In the 2010 mid-term elections, there was no mandate. The majority did not believe the ultra right had the right answers. The economy made all the difference. Republican candidates claimed that they had effective ways of significantly cutting government spending, reducing government debt, and creating jobs. They lied.
When asked what programs they would cut, Republicans refused to name any. The reasons became clearer as Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., admitted, “Anybody who’s a Republican right now, come June, is going to be accused of hating seniors, hating education, hating children, hating clean air and probably hating the military and farmers, too.”
Kingston, a fiscal conservative, is one of the few Republicans willing to chair the House Appropriations Committee, the committee in charge of spending programs. Kingston explained, “So much of the work is going to be appropriations related. There’s going to be a lot of tough votes. So some people may want to shy away from the committee. I understand it.”
To distract from the looming national outrage, the GOP has proposed eliminating earmarks, even though most earmarks are needed (regardless of which party secures them). Savings from this action would amount to less than one-half of one percent of federal spending, but much of that small percent is crucial to both urban and rural America. Earmarks fund research programs, rural roads, water and sewer infrastructure, technical schools, and rural hospitals and clinics.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., writes that earmarks fund flood control, energy production, carbon sequestration, control of rural disease, disability recovery, road and bridge construction, and children crisis centers. GOP cost-cutting plans would harm the nation, and so would GOP proposals to reduce the deficit.
To be fiscally responsible and to meet urgent necessities means ending corporate welfare, taxing the wealthy, and cutting war spending. Ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would provide a 10-year savings of $780 billion. Cap-and-trade environmental protection would save $19 billion. Failure to retain estate taxes would cost the federal treasury $14.8 billion. Democratic Party proposals to cut military spending would save $960 billion.
Instead, Republicans campaigned against health care reform, even though those reforms cut the deficit by $130 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., not only calls for increasing the debt by repealing health care reform, but he also calls for increasing the debt by $14 billion by increasing military spending.
In a further insult, the GOP refuses to extend jobless benefits to those whose unemployed insurance has expired. If GOP plans are carried out, by the end of the year millions of jobless will be without income.
The AFL-CIO calls for a tax credit for businesses to create jobs in the United States, investments in the nation's infrastructure of roads, bridges, schools, and energy systems, extending unemployment insurance benefits to those who have lost their jobs and are unable to find new ones. Polls show that 89 percent of all voters (87 percent of Republicans) favor tax credits for job creation, 77 percent (73 percent of Republicans) favor rebuilding infrastructure, and 65 percent (47 percent of Republicans) favor extending unemployment insurance.
Voters overwhelmingly reject the Republican agenda. Eighty-two percent oppose privatizing Social Security, 63 percent oppose tax cuts for the wealthy, 68 percent oppose raising the Social Security age, 72 percent oppose eliminating the Department of Education, 75 percent oppose reducing the minimum wage, and 85 percen opposed allowing health insurance denials for pre-existing conditions.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters after the elections that the vote “was about jobs, plain and simple. It was a mandate to fix the economy and create jobs. He added that here is what it wasn't: It was not an endorsement of tax cuts for the wealthy or for undermining Social Security or the minimum wage.
Kevin B. Zeese, executive director of Prosperity Agenda, testified in a congressional hearing this past summer that “expanding Medicare to cover all Americans will save money and improve health” and “Social “Security is essential to most Americans and is a contract between the government and the people that should not be broken.”
Republican politicians, including several Republican governors, complained bitterly about the stimulus while taking credit for jobs funded by the stimulus. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger not only accepted the stimulus money, but, proudly proclaimed, “I have been the first governor of the Republican governors to come out and to support the stimulus money because I say to myself, this is terrific. Anyone that says that it hasn't created the jobs, they should talk to the 150,000 people that have been getting jobs in California.”
Concerning the hypocrites who opposed and then took credit for the stimulus, Schwarzenegger said, “Well, you know, to me I find it interesting that you have a lot of Republicans running around and pushing back on the Stimulus money and saying this doesn't create any new jobs, and then they go out and they do the photo ops and they are posing with the big check and they say, 'isn't this great?'”
Photo by US Forestry Service – Northern Region, cc by 2.0