Back To The Future?By
Americans are tired of seeing this country bleed jobs, tired of being told to buck up and retrain for jobs that are not there. This is how Washington power brokers like it: insider deals, special interest money, special treatment for people who shower before work, but not for people who shower after work.
Yet the GOP’s “Pledge to America” promises to take the country back to the future. “We won’t be anything other than what we have been,” pledges Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the man who would be the next Speaker of the House.
That is to say, profligate spenders more interested in Wall Street than Main Street – devoted to policies that nearly collapsed world financial markets, that obliterated trillions in retirement savings, drove the economy into the worst recession since the 1930s, and continue to send American jobs offshore.
These fiscal scolds pledge to protect the first Bush tax cut for the rich, the one Republicans promised would create jobs but didn‘t.
They pledge to protect the second Bush tax cut. That one didn’t create jobs either – the last administration had the worst jobs creation record since Eisenhower.
Yet in 2010, Republican leaders swear to you, the voter, that they will do it (to you) all over if you hand them the levers of power in Washington again.
Throw in a presidential impeachment hosted by a Republican Speaker of the House unfaithful to his wife and we will have time traveled back to the Washington of 1998 – only without the budget surplus and low unemployment.
Thirty years of conservative “voodoo economics” produced steadily declining incomes for middle class families and millions of students who face a future less prosperous than their parents’.
The U.S. Chamber and allies defended the outflow of jobs to cheap-labor countries and abetted the atrophy of America‘s strategic manufacturing muscle. From their Washington think tanks, trickle-down theorists and free-trade religionists pledged that Americans would prosper more by shuffling data and making clever deals than by making clever products.
That fantasy ended (or should have) when Wall Street’s International House of Cards pancaked in 2008, producing the worst recession anyone under seventy has suffered.
And no, things are not improving fast enough to suit the ninety-eight percent of American families with incomes under a quarter of a million dollars a year. Americans are anxious, frustrated, and some have become more than a little mad.
The Obama administration bears some responsibility for the sluggish recovery. It was too slow to learn that it could not achieve bipartisan results with adversaries who at every opportunity use dog whistle language to question the president’s motives and origins, and to paint him as darkly foreign.
Credit for the sluggish recovery also goes to the unrepentant Party of No. They seem more concerned about their wounded egos than about healing the wounds their economic theories have wreaked on the middle class for three decades.
If there is anything that makes conservative polticians’ skin crawl, it is admitting their own failures. And since they believe admitting mistakes shows weakness, they deny making any. They have learned nothing.
“We need to go back to the exact same agenda,” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) told “Meet the Press” this summer.
Yet even without their help, Democrats have had significant successes. They passed the largest upgrade to the G.I. Bill in generations. They passed credit card reform to protect consumers, and reformed the federal student loan program to eliminate middle-man costs.
They passed the strongest financial reform in a generation, to help hold Wall Street accountable after the meltdown debacle. The New York Times reports that many have already forgotten that Obama “cut Americans’ income taxes by $116 billion.”
Democratic efforts to revive the economy, while not stimulative enough, kept the Great Recession from becoming another Hoover-style Depression.
Democrats passed landmark health care reform. Criticized for going too far and for not going far enough, the reforms today prevent insurance companies from dropping patients when they get sick. The reforms allow parents to keep sons and daughters on the family’s health care policy until they are twenty six. They eliminated lifetime benefit limits. New plans cannot charge co-pays or deductibles for common preventive services – Medicare patients receive that benefit starting in January.
It is a record of achievement, but it is not enough. There is still serious repair work to be done to revive the economy and put struggling families back on a sound economic footing. Democrats are the only ones running even capable of doing it. But it will not happen if we turn back the clock on November 2.