Guest column: Echoes from our 33rd president
October 5, 2012
Barack Obama let Mitt Romney off the hook frequently during Wednesday night’s debate. The former Massachusetts governor’s lie about his own tax plan and his specious comments about jobs were glaring. Obama blew his chance to force his opponent to come clean on the numbers when moderator Jim Lehrer failed to moderate.
Romney’s tax plan would cut personal income tax rates by 20 percent, benefitting mostly our richest taxpayers. Obama cited and Romney rejected the non-partisan Tax Policy Center analysis that the plan would cost $5 trillion. When Obama didn’t press the point, Romney’s lie was left to resonate with the electorate. The Romney-Ryan plan reincarnates trickle-down economics and continues historic GOP practice of providing breaks mostly for our wealthiest citizens. In 1948, President Harry Truman told us “The Republican Party … favors the privileged few and not the common everyday man. Ever since its inception, that party has been under the control of special privilege …” The parallel to today is striking. “When tax relief can be given, it ought to go to those who need it most, and not those who need it least,” Truman said.
On Wednesday Romney repeated a promise to create 12 million jobs. He was never asked and did not tell us how he’d do it.
“Where are the jobs?” House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have been harping. Obama’s policies have failed, Romney insists, adding that this president has made the economy worse.
These arguments are fallacious. Since he became President, Obama has turned positive a jobs market that had been hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs per month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that since his inauguration we’ve had an overall increase in jobs as well as an increase in private sector jobs every month since March 2010. Friday the Labor Department announced 114,000 were added in September and that the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.8 percent, the lowest in four years, clearly illustrating a continuing trend improvement. That there has not been an even greater proliferation of jobs is directly traceable not to Obama’s presentation of comprehensive growth proposals, but to Congressional Republicans’ persistent rejection of them. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed two years ago that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” he signaled his party’s willingness to sacrifice the nation’s economic health to the callous political goal of limiting this president’s tenure.
Truman’s words 64 years ago could be addressed to the current Republican crop. “(Republican control by the specially privileged is proved) by the things they did to the people, and not for them. They proved it by the things they failed to do … Now, let’s look at some of them – just a few,” he continued.
Fast forward to 2011-2012. In September 2011, the Obama administration unveiled the American Jobs Act designed to improve and repair our infrastructure, rebuild schools and rundown neighborhoods, and provide tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. The legislation failed to garner the 60 votes required to break a filibuster. Jobs growth improvement was curtailed by Congress, not by the president.
In his effort to further enhance the country’s jobs growth, President Obama’s top priority on his 2012 “to-do” list was proposed legislation providing tax breaks for insourcing jobs and eliminating credits for sending jobs overseas. Sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the bill failed because all but four Republican senators voted against cloture, thus assuring that it could not get the 60 votes needed to vote the bill up or down on its merits. Senate Republicans defeated this president’s plan for job growth, then disingenuously blamed him for the failure.
Last month, in another disgraceful display of letting their hatred of Obama trump patriotism, Senate Republicans blocked the veterans job bill by voting against cloture. It would have authorized $1 billion to help up to 20,000 veterans find employment in their local areas. “Once again, this Congress let partisan bickering stand in the way of putting thousands of America’s heroes back to work,” said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
“(Republicans) are going to try to dodge their responsibility. They are going to drag all the red herrings they can across this campaign,” Truman continued. “The battle lines of 1948 are the same as they were in 1932, when the Nation lay prostrate and helpless as a result of Republican misrule and inaction.”
The battle lines of 2012 are the same as they were in 1948 when Truman battled the do-nothing 80th Congress.
– Michael Zucker is a resident of South Lake Tahoe and a stockbroker with Regal Securities.