Shoving America back to the Great Recession

While we are looking for our next unique liberal voice to replace Deidre Pike’s View from the Fray column, we’ll fill in with a voice you’re probably familiar with, Jim Hightower. If you’d like to be considered to fill the columnist position, send three 600-word sample columns to

The core economic problem we’re facing today is that both unemployment and underemployment are rampant, stifling any hope for real recovery and threatening the very survival of our essential middle class.

The solution? Our leaders in Washington and various state capitols are pushing a massive jobs program across America. Great, just what we need! Uh … no. Unfortunately, theirs is not a program to create jobs, but a coordinated effort with corporate front groups to eliminate hundreds of thousands of public service jobs, adding these workers to America’s jobless hordes. If ignorance is bliss, they must be ecstatic!

They’ve swallowed the right-wing mythology that prosperity will magically arise if only government budgets can be gutted and the jobs of public employees terminated. Yet, by going on a firing rampage they are shoving the entire U.S. economy back into the Great Recession—or worse.

This is because people who are out of work do not tend to be—how shall I put this?— “robust consumers.” Since consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of our country’s economic growth (and, in so doing, creates America’s jobs), the dogma of deliberately destroying the purchasing power of middle-class wage earners is disastrous —like trying to cure a headache by chopping off your head.

Not content to undercut middle-class consumers by firing them, extremist politicos are also slashing jobless payments, food stamps, Medicaid, and other safety-net programs. These put money directly and quickly into the consumer economy as recipients spend for food, gas and other basics. Such cutbacks will drain some $37 billion more out of consumer spending this year.

As our economy keeps sliding backwards, the middle-class people who get knocked down will be hunting these laissez-fairyland ideologues with dogs.


OK, Barack Obama has not exactly turned out to be Mount Rushmore material, but—good God!—the petulant pettiness of right-wing Republican congressional leaders has turned them into a national embarrassment.

America has big needs right now. But those needs are not even being addressed, because little whiney ideologues like Eric Cantor, the GOP’s majority leader, keep throwing hissy fits, demanding that they get their way, or there’ll be no way. Of course, their way—on everything from tax policy to Wall Street regulation—is always the corporate way. Their plutocratic theories were exactly what was tried throughout George W’s eight-year reign, and they failed spectacularly. Yet, Cantor & Crew are now pushing the same nonsense—the very policies that caused America’s economic crash, which continues to crush grassroots people. “But it’s ideologically correct,” cries Little Eric. “So we and the Koch brothers won’t stop screaming until you give us more of it.”

They are so insanely obsessed with extremist anti-government dogma that they have even hitched their star to the reviled Lords of Wall Street—the only group in America with a lower public approval rating than that of Congress itself! Bankers are furious that Democrats created a new regulatory agency last year with real clout to protect consumers from the assorted rip-offs and frauds that banks keep inventing. So, in a perverse political reflex, Republicans have rushed to protect Wall Street’s gougers from us gougees, locking arms (as well as their minds) in a ridiculous “Save-the-Poor-Bankers” stand. Stamping their tiny feet, they say they’ll block Obama’s nominee to head the agency until Democrats let them rewrite the law to make the agency toothless.

Great—a government of dogmatists, by temper tantrum, for corporate elites. How pathetic.