On Tuesday, the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, told the press that he would not schedule a vote on President Obama’s American Jobs Bill. That’s appalling, but not surprising. With its current leadership, the House never schedules votes on bills to increase employment in the U.S. If you look closely at their record, you’ll see that putting more people to work is the last thing they want to accomplish. It would be bad for the billionaires who finance their campaigns, and it would hurt their chances of maintaining power.
None of the folks on TV news will mention it, but the truth is that the bosses on Wall Street and right-wing talk radio like high unemployment. It drives down wages and increases profits. That makes most corporate CEOs happy. High unemployment delights the Rush Limbaughs of the world, too. It makes President Obama fail, and that’s been their hope since day one of his presidency. Remember, it was Limbaugh who told his audience in the earliest days of 2009: “I want to see him fail.”
Limbaugh was not alone. The GOP leader in the Senate made it clear after the elections last November that jobs would not be the top item on his upcoming agenda. No, Sen. Mitch McConnell said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Not lower unemployment. Not help for families facing foreclosures. Not financial support for students struggling to stay in school. No, the single most important thing they want is to defeat President Barack Obama.
If you understand that this is their guiding goal, much of their abysmal record on the economy begins to make sense. It helps explain the GOP’s willingness to allow taxes to be raised on 99 percent of the American public, which is what will happen if President Obama’s plan to extend the tax cuts for workers is not passed by the end of the year. That tax cut is part of the American Jobs Act, which Leader Cantor won’t schedule for a vote.
It explains the efforts by House members last spring, when the economy was beginning to recover, to launch an unprecedented months-long debate on whether the U.S. would increase the debt limit. This wasn’t about giving President Obama a blank check, as clueless Rep. Michelle Bachmann said. The Congress had already approved legislation spending the money – with the support of Rep. Bachmann. The question was whether the U.S. would live up to its commitments.
In the end, thanks to the efforts of Rep. Cantor’s and Rep. Bachmann’s allies to undermine the full faith and credit of the United States, a ratings agency lowered the rating of the U.S. debt, for the first time in history. They sent a clear message to the financial markets that the leadership in the U.S. House was willing to risk the default of the United States rather than compromise on taxing the wealthiest people in America. They succeeded in derailing the economic recovery. They got what they really wanted: higher unemployment.
Never mind that this agenda hurts millions of America’s working families. The House leadership in Washington may give lip-service to the concerns of America’s jobless, but they do what their bosses on Wall Street tell them to do. And that is: “Don’t increase taxes on the rich.”
The working middle class has been under attack for decades. Now, when we have a chance to rebuild Main Street and help hard working American families by passing a much-needed jobs bill, the leadership in the House won’t hold hearings or bring it to a vote. These people deserve all the criticism they are getting from the students, young people and activists who are targeting the House leadership’s bosses on Wall Street. That’s why AFSCME stands with the courageous participants who are broadening the Main Street movement by occupying Wall Street.
When will Congress realize that they should be working for the American people, not the obscenely wealthy CEOs, the slick Wall Street operators and the shrill blowhards on right-wing talk radio? When will they listen to the voices on Main Street, and not do the bidding of their Wall Street masters? No time soon, if Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell have their way.
According to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, only 14 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a good job. Those 14 percent must be working for Cantor and McConnell and their cronies in the U.S. Capitol. The rest of us think that their leadership is worthless. They take their cues from Wall Street, not Main Street. If they are not going to help put the country back to work, it’s they and their Congressional collaborators who will be looking for work after the next election.