For the past 30 years, the GOP has used tax cuts as a weapon against American workers. The Reagen tax cuts reduced top income tax rates from 70% down to 28%. Reagen's trickle down economics was sold to the American people under the pretense that they would stimulate investment and create new job opportunities. They didn't. Instead, they permitted corporations and the wealthiest income earners to keep a much larger share of their income, which they enthusiastically used to invest in the stock market and securities to build even greater wealth. Republicans seized upon their constituents' new found wealth to gain lucrative campaign donations. Investors used their new found wealth to expand political action committees and think tanks. They developed new strategies to privatize government operations, to suppress labor organizations, to eliminate government regulations, to expand corporate influence, to redesign investment and accounting practices, to expand foreign trade and manufacturing, and to secure more tax cuts. The wealth and influence of corporations and the richest Americans grew at an unprecedented rate.
As the riches of the wealthiest Americans grew, American jobs began to disappear. Outsourcing and foreign production skyrocketed. Labor's influence diminished. Cheap labor was imported from Mexico and other third world nations. The wages of workers stagnated. The price of homes, energy, automobiles, and health care all escalated rapidly. Many full time workers found they could no longer afford the basic amenities of life. Families survived by amassing debt. Laws and policies were changed to permit people to make major purchases of things like homes and automobiles with extended credit and high prices inflated by easy credit. Then the housing bubble burst and the economy crashed.
The Bush administration rushed to pass a bailout of the banks at a cost of $700 billion. The stimulus allowed financial giants like Goldman Sachs to recover quickly and within weeks, they began paying lucrative bonuses to their executives. Others were forced into bankruptcy, sold, or closed. Within two years, most of those that survived were once again posting record profits and handing out huge bonuses.
American workers did not fare as well. During these same years, computer technology was rapidly advancing, rendering more jobs obsolete and forcing the restructuring entire industries. Coupled with the jobs that were being shipped overseas, and the competition from immigrant labor, American wages stagnated and competition for jobs stiffened. In the last two years nearly 8 million jobs were lost in the U.S., leaving 15 million workers unemployed, and as many as 25 million underemployed. The U.S. News and World Report has reported that 12 industries are still losing jobs. Since 2007, the construction industry alone has lost 1.9 million jobs. Printing and Publishing has lost 260,000 jobs and state and local government is down 225,000 after cutting 260,000 jobs in 2010.
Despite passing a stimulus package of nearly $900 million, job losses continued, and the unemployment rate hovered around 10 percent. Few jobs were created during this time. Unlike prior recessionary periods, the government failed to expand job creation programs like WPA, public employment, on the job training, apprenticeships, targeted jobs tax credits, trade readustment assistance, or worker retraining and education.
With limited job prospects available, most workers struggled to get by on meager unemployment benefits of about $300 a week while juggling bills, cutting expenses or selling off assets and possessions. Millions of them lost their homes and were pushed into bankruptcy. To compensate for the lack of employment opportunities, the federal government extended UI benefits to 99 weeks.
Now, just two weeks before Christmas 2010, many of these workers have exhausted their UI benefits and they are without any means of support. Hundreds of thousands of others are scheduled to exhaust their benefits during the ensuing weeks. President Obama sold his tax compromise package under the pretext that it was needed to help the long term unemployed. However, his tax compromise failed to consider the longest term unemployed - the 99er's and those who had already exhausted their benefits. The Obama plan makes no provision for those who have suffered the longest. They were left to fend for themselves any way they could. The President has failed to offer any proposals or relief for them. His concern for the long term unemployed is mitigated by the fact that he ignored the most desperate workers altogether.
Instead, in what he described as the best deal he could get, he announced his willingness to fork over another $81.5 billion, in the form of tax cuts, to the wealthiest income earners in the U.S., even though they don't need it, they are doing better than ever, and it will most likely not be used for development or expansion. Add another $69 billion in business tax cuts and another $68 billion in Estate Tax cuts and you will find that the President has given a $218.5 billion Christmas present to the same people who turned the American dream into the American workers' nightmare. If this were a war (as some like to call it a class war), it would be the equivalent of supplying ammo and munitions to the enemy. The wealth gleaned from 30 years of tax cuts has consistently been used as a weapon against American workers and a means to wrest control of the government away from them. President Obama has clearly and resoundly demonstrated that he is no friend of labor.
So, Mr. President, as we approach the Chrismas holidays, I will always remember you as the President who bartered a deal, denying the neediest and most destitute of American workers, any relief whatsoever. This, while borrowing billions from foreign nations to lavish ever more wealth upon the least needy among us, the very same people who seem hell bent on destroying the lives of all American workers. Thanks for the memory Mr. President and a merry bah humbug to you too.