Yesterday illustrated the large disconnect between what is important to the majority of Americans, and what Republicans think they must do and say to get elected (or re-elected). The Republican debates focused on cutting taxes with no real definitive solutions to our economic problem that could be backed up with studies from experts. The Senate Republicans also voted down
the President's Jobs Bill.
Meanwhile, what do Americans think is important? For the vast majority of Americans, it is the economy
. During the 2010 elections, it was Jobs specifically, which is a component - or possibly a symptom - of the economy. Unemployment continues to be
the major concern, and it seems common knowledge that improving the jobs situation will improve the economy. There is a certain chicken/egg disagreement though. Will jobs improve when the economy improves, or will increasing jobs improve the economy? Democrats believe the latter; Republicans believe the former.
What's sad and a little scary, is that - despite the economic crash occurring under Bush's watch, and despite improvements made via the stimulus - Americans trust the GOP over Democrats
to fix the jobs problem, even though they don't really know what the GOP stands for
. Listening to the debates last night, one might wonder if the candidates really have a clue how the economy works. One might wonder if Senate Republicans have a clue. The economy prospers when money is changing hands in the form of transactions for goods and services. Demand for goods and services creates jobs to fulfill that demand. However, it takes money to purchase those goods, and companies and the rich (the 1% that OWS refers to) are hoarding it.
The president's jobs bill was supposed to rectify that by getting Americans back to work. Working Americans spend their paychecks, so that gooses the economy and gets people working again to supply the demand created by those workers. One of the aspects of the jobs bill was to create an "infrastructure bank", ie: funds dedicated for infrastructure projects. That part of the bill appears to be the poison pill for Republicans and some Democrats
Another part of the bill involves "re-patriating" funds. This is NewSpeak for coaxing companies to bring back the funds they've squirreled away in offshore accounts. It involves a carrot/stick approach for giving them a "tax holiday" (reduced rate) for bringing the funds back, combined with incentives to create jobs. The Democratic vision has a little more "stick", penalizing companies that do no bring jobs back from overseas and/or create more jobs overseas and/or reduce jobs here in the U.S.
The Republicans (and some Democrats) want to split up the two provisions in the bill (the tax holiday and the infrastructure bank). That's because the Republicans like the tax holiday and hate the infratructure bank; for the Democrats, it's the opposite. This is why the President put both in the same bill - so that both provisions would have a better chance of passing together rather than separately. In the end - none of them passed the threatened filibuster, thanks to Democrats Nelson (D-WV) and Testor (D-MT).
Although Sen Lieberman (I-CT) voted for cloture to debate the bill, he was against the substance of it
“The bottom line here is that I don’t believe the potential in this act for creating jobs justifies adding another $500 billion to our almost $15 trillion national debt,” Lieberman said.
“In fact, I think the most important thing we can do to improve our economy, reduce unemployment [and] create jobs is to bring our national debt under control.”
That right there crystalizes the problem - how does reducing the national debt create jobs? Is there any economist that believes that the jobs situation will improve by reducing the debt? And even if it does - wouldn't raising tax revenues to cover the $500B AND
creating jobs improving the infrastructure be the best of both worlds?
The Republicans have spent very little time working on the jobs problem, focusing instead on conservative social issues that no one except the basest of their base cares about (abortion, redefining rape, etc.). Why Americans think that they are better for fixing the economic situation is beyond me. Most Americans support raising taxes
to fix the economy and the Republicans are dead-set against it. The President has led on this, and his proposal has lifted his poll numbers, yet Americans think the Republicans will find the solution. Most Americans want compromise
, yet the Republicans voted en-bloc against event debating
this jobs package, and declared that since 2 out of more than 40 Dems voted against it, this was a "bi-partisan vote of no confidence" in the bill. That's compromise?
So while the Republican presidential hopefuls debate the "9-9-9" plan (as if simpler is somehow better, and without any studies on the effects on people's overall taxes through various income strata and the revenues raised for the government), and while they each try to out do each other with their regressive social stances, the economy continues to tread water, and the Republicans already in office dilly-dally, hoping to keep it from reaching shore just long enough to win elections in 2012.
What will it take for Americans to fully understand this? The polls will help us understand the zeitgeist; what we do with that information to win over the hearts and minds of the electorate is up to us.