It seems that our political brethren, the GOP, have bitten the bullet and decided it would be in the best interest to acknowledge the growing problem of inequality….after many election cycles and a whole lot of denial…they may have seen the light…(how fortunate with an election looming on the horizon)…….
Republicans seem to have shifted thinking about income inequality and the plight of poor people, writes Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times. Conservative stalwarts Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio are among those pitching proposals to help low-income Americans make ends meet, perhaps learning a lesson from Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” comments in the last election. That’s smart, writes McManus, because President Obama is keeping the issue of income inequality front and center, and Republicans have figured out that it’s not enough to argue that lower taxes and reduced federal debt will be a cure-all. “The stagnation of middle-class incomes and the growing gap between rich and poor aren’t by any means partisan issues,” he writes. “Republican voters worry about them as much as Democrats do.” GOP candidates will no doubt have different approaches toward solutions, but McManus thinks it’s promising that they’re even discussing the need for them. “The two parties have agreed on a basic premise: that the federal government must do more to help the poor, especially low-income workers, clamber out of poverty,” he writes. “And that’s progress.” Click for his full column.
Now with the problem in sight….the next question is….what to do….what to do?
Believe it or not there are some ideas coming out of the GOP on how we can move past poverty and make a better country for our citizens…..really….they have some ideas….and here they are…..
1. Don’t raise minimum wage: Rubio said we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage to $10 because no one wants a job that pays $10. “Raising the minimum wage may poll well, but having a job that pays $10 an hour is not the American dream.” It is not clear how not raising the minimum wage translates into people getting jobs that pay more than $10 an hour. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, an amount so low that people working full-time can’t afford to pay rent in any state, never mind buy food. People making the minimum wage actually qualify for food stamps and other government assistance. A bill currently before Congress to lift the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lift 4.6 million Americans out of poverty.
2. Give subsidies to employers instead: Instead of raising the minimum wage (higher wages mean less money going into the pockets of those at the top of the corporate ladder) Rubio proposes to replace the Earned Income Tax Credit with a direct wage subsidy. He would give government money to companies to “supplement wages.” He says this would “encourage and reward work.” This would mean the money companies are not paying out in higher wages would continue to go to the top few and government would make up the difference: a direct government subsidy of inequality.
3. Turn programs over to states: Rubio proposed turning federal anti-poverty programs over to the states in a single “flex-fund” block grant, in order to let the states decide what to do with the money. Note that 24 states are currently refusing the federal Medicaid expansion, leaving 5.4 million people without health coverage even though it comes at no cost to those states. So the record on turning things over to the states as a way to help the poor is not good.
4. Marriage: Rubio’s big proposal is marriage (but not gay marriage). He said, “the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82 percent. But it isn’t a government spending program. It’s called marriage.” Rubio says that government subsidies to increase wages (instead of just raising the minimum wage) makes men more “marriageable.” He also said we need to “remove the marriage penalties in safety net programs.” This is typical Republican dog-whistle politics, used to evoke images of “welfare mothers” – single black mothers having lots of babies so they can get more welfare.
Along these same lines Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) recently said the reason he ran for Congress was “because he was outraged that single women were having as many as 15 babies and getting welfare checks.” Perhaps his proposal to stop all the women who have 15 babies (if there are any) from getting welfare checks will fight poverty, perhaps not. It should be noted, however, that “welfare” largely ended in 1996. Even with this program the amount given for nutritional assistance for children is extremely low, while the “reform” of this assistance has left millions in desperate straits. A 1997 Rutgers study compared birth rates between women receiving welfare who were receiving these benefits and a control group of women on welfare who were not found identical birth rates.
5. Make them move: Rubio also proposed giving unemployed people “relocation vouchers” so they can move to places with low unemployment. Erika Eichelberger at Mother Jones talked to Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute, who pointed out that this idea would just move the problem around. “States with low unemployment are often small states that are heavily agricultural,” he says. “There is not a lot of dynamic turnover… There are already unemployed people there who want those jobs” that are open.
Other Republican Proposals
Republicans have thrown a few other anti-poverty proposals into the mix recently.
6. Volunteer: Paul Ryan, chief cutter of budgets for things government does to make our lives better, is trying to distance himself from Republican (and his own) branding as insensitive to the poor. According to the Washington Post, “His idea of a war on poverty so far relies heavily on promoting volunteerism and encouraging work.” This is not the “volunteerism” of his famous photo pretending to wash dishes at a soup kitchen during the 2012 campaign; this is people showing up at soup kitchens, etc., and working without pay. While all of us should be helping out at soup kitchens, shelters and other programs that help others, it’s no substitute for the kind of resources government would be able to apply if Ryan was not so effective at gutting the government.
7. Get rid of public schools: Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority (Republican) leader says that education reform broadly, and “school choice” in particular, is the surest way to break the “vicious cycle of poverty.” It is not clear how getting rid of public schools and using tax dollars to fund private schools-for-profit will fight poverty. The Education Opportunity Network explains that “education reform… seeks to impose on schools a governing methodology favored by business executives and policy technocrats” and in another post, that “access to good public schools is a critical civil and human right… corporate reform is characterized as a “market-based system” emphasizing “competition—as opposed to collaboration” that imposes a “system of winners and losers” in which “vulnerable children become collateral damage.”
8. Get rid of child labor laws: Maine’s Republican Governor Paul LePage says child labor laws “are causing damage to our economy.” “We don’t allow children to work until they’re 16, but two years later, when they’re 18, they can go to war and fight for us,” LePage said. “That’s causing damage to our economy. I started working far earlier than that, and it didn’t hurt me at all. There is nothing wrong with being a paperboy at 12 years old, or at a store sorting bottles at 12 years old.”
(Thanx to Salon.com for the list)
There you have the ideas from the party that gave you Ted Cruz and Newt……..I could be a prick and make all kinds of insulting comments about their ideas to end poverty but I will take the high ground…..I am by no means an economist but to me, with my limited training in economics, these sound about as successful as the now defunct idea of trickle down economics…..WAIT! Some of the programs are thinly veiled steps in trickle down…..they never stop trying to use that piece of manure as a base for economic growth.
I ask my readers to weigh in on these ideas…..one by one if you like….I want to see if I missed something………