The Hightower Report

Back to the Great Recession; and Subsidizing Plutocrats

Back to the Great Recession

The core economic problem we're facing today is that both unemployment and underemployment are rampant, stifling any hope for real recovery and threatening the very survival of our essential middle class.

The solution? Our leaders in Washington and various state capitols are pushing a massive jobs program across America. Great, just what we need! Uh ... no. Unfor-tunately, theirs is not a program to create jobs, but rather a coordinated effort with corporate front groups to eliminate hundreds of thousands of public service jobs, adding these workers to America's jobless hordes. If ignorance is bliss, they must be ecstatic! They've swallowed the right-wing mythology that prosperity will magically arise if only government budgets can be gutted and the jobs of public employees terminated. Yet, by going on a firing rampage, they are shoving the entire U.S. economy back into the Great Recession – or worse.

People who are out of work do not tend to be – how shall I put this? – robust consumers. Since consumer spending accounts for about 70% of our country's economic growth (and, in so doing, creates America's jobs), the dogma of deliberately destroying the purchasing power of middle-class wage earners is disastrous – like trying to cure a headache by chopping off your head.

Not content to undercut middle-class consumers by firing them, extremist politicos are also slashing jobless payments, food stamps, Medicaid, and other safety-net programs. These put money directly and quickly into the consumer economy as recipients spend for food, gas, and other basics. Such cutbacks will drain some $37 billion more out of consumer spending this year.

As our economy keeps sliding backward, the middle-class people who get knocked down will be hunting these laissez-fairyland ideologues with dogs.

Subsidizing Plutocrats

With a tsunami of economic pain swamping America's working families, our stalwart national leaders are rushing to provide aid and comfort – unfortunately, not to workers but to CEOs, Wall Street speculators, and every pampered plutocrat with a Gucci-clad lobbyist.

At least President Obama recognizes that the workaday majority has been knocked down: "Our economy as a whole," he says (with what passes for keen insight in today's clueless Washington) "just isn't producing nearly enough jobs." Indeed, as one economic analyst put it, "June's employment report ... [is] awful from start to finish." So, congressional leaders and the president have been trying to cut a deal – not to launch the bold, can-do jobs program that America urgently needs, but to slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other essential programs that most Americans count on.

Adding to this Kafka-esque disconnect from reality, Republican leaders are locking arms (and minds) to prevent any cuts to the insane tax handouts now going to billionaire hedge fund speculators, Big Oil, and multinational corporations that are hiding massive profits in offshore tax havens. While they cut the poor, no tax giveaway to the rich is so revolting that GOP lawmakers refuse to kiss it right on the lips – even the $300 million a year doled out in tax breaks for corporate jets or the subsidy that Uncle Sam gives to yacht owners. Seriously, jets and yachts! Sen. Jon Kyl whined that Democrats "want ordinary Americans to believe that they will not be affected by the president's tax-increase proposals."

If anyone knows what planet Kyl lives on, please beam the news to him that ordinary Americans don't have corporate jets and yachts. We can laugh, but clowns like Kyl are destroying our middle class to make America safe for plutocrats.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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