Part of the American Middle Class? Why are you a Republican?
“The 2012 Republican Platform is a statement of who we are and what we believe as a Party and our vision for a stronger and freer America.”—The 2012 Republican Platform
A political party is not a sports team. The GOP are not the Cincinnati Bengals. In 43 years of existence, the Bengals have enjoyed just 12 winning seasons, including two in the past 20 years. They’ve never won the Super Bowl, falling twice to the 49ers in the ’80s. The Bengals clawed their way to a playoff appearance last season but it’ll take a lot more than that to turn this franchise around for good. Although I am sure Cincinnati fans will stick with their team regardless of the stats, loyalty to a sports team is as American as apple pie. The Bengal losses don’t have much of an impact on the daily lives, health and well-being of its fans.
A political party on the other hand is not a team. It is an organization with a mission to forward a political agenda that does affect the “everyday” lives of the American People, “We the People”. The Platform of the Party is that agenda. Those that control the party, mold that agenda and when their candidates get into office, it is that very agenda that they are charged to implement. So when a Moderate Republican Commentator says this, “That’s the GOP platform, I don’t believe in that”, my answer to that is, you are pretty spineless and have no credibility, that answer is asinine. Why would “anyone” belong to an organization whose tenets you don’t believe in; that’s like saying I belong to the Klux Klux Klan because my parents did and I like the white sheets, but I don’t believe in what they stand for. Say what?! That is lemming craziness. If you notice Republican pundits like to use the term “Democrat” instead of “Democratic” as if Americans choose the Republican Party because it is multisyllabic and sounds better…LOL That would be stupid and shallow America!
Americans, particularly those in the American Middle Class treat their parties as though they were a sports team. The legacy handed down to them by their parents or grandparents. Loyal to the end, the blue collar and white collar Middle Class Americans follow their “team” to their own demise. I was the first in my family to become a Republican. When I was in my early impressionable 20’s I heard Ronald Reagan speak of prosperity and the “shining city on the hill”. I bought into “supply-side” economics, the theory sounded reasonably beneficial for the time.
30 years later I am no longer a Republican, I am older and wiser. I actually have read the platform and have discovered that it does not meet the social or economic interests of my situation or that of my family. I am a Middle Class American, I make less than $100,000 annually. 80% of American households make less than $100,000, so I am in the majority and in good company. I re-registered Independent in July of 2012 because I felt personally that the Republican Party no longer had “ANYTHING” to offer those making less than $100K. 30 years of supply-side economics has only benefitted those in upper income brackets, it has created gross income inequality and has actually reduced opportunities for upward mobility.
Since my parents were Democrats I have no legacy to follow or parental figure to disappoint. There is no “team” loyalty or disloyalty that I have to worry about. My “team” is the American Middle Class. I have been hard on the Republicans in my blog, because they no longer speak for the Middle Class or the interests of most Americans. They seem disengaged and out-of-touch with the daily lives of a majority of working-class Americans. I have been hard on the Democrats when they put forth ideas that will hurt the average American, I have spoken out loudly and vociferously about Chained CPI and NSA spying, that some leaders in the Democratic Party have decided acceptable collateral damage. They are not acceptable to the American Middle Class. But I digress.
My plan is to go over the Republican Platform point by point until the 2014 elections. I will make a commitment that I will consistently blog from a Middle Class perspective and for the benefit of those making from zero to $100,000. I will fight for those institutions that help the average American Family. The Corporate Media does a fine job of protecting the interest of the Upper Middle Class-$101,000-$550,000 and Washington DC does an excellent job fighting for Corporations and the 1%. So my promise is to speak for “US” the Middle Class, the Working Class and those that have no voice. I am a Catholic after all and social justice is in my blood. LOL
Job Creation was priority number one in the Republican Platform. So let’s start there. I have copied and pasted the wording directly from the Platform. I have broken it down and followed with an article that I believe speaks the interest of those making less than $100,000 a year. Regardless of their political bent. You will find articles from Republicans, so long as they are speaking for the interest of the Middle Class. Both political parties should be working for the majority of Americans, not just the 1%, Corporate America or the Investor Class…the needs of all Americans should be considered.
“Job Creation: Getting Americans Back to Work. The best jobs program is economic growth. [1.] We do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create temporary or artificial jobs. We want much more than that. [2.] We want a roaring job market to match a roaring economy. Instead, what this Administration has given us is 42 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent, the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression. [3.] Republicans will pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all. In all the sections that follow, as well as elsewhere in this platform, we explain what must be done to achieve that goal. [4.] The tax system must be simplified. Government spending and regulation must be reined in. [5.] American companies must be more competitive in the world market, and we must be aggressive in promoting U.S. products abroad and securing open markets for them. A federal-State-private partnership must invest in the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems, among others.  Federal training programs have to be overhauled and made relevant for the workplace of the twenty-first century. Potential employers need certainty and predictability for their hiring decisions, and the team of a Republican President and Congress will create the confidence that will get Americans back to work.”—The Republican Platform on Job Creation
Let us dissect the “Job Creation” goals of the Republican Platform and how this would benefit the 80% of Americans making less than $100,000 per household.
1. We do not offer yet another made-in-Washington package of subsidies and spending to create temporary or artificial jobs. In fact the GOP is all about subsidies, subsidies to big oil, agri-business, big pharma and Wall Street.
GOP to Taxpayers: We’re Against Subsidies, Except If They’re For Rich Farmers, by Veronique de Rugy : A few weeks ago, I suggested that splitting the farm bill into two pieces would have the benefits of breaking the alliance between the pro-farm and food-stamp spending lobbies … and … would finally put farm subsidies on the path to elimination where they belong. Boy, was I wrong. As it turns out, Republicans are as eager as ever to continue to support a “ag-only bill” that includes indefensible subsidies to farmers, such as sugar-producer programs, and creates new income-entitlement programs, such as the shallow-loss program:
Every Democrat and 12 brave Republicans voted no for a bill that spends more than the ag-only provisions in the Senate farm bill, saves less than half what Republicans agreed to in their House Budget, and falls short of the cuts called for in the President’s budget request.
To add insult to injury, this move just feeds into the portrait Democrats like to paint of Republican lawmakers: They will support any policies that favor the rich – even if they mean more government spending – and like to oppose policies that would benefit lower-income Americans. In this case, there is some truth to that. Republicans are showing that, while some of them weren’t willing to vote for the farm bill as long as it included food stamps, they will support the outrageous redistribution of income to higher-income Americans when it benefits wealthy farmers. …
When I was a kid, my mom used to get really mad when my uncle, a fairly well-off farmer and a Republican who took his share from these programs, would complain about welfare. He takes welfare too! She’d tell me on the car ride home … and he doesn’t even need it!
2. We want a roaring job market to match a roaring economy.
In 863 Days House GOP Has Offered 0 Jobs Plans While Voting to Repeal Obamacare 34 Times
By: Jason Easley May. 16th, 2013
In the 863 days since taking control of the House Republicans have passed 0 jobs plans, but voted to repeal Obamacare 34 times. (The final count as of 7-22-2013 is 39 times)
This was an utterly pointless vote. Before the vote, Speaker John Boehner’s office was desperately trying to justify House Republicans using 15% of the time they have been in session to repeal Obamacare. Boehner is claiming that this was only the third House vote to repeal Obamacare. The other votes were to defund Obamacare. Defunding would have the same impact as repeal, so Boehner was playing a silly word game.
In the 863 days since Republicans have taken control of the House they have offered nothing in terms of a jobs agenda. What House Republicans labeled a “No Cost Jobs Plan” isn’t really a jobs plan at all. It is actually a series of proposals to eliminate regulations and lower taxes. (If this concept created jobs, George W. Bush would have presided over a boom economy instead of an economic collapse.)
House Republicans keep fooling themselves into believing that if they just keep passing bills to repeal Obamacare, someday it will happen.
Wouldn’t it have been nice if House Republicans would have taken the time they wasted and used it to deal with the issues that the American people really care about?
Republicans want to blame Obama for the dysfunction in Washington, when votes like this one make it clear where the real problem is. Americans want access to healthcare, so Republicans try to repeal the legislation that would help more than 30 million of our citizens. House Republicans hear the people wanting action on jobs, immigration, and background checks. They respond by giving them another useless vote on repealing Obamacare.
House Republicans have moved beyond do nothing and into do less than nothing territory. They have gotten to the point where they are voting again on things that they already voted on. Even worse, they are voting on legislation that has already been rejected dozens of times by the Senate.
The House hasn’t turned voters against Obamacare. They’ve turned voters against Republicans.
3. Republicans will pursue free market policies that are the surest way to boost employment and create job growth and economic prosperity for all.
“Free-Market” Outcomes Are Not Fair—and Not Free
“Since 1980, the U.S. government has reduced its intervention in the U.S. economy, which has become much more of a free market. Conservatives applaud this development because they think that free-market outcomes reward talent and hard work; progressives object to the income inequality of free-market outcomes and want to use government tax and transfer policy to reduce inequality.”
Most people, whether conservative or progressive, would probably agree with this statement. This framing of the issue, however, plays into a right-wing story in which conservatives are the defenders of (free) market outcomes, including the success of the rich who have made it “on their own”; meanwhile, the “dependent poor” look to the government for handouts. This has been a basic element of the right-wing playbook for a long time. Then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney was drawing on this narrative when he complained about the 47% of the U.S. population “who are dependent upon government … who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them.”
This view has two main themes: 1) Because the U.S. free-market economy rewards talent and hard work, the middle class should emulate the wealthy for their success, not vilify them; and 2) those who have been failures in the market want the government to take care of them by redistributing income from those who have been successful. We can see these themes play out on all sorts of political issues. They form, for example, the basis for the attacks on the Affordable Health Care Act (or “Obamacare”). Middle-class Americans, in the conservative view, are being taxed—forced to pay—to provide health insurance for those “unsuccessful” elements of the population who have not earned it themselves.
The conservative argument assumes that the outcomes we observe are the result of a free-market economy. However, the right-wing objective has not been to create a free market; it has been to rig government policy and the market so as to redistribute income towards large corporations and the wealthy.
For example, conservatives themselves want to use government policy to effect a different distribution of income from what we have now—a distribution that is more favorable to corporations and the very rich. A central policy objective for conservatives, ever since the Reagan Administration, has been to cut taxes on the wealthy. And by cutting government revenue, they have been able to make the argument that government programs for the poor and the middle class need to be cut in order to balance the budget.
Also, conservatives have eliminated restrictions on corporations and protections for workers, consumers, and the environment. They have attacked barriers to international capital mobility, deregulated industries, and reduced government regulations to ensure a safe workplace and a healthy environment.
Because conservative policies have often taken the form of reducing government programs and regulations, the ideology of a free market has been useful in rationalizing them. Other conservative interventions, however, have been less able to fit into the free-market mold, and therefore are especially revealing of conservatives’ genuine aims. When the financial crisis of 2008 threatened the survival of the large banks, they were quick to ask for the government to intervene with a large bailout. The “right-to-work” law recently passed in Indiana, designed to deprive unions of financial resources, is an explicit rejection of a market outcome—the private agreement between management and union to require all workers to pay their “fair share” of the costs of union representation. “Free-trade” agreements, ostensibly designed to eliminate restrictions on the movement of goods and capital, have nonetheless continued to restrict the free movement of people. Even the repeal of financial regulations in the 1980s and 1990s, ostensibly a free-market endeavor, created the anti-competitive giant financial firms that demanded to be bailed out in 2008.
The realization that the economy is rigged to benefit the rich and large corporations takes away the force of the right-wing argument that progressives want to use government to “vilify” the “successful” and reward the “slothful and incompetent.” When the game has been rigged, it is wrong to say that the market simply rewards talent and hard work, and the outcomes that result can hardly be called fair. When the market outcomes that we observe are unfair, we need to both change the rules for how the economy works and use the government to restore fairness.
© 2012 Dollars and Sense
Marty Wolfson is a professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame.
4. The tax system must be simplified. Government spending and regulation must be reined in.
Bruce Bartlett | July 2, 2013 | The New York Times
Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. He is the author of “The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need It and What It Will Take.”
In the 1970s, there was a management fad called “zero-based budgeting” that Jimmy Carter used as governor of Georgia and tried to put in place as president. The theory was that every government program needed to justify itself annually, rather than being automatically renewed.
The idea never caught on because the payoff turned out to be small and it required a great deal of paperwork and data collection that complicated the budget process, according to a recent review by the Government Finance Officers Association.
Now, the chairman and ranking member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, have proposed zero-based tax reform. Their idea is to wipe out every tax expenditure – deductions, exclusions and credits that reduce tax liability – and start from scratch, requiring tax-expenditure supporters to justify each one as if it were being proposed for the first time. Presumably, tax rates would be reduced, but the proposal does not say how much.
Critically, the senators say they will maintain the existing progressivity of the tax code. This puts a severe constraint on their efforts, because tax expenditures are not evenly distributed across income classes, nor is the burden of taxation. What appears fair at first glance may be grossly unfair when thinking the issue through.
The senators provide the table below to show the impact on average federal income tax rates in 2017 of restoring $2 trillion of individual income tax expenditures and $200 billion of corporate tax expenditures over 10 years.
The point seems to be that every income class will be hit approximately the same if Congress retains tax expenditures rather than eliminating them. But that is not at all what it shows, because the baseline on which the tax changes would be applied is not indicated. Also, the brackets are oddly chosen because five of the seven brackets apply to a tiny number of households with incomes far above those of most Americans. To have a clearer idea of what might happen, the following table from the Tax Policy Center shows the distribution of federal taxes in 2017 under current law.
It’s hard to compare the two tables because we don’t know what impact tax expenditures have on each income bracket. But clearly, those at the bottom are not going to benefit much, if at all, from rate reductions because they pay little if any federal income taxes. As Republicans keep reminding us, 47 percent of tax filers pay no federal income taxes. It’s disingenuous to imply that a family making $20,000 and one making more than $450,000 will be affected equally by the retention of tax expenditures, as the first table shows.
Kitty Richards of the Center for American Progress points to another way of looking at the zero-based proposal. She notes that the budget proposal put forward by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles in 2010 would also have wiped the slate clean of all tax expenditures and reduced tax rates to three statutory brackets of 9 percent, 15 percent and 24 percent.
In 2010, the Tax Policy Center estimated the distributional effect of this proposal for 2015, retaining only the child credit, earned income tax credit and employer contributions for health and retirement plans. The following table compares that proposal to the center’s current estimate of federal tax rates in 2015 for each 20 percent of households and the ultra-wealthy.
As one can see, those with lower and middle incomes would see a tax increase, while the wealthy would get a tax cut. That is because those with high incomes control such a large percentage of total income that they benefit disproportionately from any cut in tax rates. It is hard to see how any reduction in tax rates financed by base-broadening won’t have a similar effect given the current distribution of taxes.
Of course, another problem with the Baucus-Hatch approach is that certain tax expenditures are so popular it is inconceivable that they would ever be abolished. As I have previously noted, just the top 10 largest tax expenditures on the individual side account for more than 70 percent of the estimated $1.1 trillion in total tax expenditures. These include such “sacred cows” as the exclusion for health insurance, the deduction for interest on owner-occupied homes, the deduction for charitable contributions and others that Congress will never abolish.
Even special tax breaks that members of both parties denounce and that are clearly perverse have proven impossible to repeal.
The idea that we can wipe the slate clean and start from scratch is ridiculous pie-in-the-sky thinking and an abrogation of responsibility by the Senate’s two principal leaders on tax issues. They ought to be willing to exercise some judgment and put forward a specific proposal of tax expenditures they think are worthy of abolition in order to clean up the tax code and lower rates. That’s what Ronald Reagan did in 1985, which led to enactment of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
Until a specific proposal on the table can be discussed, analyzed and amended, tax reform isn’t going anywhere. Senators Baucus and Hatch are not helping; they are just wasting time.
5. American companies must be more competitive in the world market, and we must be aggressive in promoting U.S. products abroad and securing open markets for them. . A federal-State-private partnership must invest in the nation’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, ports, and water systems, among others.
U.S. Infrastructure Down In World Rankings Since 2008
By Lucia Graves Posted: 05/24/2013 2:04 pm EDT | Updated: 05/24/2013 4:41 pm EDT
The United States’ global rank in infrastructure has dropped off considerably from where it was four years ago, both in absolute and relative terms, according to a recent report.
U.S. infrastructure ranked 14th in the world this year, a full seven slots lower than it was in 2008, according to the Global Competitiveness Report for 2012-2013, which was released earlier this month by the World Economic Forum. The country’s overall score had dropped from 6.10 in 2008 to 5.81 this year, where 1 is extremely underdeveloped and 7 is a top score.
The news comes as word spreads about the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge in Washington State, which fell into the Skagit River on Thursday night, sending at least two cars into the river and at least three people to the hospital. Another 700 bridges in the state have even worse sufficiency scores than the bridge that collapsed, according to the AP. Investigators speculate a truck with an over-sized load caused the structure to buckle.
The news is likely to revive debate around the country’s aging infrastructure and the need to invest in upgrading outdated roads and bridges.
A chart created by Joe Wiesenthal shows public construction spending as a percentage of GDP is lower than it’s been in over 20 years, after a big uptick before the recession.
One of the reasons for the drop off is that states and local governments have historically provided most of the spending for roads, highways and bridges, and given the economic downturn in 2008, they’ve been forced to pull back on infrastructure spending to balance their budgets. Congress hasn’t made up the difference, despite the 2009 stimulus, which filled a small portion of the gap. The most recent highway bill failed to substantively increase spending on transportation despite a clear need for upgrades.
The U.S. bridges earned a score of C+ in the American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 report card, and just this week the society’s Seattle section gave the state’s bridges a C-minus “due to a lack of planned funding and inadequate maintenance,” as Seattle Weekly noted.
Wonkblog’s Brad Plumer suggests now would be a wise time to invest in repairs, as borrowing rates for Congress are remarkably low and fixing crumbling infrastructure only gets more expensive with time.
6. Federal training programs have to be overhauled and made relevant for the workplace of the twenty-first century.
GOP blocks veterans jobs bill with budget vote
By Ramsey Cox – 09/19/12 12:35 PM ET
Senate Republicans stopped the Veterans Jobs bill Wednesday by forcing a budget point of order vote.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (R-Ill.) requested a motion to waive the budget point of order, which was raised by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Democrats needed 60 votes, but got only 58.
“This violates the Budget Control Act, there is no dispute about it,” Sessions said in a floor speech Wednesday. “The bill will not even go through the House and it violates the Constitution because it says revenue bills must be started in the House … [and] this is a revenue bill.”
The Veterans Jobs Corp Act would have created new job-training programs to help veterans find work in targeted fields such as national park conservation, historic preservation projects, police work and firefighting, among others.
Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) were the only Republicans who voted for the waiver, in a 58-40 vote.
“It’s clear that common-sense bipartisan legislation is being thwarted in this chamber over politics,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who sponsored the bill.
The $1 billion bill was to have paid for itself with new revenue over 10 years. Republican senators say the bill allows for more spending at the Veterans Administration than what was agreed to in the Budget Control Act, which is why they raised a point of order.
“This point of order puts a price on what we are willing to provide our veterans and it says ‘not a penny more,’ ” Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said before the vote. “It’s a point of order that will not only kill our ability to pass this bill, but that could also affect nearly every effort we make to improve the lives of veterans going forward.”
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said these types of pay-go bills are part of the problem of the growing national debt.
“The question in my mind is, will we at some point in the future recognize the hole we’re in,” Coburn said on the floor Wednesday. “When we find ourselves in $16 trillion of debt and we pay for a five-year bill over 10 years, we make the problem worse.”
S. 3457 has been returned to the calendar, leaving H.J.Res. 117, the six-month spending resolution passed by the House last week, as the only business left in the Senate before election recess. That vote on the motion to proceed to the resolution is expected shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday.
If the waiver had gotten enough votes, the Senate would have proceeded to a vote on the motion to end debate on an amendment by Murray. Her substitute included provisions by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.).
“At every turn, we have sought compromise. But instead of meeting us halfway, we have been met with resistance,” Murray said. “Instead of saying yes to the nearly one million unemployed veterans, it seems some on the other side have spent the last week and a half seeking out any way to say no.”
The flaw in Republican thinking is that we all want to be in the 1%. We don’t. Some of us have loftier goals. I spent 25 years in the Not-For-Profit healthcare sector. Working for a blood bank, community health center and transplant medicine. Some of us want to be teachers, firemen, police, all noble professions. Some join the Clergy, other become nurses and ancillary hospital staff, again humanitarian centered. The Republican Party seems to care “ONLY” about the “entrepreneur” or “business mogul” they have no use for the active duty military, Veteran or those that have chosen public service. Post Workers and Union members are chided as losers and takers as if the subsidies given to Corporate America are somehow not taking? The Republican Party has lost touch with the average American and no longer fight for us. They are “NOT” a sports team “We the People” owe them nothing no loyalty at all. If they stop working for us, we need to stop voting for them!!!!