It is now time for the Tea Party and Republicans to take ownership for the economic impact of their policies. They’ve introduced the term “job killing” to the political lexicon and feel free to attach it to whatever progressive policy that they disagree with. But I think that REAL job killers here ARE the Republican Party and here’s my proof.
- A decade of low taxes has failed to produce jobs. We are in a net negative position regarding jobs since the Bush tax cuts were passed (2001 and 2003). In every decade since the Great Depression employment has grown at least 20% regardless of who was in the White House. Middle Class income, when adjusted for inflation, dropped in the last decade for the first time since statistics first started being kept in the 60’s. The combined net worth of American households declined in the last ten years when adjusted for inflation for the first time since the 50’s when statistics were first kept. There are plenty of reasons why we’ve experienced a “lost” economic decade, and both parties share the blame. But CLEARLY lower taxes were not the effective method conservatives claim it is. Historically low taxes that have remained low for more than a decade did not spur robust economic growth OR create jobs. The only thing that lower taxes did is make the rich richer and everybody else including the government poorer.
- Smaller government at every level is putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work. At a time when the US economy seems to be teetering on the brink of a second recession, modest growth in private sector employment is almost completely swamped by massive layoffs in public sector driven almost entirely by Tea Party-led fiscal austerity programs. Fears about slow economic growth have caused the private sector to hire temporary and contract workers instead of full-time employees. Temporary and contract workers do not receive benefits and can be terminated quickly. Those workers, as a result, remain as cautious about spending as they did when they were unemployed. All this contributes to uncertainty and slow economic growth. Temporary and contract work also swells the rolls of the uninsured which adds more stress to individual budgets, hospitals who have to cover emergency room costs, and Medicaid.
- When faced with a choice between ideology and jobs, the Tea Party led Republicans consistently choose ideology. The FAA debacle is the most recent example. The FAA was effectively defunded because Tea Party Republicans saw an opportunity to weaken the union voting rules that currently protect FAA workers. They put 4,000 FAA employees on unpaid furlough, sent tens of thousands of construction workers home without a paycheck, and prevented the government from collecting more than $300M in ticket taxes. The furloughed FAA employees included inspectors who are vital to aviation safety. It was only the willingness of those inspectors to continue working without pay that prevented this from also becoming a public safety issue.The Tea Party controlled House used the same tactics that were successful in the debt ceiling debate. The only difference was instead of holding the financial standing of the country hostage; they held the jobs of these workers, the tax revenue coming from the airlines, and potentially the safety of the airline passengers as hostage in an attempt to weaken the FAA employees union.
Want to know where that $300M in lost taxes went? Right into the pockets of the airlines who immediately raised their fares to cover the uncollected taxes as soon as the shutdown occurred.
So it is time to hold these people accountable.
American voters handed these guys a majority in the House in the last election because they promised a more fiscally responsible government that would create more jobs. It hasn’t happened. Instead what we are seeing is “terrorist” politics which effectively caused the gears of government to seize up. We see a party that is willing to hold the economy and jobs hostage to maintaining a purist ideology that only a small minority of the country even cares about. They are hell bend on pursuing an economic policy that would slow even a good economy down. Investors have already shown that they are terrified of the potential damage the Tea Party is inflicting on our weak economy. Here’s what Standard and Poors said caused their recent downgrade of US debt.
“The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.”
Donna Brazile had a good summary in a recent CNN article.
“Could there be a clearer illustration of the difference in tone between congressional Democrats and Republicans? Democrats understand the difficult state of our economy but also understand that Washington can’t throw in the towel on protecting and creating jobs. Just as on the debt deal, Democrats have been willing to compromise, to tackle sacred cows and to put the American economy first.”
The Tea Party has between now and next November to meet the Democrats somewhere in the middle on a series of job enhancement legislation. If they continue to stonewall and employ the hostage tactics that we’ve seen them use, the American voters will punish them in November. Hopefully the Tea Party won’t take the economy down with them in the meantime.