Republicans are very good at confusing people about the economy. Our economic problems are variously blamed on immigrants, blacks, liberals, environmentalists, unions, China, Democrats, women, government regulation or whatever else is the GOP flavor of the week. Conspicuously absent from this are the very wealthy who actually dominate the US economy.
Republicans say that if we only stick to the tried and true policies of their dear departed Ronald Reagan, all will come up roses. But it’s the 1% who get the blooms, the rest of us get the thorns.
When it comes to Republican economics, failure is not an option. It’s a requirement. Republican economics means millions of Americans fail to get adequate health care, adequate housing, adequate education, adequate retirement, adequate recreation and adequate…well, you can finish the list if you have a few hours to spare.
What makes this saga even sadder, is that some Democrats have bought into this GOP economic calamity. Whether out of conviction, ignorance or to please their corporate sponsors they have left the rest of us embedded with the thorns, not the blooms. Democratic hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was no radical, would be appalled.
You can read the Republican battle plan for this economic blitzkrieg in Believe In America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth, a 160 page tome you can download for free. Now we all know that campaign literature bears only a passing resemblance to actual reality. Orwellian Newspeak is the coin of the campaign realm. But Romney is the candidate of the Republican establishment, itself a major representative for a large sector of Corporate America. So with careful study of how they want to mislead us, we can gain insight into ruling class thinking
In the Sherlock Holmes tale The Silver Blaze, there is the curious incident of the watchdog who failed to bark, leading Holmes to finally crack the case. Sometimes it is what is unsaid that is the most revealing. That is certainly true of Believe in America.
There is no mention of dismantling our vast expensive and immoral military empire, which is essentially a government subsidy to military contractors, energy companies and other global corporations who depend upon the cheap labor and resources of the developing world. Meanwhile it is the working class who fights the wars and suffers the deaths and injuries that inevitably come.
As for energy policy, there is worshipful adoration for the oil, coal, nuclear and gas industries; no mention however of BP and the Gulf of Mexico, Massey Energy and mine disasters, Fukushima radiation leaks, or Chesapeake Energy’s recent fracking blowout; no mention of the poisoning of the environment; the deaths caused by air and water pollution or the potential for an apocalypse of climate change. Alternative green energy sources are dismissed as expensive, uncompetitive and undeserving of taxpayer support; no mention however of the epic subsidies doled out to oil, coal, nuclear and natural gas.
To deal with global trade, Romney wants to create a “Reagan Economic Zone” that would be a massive Free Trade Agreement(FTA). Not mentioned is how an FTA like NAFTA brought severe poverty to rural Mexico and caused a mass migration to the USA, breaking up families and condemning those Mexican workers to low wage jobs under sweatshop conditions; no mention either about the loss of US jobs thanks to NAFTA.
Reagan’s support of Latin American terrorist death squads and military dictatorships to insure “free market” economies also goes unmentioned. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed by the USA) details basic global labor standards, the “Reagan Economic Zone” is silent on those as well. Using the term “free markets” when workers are tossed into prison, tortured and even killed makes a mockery of both the word “free” and the word “market”.
Tax policy? Romney says cut taxes on the wealthy and corporations because well, “corporations are people”. No mention about how we are to fund social welfare, more important than ever as companies rid themselves of pensions, health plans, family time, sick leave and the other necessities of a civilized society.
Healthcare? Repeal Obamacare. There is no mention that the Affordable Care Act is based on the popular Massachusetts health plan created by none other Mitt Romney; no mention of the skyrocketing costs and bloated inefficiency of the health insurance industry, which kills thousands of Americans every year through brutal rationing of health care.
Regulatory policy? Easy, slash regulation of Wall Street; no mention of how deregulation brought on the 2008 crash; robbing people of pensions, homes and jobs; no mention of how environmental regulation has prevented even greater ecological tragedy; no mention of how OSHA has helped save life and limb in the workplace.
Believe in America makes no mention of the vast disparity in wealth between the 1% and the working class; barely a mention of our racial and gender caste system that economically punishes people based on their color or the configuration of their reproductive organs.
When it comes to actual working class realities, the silences can be deafening. However there is one area of working class life where Romney is quite vocal. Unions, always a favorite whipping boy for economic failure, get a special flogging in Believe in America.
After a perfunctory paragraph about unions of the past, unions today are pilloried for harming competitiveness, driving up costs and being detrimental to job creation. Romney attacks the National Labor Relations Board for decisions that favor labor while ignoring those that have favored management. Even a minor decision that requires employers to put up posters advising workers of their legal rights stokes his ire. While he claims to be in favor of “competitiveness”, he vents rage at anything that might help the embattled US labor movement maintain its competitiveness in our so-called “free market” economy.
Romney seems offended that working class people aspire to a modest middle class lifestyle and is especially outraged at those who have achieved that status through union activity. It’s OK in Romney World for wealthy investors to organize companies to further their financial gain, but a mortal economic sin for working class people to organize unions to do the same.
Romney gushes over the so-called “right-to-work” states which place heavier restrictions on unions, where union organizing efforts meet a stonewall of employer resistance and even many working class people are anti-union. Concentrated in the American South, these states are also among the poorest in the nation with all of the attendant social problems. There has been significant job growth there as manufacturing companies seek out the cheapest labor and the most desperate people. These companies generally pay low wages while demanding expensive government subsidies and tax breaks. Working conditions can be brutal while worker health and safety takes a back seat.
But despite the many words Romney expends on labor issues there are still long silences. There is no mention of the predatory capitalists who descended on US manufacturing and instead of investing in new technology and engaging workers in planning a better future, simply skimmed off the profits until bankruptcy struck. There is no mention of company owners who simply skipped town to find cheaper labor in impoverished 3rd World countries so they could go back to the robber baron-style of labor relations popular in the 19th century.
There is no mention of how the labor movement has been the USA’s most successful anti-poverty program; no mention of how unions made deep concessions to help companies stay in business during economic crisis; no mention of the thousands of workers fired illegally for union organizing; no mention of the union role in fighting against racial, gender and other forms of discrimination on the job.
When you add up the words of Believe in America and its many silences, the true picture of Republican economic planning becomes clear. It is a picture of failure for the many and success for the few. The Republican idea of job creation is the Walmartization of America, low wage jobs with minimal benefits. Even the higher paying non-union manufacturing jobs brought in by companies like BMW and Daimler are still low by the standards of the companys’ home countries. Unfunny jokes about the USA becoming Europe’s Mexico are making the rounds.
Romney wants to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In his vision of a non-union low wage economy, how will workers retire or pay for medical care? Already many Walmart workers depend upon public assistance programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps), housing subsidies, child health programs and Medicaid.
In Romney’s low wage America where taxes are slashed for the wealthy and the corporations, who will pay for schools, essential public services, infrastructure maintenance, parks and recreational facilities? How will we pay for environmental protection and cleanup? Public health programs? Food safety inspection? Workplace health and safety inspections? Corporate and government financial fraud audits?
Mitt Romney’s deregulated capitalism makes it too easy for the grifters, the thieves, the polluters and the labor exploiters to succeed in business. It rewards those who dismantled our manufacturing, polluted our nation, foreclosed our homes and damned near crashed the entire global economy in 2008.
This undercuts the honest fair-minded capitalists who have a sense of responsibility to their workers, their investors and to society as a whole. Being a capitalist should be seen as a serious social responsibility, not a smash and grab robbery as it is by the Mitt Romney’s of America.
Believe in America is the road to perdition: a red, white and blue environmentally blighted Mordor; dotted with grim sweatshops surrounded by decaying slums and ruled from the office towers and fortress-like gated communities of the wealthy.
If economic failure is a requirement for Republicans, resistance is the requirement for the rest of us. For if we do not resist, we can only say, “We did it to ourselves.”
Cartoon by Carol Simpson Cartoonwork– a partnership between Estelle Carol and Bob "Bobbosphere" Simpson
Griftopia by Matt Taibbi
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Failure by Design: The Story behind America's Broken Economy by Josh Bivens
Orwellian from Wikipedia
Silver Blaze from Wikipedia
Mitt Romney’s Epic Health Care Journey: How He Flip-Flopped On Mandates by Benjy Sarlin
45,000 American deaths associated with lack of insurance by Madison Park
Unionbusting? That’s disgusting! from USAction
Dropping the Ax: Illegal Firings During Union Election Campaigns by John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer
Germany turns out 5.5 million cars; U.S. only 2.7 million by Nicholas Maronese
Next Low-Wage Haven: USA by Jane Slaughter
Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs by Arindrajit Dube and Ken Jacobs