Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 GOP Talking Points: The Year in Review


Photo: Giampaolo Macorig (Flickr)
While you’re diddling, America is burning, Nero!
 
The GOP is fighting extending the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans as we speak, because the measure to do it would raise taxes on 350,000 of America’s richest to pay for the cut.  Their latest attempt at “compromise” involves adding several contentious and unsettled issues to the bill—since when does adding things no one agrees on and insisting it’s your bill or no bill make it MORE likely a bill will pass?

Listening to the rhetoric is a walk down a memory lane bordered on both sides with many noteworthy whoppers.  Now that It’s the end of the year, there’s no better time to sum up some of the GOP’s talking points from 2011 before we put them permanently (please God!) in the rear view…

“It’s about the Job Creators, Stupid!”

Great concept – it’s a different take that sounds good, until you realize that the “job creators” aren’t actually creating any jobs.  And that conveniently included in the class of “job creators” are rich people who never did.  But what about the small fraction of the richest 1% in this country who do have companies and could create jobs—why have they failed to actually do so?  It isn’t because their taxes are too high, the regulations too cumbersome or they can’t afford it—it’s because there’s no consumer demand for what they sell because nobody else has any money to spend.

Decades of policies specifically tailored to benefit “job creators” haven’t done squat for job creation—all they did was create a small uber-class of ultra-rich who simply don’t spend enough to sustain the larger economy on their own.  How?  By enabling them to squirrel away a lot more cash while cutting their contribution toward the things that made this nation great in the first place.  You know, things like education, infrastructure, investments in technology and a social safety net that pulled and kept millions out of poverty.

“Job Creators” have been paid handsomely by the American people in the form of huge tax breaks so that they would create jobs for the last 10 years.  Yet the Bush tax cuts led to the worst job creation record on record.  Is there any employer anywhere that would keep paying for that kind of lack of performance?  Hope YOU’VE enjoyed YOUR free ride, “Job Creators,” because your government welfare-driven, taxpayer-funded gravy train ends in 2012. 
   
“It’s about the deficit, Stupid!”

After spending 8 years blowing a hole in the deficit, the GOP suddenly finds it imperative we fix it NOW, when corporations and the rich are enjoying record profits and spending nothing to create jobs, and cuts will hurt everyone else to the point of drawing blood.  This is all just a distraction—JOBS are the problem, not spending.  

Do they really think we think it's an accident that when they were in power, Cheney said “Deficits don't matter,” which gave them license to spend on the 1% with unfunded tax breaks, on big pharma with an unfunded fix to the Medicare donut hole, and on the military-industrial complex with not one but two unfunded wars, but now, suddenly, when they don’t have a blank check to keep spending, the deficit is the most important thing?   How can they even look themselves in the mirror with a straight face?

“It’s about the uncertainty, Stupid!”

Markets and business need certainty to create jobs, says the GOP.  But In reality, it’s consumers that drive job creation by spending on goods and services.  Want to talk about “uncertainty?” How about certainty for the middle class and working Americans?

There are 160 million people who don’t know if they’re going to have dinner tonight, or if they can get their kid a Christmas present, because they don’t know if they’ll have the money left over after paying their bills to be able to get by after more taxes get deducted from their check on January 1st.  $85 a month might not mean much to our millionaire politicians, but for some of us, it’s the difference between eating and having the gas to get to work, or deciding which you’ll do without.  Again.

These are people who would be shopping, if they knew they could afford it.  But they don’t know if they can because the status of the payroll tax is still up in the air.  So much for certainty.  What really matters is certainty for the middle class and small businesses.  And they wonder why people have taken to the streets to #Occupy wherever they happen to be.

“It’s about the size of government, Stupid!”

The GOP ran on a platform of jobs, but has done absolutely nothing to create any—in fact, they’ve been fighting every effort by others to do so and focusing on other things altogether while pushing the entire time for more layoffs of government workers.  In spite of their distractions, we know that 2-1 doesn’t ever equal 3—you can’t eliminate more jobs faster and then wonder where the jobs are with any integrity whatsoever.  “Government doesn’t create jobs?”  Really?  Government created THEIR jobs, and it employs millions who work for the people.  To say otherwise is a bold-faced lie.  

Nor did government cause the financial crisis in 2008, as they so often claim. Every once in a while, a banker actually admits it, and even Forbes gets that the government didn’t cause the crash!  This is all about creating a self-fulfilling prophecy—if they cut government services, then of course people will complain that the money they ARE spending isn’t getting them anything worthwhile.  This is again all about saving the 1% on their tax bill so that they can hoard even more cash.  It benefits them, but does nothing for the rest of us.

Not surprisingly, the GOP also isn’t complaining that banks received plenty of assistance from the Fed, unbeknownst to the rest of us and Congress.  For people who hate big government, they certainly aren’t outraged by their donors accepting trillions in government-backed aid.  Does that sound like anything even close to a free market?  Don’t think so.

It’s about too much regulation, Stupid!”

Of course corporations would push for fewer regulations, for the same reason that criminals want fewer police—it makes it more likely they can get away with the crimes they commit!  Since Wall Street did such an excellent job self-policing, why WOULDN’T we just trust corporations with the welfare of our citizens, our natural resources and our financial and political systems?

Never mind that the GOP’s claims that regulations kill jobs aren’t true--  even if they were, letting corporations and other bad actors get away with fraud, cheating and stealing from the American taxpayer isn’t worth it at ANY cost.

If the ratings agencies hadn’t been so riddled with corruption, maybe the mess wouldn’t have happened.  Or if the regulators weren’t stuck with rules that are rife with exceptions, so they could actually protect the American people from fraud... But even when there are solid regulations, they’re not always enforced – if anything, we need MORE oversight, not less, and every once in a while, someone, maybe even a federal judge, actually says it out loud.

“It’s about the taxes, Stupid!”

To buy that taxes inhibit job creation requires amazing powers of amnesia and denial--  you have to block out the fact that Clinton raised taxes and yet we experienced great economic growth and job creation, and just disregard that raising taxes generates the revenue needed to fix the shortfall and doesn’t actually cause mass exodus of the wealthy from a particular area or keep companies from hiring.   

Even the Wall Street Journal gets that the Bush tax cuts led to the worst job creation record on record, and the Congressional Budget Office acknowledges that a tax holiday for repatriation of overseas profits would have a “negligible” effect on job creation.  Even Republican Senator Tom Coburn gets that tax breaks for millionaires are just “welfare for the wealthy.”

There’s no evidence to support this from any angle, but the GOP keeps on playing it like a tired old favorite song that sounded good when it first came out but is just lame in hindsight.

Guess what?  We’re NOT as stupid as you think!

Dear GOP,

The time for playing your silly reindeer politician games is over—you’ve had 11 months to jockey for position and dick with the American peoples’ confidence in their government’s ability to act in the best interest of the nation, and with the world’s confidence in your ability to handle our finances.  Did you really think you could threaten the nation and the world with a default on our already-incurred obligations, and that would somehow be acceptable?

Don’t you get it?  We can see you.  We can see through you.  Your telling us what people think and want you to do doesn’t count anymore, because we know what people really think—we communicate with each other directly.  Your lies don’t fly anymore.

Your attacks follow a tired and predictable pattern:
  •  First they’re substantive, your attempt to frame the issues in broad principles that belie what your policies actually do, which is benefit the 1% no matter what. 
  • Then, if you fail to get your way with your propaganda, the argument becomes procedural—it’s about how things are written, how they are presented in Congress, or how they are handled in committee.  Another nice tactic, designed to distract from the real issue, which is that you are still working to change things to benefit the 1% who pay for your election campaigns and then extract beneficial consideration from you in policymaking.
  • Finally, if you still don’t get you way, it becomes personal—it’s about the individual proposing the legislation you don’t like, or the people who support it.  It’s all about demonizing somebody, somehow, through name-calling and inflammatory accusations.  Whatever it takes to stop what your donors don’t want to happen from happening.
Well, here’s a news flash for you: There is NO POSSIBLE WAY to block this and NOT have your actions look like the assault they are on 160 million citizen voters.  None whatsoever.  If for ANY reason you deny the middle and working classes the same tax cut extension you repeatedly fought tooth-and-nail for on behalf of the 1%, you WILL be held accountable by the people you are hurting, loud and clear, in the 2012 elections.

We don’t care about your negotiating stance.  We don’t care about your talking points.  We’re not interested in your latest clever strategy to come up with a way to make this thing benefit the 1% in some way, shape or form.  

We’re not going to follow your accusations wherever your finger currently happens to point in blame anymore, we’re just going to stand here, in your face, and keep insisting you to do something that benefits the rest of us, and if you don’t, we’ll find someone who will.  The 1% may have paid for your election campaign, but we’re the ones who voted for you.  Whether you like it or not, and in spite of your current efforts to the contrary, we still have the power of the vote.

So you can say whatever you want, but we’re now completely focused on the ONE THING that matters: What have you done for US lately?

Disdainfully,

The 99%

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