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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Voting Against America

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On paper, it should not be a successful election strategy for a political party to intentionally create more misery for Americans during one of the worst economic periods in our history.

Yet, if media analysts are to be believed—always a dubious proposition—that conscious Republican strategy is improving the party’s prospects of winning in the November midterm elections.

Last week we witnessed the spectacle of Republicans filibustering—yes, filibustering—to prevent more than 2 million unemployed people across the country, including 69,000 in Wisconsin, from receiving any more unemployment benefits.

Not only did Republicans repeatedly vote against unemployment compensation to help those who have used up their benefits to feed their families, but many went out of their way to insult people without jobs.

Philosophically, Republicans say they are opposed to providing unemployment benefits because if people who lose their jobs receive money from the government, they won’t try as hard to find new jobs.

Never mind that, as a result of the national economic collapse under Republican President George W. Bush, there aren’t any jobs for four out of five of those looking for work.

President Barack Obama won an overwhelming election victory in large part because of the disastrous Bush presidency that turned record budget surpluses under Democrat Bill Clinton into record budget deficits and the worst economic plunge since the Great Depression.

Logically, for their disastrous economic policies, Republicans deserve to be wandering in the electoral wilderness for years to come.

Yet, just two years after Obama’s election, the media repeatedly trumpet the election prospects for Republicans in November amid what they call “a dismal climate for Democrats.”

Benefit the GOP At All Costs

Republicans appear to be getting away with one of the most brazenly anti-American political strategies in history.

Realizing voters blame the party in power for bad times, Republicans turned their back on the American ideal of everybody pulling together to get us through tough times.

Unbelievably, Republicans have repeatedly voted against measures by President Obama to speed economic recovery. Republicans figure the longer millions of Americans are miserable, the more likely they are to be angry at the Democrats or possibly too disheartened to vote at all.

Opposing unemployment compensation as well as consumer protections and regulations for Wall Street that were part of a major financial reform law passed last week were just the latest examples.

Every time President Obama has reached across the aisle for Republican votes to create jobs or reduce economic hardship on Americans, the response of Republicans has been to stomp on his fingers.

Less than a handful of Republican senators have voted for any measure to lift America out of this historic recession. Many important efforts have not received a single Republican vote.

It began with the much-pilloried economic stimulus package that most economic experts, including Republican economists, agree saved or created more than 3 million jobs.

Republicans actually are proud of voting against doing anything to stimulate the economy. They routinely refer to it as “the failed economic stimulus.” They proudly repeat ridiculously untrue statements such as “the stimulus package failed to create a single job.”

It may be annoying to have so many city streets and state roads blocked off for construction this summer, but these are real jobs providing real income that allow people to provide for their families and spend money at other businesses. Republicans can’t deny these people out of existence.

Schools opening in September will be facing a major educational crisis with hundreds of teachers being laid off in Milwaukee and around the state. The only reason classrooms weren’t already gutted a year ago was the economic stimulus.

Retiring Wisconsin Congressman David Obey included funds to retain teachers in a House bill. So far Senate Republicans have stopped any consideration of funds to prevent the massive teacher layoffs.

Of course, Republicans can’t openly admit they are voting against economic recovery so that miserable Americans might be more likely to vote against Democrats in November. So they have come up with a philosophical reason to oppose every effort to create jobs and improve the economy: They’re against adding to that growing government deficit.

Yes, that’s the same deficit Republicans couldn’t care less about when they passed massive tax cuts for the wealthy while starting two wars. In fact, Republicans now want to extend those tax cuts for the wealthy again and add the cost to the deficit.

It’s just spending that would lead to economic recovery and benefit the 95% of Americans who aren’t wealthy that Republicans refuse to add to the deficit.

Of course, the best way to reduce the deficit would be to end the recession and put America back to work.

Sometime before the election, the media should make clear which party is trying to do that and which party opposes economic recovery because it believes extending American misery will benefit Republicans in November.

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