We often hear Republican leaders make the claim that there are a group of people who are completely dependent on big government and, consequently, fail to take responsibility for their lives. They take advantage of government services like welfare and healthcare, and continue taking from society without giving back.
But this only proves that the Republican Party is simply blind to the struggles of most Americans. And that’s why they lost this past election in such a huge and devastating way.
They need to understand that, in addition to having the best organized grassroots campaign in history, the primary reason President Obama won by a landslide is because of his persistence to helping the driving force of this economy: the middle and working class.
The middle and working class of this country are the true engine of economic growth. They are the true job creators because they are the ones that end up spending money. They are the ones that create demand for a business’s products. They are the ones that use the services a company provides. When they prosper, as evidenced in the '90s, we all prosper.
The basic, underlining point – one that today’s Republican Party fails to understand – is this: No one in this country is completely self-reliant. Therefore, we need to government to ensure equality of opportunity (not outcome).
And that’s exactly what President Obama proposed in his deficit-reduction plan.
In 2011, the President went farther than the political middle by compromising into law targeted spending cuts that amounted to $2 trillion (via entitlement savings in Healthcare, Medicare, and Student Loans) without including any revenue increases in order to win Republican support.
But as every economist understands, you need a balanced approach of both spending cuts AND revenue increases to spur economic growth.
Last week, however, when it came time for Republicans to hold up on their end of the deal, they refused to increase revenues from the wealthiest few.
These individuals (the “givers”), Republicans claim, should not be forced to pay their fair share, even if that comes at the expense of programs that serve to benefit the middle and working class (the “takers”).
This is unacceptable.
When a business chooses to invest in a new machine, pay its employees higher wages, or purchase more merchandise, everyone understands that – even if these choices result in lower short-term profits – the long-term success of the company is dependent on such decisions.
In the same way, our government cannot cut our way to prosperity.
My mother came to America when she was 18. She worked a full-time job at a nursing home for minimum wage ($3.25 an hour) while enrolled full-time at a community college. To help pay for her education, she also took student loans. After graduating, she got married to my dad and found work for a meager salary of $20,000 a year. While I was born and my father continued struggling to find work, my mother became the head breadwinner of our family. She also needed to take advantage of certain tax breaks aimed at working families, such as the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit. After seven years of working hard, however, her company laid her off because of downsizing. She then had to survive off unemployment benefits for 6 months as she had her second child, my younger sister.
Today my parents are both successful small business owners. They are the “job creators” who “built that”. But they understand that they needed “big government” every step of the way.
The sooner Republican leaders understand this, the sooner they will return to “The Party of Lincoln.”