Happy New Year! Now that 2014 has officially arrived, we are still facing difficulties that can only be solved if each side of the aisle works together to fix our problems. That means each side should be able to come up with their plan to fix problems, like the still too high unemployment, and then sit down together and work out something that will benefit the nation.
Of course, that is a pipe dream considering the political climate still chilling Washington. The battle lines are already being drawn, and it doesn’t bode well for the American people. The Republicans have already released a commercial where they blame the President for the economy not growing fast enough. They even go so far as to say that he “has been sitting on the sidelines”. That is a statement that flies in the face of outright lying.
The economy has grown. Things are getting better for some but not everyone. We still face the dilemma of income inequality, high unemployment, minimum wage being too low, and public service layoffs. These are all things that the Republicans seem happy to live with. Then of course there is the ACA which the Republicans absolutely detest!
Normally speaking, mid-term elections are “low draw” events. Meaning that the electorate doesn’t usually show up and vote during mid-term elections. That plays right into the hands of Republicans. Low voter turnout helps them at the polls. That is why so many Republican states have been passing voter restriction laws. They need to keep voter turnout down so they keep winning in those states.
The future of our country hangs in the balance of this mid-term election. As a voting public, we need to decide if we are going to continue the deadlock in Washington, or are we going to do something about it. We can only do something about it if we show up to the polls on election day!
What is so critical about this election? The very future of our country. With unemployment still hovering around 7%, we will not be able to sustain meaningful growth that will benefit everyone. Sure, the 1% will keep getting richer via the stock market, but the rest of us will continue to struggle. Here is my “wish list” of what we should be hounding our congressional representatives about.
First. We need to have both houses pass the Transportation and Infrastructure Bill. This bill is intended to repair our road system, including bridges, as well as the rest of the infrastructure including the electric grid. We have bridges falling down around us. We have many more bridges ready to collapse. Our roads are in pitiful shape. Our electric grid is antiquated at best and needs to be upgraded to avoid future blackouts. Water distribution is at threat. This bill will cost the country money. But, it will also create millions of sustainable, good-paying middle class jobs! That will increase the tax base thus increasing revenue. It will help our economy grow because more people will have expendable income. It will help the housing market because more people will be able to afford to purchase a new home. And, it will help reduce the deficit through the increased revenues.
Second. We need to tweak the ACA. When the law was passed, it was understood by the lawmakers, including Republicans, that tweaks would be needed as it kicked into being. It was universally understood that when these flaws were discovered, Congress would address them to make the law better. Especially considering the Republicans have no alternative plan to the ACA, they should stop their war against it and help make the tweaks necessary to make it better.
Third. We need to raise the minimum wage. I am sick and tired of seeing hard-working people busting their butts 40 hours per week and still living below poverty while their company makes record profits. This corporate welfare system has got to stop. Why is it okay for Republicans to reduce welfare, food stamps, social security, Medicare, and Medicaid and not stop corporate welfare? As an example, why is it okay to cut food stamps and keep farm subsidies? Companies in the fast food business and companies like WalMart are making billions of dollars in profits at the expense of the American Taxpayer. On top of all of that, they pay little to no corporate taxes of their own.
Fourth. We need to at least temporarily extend the unemployment benefits for those who have been out of work over 26 weeks. Cutting off that money to these people was a crime! That is right, it was a crime! These are people who lost their jobs in the 2008 crash. It was not their fault the economy blew-up in their faces. Yet they are expected to suffer the results of the greedy on wall street and Republican deregulation that caused the crash in the first place. All the while these same greedy folks are making more money than they did before the crash. Congress should be ashamed of themselves for stopping these payments.
Fifth. We need to stop “balancing the budget” on the backs of government workers and the military. This includes states like New Jersey where a billion dollars was cut from education and thousands of teachers were laid off. Private sector jobs have grown for over 47 months in a row. Yet, it is being off-set by states who are cutting public service jobs. This not only hurts the economy, it hurts all of us. Without these public servants our services are being reduced like fewer teachers, police protection, fire protection, building code inspections, etc. These directly affect all of us and our children.
Since all of these items have been brought up in Congress in one fashion or another, and Mr. Boehner has failed to even allow a vote on them, it would appear that he is the one “standing on the sidelines”. To compound the problem, Republicans have dusted off the “compassionate conservatism” brand. That means we are to reduce government help to those in need, and abandon them to the free market. Maybe the people who are having their food stamps reduced will get the proverbial “turkey basket” from some nice neighbor. With 7% of all workers earning wages that leave them below the poverty line of $18,530, while the CEOs of McDonald’s, Disney, and Coca-Cola make over 25 million dollars per year, the free market hasn’t helped them.
At a recent Heritage Foundation forum, Paul Ryan advocated relying heavily on promoting volunteerism and charity in the place of food stamps to conquer poverty. If that doesn’t work – just pray more! He said: “You cure poverty eye to eye, soul to soul. Spiritual redemption: That’s what saves people.” I would think a good-paying job would do more than just spiritual redemption. Besides, is he saying that those in poverty are not spiritually redeemed? As one Christian Conservative Republican once said “how smug”!
We as the electorate have to hold these people’s feet to the fire! We as the electorate have got to say “enough is enough”! If we don’t, if we don’t show up for the mid-term elections, this nonsense will continue for at least another two years. America and the American People cannot afford another two years of “compassionate conservatism”. If we don’t hold these people accountable for their negligence, we may be doomed as a people, and we will have earned that doom.