Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unpopular Congress Nixes Popular Obama Jobs Plan

While Occupy Wall Street demonstrators railed against corporate greed and the injustices of a system that coddled the rich and debased everyone else, while real unemployment rose to 18.41%, while Americans from sea to shining sea gathered glumly around barren kitchen tables, a despised and disgraced Congress increasingly disconnected from its constituents and increasingly obsessed with wallowing in piles of K-Street lobbyist cash summarily dismissed President Barack Obama's popular jobs legislation.

By a 50-49 Tuesday vote in the Senate, Obama's $447 billion jobs package fell far short of the 60 votes needed to proceed. In a sign of how wretched this Congress was, no on was surprised the measure was defeated.

Two Democrats, Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) and Sen. Jon Tester (MT), joined every Republican in the Senate to defeat Obama's bid to fix 30,000 schools, hire teachers and firefighters and cops, extend a payroll tax holiday for middle class Americans, and slap a 5.6% tax surcharge on millionaires and billionaires.

It was no wonder a new Gallup poll revealed Congress continued to match its lowest-ever 13% approval rating, again tying a record for disgrace attained only twice before, in December 2010 and August 2011. Fully 81% disapproved of the job Congress was doing.

It was also no wonder that a new Washington Post/ABC News poll found the American people now trusted Obama to do a better job of creating jobs than Congressional Republicans, 49% to 34%. Just one month ago, Obama and Congress had been tied, 40% to 40%.

"If voting against another stimulus is the only way we can get Democrats in Washington to finally abandon this failed approach to job creation then so be it," crowed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Tuesday, denigrating the sort of stimulus every economist not getting fat checks from Rupert Murdoch and Fox News agreed the nation needed.

Republicans were only interested to coddling corporations and their wealthy cronies with more and bigger tax cuts and subsidies, empowering more and bigger mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, outsourcings, and offshorings. Republicans were only interested in compounding the supply-side, trickle-down, voodoo economics that had already concentrated 84% of America's wealth into the hands of 20% of America's wealthiest, and created the economic boom in their beloved China.

The 103,000 jobs the economy added in September failed to keep pace with the growth in the nation's workforce, which increased by 200,000. The official unemployment rate remained at 9.1%, while some measures of U-7 unemployment, which included full-time job seekers, a portion of part-time job seekers, the underemployed and discouraged workers, rose to 18.41% from 18.26%.

The number of people unemployed for 27 or more weeks rose from 6.03 million to 6.24 million.

Republicans were doubtless delighted, as they likely viewed a moribund economy as their ticket into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2012. Republicans had an apparent vested interest in prolonging the nation's economic misery.

"Their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said Tuesday. "They think that the more folks see Washington taking no action to create jobs, the better their chances in the next election."

The jobs plan Senate Republicans defeated had been a popular one among America's voters:
  • 85% had approved of Obama's proposal for small business tax cuts and hiring incentives.
  • 75% had approved of additional funds for more teachers, cops and firefighters.
  • 73% had approved of tax incentives for hiring the long-term unemployed.
  • 72% had approved of additional funding for public works projects like fixing up the 30,000 schools.
  • 56% had approved of extending unemployment benefits. 
And, of course, 66% had approved of raising taxes on those making $200,000 or much, much more a year. 23 polls conducted between December, 2010 and August 2011 showed roughly two-thirds of Americans wanted the rich to pay higher taxes to pay down national debt, close deficits, and shore up Social Security and Medicare. And, since August:
Now, Gallup found 81% disapproved of Congress even before they knew the Senate had rejected Obama's jobs bill and it's millionaire/billionaire surtax.

Apparently, by rejecting taxing the rich, the single most widely favored item on the checklists of the people they professed to represent, Congress was shooting for a perfect 100% condemnation.

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