President Joe Biden recently marked his 100 days in office with an address to a joint session of Congress outlining his early accomplishments but more importantly, his aggressive plans to jumpstart our economy, bring jobs to American workers and help us all move into the future with hope.
During such speeches before the Congress, it’s common practice to stand and applaud the positive concepts as a way of saying you support the programs that will benefit America, benefit American workers and families. Conversely, if you’re against the ideas, you sit on your ass.
Tragically, the evening demonstrated just where Republicans are. I hope readers will take note for the 2022 elections.
A few examples:
• Jobs: Proposal — Modernize roads, bridges, highway, airports, ports, transit lines; put engineers and construction workers to work building more energy-efficient buildings and homes; install 500,000 charging stations along our highways, etc. creating millions of new jobs that can’t be outsourced. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Paychecks: Proposal — Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and pass a law ensuring equal pay for equal work for women. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Health care: Proposal — Improve and expand access to quality health care and expand Medicare where some 800,000 families are on the waiting list. Expand medical research to find a cure for cancer. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Drug costs: Proposal— allow Medicare to use its massive buying power to negotiate lower drug prices because today, by law, they are not allowed to. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Buy American: Proposal — American tax dollars should be used to buy products made in America to create American jobs. And enforce existing laws and create stronger ones and ensure enforcement. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Education: Proposal — Realizing an educated workforce is the future of America, make public colleges and universities tuition free for families with incomes under $125,000, provide free community college and workforce training programs and students with federal undergraduate loans would not have to pay more than five percent of their discretionary income over $25,000. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Child care: Proposal — Create a permanent $3,000 tax credit for kids under six and $3,600 for over six to help take care of your family; this will benefit 65 million children and help cut child-care poverty in half. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Clean water: Proposal — replace 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines to ensure every American has clean drinking water; some 10 million homes and more than 400,000 schools and child-care centers have lead pipes. Republicans sat on their asses.
• High-speed internet: Proposal — provide high-speed internet to every American; many in urban areas and in the 35 percent of rural America where there is none. Republicans sat on their asses.
• Modern, clean power grids: Proposal — Build and upgrade because today they are vulnerable to storms, hacks and catastrophic failures, with tragic results. Wind turbine blades should be built in Pittsburgh, not Beijing. Will require thousands of miles of new transmission lines and the many thousands of jobs associated with them. Republicans sat on their asses.
HOW TO PAY FOR IT?
And how would the Biden administration pay for this? Demand and ensure that corporations and the one percent of Americans earning over $400,000 a year pay their fair share in taxes, just as all working, middle class Americans do.
• Corporations first: Recent studies show that 55 of the nation’s biggest corporations paid zero Federal tax last year while making in excess of $40 BILLION in profits. Many also evaded taxes through tax havens in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. They also benefitted from tax loopholes and deductions for shifting profits, and American jobs, overseas.
• The wealthy next: First, raise their tax rate back up to 39.6 percent where it was when G.W. Bush was president. This affects three-tenths of one percent of all Americans – the wealthy ones, not you and I as workers. Second, have the IRS crack down on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes. It’s estimated to be billions of dollars.
The tax cuts of 2017, that was supposed to pay for itself, added $2 Trillion to the deficit and provided a huge windfall for corporate America and those at the very top: roughly 650 billionaires in America saw their net worth increase by more than $1 trillion.
President Biden made these cogent points:
“Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built the country. And unions built the middle class. So that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act, the PRO Act, and send it to my desk so we can support the right to unionize.
“With light and hope, we summoned a new strength, new resolve to position us to win the competition of the 21st century, on our way to a union more perfect, more prosperous and more just, as one people, one nation and one America.”
And still the Republicans sat on their asses.