The Bush Republican economic revolution has been fought. Working class and middle class Americans lost along with the nation. The result is the Republican insecurity economy of today. It is not a happy place for most Americans.
The Bush Republican economic revolution really started under Ronald Reagan and had some roots going back to the anti-New Deal Republicans that fought against FDR. It just went into a destructive hyper-drive mode with the selection of George W. Bush by the Republican-dominated Supreme Court in 2000.
The core value of the Bush Republican movement is that wealth and power makes you right no matter the cost to your fellow citizens or the nation's future. Under the guise of “deregulation,” the power of extreme wealth to impose their unchecked power over the economy on all Americans was unleashed. Government regulators were corrupted. Laws were ignored. The national interest was ignored. All of this was done for the private profit of the very few.
The attack on our economy has come on many fronts including taxes, unionization rights of workers, trade policies, anti-monopoly laws, outsourcing, public debt, consumer rights, usury laws, government expenditures and regulatory agencies. The Republicans sold themselves almost completely. The buyers were large international corporations and the very wealthiest of the wealthy worldwide.
The tax burden has been shifted to the middle class, the poor and future generations. The American economic elite and large international corporations received huge tax reductions and benefited from huge government expenditures intentionally aimed at profiting them. They lent back the money they should have paid in taxes to the government at interest. The interest payments helped the rich get richer. It sent out national wealth to economic elites of nations like China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan and Mexico.
The so-called “free trade” deals denied our federal government of badly needed tax revenues that should have been collected on imported goods. American workers paid higher income and payroll taxes than they should have because of these trade deals. Most of the benefits of lower manufacturing costs went to very large stockholders and corporate executives instead of consumers. American workers lost good paying manufacturing jobs and the benefits that went with those jobs.
Bad trade deals have been a driving force behind the rising number of Americans with no health insurance. Trade deals helped destroy the 40 hour work week, lowered real wages and forced many homemakers out of the home in order to stay afloat financially. Our federal government lost much of their ability to regulate our national economy in the process.
The Republican economic elite told the American people that these globalization effects were inevitable. It was a lie. Economic globalization resulted largely from deliberate changes in economic policies especially trade policies. Economic deregulation was never inevitable. Destructive anti-competitive monopolies and predatory lending were never inevitable. These were political decisions. There were deliberate choices involved and the choices remain. They can be reversed by making other choices in terms of trade, taxation, government regulation, worker rights, consumer rights, public debt, government expenditures, consumer rights, bankruptcy laws, anti-monopoly legislation, etc.
We need to return to the New Deal values of FDR era. We need a heavy dose of economic populism combined with some economic nationalism. We need to return the tax policies of our federal government to some sense of sanity. The wealthiest of the wealthy have the ability and obligation to pay significantly higher taxes. The tax level should increase on these persons sufficiently to eliminate the government deficit. Tax levels on imports should rise to around 20-25% to pay for national health insurance and to pay off the national debt.
Union-busting tactics by corporations should be outlawed. Individual executives should be made personally criminally liable for violating labor laws. Corporations should not be allowed to restrict access to their workers by union organizers. Captive audience meeting should be outlawed. The Employee Free Choice Act should become law. Binding arbitration should be enforced by law when corporations refuse to bargain in good faith. Employee pension funds should be placed in union hands instead of corporate hands whenever labor contracts are present. Corporations should never be able to raid the pension funds of employees.
Labor unions created the American Middle Class. Reviving organized labor is the best method for saving the American Middle Class.
Predatory lending should be banned. Strict usury laws should be passed. Anti-monopoly policies should be adopted and actively enforced. Our economic policies at the national level should be designed to revive a strong national economy with opportunity for all citizens instead of just the Republican economic elite.
The study of economics was once called “political economy” and should be again. The economy is molded and controlled by political decisions. In a real functioning democracy, the average citizens should be making political choices that benefit the vast majority instead of the Republican economic elite. It is your vote and your future. Use it wisely!Written by Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor.com)