As the Republican-controlled 114th Congress convenes, the GOP will unveil their program for the next two years. Republicans claim most of their initiatives will create jobs, but this is far from the truth. When the GOP trumpets "new jobs," it's typically a ploy to divert gullible Americans from the true Republican agenda: lining the pockets of the rich.
The new Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, promised the first Republican initiative would force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Republican Senator John Barrasso claimed construction of the controversial pipeline would create "42,000 new jobs." However, the Washington Post noted:
Using the State Department math, it's safe to say nearly 4,000 construction jobs will be created, at least temporarily. One could even say that 16,000 jobs would be or have been supported from direct spending on the project, such as those of pipe makers in Arkansas. But "42,000 new jobs" is going too far. Most of those jobs are far from the construction site, and it's hard to argue they are new. Moreover, under State's accounting, they only last for a year.
To put the "42,000 new jobs" in perspective, the U.S. added 321,000 permanent full-time jobs in November and 252,000 in December. (That's 58 straight months of job growth under the Obama administration -- more than 10 million jobs.)
Since 2009, Democrats have argued that a relatively modest investment in infrastructure spending would boost GDP and employ millions of Americans. Nonetheless, Republicans blocked all Democratic efforts to pass infrastructure funding. Later this month, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders will introduce a jobs bill that would employ 13 million Americans rebuilding America's infrastructure.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner claims to have prepared several "job-creation bills." However, five economists, commissioned by The Huffington Post, examined these bills: "Almost none of those measures... are likely to have the measurable, immediate impact on job growth that Boehner claimed his party would have delivered. Instead, the bills would serve more to promote other parts of the Republicans' agenda -- and, in most cases, aid large corporations."
Republicans are wedded to a failed ideology, Reaganomics. The Republican ideology argues, "Pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all." Thus, Republicans in the 114th Congress will continue the same "trickle-down" logic first advocated by Ronald Reagan. The same philosophy was promoted by Mitt Romney in his failed 2012 presidential campaign : "As President... I will cut marginal tax rates across the board for individuals and corporations... I will repeal burdensome regulations, and prevent the bureaucracy from writing new ones... Instead of growing the federal government, I will shrink it."
Unfortunately, the GOP's "trickle down" philosophy doesn't create jobs. Over the past three decades, many economists have derided Reaganomics. The most recent was Thomas Piketty in his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty concluded: "200-plus years of income and wealth data... demonstrates that returns on capital... significantly outstrip growth in the real economy..., which relentlessly drives up inequality." Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren observed: "[Piketty's book] says over and over... The rich get richer."
Republicans in the 114th Congress may trumpet "new jobs" but their true objective is to protect the interests of their moneyed benefactors. Regarding the GOP initiative to force approval of Keystone XL pipeline, The Center for American Progress observed:
With Congress largely deadlocked since 2013, oil, gas, and coal interests have increasingly focused their resources on putting industry-friendly politicians in charge of both chambers and laying the groundwork for the new Congress to advance special-interest priorities... According to a Center for American Progress report released in December 2014, the fossil-fuel industry directly invested $721 million... in order to set up the agenda of the new Congress.
So the next time you hear Republicans touting their job-creation bills, take it with a grain of salt. Take a hard look at their proposed legislation and ask yourself, which rich Republican constituency will this benefit? It won't be the middle class.
Most economists agree the key to a healthy U.S. economy is a vibrant middle class. Joseph Stiglitz observed:
One of the popular misconceptions is that those at the top are the job creators; and giving more money to them will thus create more jobs... What creates jobs is demand: when there is [middle class] demand, America's firms... will create the jobs to satisfy that demand. And unfortunately, given our distorted tax system, for too many at the top, there are incentives to destroy jobs... This growing inequality is in fact weakening demand.
Republicans aren't interested in creating jobs. Their objective is to protect the one percent.