Thursday, September 06, 2012
Trickle-Down Or Gridlock ?
Are you better off than you were four years ago? Well, the country in general is better off. We are no longer losing jobs every month (although too few new jobs are being created). And, as the chart above says, the stock market is way up and corporate profits are through the roof. Those are things that Republicans want and claim will trickle-down to help all Americans -- and it's the same thing Romney wants to accomplish (boost the economy through de-regulation and more tax cuts for the rich).
But it didn't work in the Bush administration, and it isn't working now. Giving more money to the rich just makes the rich even richer, but does nothing for the rest of America. The truth is that things are not any better for most Americans than they were four years ago. The bleeding has stopped, but the lives of individual Americans have not really improved. But to lay this economic truth solely at the feet of President Obama is more than a little disingenuous.
If the Republicans had been willing to compromise and try to help the president improve the economy, then they might have an argument to make about the president being responsible. But they haven't. They decided within days of his election to do everything they could to delay, obstruct, or block anything the president tried to do to fix the economy and create new jobs -- and they have lived up to that promise.
The Republicans have blocked job creation efforts, including a bill to put people back to work by rebuilding and repairing our infrastructure. They brought the nation close to the brink of bankruptcy, resulting in the lowering of the country's bond rating (which increases the interest rate on necessary borrowing). They have blocked all of the budgets proposed by the president, forcing the nation to be funded by a series of continuing resolutions (and then have the temerity to blame the president for not passing a budget). They have blocked efforts to punish corporations that outsource American jobs and give tax breaks to corporations that bring jobs back home.
Those are only a few of the nefarious actions the Republicans have engaged in -- but they are representative of their efforts to keep the president from enjoying any success in reviving the economy or creating jobs. The GOP decided several years ago they they would rather hurt the president than help the American people. Are many Americans no better off today than four years ago? Yes, but the blame for much (or even most) of that must be laid at the feet of the congressional Republicans.
The second argument is that since the odds are that Republicans will keep at least a small majority in the House of Representatives, re-electing President Obama will just mean more years of gridlock. This argument has some merit, because the Republicans will undoubtably continue trying to block the president's efforts to improve the economy. But there are some things the president could accomplish in spite of Republican opposition. Among these are:
* The repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. All the president has to do is to refuse to sign an extension of these cuts, and they will die. This needs to happen, even if the tiny cuts for other Americans also must die. This will help reduce the deficit by increasing government revenues (and the rich will still enjoy lower taxes than under any president before Bush II).
* The president will likely get to appoint one or two more Supreme Court justices, resulting in a less conservative and more reasonable court. The Republican House has no say in this.
* The president can allow the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to be fully implemented. Since it is already law, all he has to do is veto any efforts to repeal or defund the law.
* The president can block or veto any effort to privatize Social Security or to abolish Medicare (by turning it into an inadequate voucher system that would make medical care much more expensive for the elderly).
* The president can block the dismantling of social programs that help hurting Americans, and massive cuts in public education.
I realize that most of these are "holding actions", and more needs to be done to get our economy moving. But the truth is that the far-right-wingers in charge of the current Republican Party want to dismantle all of the social contracts made since the Great Depression. They want to take this country back a hundred years -- to a time when the robber barons ruled and most Americans had few rights and little chance for advancement (for themselves or their children). If the president does nothing more than to stop this mean-spirited right-wing agenda, then re-electing him will be worth it.
Will there still be too much gridlock? Probably. But that can be prevented if Americans wake up and flip the House of Representatives -- giving the president a Democratic majority that will help him get this country moving forward again. It's up to the American people whether gridlock continues or not. But gridlock is preferable to the trickle-down economic policies and the anti-social program agenda of the right-wing (which would surely be imposed under a Romney/Ryan administration).