A Pledge To 1% of America
It's almost a shame that Americans are paying very little attention to the GOP's "Pledge To America." But maybe that's because most of it has nothing to do with them. What is not mentioned in the document makes it clear that it doesn't speak to the urgent challenges Americans are facing. It doesn't "pledge" to address the mass suffering inflicted on millions of America by the current crisis, or what failing to do so will mean for generations of Americans, because it's not a pledge to most Americans. It's a pledge to 1 percent (or even less) of America.
The point is a valid one that needs to be made. But the real color the "pledge" is concerned with is green, and those who have the most of it are its primary beneficiaries.
Recent statistics tell the story of what the rest of America is facing right now:
- 14.9 million Americans are unemployed.
- 6.2 million Americans are now counted as long-term unemployed.
- There are currently 5 job seekers per job opening.
- 3.8 million Americans joined the ranks of the poor last year for a total of 43.6 Americans living in poverty.
- 1.9 million Americans will face foreclosure this year.
- The gap between the richest and poorest is wider than ever, with the top earning 20% receiving more than 49% of the income generated last year.
This leaves out older, even more depressing statistics. It's just a snapshot of the reality millions of Americans are facing today. Not only does the "pledge" not address that reality, it fails to solve the problems behind those statistics. In fact, it barely mentions them.
In this political climate, who isn't in favor or jobs? Who in their right mind could be "against" jobs? (I said who in their right mind.) With nearly 15 million Americans unemployed, jobs have become part of the refrain on the left and the right. The mantra on the left has been "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs," while the right has been fond of chanting "Where are the jobs?"
The difference between the two couldn't be any clearer. Democrats and progressives can point to stimulus programs that have created jobs in the midst of recession — some in the home districts of the very same Republicans who voted against the stimulus in the first place — even though the stimulus was smaller needed, after being whittled down to satisfy the demands of Republicans (and Blue Dogs). Republicans, for all their chanting of "Where are the jobs?," conveniently forget the ones the stimulus created in their own back yards, and the 240,000 jobs the GOP killed so recently that the corpses are still warm.
What does the "pledge" say about jobs? Not much. The word appears in the "pledge," but the GOP's plan for job creation amounts to little more than the "cut taxes and hope for the best" approach that not only didn't work before but left us ill-prepared for the current crisis.
After virtually eight years of Republican control of government, here's what we know about their tax cuts for the wealthy:
- The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy only benefited the very wealthy.
- The average tax rate for the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in eight years.
- From 2000 to 2007, two thirds of income growth went to the top-earning 1% (pdf), whose income grew 10.1% annually compared to 2.7% for the rest of us.
- Two thirds of U.S. corporations avoided paying taxes from 1998 to 2005, placing a greater burden on working families.
- The wealthy don't spend their tax cuts.
- Tax cuts for the wealthy, thus, don't stimulate the economy.
- By the end of the decade, the jobless rate was at at 26-year high.
- By the end of the decade, there were 6.5 job seekers for every job.
- Republican rule and Republican-backed tax cuts for the wealthy resulted in 10 years of zero job creation.
Not only are Republicans fighting to extend the same tax cuts for the wealthy that proved disastrous for America's economy, its middle class and working class, but they are holding hostage tax cuts for middle and working class Americans in order to preserve tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.