Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Middle class struggles, GOP advocates affluent aid

While American workers and their families continue to feel the effects of the Great Recession this holiday season, the Grinches Republicans in Congress continue to hold unemployment benefits hostage and corporations are reporting record annual profits of $1.66 trillion (largest in sixty years).

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.66 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or non-inflation-adjusted terms.

Corporate profits have been going gangbusters for a while. Since their cyclical low in the fourth quarter of 2008, profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history.

Even Wall Street looks to be doing well with projected profits of $19 billion. And let's not leave members of Congress out of the mix. Not only are almost half of the members millionaires, but they've seen their personal wealth increase by more than 16% in the last two years.

While it’s heartening that the economy is slowly turning around and business is returning to pre-recession levels, the American people have not yet begun to feel the effects. Corporations, Congress, and investment banks might be doing well, but families and individuals are still struggling. Have no fear, however, for the Republicans have a plan…

Backed by the newly emboldened Speaker-elect John Boehner (R-OH), Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) has thrown down the gauntlet, preferring to conduct a giveaway to the rich rather than extend a hand to those who need it most effectively. As the need for government services has risen due to economic conditions, Republicans would prefer to conduct a giveaway to the rich than extend a hand to those who need it most. Make no mistake, this is class warfare.
A deal on a temporary extension of the Bush-era tax rates could also be linked to renewal of unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans about to lose them, a senior Republican in the House of Representatives said.

Representative Pete Sessions, a Republican in leadership, said he could back extending jobless benefits, favored by Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in exchange for an extension of all Bush-era tax cuts, including for the wealthiest groups.
If Congress fails to act and extend unemployment benefits by November 30, 800,000 people and their families will be affected. By the end of the year, 2 million will be affected.

Republicans claim that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are necessary because the money spent will create jobs and the benefits will trickle down to everyone. The truth is, the rich didn’t get rich by spending money. Ask one of the wealthiest men in the world, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett:
"The rich are always going to say that, you know, 'Just give us more money, and we'll go out and spend more, and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.' But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on."
Yesterday, President Obama drew clearly the line that separates Democrats and Republicans on the extension of unemployment benefits and .
Next year, taxes are set to go up for middle-class families unless Congress acts. If we don’t act by the end of the year, a typical middle-class family will wake up on January 1st to a tax increase of $3,000 per year.

So, in the next few weeks, I’m asking Congress to take up this issue. The last thing we can afford to do right now is raise taxes on middle-class families. (Applause.) If we allow these taxes to go up, the result would be that a lot of people most likely would spend less, and that means that the economy would grow less. So we ought to resolve this issue in the next couple of weeks so you’ve got the assurance that your taxes won’t go up when that clock strikes midnight.

Now, this is actually an area where Democrats and Republicans agree. The only place where we disagree is whether we can afford to also borrow $700 billion to pay for an extra tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, for millionaires and billionaires. I don’t think we can afford it right now –- not when we are going to have to make some tough decisions to rein in our deficits.
While the Republicans in Congress hold unemployment benefits for needy Americans hostage and advocate for frivolous tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, it's once again been made very clear that the Democrats are the party of the people and the GOP is the party of the privileged.


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