In the days since the Republicans released their ‘Pledge to America,’ I have been sifting through reviews and checking facts. Not that there are many facts in the Pledge, there aren’t. No, it’s more like reading a comic book. Much is implied or left to your imagination, as your eye is pulled to large iconic images. The words are familiar, patriotic and reassuring, pulling at our desire to for a more solid foothold in an era of rapid change. That is were it begins, where we end up if the ‘Pledge’ is enacted is another story.
The PLAN TO CREATE JOBS
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 1.1 million jobs will be lost by the proposed two-step approach, consisting of the extension of Bush tax cuts and domestic spending cuts back to 2008 levels. Exempt from the spending cuts are the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. The Pledge proposes cuts of 22.7% in all other domestic programs. Will the cuts be across the board or will specific programs or agencies be targeted? While the Pledge isn’t specific, the biggest losers are likely to be the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education. That’s some mighty big cuts in the Kansas 2nd District, home to K State, KU, Washburn, Pittsburg State and many other private and community colleges. The cuts will come just as the impact of stimulus dollars is fading out of local communities. Tuition will certainly increase, as will the cost of education loans-not just the principle but the interest rates have nowhere to go but up.
ENDING ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY
Tax cuts, privatization and deregulation. The Pledge will extend the Bush tax cuts to all income brackets, including the top 2% of households, costing $629 billion more over the next decade than the President proposal. The Pledge will repeal health care reform, placing additional burden on the federal deficit and state budgets. Financial reform legislation will also be repealed and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be sold. Will student loans be kicked back out to the private sector, without government guarantees or caps on interest rates? Does anyone care to guess what your home will be worth or how high mortgage rates will rise, that is if you can get a mortgage?
AND MAKE AMERCA(sic) MORE COMPETITIVE
I know I sometimes overlook grammar and word choice errors, but seriously, they misspelled America.
Tax cuts, wage cuts and foreign investment. There is no concrete plan for investment in American jobs. While Wall Street has rebounded, the rebound is due to investment in manufacturing jobs in India, China and Brazil. So where will the competitive edge come from to create investment in American jobs? Elimination of the minimum wage, while not specifically stated in the Pledge, is certain to be on the table. As is killing the Card Check bill and other strategies to further erode the power of Unions. Elimination of restriction on government lands, parks and wilderness area. Offshore oil drilling will continue unabated and opening Alaska’s north slope to drilling will certainly be expedited. And the ‘Pledge’ offers a blank check to military expeditions and expenditures.
The Pledge is similar to the 2010 Republican budget proposal, big on patriotic language, short on specifics and completely lacking in a hard numbers or financial analysis. There are three charts; a graph showing that unemployment got worse despite the stimulus (or perhaps it shows that the economic crash of 2008 didn’t stop until the stimulus kicked in); a pie chart of “Federal Assistance Programs” (no year indicated and it excludes U.S. military expenses incurred outside of the 50 states-like Iraq and Afghanistan); and “A Maze of Bureaucracies” developed by the Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee, an organizational flow chart depicting federal agencies with any role in implementing the Affordable Health Care Act (they find immensely amusing).
The Pledge fails to address their plans for Social Security and Medicare, the federal deficit, and assurers that a double-dip recession is a solid bet. The rich will get richer. The rest of us will just have to pull harder on those bootstraps.