It is ironic. Candidate Barack Obama ran on a campaign of change. He proposed to gradually exit from Iraq. That would be a change. He promised to fix health care. That would be a major change. But the one difference between Obama and the Republicans that was modest…was jobs. We had some unemployment, and it was rising. But President Obama would stimulate business. Help create markets for new products, create trade policies slightly more favorable to U.S. workers. Nothing particularly dramatic.
Then came the October surprise. Then came the market crash, the financial crisis and the lightning crash of the jobs market, 600,000 jobs a month. Then came TARP and real panic by the Bush Secretary of the Treasury. Or so they said. True or not, $350 billion went out the door to keep the banks open.
So what did the new President do? Well, first, he reached out to the Republicans, still in shock from the election, and said to them that we all needed to pull together in what was a looming crisis–huge numbers of people out of work. It had the potential to be as bad or worse than the early 1930s. And the Republicans had a chance to huddle together in the Capital in their little back rooms, or meet at the palacial homes of any number of their lobbyist supporters and beat the President at his own game. They could have joined in. Let’s help the people, they could have said. They could have offered modifications to the programs. But, stupidly…and it can only be seen as stupidity…they did not. They chose to obstruct. Before any program was delivered to them to review, they announced they were against it.
The culmination of this idiotic pursuit of obstruction came in the tea parties in April. Ridiculous rants by all kinds of people, organized by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News to give them some publicity and credit with their market…the know nothings…the “tax-cuts-for-millionaires-and-spend-what’s-left” party.
Five years ago, John McCain and Mitch McConnell were on MEET the PRESS with Tim Russert and McCain was railing against big spending. Russert then said to Mitch McConnell…what about all the spending, Senator…you control the House, the Senate and the Presidency. McConnell mumbled something and McCain turned red. It was all a sham. McCain wanted to save $3 million here and $4 million there and spend $22 billion on a superfluous fighter jet, or a Marine helicopter, later abandoned…money wasted. Or they wanted to eliminate Medicare and turn Social Security over to Wall Street wolves. During their tenure, we went $6 trillion more in debt, for a total of $11 trillion.
President Obama wants to spend $1.7 trillion over the next several years to create jobs and entirely rebuild the infrastructure of the country, AND create a healthcare program we can all afford. And some of that money will come in loans that will be paid back or investments in American corporations.
President Obama…not in a year, nor in 6 months, nor in even 3 months…but in less than 90 days offered a proposal to turn the country around and create a minimum of 3 million jobs. We’ve lost almost that many already, so it would put us back to where we were last year. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it will start to redirect the business cycle so we can create more jobs, get money flowing again in the private market.
It took the Republicans…out of power politically, with nothing in particular to do…over a month to come out with in a response to the President’s program. What was it? More tax cuts for the rich. More. More of the same crap we’ve seen over the last 8 years. They could have said that they also were for stimulating the economy, helping put people back to work in a real but different way, perhaps government support for a huge expansion of small business. Something positive at least.
But, frankly, that is not what Republicans do. They have supported killing jobs, eliminating labor unions, sending jobs overseas, trying to reduce the American labor force–the greatest middle class in the history of the world, our greatest strength as a nation… to peasantry.
No wonder only 21%of Americans want to identify themselves as Republicans. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Gail Norton, Don Rumsfeld and others were enriching their multi-millionaire and billionaire friends, looting the government to enrich people like William Mellon Scaife and corporations like Halliburton, who then cheated the government. The Administration, using Karl Rove like a Propaganda Minister, who in turn used the Right Wing media to simultaneously pump out propaganda against the Democrats who were simply trying to save the average citizen. People like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Larry Kudlow, Robert Novak and many lesser known radio and television propagandists were deluging the marketplace with lies…they still are…Limbaugh makes $40 million a year doing it. Who pays for all this? Follow the money.
The bulk of this Right Wing programming is paid for by large corporate advertisers. They decide on which networks succeed and which commentators…Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly. It is not that the CEOs and marketing executives do not understand that they need a middle class. But the real owners of the big corporations are primarily Right Wing Republicans themselves. They gamble that people will have enough money to buy their products. Perhaps they see everyone eventually buying at Walmart. They believe that the people will never figure out that they are paying for their own demise, their own loss of unions, of jobs shipped overseas. These big corporate owners want more money in their pockets…tax breaks…bigger corporate profits by shipping jobs to places where labor is fifty cents an hour or less.
How do we know this is true? The best way, but the hardest way possible. We have just lived through it for somewhere between 8 and 29 years depending on your point of view. Are you better off than you were 8 years ago? Not bloody likely.
Over the last 29 years, the huge corporations and the billionaires who own the largest share of the stock in corporate America have used conservative radio and television talking hacks to lie about and demonize people like Al Gore, John Kerry and of course Barack Obama. All of these people tried to gain control in order to save the middle class by creating good jobs that would maintain the American way of life. But the corporations used the Limbaughs, (now worth hundreds of millions himself) and the lesser turncoats, like Billy Tauzin who, as a powerful Republican House member, sold the American retirees down the river to the pharmaceutical companies for a $2 million a year job as their lobbyist, to prevent it.
Over the years, these Republican surrogates for big corporations have helped shift the wealth of the country back to the rich. Not since 1929 have the people in possession of the top 1% of the wealth had such an increase while the bottom 99% lost ground.
So the Republicans have not disavowed those policies. But perhaps the people who are now unemployed will have the chance to discover what is really going on in this country. Maybe they will finally realize that we are all in this boat together and we’d better all start rowing the same way. We are still heading into a deep recession. Money must flow. Banks have the money. The same people who own the corporations, own the bank corporations. And they will fight being told what to do by the Obama Administration.
The propaganda will not let up. It is funded by the people who still have the money.