President Barack Obama announced his jobs plan that he hopes will pull America out of its unemployment crisis to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8. The plan is essentially another stimulus, this time totaling $447 billion, with $253 billion going to varying forms of tax cuts and $194 billion to new spending on roads, schools and preventing public employee lay-offs.
Surprisingly, the Republican response to the bill was tepid at first. House Speaker John Boehner released a statement that, while falling short of endorsing the plan, gave the president credit for tackling the jobs crisis and even went on to say he hopes the two sides can work together.
That mild truce lasted all of one weekend. Once the president announced he would pay for his plan by eliminating taxable deductions for wealthy Americans making more than $250,000 a year, Republicans jumped ship.
It’s clear now that they were looking for a reason to oppose this bill all along. But with polls showing Congress is even more unpopular than the president and the September jobs report showing zero growth, Boehner and the Republican-led House appeared almost willing to negotiate.
A Sept. 11 Politico story quoted a senior Republican aide as saying, “Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?” It’s been obvious to the average onlooker that Republicans will oppose anything the president puts forth, even if it was originally their idea. The personal health care mandate, cap and trade legislation and tax breaks for employers all had GOP support before Obama proposed them.
Here is the proof that it’s not policy but politics that guide this over zealous new Republican Congress. Tea Party supporters rallied around abhorrence of politics as usual in Washington. They wanted to be represented by altruistic average Joes who looked out for their best interests, not seedy career politicians. Yet it took less than a year for these Tea Party freshmen to not only be corrupted by Washington’s culture but take it to a whole other level.
There are still nearly 14 million Americans out of work, and the representatives they sent to Washington last November are holding them hostage to get Obama out of office and protect the wealthy from any sort of tax hike.
Since the 2010 midterms, Obama has steered to the center, caving on tax breaks for the wealthy, giving in to the GOP deficit reduction mania and hesitating to say he supports gay marriage. This is not the Marxist-Muslim-Atheist that conservatives painted him as. So why is the GOP still hell-bent on destroying him?
Obama’s jobs plan, while not perfect, has plenty of good ideas in it. Tax breaks for employers and employees will spur hiring. Road and school construction is not only short-term job creation—it’s an investment in America’s future.
Many leading economists have said that Obama’s plan, if implemented fully, will bring unemployment down to 8 percent next year and raise GDP growth as well. That spells bad news for Republican presidential prospects, so they’re clearly willing to complain about the economic situation in America while doing nothing to fix it.
The main objection the GOP has against this bill is that it raises taxes on the wealthy, or what they call “job creators.” Yet on Sept. 14, a report was released that showed America’s poverty rate rose to 15 percent, the highest in the 52 years since the Census Bureau began compiling such data. Meanwhile, the rich keep getting wealthier.
It’s becoming ludicrous that the GOP is getting away with holding up benefits to the entire country for the sake of the top 2 percent of Americans, whose lifestyles have been little affected by the economic downturn.
The best solution for the economy and the growing wealth gap would be to simplify the tax code and eliminate deductions. That would lead to an increase in jobs as well as reduce the deficit. Hopefully this new “super committee” on deficit reduction will come to this conclusion. Until then, Obama’s plan is the best bet. Republicans in Congress need to suck it up, take one for the team and try to compete in 2012 on a fair basis—that they helped do something to end this serious crisis.