Republican plans will cut more jobs
BY JESSE JACKSON
The flood of TV ads funded increasingly by secret special interests pollutes our TVs. Attack ads, snarky quotes that attract attention, poisonous mailings that arrive at the last minute, "push" telephone calls designed to mislead -- all have become staples of America's befouled election process. Not surprisingly, many get disgusted with the whole thing.
But that is often the point. Last week in Nevada, national attention went to an ad by a front group run by a Republican operative that advised Latinos: "Don't vote." Many attack ads are designed purposefully to turn voters off and suppress turnout.
So it is easy to forget what the election is about. And with the foul economy, high unemployment, spreading poverty, it is easy to lose hope.
In the end, this election is about direction, and there are clear differences between the parties. Republicans, by and large, promise to go one way. Democrats, by and large, promise another. We have to choose.
On recovery: Republicans pledge to repeal all remaining recovery spending and to cut a staggering $100 billion out of non-security domestic spending next year alone -- a cut of about 20 percent. That money won't come from the subsidies to Big Oil or agribusinesses that pour money into Republican challengers. It will come not from weak programs such as wasteful military spending, but from programs for the weak -- food stamps, schools, student loans, environmental protection and more.
Moreover, the Republican plan will surely lead to more unemployment. Republicans pledge to cut spending and keep tax rates where they are, including the extra tax breaks that go to the richest Americans. The spending cuts will result in layoffs of teachers, health-care workers, day care providers and others. They won't lower interest rates because those are already near record low levels. Republicans say that the spending cuts will reassure businesses, but businesses are sitting on cash because they don't have customers. Increasing unemployment will add to their fears.
Republicans pledge to repeal health-care reform. This will increase costs to seniors. It will terminate protections that ban insurance companies from cutting you off if you get sick or have a pre-existing condition. The old health-care laws that they embrace left us paying 50 percent more per person than other industrial countries, while 50 million people went without insurance. Democrats will keep pushing to make the law work, starting with empowering Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts for prescription drugs.
Some Republicans say they want to get rid of Social Security; others say they want to privatize it. Virtually all support cuts in benefits and oppose lifting the cap on payroll taxes that high- income earners pay at the same rate that the rest of us do. That reform alone would put Social Security on solid footing.
We have the worst inequality in U.S. history, with 1 percent of the wealthiest people capturing a staggering one-third of the income gains of the last years. Republicans would make that worse. They are fighting to sustain the extra tax break given to incomes over $250,000 in the Bush tax cuts -- at the cost of $700 billion over 10 years.
Tea Party activists have been furious -- and justifiably so -- at the bailout of the banks. But Republican leader Rep. John Boehner peddled Republicans as the banks' protectors in the reform debate. Republicans voted en masse against financial reform and vow to repeal it. They want to take $60 billion for college Pell grants saved by direct lending and return it as a subsidy to the banks. They've been strident in their denunciations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the one part of the legislation designed to offer consumers some protection against abuse.
The list can go on. Democrats have many flaws; Republicans have many bizarre candidates. But don't let the noise distract you. What is at stake in this election is direction. Make sure you vote to express your choice.