fresh voices from the front lines of change







This year the GOP will once again try to rebrand itself as compassionate, diverse, and in touch with the American public. Inevitably, they will once again fail. It won’t be for their lack of resources or effort, but their failed economic agenda that the majority of Americans oppose.

The first blow to their brand came this week when all but six Senate Republicans voted to block a bill restoring long-term unemployment insurance to 1.3 million jobless people. (In spite of their opposition, the bill received just enough votes to be cleared for debate and an up-or-down vote.) Despite being supported by 55 percent of Americans, Republicans in Congress started off the new year by telling the majority of the country it can’t have what it wants.

This will subsequently rob the economy of what it desperately needs: jobs and growth. Choosing not to help the unemployed will cost 283,000 more jobs. And Harvard economist Lawrence Katz predicts the economy will lose up to $1 billion per week as already struggling families won’t be able to purchase even the most basic needs.

Next, the GOP will tell millions of workers that they don’t deserve a living wage during the upcoming minimum wage debate. Although raising the minimum wage is supported by 66 percent of Americans, the majority of the 1 percent disagrees, and that is who the Right almost exclusively caters to.

Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour – which is long overdue already – would raise the wages of 27.8 million workers. This would put about $35 billion in the pockets of workers who would spend more, therefore increasing gross domestic product by almost $22 billion, and creating roughly 85,000 new jobs.

Now let’s talk taxes and government spending. Who thinks the wealthy should pay more so families can afford to be nourished and children are able receive a decent education? Who believes the deficit is important, but not at the expense of jobs and human capital?

Most Republicans in Congress would disagree with the above, but not the majority of Americans:

  • 64 percent believe creating jobs should be the president’s and Congress’s top priority; only 33 percent think the top priority should be deficit reduction.

  • 53 percent favor replacing automatic spending cuts (the “sequester”) with revenue.

  • 82 percent believe that tax reform revenue should be used for public investment and deficit reduction, not rate cuts for the wealthy or corporations.

  • 66 percent of Americans say the richest 2 percent should pay more in taxes.

  • 61 percent of people believe upper-income people pay too little in taxes. Only 21 percent would say upper-income people or corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

  • 77 percent favor hiring people to do urgent infrastructure repairs. (That drops to 72 percent if the words “government spending” are used.)

  • 75 percent favor a government job-creation program to hire one million people. (Support drops to 72 percent if the words “government spending” are used.)

Americans aren’t as credulous as the majority of conservative media outlets would prefer to believe. The majority of the country has weathered five long years of economic hardship and witnessed a lackluster recovery that has favored the wealthiest in our society.

As economic inequality continues to rise, Americans are starting to realize they have been duped by conservative policies. They are now beginning to wake to a new type of economic populism. Conservatives will continue to try and peddle their lemon to the American people, but this year the majority isn’t buying it.

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