A Letter to Conservative Working Class Voters,
I’m going to ask you to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for a few minutes and read about some things your party hasn’t told you, and will never tell you. Everything here has a link to the source of the information, because you’re sure to be skeptical. If your friends don’t use the internet I’m hoping you’ll relay the info, because elections are never really about parties or super-pacs, they’re about Americans’ quality of life, and your party has lost sight of that fact.
This is a rather long piece, but there are a number of issues that are important to the future of the poor and middle class in your party. I’ve used a lot of maps in this post as opposed to charts or graphs because it’s easier to visualize what I’m saying (and I happen to love maps). First, some economic facts, courtesy of Armoni Records:
1. We’ve now had 63 straight months of economic expansion.
… Forbes magazine, no fan of President Obama, crunched the numbers and demonstrated how the economic recovery under President Obama has been better in just about every measurable way than the recovery under President Reagan.
2. We are currently enjoying the longest period of private sector job creation in American history.
… we have now had 54 straight months of private sector job creation. That is the longest period of job creation since the Department of Labor has been keeping statistics.
3. Unemployment has dropped from 10.1% in October of 2009 to 6.1% and projected to reach 5.4% by summer of 2015.
Not only has the unemployment rate dropped significantly, but since the recession ended, our economy as added over ten million new jobs.
4. The Federal budget deficit is shrinking. It’s been reduced by two-thirds since 2009.
As ten million people have been put back to work, there have been billions more tax dollars generated. As a result, the deficit has been shrinking each year. The 2014 deficit is projected to be around $500 billion, the smallest deficit since 2007 and roughly 1/3 of what it was in 2009.
5. Under President Obama, spending has increased only 1.4% annually, the lowest rate since Eisenhower was president.
You may have heard critics say that President Obama is spending money wildly and running up our debt. According to this article from Forbes, Obama has increased spending by 1.4% annually, far less than President Reagan (8.7%) or George W. Bush (8.1%). In fact, Obama has increased spending less than any president since Eisenhower.
6. For 95% of American taxpayers, income taxes are lower now than just about any time in the previous 50 years.
… the only people whose income taxes have gone up during Obama’s presidency are those making $400,000 per year or more. That’s less than 2% of the population. Today, for the vast majority of people, tax rates are exactly where they were when Obama first took office or lower.
7. Our dependence on foreign oil has shrunk due to record domestic oil production and improved fuel efficiency standards.
While some people claim that oil production has declined under President Obama, the truth is just the opposite. Oil production has reached record highs. The United States now produces so much oil that we export more oil and gasoline than we import.
8. At least 7 million more Americans now have health insurance than before.
Depending on whose numbers you use, between 7 and 10 million Americans acquired health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act… This saves the American people billions of dollars in the long run.
9. The Affordable Care Act has added years to the life of Medicare.
The Medicare trust fund had been on course to run out of money by the end of 2016. But due to cost savings from the Affordable Care Act and lower healthcare expenses, Medicare’s trust fund is now stable until the year 2030 without cutting benefits.
Don’t you wonder why Republicans never mention these things? Shouldn’t we be celebrating this recovery? Americans are getting back on their feet and paying their bills; we should be cheering this news as a Nation, whether Republican, Tea Party or Democrat.
Let’s talk about that Conservative “Tax cuts create jobs” mantra; a fairy tale that gets repeated ad nauseam as the reason to give more tax cuts to the wealthy. They don’t create jobs, as you’ll see later; they simply put more money into the pockets of people like Mitt Romney and Paris Hilton, folks who have never and will never create jobs. In fact, regarding the Bush tax cuts, the Campaign for America’s Future reported:
The average middle-class family received one-eighth of the tax breaks that a family in the top 20 percent of income earners received while the average working-class family reaped less than one-hundredth of the average tax cut received by a family in the top fifth of earnings.
On the state level, tax cuts are decimating budgets, the best example being Kansas (all emphases are mine). From Forbes:
We’ve tried this experiment time and again… tax cut proponents such as economist Art Laffer continue to insist … Cut taxes deeply enough and the resultant boom in economic activity will boost revenues. Magic. Painless. Everything a politician would ever want.
In 2012, at [Kansas Governor] Brownback’s urging, the legislature cut individual tax rates by 25 percent and repealed the tax on sole proprietorships and other “pass-through” businesses. It also increased the standard deduction (though it eliminated some individual credits as well).
In 2013, the legislature cut taxes again. It passed a measure to gradually lower rates even more over five years. By 2018, the top rate, which was 6.45 percent in 2012, will fall to 3.9 percent. It also partially restored some of the credits it eliminated in 2012. This time, it did raise some offsetting revenue for the first few years but far less than the statutory tax cuts…
So what happened after all those tax cuts? Revenues collapsed.
From June, 2013 to June, 2014, all Kansas tax revenue plunged by 11 percent. Individual income taxes fell from $2.9 billion to $2.2 billion and all income tax collections plummeted from $3.3 billion to $2.6 billion, a drop of more than 20 percent.
Since the first round of tax cuts, job growth in Kansas has lagged the U.S. economy. So have personal incomes. While more small businesses were formed, many of them were merely individuals taking advantage of the newly tax-free status of those firms by redefining themselves as businesses.
The business boom predicted by tax cut advocates has not happened, and it certainly has not come remotely close to offsetting the static revenue loss from the legislated tax cuts.
And Reuters News Service reports:
In July more than 100 Republican leaders in Kansas endorsed the Democratic candidate for governor, saying that the tax cuts had hurt middle and low income earners and the state’s economy.
In my own state of Tennessee, there’s a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot to prevent legislators from ever instituting a state tax. Sure, that sounds great on its face, but what that means is:
a) The only places left for revenue are sales and use taxes, which disproportionately hit lower and middle income residents.
b) The wealthiest Tennesseans will never pay a dime more in state taxes than the poor and middle class.
As Bloomberg View reported:
Sales taxes are among the most regressive taxes, in that they take a larger portion of income from lower- and middle-class families. A report by the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy finds that poor families pay eight times more of their income in sales and excise taxes than wealthy families, while those in middle income pay five times more. The report also finds that five of the 10 most regressive states “derive roughly half to two thirds of their tax revenue from sales and excise taxes, compared to a national average of roughly one third.”
Republicans refer to the folks who have zero or negative tax liability as “takers”; Romney said it on his infamous recording, and Paul Ryan has been saying it for years. It has become standard fare for conservative politicians. They claim these “Takers” voted for President Obama because he gives them “free stuff”. It’s going to surprise you to learn that most of the folks who don’t pay taxes vote Republican; these people who pay no taxes because their wages are so low that after deductions (the same ones EVERYONE takes) they owe nothing, or are due a refund. These folks predominately live in states that have a minimum wage equal to or less than the Federal minimum wage.
“Red” southern states have suffered the most as a result of conservative policies: highest poverty levels, highest food stamp claims, worst education and graduation rates, most single parent households, repeat teen pregnancies….. These folks need help. Is it because they’re lazy? Of course not. It’s because their governors and legislatures are more interested in taking care of those who fund their campaigns than the people who vote for them, and have done nothing to improve opportunities for the working class. Here’s a look at how Red States are faring:
Conservatives have been very successful at, as Lindsay Graham put it, “creating angry white guys”, and getting them to focus that anger on the wrong people. They have pitted citizen against citizen, whites against minorities, the uneducated against the educated, and the moneyed against the working class. I say the working class, because contrary to Conservatives’ denigration of the unemployed, it is the wealthy who sit back and make boat loads of money while doing nothing.
Your party praises our dead military heroes, but the ones who make it back – not so much. They somehow manage to find a way to pay for war, yet our vets come back to homelessness and poverty. That’s shameful.
We have major immigration issues, but instead of going after those employers who continue to hire people not authorized to work in this country, (and believe me, most employers know who they’re hiring) they go after the people who took the jobs, making them the bad guys because they want to work, and excusing those companies breaking the law. There are legal penalties and fines for hiring unauthorized workers, but you don’t hear about that. Legal Match explains (terms used are theirs):
Under federal law, it is illegal for any employer to hire, recruit or refer for a fee any alien not authorized to work in the United States. This includes hiring contractors who employ illegal immigrants. There are criminal and civil penalties associated with this conduct.
It is also illegal for any employer not to verify work authorization. An employer who does not correctly complete an I-9 for each employee three days after the employee is hired is also subject to criminal and civil punishment.
What Are the Penalties For Hiring An Illegal Immigrant?
For first offenders, there is a $250-$2,000 fine per illegal employee.
For a second offense, the fine is $2,000-$5,000 per illegal employee.
For employers who have been convicted of hiring illegal immigrants more than twice, the fine can range from $3000-$10,000 per employee. If the employer demonstrates a pervasive pattern of knowingly employing illegal immigrants, he or she could face additional fines, and up to six months in jail.
This does not include “harboring” illegal immigrants, or knowingly employing ten or more illegal immigrants in one year. Harboring an illegal immigrant can lead to ten years of prison time.
And yet, not a peep from Conservatives about fining or charging these companies with a crime.
Citizens in this country should not have to live their lives in a constant state of despair. A civilized country makes sure their children are educated, their veterans are taken care of, and their senior citizens can live their remaining years in dignity, not poverty. States should be insuring that everyone has the opportunity to make a better life for him/herself; instead, you have a concentration of states where poverty, lack of education, and hopelessness are the norm.
Lack of Education
State governments are handing out tax breaks like candy, while taking billions of dollars away from public education. Oddly enough, business owners cite good schools as one of the considerations in choosing a business location. As the Houston Chronicle reports:
A state’s quality of life aspects are of prime importance when considering relocating a company. Affordable housing, quality schools, nearby shopping and cultural attractions are all part of the package. The climate, pollution statistics, costs of energy and availability of medical services should be added to the list.
Employers want to know employees will be satisfied with the lifestyle in the chosen state.. The new location may not offer every item on the list, but a state that offers an appealing quality of life will rank higher on the list as a potential new site for the business.
And those states complaining about the Federal Government being too big – well they rely on federal money for a large chunk of their budgets. In fact, some “fiscally responsible” Red States rely on Washington for almost 50% of their state budget, as this Tax Foundation map shows:
Think that it’s feminists and liberals that are single Mothers dependent on government? Think again. This map is from the Rural Assistance Center:
Think divorces are mostly sought by liberal women, as Phyllis Schlafly claims? Not quite. According to Teaching with Data (my emphasis):
In an article to be published this month in the American Journal of Sociology, demographers Jennifer Glass (University of Texas) and Philip Levchak (University of Iowa) offer an answer to the question: “Why are divorce rates higher in religiously conservative “red” states and lower in less religiously conservative “blue” states? After all, most conservatives frown upon divorce, and religious commitment is believed to strengthen marriage, not erode it.
Even so, religiously conservative states Alabama and Arkansas have the second and third highest divorce rates in the U.S., at 13 per 1000 people per year while New Jersey and Massachusetts, more liberal states, are two of the lowest at 6 and 7 per 1000 people per year.”
Scholars have proposed three explanations for the paradox: poverty (which tends to be concentrated in rural and Southern counties, and raises the risk of divorce); higher rates of marriage overall; or a regional culture that promotes inter-personal violence (which then leads to higher divorce rates)…”the high divorce rate among conservative religious groups is indeed explained in large part by the earlier ages at first marriage and first birth, and the lower educational attainment and lower incomes of conservative Protestant youth.”
But they also found that people who live in conservative religious counties have a higher risk of divorce even when they are not affiliated with a conservative religious group. Glass and Levchak attribute this to “living in a cultural climate where most people expect to marry young and there is little support from schools or community institutions for young people to get more education and postpone marriage and children.
Abstinence-only education, restrictions on the availability of birth control and abortion, support for marriage as the resolution of unexpected pregnancies, and distrust of secular education (especially higher education) among the populace in religiously conservative counties work to create an environment where young people of every religious belief – or none – tend not to pursue higher education or job training, and instead to engage in early marriage and child-bearing.”
This map is from World Religion News:
And this one comes to us from the Kaiser Family Foundation:
Maybe sex-ed shouldn’t focus on abstinence only. From Identities Mic:
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that teen birth rates in America have fallen by 57% since 1991. The primary culprit? Contraception.
Guess which states don’t require education about contraception:
Red state, and southern Red State working class voters in particular, live in a perpetual cycle of low income, less education, early marriage, pregnancy, and divorce. I could go on and on to make my point, but the fact is: The country and its working class voters have historically fared better under a Democratic government, as a 2012 Forbes article showed:
• Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents
• Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents
• Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)
• Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)
• Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents
• The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations
As for this President? Lew Godlfarb, one of the authors of “Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box” told Forbes:
• “Obama at this time would rank on par with Reagan
• Corporate profits have risen under Obama more than any other president
• The stock market has soared 14.72%/year under Obama, second only to Clinton — which should be a big deal since 2/3 of people (not just the upper class) have a 401K or similar investment vehicle dependent upon corporate profits and stock market performance”
As to the challenging Republican Party’s platform, Mr. Goldfarb commented:
• “The platform is the inverse of what has actually worked to stimulate economic growth
• The recommended platform tax policy is bad for velocity, and will stagnate the economy
• Repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will have a negative economic impact because it will force non-wealthy individuals to spend a higher percentage of income on health care rather than expansionary products and services
• Economic disaster happens in America when wealth is concentrated at the top, and we are at an all time high for wealth concentration. There is nothing in the platform which addresses this issue.”
So now you know where you stand as a Conservative working class voter, and where you could be by voting for Democrats. In your party, the 1% will always rule, while Democrats and Independents have the likes of Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, and Elizabeth Warren to name a few, who have no problem telling the rich exactly where they can put their money. People who truly give a damn… about everybody. I’m just sayin’…