Choose the Side Fighting for American Workers

"Tax The Rich" mural by Megan Wilson on Clarion Alley San Francisco.jpg by victorgrigas is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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As we approach nearly two years of a pandemic, a booming stock market, and massive profits for numerous corporations, many American workers are finding themselves falling further behind as wages continue to stagnate and inflation rises. With pressure mounting, Americans are fed up.  From Hollywood to Holler, American workers are rising up to demand better pay and better working conditions. 

I hope we are witnessing a resurgence of America’s long slumbering labor movement, a movement progressives have pushed for decades. What I fear however, if the movement is successful, is that the Republican party will hijack the movement’s success, claiming they drove this, like they claim to be the party of the working class, while doing nothing but the opposite. 

Take Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, one of the most vocal Republicans advocating a pro-worker pivot, who backs a $15 minimum wage “ONLY” for workers at corporations with annual revenues of $1 billion plus and those who have a social security number – which many folks that work in the U.S. do not. Today’s GOP has also attacked the PRO Act, a Biden-backed measure that would increase workers’ bargaining power by making it easier for them to unionize — really, come on, tell me, ‘How can Republicans claim to be a party for workers while opposing unions, an institution that fights for workers?’

I also want to remind readers that in 2019, the House voted to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour — an action that was supported by 62 percent of Americans but only three Republicans backed the increase; the then-GOP-controlled Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, refused to allow a vote on the increase. Continuing the GOP farce to voters: “The uniqueness of this party today is we’re the workers party,” said Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, during an interview in early 2021. Senator Cruz agreed, tweeting, “The Republican Party is not the party of the country clubs, it’s the party of hardworking, blue-collar men and women.” What crap!

Republicans know they can’t attract voters by going after their wealthy donors or corporations and therefore, they appeal to working class voters with polarizing social issues such as abortion, illegal immigration and individual liberty instead of economic issues. When I attended the Reagan convention in New Orleans, back in the day when I was a Republican, I believed trickle down economics was real. I bought into the lie, knowing I didn’t want my money going to the ‘welfare queens’ that Regan lambasted. But it was not until I accumulated a reasonably large sum of money that I realized the wealthy use numerous legal and financial tricks to become the true ‘welfare queens’.

Polls consistently show strong support for raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, but unlike other industries, there is no lobbying arm for raising taxes on the wealthy. I believe it is undemocratic and immoral for many wealthy folks to pay a lower tax rate than the average American worker. But, the rates remain unchanged, because the wealthiest corporations, individuals and lobbyists have the power.   

The ultra-wealthy often bend the rules to use illegal loopholes to lower their tax burden or not pay taxes at all, but Republicans, instead of coming down on the wealthy tax cheats, continually block proposals to give the I.R.S. resources to crack down on widespread tax evasion. 

Can a party that continually shoots down wage increases while pandering to give the wealthy every tax break they dream possible, really call themselves the party of working people? Of course not, although it took me until my thirties to realize that progressives are far more pro-worker than the party in which I initially registered. But unless the moderate Democrats get behind Biden’s agenda and institute policies that lift up workers, Republicans will continue to get votes by misleading the people.

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would do well to support Mr. Biden’s ambitious infrastructure plans and show that they are on the side of working Americans – NOW! Pushing through this $3.5-trillion spending plan will deliver big-time to workers, the driving force of our consumer based economy. The spending plan will provide physical infrastructure, while guaranteeing paid parental leave and stepped-up subsidies for child care. In addition, it will raise taxes on wealthy corporations and billionaire individuals to fund it.  

In my life I’ve learned that the GOP only cares about doing corporate America’s bidding and as negotiations continue, I beg the question to the moderate Democrats; is this really the side you want to cozy up to? The dividing line between the two could not be more clear. 

 

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