During the 2010 mid-term election the Republican party hit Democrats in Washington hard with a rather simple slogan: “Where are the jobs?” In what would become a historic rebuff of the 111th Congress the American people overwhelmingly bought the Republican party line that if they were allowed to take the reins of the House of Representatives away from the Democrats they would refocus the federal government’s attention away from stimulus bills and Obamacare and instead concentrate on the stagnant economic and the miserably high rate of unemployment in this country. The strategy worked and the Democratic majority in the House was sent packing last November, while Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was elected the 61st speaker of the House in January of this year.
In the ensuing four month period, how many jobs have the Republican House created? How many pieces of legislation has the House passed in an effort to jumpstart the American economy? How many Republican alternatives to the Democrat’s policy of investing in the American middle class have been proposed? Unfortunately the answers to those questions are: zero, zero and, zero.
The fact is the Republican House majority has spent more time and energy developing a privatization scheme for Medicare and Medicaid, attacking a woman’s right to chose whether she will have a child and opposing President Obama at every turn, rather than doing anything to address the humdrum economic situation.
The first pronouncement by Speaker Boehner relating to jobs was a rather derisive comment. When asked about the federal job-cutting aspects of his party’s budget proposals he said the government can’t afford to keep so many workers and, “…if some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it.” This rather cavalier attitude is diametrically opposite the crisis in employment his party ran and won on last November. Did the GOP hoodwink the American public?
The other major issue the Republicans used to gain control of the House was health care. Specifically, they brutally attacked the Democrats claim that the legislation they passed, often referred to as Obamacare, would save the country nearly $500 billion in reduced Medicare costs over the next 10 years. The law was attacked for “cutting Medicare” even though the cuts the Democrats proposed would not have affected Medicare benefits. The misleading verbal barrage started 14 months before the midterm elections when Boehner, then the minority leader, said that the Democrats’ “health care bill would cut seniors’ Medicare benefits by $500 billion,” and continued in October of that year when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated, “We need to strengthen Medicare and preserve it for today’s seniors and future generations, not slash it.” Later that year McConnell wrote that, “Cutting Medicare is not what Americans want.”Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), then the minority, jumped into the act with both feet, writing, “The huge cuts in Medicare, massive new entitlements and increasing pressure to stop escalating costs would eventually require the rationing of care.”
So what did our friends on the right do when they got control of the House? They overwhelmingly voted in favor of a plan that would cut deep into Medicare benefits and would eventually turn the program over to the private market in ten years, which would have been a financial windfall for an industry which has backed the GOP with millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
In fact the group Americans for Campaign Reform concluded recently that, “Republicans received 57 percent of total healthcare industry contributions while Democrats received 43 percent of industry contributions from 1990-2008.” They also said the industry has contributed over $800 million to candidates for federal office during that time period. And, during the time period, “Annual contributions from the healthcare industry increased sevenfold from $21.9 million in 1990 to nearly $150 million in 2008.” Is there any wonder there was so much heated opposition to healthcare reform? Thankfully the GOP plan has been shortstopped by many of the same people who voted them into office last fall. The Republicans have shown their hand. They are not interested in middle class Americans.
I only hope that the American public will remember this episode and take the advice of a well-known rock group and cry out as loudly as they can at the ballot box in 2012 with the refrain that we “Won’t be fooled again!”