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It was hardly surprising but nonetheless disconcerting when Senate Republicans shot down President Obama’s jobs legislation last week, refusing even to let it be debated on the Senate Floor.
New Mexico’s junior U.S. senator, Democrat Tom Udall, was plainly frustrated. “Last night,” he said, “we again saw Republican opposition and abuse of senate rules to thwart important legislation to help struggling American families and small businesses.”
When they’re not willfully damaging the economy by threatening to put the nation in default, they’re blocking measures to improve it with job creation measures.
Impeding economic recovery has become an ill-disguised GOP goal, it would seem.
Ironically, as Senate Republicans were blocking debate on a measure designed to create new jobs, tens of thousands of Americans of all stripes were demonstrating in cities (including Albuquerque and Santa Fe) throughout the land demanding just that, “more jobs,” along with “stricter regulation” of banks and Wall Street and tax hikes on the wealthiest 1 percent among us.
These “Occupy Wall Street” protests are easily the most spontaneous eruption of public indignation in memory. Although comparisons have been made, this is a movement unlike the Tea Party brouhaha of two years ago.
The Tea Party was a top-down affair from the start, carefully orchestrated by the likes of former U.S. House Republican leader Dick Armey, aided and abetted by generous funding from such Republican fat cats as Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries (whose father, Fred Koch, was a founder of the right-wing John Birch Society back in the 1960s.)
The “Wall Street” protests, on the other hand, have come from ground up and are as refreshing as they are overdue.
For too long much of our public “debate,” if that is the word for it, has been dominated by the increasingly reactionary doctrines propounded by Tea Party-type politicos seemingly bent on misleading us rather than enlightening us.
While Republicans in the U.S. Senate were squelching debate on jobs legislation, their presidential candidates were assembled for their own debate.
It was surreal. As protestors by the thousands were demanding tougher regulation following the corruption, greed and regulatory neglect that brought us to financial meltdown four years ago, the GOP hopefuls were as one in vowing to rid us of any and all government regulations.
“Job killers,” they chanted in virtual unison, even though the Associated Press reports that “Labor Department data show that only a tiny percentage of companies that experience large layoffs cite government regulation as the reason.” Indeed, the AP noted, “Since Barack Obama took office, just two-tenths of 1 percent of layoffs have been due to government regulation.”
Where are reason, fact and logic when they’re needed? At an earlier gathering, the winner of the Florida Republican “straw poll,” multi-millionaire former-Godfather Pizza czar Herman Cain, suggested that the remedy for the woes of unemployment and America’s overburdened and shrinking middle class is for everybody to go out and become millionaires.
It is not a constitutional requirement, but surely the ability to differentiate reality from fantasy should be a prerequisite to the presidency.
New Mexico’s senior senator, Jeff Bingaman, also voted to end the Republican filibuster of the jobs bill, and he minced no words after that effort failed.
“Our economy needs help right now,” he said. “Americans have a right to be angry that critical jobs legislation is being blocked ... President Obama’s plan would have put at least two million Americans back to work.”
What’s more, he noted, it would have been “fully paid for with a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires.”
The protestors on our streets support that idea, as does a large majority of Americans, but it fell on deaf congressional Republican ears.
© 2011 New Mexico