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Mitch McConnell: GOP Isn’t “Here To Defend High-Income People”

The number two Senate Republican, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R), last week decried attempts by Senate Democrats and President Obama to pay for a payroll tax cut extension with a surtax on millionaires. Despite the fact that payroll tax cut extension would keep an extra $1,000 in the pockets of the average American family, and despite the fact that the millionaire surtax would hit relatively few households, Kyl said he could only support extending the tax cut for working Americans if it was accompanied by massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

This morning on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) what he made of characterizations of the GOP as the party that defends millionaires, given that more than half of McConnell’s caucus has repeatedly voted against a tax cut for the middle class. McConnell laughed at the assertion before saying the GOP is “not here to defend high-income people.” As proof, McConnell told Wallace that the Republican plan took such drastic steps as to prevent millionaires from receiving unemployment benefits or food stamps:

WALLACE: Why are so many Republicans, including more than half of your Senate Republicans, why are they voting against the payroll tax cut?

MCCONNELL: Well the president’s comments, it’s hard not to laugh, because four out of five of the people they’re targeting, of “the rich people” they’re targeting, are actually business owners who create jobs. Look, we’re not here to defend high-income people. In this bipartisan package that we’re just discussing, we make sure millionaires don’t get unemployment, don’t get food stamps. […] It doesn’t do anything for millionaires, in fact, it goes after them on the benefits side.

McConnell’s assertions seem belied by the facts. Though he insists the payroll tax cut extension will pass, it was the GOP that opposed paying for it through a small surtax on the wealthiest Americans. It was the GOP that opposed any move to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in efforts to reduce the deficit — leading to the first credit downgrade in American history and ultimately dooming the super committee. It was his party that nearly shutdown the government in April over the same issue — even though the wealthiest Americans are paying historically low tax rates.

And while McConnell claims the GOP plan “goes after” millionaires “on the benefits side,” it “goes after” low- and middle-income Americans “on the benefits side” even harder. While the GOP opposes any tax increase on millionaires, the House plan to extend the payroll tax cut guts unemployment insurance — one of the most effective means of economic stimulus the government has — reducing the number of weeks one can remain on the program from 99 to 79, and then from 79 to 59.

McConnell’s claims that “four out of five people” Democrats are “targeting” are actually “business owners who create jobs” is equally laughable. NPR last week tested that claim, asking Republican Congressional offices to help them find business owners who opposed the millionaire surtax. Unsurprisingly, since only 2 percent of those with business income would be affected by the surtax, the Republican offices and business lobbying groups couldn’t find anyone for NPR to talk to.


By: Travis Waldron, Think Progress, December 11, 2011

December 12, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Middle Class | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illegal Immigrants Not To Blame For Unemployment

Memo to Alabama: George W. Bush was right.

The former president, making a too-late push for what  could have been a game-changing, bipartisan immigration reform law, noted that  immigrants now here illegally make an important contribution to the economy.  They do the jobs Americans can’t or won’t do.

Opponents disagreed, arguing that the undocumented  workers were  stealing jobs that should go to Americans—jobs like picking  fruit for  low wages in the hot sun. That was a questionable claim when the   economy was better, but as Alabama farmers are now learning, Bush’s  statement  is correct even now, when Americans are working for far less  pay in jobs for  which they are way over-qualified, just to have a job.

In June Alabama passed a draconian immigration law—most  of which is  still in place, even while courts decide its constitutionality—that has  driven many immigrants from the state. The result has not been a wave   of grateful unemployed teachers and skilled workers, eager to be  underpaid for  difficult manual labor. Instead, at the San  Francisco Chronicle reports:

The agriculture industry suffered the most  immediate impact. Farmers  said they will have to downsize or let crops die in  the fields. As the  season’s harvest winds down, many are worried about next  year.

In south Georgia, Connie Horner has heard just about  every reason  unemployed Americans don’t want to work on her blueberry farm.  It’s  hot, the hours are long, the pay isn’t enough, and it’s just plain hard.

“You can’t find legal workers,” Horner said.  “Basically, they last a day or two, literally.”

There are a number of lessons here. One is that there are  surely  elected officials and people in the business community who are using the   recession to roll back all kinds of hard-fought rights for workers,  cutting  pay, eliminating job security, and drastically reducing or  zeroing out  benefits. Another is that while Americans don’t want to do  farm work for low  wages, they also don’t want to pay higher prices for  food harvested by workers  paid a decent salary. That’s not an argument  for abusing undocumented workers,  but it’s also not an argument for  scaring foreigners out of the state so locals  can have their bad jobs.

What’s remarkable is that some of the same people who  scream about  illegal immigrants taking American jobs here in the United States  are  quieter when it comes to foreigners abroad taking what could be American   jobs here. Outsourcing of manufacturing jobs increases corporate  profits, but  adds to the unemployment rate domestically. Those are jobs  American will do. If  that anti-immigrant worker crowd is genuinely  concerned about retaining U.S.  jobs, they should focus on bringing back  the outsourced jobs—not evacuating  the foreign workers.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, October 24, 2011

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Corporations, Economic Recovery, GOP, Government, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Republicans, Right Wing, Unemployment | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Government Spending Is Just What Our Economy Needs

Our  nation’s economy is approaching a precipice. The continuing housing market  crisis has stripped about $10 trillion from families’ assets, and nearly 1 in 10 workers are unemployed. Nearly 1 in 10 others are either working less than they want or have given  up their job search. Family income is now back where it was in 1996, in  inflation-adjusted dollars.

This all  means there is less money flowing through our economy. That’s just math.

The lingering consequences of the Great  Recession—the housing crisis, the jobs crisis, the fear among businesses to  invest their earnings despite record profits—continue to pull against faster  economic growth and job creation. Because customers have less money to spend  due to the collapse of the housing bubble and the ensuing high unemployment,  businesses have little incentive to hire and invest.

Even  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says there is a role for fiscal  policy. Monetary authorities have  already pushed interest rates down to zero. And they have few levers left to  spur growth, although there are some steps that would continue to help  on the margin.

In short, the economy continues to suffer from a  lack of demand.

The federal government can help with this. We know that government spending  can help restart an economy. Over the past two years, increased investments in  infrastructure have saved or created 1.1 million jobs in the construction  industry and 400,000 jobs in manufacturing by March 2011. Almost all of these  jobs were in the private sector.

Money  targeted toward the long-term unemployed helped not only those individual  families hardest hit by the Great Recession but also kept dollars flowing into  their local communities, keeping an average of 1.6 million American workers in jobs every  quarter during the recession. But now, the threat of jobs again disappearing looms  large.

Unless Congress acts, the private sector will  continue to generate insufficient demand. A  sweeping consensus of economists and forecasters across the political divide  now calls for the government to forcefully intervene in precisely this way, to  create demand for goods and services, which will in turn boost hiring and  business growth. Goldman Sachs, for example, said the positive effect of the  president’s American Jobs Act would increase U.S. gross domestic product by 1.5  percent in 2012.

Conservatives want us to believe that America’s broke,  that we cannot afford to address our most pressing issue—mass unemployment and  stagnating incomes. The reality is that there are clear steps that we can take  to pave the way for economic growth. Congress just needs to act.


By: Heather Boushey, Economist-Center for American Progress, Published in U. S. News and World Report, September 27, 2011

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Congress, Deficits, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Middle Class, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Reasons Why Immigration Reform Is Important To Our Fiscal Health

All eyes in Washington these days are on the new congressional super committee. The 12 members from both parties in both chambers of Congress have been assigned the task of developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade or risk setting off deficit-cutting triggers that will force sharp cuts to both defense and domestic spending.

There are many ways the members of this committee can reach the $1.5 trillion target between now and their Thanksgiving week deadline. We at the Center for American Progress understand that comprehensive immigration reform is not among the deficit reduction options on the table but want to urge the super committee to consider it. Comprehensive immigration reform is one key to boosting economic growth and thus helping to solve our nation’s fiscal problems.

Here are the top 10 reasons why immigration reform, or the lack thereof, affects our economy.

Additions to the U.S. economy

1. $1.5 trillion—The amount of money that would be added to America’s cumulative gross domestic product—the largest measure of economic growth—over 10 years with a comprehensive immigration reform plan that includes legalization for all undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.

2. 3.4 percent—The potential GDP growth rate over the past two years if comprehensive immigration reform had gone into effect two years ago, in mid-2009. (see Figure 1)

figure 1

3. 309,000—The number of jobs that would have been gained if comprehensive immigration reform had gone into effect two years ago, in mid-2009. A GDP growth rate of 0.2 percent above the actual growth rate translates into, based on the relationship between economic growth and unemployment, a decrease in unemployment by 0.1 percent, or 154,400 jobs, per year.

4. $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion—The amount of additional net tax revenue that would accrue to the federal government over three years if all undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States were legalized.

Revenue generated by immigrants

5. $4.2 trillion—The amount of revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants and their children, representing 40 percent of all Fortune 500 companies.

6. $67 billion—The amount of money that immigrant business owners generated in the 2000 census, 12 percent of all business income. In addition, engineering and technology companies with at least one key immigrant founder generated $52 billion between 1995 and 2005 and created roughly 450,000 jobs.

Taxes generated by immigrants

7. $11.2 billion—The amount of tax revenue that states alone collected from undocumented immigrants in 2010.

Negative consequences of mass deportation

8. $2.6 trillion—The amount of money that would evaporate from cumulative U.S. GDP over 10 years if all undocumented immigrants in the country were deported.

9. 618,000—The number of jobs that would have been lost had a program of mass deportation gone into effect two years ago, in mid-2009. A mass deportation program would have caused GDP to decrease by 0.5 percent per year, which, based on the relationship between economic growth and unemployment, translates to an increase in unemployment by 0.2 percent, or 309,000 jobs, per year.

10. $285 billion—The amount of money it would cost to deport all undocumented immigrants in the United States over five years.

The upshot

Most Americans and their elected representatives in Congress would be pleasantly surprised to learn about the substantial benefits of comprehensive immigration reform to our nation’s broad-based economic growth and prosperity, and thus our ability to reduce our federal budget deficit over the next 10 years. Given how difficult a challenge the super committee faces, we cannot afford to ignore any viable options for strengthening our economy. We hope the super committee takes these top 10 economic reasons into account as they move forward with their deliberations.

By: Angela M. Kelley and Philip E. Wolgin, Center For American Progress, September 29, 2011

September 30, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democrats, Economic Recovery, GOP, Government, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Teaparty, Unemployment | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corporations Can Show Their Patriotism By Hiring

Former President Bush was roundly derided a decade ago for  urging Americans traumatized by the September 11 attacks to go shopping. He  may, in fact, have been onto something.

Certainly,  shopping on its own is a facile and   inadequate response to a tragedy that required a new assessment of our  national security  procedures and how much of our revered American civil  liberties we  were willing to give up to achieve security—or perhaps, a sense  of  security. That conversation needs to continue, especially in the area of   civil liberties retrenchment.

But  Bush was right about something, and that is that ours is a  consumer-driven  economy. This is arguably a bad basis for a modern  economy; there is only so  much we can consume (the obesity epidemic is  only one sign of our  over-indulgence). And people were foolishly taking  out home equity loans on  wildly over-valued properties and then using  the money not to improve the  property (thus, theoretically, increasing  its value), but to buy other things.  This is not sensible. But the  reality is, our economy runs on people buying  things, and with the  economy in the state it’s in, people aren’t shopping  anymore. Since  people aren’t buying, companies aren’t creating jobs. Many  corporations  are making record profits and holding huge amounts of cash, but  they  don’t want to take on more workers because the demand is not there.

So,  here’s a 10-years-after tweak of Bush’s suggestion: if corporate  America wants  to shows its collective patriotism, its leaders should  hire someone. Hire even  a dozen people, if you run a large company, or  even one employee, if you own a  small business. Some public officials  are worried about raising taxes on the  wealthy, arguing that the  well-off are job creators. Well, create some jobs,  first, and that  argument will have more merit. And remember: taking on another  employee  isn’t a cash loss, ultimately, because it creates a new customer (and  a  taxpayer who won’t be getting unemployment  insurance anymore, either). If  shopping was the answer a decade ago,  hiring someone is the answer now. It’s  the patriotic thing to do.


By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, September 12, 2011

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Consumers, Corporations, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Jobs, Labor, Middle Class, Mortgages, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Unemployed, Wealthy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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