liberals mistakenly using this Luntz euphemism. It's just that successful.)
But there it was. The American Jobs Act.
The Republicans didn't just vote against "American jobs," they literally filibustered them. While the GOP presidential candidates debated their plans to further screw the American economy Tuesday night, every single Republican senator approved the filibuster and overwhelmingly blocked The American Jobs Act from even coming to a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
No, there isn't a 9/11 disaster to provide an awful, acrid wind in the sails of this particular bill. But there are a variety of other factors that should have at least stirred a sense of humanity and patriotism within the congressional Republican caucus.
Unemployment is stuck at 9.1 percent. Corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash, in fact, the largest pile of liquid assets since 1959, and they aren't spending that money on anything, much less new jobs since they've convinced their existing employees to do twice the work for lower pay and dwindling benefits. Simultaneously, corporate profits are at an all-time high, corporate taxes are at an all-time low and middle class wages have been stagnant for decades. The political discourse is aired on cable as though it was a football game, while real Americans lose their homes and corporate criminals sashay between the rain drops unpunished -- many of them failing up to better gigs.
Meanwhile, the president, who's only been in office for less than three years, is being blamed for all of it, while the 30 year dominance of trickle-down small-government Reaganomics is receiving another boost of adrenaline from the austerity movement. How well is austerity doing, by the way? In England, where austerity rules the day, unemployment reached its highest level in 17 years this week. Despite its obvious failure elsewhere, the Republicans -- especially the ones running for president -- want to slash everything in sight despite a supermajority of public support for raising taxes on the super rich. Even a majority of Republican voters support a tax increase on the wealthy. And when they're not deliberately sabotaging the economy by opposing anything that might fuel the economic recovery, they're focusing on jobs -- and by "focusing on jobs" I mean "de-funding Planned Parenthood" and "legislating James O'Keefe prank videos."
Lumped all together, it's no wonder why the Occupy Wall Street movement is gaining so much momentum. The Republicans are inadvertently feeding it every day.
What would the American Jobs Act have accomplished?
The bill would have reduced the deficit by $6 billion over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Republicans filibustered deficit reduction.
The bill would have created nearly two million new jobs. The Republicans filibustered the creation of two million new jobs.
The bill would have increased the gross domestic product (GDP) by two points. The Republicans filibustered increasing the GDP.
The bill would have cut taxes for 98 percent of businesses. The Republicans filibustered a tax cut for businesses.
The bill would have offered a tax credit for military veterans returning from war. The Republicans filibustered a tax credit for the troops.
The bill would have reduced unemployment by a full percentage point. The Republicans filibustered a reduction in unemployment.
The bill would have been paid for by a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires -- a surtax that, again, a majority of Republican voters support. The Republicans filibustered paying for the bill.
The ultimate irony here is that, despite it all, the Republicans have a solid chance of winning the White House next year. Obviously they're counting on the collective attention deficit disorder of the American voter who will naturally forget about how the Senate Republicans filibustered the American Jobs Act on top of having presided over the destruction of the economy as well as a horrendous record on job creation during the Bush years when they controlled the Congress and the White House, and when they cut taxes to the lowest rates in American history. Still no jobs, and yet they believe that further tax cuts will somehow create more jobs even though the Bush tax cut succeeded in accomplishing nothing except to contribute to a doubling of the national debt while it turned a surplus into a record deficit. Yeah. Let's have more of that.
If you're angry about the gloomy status of the economy, bookmark this post and remind yourself occasionally which group of politicians filibustered an iron-clad solution for job creation and economic growth. And tell your friends about it, too, because even if you can't participate in one of the Occupy Wall Street protests, you can help to spread the word about who supported American jobs and who tried to kill American jobs.
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