Saturday, June 6, 2015

New Deal Action vs. Republican Dysfunction

Dysfunction - "abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group." 

(New Deal policymakers like Harry Hopkins, second from left, and Franklin Roosevelt believed in action. They didn't twiddle their thumbs while the nation's infrastructure deteriorated. Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.)

In Kansas, the Republican government can't agree on how to finance the government. For many days now, they've been squabbling amongst each other in an overtime legislative session that's costing Kansas taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each day. (See, e.g., "It’s not easy for the anti-tax Kansas Legislature to raise taxes, even when the budget is written in red," Kansas City Star, June 5, 2015) 

On the national scene, senior Republican U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (Okla.) has blamed his fellow Republicans for being unable to figure out a way to fix the nation's infrastructure: "The really more Republicans than Democrats...If you remember the 27-month bill, we had a hard time with all these Republicans...We had a bunch of demagogues down there, Republicans who were trying to say, ‘Oh, we can’t do this. We can’t spend all this money on it.’ I thought that’s not right...Clearly, this is something that we’re supposed to be doing. A true conservative looks at it and says...we’re supposed to defend America, and build roads and highways" ("Top GOP Senator Blames His Party For Lack Of Highway Funding," Huffington Post, May 19, 2015).

And these are just two examples of Republicans being unable to govern. All across the nation we are seeing Republicans trying to push square pegs (infrastructure needs, education funding) through round holes (no taxes, no revenue). Dave Helling, of the Kansas City Star, summed up Republican management across the nation when he described the political situation in Kansas: "...a perfect storm of increasingly fractured intra-party politics, special interest money, inexperienced lawmakers and weak leadership."

And behind all this Republican dysfunction, of course, is big money - right-wing millionaires & billionaires who don't give a rat's behind about the nation's infrastructure or the educational opportunities of middle and low-income Americans. They just want their taxes kept low, because living on $200 million per year, as opposed to $250 million per year, would be tragic.

 (In this WPA-constructed building in Haysi, Virginia, unemployed women received jobs on WPA sewing projects. Across America, the WPA produced 382 million articles of clothing for low-income Americans. When the war started up, WPA sewing room workers began repairing and producing items for American soldiers. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.)

New Deal policymakers did things much differently than today's Republican policymakers. Instead of whining about taxes--and spending days, weeks, months, and even years trying to figure out how to pay for something with no revenue--they rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They said, "Y'know what, we're going to raise taxes on the fortunate few. We're going to broaden the tax base a bit. And we're going to create several job programs to get people back to work, strengthen the nation's infrastructure, protect the environment, preserve our history, and increase economic opportunity for all Americans."

How did they do this? Well, here's just a tiny, tiny sampling...

Getting people back to work - Between the WPA, the CCC, the NYA, and several other New Deal work programs, about 20 million Americans who had been shunned by the private sector received employment. That's action.

Strengthening the nation's infrastructure - The WPA alone performed 650,000 miles of roadwork, installed 16,000 miles of new water lines, created or improved 8,000 parks, and much, much more. That's action.

Protecting the environment - The CCC planted between 2 and 3 BILLION trees. Enough said.

Preserving our history - Workers in New Deal programs restored historic structures, assisted museums, organized & preserved records (records that researchers and genealogists use today), and wrote histories for every state and many cities & towns (for example, the famous State Guide series). That's action.

Increasing economic opportunity for all Americans - The WPA alone engaged in nearly 40,000 projects to build, repair, or improve schools. And, after World War II, the middle-class grew like never before or since. The American economy expanded along New Deal roads, across New Deal bridges, in New Deal buildings, and out of New Deal airports. And it grew on the foundation of New Deal policies - the minimum wage, protections for collective bargaining, Social Security, unemployment insurance, FDIC, and so on. That's action.

So, which do you prefer: New Deal action, or "a perfect storm of increasingly fractured intra-party politics, special interest money, inexperienced lawmakers and weak leadership"?  

No comments:

Post a Comment